Sunday, April 20, 2008
Reference: A giant problem, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008
According to the Bangkok Post, "There is no need for a formal study to show that elephants are being deprived of habitat, food, and water, and are consequently being forced to raid farms to survive" so obvious are these relationships (A giant problem, Bangkok Post, April 21, 2008). The alternative to a formal study is to jump to conclusions and those conclusions may lead well meaning do-gooders to do more harm than good. Some years ago, it was similarly obvious that the University of California at Berkeley had a sexist admission policy because women suffered a higher rejection rate than men by a large margin. After much righteous indignation, protest, and gnashing of teeth, a careful examination of the admissions data showed that more women than men applied to those faculties that had higher rejection rates. When this variable was introduced into the statistics, the difference due to gender completely disappeared from the data. I hope, for the sake of the elephants, that their benefactors study the problem more thoroughly instead of jumping to conclusions and quick fixes. As a curiosity, similar problems in South Africa have led to culling of elephant herds and the appearance of elephant meat on restaurant menus.