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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe => Podcast Episodes => Topic started by: Steven Novella on May 18, 2019, 12:41:55 PM

Title: Episode #723
Post by: Steven Novella on May 18, 2019, 12:41:55 PM
Interview with Dark Matter specialist, Bjeorn Penning; News Items: 5G is Coming, Hardy Exoplanets, Moonquakes, Don't Farm Octopuses; Who's That Noisy; Science or Fiction
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: JohnM on May 18, 2019, 03:18:40 PM

Well, I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed by Cara coming out as pro-hunting. Someone as sensitive to past colonialism should know better. I get the impression she did not really challenge the economic statistics that were being presented by a conference which was paid for by a hunting lobby...

Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: GodHead on May 18, 2019, 04:02:22 PM
Lol. I bet you're one of the exact people that the Rogues were speaking out against.

Ever been to Africa, have you?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Gyroscope on May 18, 2019, 08:34:03 PM
I tried to send this message using the contact form on the main website but it appears to be broken. I have pasted it below:

Hi, I don't have a question or anything but I listened to Cara's gushing report on her trip to Namibia and just wanted to share my love of this great and beautiful country with her. I just came back from my 3rd trip there (I think I was actually there at the same time as Cara). I'm a photographer and have many photo's of the Namibian people, wildlife and landscapes but my most recent trip was to southern Namibia where Cara really HAS to go in the future. I would be honored if she got to see my work at my website. And yes she is right - you can't just visit this place once!

This is Namibia's landscapes from the southern part of the country:

 http://www.mordenohare.com.au/portfolios#/namibia/

Keep up the good work. As a patreon member I like the extra content you guys do and am very interested to see the direction things go in the future. Love the show! Oh and if you are curious Steve I also have a bird photography gallery on my website.

Regards, Morden.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: swan on May 18, 2019, 08:46:19 PM
Let's try "Posse of Planets" instead. Also, octopuses belong in gardens (in the shade), not on farms!

Well, I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed by Cara coming out as pro-hunting. Someone as sensitive to past colonialism should know better. I get the impression she did not really challenge the economic statistics that were being presented by a conference which was paid for by a hunting lobby...

Did Cara actually say anything at all that could be interpreted that way? Oh well... Anyway, if Adam Ruins Everything was on a channel that people actually watch then perhaps more people would understand the idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUA8i5S0YMU
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Gyroscope on May 18, 2019, 08:59:08 PM
I was very interested in Cara's comments about hunting and conservation. I have visited Africa 5 times (Namibia, Botswana, Kenya) and have had a life long interest in it. I am no expert on the topic but those visits plus following the hunting/conservation topics has made me long aware that this is a complex issue. Some observations are below and I hope that Cara will have a couple of people on her podcast or someone on this podcast who is an expert on the topic sometime. My gut reaction has always been to stop hunting but my head always says this is probably not the best way to approach the issue.

1) Different countries have different approaches to hunting and I think this may be a natural experiment playing out. Botswana has no hunting allowed and it focuses on photographic tourism and they have a very healthy population of animals particularly elephants BUT they have a high cost low volume model. It is very expensive to visit the lodges in the delta so they keep the numbers low, the impact low but good money coming in. Kenya by contrast has a high volume model and places like the Masai Mara are becoming over run with tourists and this can't help but impact on the environment somehow. Maybe in Kenya a hunting safari would have less impact on the environment but in Botswana it would be less desirable? Botswana by the way have suffered a lot less from poaching partly at least because they have a defense force who's main job is to patrol the parks and keep poachers out.

2) Even if hunting for sport was beneficial generally there are going to be exceptions to this rule. The lion is the main exception as shooting a male lion could have devastating impacts. If that lion has a pride then all his cubs will be killed when it is taken over by a new male lion. Theoretically you could shoot a a lion that doesn't have a pride but it is not always possible to tell and too difficult to police. I'd say lions should be off the table completely. For this reason maybe we should tolerate the 'canned lion hunting' operations in South Africa as distasteful as that is. Maybe those businesses take the pressure of wild lions?

3) Poaching and bush meat hunting I think has a WAY larger impact on the ecosystems particularly for the icon species like elephants and rhino's and these are also the species that are most sought after by trophy hunters. It's possible that if poaching were stopped completely, all these species might rebound in numbers even if low volume high cost trophy hunting were allowed.

4) I think it is important to take an overall ecosystem approach. In other words we have to be making decisions based on scientific data that helps preserve the ecosystem as whole rather than just sentimentally focusing on protecting one or 2 species. Taking care of the whole ecosystem naturally protects all species and if hunting helps protect the ecosystem then the loss of a few individuals as horrible as that seems to us should be accepted.

5) Hunting is not hunting. There are different countries who have different rules from hunting and charge different prices and disperse the monies from it in different ways. The question should not be do we allow trophy hunting or not (I think that cat is out of the bag in most areas) but which trophy hunting model or framework of regulations works the best. These regulations will be slightly different depending on the species and the ecosystem but there must be some basic rules that apply like the percentage of the hunters fee that gets paid into the local environmental groups and communities. I think it is fair to say that even if hunting in general benefited the environment there are many trophy hunting concessions and operations that are operating way outside the parameters that would allow that. They need to be properly regulated and that is difficult in some countries because of corruption or lack of government funds.

