If Rabbits Fought Lobsters Who Would Win?

So, on average a rabbits weighs say 2 kg and I don’t know, maybe a lobster typically weighs 0.5 kg? Rabbits can be surprisingly aggressive but lobsters have a thick exoskeleton and claws. Obviously, rabbits can run away more easily but we haven’t determined where this conflict is occurring. Sure, a rabbit can adapt well to a wide range of terrestrial environments but they aren’t aquatic mammals and would simply drown if they tried to engage a lobster on the sea floor. You’d think that lobsters aren’t cut out for sustained warfare in burrows but if we extend our range of what we count as a ‘lobster’ then we’d need to consider the Engaeus aka the Tasmanian Burrowing Crayfish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engaeus Burrowing crayfish also live on mainland Australia in southern Victoria – so it’s not impossible that there are recorded cases of rabbits fighting crayfish. Having said that, if we are extending out the definition of “lobster” to a completely different species we may as well extend “rabbit” to include wombats.

Now imagine the same argument but I said that a rabbit weighs 55 pounds based on a misunderstanding of this article https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/ralph-worlds-largest-bunny-rabbit_n_3006487.html It is worthwhile considering if the quality of argument has actually got much worse if it included that error. One way to think of this is in terms of local versus global issues in an argument. I’m borrowing freely from how Imre Lakatos talked about counter-examples in mathematical arguments and applying it badly to the exact opposite – nonsensical arguments.

  • The rabbit mass error is an error but it has little impact on the whole argument (which is a silly argument). The scope of the error is highly limited. The pro-lobster side of the argument may feel happy when they debunk the error but their position hasn’t improved.
  • The redefinition argument, so as to include crayfish under ‘lobster’ has a much wider scope. It changes the nature of the argument and has a much broader impact.
  • Neither of those two issues actually address the broadest level of the argument which is that the premise is silly. Lobsters and rabbits are not in direct conflict because of the kinds of animals that they are. For them to actually be in a direct conflict they would need to be different kinds of animals and hence none of the actual features of either rabbit of lobsters is relevant to the question.

‘Yes, thank you for clarifying that,’ I hear you say as tiny voices in my head, ‘but what has this got to do with anything and could you maybe just draw more beard pictures instead?’

It’s Vox Day feuding with Jordan Peterson – yes I’m sure Vox would prefer wolves rather than rabbits but obviously, lobsters would beat wolves*.

I was tempted to discuss the argument in more depth but it really is about as silly as lobsters versus rabbits but with added racism (specifical anti-semitism). The problem with looking at either of their arguments in any detail is that they globally make little sense and are full of local errors. To discuss the local errors in any detail requires assuming for the sake of argument the more absurd premises – which would be one thing if we were looking at, say, homoeopathy but in this case, the absurd premises are particularly venomous ones i.e. anti-Semitic or more generally racist ones.

Both Peterson and Vox Day are IQ essentialists. That is they think

  • that IQ *is* intelligence (which it almost certainly isn’t),
  • and that evidence of hereditary aspects of IQ demonstrates that intelligence is overwhelmingly genetic (which is doubly questionable),
  • and evidence of some correlations between IQ and social success in modern societies demonstrates that social success is genetic (which is now a stack of suppositions),
  • and that different degrees of social success among different ethnic groups/nations is CAUSED by differences in IQ of those groups (which we can probably assume now is just plain wrong),
  • and that those differences are genetic.

It is a house of cards but one with some numbers based on research of very variable quality. Also, it is definitively a racist theory, as in it is literally a theory that asserts that different groups of humans are more or less inferior on a very broad range of traits due to inherent differences. I’ve discussed IQ many times before, so I won’t rehash all those arguments, other than to say the first point is the core error: we can collect interesting and useful numbers using scientific and ‘objective’ methods but the INTERPRETATION of those numbers is not simply established by having reliable numbers. That the numbers used in IQ arguments such as these tend not to be that reliable ANYWAY is a more local issue.

Peterson and others that we might call ‘moderate racists’ if that wasn’t an oxymoron, like these IQ essentialist style arguments because they see them as being a bulwark against demands for equality. For them, it demonstrates that modern societies are a meritocracy and that inequality of outcome is due to fundamental biological differences between people.

Vox Day’s ideology is far more overtly racist but the rationalisation is much the same. So shouldn’t Vox Day and Peterson be pals? Ah, you might think that but remember both Vox and Peterson also both believe strongly in dominance hierarchies as a biological imperative and as a kind of the social norm for masculine behaviour. Which is a kind of weird self-fulfilling psychological theory i.e. Peterson’s psychology is largely bunk but it does actually sort of work for people who believe Peterson’s psychology. Put another way: Vox and Peterson are warring lobsters. They’ll react to others encroaching on their territory as either:

  • Obviously superior lobsters – who they’ll acknowledge as such.
  • Lobsters of equivalent rank but who are both willing to stay a safe difference away in the neatly defined territory.
  • Rival lobsters that require a showy dominance display so they stick to their own territory.
  • Lower ranked lobsters who can be easily chased away.

