A View from David Appell

Sixth Sense?

Reuters is running a science story purporting that, because no animals have been found dead in the tsunami aftermath in southern Asia, they possess a “sixth sense” which enabled them to escape the chaos.Color me skeptical. For one thing, I’m…

  • December 30, 2004

Reuters is running a science story purporting that, because no animals have been found dead in the tsunami aftermath in southern Asia, they possess a “sixth sense” which enabled them to escape the chaos.

Color me skeptical. For one thing, I’m pretty sure I’ve read about dogs being found dead among the human corpses. Birds, of course, would have been able to fly away. For another, it’s unlikely that there were many animals in the densely populated beach areas were the tsunami hit.

Thus, few were likely to have been found. Or if there are a dead hares or rabbits, they’re small and likely carried into nooks and crannies that have yet to be excavated. Or, in the unpopulated areas where the tsunami hit, it’s unlikely people have yet searched it for dead animals. Either way, there’s little opportunity to find dead animals.

I know this is just a little Reuters story, but they could have expressed more skepticism. I think people want to believe animals possess such a thing as a sixth sense, and this story has no hesitation about playing into that.

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