Anyway I hope to hear more on this topic from Cara! 
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on May 18, 2019, 09:28:53 PM
[...] I would be honored if she got to see my work at my website. And yes she is right - you can't just visit this place once!

This is Namibia's landscapes from the southern part of the country:

 http://www.mordenohare.com.au/portfolios#/namibia/

Oooh
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: DevoutCatalyst on May 18, 2019, 09:31:45 PM
Speaking of African languages, if Cara loves Namibia I hope she can study one of the indigenous languages. Would be lovely to hear her talk nerdy in, say, Khoekhoegowab.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: The Latinist on May 18, 2019, 11:50:41 PM
New website looks horrible: ridiculously huge banner image, awful fonts, no consistent color pallet, all-caps headers, huge amounts of space wasted on stats, grainy background images. The old site, for all its flaws, at least had a thoughtful and consistent design.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Zec on May 19, 2019, 03:04:48 AM
So trophy hunting is beneficial because of MONEY.
wow, that’s a skeptical approach. if it pays enough it’s science!
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Soldier of FORTRAN on May 19, 2019, 03:30:12 AM
Haven't listened yet but did they bring up:Those are the two pro-hunting I'd accept even if I were ideologically opposed.

Currently ambivalent.  Went fishing only once.  Felt bad for the fish.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on May 19, 2019, 05:23:29 AM
Is it just me, or is it not possible to see the information for each episode with the new website design? For example links to news items, the Science or Fiction items, and the skeptical quote.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 07:37:42 AM
First problem I noticed; not being able to scroll through the archive without repeatedly clicking on a separate scrollbar (edit: or the mouse scroll button, but it's sometimes more handy to use keyboard buttons). That makes the archive far more tedious.

No, I'm not seeing the links. Only the summary.

https://www.theskepticsguide.org/podcasts
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 08:24:28 AM
Haven't listened yet but did they bring up:
  • Auctioning off legitimate culls as hunts to fund operations
  • 'Hunting' as a major support for conservation
Those are the two pro-hunting I'd accept even if I were ideologically opposed.

I would say that if it's only about money, with the trophy hunting functioning as an excuse to give money, that means it's not really trophy hunting that's helping. It's about sucking up to rich bastards. Which we don't need to do.

If they have that kind of money to throw away on what is a luxury to them, it means they can pay more in taxes, and our governments can fund the programs directly. There are some things we shouldn't leave up to the free market to sort out, and conservation is among them. Including global conservation. It should be in all of our interest to preserve as much of the global ecosystem as possible, barring a few parasites.

I agree that tourism isn't the answer, which apparently was part of what Cara heard them compare it to. Instead we should actively reduce the amount of tourism to both reduce global emissions, and the damage tourists can do directly. Such as running over animals by accident, killing animals in "self-defense" because they react violently to you being somewhere you have no reason to be, or drowning tortoises because you have no idea what you're doing. And leaving garbage everywhere that animals can choke on or be cut up by.

Let local professionals take care of the conservation aspect, and let trophy hunters hunt trophies in the form of something other than animals that there's nothing impressive about killing.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: thelaker on May 19, 2019, 08:47:53 AM
Cara's activist self reveals itself again when she keeps using the term "factory farm", a term that she does not bother to define and is intended to evoke an emotional response:

https://www.agfoundation.org/news/what-is-a-factory-farm

"Why do people insist on using the word factory farm? Factory farm is a term used to evoke emotion, or rather, lack of emotion. It’s a term used by those who oppose modern farming and want farmers to go back 'to the good old days' of farming. The problem with 'the good old days' is they really weren’t that 'good' in regards to animal care."

Wikipedia calls it "intensive animal farming", which seems more descriptive to me without the scary "factory" word:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensive_animal_farming
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Zec on May 19, 2019, 10:05:48 AM
Cara's activist self reveals itself again when she keeps using the term "factory farm", a term that she does not bother to define and is intended to evoke an emotional response

the exact opposite argument can be made that “modern farming” or “intensive farming” are  term meant to dilute the reality of farming being inherently cruel.
(which is a fact).
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: DevoutCatalyst on May 19, 2019, 10:45:47 AM
"Why do people insist on using the word factory farm? Factory farm is a term used to evoke emotion, or rather, lack of emotion. It’s a term used by those who oppose modern farming and want farmers to go back 'to the good old days' of farming. The problem with 'the good old days' is they really weren’t that 'good' in regards to animal care."
It's a topic the SGU should cover, or Neurologica.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: swan on May 19, 2019, 11:59:35 AM
Is it just me, or is it not possible to see the information for each episode with the new website design? For example links to news items, the Science or Fiction items, and the skeptical quote.

The new design is pretty terrible to use, especially the "feature" where you can print the show notes but not actually read them (or search them, use the links, etc.) online. Oh, and the $%&#ing roll-up boxes so you can't search or scroll the list…! Fortunately they left the old site is running for now:

https://legacy.theskepticsguide.org/

Maybe it won't last, but hopefully Jay and the volunteers can fix the biggest issues before they drop support for the old site. I think that they, like way too many people today, were trying to make their phone & tablet friendly without realizing how gawdawful it is to use something like that on a desktop or laptop. Let's hope that they learn rule #1 of software testing: Testing should be done only by people who believe that the developers are their mortal enemies.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: brilligtove on May 19, 2019, 12:23:20 PM
Haven't listened yet but did they bring up:
  • Auctioning off legitimate culls as hunts to fund operations
  • 'Hunting' as a major support for conservation
Those are the two pro-hunting I'd accept even if I were ideologically opposed.

