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« Auburn Football Player bitten at game on Saturday | Main | Fear Mongering at its finest »

November 27, 2007

Comments

Becky

Brent, AS ALWAYS we appreciate this info, HOWEVER, please tell us what we might be able to do to hold the media responsible and accountable for false reporting. These are NOT little 'slips'. They are a huge part of the problems we are forced to fight, even tho we should not have to --- all because of news and/or headlines that should never have been published in the first place. Good God, HOW MANY dogs have been murdered and HOW MANY family's hearts have been ripped out because of blatantly false reporting?? (along w/ the failure to inform us that the reporting was actually false)

Is the Media given such leniency in other areas of reporting?

Does anyone have any ideas on how we might go about discrediting these kinds of stories?

Doug

Hello all,

Not a good month for Horses, so far 4 horses/pony's taken down by pit bulls.

When I was a boy I used to take my 45 pound dog to my grand-dad's farm and let him run around chasing chickens, horses and cows. He would bark at the horses and the cows and then run off. I could not even come close to think that a couple of dogs could bring down a horse.

Again poor owenrship of the dogs were the root cause of the problem, however the Pit Bull is just such a powerfull dog, there is no telling what can happen when the attack trigger is switched to "ON" in their brain. We need to encourage better owership.

I also read a case this week on dangerous dog laws in Australia, which seem to have more financial might than the dog laws in the US. What are your thoughts?

I also am a little disappointed with the poor reporting. There also seems to be no feedback loop when the story is an "AP" story.

If you are able to get phone numbers to the local stations I would be glad to waste some of my minutes to provide proper feedback.

Marjorie

Wow. ...Just... ...Wow.

Michelled

Pit bulls are not any more powerful that any other dog of equatable stature - would someone please post the scientific evidence that they are or where this "trigger" is? I seriously would like to see it. (This kind of talk just encourages a**holes that want a bada** dog to get a pit - this whole mess is a self-fullfilling profecy.) I think what you're getting at is "tenacity" and pit bulls are not the only dogs that have it. I just can't get my mind around how my 50lb pit bull is stronger than an 80lb Lab or a 140 Mastiff - conditioning being equal.

I just had a friend relay a bunch of ignorant rhetoric on me last week. Her dog has bitten people several times and yet MY dog is more of a risk because its a pit bull (they can be trianed to hang on ropes ya' know!) - even though it has never even growled at anyone!?!? WTF kind of logic is that!? Oh yeah, her dog is fluffy and cute so it can't hurt anyone...

My Dad's horses have all mysteriously been able to survive even with visits from a neighboring pit bull and my SweetP...

I obviously agree its ALWAYS an ownership issue but I almost think encouraging responsible ownership is a waste of time. You shouldn't have to explain to anyone "you really shouldn't let your dog run loose and kill things." I say just throw them (irresponsible owners) in jail or hit them HARD in the pocketbook!

Marjorie

Michelled, notice how the only mention of penalties against the owner(s) of the dogs I could find (in the horse-killing incident) was a fine for the dogs being at-large.

As I've pointed out before, often the only punishments the owners of vicious dogs face is for by-law infractions, such as failure to license, leash, or vaccinate. After completing eight years of dog bite research, I spent a year focusing on the disposition of dog bite cases. It is uncommon for the owner to face any special penalties for the attack, itself. The victims typically have to take the owners to civil court, to recover damages, even where there are municipal or state/provincial laws that outline a range of fines and even jail time. But the state has to initiate those charges...and they rarely do.

So, really...is there any real deterrant for irresponsible dog ownership? Scorn from 5-10% of the dog-owning community just isn't that effective, apparently. It's time to uphold the existing laws, or write more effective and enforceable ones, so people who allow their dogs to cause damage or injury are EFFECTIVELY punished...beyond merely killing their dogs (which really only punishes the hapless dogs).

If I had my way, any dog in this kind of situation would be taken from it's clueless owner, and have the opportunity to be assessed by a competent dog trainer. That way, it might find its way into a more responsible home, where it will have a chance to prove it can be a good canine citizen. The owners would be barred from dog ownership for a period of time reflective of the degree of negligence. They would ALSO face criminal charges that could lead to either hefty fines or jail time.

