Why Wolves?

Alright since this is the last blog post I will try to give you a little back story on why I love wolves so much and what I do to protect them.

I am always asked where my love for wolves came from and to be honest I am not entirely sure.  However, I do remember the first time I saw a wild wolf was when I was 8 years old travelling through Denali National Park in Alaska.  I think this first encounter was when my true love for wolves began to develop.  It was this love that caused me to do a project in 6th grade on Wolves.  This project increased my overall  knowledge of wolves and caused me to visit my first wolf sanctuary, the California Wolf Center.  However, the most important thing this project did for me was open my eyes to the type of hardships that wolves face because of humans.  It was this experience that made me want to do something to help wolves for my Girl Scout Gold Award.  I realized that simply raising awareness was not going to be enough action for me and really wanted to do something that would have an impact, thus Google searched for wolf summer camps not expecting much.  However, to my surprise there was a summer program called The Road Less Traveled (yes inspired by Robert Frost’s poem) that had one trip named Call of the Wild.  It was a 17 day trip to Colorado where you would spend 9 days volunteering at Mission:Wolf, a wolf sanctuary.  I decided to go out of my comfort zone and try this once in a life time experience.  While on this trip I was able to greet wolves face to face, feed them daily, bury water pipes for the lower enclosures, move 200 tons of hay, fix fencing, and start the installation of fences for new enclosures.  However, this was not what had the greatest impact on me, rather it was hearing the stories of how some of the wolves and wolf-dog hybrids ended up at Mission:Wolf.  One of the hybrids, who actually lives with the founder of Mission:Wolf, was almost put down simply because he was part wolf and had bitten a human, only after being hit several times by a baseball bat shattering his back right hip.  Fortunately the nurses had formed a connection with him and were able to convince Mission:Wolf to adopt him.  Every wolf there has a back story and too many of them were about how someone had adopted a wolf thinking they could provide an adequate home for it only to find out that wolves are completely different animals from dogs.  It was these very stories that I wanted to share with more people and so decided to create signs for each of the wolves for my Gold Award.  I ended up going back the next summer on the same project and spent more than 80 hours in 9 days putting up signs for 48 wolves and wolf-dog hybrids.  Then when I came back I traveled to a couple of different schools and shared my experience.  Now I also donate to Mission:Wolf and Defenders of Wildlife every year because helping wolves is something that truly matters to me.

However, the action that I have taken is very small compared to what Mission:Wolf does every year to educate people about wolves.   They have a program called the Ambassador Program where they travel across the country visiting schools and other community centers with wolves to educate young kids and other people about some of the challenges that wolves face.  This is a prime example of activism because the founder of Mission:Wolf saw a problem and has spent the last 30 years trying to spread knowledge about it.  According to the book Spreadable Media those that work on “building stronger affiliations with a public that plays a much more active role in spreading their message” have an easier time spreading their message.  It is for this exact reason that Mission:Wolf travels the country.  Even Gloria Steinem believes that having face-to-face interaction allows for activists to form a deeper connection with their audience than through the page or screen.  Do you think this is an effective method of spreading your message?  How do you think Mission:Wolf can spread their message to more people?

Remember Education vs Extinction

CMor Signing Off!!!

Spreadability of Wolves

This past week we have been examining what makes certain content more spreadable than others.  According to Maria Konnikova there are 6 things that cause some piece of content to go viral.  Those six different points are if the story has an emotional connection, an extreme arousal of emotions, social currency and relevance, memory inducing, practical value, and a quality story.  I would have to say that I completely agree with this list and the only time I share a video or link is if it makes me feel an extreme emotion or if I feel like no one else has seen it and I will be introducing people to it.

