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Bear Attack Statistics

Flathead Bear Aware posted “In fact, more people are killed by black bears.”  The statement  brings the opportunity for statistics – and there are a couple of sources easily available for checking the statement. 

From a statistical perspective, fatalities are a more solid measure than attacks.  Five years ago, I listened to a man telling of an aggressive black bear that he had shot – yet I had encountered the same bear possibly an hour earlier, and not seen any threatening behavior.  Did the bear’s behavior change?  Was it just that there is a difference in the observer?  I don’t have a solid answer, but my suspicion is that some folks tend to see aggressive behavior where it isn’t.  Bodies however, whether the killer is a bear or a human, aren’t subject to interpreting behavior.  Dead is dead. 

My first source of data on bear fatalities is at blog.batchgeo.com/bear-attack-statistics/

It includes polar bears, as well as brown and black bears.  I’m making the assumption that geography ties in with bear attacks – my demography influenced guess is that there are very few people who live in polar bear range, more people who live in brown bear range, and that most of the United States population live in black bear range.  The map suggests the same idea – and the brown bear attacks it shows in California probably did not occur in recent memory.

The blog shows 11 fatal polar bear attacks, 82 fatal black bear attacks, and 90 fatal brown bear attacks.  This data probably doesn’t negate the Flathead Bear Aware claim – a glance at the map shows six or seven grizzly attacks in California – and one of the things that can make statistics unreliable is covering different time spans.

So my next data source is wikipedia.org

Wikipedia isn’t a perfect source – but in this case it does seem to be more up-to-date than more official sources might be. 

Wiki shows 6 fatal black bear attacks and 6 fatal brown bear attacks since January 1, 2020.  Apparently, David Lertzman was killed twice while jogging in Alberta on May 4 of this year, once by a black bear and once by “a bear, determined to be a female brown bear, while out jogging. The bear is suspected to have attacked Lertzman from behind, sending him off a 300m embankment.”  Well, knocking someone off a thousand foot cliff isn’t a typical bear attack, and I suppose a jogger might match a grizzly’s definition of fast food.  So the 2020’s count is 5 black bear fatal attacks to six browns.

2010 through 2019 show 11 fatal black bear attacks and 17 fatal brown bear attacks along with two fatal polar bear attacks (both at Nunavit).  One of the black bear fatalities was listed as a “captive” bear. 

2000 through 2009 lists 16 fatal black bear attacks and 12 fatal brown bear attacks.  It is probably worth noting that Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend are included in the dozen brown bear attacks.  Wiki’s listings go back to 1784 and confirm that the most recent California fatality was in 1875.

Bear Attack Statistics of North America includes a chart showing fatal attacks by month:

January3
February1
March1
April4
May17
June22
July28
August32
September28
October28
November12
December4  

Their conclusion: “The summer months are chock full of fatal bear attacks, though it does make sense that most attacks occur when both bears and humans are spending an increased amount of time outdoors. It’s also logical that attacks slow down in November as it nears the time for hibernation. 

We learned brown bears cause the most fatalities, particularly those near Glacier National Park or Yellowstone that are out and about in August. And we saw those trends clearly when we looked at a map.”  Personally, I get a bit more nervous around grizzlies than black bears.

The websites are worth visiting if the topic of bear attacks interests you.

A Science for Everyone

Thoughts on Banning Theories

I’m a sociologist.  I use theory to explain human behavior.  As a profession, we recognize our basic paradigms – Structural Functionalism, Conflict theory, and Symbolic Interaction.  In my use of these, Conflict theory is essentially the back of Structural Functionalism – one shows how societies work, function and their structure, while the other looks at the spots and time when conflict takes over.  Symbolic interaction deals with the fact that socially, we communicate with symbols.

