Has the Self-Help Industry Sold Us a Pup?


English folklore tells of an old swindle. A peasant goes to market to buy his family a piglet. Piglets are much cheaper than adult pigs, and they can be fed on scraps. Once grown and fattened, they are slaughtered to provide a source of food for the whole family through the lean winter months.

The peasant has saved every spare penny to buy this piglet. And when he gets to the market, he notices an extra special deal. There’s a trader selling piglets, already put into sacks, at a discount. With the money he saves from what the thought the piglet would cost, the peasant can buy himself a beer or two on his journey home.

Dizzy on beer, he’s in a jolly mood the whole walk home. In his hut, he opens the sack, his whole family gathered around to see this piglet, a small animal they will put all their hope in to help them survive the winter months. The sack wiggles, the peasant shakes it, laughing with glee. That is, until the piglet emerges. It’s not a piglet. It’s a scrawny little dog.