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A formal model of talking animals crossing rivers

Via James Fallows, come this great metaphor, about a frog and scorpion, for Earth Day:

“There is a serious question about whether we should worry more about slow-heating crises like carbon pollution (poached frogs) or seemingly improbable catastrophes like the Japanese tsunami and nuclear failure (black swans). The answer may lie in another zoologically suspect fable, the frog that is persuaded to ferry a scorpion across a river. The frog believes it is safe because it would not be in the scorpion’s self interest to sting it midstream. The scorpion does so anyway, saying “It’s my nature.” Current conservative theory assures us that we can trust markets to avoid oil gushers in the ocean, nuclear meltdowns on our coastlines, and climate catastrophe for our children. But we’ll still get stung, because when corporations see a profit, they just can’t help themselves.”

The part of me that hates junk science loves this story as, while obviously fiction, isn’t the debunked boiling frog metaphor that people still use so often.  The part of me that loves political science, however, hates it because it’s a failure of rational choice theory in favor of a cultural argument.

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