Michelled

If someone comes to my house and breaks my windows are they not required by law to fix them? Or do I have to take them to court to recoup that? Seems like it should work the same way...

Olga

Really Doug, you're surprised that a few dogs can bring down a horse? Did you perhaps miss the part where dogs are a carnivore (mostly) and a predator that has been domesticated? Or were you not aware that a pack of wolves can also bring down an elk or a deer? I suggest you spend a little less time on Google News and a little more time watching the Discovery Channel.
As someone said before a “pit bull” is no more powerful than any other breed of similar stature. And they don't have any special “attack triggers.” Pit bulls are just dogs and they react and behave the same way all other dogs do. Would you also be concerned if a newspaper ran a story about “dog chases/kills cat?” , or “neighborhood cat kills birds”? I fail to see how this is newsworthy, except for the fact that however let unsocialized dogs run loose shouldn't have done so - REGARDLESS OF BREED.
I guess, Doug, my question is. What's your point?

Mac`s Gang

[quote]Does anyone have any ideas on how we might go about discrediting these kinds of stories?[/quote]

My suggestion is to go to the stories and(in the comment section) post facts,reputable sites,corrections to initial stories(that you will find on this blog) and also ask the regurgitators of the myths for their sources/references.Of course they can`t provide them because there aren`t any.
I wish we could stop the newspapers but that seems impossible.
The posters that are just repeating myths will often resort to personal attacks but if you don`t engage with them,they will usually just go away.
Maybe you will get through to just one person on that forum but even that will help.

Doug

Dog kills cat = Not news worthy
Cat kills bird = Not news worthy
Dog kills dog = Not news worthy
Dog (Pit Bull) Kills dog by sneaking into neighbors house at 3AM through the doggie door = National News

Dog (Pit Bull) Kills dog by running into neighbor’s house through open door = National News

Domesticated Family Pet Dogs (Pit Bulls) Kills 1,500 pound horse = National News

5 Pit Bulls Attack small girl (I mean 5 Bull Dogs) = National News

Personally I am a large man 6 foot 3 250 pounds, played college football (back in the day) go to the gym on a regular basis – strong like bull. However if I were to get into a fight with a 150 pound Mixed Martial Arts fighter I am sure he would have me broken in two within about 20 seconds. Same is true with dogs.

Olga (Michelled) unfortunately I do watch the Discovery channel which is why I am so good on this topic. The pit bull has been bred for certain traits; one of these being strength and the other one being tenacity in a fight. This is why Pit Bulls are used for Dog Fighting and for Dog Pulling contests (see the below link). You put the both together and you have the “potential” for a very dangerous dog. Ladies these are facts which are undisputed.

http://www.tsamc.org/tsamc/current_events/0102_Results/2002_national_championship_results.html

If Pit Bulls were not any more powerful than other dogs, you would not see them in weight pulling competitions at the current frequency.

And yes I am surprised that two dogs can bring down a horse. We are talking about dogs which weigh 40 to 80 pounds. I personally have not seen any dogs who would not run away from a larger dog let alone try and attack a horse.

If you read any dog book they will tell you certain traits which go along with the breed of dog which you bought.

While all dogs can behave certain ways under the same conditions it is Instinct which takes over in other’s this “Trigger”, “Reflex” or “unconditioned response” is what sets the pit bull apart from other dogs especially when you add their strength and tenacity. I am not sure in the dog books it says that the APBT is able to chew a horse to death if it chooses too.

Let me know if you got my point?

Marjorie

Doug, as a "lady" I can assure you the basic principles of physics (and not some theorized genetically-based behavioural quality) is at work when stocky, low centre of gravity dogs do better at pulling contests than lightweight or high centre of gravity dogs.

(My degree in Physics aside, I would happily demonstrate these principles using my Great Dane or my 6'10", 330lb husband. http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=I0CSBtvrfsI )

As an (albeit retired) expert in this field, I encourage better understanding of canine genetics. However, we must first use accurate terminology, cite relevant and credible sources, and limit our theories to those which have some semblance of scientific possibility.

At present, for all intents and purposes, all dog 'breeds' are genetically identical. Any statements to the contrary have no scientific basis and, thus, are not credible.

