Education and Resources
Landskark Week 2013
Not only do we view the unknown with fear, we view it from a distance. When we view, assess and judge things from a distance we can't focus on the details and uniqueness of each individual part of the larger group. This creates what I call "the illusion of the homogeneity of otherness."
All pit bulls are mean. Pit bulls have stronger jaws. Pit bulls need "pit bull proof" toys or enclosures. These blanket statements are sterile assumptions about an entire group without any regard for truth and with no acknowledgment to the uniqueness of the individual members of the arbitrarily assembled group. When we take away individuality, it becomes much easier for us to take away value. Pit bulls aren't dogs any more, they are different...somehow "less than," and less valuable.
Tragically, we do the same things to groups of people. When we refer to gays, blacks, or illegals we gloss over the complexity and variety of the individual members and we assume a shallow sameness and homogeneity where it simply doesn't exist. When we speak of "them" and "they" we diminish the value of the individuals and it becomes easier to think of their wants, needs and rights as less valuable than our own.
Our labels may come from parts of who we are, but they don't define us. When we learn to zoom in and see the individuals then "blacks" become Cedric and Julia and "gays" become Sarah and Nick. Blacks and gays are large faceless groups but Cedric and Sarah are individuals who have thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. And while it may be convenient to assume that blacks like medium jawbreakers, Cedric may prefer the small ones...if he wants one at all.
For the first time ever on film...the elusive, cleverest of all species - Landshark! Watch as we brave the landwaters in our Landshark Cage and bring the terrifying close encounter into your living rooms.
(click for larger image)
If there is one thing that sharks and Landsharks have in common, it is their image problem. They are both viewed by many people with an irrational fear. It doesn't seem to matter that you are more likely to die on the way to the beach or drown while swimming. People don't fear those things with the same intensity they fear being attacked by a shark.
When we succumb to fear, we stop using our brain. There is a lot of information out there about the things we fear disproportionately to their actual risk and the biological and social reasons for that phenomena. Some of the reasons given for our irrational fears are
- disproportionate or sensational media coverage
- our evolutionary fear of predation (in the case of dog and shark attacks) and
- our inability to accurately asses danger in unnatural activities, such as driving (i.e. traveling at 70 MPH in a hunk of metal propelled by burning hydrocarbons).
When fear meets public policy, we go from neglecting our intellectual abilities to willfully suppressing them. When we do a "cost/benefit analysis," we weigh the positives of something against the risks that come with it. But with our cultural "boogie men" like Landshark, we do a "risk-only" analysis, considering only the danger that might be present - no matter how remote - and we ignore the possible benefits - no matter how great they might be. For instance when people propose pit bull bans, they only talk about bites, attacks and bad things. They don't mention that pit bulls and dogs of all breeds are statistically very safe to live with and bring a great deal of positive benefits into our lives.
To show the folly of risk-only analysis we can engage our brains in a little mental exercise:
If risk is the only thing we should consider when evaluating an issue, then why on earth would we ever leave a child with his/her parents?
According to an article in (ironically) the Denver Post:
- 250 to 300 children are murdered by their parents each year in the U.S. (10 times more than all dog related fatalities by all breeds annually and at least 25-30 times more than annual shark fatalities)
- Historically, one out of 33 homicides is a parent killing a child younger than 18
- Filicide is the third-leading cause of death in American children ages 5 to 14
- the murder of sons and daughters accounted for 3.1 percent of the 90,869 homicides in the U.S. from 1995 through 2000.
- Homicide is the leading cause of death in children 4 and younger and of children murdered before the age of 5, 61 percent were killed by parents
- Filicides are hands-on murders...while 61 percent of murder defendants used a gun, only 20 percent of parents who killed children used one. Children are beaten, shaken, drowned, smothered, poisoned and stabbed.
By these numbers parents present a far greater risk to children than sharks or pit bulls. And by a risk-only analysis we should take every kid from every parent immediately - because it's worth it if we can save just one child... So to "do something" and protect their citizens, maybe a city like Denver wants to lead the way and ban parents. If we stop using our brains...it starts to make sense.
(click for larger image)
A lot has changed since the 1980's...well...for most of us anyway.
Knowledge is the enemy of fear and ignorance. To perpetuate the myth of a "vicious breed" and the breed bans that can allegedly save us, anti-pit bull zealots have to exist in a time warp - stuck in the 1980's where their facts and research were born from fear and psuedo-science. This small faction of extremists completely ignore the thirty-plus years of empirical and scientific evidence that has contributed to a broad growth in understanding of canine behavior and public safety. Meanwhile, every other area of science continues to evolve...even for sharks, one of the oldest species on our planet.
In just the last decade over 100 new species of sharks have been discovered. Animals that weren't even known to exist in the '80's. Here are some of the most recent:
2013 - Mandarin Dogfish (Cirrhigaleus barbifer)
2012 - Galapagos Catshark (Bythaelurus giddingsi), Scalloped Hammerhead variant
2011 - African Dwarf Sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae), Phillipine Angel Shark (Squatina caillieti), Taiwan & South African Lanternsharks (Etmopterus), Portuguese Dogfish (Squalus formosus), Epaulette "walking" sharks (Hemiscyillum freycineti)
2006 - Houndshark variant (Mustelus hacat)
And while we're at it, 49 dog breeds out of 175 AKC breeds have been recognized since 1980 including the Australian Shepherd, Argentine Dogo, Cane Corso, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shar-Pei, Dogue de Bordeaux, and Neopolitan Mastiff.