Dark Reality Behind Good Intentions: 35 Shocking Real-Life Examples

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11 Mongoose Effect: Lessons in Ecosystem Management

Mongoose Effect: Lessons in Ecosystem Management

Rats were decimating the local bird population in Hawaii, so mongooses were introduced there to control the rat population in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, it had unintended consequences and caused ecological disruption in the region. Mongooses are diurnal, and rats are nocturnal. So instead of going after the rats, the mongoose went after the birds. They fed on native bird species, eggs, and chicks, leading to further declines in native bird populations. This competition has resulted in a decline in biodiversity and a decrease in the overall health of the ecosystem.

The introduction of non-native species serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding the potential consequences of such actions and the need for caution when introducing non-native species into an ecosystem.


12 Pakistan’s Taliban Gambit: A Cautionary Tale

Pakistan's Taliban Gambit: A Cautionary Tale

Pakistan’s support for the Taliban in the 1990s and early 2000s was motivated by a desire to gain regional influence and counterbalance India’s presence in Afghanistan. The government and military establishment in Pakistan saw the Taliban as a way to exert their own power and control in the region. They provided military training, financing, and logistical support to the Taliban and even allowed them to use Pakistani territory as a base of operations. This support was intended to bring stability to Afghanistan and counterbalance India’s presence, but it ultimately had negative consequences, as the Taliban’s extreme interpretation of Islam and their harsh rule created instability and violence, not only in Afghanistan but in the region as a whole. This in turn led to blowback against Pakistan, including terrorist attacks on its soil.

The Taliban’s association with terrorism and their support for extremist groups like Al-Qaeda also brought unwanted attention and criticism to Pakistan, damaging its international reputation and exacerbating the problems they sought to resolve.


13 From Promise to Demolition: The Pruitt-Igoe Project

From Promise to Demolition: The Pruitt-Igoe Project

The Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, was initially praised for its innovative architecture as a solution for the city’s African American poor. The complex consisted of high-rise towers and was designed to encourage community interaction with its long galleries and staircases. However, these communal spaces soon became crime hotspots, and the Pruitt-Igoe project became known for its rampant poverty, high crime rates, and social decay.

Over time, Pruitt Igoe became a symbol of the failure of public housing and was eventually demolished in 1972, only 17 years after it was built. The irony of the Pruitt Igoe story is that its architect, Minoru Yamasaki, also designed the World Trade Center, which was considered a marvel of modern architecture. It became known as a prime example of failed public housing projects and a cautionary tale of urban renewal gone wrong, leading to a major shift in housing policies and a reconsideration of how public housing was designed and managed.


14 Qualified Immunity: A Barrier to Police Accountability

Qualified Immunity: A Barrier to Police Accountability

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government officials, including police officers, from being held personally liable for actions taken in the course of their official duties. This doctrine was created with the intention of giving officers some leeway in the enforcement of the law in situations where the law was not clear. However, the implementation of this doctrine has backfired and resulted in widespread protection for police officers and their departments, even in cases where they have clearly violated the law or civil rights.

This has created a culture of impunity, where officers are often above reproach and immune from prosecution or litigation, regardless of the severity of their actions. The abuse of qualified immunity has become a major concern for those seeking accountability and justice and has fueled widespread anger and frustration towards the police and the legal system as a whole.


15 Generation Paranoia: Impact of the Stranger Danger Campaign

Generation Paranoia: Impact of the Stranger Danger Campaign

The Stranger Danger campaign of the 1970s and 1990s aimed to raise awareness about child abductions but resulted in fear-mongering and a distorted perception of the real risks. Despite claims of hundreds of thousands of abductions by strangers, the majority of child abductions were committed by family members or individuals known to the child. The focus on stranger danger resulted in a lack of attention and resources devoted to addressing the root causes of child abduction and underfunding resources that could have aided in prevention. The bigger impact was on the kids born in the late 1990s and onward. The “stranger danger” era basically created an entire generation of paranoid helicopter parents. The campaign’s narrow focus on stranger danger also prevented people from learning about effective measures to prevent child abduction.


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16 Ineffectiveness of Invasive Species Bounties

Ineffectiveness of Invasive Species Bounties

In India and other areas, bounties have been offered for killing invasive animals, leading to the killing of animals such as cobras and rabbits. The system incentivized individuals to breed the animals, making it easier and more profitable to produce the required carcasses or body parts. However, when authorities discovered the breeding, they discontinued the bounty program. In some cases, this led to the release of the newly-bred invasive animals into the wild, exacerbating the original problem. In other instances, individuals simply resorted to recycling the same animal parts, presenting them repeatedly to collect multiple bounties. This highlights the unintended consequences of bounty programs and the importance of considering alternative methods for addressing invasive species.


17 Harms of Love Deprivation: Story of Harry Harlow’s Experiments

Harms of Love Deprivation: Story of Harry Harlow's Experiments

Harry Frederick Harlow was a scientist who conducted experiments on rhesus monkeys to prove the importance of love and affection for survival. Harlow raised the monkeys from birth in isolation chambers with limited love and affection, with the aim of demonstrating the significance of early social interaction and family love. However, his methods were cruel and resulted in the monkeys becoming emotionally devastated, with some engaging in self-mutilation and refusing food to the point of death. Harlow’s experiments backfired, not only causing harm to the monkeys but also drawing criticism from the scientific community for the unethical treatment of research subjects. His cruel experiments resulted in the monkeys becoming emotionally devastated shells of their former selves. The experiments also raised questions about the validity of using animal subjects in research and the need for ethical guidelines in scientific experimentation.