Mac`s Gang

Just an interesting tidbit on wt pulling.
In the Ohio Toledo vs Tellings case,it was noted that

[quote]The record for weight pulling, pound-for-pound of body weight, is held by a toy poodle that pulled 288 pounds in a harness.[/quote]

http://www.animallaw.info/cases/causoh2006wl513946.htm

Becky

WOW! Thank you Marjorie, Mac's Gang, Michelle, and Olga (amongst others.... )

While we are working on educating Doug, we need to also work on educating the rest of the world, sigh, sigh, alas....

Actually, Doug is playing a very important role here. He seems to be an intelligent, healthy man, however, he has been educated by the media and then relying on his own slant on what the media has portrayed for him.

He is the perfect example of the UNsympathetic GP who has not thought all of this thru and does not understand all of the implications of his type of logic.

This is exactly the frustration that I felt in the first comment. Doug, please: All of the slanted and false reporting has not yet made ANYONE safer. The dog fighting, drug guarding, attack training, abuse, neglect, tethering, etc etc etc continue.

BECAUSE, CONTRARY TO POPULAR (CITIES') BELIEF, GETTING RID OF A BREED OF DOG DOES NOT STOP CRIMINALS, HOODLUMS AND LOWLIFES from owning dogs of this breed.

And Doug, in all of the junk you are researching, have you not realized that pit bulls are DOGS? NOT another species!

Have you not learned that for every pit bull that bites/attacks a person, there are THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS who NEVER cause a problem for anyone?? I don't care how many stories (true and false) that you present, have you considered these stats?

It is totally irrational to declare a breed's temperament, based upon news stories of attacks and bites, without realizing the extremely low statistics of how many pit bulls are alive and well today vs how many of these dogs ever bite/attack/cause a problem.

(Would you like stats like these applied to men by the name of Doug?

Furthermore, if you would compare the number of people who have been killed, bitten, attacked, by SO CALLED 'pit bulls' (never properly ID'ed) to the number of dogs ID'ed as pit bulls that are ABUSED, NEGLECTED, STARVED, AND FOUGHT, I believe you could see WHO the monster and the killer really is.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Man poses a MUCH greater danger to pit bulls than pit bulls do to Man.

So how about we go about trying to fix THIS problem (as many cities have) rather than placing blame on a breed of dog??

For example, let's talk about Lenexa....

Becky
Doug

Marjorie you sound like someone who has spent a lot of time in Physics and theory. Myself being an Engineer, I have to spend my time with facts and reality.

As an Engineer in a fast paced environment we have one simple rule which kind of holds true for a lot of applications, if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and walks likes a duck it is probably a duck.

No matter how you want to slice it, pit bulls are very strong powerful dogs (who seem to like eating horses).

Your last statement is very broad and sweeping, which tends me to believe that you know nothing about genetics.

The environment ‘vs’ genetics debate has been going on longer than the movie “Trading Places”. Each dog has its own genetic traits. There has been many studies which determine behavior in dogs. A study done in the 1960’s tested German Shepherds and Airedales under the same isolated conditions. The German Shepherds passive defense reaction developed more acutely and reached a greater degree than the Airedales. Temperament is partially determined by an individual animal's fear response. That fear is the product of a neural system that has evolved to detect danger and that it causes an animal to make a response (Trigger) to protect itself. It is this level of instinct which is genetically imprinted within different species of dogs which creates a “trigger” to perform a certain way.

Another study in 1958 demonstrated an example of differences in fear responses between beagles and terriers. When frightened, beagles freeze and terriers run around frantically.

One more item on Learned behavior versus Instinct, I saw this show on the Discovery Channel where this dog (sorry don’t know the breed). Will put a stick in its mouth and then swim in water, fleas would then walk up to the stick and he would then spit it out. This type of dog is not taught how to do this, it just does. It is specific to its breed.

One more thing I found: Behavior genetics studies of adult personality make one thing abundantly clear: genes are important, and unique environment is important, but shared environment is not important at all (Eysenck, 1990). Journal of Personality

Again let’s test the walk like a duck theory – If the name “Doug” produced a higher crime rate than other names – of course this should be looked at. I will give you a prime example of this theory, in the late 1800’s early 1900’s the name “Adolph” was a popular name in Europe. Since 1945 there is probably no one with a first name named “Adolph” in the world. And guess what? We have probably saved 6 million more people because of it.
Again in none of my arguments have I said that
Ok back to my argument, better controls – i.e. class of people who can own dangerous dogs:
As stated in a APBT friendly website: “Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed's natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed.”

