Posted by Mikko on August 05, 2005
In Reply to: Re: "Wave a dead chicken over it." posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 05, 2005
: : : : : I am trying to track down the origin of the phrase "Wave a dead chicken over it." I have frequently heard this phrase used when someone is attempting to fix a balky mechanical or electronic device - especially a computer. Any ideas?
: : : : : P.S. I just waved a dead chicken (well, a rubber chicken - that's certainly not alive) over my computer while posting this message ;-)
: : : : I am thinking voodoo ritual or some other attempt at magically fixing something.
: : : Wave a dead chicken is a saying which means to make a token effort (wave a dead chicken) which one knows will ultimately be completely useless but must be done nonetheless so others are satisfied that enough effort has been used to try and fix the problem.
: : : "I'll wave a dead chicken over the source code, but I really think we've run into an OS bug." It is a reference to the ritual animal sacrifices that some religions believe can prompt supernatural entities to render assistance.
: : : Compare voodoo programming, rain dance, casting the runes.
: : : Voodoo programming (a term derived from 'voodoo economics') is a tongue-in-cheek term for using a programming device, system or language which you do not fully understand. The implication is that the end result should not actually work, or even if it does work you will not know why. The term can also apply to doing something which you know should not work, but actually does work, such as recompiling some code which refuses to compile the first time.
: : : It is similar to black magic, except that black magic typically isn't documented and nobody understands it.
: : No one has mentioned "voodoo economics," George H.W. Bush's characterization of Ronald Reagan's economic plan while they were both campaigning for the presidency. Reagan won, and named Bush his Vice President, so Bush pretty much had to swallow his words. When he became President himself, Bush's own economic plan looked very much like voodoo economics to many people. SS
: Hey guys, be careful who you're accusing of voodoo! Old Testament Jewish ritual provided at some length for a form of sacrifice called the "wave offering", in which the priest simply waved the sacrificed animal or bird over the altar and the worshipper could then take it home and eat it (as opposed to the burnt offering, which you obviously didn't get to eat afterwards). The wave offering is described in Exodus 29:24,28; Leviticus 7:30,34; 8:27; 9:21; 10:14,15; 23:10,15,20; Numbers 6:20; 18:11,18,26-29. (VSD)
Thanks for the interesting post! It shows that this sort of ritual has Judeo-Christian roots. In our mindset we are inclined to place this kind of "voodoo ritual" automatically to some animistic culture of Africa. Probably thanks to the portrayals of the popular culture.