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18 Unintended Consequences of African Charity

Unintended Consequences of African Charity

The large amounts of charity and donations sent to African countries to help the poor often have unintended negative consequences. One of these consequences is the destruction of local industries, as a massive amount of the donations, including clothing donations sent to recycling companies and charities, end up being exported and sold all over the world, heavily dominating local markets across Africa. This can result in local businesses and industries being unable to compete and suffering significant financial losses. Thus, the intended goal of alleviating poverty and promoting development is not being met, and the negative effects of well-intentioned charity in Africa are being realized.


19 From Paper to Plastic: An Environmental Misstep

From Paper to Plastic: An Environmental Misstep

In the late 1990s, the widespread use of plastic bags was viewed as a solution to the environmental impact of paper grocery bags, as people were encouraged to switch from paper bags due to concerns about the number of trees cut down for paper production. In hindsight, it is now clear that logging can be pretty sustainable (though not entirely faultless). However, the introduction of plastic bags resulted in a new set of environmental problems, as plastic bags are not easily recyclable and their thin nature makes reuse uncommon. This has resulted in a massive amount of plastic pollution in the environment, showing how the push for plastic bags backfired.


20 Perils of Protests: White-tailed Deer Hunting Controversy & its Effects

Perils of Protests: White-tailed Deer Hunting Controversy & its Effects

The protest against hunting white-tailed deer is a prime example of good intentions gone awry. White-tailed deer are a common sight in many parts of North America and are often hunted for their meat and trophy antlers. However, anti-hunting protests aimed at protecting the deer have had unintended consequences. The problem with these protests is that they ignore the delicate balance of nature and the important role that hunting plays in maintaining it. Historically, natural predators like wolves and cougars kept deer populations in check.

However, as human settlements grew and hunting pressures on these predators increased, their populations declined. This has led to an increase in the number of deer, causing problems like overgrazing, vehicle collisions, and the spread of diseases like Lyme disease. Hunting is an effective way of controlling deer populations and restoring the balance of nature. However, anti-hunting sentiments have prevented this from happening, causing the deer population to grow out of control and leading to the destruction of the natural ecosystem. The protest against hunting white-tailed deer is a perfect example of how good intentions can backfire and cause more harm than good.


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88 COMMENTS

  1. RE: Fact# 7 – Cost of Doing the Right Thing: The Case of Saran Wrap: Working in food service, I always found the big rolls of cling wrap at work were FAR superior in function to Saran Wrap at home. Do the food service rolls still have the chemical?

    1679
    • Yes. For food safety reasons, they needed it to still cling like it needed to to protect foodservice. I always say Costco and other big stores that sell food service stuff is where to go. It’s basically 2-in-1; you get the clingy product you need, and you get a roll that you’ll be able to pass to your grandkids.

      481
  2. RE: Fact# 8 – Elite Troops to Drug Cartel: Tragic Story of Los Zetas: This is how nations start in the first place. Groups of mercenaries getting paid by whoever.. pays the most.

    Back in the day battles that decided who’s going to be a country were fought between a few thousand men. Battles for entire empires were often less than 200k people in total fighting.

    Anyway.. corruption ends when a country is doing so well it’s citizens get paid more than corruption would pay them. Try bribing a Swiss police officer. Like.. you’d have to shell out at least 500.000 francs to get him to do something to risk his well paying job and jail. It’s just not going to happen.

    An army recruit in Mexico gets paid $500 a month. So yes. You offer 5k a month, which is easily doable for a drug cartel, he’s going to fight for your team.

    A solution might be for Mexico to take over the cartels and start selling drugs themselves :’). Sounds funny perhaps. But The Netherlands did this too back in the day. We had (one of the) largest cocaine factory in the world.

    1719
    • A good example for your point would be the extensive use of assorted German auxiliaries by the British Empire; sometimes hired to fight in a conflict directly, sometimes hired to attack France thus diverting their forces from the real conflict.

      Also the East India Company’s use of Indian mercenaries to conquer most of India. You know, until they revolted, then the red coats massacred them.

      491
  3. RE: Fact# 16 – Ineffectiveness of Invasive Species Bounties:

    This has happened multiple times throughout history… just a few years ago a military base in NC had a problem with wild boars and put out a bounty on their tails, so a**holes started raising pigs and cutting off their tails for the reward.

    1404
    • Not quite the same, but a similar situation, there was an anthropologist in Africa who wanted as many bones as he could get so he started paying local kids who brought him pieces of bones and artifacts. Then he found that the kids where smashing ancient bones so they had more pieces and could get more money.

      461
    • That happened at Fort Benning in Georgia. They also bought tails from taxidermists and game processors, dairy calf tails from farmers, made fake tails from play-do and horse hair, and scavenged the trash for tails that had already been turned in. It was a giant scam.

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    • Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) writes about a similar “bounty-for-bugs” program at a place he worked. Management instituted a bounty for finding bugs in code. Dumbest idea ever.

