Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Musings on Jurassic Park

A few weeks ago, after seeing Jurassic World, I posted this on facebook:
I thought that movie was going to give me "Chris Pratt, raptor whisperer" but instead it gave me something even better "Chris Pratt, positive reinforcement raptor clicker trainer." Swoon.

Now I have seen the movie a second time and have a more solid opinion formed.  I would like to expand on that Facebook post a little bit.  Last month, in anticipation of seeing Jurassic World, I sat down and watched all 3 of the other Jurassic Park movies.  Me and my husband are such big fans, I was way, way, into dinosaurs when the first one came out and I remember going to see it in the theater and thinking it was just the coolest thing.  I am so glad we re-watched them going into Jurassic World, not because any of that previous plot really mattered in regards to this new movie, but because it really made me think about how far we have come when it comes to how the scientific community views animals.

I had seen the previews of Chris Pratt hunting bigger dinosaurs with a pack of velociraptors and jumping into their pen pulling a move that I expected to be Caesar Milan like in his control of the dinosaurs.  I was excited for that more than anything else really.  Little did I know that the movie really was going to deliver something even better.  When I saw a movie star pull out a clicker and a bucket of meat I just about died of excitement.  Did I really just watch someone look cool controlling large, dangerous predators with POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT?  I did.  I did see that.  I also like that they almost ate him a few times, but that didn't really shake his trust of them.  He was always worried they were going to eat him so it wasn't much of a surprise.  Obviously there were a lot of inaccurate things because well, this IS Jurassic Park after all.  Besides the fact that there are dinosaurs walking around there were other things like the actual execution of the clicker training being a little off, also they do reinforce the alpha thing a little bit, I'm not sure that is totally inaccurate based on the imaginary group structure they gave the animals, but whatever.  As I walked out of the movie a friend of mine said "Maybe now people will think clicker training is totally bad-ass."  I hope so.

It seems to me that despite lots and lots of scientific evidence in the other direction that trainers alpha rolling dogs is getting more and more popular.  I am not saying I am beyond using whatever works for your particular dog, or there is only one way to train, but lets base these methods in modern, scientific fact.  As a positive reinforcement trainer I know I get criticized because in limited situations I am not beyond interrupting a behavior with something like a spray bottle, but that is a far cry from this constant punishment crap.  Come on people, every behavior is not explained with "they are trying to be your alpha" in fact most are not!  Even if your dog thinks they run your house alpha rolling them is not going to convince them otherwise.  Can't we see that positive reinforcement works?  Just yesterday me and my husband spent twenty minutes defending our position that Nova does not in fact think she is our "alpha."  Also Copley does not like rolling over at all, but I assure you the last thing he imagines is that he is my boss.  He dislikes being on his back because he has messed up sinuses from being a poorly thought out cross between a flat faced breed and who knows what else and whenever he is on his back he sneezes violently. The bottom line is we need more positive methods in the pop culture and this movie does that for sure.

One other thing I am curious about is wither the film makers were trying to make a connection to the Navy's dolphin program.  Owen, the trainer played by Chris Pratt, had recently come out of the Navy.  Were they implying that he had come from the dolphin program?  Also the raptor head pieces were very reminiscent of the ones that movies tend to portray on dolphins.  If that is the case it is very interesting to me that Owen was so against the militarization and exploitation of his raptors.  Food for thought for sure.

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