Israel Educational Television has recently shot a short educational film explaining road safety for kids. This is a new episode of the famous eighties TV series called ‘The Friendly Doberman’ although everyone knows it by the name of its canine protagonist, Dobby Doberman.
I thought this might be a good time to discuss a lie we have all been taught: throughout the 1980s when there was only one channel on Israeli TV, every child learned how to cross the road from the friendly neighborhood dog, Dobby. Two of the many slogans we memorize till this day are: ‘Crossing the road in a straight line – is safer and shorter‘ (it rhymes in Hebrew), and ‘Diagonally means dangerously‘. Since this was a fraud on a massive scale, and since to this day any thirty year old can easily cite these erroneous slogans, I took the time to create an easy to understand diagram showing how we were fooled to believe this fallacy:
To show that crossing a road in a straight line is shorter, two kids (shown here in red) were placed in two different starting points, and crossed the road in order to reach the same finishing point. That was the basis of the perpetrated fraud: sport runners start any competition at the same spot and ends it at the same spot. If two kids are placed in the same starting point and cross the road in order to reach the same finishing point (shown here in green) it is evident that crossing diagonally is much shorter than walking in straight lines – hence your third grade math teacher was right: a straight line provides the shortest connection between two points.