I am more comfortable with conflict theory and symbolic interaction – but that doesn’t mean I can afford to ignore the Structural Functionalism paradigm.  It does explain some portion of our social world.  It’s basic Durkheim – and his thoughts are basic to my discipline.  He looked at how society worked.  Karl Marx, with conflict theory, looked at the spots where society did not work.  Karl, who wrote the four volume Das Kapital, essentially spent a lifetime studying capitalism and it’s flaws, it’s weaknesses.  He seems better recognized for the 50 pages of the Communist Manifesto – yet it does seem a little unfair that his major work is less recognized.

Still, it was conflict theorists who developed Critical Theory – Adorno, Foucault, etc.  Critical Theory differs from the paradigms I prefer in that it looks at critiquing and changingCritical theory society. My perspective is that my discipline should focus on understanding or explaining society.  No matter how good I am, I prefer not to make the decisions on how people should live.

That doesn’t mean there is no place in my world for Critical Theory.  Adorno’s work on the authoritative personality has a place to meld in with the basic social conflict paradigm.  Critical Race Theory operates from the assumption that a society based on values and beliefs that grew in Europe needs drastic change to improve society, based on race.  To my way of thinking, its origins with the legal profession move into a system of analysis that is scientifically weak – the idea of the “reasonable man” that is basic to legal understanding is not the same as scientific method. 

While it may be correct – but I want to examine the premise with a value-neutral approach and dig out as many statistics as I can.  My disagreement is not that the theoretical approach is useless – instead, my disagreement is that the methodology lacks scientific rigor.

I have the same problem with Creation Science – the folks who provide the answers tend to have arguments that are, at best, weakly supported.  That doesn’t mean I want to eliminate the theory – someone in the future may do a better job with it.  Likewise, I may see a better scholar working with Critical Race Theory.  To move away, into physics, Maxwell’s demon did provide an explanation that violated the second law of thermodynamics.  The fact that the little demon didn’t have face validity hasn’t stopped physicists from refuting the explanation for a century and a half.  We don’t need to ban theories – we need to test them responsibly.

A lot of people have attempted to use the concepts in Marx’ Communist Manifesto – so many that we can use the data we can harvest as if it were quasi-experimental.  I’ve watched communism work on Hutterite colonies – but it has several unique attributes that aren’t present in the Soviet system, or Cuba, etc.  While most Hutterite Colonies are successful, they include a religious commitment toward communal ownership, and I haven’t seen any colonies with walls to keep people from leaving. 

Community

Why is the Sign Gone?

As you may have noticed, the Reader Board for Trego School, situated between the community hall and the post office, is no longer present. So what happened?

Some History: In June of 2016, Trego School entered into a lease agreement with Leroy Mee, allowing the school to place the Reader Board on Mr. Mee’s property. The term of the lease was ten years, at a rate of $100 per year. The school paid the full $1000 in 2016.

Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Labor Safety and Health received an anonymous complaint about the way the letters on the Reader Board were changed (the concern was that the use of vehicle and ladder presented a safety risk to school employees). The Department did not issue a violation. It’s nice to see such a concern for public safety and the health and well being of Trego School.

Recently, the estate of the late Leroy Mee provided Trego School with a check for $500 dollars in order to end the lease. Later, at their request, the school refunded twenty-five dollars and two cents to the estate for the part of this year that the Reader Board was in use.

The School is currently looking into a new placement for the Reader Board.

Community

An Article and an Absent Friend

Psychology Today has an article titled “The Unexpected Relationship Between Ideology and Anxiety.”  It’s online and available at :  https://www.psychologytoday.com/

Makes me feel like Max Weber, who was frequently accused of arguing with the ghost of Karl Marx.  My friend, the Reverend Doctor Dave Olson fought his battle with esophageal cancer to a tie, and I can’t forward the link, with a smiley face, to him.  Dave loved studies that pointed out how folks on the political left were brighter and more mentally stable than those on the right – and this one, which shows the opposite, would have really got him into analyzing the methodology.  We really need studies that don’t confirm our confirmation bias.

