Rational vs. emotional reactions to news

I tell a true story that may tell something about the emotional reactions of people to rational information.

A wandering walrus ended up here, resting between boats in the shore of a town. It was the first observation of the species in the country and a visible animal, so it became rapidly a media star. Hundreds of people travelled to see it and newspapers wrote about it every day.

The problem in this case was that the waters around our country do not have enough of food for a walrus. The walrus started to starve and finally climbed from water to the lawn of a house, resting there without the willingness or power to return to sea. The local law states that humans must help a suffering animal or end it using humane methods. The authorities decided that they try to transfer the animal to a wildlife helping center where it could be fed. The authorities informed the public well about the alternatives and the risks involved in trying to anesthetize and transfer a large and starving sea mammal. During the transport, the animal died. Maybe I am a too rational biologist but my reaction to the news was that it was probably the best alternative for the animal, it did not have to suffer or go through many stressful phases of the recovery attempt that may fail.

The reactions to the death of the walrus were very emotional and irrational, IMHO. Many wept and the authorities were accused of killing the animal. The emotional reactions of many were stronger than to the Covid pandemic or the war in Ukraine.

My interpretation of the reactions was that the true problems (pandemic, war) were too massive to be handled in a strongly emotional way. The starving walrus was a small and simple enough problem that those persons could put their emotions in the play. Also, the city people have very little connections to the deadly reality of nature, so the death of the media star was handled like the death of an own pet.

If these reactions would have been an exception, it would be a small thing. Unfortunately, I assume that similar kind of strong emotional reactions may be common in situations where the expectations and hopes fail, especially if there is something cute or dear involved (if a walrus can be called cute). Probaly also in situations were the reality and some doctrinal details clash. In these situations, we are not dealing with rational arguments but exaggerated emotional reactions.

What do you think about my interpretation, is it too pessimistic?


I think the real villains are news media. They turn everything into money making entertainment encouraging people to watch voyeuristically rather than take action.

Nothing pessimistic about it all. Apart from that.

You are probably right. I mean what you’re saying definitely happens. But as far as this specific incident I would have to see some kind of report to see if the way it was handled was wrong. I know nothing about walruses and so I can’t even begin to pretend to know anything about them. The most I know is from random quotes that I’m pretty sure was wrong from the movie “Tusk” lol.

But there are soften strong emotional reactions, I think mostly for attention or to feel like you’re doing something other than just being alive, by people who never cared before. There was this “community” cat that lived in a downtown area of a small artsy town. The owners of the restaurants there would feed it, someone even took it to the vet. It was a local celebration. Loved there for a few years. It was hurt and had a limp for weeks. Someone on vacation saw this animal outside, say and night, often sleeping under a bench. They notice for many days it had a limp. So they picked up the car, which was outside at night while it was raining. No collar, no chip.

The town freaked out. Thousands of people posted about it from what they saw on Facebook of a video being uploaded from a store that caught it on their security camera. The people found out after seeing the video on the local news. They brought it back and apologized saying they thought it was just a stray. People called them kidnappers and so on. The cost ended up getting hit by a car outside at like 4am a few months later. No one ever actually adopted the car. These old ladies who owned restaurants felt like feeding the outside cat that roamed around with no official owners was enough. Someone even proved the case once before it got hit by saying it bit them while they were sitting down eating. No one claimed ownership of the cat. It was a stray. Everyone freaked out like someone’s pet was stolen.

What saddens me the most is that empathy for humans has shifted so much that we are more caring and loving for other spicies that our fellow own. Which shows how bad humanity and the world has gone.

In a world when you are more likely to trust your faithfull dog to save your life rather your friend or a family member shows how messed up this universe is

Even though I know better, the death of a dog in a movie hurts way more than a human!

That is 100% true. I always say “if only those animal rights activist had the same concern for other humans”(some may well do, but let’s be honest). Then you see dogs and cats getting top medical treatments whilst people are either waiting years for routine surgery or get themselves into debts. Owners spending $$$$ on clothes for their pets, absolutely sickening.
I may be going to far with this, but I actually believe that loving animals more than people is a serious sin. Although I do appreciate that some may love their pets more because all the people in their lives have betrayed them. It all points to complete brokenness of this world.

How does that work?

So you would think that as a species we would show more compassion and care to our own. Like other animals. A wolf for example won’t choose the human over his own of course. Or other mammals . Or even chimps our ancestors. Yet we as humans choose to trust more other species than our own .