I would say that if it's only about money, with the trophy hunting functioning as an excuse to give money, that means it's not really trophy hunting that's helping. It's about sucking up to rich bastards. Which we don't need to do.

If they have that kind of money to throw away on what is a luxury to them, it means they can pay more in taxes, and our governments can fund the programs directly. There are some things we shouldn't leave up to the free market to sort out, and conservation is among them. Including global conservation. It should be in all of our interest to preserve as much of the global ecosystem as possible, barring a few parasites.

I agree that tourism isn't the answer, which apparently was part of what Cara heard them compare it to. Instead we should actively reduce the amount of tourism to both reduce global emissions, and the damage tourists can do directly. Such as running over animals by accident, killing animals in "self-defense" because they react violently to you being somewhere you have no reason to be, or drowning tortoises because you have no idea what you're doing. And leaving garbage everywhere that animals can choke on or be cut up by.

Let local professionals take care of the conservation aspect, and let trophy hunters hunt trophies in the form of something other than animals that there's nothing impressive about killing.

I'm curious what your qualifications and experience are in the domains of conservation, Africa (Namibia especially), and the intersection of the two?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 01:07:45 PM
I'm curious what your qualifications and experience are in the domains of conservation, Africa (Namibia especially), and the intersection of the two?

How about you give me some details, instead of trying to dismiss my comment without adding to the discussion.

What's wrong with my premise "if it's only about money"?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: brilligtove on May 19, 2019, 01:23:40 PM
I'm curious what your qualifications and experience are in the domains of conservation, Africa (Namibia especially), and the intersection of the two?

How about you give me some details, instead of trying to dismiss my comment without adding to the discussion.

What's wrong with my premise "if it's only about money"?

I have made no judgements and have not dismissed anything. Cara noted her limited credentials in the domains I asked about. You propose several actions she said would not be effective. Your credentials and experience are relevant to my figuring out how much expertise backs up your proposals.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Friendly Angel on May 19, 2019, 02:08:50 PM
I had to look up the pangolin - they really are cute.

(https://www.wildlifealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/World-Pangolin-Day.jpg)

And I think I could be convinced that conservation hunting has real benefits, but I don't think I could be convinced that the people who do it aren't assholes. 
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 02:25:54 PM
I have made no judgements and have not dismissed anything. Cara noted her limited credentials in the domains I asked about. You propose several actions she said would not be effective. Your credentials and experience are relevant to my figuring out how much expertise backs up your proposals.


I don't see this as something that depends on me doing deep research into the matter, but I wouldn't mind someone telling me why I'm wrong.

Adam says it's about money, qualifying it with that when it works well it works well. Cara says it's about money, and points out that tourism would have to happen at a larger scale (scaling up the negative aspects) to bring the same income, which I don't contest.

What I'm not seeing is what's inherent about trophy hunting that couldn't be accomplished by wealthy countries budgeting for conservation in countries that can't afford it on their own. Rather than relying on rich individuals treating the world as their playground to accomplish something, if we agree that we want to accomplish it, what's the barrier to funding it directly?

I'm not opposed to killing for conservation purposes. If an animal needs to be put down, then bring in a veterinarian or a trained hunter, whichever is more suitable. But unless there's a lack of people with the relevant skills, then sending money over should be enough to help. If here is a lack, then send someone over to stay there and help out for as long as they want to do that (within safe limits). Vets, biologists, rangers, anti-poaching units.

It's what we do in a lot of other circumstances. We don't sell tickets to rich CPR enthusiasts to deal with disease outbreaks in other countries. We send and pay for doctors and nurses.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on May 19, 2019, 02:32:22 PM
Instead we should actively reduce the amount of tourism to both reduce global emissions, and the damage tourists can do directly.

I think we should strive to make tourism emission-neutral, or at least reduce emissions.

To actively work to reduce tourism would significantly damage the income of the countries who receive tourists, many of whom are developing countries.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 04:02:21 PM
I think we should strive to make tourism emission-neutral, or at least reduce emissions.

To actively work to reduce tourism would significantly damage the income of the countries who receive tourists, many of whom are developing countries.

There is no way to be emissions neutral when you regularly travel thousands of kilometers. Not until we've already developed beyond using fossil fuels, because until then, the clean energy you use unnecessarily could've been used to reduce fossil fuel consumption instead.

If we switch out plane trips with train trips, that will significantly reduce emissions, but a large part of the reduction will be because people aren't going to use trains to go where they use planes now. Their trips will have to be shorter in distance to accomplish them in the same amount of time.

Or people will have to take longer holidays. They could spend more time in one place instead of taking several shorter duration trips.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 19, 2019, 05:18:46 PM
I hate ads in general. I'm not a fan of people acting as if an ad is not an ad. "Sponsored by" is a far superior way of doing it.

But for a change I'm going to say that I liked the ad that was released as a separate episode. That's a lot closer to the full disclosure approach I'd like to see. You know what it is before you play it (unless you autodownload, autoplay, etc.). And based on the annoying sound effects (on top of being aware of how he went nuts ringing that bell on StarTalk), I know that it's not worth bothering to check out that podcast. All the information I needed.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Harry Black on May 19, 2019, 06:23:53 PM
I think it would be good if rich countries took more responsibility for conservation. But until they do, trophy hunting seems like the least bad option to me.