By the stament alone it indicates that you need to have more money and responsiblity just to own this type of dog. More controls and fines on who can own dangerous dogs will help out everyone.

And yes, like it or not the Pit Bull is a dangerous dog. Or else we would not be having a debate about it (bad media reports aside)

Listen I like granola just like everyone else but I don’t drink the fruit punch. Man bad – dog good

Andy

Doug,

It's funny that you berate Marjorie for making "broad, sweeping" statements while making the same type of statement yourself:

"No matter how you want to slice it, pit bulls are very strong powerful dogs (who seem to like eating horses)."

"And yes, like it or not the Pit Bull is a dangerous dog."

Why do you believe this? Where's the study that proves they are noticeably stronger than other breeds? Where's the study that proves that "Pit Bulls" are more likely to attack humans than other dogs? Why does the only study about "bite pressure" give the APBT the lowest score out of the three breeds tested (see the third question and answer here: http://tinyurl.com/2vo2qg )?

So far, your argument seems to boil down to "people use Pit Bulls in dog fights, therefore this entire group of dogs is dangerous." In other words, some "Pit Bulls" are dangerous, therefore all of them are dangerous. This is a logical fallacy called the Hasty Generalization:
http://tinyurl.com/3x3vcb

That's odd. I'm an engineer myself. When I was in the ECE program at UIUC we were taught not to rely on logical fallacies to make an argument. Your appeal to authority will not work here, nor will your unproven claims (no matter how often repeated).

And even if your assumption was true, it still doesn't make any sense to enact BSL. Why do you insist on rooting for complicated new laws that will:
1) Save almost no lives.
2) Cost a ton of money.
3) Deprive people of their chosen companion.

Given the incredibly small chance that an individual will be killed by a dog, why is this even an issue to you? You do realize that you're much more likely to be killed in a car crash, or even die by slipping in the shower than be attacked by a dog, right?

How can you justify taking away other people's rights and spending more tax dollars in order to give yourself a miniscule benefit?

Were you attacked by a dog when you were young? Do you have an irrational fear of dogs with large mouths?

Until you can prove your claim that "Pit Bulls are dangerous" your argument holds no water. You also have to prove that other breeds are more immune to poor behavior in the face of poor treatment from their owners.

That's a lot to prove, Doug. I wish you luck.

Marjorie

Aaaaawwwww... That's so cute, Doug.

I was merely pointing out that your presumptions about why certain phenotypes of dogs excel at weight pulling are based on rudimentary principles of physics.

The "expertise" I was hinting at is with dogs, dog training, canine aggression, and dog bite research. You see, I only recently retired from 30 years training dogs (no, not "3," not "13," but THIRTY), and A DECADE specializing in re-training aggressive dogs. I spent eight years researching dog biting incidents around the world, and another year researching the disposition of dog bite cases.

What you've written above is quaint, and not uncommon amongst the uninitiated, but it is not based on sound scientific or practical principles.

SCIENTIFIC: All dog breeds are genetically identical.

PRACTICAL: 'Pit bulls' are estimated to make up 9% of the U.S. dog population, yet they only represent about 4% of bites, nationwide. If I have to spell it out for you, I will. This suggests that 'pit bulls' are LESS likely to bite than should be expected, based on population figures, alone.

Fewer than 0.1% of all 'pit bulls' will be involved in an attack at some point in their lives, and only 0.00002% of 'pit bulls' have killed a person. I can't imagine what you think the actions of such a tiny percentage say about the other 99.9% and 99.99998%,respectively, but clearly, it isn't anything particularly relevant.

If even just 0.1% of 'pit bulls' are involved in attacks, that would mean 14 serious 'pit bull' attacks every single day, in the U.S. Every day that goes by with less than 14 serious 'pit bull' attacks means the figure is that much less than 0.1%.