      487
    • Rats had featured largely in the history of Ankh-Morpork. Shortly before the Patrician came to power there was a terrible plague of rats. The city council countered it by offering twenty pence for every rat tail. This did, for a week or two, reduce the number of rats – and then people were suddenly queuing up with tails, the city treasury was being drained, and no one seemed to be doing much work. And there still seemed to be a lot of rats around. Lord Vetinari had listened carefully while the problem was explained, and had solved the thing with one memorable phrase which said a lot about him, about the folly of bounty offers, and about the natural instinct of Ankh-Morporkians in any situation involving money: ‘Tax the rat farms.’

      467
    • There was also that study where they rewarded dolphins for bringing in trash from the pool, and some dolphins stored trash and ripped off little pieces of it to bring in for goodies.

      511
    • That reminds me of the indian scalp bounties that mexicans started offering in texas. The mexican government offered to pay the white settlers for indian scalps in order to exterminate the natives there. The white settlers pretty much exterminated the natives and ran out of Indian scalps. As the Indians and their scalps became rarer due to the killings, the settlers started scalping mexicans and passing those off as native scalps to sell to the mexican government.

      500
    • One high tech place I worked at had an email account size reduction contest – basically those who reduced their saved email size (server disk space) the most during the contest period got a prize. This turned out badly because some chuckleheads would pump up their saved emails with gigantic attachments, wait for the contest, then delete them.

      470
    • When they were filming The Brinks Job a Boston resident was paid to remove the air conditioner unit from his window so they could film on that particular street for a shot. The next day when they arrived to continue filming, every window on the street had an air conditioner.

      472
    • Here’s some you may / may not enjoy

      The British favoured Blowing from a gun as military punishment (strapped across the muzzle of a cannon, which was then fired).

      Rebels confessing to or believed to be involved in the Cawnpore massacre were forced to lick the floor of the Bibighar compound, after it had been wetted with water by low caste people, while being whipped. The sepoys were then religiously disgraced by being forced to eat (or force fed) beef (if Hindu) or pork (if Muslim). The Muslim sepoys were sewn into pig skins before being hanged, and low-caste Hindu street sweepers were employed to execute the high-caste Brahmin rebels to add additional religious disgrace to their punishment.

      When The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah overthrew the old East India building: Fort William in Calcutta, the prisoners were put in the cells. Come the next morning, of the 146 that went in, only 23 came out alive and today it is known as The Black Hole of Calcutta

      The British did rid the country of The Thugs who travelled in groups across South Asia for six hundred years. The Thugs would join travelers and gain their confidence. This would allow them to then surprise and strangle their victims by pulling a handkerchief or noose tight around their necks. They would then rob their victims of valuables and bury their bodies.

      453
  4. RE: Fact# 15 – Generation Paranoia: Impact of the Stranger Danger Campaign:

    You know how I know we’re in a moral panic? Even though we have good data available about who abuses kids and in what circumstances we’re still freaking the fu*k out about strangers in parks with fedoras. Even though we know for a god damn fact that the people who abuse kids are friends and family, we still push the narrative of the dangerous pedophile stalking our children from afar. We’ve made a boogeyman to hate because no one wants to admit that the person it couldn’t possibly be is probably the one.

    1450
  5. RE: Fact# 2 – Tragic Consequence of Dr. Spock’s Childrearing Handbook: Dr Spock with his theories that kids don’t need to be exposed to consequences, and told good from bad raised a generation of self entitled individuals.

    IMHO Dr Spock was wrong and while there is no need for physical punishments at all, at the same time kids need to have boundaries.

    I’ve seen several cases of boomers, followers of Dr Spock, just not investing the effort in educating their kids in the name of freedom.

    1447
  6. RE: Fact# 2 – Tragic Consequence of Dr. Spock’s Childrearing Handbook: No one knows what causes SIDS actually. Hence the name. Babies drowning in their own vomit is not SIDS, it’s just drowning.

    1833
    • SIDS is a collection of illnesses, which is why it’s a syndrome, not a specific disease. There is frequently no clear cause of SIDS, even when theoretical causes can be identified.

      477
  7. RE: Fact# 19 – From Paper to Plastic: An Environmental Misstep: In the UK the solution to plastic bags was thicker plastic bags so people would re-use them, except a lot of people didn’t re-use them and it caused an increase in plastic waste.

    1569
    • Best system I’ve seen is the pay extra for plastic bags with real reusable bags sold right next to them. I’ve paid a few dollars for actual reusable bags when I forgot my own, but only because they were immediately there for purchase.

      490
      • And the problem with this is that the energy needed to build a canvas bag is so ridiculously high compared to plastic that you’re in the red on carbon dioxide production until you use that bag like, thousands of times. I believe the number was 20000 but I don’t recall the source.

        Paper is the way out. Trees grow back quick.

        509
  8. RE: Fact# 3 – Kudzu: The Plant that Ate the South: We also spend a lot of money every year beating kudzu back away from roads and power lines. Those of us unlucky enough to witness it’s power firsthand believe that one day kudzu will spread across the entire world and bring about our extinction.

    1851
    • So it’s basically ghost grass from Game of Thrones.

      Beyond Asshai lay the Shadow Lands. There, a pale grass grows that chokes out and kills other plants. The Dothraki believe that one day it will fill the entire world, killing all other vegetation, and bringing about the end of the world.

      495
      • I always thought Ghost Grass was a metaphor for snow and how Dothraki explained their own version of the Long Night where everything died.