We definitely need to find some way of reducing the number of planes in the sky. Perhaps something to make private jets a lot more expensive and inconvenient could help.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: BlackGriffen on May 19, 2019, 07:16:00 PM
"Throughput is speed." Not quite. Throughput is a flux, so it's more analogous to power and current. Admittedly, speed and fluxes are both rates of change with respect to time, so they can be thought of as 'speed', in a way. There is an important distinction, though. Throughput doesn't care how fast the information is moving along the channel. There's an old saying in the hacker community, "Never underestimate the bandwidth [throughput] of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." In that situation, you have a crap-ton of data moving along the highway at low speeds. Compare that to the internet, where you have relatively little data in transit at any one time moving near the speed of light.

In other words, the speed of the data is more closely tied to another concept latency (latency is the distance the data travels divided by the data's speed along the path).
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: postwaste on May 19, 2019, 09:18:01 PM
I thought pangolins were a type of jackal.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: brilligtove on May 19, 2019, 10:55:18 PM
I have made no judgements and have not dismissed anything. Cara noted her limited credentials in the domains I asked about. You propose several actions she said would not be effective. Your credentials and experience are relevant to my figuring out how much expertise backs up your proposals.


I don't see this as something that depends on me doing deep research into the matter, but I wouldn't mind someone telling me why I'm wrong.

Ok. Cara touched on several reasons why this particular version of trophy hunting is practical and useful - not perfect or 'right'.

Compared to the other options that can be made to happen IRL, this version of conservation prevents harm from poaching, prevents harm from unmanaged ecosystems (which need to be managed because humans won't pack up and leave), prevents harm from large numbers of tourists, prevents harm from farmers and other citizens killing 'pest' animals, and so on. At the same time it brings in huge amounts of money that are dedicated to conservation.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: The Latinist on May 20, 2019, 01:12:54 AM
Are those of you who are criticizing Cara’s comments opposed to all hunting, or only to particular kinds of hunting or hunting of particular species?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 20, 2019, 03:55:48 AM
I'm not necessarily against trophy hunting, my issue is with presenting it as if the good that it does couldn't be done without it. I'm not going to praise someone who travels around the world to kill a rare animal, if the actual good part is the money. If you want to give money to conservation, good, go ahead. But the people who would pamper you, and arrange all of it, probably have the necessary skills to do the hunting themselves. So what do you need to go there for?

I don't see the entertainment aspect of hunting being necessary. Which doesn't mean I'm against people enjoying themselves when they do something that's necessary, but I wouldn't use it as an argument for why something should be allowed.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Zec on May 20, 2019, 04:30:30 AM
Cara went there and talked to the lobbysts of trophy hunting and came out converted. That's hardly a skeptical approach.
This people have an interest, that should be a red flag.
So converted that enviromentalist institution are now "ill informed".
Has she talked to experts on the other side?
We need more than a purely utilitarian argument regarding something that is in my opinion morally debatable.
The question is: are there better ways to preserve wildlife than allowing assholes to kill endangered animals for money?
And is it really a net positive anyway?
here a more nuanced view.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/10/trophy-hunting-killing-saving-animals/
.

 
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Harry Black on May 20, 2019, 04:38:05 AM
If we could get people to give for the good of it then the problem would be easier to solve.
But we cant yet. We do have an interest in those animals though for various reasons, the best option I can see in that case is to monetise said interest and use it to help with conservation.
Not ideal, better than relying on charity from the kinds of people who want so badly to shoot lions though.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 20, 2019, 04:45:36 AM
One of the reasons we can't is because we let the very rich few have a massively skewed influence on our governments. One money, one vote. The two hundred million dollars mentioned in Adam's video is nothing compared to the taxes that are being legally avoided, let alone what could've been paid if the tax rates hadn't been significantly lowered over the recent decades.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: lonely moa on May 20, 2019, 05:13:05 AM
Trophy hunting (stags and thar) is a rather big industry in Aotearoa.  It brings in big bucks (oops) but delivers little in the need to cull those rather pesky and ruinous populations.  We rely on helicopters, professional shooters for the 200 plus kills/day for that.  Mind you, a dear (oops again) friend keeps us supplied with venison. Yum.

My contribution is helping rid Godzone of mice, rats, stoats, possums, hares, rabbits, and cats.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 20, 2019, 06:04:37 AM
Cara went there and talked to the lobbysts of trophy hunting and came out converted. That's hardly a skeptical approach.
This people have an interest, that should be a red flag.
So converted that enviromentalist institution are now "ill informed".
Has she talked to experts on the other side?
We need more than a purely utilitarian argument regarding something that is in my opinion morally debatable.
The question is: are there better ways to preserve wildlife than allowing assholes to kill endangered animals for money?
And is it really a net positive anyway?
here a more nuanced view.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/10/trophy-hunting-killing-saving-animals/
.

Listening again to what Cara said, there was one line in particular I think speaks to this; "trophy hunting, which is now called conservation hunting". That very much sounds like an attempt at rebranding. But conservation and trophy are not synonyms. Far more people are involved in conservation hunting than trophy hunting.

