Why do people throw rocks in rivers?

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time outdoors recently; I frequent the rivers, lakes and hiking trails. One thing I’ve noticed is how often people throw rocks into rivers and lakes. Even the youngest children instinctively do this. It does make me wonder if, given enough time, those bodies of water will become shallower and wider. After all, nobody goes in after them and puts the rocks back.
This behavior seems so universal that there must be an evolutionary explanation for it.
Perhaps our ancestors needed to probe bodies of water before crossing them or drinking from them. Throwing rocks in the water would help reveal dangers such as crocodiles or piranha.
Similarly I got to thinking about how my cat paws the floor in front of her water bowl (and the bowl itself) before drinking.
I’ve always assumed this is because her distant ancestors used to sometimes have to dig for water, or clear away vegetation, insects etc. to get to clean water. The Daily Cat has another explanation:

The Bowl Prober
Bowl probers sometimes paw their water bowls before they drink. The reason: it’s following the pattern of “wild cat ancestors who need to test the water to make sure it is safe,” says Moore. Cats’ paw pads constitute one of their most sensitive areas so, “Pawing the water helps some indoor cats check for any possible ‘dangers’ lurking in the water bowl.”

People don’t often think about it, but we are not so far removed from our primal instincts as we like to think. “Modern Man” is but a thin veneer, and a fragile one at that.
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19 Responses to Why do people throw rocks in rivers?

  1. Brutus says:

    I think it’s because we just know that rocks belong in water. Also, SPLOOSH! I mean, SPLOOSH! It just doesn’t get much better than that.

  2. I like throwing rocks in lakes because I love to see the concentric circles. I throw them in rivers because I love to see the distorted concentric circles moving downstream.
    But you’re probably right–it is probably an instinctive thing. (Spitting off of bridges, on the other hand, is probably an ur-religious thing. I have to mix myself with the mother river.)
    There is a great scene in Parker & Stone’s first movie in which a bunch of 19th Century miners have to cross an unknown river. They speculate as to how deep it is, to no avail. Then one throws are rock in.
    “What was that for?”
    (Sheepishly) “I don’t know.”

  3. Yew Among You says:

    What do you think of Obsidian’s take on HBD?

  4. Dan says:

    Check out Ron Unz’s comments at Audacious Epigone. He basically confesses to fudging his data.
    He admits he achieved his low rural IQ by fudging his data, removing from the rural data small towns and other things, leaving only those who live on farms. He says he did this because that way “the contrast was the starkest” — in other words, presumably the small town data did not fit his notion of low rural IQ.
    Farm population is less than 2% of the US population and only one subset of the rural population, so this is extreme cherry picking.
    If he was willing to do this, he must not have much respect for data, or the truth.

  5. Black Death says:

    Thanks for the link to “The Daily Cat.”

  6. Probably the next Hitler says:

    What is this thing you hyoo-mawns call “fun?”

  7. JI says:

    I think it’s mostly boys and men who do this.

    • Oh, I hadn’t noticed. Sounds plausible. It’s definitely only males who feel compelled to spit in rivers. Not all of us, of course, but I’ve noticed plenty of us guys who can’t help but do it.
      Then we decry our saliva deficit later. Present-time orientation–it’s a killer.

    • Harold says:

      When I was a boy, a television show I used to watch had an episode in which its female protagonist dressed up as, and acted like, a boy. One behaviour she adopted in order to act like a boy was jumping up and slapping the overhead beams as she walked down the school corridor. I remember this because this was something I did, and because I made a point to observe who else did this. Only boys ever did.
      Maybe knowing which branches of trees could be reached with a jump was useful in our ancestral environment?

  8. Iforgot says:

    “After all, nobody goes in after them and puts the rocks back.”
    Actually, there is a huge federal agency with thousands of employees and billions of dollars budgeted. The FBRTRR – Federal Bureau of Recreationally Thrown Rock Retrievers – or something like that. Or if there’s not such a thing, give ’em a little while.

  9. Justthisguy says:

    Off-topic, but yesterday I read every post on this blog. Why, yes, I do think I have some autistic tendencies. Henceforth, JAY is one of my daily reads.
    Cats are weird. They may have brains the size of walnuts, but they do seem to have the same emotions we do. I miss my dear dead kitty, MIA at the age of 17.
    Due to the quirks of wordpress, I am going to post this with a non-working, but old and genuine email addy. The link to my blog works just fine.

  10. rjp says:

    With “It does make me wonder if, given enough time, those bodies of water will become shallower and wider.”, you make the assumption that it is a closed body. The Great Salt Lake comes to mind as it has no outlet, and a very low in flow, so there it could happen, but in most cases the water displaced is just forced out or forward in the case of a river.
    Why do we throw rocks in water? To test depth, try to hit a target, hear the splash. To see the pattern when we break the perfection of of a completely still body. To watch the ripples.
    More often than not at a serene body of water, I would look for a flat stone that I can skip across the water, trying to see how many skips/bounces I can get it to do across the water before it loses momentum and sinks, and also to watch the pattern the spiraling bouncing stone makes.

  11. Annoyed says:

    Not related to your post but when will AMREN have a discussion forum? The comments section is not sufficent.

    • This is the AmRen discussion forum.
      Naw just kidding. I don’t know too many actual pro-White discussion forums, just comment sections. Inverted World / White America had one, but it’s gone (probably because Ian got threatened out of the movement).

      • Annoyed says:

        White America was almost always empty, hardly anyone posted on it(but I did for a while).
        Ians website is now offline, which is unfortunante.

  12. Californian says:

    Throw rocks into bodies of water? Perhaps to interact with nature. To assure ourselves it’s all real. This is more so today when people live much of their lives via television, twitters and assorted electronic media. After all, there is no “save-reload” button in the real world.
    Anyway, good post.

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