When looking up youtube videos about wolves, there are not that many first off, and from those few the number of views are pretty low (in the hundred thousands).  However, the most watched youtube video about wolves that I could find is about a man who lives with a wolf pack.  The reason that this video has been seen over 11 million times is because people either experience fear or excitement of seeing someone put his life in the hands of his “wild” companions.  Konnikova states in her article that “just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference” in the amount the media content was shared.  Thus the more fear or excitement that people experienced when seeing the wolves interact with the human are what made this video get as many views as it did.  Also “the real life wolf man” has clearly studied the behavior of wolves and knows how to be the alpha wolf in the pack.  Another thing that I realized from the comments is that many people found his facial expressions to be rather amusing and according to this article by the Smithsonian, joy is the emotion that shares the most and fastest through social media.  This video however does lack some of the key components of spreadability, which is why it is not a viral video.  There is little to no social currency in the video nor is there any memory inducing components for most people (I on the other hand would probably share it because I have met a wolf like that before).  Would you be likely to share this video? How did the video make you feel? Of the six things that make something viral which do you think is the most important?

CMor signing off!!!

From the Internet to the Zoo

Learning about online harassment this past week has been very eye opening.  I realized that there was harassment and bullying online but did not have a great enough appreciation of the scale of some of the attacks.  In the research article “Online Harassment” Maeve Duggan analyzes how many people have fallen victim to online harassment and the forms of harassment they experienced.  According to the article “73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online and 40% have personally experienced it.”  These numbers were a lot higher than I had expected, but still not as shocking as to learn that men tend to be the victim of more online harassment than females.  The article did mention however that men tended to experience the less severe harassment vs the more severe harassment that women faced.  All of this talk about harassment really made me start thinking about the different forms of harassment and how we as humans are not the only ones who have to deal with this behavior.

Every day animals in zoos and other places are harassed by humans.  Most of the time the harassment comes in the form of banging on enclosures or even just yelling at the animal, but some kids even take it as far as trying to get in enclosures.  This article looks at a high school student who actually broke into a couple of different enclosures and even tried to pet a jaguar. This student was extremely lucky to make it out of that experience alive.  The zoo takes many precautions to protect their visitors, but also wants to protect the animals from harassment.  However, jaguars are not the only animal that are harassed, and actually this is a story of a wolf that was harassed and then punished for it.  Basically a mom and her 4-year-old child went into an off limits area to take up close pictures of the wolf pack in the zoo.  The mom was too busy taking pictures to notice her son put his fingers through the fence.  One of the wolves was curious and came up to the child and bites (well more like nibbles) his hand.  Due to there being four puncture wounds there is concern about rabies.  The parents had the choice to either give their child rabies shots or to have the wolf put down to be tested for rabies.  The family decides to put the wolf down, just to find out he doesn’t have rabies.  In what world should this family, who broke the rules be able to decide the fate of a creature behaving normally?  There are other ways to test for rabies that would not have resulted in the death of the wolf.  Also there are laws concerning the harassment of animals, but in both stories above neither person responsible was charged with a crime.  Do you think that either of these people should have been charged? Also if it is against the law to harass someone online then why does it still happen so often?

CMor signing off!!!

0 to 100 Real Quick

This past week I had my eyes opened to some of the absurd reactions by people online.  I knew that things can easily be blown out of proportion online or on social media, but the article about the rainbow cake was just absurd.  Never would I have thought in a million years that an article about a cake would have people commenting on politics.  In the article “Rainbow-Cake Recipe Inspires Comment Apocalypse” by Albert Burneko he discusses the progression of the conversation and at the end makes the observation that the “whole thing might have begun with an innocent misunderstanding?” The article shows how the conversation went from 0 to 100 real quick, with innocent comments to mean hurtful comments.   Ever since reading this article I make sure to look at the comments section.  I happened to click on an article about this epic bat flip after the Royals beat the Astros and found the article interesting, but the comments managed to capture most of my attention.  Now none of the comments were anywhere near the same level as the cake, but there were still a lot of aggressive comments, even for a sports article.