        461
        • I can absolutely see where you’re coming from. The shadowlands are mountainous, and saying only snow grows there makes some sense, especially for a culture of horsemen who have likely never seen snow.

          Unfortunately, it’s is described as also growing along the Saffron Strait, far from the peaks of the mountains. The color of it’s stalks is described, specifically worded as stalks. And the maps of the area show no snow cover. A character mentions that it has also been growing near Quarth, which is a desert oasis.

          I like the snow interpretation a lot though, so I’m going to steal it for my D&D game.

          523
      • I saw tons of it when I went to Tennessee the first time. I was talking to a park ranger about it and they told me it was brought in to reduce erosion and that after it spread, the government brought nutria in to eat it because they ate it naturally.

        Well apparently the nutria decided they liked other plants better and thrived. In the process they became another invasive species.

        The problem with nutria is that they are a large rodent that burrows and they started living around bridges and roadways causing erosion.

        So by trying to fix one problem, two other problems were created in the process, while not really fixing the original problem.

        498
      • I heard it was also originally planted for food until they realized no one wants it. They tried to feed it to cows and pigs with no success, they they started trying to feed it to people (my dad told me about “kudzoo cookies” from when he was a kid 50 years ago) and eventually it was all discarded, but since they didn’t dispose of it properly, it landed on the sides of roads and began spreading

        All sorts of rumors around this obnoxious plant

        424
  9. RE: Fact# 8 – Elite Troops to Drug Cartel: Tragic Story of Los Zetas:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trained to do exactly that.

    I mean the Co-founders of Los Zetas Cartel were not only trained by the 7th Special Forces Group but are also graduates of the School of the Americas

    The CIA has used drug lords and high-ranking officials to combat the “latent threat” of socialism in Latin America, there is a ton of evidence this is no conspiracy theory. Uncovering the scandal Iran-Contra showed that CIA agents colluded with drug traffickers to finance the Nicaraguan contras. (1), (2), (3), (4)

    One of the oldest Mexican cartels, the Guadalajara cartel, benefited from the CIA to have connections with Honduran drug lord Juan Matta-Ballesteros, a CIA agent, who was the head of SETTO, an airline used for the drug smuggling in the United States. (5) and is also used to transport military supplies and personnel of the Honduran contras, using funds of the accounts established by Oliver North. (6)

    In Volume Two, declassified in Oct. 8, 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz identified more than 50 contras and contra-related entities implicated in the drug trade. He also detailed how the Reagan-Bush administration had protected these drug operations and frustrated federal investigations, which had threatened to expose the crimes in the mid-1980s. Hitz even published evidence that drug trafficking and money laundering was an item into Reagan’s National Security Council where Oliver North oversaw the contra operations. (7)

    DFS, the leading Mexican intelligence agency, which is partly a creation of the CIA and later became the Research and Security Center Nacional (CISEN), had among its closest allies members of the CIA, gave to the top-level Mexican drug traffickers, who they had been tagged by DEA agents a virtual “license to traffic.”(8)

    It is also known that the Guadalajara Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking network in Mexico, continued largely, among other reasons, because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under his boss Miguel Nazar Haro, a CIA agent.(8)

    Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, is known as the godfather of the Mexican drug business and the first drug lord of Mexico, on the condition of a significant amount of funds, weapons and other assistance to the Nicaraguan cons. His pilot, Werner Lotz, said that Gallardo handed over $ 150,000 in cash to a group of contras, and Gallardo often boasted of smuggling weapons to them. His activities were known to several federal agencies in the United States, including the CIA and DEA, but he was granted immunity due to his “charitable contributions to the contras” (9)

    Vicente Zambada Niebla, son of Ismael Zambada García, one of the chiefs of drug trafficking in Mexico, said after his arrest to his lawyers that he and others Upper Sinaloa cartel members had received immunity from US agents and a virtual license to smuggle cocaine into across the border with the United States, in exchange for intelligence information about rival cartels (10)

    etc. etc.

    “Elite soldiers were trained as commandos at Ft. Bragg(USA) and after training, they returned to Mexico, only to start the brutally violent drug cartel: Los Zetas” reads differently now doesn’t it?

    Edit: The cartels including Los Zetas were involved in mass kidnapping and killings of politicians, students, activist, immigrants, etc. They infiltrated the whole political sytem. The Soviet Union and communism are no longer a threat but these cartels were definitly used as a political weapon so that the powerful remain in power. Yes it’s human corruption but its way more complicated than just some drug dealers that saw the easiest way to become millionaires.
    Also as another user stated:

    That some of these groups came off the leash, eventually split and were fiercely targeted doesn’t mean anything.

    And no of course not all DEA agents nor the whole GAFE colluded with drug traffickers, this were top secret operations, but it’s ridiculous to portray cartel founders and godfathers of the Mexican drug business as “just a few defectors and intelligence assets”, if you read the sources or were familiar with the subject matter you would know this is not true.

    1704
    • Honestly, if the Zetas were some sort of American proxy, they came off the leash a long time ago. The expanded story goes that these soldiers were lured by the Gulf cartel, became their personal hitmen, were damn good at it, and then broke off and started their own cartel in chase of more money.

