Re: A good short honest FAQ but very bad PR

Dwayne (
Mon, 13 Jul 1998 02:28:00 +1000

Dan Clemmensen wrote:
> > > How
> > > much compassion does the average human currently display for apes? Yes, we
> > > protect them and study them and are even occassionally entertained by them,
> > > but by in large we're just too engaged in human activities to be very
> > > interested in what they're doing.
> >
> > Except for when we use them for medical research or destroy their
> > habitat.
> >
> I don't think this is true in general. It appears to me that more people
> become upset about Rwanda's apes and danger to them than about the human
> lives lost to intertribal warfare. I suspect that most non-black americans
> would be more upset about a fifty percent decrease in the African ape population
> than a fifty percent decrease in the african human population. Please note
> that I am not advocating this view, I'm just reporting on my intuition
> about most americans. Black americans are not less sensitive to the
> ape's problems, but are likely more sympathetic to the problems of
> african humans. If I pick a different continent and a different
> species with good PR, (asia, pandas) I'll get the same general result
> with a different set of americans.

Well, this is true, but my point was that there is an awful lot that humans do to apes which is most definately not simply ignoring them, namely experimenting on them and chopping down their habitat. Your point on the PR value of animals is entirely true, but the experimentation issue is something most people don't consider.

> Before you disagree, ask yourself how you feel. I'm not picking on Scott
> or Dwayne: everyone can play. To the extent that you worry about loss
> of habitat for apes, you are severely restricting the options for some
> fairly poor and desperate african tribespeople, some of whom could sell
> ape's feet, rhino horns, or elephant tusks to buy food and medicine to
> keep their kids alive.

There are lots of people. There aren't lots of apes.

> I personally take a view that is fairly callous and cruel: human
> overpopulation will inevitably destroy all ecosystems if allowed to
> do so. Therefore, restricting human over-exploitation of ecosystems
> at worst merely slightly advances a restriction that would eventually
> occur anyway. To the extent that this generates economic hardship that
> results in excess human death, I'm an evil person.

Well, I'm with you on this one.