What goes on in an individual's mind when confronted with a butterfly, a snake, a bat, a wolf, a pigeon, or a bee?

Natalie Angier has an illuminating piece in today's New York Times about "biobigotry"—"the persistent and often irrational desire to be surrounded only by those species of which one approves, and to exclude any animals, plants and other life forms that one finds offensive."The article describes the psychology behind this way of parsing the animal world, and points out some of the weird ironies that arise when we project our human morals, values and beliefs onto nature—often with only the vaguest sliver of actual understanding about what it is we're observing when we watch a butterfly, a snake, a bat, a wolf, a pigeon, or a bee in action.

If you've ever called pigeons "flying rats," disparaged a pig, attempted to eradicate a certain weed from your yard, or tried to chase the "wrong bird" from your birdfeeder (and who hasn't indulged in something along these lines?), you'll find Angier's piece a worthwhile read.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

She's one of my favorite writers.