      Except, unlike other cartels, the Zetas acted more like a band of rabid dogs high on cocaine – rap*ng civilians, murdering civilians, brutally torturing rivals (and civilians). If anything, the US would have been more involved with the older cartels, who at least tried to keep a weird sense of decorum.

      439
  10. RE: Fact# 1 – Haiti Cholera Tragedy: A Lesson in Disaster Response: Weren’t they shi*ting in/near rivers upstream from population centers which is what triggered the outbreak?

    Checking the article now…

    Yes. Yes they were.

    However, Haitians grew immediately suspicious of a UN peacekeeper base, home to Nepalese peacekeepers, positioned on a tributary of the Artibonite River.[21] Neighboring farmers reported an undeniable stench of human feces coming from the base, to the extent that local Haitians began getting their drinking water upstream from the base

    1530
  11. RE: Fact# 14 – Qualified Immunity: A Barrier to Police Accountability:

    The original intent, however, was to give cops a bit of slack when it came to enforcing the law in matters where there was no clear legal precedent. It seemed reasonable at the time; how can we hold police accountable for not knowing the answers to legal questions hotly debated by lawyers and judges?

    We gave them an inch, and they took a thousand miles.

    Abolish qualified immunity, establish justice for all.

    1552
    • we gave them an inch, and they took a thousand miles.

      Except qualified immunity is not actually enshrined in any law. We never “gave” them that. It was literally made up but SCOTUS in the 60s. And the people who have the power to change it don’t want to because this made up law also protects them.

      This is also another example of why the conservative “originalists” currently on the bench are so full of crap. Roe v Wade has 10x more constitutional precedence than QI, but you don’t see them calling to overturn that shit now do you?

      458
  12. RE: Fact# 8 – Elite Troops to Drug Cartel: Tragic Story of Los Zetas:

    These animals were responsible for some of the most sadistic and ruthless murders. Their leader, Heriberto Lazcano not only led but actively participated in the San Fernando massacre. He and his thugs hijacked buses of people and kidnapped the passengers. He had them taken to a property where they were tortured all night. One of his accomplices later testified that Lazcano laughed and was enjoying torturing the men, women, children, and old people. They then made some of the victims kill each other. Don’t google this, be aware it was brutal.

    At least, Lazcano met his demise in the most appropriate way: two years later, he and his bodyguard were being chased by Mexican Navy personnel. One of the servicemen shot him on his a*s. It was a heavy calibre round and it literally ripped apart his entire an*l area.

    1698
  13. RE: Fact# 8 – Elite Troops to Drug Cartel: Tragic Story of Los Zetas:

    The cartels are becoming their own militias. They are almost small armies. They are converting garbage trucks into 50 cal converted Army vehicles.

    The Mexican police force is straight up afraid of cartels.

    They are out manned and out gunned.

    There is a guy that was recently on joe Rogan’s podcast who thinks the US army will need to basically invade Mexico in the next few years to combat what’s happening there.

    1576
  14. RE: Fact# 4 – Piracy in Somalia: A Result of Greed and Neglect: Right when Somali pirates first started becoming an international news article, a Somali cabbie in Seattle told me that his family were from a fishing village in Somalia and that the dumping of toxic waste was killing the fish offshore. He said that the pirates were fishermen that couldn’t make a living anymore.

    I don’t really know what to think but either way it wouldn’t surprise me if this story were true or false.

    1731
  15. RE: Fact# 11 – Mongoose Effect: Lessons in Ecosystem Management:

    I went to the Galapagos and noticed all the street cats were extremely skittish. The reason why didn’t click with me until a guide explained how challenging it is to preserve the delicate ecosystem on the islands with the import of pets and livestock.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love cats. But they can spell devastation for local bird and rodent populations. Gotta do what you gotta do, which in this case is sadly extermination until people stop trying to bring them over.

    1843
  16. RE: Fact# 21 – Impact of SAPs on Developing Countries:

    There’s another line of critique: that loans from international agencies like the World Bank and the IMF allow domestic governments to put off needed reforms, such as fiscal responsibility and opening up markets, create moral hazard for private sector lenders and reduce the need for local governments to be responsible to their local population, thus encouraging corruption. In other words, the international agencies are in effect anti-democratic and anti-market.

    There is indeed a lot of evidence that political economy conditions are important for economic prosperity, such as civil peace, fiscal responsibility and a relatively uncorrupt government, however these are the things that an international bureaucray are bad at helping with. I once read Tony Blair’s autobiography, and the chapters on the Northern Ireland situation and the negotiation of the Good Friday peace settlement are just so full of details, of place and time and what was happening in the Republic and so forth, not the sort of thing that a foreigner with a PhD in trade policy and three years covering the Skovodian desk is naturally good at advising on.

    As for “especially its emphasis on liberal markets (free trade), and say it’s not intended for democracy”, there are market economies that aren’t democratic, but all democracies are also market economies.

    1602
  17. RE: Fact# 19 – From Paper to Plastic: An Environmental Misstep:

    If we’re poking at leftists, then we need to talk about anti-nuclear fearmongering.

