I've been saying this for years, and nobody ever listens to me: people, en masse, are shit. Like, actual shit. Believe me, I'd love to be wrong about this, but here's a new experiment that verifies my theory. It takes a turtle seven or eight years to reproduce, and a female turtle who lives 50 years may lay over 100 eggs, but only two or three of those will live to reproduce themselves. Nathan Weaver, a student at Clemson University in South Carolina with an interest in animal conservation, decided to examine the reason behind the declining rate of box turtles.
Weaver placed a plastic turtle just down the road from a student-dominated apartment complex and monitored the 267 vehicles who passed by; seven of them intentionally swerved to hit the fake turtle. A week later, he placed a fake turtle in a residential area in the middle of the lane, as if it had just begun to cross the road. The second of the 50 cars to pass by intentionally hit the turtle. It may not seem like much, but, as Weaver says: "One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road."
Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina professor of psychology, asked a class of 110 students whether they'd ever intentionally run over a turtle or been in a car with someone who did. 34 students raised their hands, Herzog said, and about two thirds of them were men. "They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time. It is the dark side of human nature," said Herzog.
Although country singer and singing competition judge Blake Shelton is hardly representative of the human race at large (see: his delightful reaction to the Newtown shooting), he previously boasted of smashing a turtle in the road on Twitter. The article citing Weaver's study posits that running over turtles is some kind of Southern tradition. Really, though, I truly believe that this level of assholism isn't limited to one region of America.
'College student's turtle project takes dark twist' [Portland Press Herald]
Image via Lenar Musin/Shutterstock