Unfortunately it is not just comments that can be blown way out of proportion, but also peoples reactions to wolves killing humans.  Let me first start by saying this is a rare occurrence and most attacks are by wolves who have rabies, have become habituated to human food, protecting themselves, or starving.  By becoming habituated to human food the wolves become less wary around humans.  Anyway, according to this article a 32 year old woman was killed while jogging on the outskirts of town in Alaska.  Apparently it was determined that she was attacked by two wolves, but for most of the article it just states wolves, which makes it sound like a whole pack attacked.  Also the author of the article doesn’t know what happened to the teacher, but knows the wolves were heading into town.  How do they not know the exact number of wolves that attacked, but know where they were travelling.  Also on top of that the author makes it seem so terrible that the wolf would feed on the body, which might be gruesome but is a good source of food for the wolf.  Also the author states that just because they cannot find a reason the wolves would have attacked that it proves that wolves will attack humans without any motive.  Yet, earlier in the article he says “it was impossible to tell if the wolves were hunting Berner or if she surprised them”, thus this is not good enough proof.  Another  over reaction came when two wolves were killed the same week as the attack.  Had the Department of Fish and Game made sure that those were the two wolves who had committed the killing then it wouldn’t have been bad, but they just killed to random wolves in the area.  The major over reaction came when the Department of Fish and Game had another 9 wolves in the area killed.  There is absolutely no reason that these wolves should have been killed.  Do you think that a wolf attack on humans justifies a slaughtering of wolves? How would you bring justice for the wolf attack?

CMor Signing Off!!!

Infographic Final

The misconception I was trying to address was that smart people are not athletic.  My infographic went about disproving this misconception by showing some of the smartest people in the MLB and NFL.  Both of these professional organizations have the best athletes in their sport and all of them are respected.  Yet if you take a closer look at some of the athletes you will find members of a prestigious academic honor fraternity, college graduates, and even a couple of future doctors.  My infographic shows some of the smartest people in their sport without even having to read the information below.  However, the information was provided below to allow readers to compare each of the different athletes’ GPA, SAT scores, Majors, and Universities.  Some of the athletes even graduated in less than four years, which is a very impressive feat considering they were playing sports on top of that.  I really tried to keep the colors similar, but also contrast the background.  By providing the sports field in the background for the first two sections it would make it clear which sport was being analyzed.  However, for the last section I was just trying to stay with the sports theme to show some interesting facts.  The thing that I am most proud of about my project is that it shows some of the smartest people in the professional sports world that people might have just categorized in the “dumb jock” stereotype.  This project has made me have a much greater appreciation for those who make infographics because I found it very hard to come up with ideas on how to portray my data.  Part of the problem was that I didn’t really have numerical data so it was harder to make into a pretty graph and rather had to work with text.  Another thing I learned from this project is that I was not meant to go into any graphic design.  However, I have to admit that I had fun working on the project.

My final version of my infographic is provided below.

Infographic Final

The link to my Pinterest is here.

Beauty vs. Beast

From the book The BEST American Infographic edited by Gareth Cook there are a multitude of good infographics.  One of the infographics that I analyzed in class was the Bieber vs Bieber infographic.  The point of this infographic was to compare the boy Justin Bieber to the more grown up Justin Bieber, or as the book says “Cuddly 2009 Bieber” and “Gnarly 2013 Bieber”. There is not much that the infographic left out of the comparison.  On the left side was a complete breakdown “from Baby to Boyfriend, mop-hair to gel- hair, purple hoodie to leather, dog tag to gas mask, [and] the evolution of Bieber from cuddly to gnarly”.  Then the right side of the infographic had several charts and figures that showed the progression of Bieber’s popularity throughout the years based on concert ticket sales, number of internet searches, and twitter followers.  When looking at this infographic you can’t help but get the feeling that one of the Biebers is supposed to be better than the other.  That is the same way I feel when looking at a comparison between wolves and coyotes.  The only difference is that I know one is better than the other.

