January 22, 2018

"If Bears were in charge..."


I found that because I was intrigued by the HuffPo headline "Neil deGrasse Tyson Has A Haunting Question About Bears." It's worth clicking on that link if only to make sure the quip you're about to make hasn't already been done. For example:

Also: Why did he capitalize "Bears"? I wasted time thinking about the football team.

100 comments:

Paco Wové said...

The HuffPo fails to distinguish the fine line between haunting and stupid.

Chuck said...

Does Althouse have a “Twitter” tag?

My immediate reaction to this was, “What a lot of inane stuff gets posted on Twitter! Without editors, the medium of Twitter seems to reduce authors’ I Q’s by about 30 points.”

exhelodrvr1 said...

A haunting question? More like "idiotic."

Crap!! I can't say that, can I? That's racist!!

Tim in Vermont said...

That’s the kind of deep thinking he does. What bears have we hunted to near extinction BTW? I mean he is just a sloppy thinker.

Kevin said...

Also: Why did he capitalize "Bears"?

Because if bears were in charge, we humans would learn to capitalize it out of respect.

Tim in Vermont said...

Tyson inhabits the “Nye Quadrant” in the domain of science.

https://judithcurry.com/2017/05/02/nyes-quadrant/

rehajm said...

I've become such a cynic I'm of the belief the only reason this tweet exists is to assist HuffPo in reviving Tyson's now stale meme 'destroying' 'climate change deniers'.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Dude needs to lay off the weed.

Lucien said...

If bears were in. Charge the winter vacation benefits would be awesome.

Fernandistein said...

One should never waste time thinking about a football team.

Quaestor said...

Thanks for the link, Tim. It explains everything, including the spurious capitalization.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Also: Why did he capitalize "Bears"? I wasted time thinking about the football team.


Voice to text artifact. Android phones capture emphasis in speech and determine capitalization of some words. Like any typo, you then have to find and fix.

Bob Boyd said...

Neil should leave this kind of thing to the experts. You don't see Jack Handy trying to do astrophysics.

Tim in Vermont said...

I think Bill is right. Pot gummy bears were responsible.

It would make more sense if it was about the Chicago Bears. Might even be the premise for a movie.

tcrosse said...

If the Bears were in charge, women would be marching against President Mike Ditka.

PackerBronco said...

Tyson, don't quit your day job ...

Quaestor said...

Thanks for the link, Tim. It explains everything, including the spurious capitalization.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Maybe, seeing as NDT is (allegedly) such a smart guy, he could think about the reasons bears are not in charge.

Tim in Vermont said...

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C10&q=degrasse+tyson&btnG=

Are you really an astro physicist if you don’t have any, you know, scientific papers published? Isn’t that like calling an English Major an author? Maybe I am missing something.

Quaestor said...

You don't see Jack Handy trying to do astrophysics.

You don't see Neil DeGrasse Tyson doing much of that, either.

LincolnTf said...

Deep Questions, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

If bears were in charge, would they give stuffed humans to their cubs?
If bears were in charge, would Yogi be President?
If bears were in charge, would honey be the universal currency?
If bears were in charge, would every movie star Leonardo DiCaprio?

Curious George said...

"Bob Boyd said...
Neil should leave this kind of thing to the experts. You don't see Jack Handy trying to do astrophysics."

You don't see NDT trying to do astrophysics either. He's the director of a planitarium.

mockturtle said...

My collections of Gary Larson cartoons are a reliable source of hearty laughter.

bwebster said...

Someone on Twitter was asking for an app that would resend every Neil deGrasse Tyson tweet prefaced with the text " *takes big bong hit*: ".

The idea works remarkably well. ..bruce..

Tim in Vermont said...

A bill signed into law Friday by Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it a crime to sell pot-infused candies in certain shapes.

Sponsors say that gummy bears, gummy worms and chewy candies shaped like fruits are too attractive to children.
- CBS Denver

Children and ‘astro physicists.”

