April 29, 2008


Some animals really piss Natalie Angier off. And she's looking into her bigotry problem:
Our proneness to biobigotry, experts said, arises from several salient human traits. For one, we are equipped with an often overactive theory of mind — the conviction that those around you have their own minds, goals and desires, and that it might behoove you to anticipate what they’ll do next. We spin elaborate narratives out of the slenderest of observational threads: Look, the blue jay is trying to dislodge the cowbird from the feeder. Could the jay know the cowbird is a nest parasite and be trying to drum it out of town? “We interpret animal behaviors through a human lens and human morality,” said Mr. Fraser, the conservation psychologist.
Yeah? Well, I'm mad. And that's a fact:


Ron said...

Rev Wright would tell that bird he's dancin' on the wrong beat!

rhhardin said...

Vicki Hearne :

There is a parrot living in a bar in Tijuana - I have this on excellent authority - who causes people to order more drink than they intended by sidling up to them, cocking his head, and asking, ``Can you talk?'' ...

... [T]he human resentment of parrots, especially all the talk about their having devils in them and so on, springs not from their startling ability to utter human phrases but from their aggravating refusal to let you choose the topic. You know how it is. You go up to a parrot, and he's probably in a cage and you're not, so you feel pretty superior, maybe you even think you can feel sorry for the parrot, and you ask the parrot how he is, and he says something gnomic like, ``So's your old man,'' or ``How fine and purple are the swallows of late summer.'' Then the parrot looks at you in a really interested, expectant way, to see if you're going to keep your end up. At first you think you've been insulted, but a parrot is too cool to throw insults around, unlike a blue jay, and once you notice that, you start trying to figure out what the parrot means by it, and there you are. You haven't a prayer of reintroducing whatever topic you had in mind. That's why philosophers keep denying that parrots can talk, of course, because a philosopher really likes to keep control of a conversation.

- Vicki Hearne, _Animal Happiness_ p.4

Bissage said...

When it comes to cold-blooded, ruthlessly efficient killing, anthropomorphic animals are to be feared the most!

Paul Zrimsek said...

I will ignore biobigots' advice.

This has come up here before.

Pogo said...

Mr. Fraser, the conservation psychologist?

"Conservation psychology is the scientific study of the reciprocal relationships between humans and the rest of nature, with a particular focus on how to encourage conservation of the natural world.

Conservation psychology is an applied field that uses psychological principles, theories, or methods to understand and solve issues related to human aspects of conservation. "

Surely they are kidding, no?
And research!!

Environmental Locus of Control, Sympathy, and Proenvironmental Behavior
"Specifically, Geller proposed that "actively caring," a component of altruism, mediated the relation between environmentally responsible behaviors and personality factors related to self-affirmation (i.e., self-esteem, belonging, and personal control).

The present study tested this hypothesis. Participants completed a lengthy questionnaire ...Results were largely consistent with Geller’s model. Specifically, sympathy, the proxy measure of actively caring used in this study, mediated the relation between personal control and environmentally friendly behaviors."

Freakin hilarious!
People actually get paid to write this stuff! I kid you not.
It must come from taxes. How else does such tripe get rewarded?

Christy said...

Bissage, that is hilarious.

Am I evil in that I loved the kangaroo kicking the kid into the water?

George said...

I'm wearin'
Fur pajamas!

Cedarford said...

I do like it. Biobigotry, even the dread speciesism problem sounds like a new field in social justice that a crying need (of dissed species!) needs their own activist lawyers and Species Non-Discrimination Studies Center opening up next to the Black, Womyn's, and Queer University Departments.

Students will be educated why it is "morally wrong" to favor butterflies over ticks and give the lamprey less love than the llama. Pointed out that each student shower or use of disinfectant causes a "bacteria Holocaust" that should be mourned, not celebrated, and greater harmony with nature will come from human's use of less soap, detergent, and chlorox.

Activist lawyers can point out and sue on acts of discrimination - why should the Condor rescue project get more money than the rare Mexican puke-green slime mold, which is actually all over Mexico and not rare there - but "endangered and fighting to survive in it's limited US range".

rhhardin said...

why should the Condor rescue project get more money

Condors are vultures. They stand around watching and hoping your child will die.

Cedarford said...

Condors are vultures. They stand around watching and hoping your child will die.