The list of dog breeds that have killed humans includes dogs from every Group, including Toy breeds. The list of dog breeds that have bitten, attacked, or killed (a person or other animal) is, in fact, the list of dog breeds. There is no such thing as a dog breed that has never bitten.

If the theory is that 'pit bulls' are unique, and unlike all other kinds of dogs, then I have news for you. Anywhere from 80-99% of bites in most regions are attributed to non-'pit bull' dogs. Approximately 80% of the human fatalities that occur each year in the U.S., or combined, over the past thirty years, are attributed to non-'pit bull' dogs. The premise that 'pit bulls' are unique is just preposterous, when one understands these figures, and becomes even more ludicrous once someone learns about canine behaviour and/or dog bite data, and sees the direct correllation between irresponsible ownership and dog bites, regardless of breed.

I've written countless articles on related topics. As the co-founder and author (or co-author) of most of the web site, GoodPooch.com, I think I can help you better understand some of the basics, by directing you to a few relevant articles there:

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPtemperament.htm

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPpitbulls.htm

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/so_calledEXPERTS.htm

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPcanineprimer.htm#geneticsmyth

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPyoucanbepsychictoo.htm

I realize that's a lot of information to take in. And, of course, you probably won't read it all. If you do surprise me, and have any questions, feel free to direct them to me here, or via info@goodpooch.com I'm always happy to help further better understanding of man's best friend.

Doug

I agree that the current BSL laws are BS, they need to be stronger with more focus on poor owners.

I briefly scanned your articles, I only saw a couple of foot notes and 2 of them were repeated. Maybe you can include all the footnotes which support your claims. As a former Physics Proffesional I am sure you understand the benefits of including all the reference data which you base your conclusions on. Or do you just want me to take you at your word because you have been walking dogs for 30 years. (kidding)

Pit Bull Attacks have a greater than 6 sigma quality level. Tell that to the horses, ponies and the two women.

Caveat

"if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and walks likes a duck it is probably a duck. "

Um, it could be a duck, it might be a duck but then again it might be something else. I don't know what kind of engineer you are but the engineers I know rely on evidence and science to reach conclusions.

No matter how you want to slice it, pit bulls are very strong powerful dogs (who seem to like eating horses)."

Wait a minute! Is this the same Doug from awhile ago who was pretending to know about dog bites?

So now, 'pit bulls', whatever they are, like 'eating' horses. And this is based on............?

I thought so. Leave the generalizing to the ignoramuses in the media who like to play pass the word and to the cretins on the street who are so gullible one wonders how they get through the day without help.

The purebred dogs erroneously dubbed 'pit bulls' are only strong because they are low slung with a wide stance. Kind of like the difference between any terrier and a sighthound.

There is no 'attack' button. There is no extra power in the jaws. There is no insensitivity to pain. There is no endorphin addiction. There is no - my personal favourite - chemical in the brain which causes them to suddenly snap. There is no innate aggression. They range in weight from 30 - 65 lbs and are about knee-high on the average 6' person.

It's true that smaller dogs, like terriers, have a distinct advantage over large ones. Have you ever seen a Scottie rip up a Boxer in a fight? Ever seen a Jack go after a Lab? Same with people - small wiry people are more agile and faster than big lugs. They also have more endurance.

Same with endurance/agility games like Flyball. You don't see too many Saints, Newfs, Kuvasz, Rotts, GSDs or Danes in those games but you see a lot of terriers and border collies. Sledding - the true huskies like the Alaskan are fairly small mixed breed dogs, top out at about 45 lbs. A Malamute would die from heat exhaustion going any distance. So would a conformation Sibe.

They're dawgs, dawg. Nothing more, nothing less.

They're also a great meal ticket for media hacks, failed academics, dweeby bureaucrats and former bigots who find themselves out of work these days.

Les 'pit bulls', ils sont des chiens. C'est tout.

Doug

come'on - eating horses....are you that boring that you can't see that was a joke....

If you don't though a little hunor hear or there we would all sound like a bunch of whinny know-it-alls. Or at least some of us would. (hint 1 - that last sentence was funny) (hint 2 - that same sentence was also meant to imply that you are no part of the know-it-all group).

I am in the process of contacting a respected person in Animal Genetics - whether he writes back to me is something else. But I will side with what ever he says - unless I am wrong.

