Saturday, May 16, 2009

To save tigers, eat them?

In a previous post, I gave the counter-intuitive reasoning that "to save elephants, hunt elephants." I also suggested a more palatable solution: make paper out of elephant dung. Because elephants are a nuisance, locals look the other way when poachers come to town. As a result, poaching elephants is pervasive and elephants are on the brink of extinction. If locals stood to benefit from selling the hunting rights to elephants in their region, they would be firece protectors of elephants because elephants would be a big part of their own livelihood.

Does this logic work for preserving other endangered species like tigers?

I think it does, but I wonder if leading with the phrase "to save tigers, let's eat them," might be the wrong approach. It could just make the audience angry. It's usually a mistake to anger the audience you seek to win over, especially when compelling logic is on your side. This is because mad people don't reason well. They tend to stop listening. Then again, hoards of angry people might stir up controversy that draws attention to the issue.

That's what I think happened last week with John Stossel's 20-20 report describing PERC's unconventional logic that we can save wild tigers by making them marketable. As of the time of this post, there have been 431 comments on the online article and video, most of which are empassioned calls for ABC to fire John Stossel. If you believe that policymakers should entertain the idea of legalizing tiger farming, is this controversy positive or negative? I'm not really sure.

I don't think ABC should fire John Stossel, but I do wonder if Stossel could have put his report together more tactfully. In his report, he does not seem willing to weigh the logical points of the other side. This is especially apparent when Stossel calls the nice environmentalist out by saying "Your head's in the sand. Dream on." I agree that her head is in the sand, but that's not a very nice thing to say. I can see why people are angry with Stossel.

One last comment: the quote from the nice environmentalist "90 percent of Chinese people actually support the ban" is precisely the bad logic I addressed in a previous post. Popular support and good public perception do not make for correct policy.

I think we need to be logical, and I wonder what this 20-20 report does for our collective logic. What do you think? Is this report a good thing?

1 comment:

  1. Love how your blog is developing, Tony! I always hear that the best way to help buffalo is by eating them, too. I hadn't heard about Stossel's report (or his attitude!). Hmmm


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