Although many people often confuse coyotes for wolves, there are many distinguishing features between the two.  One of the major differences is just the overall size of the wolf versus the coyote.  Generally wolves are a couple of feet longer than coyotes when being measured from nose to tail.  Also wolves are generally several inches taller.  Because of wolves bigger physique they can weight twice and even three times as much as coyotes.  The only part of coyotes that are bigger than wolves is their ears.  Coyotes ears tend to be longer and pointier compared to wolves shorter curved ears.  These are all differences that would be obvious if seen up close, but harder to differentiate from a distance.  However, the largest difference between wolves and coyotes is the way they hunt.  Wolves will hunt with their pack, unless they are a lone wolf, while coyotes are scavengers.  Wolves have a very well organized attack that allows them to go after the old, sick, injured, or young prey.  The coyote on the other hand will eat small rodents and other animals’ kills.  The video talks about how coyotes will try to steal the wolves’ meat because they are scavengers.  Since the coyote hunts by themselves the game they catch is generally small.  It is this and other social differences that truly separate these two different species into the Beauty and the Beast.

CMor Signing off!!!

Don’t Lie to Me!!!

Randy Olson’s article about how infographics lie and how we can tell was something that really struck home.  The fact that we can so easily be lied to without even realizing it is something that makes me question everything.  fortunately Olson discusses how we can see through some of the bull and get the truth.  He points out three different things we should look out for.  The first is to check the data presentation, which really just means to not be fooled by what you see first and rather check what the different colors represent or look at the axis ranges.  Secondly he suggests checking the data source. He makes the great point that “if the data source isn’t listed, take the data visualization with many grains of salt.” His final point is to check the data alterations especially if it seems like some of the data is left out.

Although Olson’s article was in reference to infographics many of his points can help identify faulty articles.  The fact that people leave out information just to help with their arguments is something that people do way too often.  Everyone has the right to see the whole picture and to make a decision based on that.  With that being said something that always rubs me the wrong way is when people write articles about wolves killing livestock.  I understand that it is something that happens, but people only focus on the impacts to people and not the whole issue.  In this particular article, the author does not hesitate to talk about the slaughtering of sheep caused by wolves; however, the author doesn’t mention anything about why wolves might have done this attack.  Typically wolves attack livestock because they have been chased from their natural habitat by people and forced to migrate to more populated areas.  Nor does the author talk about other animals that have done similar slaughters of livestock.  According to this site wolves are not the leading killer of livestock.  Yet from the article you would have thought that the wolves did this attack out of nowhere and that they are the only animals that attack livestock.

Why is it that we feel the need to have to leave out information? Shouldn’t people be allowed to make their own decisions on all the facts?

CMor signing off!

Wolves are just like Technology

Why do people always believe what they read and hear as hard fact? This is something that has always baffled me.  Now maybe it is my engineering mind working but I need proof and facts before I truly believe something (unless I want to believe it, like that dark chocolate is actually healthy).  David Crystal even realizes that “there was never any clear evidence supporting these assertions, but that did not stop them being made.”  He continues to describe the fact that there was no evidence to support this and the one supposed piece has never been found in its entirety.  Is this really enough information for people to believe something? Well believe it or not but wolves have some of the same problems that technology has.  Ever since we are young kids we are constantly told that wolves are these bad creatures.  There isn’t a single child story that doesn’t portray wolves in a negative light.  For example you have Little Red Riding Hood whose mother was literally eaten by a wolf or Peter and the Wolf where Peter hunts a wolf because of human killings.  Those are just two of the most common stories but there are so many more fables.  The worst part about these stories is that they are engrained in our minds at an early age so even though people don’t actually know anything about wolves they already have a negative connotation towards them.  The thing that frustrates me the most is that those stories are not true.  Just like the supposed example of an essay entirely in text form there is no evidence of mass human killings by wolves.  Now I wish I could say that wolves have never killed a human, but that would simply be a lie.  However, I can tell you that wolves are actually very shy animals.  They will leave you alone and try to avoid you as long as they don’t perceive you as a threat.  It doesn’t take much research to find that there are not nearly as many wolf killings as people expect, but people are too happy believing what they hear the first time.  According to  Jeremy Dean, people tend to believe what they hear and see the first time.  However, even this blog doesn’t have any references or say where the information came from, which makes me question it a little.  Questioning things is a good thing and something that people need to do more of, especially if our instinct is to believe everything we hear for the first time.

Moral of the Story: research things and find reputable sources (not blogs) and wolves are amazing creatures that don’t eat humans for fun.

CMor signing off!