Ethics Dunce: Ann Althouse

Bad, bad Ann. I’m very disappointed and surprised. In a post this morning, the usually reliable if eccentric law professor bloggress highlighted the anti-“pit bull” propaganda of DogsBite.org, an Ethics Alarms Unethical Website of the Month, and a vile purveyor of bad information that shares responsibility for the destructive “dangerous breed” laws around the country, discriminatory home-owners insurance rates, and the deaths of thousands and upon thousands of innocent, loving dogs.

Like the execrable website and the incompetent Times article it highlights, Althouse never clarifies the critical fact that there is no such breed as “a pit bull.American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire TerriersStaffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mixture thereof, plus a number of breeds like American Bullys, Corso Canes, Doggo de Argentino, and especially American Bull Dogs are all lumped together as “pit bulls” by ignorant reporters and police, and even veterinarians, making the website’s assertion that a disproportionate number of dog attacks come from that “breed” a statistical whopper. Yet Althouse, whose husband once had a blog dedicated to dog photos and who is a dog-lover herself, just goes along with the deception, and worse for a lawyer, never points out the “evidence” is absurdly flawed. If you combine many breeds into a single “breed,” of course that “breed” will have a disproportionate share of whatever dog incident one is counting.

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In Honor Of Our New Dog Spuds, A Timely Ethics Alarms Encore: “Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org”

That’s not Spuds above; that’s Brad Pitt’s wonderful Staffordshire Terrier in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,”, one of many breeds dog ignoramuses lump into the category of “pit bull.” Spuds, whom we brought home today, is almost certainly at least part American Pit Bull Terrier, like the dog in the “Our Gang” comedies, but we’ll know better when he gains back more of the weigh he lost when his owner stopped feeding him. Here he is in our kitchen tonight..

Since he is among the  types of dog who will be subjected to the breed bigotry that has led to the deaths of so many smart, loyal, affectionate and harmless dogs across America and Europe, I’ve decided to re-post this essay from 2015. It is the all-time champion Ethics Alarms post for comments, with 339 and counting. It is also the post that has continued to attract comments the longest after a post went up: the last flurry of reactions from anti-pit bull hysterics was in February of this year.

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Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org

This despicable website, created by phobics, liars, fools and bigots to promote dog breed prejudice and persecution of responsible dog owners, is discredited by the vast, vast  majority of dog experts, breeders, and people with any knowledge of dogs. It is useful in a way, in that its rhetoric mirrors that of the anti-Jewish, final solution advocates of the Nazi regime, and the most virulent American racists, like the KKK. (A dog breed is exactly like a human race.) It also apes the logical fallacies of those who want to ban guns or engage in racial profiling.

Although a mass of data and history proves that pit bull-related breeds are no more inherently dangerous than any powerful breed and arguably less, Dogsbite.Org is leading a vendetta against both the breeds and lawful, loving owners, reasoning that dogfighting uses pit bull-type breeds, and pit bulls used for fighting are more likely to be dangerous (as any dog so abused  may be), so to kill two birds with one stone, it makes sense to wipe out not just any individual dangerous dog of the type but any dog that is a hybrid of the a “pit bull breed” and any dog that looks like what people think is a “pit bull”, in part because there is no such breed as “pit bull.” Continue reading

The Washington Post, Pit Bulls, And How We Know It Is Foolish To Trust The News Media

 

If you think about it, you know you shouldn’t trust the news media.

Decades ago, I realized that almost any time I read or watched a news report involving something I knew about, it was almost always wrong, confused, left out important data, or lied.  Initially this realization manifested itself in sports reporting about baseball in general and the Boston Red Sox in particular, but later, as my knowledge expanded, so did my experience with authoritative news reports that were, metaphorically of course, full of crap. When I ran a research foundation for the US Chamber of Commerce, this phenomenon really came into focus. Reporters misunderstood what researchers said in answer to their questions. They misrepresented the press releases. They obviously didn’t read the full studies, and pretended they had. They misquoted me.

I didn’t think this was sinister. Mostly, the cause was laziness and inadequate intellectual training and cognitive skills. Most reporters I dealt with just weren’t very bright or well-educated. And I it suddenly hit me, one fine day in the Spring of 1981, like bolt from the blue:

Tf news reports are so often significantly wrong when I know a lot about the topic, why do I believe and rely on news stories about topics I don’t know much about? It makes no sense to trust these people.

The depressing thing is that the news media was far less biased and far more professional then than now. At least you know, however, that my distrust of U.S. journalism isn’t of recent vintage.

I thought about my 1981 epiphany when I read this story in the Washington Post this morning. It is crafted as a heart-tugging report about the tragic death of a 7-year-old boy, with the headline,  “‘It’s my baby. It’s my baby’: Two pit bulls fatally maul 7-year-old boy in Mass., authorities say.”

As readers here know, Ethics Alarms has thoroughly researched and covered the topic of ignorant anti-pit bull breed bias. The argument that the three to five breeds commonly regarded as “pit bulls” are inherently dangerous and more so than any other large breed rests on the same illogic as racial bias against humans; it has no factual basis in science or experience. I also, quite separately from my research, have a lot of personal experience with dogs of all kinds, including the so called “bully breeds.”

The reporter obviously does not, nor did he do the research necessary to write this story competently. The first sign is that the dogs are identified as “pit bulls” according to “authorities.” The authorities are obviously not authorities on dog breeds, and multiple studies have shown that few people are capable of accurately identifying a “pit bull.”   First, there is no such breed. The breeds commonly called “pit bulls” are American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers  and the American Pit Bull Terrier, as well as the American Bull Dog, because it kind of looks like a pit bull, and the Bull Terrier, which has “bull” in its name. Pit breed mixes are also often identified as pit bulls, though a lab/pit bull breed mix, for example, is as much a Labrador retriever as a “pit bull.” Never mind. If a large dog has short ears, a muscular body, a square muzzle and bites someone, that’s plenty, along with confirmation bias, to lead an “authority” to identify a dog as a “pit bull,” and for the news media to report it that way. Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org [UPDATED]

group shot

This despicable website, created by phobics, liars, fools and bigots to promote dog breed prejudice and persecution of responsible dog owners, is discredited by the vast, vast  majority of dog experts, breeders, and people with any knowledge of dogs. It is useful in a way, in that its rhetoric mirrors that of the anti-Jewish, final solution advocates of the Nazi regime, and the most virulent American racists, like the KKK. (A dog breed is exactly like a human race.) It also apes the logical fallacies of those who want to ban guns or engage in racial profiling.

Although a mass of data and history proves that pit bull-related breeds are no more inherently dangerous than any powerful breed and arguably less, Dogsbite.Org is leading a vendetta against both the breeds and lawful, loving owners, reasoning that dogfighting uses pit bull-type breeds, and pit bulls used for fighting are more likely to be dangerous (as any dog so abused  may be), so to kill two birds with one stone, it makes sense to wipe out not just any individual dangerous dog of the type but any dog that is a hybrid of the a “pit bull breed” and any dog that looks like what people think is a “pit bull”, in part because there is no such breed as “pit bull.”

Thus because some “pit bulls” are abused, all should be exterminated.This is essentially the argument of the unethical people at PETA, which announced that it is supporting DogsBite.Org with the batty, but no more so than many of  their positions, argument that we need to destroy the dogs in order to save them.  Continue reading