The bastards! The evil bastards!
Or is that buzzards?

Trooper York said...

Gentle Ben had always had a tremendous rivalry with Yogi Bear. Ben felt he was a legitimate actor who brought dignity to his people, sort of like Sidney Poitier. But Yogi was always clowning around and acting the fool and his popularity stuck in Ben’s craw. After he lost his series he got even more pissed off. He was some what mollified when he stole Yogi’s wife Cindy away, but after she left him because of his drug abuse he was looking for another way to get back at Yogi. Yogi’s career was also in eclipse but now it was in a recent little upswing as he had a supporting role in his daughter’s new Disney series. Now Yogi had made a big mistake in the scandalous pictures he had approved for Vanity Fair. Gentle Ben could get back at Yogi because of the sex shots he approved of Miley Bear. It was the opportunity he was waiting for.
(Ricou Browning & John Florea, Gentle Ben, The E True Hollywood Story)

rhhardin said...

I buy Gentle Ben rice. US bears planting and weeding the paddies.

They put in salmon to keep them interested.

Tibore said...

"... a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, scornfully referred to the wildebeest that the hyenas frequently prey on as “wildeburgers.” Why? Because once a wildebeest has been caught, said the scientist, it just stands there with cowlike passivity and allows itself to be torn apart. Compare that with a zebra, the researcher said, which will go down fighting and kicking and cracking the predator’s jaw if it can."

Laughing out waaaaay loud! I never thought of it that way before. I'm gonna start calling them "wildeburgers" from now on because of this.

"Not that public attitudes can’t be changed. Bats, for example, were long considered vermin, but nowadays, in the wake of the wildly popular children’s book “Stella Luna,” they’ve taken on a magical air, as the mosquito-eating Tinkerbells that if you’re lucky will soon take up residence near you."

Aieeeeee! Shades of an old thread!! Lemme tell ya, I don't care what the kiddie book says, I will forever be creeped out by bats!

vbspurs said...

Bissage, George, Pogo, in fact, everyone who provided a link on this thread -- awesome, thanks!

The seediest subset of biobigotry is anthropomorphised animals in fairy tales, for the benefit of teaching us something.

Consider this dissection of Disney's Lady and the Tramp, my favourite part of the wonderful Whit Stillman, "Last Days of Disco".

[Josh describes Lady and the Tramp]

Josh Neff: [referring to Lady and the Tramp] There is something depressing about it, and it's not really about dogs. Except for some superficial bow-wow stuff at the start, the dogs all represent human types, which is where it gets into real trouble. Lady, the ostensible protagonist, is a fluffy blond Cocker Spaniel with absolutely nothing on her brain. She's great-looking, but - let's be honest - incredibly insipid. Tramp, the love interest, is a smarmy braggart of the most obnoxious kind - an oily jailbird out for a piece of tail, or... whatever he can get.

Charlotte Pingress: Oh, come on.

Josh Neff: No, he's a self-confessed chicken thief, and all-around sleazeball. What's the function of a film of this kind? Essentially as a primer on love and marriage directed at very young people, imprinting on their little psyches the idea that smooth-talking delinquents recently escaped from the local pound are a good match for nice girls from sheltered homes. When in ten years the icky human version of Tramp shows up around the house, their hormones will be racing and no one will understand why. Films like this program women to adore jerks.



Pogo said...


I will now watch that movie. it never appealed to me before, mostly because it had the word 'disco' in it, which is usually a harbinger of "a really bad time is about to be had by someone, most likely you there.".

vbspurs said...

Pogo, it's hard to find in most Blockbusters, and the DVD costs about 900 million dollars, but I am thrilled for you. You'll love it.

Don't worry overmuch about the disco content. Here's another quote, which is the film's quirky charm:

Josh Neff: Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this, that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh, for a few years - maybe many years - it'll be considered passé and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented and caricatured and sneered at, or - worse - completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and people going like *this*.

[strikes disco pose]

Josh Neff: , but we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn't understand will never understand: disco was much more, and much better, than all that. Disco was too great, and too much fun, to be gone forever! It's got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes.

I felt the same way about Duran Duran.


blake said...

Since when do women need to be trained to adore jerks?


rightwingprof said...

Biobigotry? Just shoot me now, before these "sophisticated" city idiots get any stupider.