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Surviving in a post-truth world

10 2 0
13.08.2017

LOS ANGELES – Despite the falsehoods that some politicians peddle, facts still matter, and getting those facts right is essential for survival. I know, because I regularly see the deadly consequences of getting facts wrong.

I am a behavioral ecologist, and I study how animals assess and manage predation risk. But, rather than study the flashy predators — with their sharp teeth, stealthy approaches and impressive sprinting abilities — I focus on their food.

Some wallabies make bad use of facts. Too often, these four-legged snacks ignore information right in front of them — like rustling in the underbrush or the scent of a passing carnivore. And they pay for this ignorance dearly, with the sudden slash of talons, or the constricting squeeze of a powerful jaw.

But my research has shown that many would-be meals — marmots, birds, lizards, fish and sessile marine invertebrates among them — are better at assessing risk. In 1979, the ecologists Richard Dawkins and John Krebs proposed the “life-dinner principle,” which holds that prey, with more to lose than predators, are more creative survivalists. The risk of being eaten —........

© The Japan Times