Bob Boyd said...

"You don't see NDT trying to do astrophysics either. He's the director of a planitarium."

He may be an administrator now, but he has a doctorate in astrophysics from Columbia and was a research associate at Princeton and a research scientist at the planetarium before he became director, according to Wikipedia.
Maybe we can agree that what he is not is a comedy writer.

Tim in Vermont said...

Bob Boyd, maybe you can point to the work he did as a “scientist,” because Google Scholar doesn’t turn up much. It’s an honest question. I never looked into it until this morning, so maybe I am missing some paper he wrote that advanced the field.

Tim in Vermont said...

Wikipedia is a joke when anything to do with global warming is involved, and they are protecting one of their own in that bio. But, as I said, I could be wrong.

Darkisland said...

If bears were in charge there would be no global warming hoax.

They can't write and even if they could they could not read the propaganda. They can't build power plants to provide heat and light. So no fake "carbon" emissions to write about.

In fact, bears can't really do much of anything.

Why are we having this discussion?

Why am I participating? Thanks Ann, for this time sink you call a blog.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

Tim,

The reason Wikipedia is a joke regarding global whatsit is an explicit policy of founder and mastermind Jimmy Wales. As a matter of Wikipedia policy, he said in a Wired interview 10-15 years ago, skepticism of global whatsit will not be allowed in Wikipedia. Any that gets posted will be deleted immediately.

John Henry

Bob Boyd said...

I'm not interested in defending NDT's science cred. My point was that his tweet wasn't very funny.

How about this:
Neil should leave this kind of thing to the experts. You don't see Jack Handy trying to direct a planetarium.
Better?

Curious George said...

I don't believe humor was the goal. He's preaching.

Quaestor said...

If one were to befriend some of the guys and gals wearing the "Smokey the Bear" hats in our national parks one would discover that a surprising number of them have advanced degrees — mostly masters but certainly a few doctorates as well. These are examples of what I call academoids, people with scholastic aptitude but without the obsessive curiosity that makes a good scientist or historian. Teamed with a good and generous faculty advisor academoids can complete a dissertation or Ph.D. research project and get published, but after being awarded the degree the fire goes out. To a real scholar, the degree is a means to an end, and not even a necessary means at that, but to an academoid, the degree (and the career opportunities which may follow) is the end in itself. Without the discovery imperative, academoids don't do much original work in their fields. Instead, they go after a secure income, in a university preferably because of the prestige factor, but underneath a big chapeau if necessary.

Picture Tyson in a Smokey hat and you'll get the measure of the fellow.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Bears in caps because there are some at HuffPo and the Progressive movement who truly believe that mammals are of a higher order that mere humans...

Bob Boyd said...

"I don't believe humor was the goal. He's preaching."

Probably both. But it wasn't funny, just preachy.

holdfast said...

The bear population is doing fine. Nature’s capacity for bears is limited, because they are big and hungry omnivores. Starving bears are revolting, sad and dangerous.

AllenS said...

If bears were in charge, there would not be any baby seals left for us to club.

Greg Hlatky said...

Bob Boyd, maybe you can point to the work he did as a “scientist,” because Google Scholar doesn’t turn up much.

Maybe he used his maiden name.

CStanley said...

My collections of Gary Larson cartoons are a reliable source of hearty laughter.

My daughter got me an anthology when I was recovering from abdominal surgery. Not only was the book too big and heavy but when I managed to sneak a look at it my laughter was too painful!

Thoughtful gift but terrible timing.

Unknown said...

He's capitalizing like Mr Trump!

Francisco D said...

If the McCaskey family (inherited Da Bears from George Halas) were in charge, it would be a disaster.

Fritz said...

I think we need to re-introduce grizzly bears to Central Park.

Rusty said...

If bears were in charge we'd know exactly where they shit.

who-knew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
who-knew said...

