It’s time to end the tyranny of the thermometer

I was laying on the couch feeling terrible. My head throbbed, my sinuses felt like someone had shoved inside them a water balloon on the point of bursting, and everything just generally ached.

In short, I was sick and had a fever. My caring wife felt my forehead and said I felt warm, so she brought out a thermometer to see how bad it was.

That’s when everything went wrong.

The thermometer displayed 98.3 degrees.[1]

I called her over and she asked what it said. “The thermometer’s broken,” I answered.

Thankfully, when we moved in together, we both inexplicably had multiple thermometers. So she went and got another one.

It showed 98.2 degrees.

Ah, but it was new. Maybe it hadn’t warmed up properly. I tried it again. It showed 98.4 degrees.

“All the thermometers are broken,” I announced shortly. Based on the evidence at hand, it was the only reasonable conclusion.

She neglected to believe me. And that’s when I realized that we are under the tyranny of thermometers.

Think about it. Every time we start feeling sick, we (or someone close to us) reach for the thermometer to see just how sick we are. All of the evidence is brushed aside, and we become beholden to that one number.


Arm fell off and you’re projectile vomiting? Well, this says you’re fine. Suck it up.

I knew I was sick. The thermometer said not only was I not sick–that I was lying, to myself and others, the pernicious instrument said–but I was even healthier than healthy![2]

This is ridiculous, this enslavement to a small piece of electronics. Who knows my body better than I do? Certainly not a weird stick with wires!

How do these electronic thermometers even work? It’s not like the good old mercury based ones, where you can actually see the gauge rise and fall with the temperature change. These use electronics to display a number. What is that number based on? Guesswork? There’s no way to know!


And what’s more, this completely true graphic that I did not find online and hastily edit shows these devices might be more malevolent than previously realized.

I ask you to join me. Eliminate these monstrosities from our home. Refuse your doctor’s order to put them under your tongue.

It’s time to take your health back.

Let’s rise up and overthrow this ubiquitous symbol of misplaced faith!

Well, you rise up. I’m going to keep laying here on the couch feeling miserable.

1. That’s in Fahrenheit, for all you European heathens.
2. As is my understanding of what temperatures below 98.6 mean.

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