Doug

Alright my grammar was a little bad in that one...trying to leave work.

Caveat

If you have to explain a joke, it's not a joke.

I don't find too much funny about this, except in a dark way. For example, it's kind of funny to listen to politicians say things such as "we want to address the issue before we have problems" or "'pit bulls' do more damage when they attack than dogs of comparable size" or "'pit bulls' have a bite pressure of 2000 psi" or "pit bulls' are responsible for the most bites and attacks" or a knee-slapping piece of Koryana in correspondence about 'pit bulls': "if you saw a mushroom cloud approaching your city, wouldn't you try to do something about it?" That last, like the first is funny on so many levels.

Just freakin' hilarious...

Marjorie

Doug, speaking as a person who has dedicated a great deal of her life to the pursuit of knowledge, I applaud your humility in finally admitting that you have no personal expertise in this area, and are seeking out experts for their input.

Hopefully you'll eventually figure out that actually DOING the research, and merely compiling the results of others' research, are two totally different things. The former is back-breaking, time-consuming, and expensive work that takes years of dedication to do properly. The latter is, well, just compilation. It's especially odious when the individual does little more than click a mouse to (cough) "source" that information.

There's no respected term for compiling media reports and unvetted, unverified, less-than-credible information found through a Google search. Well...maybe "scrapbooking"...

NorCalTim

ROTECT YOUR NEIGHBOR
Hello fellow American. I will keep this short. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a proud part of American history. Remember "Our Gang"? Spanky and friends had a dog named Pete. He was an APBT. They represent everything that is is to be American. This is "to be smart, strong and family orientated". Please do not let the actions of a few punish the many. I spoke with a man who delivered a Fed Ex package to me. He liked my dog (although she looks intimidating as well as friendly). With 30 years of delivering packages for Fed Ex he had NEVER come across a vicious APBT.
Do some cold calling and surveys of delivery people. See what kind of experiences they have had with the APBT.
PUNISH THE DEED, NOT THE BREED
Just as Hitler came for those who could not stick up for themselves, BSL is trying to eradicate (as well as take away rights never to be brought back - rights Americans and theirs dogs fought and died for) an entire species.
Please vistit The Connecticut Military Department web site at www.ct.gov/mil/site/. There you will find an article to read about Stuby the war dog. It is under "History and Adventure".
May god forgive us for the attempt to kill off a species (1,ooo+ killed off in Colorado with a 1 year jail term for dog owners). To limit one APBT per family is like China limiting people to one child. A limit like this WILL create puppy mills. This breed loves to play. To watch two American Pit Bull Terriers at play is pure joy (especially a momma and her pup). This is a property right issue. If property rights continue to be limited, owners are forced to leave and seek a new life else where.
Remember, the rights that are "THE MOST IMPORTANT TO PROTECT, ARE THE RIGHTS YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN". Sincerely, Another American under constant attack

Caveat

Reviewing the work of others by collecting and reading published peer-reviewed papers and commenting upon them to is a legitimate approach to research. In fact, it is the basis of scientific study. I doubt that you meant to imply it wasn't, Marjorie.

I'm delighted that Google Scholar now provides search results for the scientific literature. I prefer PubMed. In fact, the other day I posted some links to abstracts and papers which are only a mouse-click away in the hopes that my visitors would check them out and explore the vast amount of information available at PubMed while they were at it.

Conducting studies and having the peer-reviewed results published is difficult and time-consuming - which is why I don't give much weight to news reports but I do to scientific articles. Having been on the inside at a leading University working with research teams for many years (14+) I have a good understanding of what's involved.

News reports are the equivalent of gossip over the back fence.

According to popular legend, toads give one warts if handled. According to science, they don't.

Who will you believe? I'll trust the rigor, reproducibility and objectivity of science, thank you very much.

Doug, when you get some info, we'd love to see it. If you have a name I probably already have some papers produced by the genetics expert you mentioned. I'd be happy to send them along.

Marjorie

Well, Caveat, that subject could easily lead to a lengthy diatribe on my part. (I'm sure that'll come as a shock to everyone.) ;-) Ooops! Too late!

I'm developing increasing disgust for the state of what is considered "research" in today's web-enabled society.

