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The myth of milk

We have an unhealthy relationship with milk – both biologically and metaphorically. While the biological debate is well documented, its metaphorical issues deserve more consideration.

If left to nature the fat in milk will separate. The less dense portions of the fat rise to the top. This is what we call cream. People often consider this the “best” part of milk. The lesson people often draw from this process is the “best” will always end up on top. Expanding the aphorism, “the best will eventually win,” because they are the best.

Of course this lesson is painfully incorrect. It is based upon the premises that human decisions are rational and results are fair. These beliefs are disconnected from reality. Not to say all decisions are completely devoid of these, but they alone are insufficient to bring the “best” to the top.

Is it your experience that the most qualified person always wins? I bet you have seen countless examples where the “best” person for the job doesn’t actually get the job. Have you ever done the “best” work, and not been picked?

In our country, does the “best” person to be President always sit in the White House? According to about half the country the answer may be “yes,” but the other half “no”. Many people may feel it is not even a choice of the two “best“. Rather, it was choice of lesser evils. The cream certainly does not always raise to the top in politics.

People, and the things we pick, rise above others for reasons well beyond their merit. The “best” selling products are not always bought because their superior quality. It is the product with the best story that wins. It is the politician with the narrative that connects with the most voters that is picked. It is attorney that is able to craft the best authentic story that gives her client the best chance.

One needs only to look to milk itself to see past it’s false metaphor. If the milk gods truly believed their own aphorism, there would be no need for celebrities with milk mustaches and a tagline. If the cream always raises to the top, people would already gotten it before the television commercials and billboards.