Well, I suppose Wisconsin may be an outlier, but bears certainly haven't been hunted to near extinction here. In fact they are kind of a nuisance.

David-2 said...

Happy to see that comic again! It is the absolute all-time best Far Side! (Beats even "... Chicken soup is good for you ... and it's nobody we know!")

Unknown said...

Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson (full text).

1991 Hugo Award for Best Short Story
1990 Nebula Award for Best Short Story

Big Mike said...

If a grizzly finds you alone and unarmed out in the woods, or a polar bear catches you unawares in a whiteout, you’ll discover that they do eat gummy people. Also fat people, skinny people, short people, children, etc. If anecdotal evidence is true, menstruating females are a special treat.

BDNYC said...

Tyson’s popularity mystifies me. I think people like him partly for his obnoxious know-it-all attitude, partly for his humor (or his attempts at humor) and, yes, partly for his race. Personally I find him to be very pompous and offputting. But to his credit, he’s more of a scientist than Bill Nye.

I’m surprised #metoo hasn’t ruined him. There’s a lingering rape accusation against him from decades ago.

tcrosse said...

There is a gummy candy called Licorice Babies, but that's not what they were called when I was a kid.

Static Ping said...

What bears have we hunted to near extinction BTW?

Good question. Poking around Wikipedia, there are some:

Atlas Bear: Extinct circa 1870, almost certainly due to overhunting
California Grizzly Bear: Extinct c. 1925, intentionally hunted to extinction
Mexican Grizzly Bear: Extinct c. 1960, intentionally hunted to extinction

The latter two are subspecies. The California Grizzly Bear is the bear on the California flag.

Supposedly, the only endangered bear species at the moment is the Giant Panda. That has more to do with the loss of habitat than anything else as it is a very niche species. There are vulnerable species, some of which are due to hunting.

The Short-Faced Bear also is a popular result when searching for "extinct bears" but that went extinct around 11,000 B.C. The thing was gigantic, standing 11-12 feet tall when on its back legs.

BDNYC said...

Are pandas considered bears? I thought the jury was still out on that one.

Charlie said...

How did Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye get elevated to America's Science Experts? They are both dullards. And Michael Mann makes three.

Quaestor said...

The latter two are subspecies. The California Grizzly Bear is the bear on the California flag.

Modern phylogenetics has seriously fucked with traditional notions of species as a taxonomic concept. There may have never been a California Grizzly Bear or Mexican Grizzly Bear to go extinct in the first place. It's probably more accurate to say that Grizzlies no longer range into California and Mexico.

Brian said...

I was struck by the phrase "in charge". Not "if bears were the dominant species" or "if bears were more intelligent than humans" or something else. But "in charge". I think that goes with the capitalization.

Who is handing out the jobs here? I can't imagine that NDT thinks God handed out the assignments.

"If only those pesky bears would take charge and eat us into extinction".

Curious George said...

"AllenS said...
If bears were in charge, there would not be any baby seals left for us to club."

Funny.

mockturtle said...

Fritz suggests: I think we need to re-introduce grizzly bears to Central Park.

What a great idea! Other reintroduction sites might include Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Volunteer Park in Seattle and Boston Common. That way, those favoring these policies would get them up close and personal.

Quaestor said...

Are pandas considered bears? I thought the jury was still out on that one.

The giant panda is definitely an ursid. That's about as settled as science gets. However, there is also the red panda, which has been the subject of much taxonomic confusion since it was first described in 1825. Phylogenetic studies have determined that the red panda is the sole member of the family Ailuridae, which is most closely related to the Mustelidae, the weasel-badger-otter clan. Interestingly the critters markings got scientists fixated n a supposed relationship to other ringtails like the raccoon and coatimundi, the Procyonidae. However, if one just ignores the mask and the rings the red panda's resemblance to the marten and the fisher is striking.

Big Mike said...

I think we need to re-introduce grizzly bears to Central Park.

