Sunday, May 06, 2007


The long tail of Crocodile Hunting?

In The Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course, one of the funniest parts of the film was when the CIA was doing a background briefing about Irwin. Irwin had been to many political hotspots, including South America during two coups, in Kenya when the USA embassies were bombed, and in East Timor soon after its civil war. He has had access to America's military. The Australia Zoo is expanding at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. And you don't get that kind of money from cable television. Therefore, he must moonlighting as an enemy agent.

Every one of the statements made is true, but the conclusion is absurd. It is a good warning on the perils of bad logic. A similar, but real-life, conspiracy theory can be seen here asking how wikipedia can only operate with 2 full-time employees and a million-dollar budget that mainly pays for equipment, concluding that it must be a CIA front.

The flaw in the argument about Irwin is assuming that his only source of revenue is from cable tv. While talking about an ad series promoting Australian quarantine, he said that the A$175,000 he charged was tiny compared to his other fees for commercials - he'd have to add a zero or two. Steve Irwin may be a litle bit into hyperbole, but in this case it sounds plausible.

Irwin wasn't in it for the money, though. The more money he raised, the more conservation he did. The more conservation, the more documentaries and attention. The more attention, the more money to play with.

What a vicious circle.

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