Dog Training in Miami and Similarities in Human Psychology
Through the filter of our Miami dog training eye, who do you think wrote this and why do you think this pertains to Miami (hint: and other BSL/ BDL municipalities)? It wasn’t written for the pet industry or about any specific dog or breed.
Overreaction and Overly Specific Reactions to Rare Risks
Horrific events, such as the massacre in Aurora, can be catalysts for social and political change. Sometimes it seems that they’re the only catalyst; recall how drastically our policies toward terrorism changed after 9/11 despite how moribund they were before.
The problem is that fear can cloud our reasoning, causing us to overreact and to overly focus on the specifics. And the key is to steer our desire for change in that time of fear.
Our brains aren’t very good at probability and risk analysis. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. We think rare risks are more common than they are. We fear them more than probability indicates we should.
There is a lot of psychological research that tries to explain this, but one of the key findings is this: People tend to base risk analysis more on stories than on data. Stories engage us at a much more visceral level, especially stories that are vivid, exciting or personally involving.
If a friend tells you about getting mugged in a foreign country, that story is more likely to affect how safe you feel traveling to that country than reading a page of abstract crime statistics will.
Novelty plus dread plus a good story equals overreaction.
And who are the major storytellers these days? Television and the Internet. So when news programs and sites endlessly repeat the story from Aurora, with interviews with those in the theater, interviews with the families, and commentary by anyone who has a point to make, we start to think this is something to fear, rather than a rare event that almost never happens and isn’t worth worrying about. In other words, reading five stories about the same event feels somewhat like five separate events, and that skews our perceptions.
We see the effects of this all the time…*
This is exactly the case with Pit Bulls in the media! How many times do you hear and read recycled stories of a bite or scare in the media? Why is the media rerunning and demonizing a dog or breed that looks a certain way? If you don’t know the answer to this you need to go back to school. This is basic business in that readership, eyeballs, viewers, “likes” sensationalism, sex and danger because it sells!! Have you watched the news lately or ever? What types of articles and stories are reported on in the news, in magazines and on television? Would a society accept racism and bigotry? How would we react if the laws stated that no Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, black, white, grey, tan, maroon people, Latinos, Europeans, Asians…..etc. could live in Miami Dade? I think there would be outrage. So, where’s the outrage!? Why do we allow discrimination amongst companion animals that are part of our families? This is not civilized or just.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
But, there is good news! As rational human beings, independent thinkers and individuals you can THINK and rationalize and come to your own conclusions by yourself without the aid of media! Imagine that you don’t have to be brainwashed or have to read the propaganda or listen to media outlets. Imagine a life where you research all of the material and causes that matter to you and your family and you don’t rely on companies with ulterior motives and agendas to supply you with their information and news. This is not your reality it is theirs! While making these people rich and providing them with your precious commodity (your time and attention) you are averting and obfuscating the truth and your experience. You are not getting any empirical evidence that you can believe in by relying on someone else to inform you.
This is how the world used to be before iPods, iHpones, iComputers, iHops, iLives… let’s get back to reality of being a thoughtful, intelligent, conscious, compassionate, human race that doesn’t judge or discriminate based on race, gender, looks, shape, size or form. You should experience life for oneself and not through the prism of corporate America! Turn off your television, computer, take out your ear buds, head phones, unplug your radio and stop reading magazines and newspapers that all compete to force-feed (brainwash) you daily. Unplug from the world to actually live! Reevaluate your priorities, dreams and goals and what life means to you.
This may all sound drastic and radical, but for far too few people, this is life and reality! Learning by doing and experiencing! Bruce Schneier’s passage above and basic human psychology shows the same thing. Substitute the phrase “Pit Bull” in the above passage to see how and where this is relevant to the way we treat our pets / companion animals.
Ignorance and fear prevail wherever Breed Specific Legislation and Breed Discrimination Legislation (BSL and BDL) exist in the world. The hard to swallow truth is that if you tolerate BSL and BDL you tolerate racism and discrimination. Look in the mirror before you vote next time.
* Schneier, Bruce. “Crypto-Gram Newsletter.” Crypto-Gram. Web. 15 Aug. 2012.
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