Psychopaths and Turtles

Cecil TurtleI’m not nearly one of the first to find this amazing video. And it probably won’t get that big because, you know, it’s amazing. It is really great. It has the two things that every great video needs: new information about something totally useless and humor of the nerd variety. On the second front, there are some jokes about what I assume are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I like this just from the standpoint that I don’t know what’s going on.

On the first front, this video offers up some excellent useless information. When I started reading the introduction to the video, I thought it was talking about how much people swerve to avoid hitting animals. It didn’t occur to me that people would swerve to hit an animal—at least beyond psychopaths. And yet, this guy finds that fully 6% of drivers will intentionally kill animals. This is shocking. And as he points out: turtles? Really?! Cecil Turtle? This makes me feel even worse about our society, and as you know, I wasn’t starting very high up the scale.

All the people who stop to help the animals are inspiring, however. Even people who are afraid! The woman with the plums is trying to disturb the snake to get it to move off the road. And I have a theory about the guy who threw rocks at the spider. He was trying to get it off the road—to save it. When that didn’t work, he assumed that the spider was fatally injured and so he killed it to end its suffering. So again: a fearful person nonetheless trying to help an animal.

Based upon his numbers, it looks like 25 out of his 1000 people sample stopped to help the animals. That’s 2.5% or less than half as many as intentionally killed animals. That’s not a happy thought.

Finally, there is the issue of what kinds of cars are driven by the animal murderers. He doesn’t provide us with information about what the distribution of all cars are, so we can’t be at all rigorous here. However, his data do indicate what we already know to be true: people in trucks and SUVs are more likely to be assholes. It is also true that men are more likely to drive trucks and SUVs. But then, that’s pretty much saying the same thing.

This video comes from The Undiscovered Space. I’m so impressed with him that I’m putting him on my Off Sites list.

Update (25 July 2012 11:27 am)

In a graph on the video, he indicates that 1.7% of snakes and 4.0% of turtles were saved. I don’t think he had equal numbers of tests for each animal. I say this, because he indicated that 4% of the animal savers were science haters. There was only one science hater, so there had to be 25 total animal savers. This is where I got the 2.5% number above. If there were equal numbers of tests for each animal, this number would be 1.4%.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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