I also find Jay's reaction strange, apparently the details around trophy hunting has never come up before. That whole (but short) segment is framed in a way the SGU typically complains about for science journalism. Presenting new findings as if they completely overthrow what's already know, rather than the process being far more gradual, with persistent disagreements along the way.

Incidentally, I dislike PETA. They could do the world more good by shutting down and pointing their members elsewhere. And I think Greenpeace has significant flaws.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: seamas on May 20, 2019, 12:31:16 PM
There was a pretty good RadioLab episode that involved the ins-and outs of the whole Conservation hunting situation.

I have known for a while that there is and has been a substantial portion of the hunting community that takes conservation extremely seriously, but was always skeptical about people who pay big money to take down some endangered animal.
The episode in question was in regard to hunting an endangered rhino--which sounded extremely alarming to me.
But as the story progressed we come to learn than the hunter isn't getting a license to shoot any damned rhino he pleases, but a specific individual, who has aged out of breeding, but has posed a danger to the other rhinos in the preserve--apparently having killed other individuals.
The task isn't simple, and isn't quite a thing that the game warden would be able to do simply, so the hunter's experience and expertise will result in both a clean kill as well as a large amount of money for other conservation efforts.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on May 21, 2019, 08:06:15 PM
Are those of you who are criticizing Cara’s comments opposed to all hunting, or only to particular kinds of hunting or hunting of particular species?

Unregulated poaching is the problem - not sustainable conservation hunting. Too many people appear to conflate the two.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: BAWRFRS on May 22, 2019, 09:24:42 AM
But as the story progressed we come to learn than the hunter isn't getting a license to shoot any damned rhino he pleases, but a specific individual, who has aged out of breeding, but has posed a danger to the other rhinos in the preserve--apparently having killed other individuals.

This deserves emphasis; a number of posters above seem to miss this point.

So the hunted animals are going to be killed anyway - and/or their removal by hunting would actually help overall species population. That's a win for conservation.

As for the money generated, well, it's also a win for conservation, as locals hunting wouldn't likely bring as much in fees. And that's voluntary - an outright ban could be costlier to enforce, brings in no hunting fees, and isn't helpful in removing problem individuals from the species population.

I am definitely tempted by the appeal to nature (or naturalistic) - that if we just leave them alone to sort out their own issues with aged or aggressive individuals, that's good (and moral). But upon hearing the pro-hunting argument, it has a certain logic that is hard for me to dismiss. Another test, beyond reason, is empiricism. We could look at the effect upon endangered species populations of bans vs. limited trophy hunting. Obviously we would need to consider any species that are helped by such fees, not just the hunted one. As a simplistic example, if the fees from hunting animal X go 50% to help species X and 50% to help species Y, then the effect on Y must also be considered.

Anyway, sure, the hunters have a stake in their argument, I'm sure they want it to be true (that it helps overall, at the species level, not hurts). That doesn't mean it's not true, however.

This whole thing sort of reminds me of the arguments for and against paper (and harvesting trees). If we banned or attempted to sharply limit paper use, what does that do to the value of trees? All else equal, it goes down, and there's less economic incentive to have forests for productive use. That has second-order effects on air quality, soil, and so forth - tragedy of the commons stuff. It would be a good thing for forestry and the environment for trees to be in high demand, so as long as harvesting / replanting is done sustainably, the promotion of wood use (incl. paper) is a plus.

JMO. Willing to change it based on reason and evidence.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: daniel1948 on May 22, 2019, 11:07:33 AM
I tried to send this message using the contact form on the main website but it appears to be broken. I have pasted it below:

Hi, I don't have a question or anything but I listened to Cara's gushing report on her trip to Namibia and just wanted to share my love of this great and beautiful country with her. I just came back from my 3rd trip there (I think I was actually there at the same time as Cara). I'm a photographer and have many photo's of the Namibian people, wildlife and landscapes but my most recent trip was to southern Namibia where Cara really HAS to go in the future. I would be honored if she got to see my work at my website. And yes she is right - you can't just visit this place once!

This is Namibia's landscapes from the southern part of the country:

 http://www.mordenohare.com.au/portfolios#/namibia/

Keep up the good work. As a patreon member I like the extra content you guys do and am very interested to see the direction things go in the future. Love the show! Oh and if you are curious Steve I also have a bird photography gallery on my website.

Regards, Morden.


WOW! WOW! WOW! Just wow!!! Those photographs are gorgeous!

Note please that the rogues might not read all the posts in these forums, but if the contact form on the web site does not work, you can email them directly at:

info@theskepticsguide.org

Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: daniel1948 on May 22, 2019, 11:19:29 AM

Well, I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed by Cara coming out as pro-hunting. Someone as sensitive to past colonialism should know better. I get the impression she did not really challenge the economic statistics that were being presented by a conference which was paid for by a hunting lobby...

Cara made it clear that the hunting she was talking about was allowing hunters to kill specific individual animals that had been selected for culling. The department of government in charge of maintaining the wildlife populations regularly kills individuals that are sick or otherwise judged to be detrimental to the overall health of the herd. Rather than pay people to kill those individuals, they get people to pay them (obscene amounts of money) for the privilege of doing it.

Personally, I find hunting to be disgusting. But I find the slaughter of domestic animals to be far more disgusting because of the vastly greater number of animals murdered in order to provide an unhealthy food source at an enormous environmental cost.