    Nuclear energy is the greenest source of energy capable of meeting our energy needs right now. Not in 20 years. Now. We know how to make reactors that are incredibly safe, and we know how to repeatedly refine the fuel so that there is very little waste. Every single nuclear disaster has been due to failures in maintenance, and the almost-disasters are all success stories for the aforementioned safety. Something broke, but safety measures kicked in and disaster was averted. While other sources of energy such as wind and solar are even greener and safer, the technology is not yet to a point it can really handle the scale we need for 100% grid coverage, and more productive forms of green energy like geothermal or hydro require geological features which are not always available. Plus, many of those green solutions, such as wind, solar, and hydro, currently require massive footprints which have an ecological cost of their own. But you can put a nuclear plant wherever the hell you want, it has a fixed footprint, it will always be capable of producing at 100%, regardless of season, weather, etc., and it can be scaled up to handle 100% of the grid right now.

    However, that won’t happen because oil companies have an unexpected ally: Environmentalists, who have somehow conflated nuclear energy with nuclear weapons, and latched on to Chernobyl as the prime example of all things nuclear.

    1727
  18. RE: Fact# 6 – Aftermath of Emancipation: Unintended Consequences and Unfulfilled Promises:

    Reconstruction was supposed to help former slaves be integrated into society, but Lincoln got killed and his replacement did not care about black people, so it went nowhere. People forget Jim Crow laws were implemented some time after emancipation, not immediately.

    In a way, the confederacy still won. John Wilkes booth ruined everything for America and let the confederate legacy live on.

    1719
    • Like most 19th century elections, the 1876 one was extremely cursed because literally neither candidate supported Congressional Reconstruction or continued occupation in the South.

      The main issue and the one most went to the polls for…was for the gold standard and the ongoing recession.

      Oh and Tilden won the popular vote. Hayes got to be president. Go figure.

      452
      • Lincoln tried a very limited repatriation plan, but there’s no evidence he ever really believed it was a practical option. Like all politicians he had to balance competing factions and there were plenty of conservative Republicans and Pro-war Democrats who wouldn’t even consider emancipation unless some attempt at repatriation was tried.

        What Lincoln actually thought is harder to suss out, because he left no diaries and few personal letters, but there’s a pretty clear leftward trend in his administration from “All i can do is prevent slavery from spreading to the territories and maybe doing something about it in DC” to “Emancipate ALL the slaves”, to at the end, talking about letting blacks vote under certain circumstances, which was a huge deal at the time, something no previous president or even serious presidential candidate had ever proposed. There are a number of sources of people close to Lincoln saying he really sympathized with Radical Republicans (back when that term meant fighting for racial equality and not investigating Jewish space lasers), but as president he was bound by what was practical.

        456
  19. RE: Fact# 4 – Piracy in Somalia: A Result of Greed and Neglect: This dumping has also been happening much further south on the east coast of Africa, incl. nuclear waste from Canada(!). There is also blatant overfishing from Russian and Chinese trawlers very close to the coast.

    1478
  20. RE: Fact# 24 – The Faulty Premise of No Child Left Behind:

    Yeah. There was a kid in one of my high school English classes that just couldn’t read. Like at all.

    I felt sorry for the kid, but his inability to read while in a regular English class held the rest of us up.

    Sometimes a kid needs to be held back.

    ETA: I know NCLB doesn’t mean kids aren’t held back. I meant that this kid needed more time. He hadn’t been getting the education and attention he needed, and he certainly wasn’t proficient.

    1771
    • Or at the very least they shouldn’t be in regular class with everyone else for the subjects they struggle in. They should be in a class that gives them the extra help they need so they can, hopefully, get caught up with the rest of their class.

      I spent 2nd through 7th grade in Special Ed just for Language (reading, , writing, and spelling specifically). By the end of 7th grade my teachers, my parents and myself felt I had reached my grade level on those topics and I could rejoin the regular class for 8th grade. They still checked in with me through 8th grade tho.

      To this day I am VERY grateful for all the teachers that cared enough about my education to ensure that I received a good education.

      My wife has a similar story, but with math and in high school.

      Sadly, there are plenty of schools out there that do not offer extra help like that for many reasons, often lacking of funds. I also have heard from several people that grew up in larger cities that their teachers just didn’t seem to care – too many kids and not enough teachers I imagine.

      One of the few benefits of going to a small rural school (k-8th, up to about 200 students my 8th grade year), was class sizes were all reasonable and teachers had time to care about individual students.

      436
  21. RE: Fact# 7 – Cost of Doing the Right Thing: The Case of Saran Wrap:

    According to the article the chemical wasn’t toxic (as in ingesting it will cause you harm). It was harmful to the environment.

    The chemical is polyvinylidene chloride. The FDA said that if you burn it, it will have higher carbon emissions… but it’s still legal to use. The chemical only ever was used by Saran and has the trade name “Saran.” Saran ceasing to use the chemical didn’t stop others from using it.

    Saran Wrap is now grossly an inferior product and costs more.

    1713
  22. RE: Fact# 31 – Lobotomy: A Flawed Solution to Mental Health:

    Also extra fun fact: After four decades Walter Freeman had performed over 3000 lobotomies while using his lobotomobile even though he had no surgical training!

    Extra extra fun fact: In 1951 he accidently killed a patient while performing a lobotomy as he was posing for a picture!

    1652
    • Extra extra extra fun fact : oldest Kennedy daughter Rosemary was lobotomized, resulting in her being incapacitated for the rest of her life.