The synopsis is brief: “People with left-wing economic views are more prone to more anxiety disorders.”   The article starts with “A long-running theory in social psychology, “motivated social cognition,” holds that conservative political beliefs are motivated by sensitivity to threat. For example, it has been claimed that high levels of death anxiety, system threat, and perceptions of a dangerous world each contribute to conservatism specifically, whereas people who are low in these attributes tend to have more liberal views (Jost et al., 2007).”  I recall Dave sharing the Jost article with me.  He loved it. 

This article is a bit different.  It lists the key points as:

  • Claims that conservatives are higher in threat sensitivity are challenged by findings from a large long-term survey in Britain.
  • People with left-wing economic political views had higher rates of anxiety disorder symptoms.
  • People with liberal economic views tend to be higher in neuroticism and lower in conscientiousness than their conservative counterparts.
  • The relationship between threat sensitivity and political ideology may be more complex than previously thought.

I’d suggest reading the whole article, and looking at the methodology – whether it agrees with your confirmation bias or disagrees, it’s a decent read.  And I wish I could share it with Dave and listen to him cut the methodology apart.

Patches' Pieces

Patches Pictures

The geese have returned to the pond before they begin their journey south. The turkeys, hens and toms, are roaming the road. There are still plenty of grasshoppers for the turkeys to eat.  We have had a cow elk and skunk walking the road. A surprise was the bobcat. The coyotes are hunting as a pair. The black bear and 2 cubs wandered are covering ground but doing a great job at evading the camera. Deer are common but bucks are not.  The crow are on the move. -Patches

Community

Tolerance

In Suriname, I encountered a mosque next to a synagogue.  Both had been there for years – the synagogue first built by Portuguese Jews around 1723, then the building in the photograph replacing it in 1843.  The first mosque was built next door in 1929, with this new one built in 1984.

Suriname was a great place for me to visit – and this photo, of mosque and synagogue, shows part of the reason.  The population is a racial blend – the culture likewise a blend.  On the Flathead Reservation, the name MacDonald demonstrates how, over ten generations, a family of Scots became American Indians.  Suriname’s UN ambassador told me of his welcome by Scots MacDonalds – the name showed his family connection, not the skin color.

Way back in history, the Brits fought a war with the Dutch.  The Brits captured New Amsterdam, the Dutch captured Suriname.  At the war’s end, the Dutch kept Suriname (thinking it more valuable) and the Brits renamed New Amsterdam – New York we call it now. In Paramaribo, I met Cynthis McLeod, author of The Cost of Sugar and learned of the human cost of the early years of the sugar economy in a place where European companies, with transient managers from Holland, owned the people who worked the sugar plantations.  This site shows the number of slaves imported by country

The Dutch, 2,000 voyages and 500,000 people.  Suriname is a small country, even if we add the other Dutch colonies at the time.  All British North America, basically what became the US, had 1,500 voyages and 300,000 people.  The Confederacy, during the war between the states, had an estimated population of 5 ½ million whites and 3 ½ million slaves.  In 1863 with the abolition of slavery in Suriname, 33,000 slaves were freed.  The estimates are that Suriname’s slave population never was higher than 60,000.  

The numbers make their own arguments about how rough slavery was in the sugar industry – 500,000 from Africa to Suriname and the population never exceeded 60,000, versus British North America where 300,000 grew to 3,500,000 over the same time period. 

The finest cucumber I ever ate was in Suriname.

Community

The Peter Principle (in Government)

In 1969, I bought my first copy of The Peter Principle and read Laurence Peter’s words  “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”  He explained that “in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”  Dr. Peter died 30 years ago – but those 30 years have just given more time for incompetents to fill every post.

Dr. Peter may have been prescient – or it may have been that Education departments in the university system were ahead of the curve.  He explained that “Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

We live in a world where another of his comments should be remembered, “In most hierarchies, supercompetence is more objectionable than incompetence.”  Simply enough, as the hierarchy fills with incompetents, getting rid of the competent becomes institutionalized behavior.

A century ago, H.L. Mencken wrote “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.”  The Peter Principle has been working over that century, and now we can look not just at the presidency, but the entire line of succession.  Heck, we can look at the senior civil service and military personnel that make the news.

