Wednesday, February 11, 2015

80,000 reasons minus 2

I recently stumbled across this Grey2K piece about 80,000 reasons to end dog racing now.  The premise is that 80,000 dogs have raced since 2008.  Since they raced they must have been born into cruelty.  Since they were born into cruelty racing should end.

It also puts forth that Greyhounds are Killed and that Racing Kennels Neglect Dogs. It then goes on to explain that nearly 1000 dogs have died and how greyhounds are confined for long periods

My two dogs are of that 80,000 and in them I have seen nothing that suggests that racing should end because of what they have gone through and what they have become.

I also happened to come across this ted talk by Tyler Cowen called “Be Suspicious of Simple Stories”.
He talks about stories and narratives and how if a story is too simple, to close to a standard narrative like good vs evil, then we should be suspicious of it. Life is much more messy than a good hero story allows for.  He indicates if you find yourself buying into a good simple story you are probably lowering your I/Q by 10 points.

In reality this little story does nothing to establish their fundamental premise that because a dog raced, it was born into cruelty.  Also it doesn’t distinguish that that there is a big difference between a dog being killed and a dog dying.  Nor does it account for the fact that just as in the pet universe sometimes the most proper course of action for a dog is euthanization.  It doesn’t compare death rates of pet populations to racing populations.  It just throws out the number 1000 as an absolute without any reference to the 80000 dog population it came from.   Notice also that when it says “Racing Kennels Neglect Dogs”, it doesn’t say “ALL Racing Kennels Neglect Dogs” or “Most Racing Kennels Neglect Dogs” or “A few Racing Kennels Neglect Dogs”. It keeps that language generic enough such that even if you can find ONE racing kennel that neglected a dog, the statement would be true.  They design it that way because it nicely fits their narrative.

Now I could construct an equally simple narrative called 52000 reasons.  Many  adoption groups use to track their adopted dogs.  Of the groups that bother to track adoption on that site, it shows that over 52000 greyhound adoptions have occurred in the USA.  Think of all the happy families whose lives these dogs touched.  Think of all those wonderful dogs that would never have gotten to live out their lives as pets if anti racing organizations had gotten their way and the dogs hadn’t been given the structure, training, confidence and maturity that the racing environment provides.
Of course this narrative is equally simple. It assumes that all dogs are easy and wonderful, all track environments are perfect and all adoptive homes are awesome.

So by all means do research, have opinions, develop your reasoning for them and don’t buy into either of the simple narratives.   It is all so much more messy than that.

Conclusion: I really detest propaganda.