1. Tales
    Offline

    Tales Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    0

    Saving an uncharismatic species

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Tales, May 23, 2009.

    Hi I wish to discuss a topic.

    After watching the Planet Earth documentary, I discovered that most conservationists tend to focus on charismatic species; Tigers, Elephants.etc

    But in a story of mine, a new family of highly evolved rodents was discovered and under threat by humans. So conservationist have to save them from the clutches of poachers and ecoterrorists due to the dangerousness of these animals.

    And as most of us know when we hear the word "rodent", we think of every negative word we can find in our dictionary.

    if you are a conservationist, how would you change public opinion of these unique animals?
     
  2. rory
    Offline

    rory Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Changing public opinion is very difficult, even for things that aren't actually bad (say 'stepmother' and most people think 'evil stepmother').
    If it is something that people have been programmed to think of negatively, that makes it even harder.
    Rodent are generally associated with carrying disease and freeloading in homes. To change pubic opinion about this 'highly evolved' rodent, you'd need to very clearly explain and demonstrate how they are not your typical rodent. They would actually need to be unique, like Rats of Nimh unique.
    Tigers and elephants, the 'charismatic' animals people love to save, speak for themselves as to why they should be saved and need to be saved. If the critter is 'uncharismatic' then the spokes person for that species would have to be. It'd all be about playing up the good qualities, however few, and seriously down playing the bad qualities.

    Hope that helps a bit. Good luck! :)
     
  3. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    Realistically, you couldn't. Rats, for instance, have enjoyed an awful reputation for centuries, while cats have had an unshakeably good image for millenia.

    That's not to say a story about a character making various laughbale efforts to change the world's view of rodents would be a bad thing. I think the only way you could do a reasonable job of this though would be as a kind of satire or some kinda comedy.
     
  4. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    I'm sorry but I just don't see it.. Maybe if you explained it better..

    You need one of two things to get people hopped up on animal love: the natural appeal you mentioned, or a good practical reason why we need or should want these things around.

    For example, you probably know about the big bee scare. When people think that all the bees are dying they start talking about the end of days. Even though they will kill themselves just to sting you, you love 'em anyway (or should) because life as we know it depends on them.

    So that example is a little extreme, but you get the idea. Maybe these "advanced" rodents are dealing with another serious problem, perhaps one that was actually human made. Maybe there are mutated insects which have built up an immunity to all the usual chemical solutions and threatening to wipe out humanity (by killing the bees??) and these supah ratz are the only solution.

    Well, it doesn't have to be so extreme, but it does need to be practical. Tell me why these things are important and maybe I can help you figure out how to sell them. The opportunity to observe the unprecedented, significantly accelerated evolution of a species is not to be spit on... though I think you'd want to take it a bit further and explain how it's scientifically relevant, and how these rats will in some roundabout way ultimately benefit humankind. Charisma isn't gonna cut it in this case... Despite the popularity of Mickey Mouse, Pinky and the Brain, Ren and Stimpy and Rats on Cocaine, people still hate real rodents.:p
     
  5. Dcoin
    Offline

    Dcoin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    Hit them with reason...

    Even cute animals need ugly animals to live. Save one and not the other is a sentence for both.
     
  6. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    That's entirely false. There are people who love rats, and love them enough to begin to change people's minds and show everyone they aren't as bad as people think. Sharks have an even worse reputation, but there are also people who love sharks and have created educational programs to show that sharks are not what Spielberg made us think they are. The Toronto Zoo, right now, has a program that allows kids to touch sharks to help people realize they are not dangerous, and even the ones that could be hardly ever attack humans.
     
  7. Kas
    Offline

    Kas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Messages:
    567
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    The ***hole of the world
    Rei, I'm not sure if it's really so much about 'reputation'. I think it's just the innate creepiness of rats. Take spiders, for example. Everyone knows how great spiders are. They kill flies! The only thing better than that might be an instant cure for cancer, but even then I'm not so sure.

    As wonderful as spiders are most people I know still kill them on sight. Or run in terror. Practicality can overcome irrationality, but it has to be a pretty convincing argument - something important enough to really turn heads. Otherwise I don't think the masses would care. Exceptional people don't count. There are always exceptional people ready to devote their lives to any kind of cause. How far they get depends on what they're selling and how they sell it.

    Do you think that Stockwell Day could ever be Prime Minister? I say no... because he's too creepy. Yes, too creepy. And he has bad hair. At least, this is according to a friend of mine who was working on a political science minor at the time. She was conservative minded and brilliant, but refused to vote for him under any circumstance because he was just too darn creepy. I was happy to hear it, being more of a socialist myself.:) I checked around and discovered that a good number of disgruntled conservatives were changing their voting habbits on the grounds of said creepiness. I'm as frustrated as anyone by universal stupidity, but in order to deal with a problem one must admit that there is one.;)

    I still think the only way to sell this particular product is to appeal to human selfishness. It's just a question of figuring out how everyone gets to be selfish and get what they want.

    Oh, and I'm not lecturing you or anything like that - just putting my thoughts out there.:)
     
  8. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    I don't think rats are creepy, but I know they have a bad reputation as pests, being dirty, carrying disease etc. Regardless, there are people who love them and can show the rest of the world how great they are.
     
  9. Unsavory
    Offline

    Unsavory Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    311
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Eugene, OR, USA
    I don't think the classification of "rodent" alone is enough to make a creature seem loathsome. After all, the general population doesn't really have a problem with squirrels and beavers, and I bet people would get behind the preservation of any unique highly-evolved species because that alone earns it charisma.

    I may be in the minority for saying this, but I think the problem is honestly too easy. Many unremarkable but critically endangered species are under heavy preservation and breeding programs funded by their respective governments. Besides, you said yourself that the species is highly evolved and thus different in a positive way that people could sympathize with. Consider instead the plight of an unremarkable looking bug that lays its eggs in people and offers no known benefit to the ecosystem. Now THAT would be a difficult sell.

    If you work everything out, you could also consider part of the conflict of the story to revolve around rescuing and preserving this species despite a total lack of public support. Maybe it never has to be swayed.
     
  10. bumboclaatjones
    Offline

    bumboclaatjones Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    if the rodents are dangerous, why the hell is anyone trying to save them? what does "Highly Evolved" mean? why the hell would poachers try and nail rats, when you can get way more money from gorillas and ivory? Ecoterrorists tends to refer to people who are militant conservationists, so why would you be saving animals from them? What part of the world is this occurring in? I really don't think you're giving enough info here. These are all necessary considerations here if you want some help.
     
  11. zaphod
    Offline

    zaphod Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    I dunno how true this is or if it is just perception, okay, but yeah-

    Some say conservation has a dual purpose- as a kind of NIMBY(not in my backyard) effort by people who are against rural development in general. Or by people who want to stop suburban sprawl. A animal might not have to be cute or furry rather if it inhabits an environment or natural setting that people want to see preserved.

    This just happened in real life down the road from me: threaten rural suburbanites with the prospect of their quiet being ruined by the new and possibly fictional rumor of a Super-Walmart coming to town if this new greenbelt zoning isn't passed.
     

Share This Page