That far East they’d be black bears, but point taken. Think of all those nannies pushing strollers just chock full of bite-sized goodies.

dbp said...

NDT is the captain of the pseudo profound. He is a supposedly "very smart intellectual" but his aphorisms usually fall flat upon mild inspection.

"If Bears were in charge..." If bears were capable of being in charge, they would already be in charge. If they were somehow placed in charge, they would not be for long. If they could create gummy anything, they would be humans.

Quaestor said...

I think we need to re-introduce grizzly bears to Central Park.

Fuck that, we need to reintroduce grizzly bears to Brooklyn. Then all those bearded betas wearing Pendleton shirts can finally put their Herman Survivors to good use. And few hungry Kodiaks released in Gracie Manor would do Gotham a big favor as well.

Quaestor said...

Damn! Just as I clicked "Publish Your Comment" I realized peckish Kodiaks would have been perfect. But one should avoid changing fantasy horses in mid-stream of consciousness.

MikeD said...

NDT came to attention in the disastrous remake of Sagan's "Cosmos" series. Twitchy has a meme "deep tho'ts from NDT", it's hilarious.

Martin said...

Maybe he was talking about Da Bears.

God knows, it's stupid either way, but no more so if it's about the football team.

Ipso Fatso said...

"I wasted time thinking about the football team." --Althouse

You and about 8 million people in Northern Illinois.

#FireTheMcCaskeys!!!!

Bad Lieutenant said...

I realized peckish Kodiaks would have been perfect.

How about esurient?

But then it is over too soon. If the Obama's Administration were to collectively ditch at sea, I would prefer their sharks to be only mildly peckish, snacky but not committed, and picky enough to take a bite then spit it out if 'twere in bad taste.

Jupiter said...

Tim in Vermont said...
"Bob Boyd, maybe you can point to the work he did as a “scientist,” because Google Scholar doesn’t turn up much."

There's lots of stuff for N D Tyson, about exploding superluminary yadda-yadda. Looks like it's mostly pretty old, though. I'd say he probably understands multivariate calculus, which is my low-bar standard for a "real scientist".

Jupiter said...

So this AM there has been a rush on NDT at Google Scholar, and on RBG at Google images.

Tim in Vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim in Vermont said...

He did do some real work in the ‘90s, it appears.

Static Ping said...

It's probably more accurate to say that Grizzlies no longer range into California and Mexico.

I am not an expert on the subject, but you probably are correct. There also seemed to be some indication that the California Grizzly and Mexican Grizzly are probably the same or very similar animals separated by a political border. The Atlas Bear does appear to be a distinct species by any definition and was the last bear species in Africa.

Gahrie said...

Extinction is a valid and important part of evolution. By preventing species from becoming extinct we are interfering with evolution.

wildswan said...

What if it was Bears v Chicago Bears in Grant Park next September? And the Bears won? Who then would go to the Superbowl?

wildswan said...

What if the Women's March was accompanied by a 100,000 cat Pussy March? Would that be like herding cats? Would it be an insight into feminism?

wildswan said...

What if they gave out Gummy Bears at one end of the Mall and a chance to interact with live bears at the other end. In which direction would you march?

Jupiter said...

Gahrie said...
"Extinction is a valid and important part of evolution. By preventing species from becoming extinct we are interfering with evolution."

Evolution would say that we are a part of the environment, and the species we prevent from becoming extinct have adapted to that environment. Evolution is OK with that.

Jupiter said...

Evolution hasn't got a dog in this fight.

wildswan said...

Do the Democrats look like a little girl facing a raging bull as they try to explain why they shut down the government over the weekend and opened it again on Monday because Dreamers and how that was different from every weekend because weekend?

Tim in Vermont said...

Maybe it was the Bad News Bears he was picturing on the murder spree!

Michael in ArchDen said...

If bears (or Bears) were in change, and hunted us to near-extinction, there's no reason to think they'd pass laws to protect us from extinction.