Note, when I say ‘lobsters’ these are Petersonian-lobsters, not the actual crustaceans who actually have nothing to do with this at all. Also humans don’t really behave this way – this is a kind of self-imposed behaviour.

Peterson isn’t smart enough to impress Vox (here Vox is correct) but Peterson is getting a lot of fuss and attention as a thinker on the right. Hence, following the psychological theory of both of them, they have to fight. Specifically, they are fighting over anti-Semitism and when I say ‘fighting’, I think is mainly Vox moaning about Peterson rather than vice-versa.

Peterson decided to counter anti-Semitic arguments by arguing that the success of some Jewish people in Western society was due to on an average higher IQ of Ashkenazi Jews. That offends Vox as he likes to push anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Of course, the factual basis Peterson’s claims is based on weak and dodgy research and requires assuming complex social phenomenon can be explained by one numerical parameter. Vox’s could then mount a counter-argument that picks holes in Peterson’s position by pointing out errors and weaknesses. Now it doesn’t matter to Vox that many of the weaknesses he points out are actually the same weaknesses in Vox’s own arguments about IQ (e.g. over generalising from a weak study with few participants who aren’t a random sample) nor does it matter that neither of them address relevant questions about who exactly they are talking about.

Peterson set up his argument as a false dichotomy (success of some Jewish people in America being either genetics or conspiracy) and then arguing for ‘genetics’. By doing so, the very way he framed the argument helps more overt anti-Semites because somebody like Vox Day can point to weaknesses and errors in his argument (mainly local ones) and declare that they’ve proved the other part of the false dichotomy. Put another way: bad arguments generate worse arguments.

Peterson thinks he’s scoring a point against anti-Semitism when he uses what is racial theory in a positive light towards a group that has been persecuted and marginalised. However, there is never any positive way to use racism – all he manages is to create a strawman for more overt racists to knock over. The effect is like a ratchet of prejudice – Peterson pulls readers into accepting a set of dodgy ideas that once accepted make it difficult to avoid believing a whole set of even worse ideas.

 

*[wolves are basically just dogs and any dog I know, if it saw a lobster would just freak out and run away. So, in this specific case, the question has an answer: lobster beat wolves by being weird looking.]

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37 thoughts on “If Rabbits Fought Lobsters Who Would Win?

  1. Leaving aside the entire WFTness of this mess, I’m left feeling ambiguous. On the one hand is the aphorism to “never argue with an idiot given that they bring you down to their level then beat you with experience” and on the other hand, there’s “never interrupt an enemy while he’s busy making a mistake”.

    On the gripping hand, anything which keeps these two loons busy and prevents them from screwing up other peoples’ lives can generally be held to be a Good Thing ™.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. When I was a kid the Museum of Science in Boston had two lobsters that were reputedly the largest ever recorded; IIRC they had both been caught in the 1930s. They were terrifyingly large. According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the largest lobster ever caught was off Nova Scotia in 1977 and weighed 44 pounds. It looks at your 50-pound rabbit and laughs. (Lobsters laugh really sarcastically.)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Rabbits nearly killed Australia, as I recall; whereas lobsters were nearly driven out of existence by the appetites of yuppies in Boston. (I simplify.) In any case, obviously beetles win.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wolves might try to play with or crunch on the lobsters just for funsies. Probably wouldn’t know it was edible, but it wiggles.

    OTOH, lobster might get in a good pinch to the wolf nose right off, at which point wolf would go yipping away.

    This also ties in with Teddy’s obsession; remember how when it rains a lot, Scalzi gets yard lobsters. Well, freshwater crayfish anyway. And clearly the habitat of his area (which is in “real America”) would also support rabbits, though they might not want to come out to battle in such damp conditions.

    Lobsters do continue growing forever, as Phil RM noted. OTOH, we have the documentary “Watership Down” to show us the ferocity of rabbits.

    Rabbits breed much faster, so if we consider the weight in aggregate, they might win. As long as the battle isn’t under water.

    Red Wombat would probably know about both.

    It’s all a much more interesting idea than anything Teddy and Jordo might spat over.

    Also now I’m thinking of something crustacean for dinner. Believe there might be some jumbo prawns in the freezer…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I think she ‘splained it to Scalzi the first time it happened.
        Hey, didn’t he have a rabbit, too, back when Ghlaghghee was still in charge?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was Cthulhu, Lord Snuggleston; then Lady Snuggles. The rabbit ran away, when someone left the cage open.

        Like

  5. “…and any dog I know, if it saw a lobster would just freak out and run away…”
    Not true for cats. I am not going to say how I know this, but *cough cough* I should have been a little more careful with dinner preparations…

    Liked by 4 people

  6. (Sorry for off topic Cam)

    Anybody else having problems with File 770? I’m getting new post notifications in my inbox, but when I try to clink on the links, I get “Page not found.” Cleared caches on two browsers (Opera and Firefox) and got the same result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike had some problems with his ISP and recently migrated the site to a different server, so that might be the cause of your problem.

      Like

    2. I got there just fine and read the new articles and tonight’s new Pixel Scroll and tried to post something, but got that weird error again where it doesn’t post. Like last week.

      After that, I couldn’t see any articles newer than the Avengers review. But I could comment on all the earlier things, and so can others.