Think about it – it would be a challenge to find someone who would wager that Joe Biden would be assessed as mentally competent.  Next in line is Kamala Harris.  Then Nancy Pelosi.  We have arrived at a situation where not only is the top slot filled by an incompetent, but the line of succession seems packed with them.

In 1966, Anthony Fauci graduated first in his med school class at Cornell.  That shows competence in 1966.  In 1968, he completed his residency, and went to work for the National Institutes of Health.  He’s been in the NIH hierarchy ever since.  I have no doubt he was a bright young physician 50 years ago – but he has over 50 years experience as a bureaucrat since then.   I wouldn’t want a fifty-year bureaucrat to cut on me, even if he was first in his class back when I was still in high school.

At the beginning of the war between the states, Lincoln started with General Winfield Scott.  He went out on November 1, 1861.  Then Lincoln had McClellan heading the Union army.  After Antietam, he fired him on March 11, 1862 and left the position open until late July.  On July 23, he put Henry Halleck in charge.  On March 9, 1864, Lincoln fired Halleck and put U.S. Grant in charge.  A long line of folks who reached their collective levels of incompetence.

I note that the only officer in the brig after the Afghanistan debacle is a lieutenant colonel.  I think Laurence Peter already made the relevant comment.

Community

Just one Smith and Wesson

I have just one Smith and Wesson.  Generally speaking, S&W made very reliable revolvers, and didn’t dive so deeply into semi-automatics as rivals such as Colt and High Standard did.  Colt started with John Moses Browning – High Standard started with Lucius Diem’s version of the Colt Woodsman.  Smith and Wesson began automatics with a knock-off of the Clement in 1913, then developed a proprietary cartridge for it – the 35 Smith and Wesson.  Both the pistol and the cartridge kind of flopped. 

After the Gun Control Act of 1968, most of the small quality handguns – like the Walther PPK – were banned from US import.  Smith and Wesson copied a 1908 Belgian pistol – the Pieper Bayard – that put the recoil spring above the barrel, and used it as the basis for their model 61.  I wanted a model 61 – it had developed a reputation. It was despised by gunsmiths, a gun that, no matter what you did to it, jammed and failed to extract.  I think the recoil spring above the barrel was the only thing that kept it from stove-pipe jams. The typical recommendation was “Buy a decent gun.”  I wanted one to work on.

The model 61 came out in 1970.    As you can see, it looked like the Bayard – I can get exactly one finger circling the grip – which makes accurate shooting kind of moot.  If you can’t hold a pistol solidly, you aren’t likely to put your shots in the X-ring.  Still, I wanted the Smith for practice in gun repair, not target shooting. 

In 1973, sales ended and the little Smith and Wesson Escorts went off the market.  In that brief span, the model 61 went from 61, to 61-1, to 61-2, to 61-3.  It’s not like the folks at Smith and Wesson weren’t actively trying to correct the little gun’s faults.

So eventually, 40 years after production ended, I got my very own, practically new, Model 61 – specifically a model 61-3.  I tried a box of Winchester Wildcats.  It jammed.  I went to Remingtons.  It jammed.  I filled it up with Aguila SSS shells.  It just kept shooting.  I never did take the little gun apart.  It’s still shooting Aguila cartridges like it was made for them.  Sometimes feeding is every bit as important as care.

Laws, Ordinances & Regulations

Canadian Libertarian Leader on Mandates

Tim Moen, from up near Edmonton, has led the Canadian Libertarian party for the past 7 years.  His views regarding the unacceptability of pandemic mandates are available at timmoen.net.  He doesn’t write like the late L. Neil Smith – and the article I’ve linked to is definitely beyond Biden. 

Moen starts with details on the non-aggression principle – while he describes it as completely as Smith did, it’s a bit harder read:

Libertarians hold that the only morally legitimate use of force is in response to the initiation of force against a person or their property. So when we are determining whether the use of force is ethical (or legal in a libertarian order) we need to know whether the force was initiatory or defensive (in response to initiatory force).”

