Respectful Insolence

Psychics at the Atlanta Zoo

Via Advice Goddess, I find that the Atlanta Zoo is using psychics to predict whether their prize Panda is actually pregnant.

One of them predicted that the Panda is definitely pregnant and will bear a male cub before September 4. I’ll give her credit for putting herself out there with a definite prediction. Of course, if she’s wrong, it’s likely that no one will remember. The other psychic was more cagey; she only estimated a 65% chance that the Panda is pregant. (I wonder how she came up with those odds?) Of course, if she’s wrong, she can just say that she had only predicted a 2/3 likelihood of pregnancy.

The Zoo P.R. flaks claim it was done “all in good fun,” apparently not being too concerned about sullying the Zoo’s image of using science-based veternary care? What’s next? Reiki therapy to try to induce pregnancy?

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua
    August 7, 2006

    Have they tried rearranging the enclosures to maximised their feng shui? I mean, the pandas are Chinese. They’re used to smooth-flowing Chi. Our crappy American Chi just doesn’t cut it for them, I bet.

  2. #2 somnilista, FCD
    August 7, 2006

    Via Advice Goddess, I find that the Atlanta Zoo is using psychics to predict whether their prize Panda is actually pregnant.

    I think that this does not technically qualify as a “prediction”. The artificial insemination was already attempted, either the panda is pregnant or not.

    The Zoo P.R. flaks claim it was done “all in good fun”

    Sure, the promotion of pseudoscience and magical thinking is “all in good fun.”

  3. #3 Shelley Batts
    August 7, 2006

    This is irritating, but I find the so-called crime psychics so much more damaging. Besides false leads to the police, they are giving wild guesses to family members of crime victims. That is just flat out unethical IMHO.

  4. #4 Blader
    August 7, 2006

    Years ago, my wife and I desperately wanted children.

    One day, on a “what do I have to lose” whim she came home with a small statue representing Haumea, a south pacific fertility goddess, placing it at the bedside table.

    The following Saturday, we fulfilled what we had previously determined would be our last in a series of monthly appointments at a fertility clinic.

    Of course, it was on that cycle that she became pregnant with our daughter.

    The male scientist in me puts stock in a robust sperm sample coupled with an excellent response to hormonally induced ovulation. And hey, let’s give some credit to the sperm washing/AI technique, too.

    But I could also swear Haumea was grinning all throughout that pregnancy.

  5. #5 Keith
    August 7, 2006

    Wouldn’t it be more acurate to just, i don’t know, wxamine the panda medically? I mean sure maybe you can’t stick an EPT up there but i’m guessing someone on the zoo’s veteranry staff knows a thing or two about animal pregnancy indicators. or is that just to frickin’ scientific?

  6. #6 Qalmlea
    August 7, 2006

    Why not turn it into a betting pool with some percent of the proceeds going to fund the zoo’s programs? Let the psychics (and anyone else) put some money down on their “predictions.” Naturally this would require very specific predictions. Not sure how betting on a negative might work. “Determined not pregnant by September 4″?

  7. #7 RavenT
    August 7, 2006

    Wouldn’t it be more acurate to just, i don’t know, wxamine the panda medically?

    Bear reproduction is extremely complex, and we don’t fully understand all aspects of such things as delayed implantation (up to several months) of the fertilized egg. They also have an adaptation called pseudopregnancy, in which the hormonal and behavioral indicators look just like they do in pregnancy, but at the end, there is no cub. So while I am sure the vets are examining the panda medically, that’s not sufficient by itself to distinguish between pregnancy and pseudopregnancy. When the cub (if there is one) is large enough to be seen on ultrasound, and can be reliably detected, that will be a lot more definitive than hormonal or behavioral data is.

  8. #8 Samantha Vimes
    August 8, 2006

    It’s a gimmick, like selling stuffed toys or having an “ice cream safari” day at the zoo. Publicity and income are important to nonprofits.