I'm repulsed by what is going on, especially when it comes to dogs. People with absolutely no more expertise than their ability to do a Google search are openly, vehemently, and repeatedly pontificating their ignorant and scientifically-baseless conclusions, and even "publishing" (ahem) their pseudo-scientific "studies," in exactly the manner I described above.

I call reading "reading"...no matter how credible what I'm reading may be.

Proper research involves the 'scientific method.' That involves the collection of raw data, observation, experimentation (where applicable), and the formulation, AND TESTING, of hypotheses. When one is just reading other peoples' reports, one isn't doing the collection of raw data, the observation, or the experimentation. One can formulate hypotheses, but one can't test them, without the raw data to work with. So just reading others' conclusions is...well... just that: reading. It's not scientific research.

I hauled out an old text, to get Kerlinger's verbatim definition of "scientific research", "The systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena. The objective inquiry into natural phenomena using currently accepted investigation procedures, the immediate product of which is evidence, with the objective of discovering how that aspect of the physical world works. It is an empirical, conceptual system of learning about the physical world that organizes publicly observable facts and reasoning within a structure of theories and inferences. (most importantly) The methods of inquiry are constructed to minimize the effects of natural human biases in observation and interpretation."

If one doesn't do the scientific research oneself, one can't possibly know how much bias is present in the data collection, observations, experimentation, or the conclusions. One can guess. But it's all second, third, or fourth-hand guessing.

Where there is no scientific method, there really isn't any scienfitic research.

Of course there are many exceptions. But someone reading a bunch of studies conducted by actual researchers (who spent countless hours, who knows how much money, and got their hands dirty with the raw data in order to draw those conclusions) is not conducting what I, or my mentors, would call "research." I'd say it's more like being a reporter. i.e. 'Here's what other people say about this.' 'Here's what I think, based on what these other people have concluded.'

It's the difference between being Evel Knievel or being on the team that helps him complete one of his stunts, and merely reporting on what those people actually did.

That kind of 'study compiling' has it's place, for sure. But scientific research is never based solely on citing other studies' conclusions. That's the realm of journal articles and the like.

If I'd known I could just read existing studies in order to draw conclusions, then I wouldn't have spent years schmoozing vacuous adminstrative city clerks and shelter managers, interviewing the owners of biting dogs, verifying the data collection process and its voracity, etc., etc. Boy, just reading a bunch of completed studies would've been a lot easier, a lot less time-consuming, and lot less expensive and aggravating.

Silly me. I should've done that!!! ;-)

I can't begin to detail how much inaccurate information is floating around about me. According to one online source, I'm dead! Now, someone could read that, and repeat it as part of their "research," citing the relevant "source," I suppose. (And, proving my point, there are now numerous instances of this surprising "fact" published at web sites.) A real researcher will not take that printed claim at face value. He/she would search for an obituary or death certifiate and/or contact family members to confirm my death. THAT is what real researchers do. Sure, it's more time-consuming and expensive, but it's the only way to be sure what one is conveying is accurate.

I'll fully admit it would be impossible to do this in every area of life. We all have to take short cuts, or we'd spend our entire lives in libraries and laboratories. Much of what we believe is little more than a mental construct that helps us feel safe; more in control...as though we have a handle on things. Just this morning I told my husband about the results of some study I'd read. I qualified it by stating as much..."I recently read a study that found..." I'm just not the kind of person who would state that conclusion as though I know it to be a fact or did the research myself. ...Or, at least I try to be mindful of doing so. I cautioned my husband after he responded to someone's question by saying, "What you're thinking of is..." I pointed out that he couldn't possibly know what the person was thinking, and that it would be better to qualify his response by saying, "I believe you may be thinking of..."

Still, I come across people all the time (especially when it comes to dogs), who go around saying this and that (about this breed or that), as though it's a fact, simply because they heard it somewhere.

I've learned the hard way that real experts don't spend a lot of time trying to educate people online, and anyone who tries to do so will be immediately lumped-in with all the 'armchair experts' who've done nothing but read a few web sites and the like. They (we) face the perfunctory childish name-calling and insults, and attacks on our credibility because...it seems...everyone believes they're experts, if they read enough. And there are scant few fields where reading, alone, will qualify someone as an expert.

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