Tag Archives: reporting

God spare me from propaganda, or not…

This is a tough post to write, because I don't want to link to the article that touched me off. It's one thing to be interested and respectful, but another to bitch and moan.

I'll just say that I found this article in the I Fucking Love Science vault today. I thought it might be a cool one to save for the Idea Mill series that I sporadically post.

It involves a massive death of the saiga antelope population of Kazakstan. It's a fascinating natural occurrence involving a respiratory disease. It seems they've always carried this bacteria, but the bacteria suddenly turned deadly.

North American wild sheep get respiratory problems, so I was curious enough to click on the article.

The Saiga is an ugly bugger, but I've known that for a long time. He looks a little bit like a character from the cantina scene in the original Star Wars.

My problem with the article involves the agenda behind the reporting. It's written to cause fear and some other reactions.

It starts off by mentioning the saiga is endangered to begin with. Then it mentions the population of 300,000 animals before the disease. I'm sorry, but how are 300,000 of anything considered endangered? Let's talk black footed ferret numbers and California condor numbers.

It seems that 200,000 of the saiga fell to this disease. Why then am I reading about near 100% die off? My math says 66% die off and that isn't near 100%.

They did it by cusping the number. They said near 100% die off in some herds. What qualifies as a herd? Two animals?

They also mention the decimation of the saiga because he was hunted as a replacement for rhino horn. When I looked at the pictures (he really is an ugly bugger) only the bucks have horns. Growing up in ranch country, I know that among herd animals only one male is needed per hundred females. The males can suffer a huge reduction in population, but all the females will bear young the following Spring.

Since there is no financial reason to shoot the females and young, horn hunting can't be the reason for the population decline. Poachers are not about to waste precious ammo to shoot animals that don't bring a profit. They just aren't. The bucks are edible too, so there would be plenty of camp meat.

The line about the horn hunting doesn't have anything to do with the bacterial infection. Why did they include it? Sensationalism? They didn't even ask me to donate to anything.

The story is interesting. I want to know more, and it might lead to some great fiction too. My problem is by shredding their credibility, I can't trust anything they wrote at all.

I'm not saving this for the Idea Mill.

On the other hand, I do have an outline from last summer about a guy who starts wars for profit. It's set in a fantasy environment, and has some merit to being a future novel. Lies, deceit, and propaganda would be his stock in trade.

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