      Must be another bad interaction between time machine and shoggoth.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m still having some minor issues – it genuinely takes up to 24hrs for DNS changes to spread across the internet so it’ll be acting funny for a while. (This is why sites hate changing ISPs!)

        Like

      2. I’m getting Notifications for Comments which, when I go to look at the threads, aren’t there. I presume those poor Filers are posting on the old version, and their comments will be lost.

        Meanwhile, I am not getting Notifications for the comments which I can actually see on the threads, despite having turned my WP subscription to All Comments for File 770 off and on again a couple of different times, and getting confirmations from WP that I’m subscribed.

        I did at least get New Post Notifications for the new threads which Mike has posted. The original Barkley one got lost, and he had to re-post it, so I put a copy of all of the lost comments on the new thread.

        Like

      3. Right. I’m not subscribed to comments, but I’m getting the new post notifications. But when I use the link from the notification to go to the post, I get a 404 error.

        Like

      4. Could somebody possibly copy/paste Mike’s “Status Report About DNS Propagation” from the 770 site over here? I received the *notification* about the post, but I can’t get to the post itself, and I’d like to see whatever info he has about the problem.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The new site is working for a lot of people, but some Filers report they are unable to see the site at its new host, getting error messages, or receiving the last save prior to the move. My best guess is the internet services they connect with have not yet copied the updated DNS.

        My new ISP’s Knowledge Base gives this overview of DNS propagation:

        DNS propagation can be thought of as the time it takes DNS records to expire on a server. For example, if you update your nameservers to point to a different hosting company, those new nameservers must propagate across the Internet. Each ISP has their own time frame on how often they update/expire their cached DNS records. Because there is no single shared standard throughout the Internet, this entire process can take from a few hours to up to 72 hours.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ah, so it’s very likely it won’t get fixed many places till Monday when people come to work and push the button.

        Like

      7. @lenorarose Neither. Do it in a windows command prompt. How to open one varies by windows version so you’ll have to google if you don’t know how. And if you’re on a Mac I don’t know how to help you.

        Like

  7. There would be worst places to be a disembodied consciousness refugee than in an unused corner of your brain, Camestros. It’d never be dull. Lobsters & rabbits?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ski-doo-be-dop
    Eww
    Ski-doo-be-dop
    Eww
    (Ski-doo-be-dop) We were in a party (Eww)
    (Ski-doo-be-dop) The rabbit fell in the deep (Eww)
    (Ski-doo-be-dop) Someone reached in and grabbed it (Eww)
    (Ski-doo-be-dop) Was a Vox lobster (Eww)

    Aaaah
    Vox lobster
    Aaaah
    Vox lobster

    Eww
    Eww
    We were on the right (Eww)
    Everybody had matching views (Eww)
    Somebody went under a dock (Eww)
    And there they saw a Buck (Eww)
    It wasn’t a Buck (Eww)
    Was a Vox lobster (Eww)

    Aaaah
    Vox lobster
    Aaaah
    Vox lobster

    Vox lo-o-obster
    Vox lo-o-obster

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Somewhat related to wolves, dogs, and lobsters:

    I knew a guy who’d lived in Alaska with his family his whole life. He got a job in North Dakota with the oil industry so moved them all “down south”. Two things in particular he remarked on

    – That it could be nighttime, and the stars would be out, and yet it wasn’t bitterly cold
    – When they were out on a picnic and one of his dogs (Alaskan huskies) came across a grass snake and absolutely totally freaked out at this legless thing he had never seen before.

    That said, I know certain N.A. predators did make a habit of eating porcupines, although I don’t remember if it was cougars or wolves. But it wouldn’t surprise me if an animal that can figure out porcupines could figure out lobsters.

    Like

    1. Wolves and cougars both eat porkypines*. Also bears. They can escape some predators by climbing trees. Isn’t “arboreal rodent” a fun phrase?

      *honestly, I swear we’re talking about “Pogo” characters here: Porky Pine, Bun Rab, Barnstable & Bridgeport Bear… I guess they et the lobsters/crawdads. Walt Kelly would be doing wonderful things about the alt-right if he was still around.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love you, man, but this – “wolves are basically just dogs” – is not only not true, the myth does real damage to dogs. It was probably a mistake to reclassify the domestic dog as a subspecies of Canis Lupus a couple decades ago, but even if we let that slide, dogs and wolves are:
    * distinct breeding populations (albeit interfertile)
    * with distinct diets (dogs are primarily scavengers, wolves predators)
    * and distinct socialities (not just with people, though the difference there is clearly profound; wolves cohere in durable family groups; “wild” dogs – a.k.a. the Village Dogs of Tanzania – in loose, shifting coalitions; wolves mate for life while dogs are, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, complete sluts)

    The truth is wolves aren’t even “like wolves” as conceived in the popular imagination, but dogs are radically even less so. While “Dog Whisperer” nonsense seems less prominent today, the myth of dogs as “pack animals” oriented around Petersonesque dominance hierarchies caused a lot of trouble for a decade or so. Also, via the brief vogue for wolf/dog hybrids as pets, to wolves!

    Liked by 1 person

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