Friday, January 2, 2009

Stupidity, thy name is... Fox

Saw a brief piece on Fox News on TV the other day, entitled "Are Sharks Hunting Humans?" Bill Hemmer started off " ... Hi there's a shocking string of shark attacks, killing a diver over the weekend in Australia. Another close encounter -- nearly scaring some guy kayakers to death -- after a great white stalked them, in the deep blue sea. The frightening attack is all on tape, and we have it ready to play for you."

Well, after viewing the video the kayakers were OK, and the "close encounter," "stalk," and "frightening attack" turned out to be a white shark "circling for quite some time." Even the "quite some time" seemed like quite an exaggeration. The report appeared to then speculate re if whites can acquire a taste for humans and if sharks are now hunting humans.

An expert was brought into the conversation, asked if sharks modify their behavior based on human actions, and a conversation ensued. Leaving aside the fact that the discussion (i.e. can/do sharks modify their behavior based on human actions) wasn't quite a discussion re what the title of the piece suggested (i.e. are sharks hunting humans?), the entire piece was sensationalized to the max. To his credit, the expert did point out that fatal shark attacks on humans occur on average 10 times or fewer per year. Following the piece this blogger went on-line to check on shark-human encounters, and found:

Ann. human fatalities due to shark attacks: Less than 20 (70's onwards)
Annual numbers of sharks killed by humans: 20 - 100 million.

Looks like they got it backwards. Even throwing out the larger number and going with twenty million sharks killed per year it's very clear re who is hunting whom...


Shark attack(ed)
Shark numbers crash
Swiftboating the sharks
Are Vending Machines Deadlier than Sharks?

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