A human is on the road bleeding and his dog is nearby. Now another passenger passes and sees the man bleeding. The dog runs to help the human yet the passenger just stands there staring.
We have seen this countless of times.

I had a dog ,a German shepherd. He was loyal. He died a few years ago over a heart problem.
If I was drowing there were more possibilities that my dog would’ve come to save me rather a fellow human being .

My point beign dogs and some pets are more loyal that even your own family sometimes. Your own blood. You have parents killing their children and friends betraying you over nothing. Yet you can abandon your dog and in time of distress he will come to save you. That’s how loyal they are.
And that’s messed up. In a world where you can count on a species that wasn’t created with the same attributes as you .

And vice versa

I didn’t have to explain all of this I think what I said above was pretty self explanatory,but here you go

Yes, dogs are very loyal. Trained dogs save countless human lives. But in the case of an emergency we still rely mostly on humans, calling for police, firemen, ambulances, etc.

I’m just a little surprised that you didn’t point out that owning a non-human pet is a lot less stressful than owning a human pet. The former is lawful in most cases; the latter is not–as far as I know–under any circumstance, at least not here in the U.S. …any more.

Yes, maybe because dogs are innocent. Besides, the canine actors never choose to be there.

But speaking of empathy-- Some time ago I watched Pixar’s “Up” in the theatre. An animated feature. When the couple lost their baby, there was an audible gasp of sympathy from the audience. Again, it was an animated feature, a cartoon! We also empathize with on-screen imaginary creatures, such as hobbits, Vulcans, etc. Empathy is a gift.

1 Like

Yeah we do that’s true. But it saddens me that you can trust your dog more rather than some people in this life. Or in stressfull situations you can trust your dog to save you rather some stranger. Even though they aren’t firefighters or first responders they could still try to help. But weve seen countless times that’s not the vase

Dogs are born and bred pack animals, and if you are part of their pack, they will protect you and be loyal. If not part of their pack, all bets are off. it is genetics. You don’t count on your cat to save you.
And lock your dog in a kennel all day, and he is happy to see you when you get home. No so for your wife.


It’s funny that you and me(humans generally) evolved in the same way close enough. Yet if you see me on the street asking for help I doubt youd help me. I hope you do though🥲

True, those not in our pack or tribe we tend to not be as empathetic toward, just like dogs. I don’t think the pack mentality is as great with us or primates in general however. Maybe the take away is that we as humans are able to recognize we are all one family, and that encourages us to partake in greater humanitarian efforrts.


The American writer Mark Twain said,

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”


Why the either/or mentality? Serious sin? Rape, murder, kidnapping and veterinary care? Is it sinful to spend a $150,000 stud fee for a top race horse?

Well the poor pet owners are also not able to spend tons of money on their pets. Tons of loved pets are put down by owners because they can’t afford to get them medical treatment. Many cats and dogs die from poison , and the owners are aware they are sick, but can’t get off work and usually the typical vet cost is under a hundred.

Most people don’t buy outfits for their pets. I love my cats, and I take care of them. I have never bought outfits for them. I’ve seen maybe 1-2 pets my entire life dressed up in person. But ultimately it sounds like two different subjects.

Someone with money to spend it on their pets will also spend it on their kids. Someone who is living in poverty probably are not showering their pets with thousands of dollars of clothes, toys and vet visits. Many get water and dry food alone with an occasional wet treat.

We all have the same amount of time in a day. We all work in order to provide for ourselves. We all have limited free time and sleep time. With that time we have a right to choose what to dedicate the majority of it too. For example I choose to dedicate the majority of my free time that’s wrapped up in volunteer work focused on removing invasive plants from wild areas. I spend almost no time in orphanages, mentor program or food pantries. But I know some that have never volunteered a single hour to a animal sanctuary , temporarily house animals until they are adopted or did anything at a nature preserve.

People also combat injustices with the government. I’ve yet to meet to many environmentalist who are animal rights activists who also are ultra conservative right leaning. In general they seem to be more liberal and left leaning and vote to combat things like low wages, lack to medical care and so on.

But with our own personal free time we only have so much of it and so it’s dedicated to where we feel we can make a difference. There is not one road towards a better society, world and species.

But I do agree poverty is one of the biggest challenges we face. Not having enough money to take care of yourself, your loved ones and that includes pets.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.