Thursday, November 6, 2014

Any Other Species But Our Own

Giraffes at the West Midland Safari Park courtesy of Robek

Are we as people so disconnected from one another that we would pick any other species over our own?

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

During the coverage of Marius the giraffe, who was not safe to breed in the Copenhagen Zoo, and was ultimately killed -- there was serious worldwide public outrage and even death threats to the staff of the zoo. At the same time the death toll of the civil war in Syria was over 146,000. The worldwide outrage over this did not correspond to the death toll and the media coverage paled to Marius.

Many people feel conflict over eating animal products, or purchasing products that has harmed an animal. Many absolutely refuse it. Avocados, now a popular superfood, especially for those looking to eat less animal products, comes with a high human price. Dubbed "blood avocados," many Mexicans are killed to supply Americans with their avocado fix. There was nearly no outrage when this was reported. In fact, little has changed. The same is true for quinoa.

There are over three times as many animal shelters as there are women and children's shelters. There are high human costs to bring us Jansport, Nautica, Northface, and many others. We create child slavery to produce palm oil in Malaysia and chocolate from Africa.

Yet empathy for other human beings was a key to our own survival. Being connected is a key part of happiness. That community is a vital part of longevity.

Maybe the reason people like animals more than people is that animals can never give a contrary opinion. They can never disagree with us. They can never correct us. Their lack of human intelligence makes us feel better about ourselves, they don't challenge us. Maybe it's own own inability to control our ego.

And maybe a human death is much more tragic to deal with than the death of an animal. It leaves us vulnerable and frail. So we avoid it. We avoid thinking about it. It takes courage to connect.

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore the issue

Freakonomics Radio delves into the mystery of human empathy and some seemingly contradictory beliefs people hold.

Read the full transcript here.



My name is Sam Yang. I'm a martial artist, entrepreneur, fitness nerd, information geek, and productivity nut. For more useful information, join my newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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