      She was born with some intellectual disabilities, but was otherwise a normal child. She had some mood swings but likely those were due to the intense pressure to be like her siblings, that she received from her parents. She was even able to earn a degree at college. But still, they figured why the heck not! And jumped on board with this new procedure. Needless to say it didn’t work. It’s thought that is what inspired her sister to form the Special Olympics

      482
      • Extra extra extra fun fact : oldest Kennedy daughter Rosemary was lobotomized, resulting in her being incapacitated for the rest of her life.

        She was born with some intellectual disabilities, but was otherwise a normal child.

        From what I’ve read, she didn’t even have any disabilities. She was just a black sheep.

        495
  23. RE: Fact# 30 – Pests to Famine: Tragic Outcome of the Four Pests Campaign:

    Mother nature is a harsh mistress… Just ask the poor Australians who tried to contain invasive species by importing other species like the cane toad.

    1467
    • Big shame about the lack of foresight by Europeans taking animal and plant species to new lands. I live in New Zealand and It will forever irk me that I cannot follow streams in the forest like tracks because they are choked up with plants that grew stunted in their cold northern homes and could be shaped into fences. Here blackberry grows in vines thicker than your finger that travel metres from their start point and often reach high enough to climb right over the top of smaller native species. Gorse and broom grow like small trees. All three dominate any scrap of land that is left alone for too long, and hinder the progress of native trees which have adapted to having an incredibly lengthy lifespan and patiently going about their business. That this land was once free of them all makes me so angry.

      505
  24. RE: Fact# 17 – Harms of Love Deprivation: Story of Harry Harlow’s Experiments:

    That wasn’t good intentions. Even a lot of the scientists in his field at the time said his experiments were pointless and they already had data on what he was testing.

    He even went on to try and continue his work. The guy was just a psycho and not much of worth came out of anything he did.

    1686
    • Harlow commented to an interviewer in 1974, “The only thing I care about is whether the monkeys will turn out a property I can publish. I don’t have any love for them. Never have. I really don’t like animals. I despise cats, I hate dogs. How could you like a monkey?”.

      I’m not seeing any good intentions there, but I wasn’t honestly going to look for any amidst the horror show he put on and literally called “the pit of despair.” I hope his hell is a cloth mother made of razor wire and fiberglass insulation.

      434
  25. RE: Fact# 1 – Haiti Cholera Tragedy: A Lesson in Disaster Response:

    Didn’t the clinton foundation collect a bunch of money to help Haiti and Hillary oversaw the USAid program as SOS? The one that allegedly siphoned money away from Haiti to US companies?

    1616
  26. RE: Fact# 28 – Chamberlain’s Choice: Tragic Consequences of Appeasing Dictatorship:

    In hindsight, it was an awful policy, but at the time if he had gone any harder he would have been blamed for whatever Hitler did

    1717
      • No, in hindsight, there were some key generals ready to try a coup to stop Hitler if he declared war, and the Czech were ready to fight and had strong defensive positions.

        With what we know now, it made sense to Chamberlain based on the information he had from the British Army, but it was absolutely the wrong call.

        Instead, Hitler got what he wanted without firing a shot, the German generals backed down, Hitler got even more popular in Germany so the generals decided to do what he said next time, and then when Germany took over the Czech areas, they looted all the equipment and treasury and used it to further arm German units.

        It also destroyed Allied credibility in Eastern Europe and led to the fall of governments friendly to France and the rise of more fascist-friendly factions, and further led the USSR to allying with Germany and agreeing to jointly invade Poland with it, and then supply loads of oil and raw materials to Germany.

        Just a catastrophe of a decision.

        497
    • Yeah, too easy to play Monday morning quarterback on this one. He was celebrated for this, Churchill was still in the political wilderness, nobody agreed with him. Churchill was right, but given the situation they were in coupled with how recent the losses from the Great War were, you can see why Munich happened.

      I also think about Obama, Putin, and Crimea in 2014. Clearly Obama (and NATO) faltered in the wake of that invasion. But also, Obama had spent his entire administration trying to get the US OUT of foreign conflicts. I think he would have had a much freer hand to take a more aggressive stance towards Putin had the US not spent so much political capital (global and domestic) as well as blood and treasure, on fucking Iraq.

      490
  27. RE: Fact# 25 – Tragic Legacy of Tibbles: Lighthouse Keeper’s Cat:

    This is a lot to hang on Tibbles. Those wrens were in trouble for some other reason if they got to the point where one cat could wipe them out.

    1773
    • Well, cats are resposible for killing many endangered birds, because many of these birds build nests right on the ground. the responsible thing to do here is tie a bell around tibbles neck and give the birds a fair warning

      443
      • I tied a bell around my cat’s neck. It didn’t stop her. She was a murder machine. She once dragged home a still-living adult rabbit nearly as big as her whose spine she seemed to have broken. Blood all over the patio.

        440
  28. RE: Fact# 30 – Pests to Famine: Tragic Outcome of the Four Pests Campaign:

    This is what worries people about mosquitos.

    it’s not killing them that’s the problem, its whatever comes in to fill the gap they leave behind

    1707
    • I can’t remember when, but I remember reading here that studies were done on this and it was concluded that mosquitoes are such pests that ecosystems would hardly feel or recover very quickly from their absence.

      506
      • No, they concluded that some of the more dangerous mosquito species could be killed and the gap be filled with other species.

        444
      • mosquitoes are such pests that ecosystems would hardly feel or recover very quickly from their absence.

