Animal Death Weirdness not as Weird as it Seems

Via MSNBC: Technology to blame for animal die-off panic.

The bottom line from the piece: apparently these kinds of things happen with regularity, but we usually don’t notice. However, the Internet means that something like this can go viral without context and lead people to reach false conclusions:

instant communications — especially when people can whip out smart phones to take pictures of critter carcasses and then post them on the Internet — is giving a skewed view of what is happening in the environment.

FILED UNDER: Media, Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. jd says:

    If this happens with “regularity” and we’ve had Internet for decades and cellphone cameras for years, where were the pics??

  2. @jd:

    Decades? The Internet itself as we understand it is roughly 15 years old (but it’s overall social penetration is more recent). . However, the ubiquity of camera phones hooked to the Internet is really something of the last several years. And social media to further such viral activity s likes a fairly recent phenomenon.

  3. jd says:

    @Steven: I was regularly using the Internet (not just port 80) for work back in 1984. I’m also a bit of a hacker – I did a lot of these things long before they became consumer one-click easy.

  4. @jd:

    All well and good, but the issue here is the general public.

  5. jd says:

    I think that the sudden outbreak of animal die-offs is media induced. If it gets attention once, anything like it will be added to the news cycle. People can’t help but think it’s a new trend.