Cara was not endorsing hunting. She was admitting that the kind of hunting in question serves a conservationist purpose. She also said that she could never engage in such activity. I agree with her: If you are going to actively manage a population by culling select individuals, it's better to get paid for it than to have to pay for it. As always, Cara is a voice of reason.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 22, 2019, 11:21:21 AM
I am definitely tempted by the appeal to nature (or naturalistic) - that if we just leave them alone to sort out their own issues with aged or aggressive individuals, that's good (and moral). But upon hearing the pro-hunting argument, it has a certain logic that is hard for me to dismiss.

Appeal to nature in this case would be to remove the human population, or to scale it down to pre-agricultural levels. And to stop any exports relying on more than walking. Which would probably work, apart from where the species have been reduced so much that they're dependent on purposeful artificial breeding to keep the populations viable.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: daniel1948 on May 22, 2019, 11:24:33 AM
So trophy hunting is beneficial because of MONEY.
wow, that’s a skeptical approach. if it pays enough it’s science!

No. See my post above.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: daniel1948 on May 22, 2019, 11:35:47 AM
Cara's activist self reveals itself again when she keeps using the term "factory farm", a term that she does not bother to define and is intended to evoke an emotional response:

We should have an emotional response to an industry that raises billions of animals in the most cruel and barbaric conditions imaginable, at enormous environmental cost, and then murders them in order to provide people with unhealthy food. A practice that any rational intelligence would shudder to contemplate.

We should not sterilize this industry with warm fuzzy language.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: daniel1948 on May 22, 2019, 12:00:04 PM
Incidentally, I dislike PETA.

Several decades ago I attended a protest operated by PETA. They start out with a very worthwhile goal: To end the cruel treatment of animals. But they were disrespectful, mean, and unpleasant. In their attitudes toward people they violate every principle they advocate, since people are animals too. I never associated myself with them again.
Title: Episode #723
Post by: CarbShark on May 22, 2019, 06:47:09 PM
I am definitely tempted by the appeal to nature (or naturalistic) - that if we just leave them alone to sort out their own issues with aged or aggressive individuals, that's good (and moral). But upon hearing the pro-hunting argument, it has a certain logic that is hard for me to dismiss.

Appeal to nature in this case would be to remove the human population, or to scale it down to pre-agricultural levels. And to stop any exports relying on more than walking. Which would probably work, apart from where the species have been reduced so much that they're dependent on purposeful artificial breeding to keep the populations viable.
The reason these conservation measures (hunting, culling) are necessary is that humans have dramatically reduced the population of large predators and reduced the land area of the habitats.

So the balance between predator and prey is tipped and without intervention the prey species would overpopulate their various habitats.

This is not unique to Africa. Most hunting in the US is based on the same principles. We eliminated wolves and grizzlies, nearly eliminated cougars and, without hunting, deer, elk, black bear and moose populations would become unsustainable. 


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Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on May 22, 2019, 07:58:01 PM
Right, because of the various impacts humans have and have had, it takes special efforts to avert extinction. Seemingly futile ones, as climate change marches on on top of all of it.

We still have people wanting to reexterminate wolves in Norway, because despite having a low human population density in a European context, there isn't enough room for them and the ranging sheep to exist separately.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on May 22, 2019, 09:47:20 PM
All this having been said, illegal poaching is still a massive problem and needs to be addressed. I wonder if that was something that was talked about at the conference that Cara attended.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: drmarkf on May 30, 2019, 06:32:51 AM
I'm a bit late on this because I've only just had time to listen to Cara's interview podcast all the way through.

I'm an amateur photographer who has photographed in 8 wildlife reserves in South Africa, Botswana and Malawi: I'm doing 3 more later this year. I have had prolonged discussions on this sort of subject with several people in SA. including some currently involved in conservation and one previously an anti-poaching ranger. So I have some first-hand local experience, but am very far from an expert.

Some personal comments:

The SGU episode did get my skeptical antennae buzzing over the perceived lack of balance: for such a complex and nuanced subject there was a very superficial discussion and frankly a credulous impression created. In fact, I was misled by the words chosen into thinking they were endorsing hunting of all types in Africa, even canned hunting. That was not the case, as I now know having heard the interview, but this just illustrates my point.

I would much rather ban African game hunting entirely, but when managed as described by Cara's interviewee, personally I would support it pragmatically. The keys are first that it should only be done of animals where culling is needed, and secondly that it remains expensive and a significant proportion of the cost goes to conservation (in the widest sense - a major usually unmet current need being supporting & educating local populations, and making the animals valuable alive to them, and the interviewee was right to emphasize local population pressure).

So, in well organised countries like Namibia and Botswana this works, however I have been given loads of examples from my SA friends about other African countries where all the money goes to local big game operators (with only a limited amount going in to conservation via the basic licence), and sometimes to organisations involved in poaching and supplying Chinese 'medicinal products'. There is also a penumbra of conservationy respectability created by the Namibian/Botswanan arrangements that in my experience is used to weaken controls in the more weakly-organised countries.

For example, have a look at the Wikipedia report on the bow killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in 2015, and perhaps anyone can tell me how much of the $50k paid by that dentist to the hunting operator went to support conservation? F-all, as we say over here.