He adds

The argument being made by radical centrists (ie most politicians and establishment bureaucrats) is that all sorts of force must be used during a pandemic in the name of protecting people or decreasing pandemic spread or death. Libertarians do not judge government force (policy) based on whether it had the desired outcome, we judge it based on whether that force is moral or immoral, defensive or initiatory.”

Moen offers thoughts on essential and non-essential workers:

During the covid pandemic the government divided people into two classes; essential workers and non-essential workers. Ironically the language “essential worker” used to be used by government to force striking employees to go to work and now its being used to force people to not work. If you disobey government orders and open your “non-essential” comic book store, restaurant, or movie theatre you’d get some warnings and eventually men with guns would come and use force to shut you down. Is this force justified?

A business owner is not initiating force against anyone by opening his store and serving customers. The customers are not initiating force against anyone by patronizing that store. So any force used against these peaceful people engaged in consenting activity ought to be considered criminal. It is not defensive force because it is not responding to any initiation of force. On the other hand if a person in that store is covid positive then they are initiating force against others assuming that their exhaled air containing harmful contagious pathogens is being inhaled by those around them. Force would be justified against the force initiator but not the innocent individuals.”

It isn’t an easy read – but he does make his points and reasoning clear – which is a lot different than most of the political rhetoric we read.

A Science for Everyone

The Quality of Data

We live in a world filled with data – but a lot of the presentations are slanted.  Sometimes the slant is political, sometimes the slant is a bizarre sense of humor.  I like Wikipedia – but I don’t rely on it.  I tapped in to look for a bio on George Washington Carver, and I read the damndest story about carving peanuts into busts of our first president.  If I want satire, I’ll go to the Onion or the Babylon Bee.  Wiki is accessible, fast, and I’ll continue to use it – but I check wiki data against other sources.  Using Wiki as a reliable source of data is similar to accepting President Biden as a fact-checker.

If I want information on shootings and murders in Chicago, I start with https://heyjackass.com/  It’s reliable, but not respectable.  They even sell T-shirts.  I’d never use it in a professional article – but whoever puts the data together does a pretty good job.  For example, as I write this, heyjackass shows

Year to Date

Shot & Killed: 586

Shot & Wounded: 2843

Total Shot: 3429

Total Homicides: 619

It’s a fast source of data that usually checks out. It even goes into neighborhoods, cause of death, race and gender – well, I’d say race and sex, since it lists male and female, but I may be a bit old fashioned.  It would be nice if all the violent cities had their own heyjackass, but this one seems unique to Chicago.

Climate data – at least the sort of data that shares first and last frosts, annual precipitation, and other medians gleaned from past records – is much more available.  For years, while some stuck with the Farmers Almanac, we carried with us Climate and Man – a 1941 yearbook of Agriculture that had compilations for most of the US.  Now, I can get online to check snow depth at each snow course, NOAA offers answers to all sorts of questions.  Climate data is vastly improved – though you still need to weed through and select reliable sources.  Personally, I stick with USDA and NOAA.

It is hard to find quality data on illegal immigrants and crime.  Texas’ Department of Public Safety provides data on crimes and convictions in Texas, but other states don’t provide data of similar quality.  I’m not sure we can generalize from Texas – but better data is hard to find.

The quality of data on abortion is impressive – each state provides data in a similar form.  You can sort between states and years – there’s a requirement that data be kept and published.  Unlike crime and illegal immigrants, this data is easy to access and use.

This publication presents itself as quality data: “30 Facts You Need to Know”.

Unfortunately, the folks who put it together didn’t include the links to those 30 facts that make them easy to confirm or reject.  I really don’t know which of the “30 Facts” I should accept and which ones should be rejected.

There is a lot more data available than there was in my younger days.  But a lot of that data is still less than easily confirmed – and a lot of folks are still trying to pass opinion off as fact.