Jackalopes, Information and Belief

My mother used to travel doing PR work in the summer in the Plains States (esp Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado). One year she casually bought a post card of a Jackalope and sent it to her neice’s son (about 12 at the time). His mother later reported that the son seemed to be obsessed with the card and spent what seemed like hours staring at it.

Who wouldn’t want one of these?

Finally, after about a week, he broached the topic at the dinner table. “Mama?” trying to sound as disinterested as possible “Do you think we could maybe try raising some jackalope?” It quickly became a story his mother dined out on (and embellished, she was a great storyteller). Oddly enough, he had been in the Plains States as a much younger child and would have seen the post cards and/or stuffed jackalopes but they didn’t make any impression then.

Rumours of my existence are highly exaggerated.

That was life before the internet. Now, he would have jumped online and found out that no such thing really exists and gotten over his disappointment without ever betraying how cool he thought the idea of rabbits with horns is. At the time the best he could hope to do would be head to the public library, not conveniently located for a kid in the countryside – his family lived in Cowboy Florida, which most outsiders don’t even realize is a thing, but it is. And once in the library he’d have to try to find wildlife books and scour through them or hope there was an entry in the Encyclopedia (which there probably wouldn’t have been because enclydopedias were serious business then).

So instead of instant knowledge of cold reality he had a week to ten days of a beautiful dream of raising and looking after a herd of horned jackrabbits. It ended suddenly, in a way that caused some embarassment but he had those few days…

This will crush your dreams much more slowly than google will.

As much as I love the internet at times I kind of miss that more innocent time when believing in weird information and being ignorant of what was going on in the other half the country was easier.

When I think of it, jackalopes don’t necessarily seem more improbable than animals that are known to be real like narwhals or naked mole rats. They’re a big improvement on naked mole rats I’d say, those buggers seriously creep me out.

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