I cannot see that import-export of trophies can ever be justified, and to be convinced otherwise I would need to see specific evidence that it is also not used to cover and facilitate movement of illegally killed animals and their products.

I am also skeptical of the strength of the evidence that each hunter in subsaharan Africa invests 1600x the amount (to conservation, or in total?) that each photographer does. That might be true in Namibia/Botswana where lodge & infrastructure prices etc are so high, but there are loads of cut-price operations in other countries run shall we say more 'flexibly'. A quick Google search reveals lots of differing alleged 'evidence-based' views on this.

So, Cara's eloquent interviewee was I assess reasonable as far as he went, but in my view an imbalanced pan-African picture was painted overall. I think a proper segment on the SGU is justified, after a 'deep dive', and I'd be very interested to listen to it. I also wonder if Cara is planning to interview anyone similarly eloquent but with the opposing view?

Anyway, to lighten things up a bit, here are a couple of links to blog posts from my most recent trip to Botswana:

https://www.microcontrast.com/new-blog/2018/11/2/patience-rewarded (https://www.microcontrast.com/new-blog/2018/11/2/patience-rewarded)
https://www.microcontrast.com/new-blog/2018/11/30/panthera-pardus-the-leopard (https://www.microcontrast.com/new-blog/2018/11/30/panthera-pardus-the-leopard)
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: stands2reason on May 30, 2019, 09:13:22 AM
"Throughput is speed." Not quite. Throughput is a flux, so it's more analogous to power and current. Admittedly, speed and fluxes are both rates of change with respect to time, so they can be thought of as 'speed', in a way. There is an important distinction, though. Throughput doesn't care how fast the information is moving along the channel. There's an old saying in the hacker community, "Never underestimate the bandwidth [throughput] of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." In that situation, you have a crap-ton of data moving along the highway at low speeds. Compare that to the internet, where you have relatively little data in transit at any one time moving near the speed of light.

In other words, the speed of the data is more closely tied to another concept latency (latency is the distance the data travels divided by the data's speed along the path).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneakernet

Throughput is data transfer rate (i.e. bytes/sec) across a network. Latency is the amount of time to travel betwen two points in a network, generally measured as roundtrip time. If you're talking about a small or time-sensitive request, latency affects the subjective speed more than throughput.

If you are using "sneakernet", you could walk a terabyte drive to another computer, attaining terabytes/min of throughput. But the latency would be several seconds at least.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: The Latinist on May 30, 2019, 05:29:31 PM
For example, have a look at the Wikipedia report on the bow killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in 2015, and perhaps anyone can tell me how much of the $50k paid by that dentist to the hunting operator went to support conservation? F-all, as we say over here.

What on earth does the effect of poaching have to do with licensed hunting as part of a well-regulated wildlife management plan?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: drmarkf on May 30, 2019, 06:59:51 PM
For example, have a look at the Wikipedia report on the bow killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in 2015, and perhaps anyone can tell me how much of the $50k paid by that dentist to the hunting operator went to support conservation? F-all, as we say over here.

What on earth does the effect of poaching have to do with licensed hunting as part of a well-regulated wildlife management plan?

Nothing, however anyone who had followed up that reference would know that the bow hunter who shot Cecil had an official Zimbabwean licence to kill a lion.

To spell out my wider point, in less well controlled environments than Namibia and Botswana there is little linkage between what the hunter pays and how much goes in to conservation. The systems are leaky.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on May 30, 2019, 08:50:20 PM
To spell out my wider point, in less well controlled environments than Namibia and Botswana there is little linkage between what the hunter pays and how much goes in to conservation. The systems are leaky.

I think this is a point well-made. There is still a lot of illegal poaching in Africa, and the resources to stop it are vastly insufficient.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: lonely moa on May 31, 2019, 03:26:24 AM
In the last fortnight, I have killed three possums, two hedgehogs and a lot of mice.  All very damaging introduced species to Aotearoa.  I consider it my duty to protect native species.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Quetzalcoatl on June 01, 2019, 04:43:14 AM
We still have people wanting to reexterminate wolves in Norway, because despite having a low human population density in a European context, there isn't enough room for them and the ranging sheep to exist separately.

What is the opinion of the public?

At least over here I think the public opinion is in favor of wolves living in the forest. Bears too, though they are much less controversial than wolves.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: 2397 on June 02, 2019, 06:24:22 AM
What is the opinion of the public?

At least over here I think the public opinion is in favor of wolves living in the forest. Bears too, though they are much less controversial than wolves.

Generally, the people who live where the wolves are are the ones who want them dead. As do farmers who have sheep approximate to wolves.

Around where I live they regularly shoot lynxes (not every year). There are more of them than wolves, but still only a few hundred. I recognize that they have to be killed if they are a danger to humans. For protecting farm animals, I'm thinking that that's another reason to not have so many to begin with, and maybe free up some territory for wildlife. Again the same could be said for humans. If less than 100 members is sustainable enough for one mammalian species, why are we worried about low fertility, and encouraging people to have more children, when there are 5 334 762 of us?

There's currently too much sheep meat being produced, and/or too much meat being imported. This article (https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/svar-pa-skriftlig-sporsmal-om-overproduksjon-av-sauekjott/id2610276/) is a response by the minister of agriculture and food, to a question by a member of parliament about the overproduction of sheep meat. One thing that's being questioned is approving the use 1000 tons of sheep meat for fur animals/farms (which is an industry that's set to be shut down by 2025). There's another 1100 tons of sheep meat to spare on top of that, out of a total production of 25 100 tons. In part the overproduction is related to the drought and more animals being slaughtered, but it's also a result of policies to increase production.

