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Old 05 December 2011, 10:22 PM
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Mister Ed Camel dung

Comment: Not exactly new, but I have heard this from multiple sources over
the years, and haven't been able to find any references to either confirm
or refute it. It's a supposedly-true cautionary tale about blindly
following "conventional wisdom". For instance, a friend said it was
called the "Camel Dung Phenomenon", and that he'd heard it in a management
seminar:

--------
In World War II, the official instructions for preparing seat leather for
British warplanes included rubbing camel dung into the leather at one
point. Well, camel dung was in short supply in Britain, so a man was
tasked with determining whether some other substance (for instance, horse
or cow dung) might be substituted.

He asked everyone he could think of, but the answer was always the same:
"I don't know why, but that's the way we've always done it". Finally, he
found a retired veteran of the WWI North African campaigns, who was able
to shed some light.

"Back in those days, we had to use camels because horses couldn't survive
heavy work in the harsh desert conditions. The problem was, they would
balk when we used cow leather for their harnesses -- something about the
smell upset them. We found that rubbing camel dung into the leather would
mask the smell, and the camels would be fine with it."
--------
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