        Mosquito larvae are an important part of aquatic food chains. If you would kill of all mosquito species this would have a major impact on ecosystems.

        419
        • What we need to do is figure out how to either: Engineer them to hate human blood yet still feed on other animals, OR, at least figure out a way to circumvent the allergy that humans have to Mosquitos’ anticoagulant saliva. The former would rid us of them altogether, while the latter would at least keep the bites from itching so damn much.

          464
  29. RE: Fact# 27 – Dark Side of Accessible Higher Education: The Student Debt Crisis:

    I actually am pretty sure it was the unsubsidized loans, by Wells Fargo et al, which made hell break loose. Big banks took the no bankruptcy guarantee and ran with it. The difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans is HUGE. My parents flat-out banned us from EVER taking an unsubsidized loan, those are basically fu*king payday loans.

    1594
    • No the subsidized ones were worse. The reason being is the interest rates were all based on the government and not the actual credit of the borrower. Everyone got a high interest rate and that’s what’s currently making it unaffordable.

      I had a Wells Fargo loan specifically because working in high school and had a credit card under my parents guidance. We both had 800+ credit scores for co-signing. So my interest rate was 2.0% instead of the 9% the subsidized government loans were going to be.

      418
  30. RE: Fact# 8 – Elite Troops to Drug Cartel: Tragic Story of Los Zetas:

    The school of the Americas is what it used to be called. Every cartel, military juntas and terrorist organization south of the border has had a hand in the school of the americas or, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation as it’s known now. The US has taught these people how to hide, launder and distribute their money to cells. Once you know that, drug dealing becomes way easier when governments aren’t on your back. Besides, there’s intelligence organizations and military contractors that thrive on these people to destabilize counties.

    1602
  31. RE: Fact# 32 – Shortcomings of the Purity Culture Movement:

    And if I remember correctly, the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye apologized for the book, divorced his wife, left the church and may be gay.

    1495
  32. RE: Fact# 26 – Tragic Consequences of BalloonFest ’86:

    15 million liters of helium wasted the one truly non renewable resource 🙁

    1605
      • That is correct. Helium and hydrogen are light enough to they will both just float out into space. The only natural occurrence of these elements are via chemical reactions or ground deposits. Infect He-4 is a substance that is fast running out.

        524
  33. RE: Fact# 34 – Cost of Corn: The Trade-Offs of Ethanol Production:

    Why do so many fu*kups revolve around corn?

    Corn subsidies have also lead to corn syrup being mass used as a sweetener.

    1782
    • Everyone always highlights the negatives, but if I remember correctly, corn – and corn byproducts – were identified as one of those resources that ensured national security in the event that certain critical resources were cut off internationally.

      Subsidies ensure that corn is ALWAYS over produced to guarantee that even in the event of environmental or farm catastrophes there will never be a national shortage.

      Overproduction then leads to lower prices – so it’s used in everything.

      407
    • The Michael Pollan book “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” and the movie King Corn both cover the topic well. Both showed that most of the carbon in the average American is created by corn. Here is a quick summary of the history from both pieces of media.

      Post WW2 the US had a lot of ammonium nitrate that they converted into fertilizer for crops. This required food that could be heavily fertilized, and corn was that perfect food as it was a hearty plant for fertilizers. Corn started taking over grazing lands that would have previously been used for animal production. So therefore animals production moved into confined feed lots and because there was so much corn available it became the predominant feed for these animals. Due to cows not being able to digest corn properly they started to used antibiotics in animals to get the cows to slaughter. Corn feed allowed for animals to reach weight quicker than traditional feeds.

      In the 1970’s the Nixon administration started the corn subsidization system due to a spike in food prices. This caused high fructose corn syrup to be the most cost effective sweetener available.

      To answer your original question. Corn is subsidized because it’s the most vertically integrated element in the food chain and also one of the fastest growing foods calorie for calorie. It’s used in cow, chicken, and pig feeds. Due to being artificially cheaper than other foods it’s the most cost effective sweetener, and therefore has lead to 40 years of industry making their entire production system around using corn products. Corn is used because it’s cheap and corn has to be cheap because it’s used; it’s a vicious cycle that with each passing year entrenches corn in further.

      458
  34. RE: Fact# 29 – Costly Mistake of the Florida Tire Reef: I think that would qualify for “The road to hell is paved with mind-blowingly stupid ideas”

    1356
    • I can kinda understand the thinking behind it: there are plenty of cases of shipwrecks and other man-made junk on the sea floor serving as a starting point for coral and other sea-bottom life. The mechanism of action is that the shipwreck or whatever provides a hard substrate for stuff to anchor to and provides some shelter against currents that might otherwise wash things away before they can get established. It’s been successfully done on purpose with concrete blocks, purpose-made PVC frames, rocky soil from construction sites, and old worn-out ships.

      It sounds like the core problem here is that they didn’t realize that tires were a lousy material for artificial reefs (since they wash away or rattle around too easily) and didn’t care enough to do a small pilot project first. It also sounds like the implementation was slapdash, making only a token effort to try to secure the tires against washing away.

      445
  35. RE: Fact# 25 – Tragic Legacy of Tibbles: Lighthouse Keeper’s Cat:

    Domestic cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammals each year in the continental US.

    They really should start trying to find a way to deal with this. I guess southern Florida is combating them with pythons.

    1761

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