It's actually not that much compared to our total meat consumption, 281 019 tons in 2017 (https://www.animalia.no/no/samfunn/kjott-og-helse/sa-mye-kjott-spiser-vi/). Maybe environmentally it would be better to make sure that all the meat that's being produced is consumed, and instead cut imports and other production. I haven't looked at all the details of imports, exports, types of meat and how the emissions are for national meat production vs. foreign meat production, etc.

In any case we don't need to eat that much meat. Given that there are benefits to reducing meat production, having less meat available should be acceptable.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: CarbShark on June 02, 2019, 11:29:09 AM
What is the opinion of the public?

At least over here I think the public opinion is in favor of wolves living in the forest. Bears too, though they are much less controversial than wolves.

Generally, the people who live where the wolves are are the ones who want them dead. As do farmers who have sheep approximate to wolves


In the US it's the ranchers mostly who opposed their reintroduction and would prefer them dead.

In some areas they're reimbursed for livestock taken by wolves.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: drmarkf on June 08, 2019, 11:13:57 AM
By the way, there's a very good podcast series currently under way from the BBC called 'Beast of Man'. It's mainly about rhino poaching, and features the retired international cricketer Kevin Pieterson, who has now moved back to live in South Africa and is devoting himself to rhino preservation. It also covers some of the darker side of hunting.
Obviously this comes with its own spin and it is presented with some drama (appropriately IMHO, and KP is a controversial sporting figure), but there are a lot of interviews with people professionally involved first-hand, for example, with anti-poaching:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0783hz7
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: ralfsen on June 21, 2019, 06:56:53 AM
Bandwidth is very often used to describe the maximum data rate for a connection. But you could say that this is a mistake as the term probably was originally used (and still is) for describing a frequency range and not a data rate.
Throughput, as I understand it, is not a measure of maximum data rate or transfer capacity of a connection, but the current data rate for a connection in use.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: Zec on July 03, 2019, 08:46:10 PM
https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/killing-of-famous-namibia-elephant-sparks-outrage-among-conservationists/
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on July 03, 2019, 09:31:04 PM
https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/killing-of-famous-namibia-elephant-sparks-outrage-among-conservationists/

That's an issue. One group says that this specific elephant is a problem, another group says that this specific elephant isn't a problem. Who's right?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: stands2reason on July 03, 2019, 10:05:14 PM
https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/killing-of-famous-namibia-elephant-sparks-outrage-among-conservationists/

That's an issue. One group says that this specific elephant is a problem, another group says that this specific elephant isn't a problem. Who's right?

The government says that the animal was causing property damage, and presumably was also a risk to human life. The conservation groups says, as a general statement, "the elephants don't enter human settlements." I couldn't find the press release on their site, and all of the articles appear to be copying the Reuters article. But I did find this (http://www.met.gov.na/news/146/Elephants-wreak-havoc-in-Kavango-West/):

Quote
Speaking at an inter-ministerial committee meeting at Nkurenkuru on Monday, Kavango West Regional Council chairperson Joseph Sivaku said close to 300 people in the Tondoro constituency alone have had their crops destroyed by elephants.
The meeting was specifically called to discuss the problem of elephants raiding people's fields and it was attended by the political leadership from Kavango West; MET officials; officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.

That makes it sound like a known, ongoing issue.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on July 04, 2019, 01:04:34 AM
https://nypost.com/2019/07/03/killing-of-famous-namibia-elephant-sparks-outrage-among-conservationists/

That's an issue. One group says that this specific elephant is a problem, another group says that this specific elephant isn't a problem. Who's right?

The government says that the animal was causing property damage, and presumably was also a risk to human life. The conservation groups says, as a general statement, "the elephants don't enter human settlements." I couldn't find the press release on their site, and all of the articles appear to be copying the Reuters article. But I did find this (http://www.met.gov.na/news/146/Elephants-wreak-havoc-in-Kavango-West/):

Quote
Speaking at an inter-ministerial committee meeting at Nkurenkuru on Monday, Kavango West Regional Council chairperson Joseph Sivaku said close to 300 people in the Tondoro constituency alone have had their crops destroyed by elephants.
The meeting was specifically called to discuss the problem of elephants raiding people's fields and it was attended by the political leadership from Kavango West; MET officials; officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.

That makes it sound like a known, ongoing issue.

Yes, but the conversationalists claim that it was a different group of elephants. That Voortrekker was not a part of the group that was causing the damage.

Which group was correct? Did the government shoot the wrong elephant?
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: stands2reason on July 04, 2019, 01:23:28 AM
Which group was correct? Did the government shoot the wrong elephant?

Who knows? Clearly I don't because the situation isn't well-reported.
Title: Re: Episode #723
Post by: arthwollipot on July 04, 2019, 01:29:42 AM
Which group was correct? Did the government shoot the wrong elephant?

Who knows? Clearly I don't because the situation isn't well-reported.

Which is what I said.

That's an issue. One group says that this specific elephant is a problem, another group says that this specific elephant isn't a problem. Who's right?