The Godfather said...

I remember a cartoon that MUST have been by Gary Larson showing two Godzilla-type monsters rampaging through a city, and one has picked up a bus and is starting to eat it, and he says to the other monster, "I love these things: Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside." Could Larson by plagerizing himself?

Steven said...

The eight species of bear and their IUCN rating:

American Black Bear: Least Concern
Asian Black Bear: Vulnerable
Brown Bear: Least Concern
Giant Panda: Vulnerable
Polar Bear: Vulnerable
Sloth Bear: Vulnerable
Spectacled Bear: Vulnerable
Sun Bear: Vulnerable

We will accordingly note none of the extant species of bear is "near extinction", in that none has an IUCN status of "Endangered", "Critically Endangered", or "Extinct in the Wild".

It is true that the brown bear (known as the grizzly in North America) has been driven from most of its former range in the lower 48 states and from Mexico. This does not mean it is "near extinction"; it ranges from western Canada through Alaska and Eurasia all the way to Sweden.

veni vidi vici said...

Neal Tyson figured out early that if he interposed the flouncy "DeGrasse" into the lurch, he come out sounding like an Important Person, rather than a former varsity football player cum mid-level shoe salesman at an inner-city shopping mall.

Good move, that.

mockturtle said...

I remember a cartoon that MUST have been by Gary Larson showing two Godzilla-type monsters rampaging through a city, and one has picked up a bus and is starting to eat it, and he says to the other monster, "I love these things: Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside." Could Larson by plagerizing himself?

I would guess that someone else is plagiarizing Larson.

Freeman Hunt said...

How is that a haunting question? Of course they would.

Francisco D said...

Wild Swan,

The Chicago Bears would never win. Too many injuries or something like that.

- lifelong Bears fan and McCaskey family hater

Ann Althouse said...

The word “haunt” is way overused. I should do a post about that.

Freeman Hunt said...

If bears were in charge, they'd all drive huge, gas-guzzling SUVs.

Freeman Hunt said...

If bears were in charge, ceilings would be higher, manicurists would be in high demand, and outerwear sales would be down.

Freeman Hunt said...

There would be no need for a fat acceptance movement among bears.

Freeman Hunt said...

If bears were in charge, the fiscal year would begin in the spring and end in the fall.

If bears were in charge, some sports, like football, would be better, but others, like basketball, would be worse.

If bears were in charge, fishing shows would get higher ratings.

If bears were in charge, raw food wouldn't be a special diet.

If bears were in charge, Canada would be a more important country.

If bears were in charge, all-you-can-eat buffets would only be open in summer.

If bears were in charge, bald animals would be considered cuddly.

Gahrie said...

Colorado just passed a law making Marijuana gummy bears illegal.

You can still get them here in California.

Francisco D said...

@Freeman,

Intriguing and well made points/suppositions.

It's nice to see more input from the smart people on this site.

Freeman Hunt said...

If bears were in charge, smart people would live in deserts and swamps.

If bears were in charge, gummy people would be berry flavored.

If bears were in charge, yogurt containers would be honey containers.

If bears were in charge, elevators would have higher weight limits.

If bears were in charge, grizzlies would be deplorables.

If bears were in charge, police would have to handle exponentially more maulings.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Things to do:
1. evolve opposable thumb

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Win some, lose some.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaRRMbPwdwc

Kep Hartman said...

If bears were in charge, there would be a Neil DeUrsus Tyson whose constant bloviations proved what a nitwit he was.

Kep Hartman said...

BTW: That;s one of my favorite Larson comics.

OT: The other is a dog hanging out a car window excitedly talking to a cat: "And after we go to the park, I get to go to the Dr. to get tutored!"

Big Mike said...

Things to do:

1. evolve opposable thumb


Pandas already did. Instead of a modified finger bone ig is a modified wrist bone on the outside of the hand. But it works.

Static Ping said...

If bears were in charge, hibernation security would be big business.