Here’s an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell, writer for The New Yorker and author of The Tipping Point (mentioned in my previous post), in which he discusses how dogs perceive our body language. He uses Cesar Millan from the cable TV show, The Dog Whisperer, as an example. I myself have noticed how perfectly Cesar is able to mimic the facial expressions and movements of the dogs he rehabilitates. He obviously is in tune with the animals and understands that they don’t think or reason the way we do, although many humans refuse to accept this. Just watch the show (on National Geographic Channel) and you’ll see. But read the article first. I’ve just happily discovered Gladwell’s website. He has a fresh and often fascinating viewpoint on an eclectic mix of topics, and I always enjoy reading his material.
Here is another article about the Michael Vick merchandise, in particular, the 22 dog-earred, chewed up Vick trading cards that went for $7,400 on eBay. A comment in the article reminded me of Gladwell’s concept of “stickiness” and how it shapes the formation of a social epidemic in The Tipping Point. In the Vick case, it is our fascination for the following “sticky” ideas or events, in combination: celebrities, especially star athletes; terrible acts, particularly torture; animal psychology, which leads to the contention that animals feel pain and suffer like we do; blogs, which allow anyone to publish and share news; and finally, the unending war in Iraq, its unpopularity being so popular in the media, that it has made many of us want to focus on other news. Now that EVERYBODY knows about Michael Vick and his dogfighting business, the next trend will be in efforts to erradicate this horrendous practice from our culture. Yes, this is only one of many practices that should be erradicated, but it is a positive step.
As many have commented in the blogosphere, the only benefit from this event is that it has brought the attention of an entire nation to a dirty little secret revealed. I watched Michael Vick’s apology and I almost felt sorry for him — he was pathetic — but he really isn’t any more guilty than anyone else who would do that to animals. It is just that he is famous. We should all be thankful for that!