ON EARWIGS

There is a commonly circulated urban legend concerning earwigs that their name is a reference to a particularly horrifying type of parasitism: that they propagate by burrowing into the human cranium through the ear canal, then tunnel their way into the brain’s gray matter where they lay their eggs.

In modernity, most discover this myth by encountering a statement of its negation. Nearly every text concerning earwigs includes, somewhere in the first few sentences, language similar to this: “Despite their nomenclature, earwigs do not actually propagate by burrowing into the human cranium through the ear canal to lay their eggs, though this is a commonly circulated urban legend.”

This commonly circulated statement of the myth's negation propagates by either burrowing into the human cranium through the ear canal as sound, or through the pupils as written word, before becoming memory in the brain. From there, it multiplies through repetition by the tongue or fingertips.

As a result, the original urban legend occupies the body of any statement of its negation, a parasite embedded within its own extermination, quietly spreading from one mind to another.


In this respect, antlions are a close cousin to earwigs.

Bloody Mary also propagates via negation.


THE MYRMECOLEON EFFECT