Animal minds Culture Intelligent Design

Disney staged the March of the Lemmings mass suicide story

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Of course he did, as our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon writes to say:

In 1958 Walt Disney produced “White Wilderness,” part of the studio’s “True Life Adventure” series. “White Wilderness” featured a segment on lemmings, detailing their strange compulsion to commit mass suicide.

According to a 1983 investigation by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Vallee, the lemming scenes were faked. The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic “lemming migration” was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable.

“White Wilderness” was filmed in Alberta, Canada, a landlocked province, and not on location in lemmings’ natural habitat. There are about 20 lemming species found in the circumpolar north – but evidently not in that area of Alberta. So the Disney people bought lemmings from Inuit children a couple provinces away in Manitoba and staged the whole sequence. Riley Woodford, “Lemming Suicide Myth: Disney Film Faked Bogus Behavior[article title]” at Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Well, first off, lemmings are rodents, not people. They don’t know anything about death in the abstract so they can’t possibly be intending suicide—which is an abstract concept. You have to have an abstract idea of death to think about suicide.

A Canadian wildlife biologist explained the lemmings’ march succinctly decades ago for the few who care: Lemmings, stressed by food shortages, set out on am accidentally mass trek. The horde tries to cross bodies of water. The lemmings don’t know how wide the bodies of water are. Most drown. End of story.

The same thing will happen to future lemmings some years down the road. Nothing is known and nothing is learned. But it is sure good news for fish…

We’re told Disney was a Darwin fan, which might predispose him to look for non-common sense explanations of animal behavior, where the animals are assumed to be driven by some occult force or other and not by straightforward concerns. Some of us have heard this story used to drive home lessons about human “overpopulation.” As if.

3 Replies to “Disney staged the March of the Lemmings mass suicide story

  1. 1
    jawa says:

    You may want to double check a possible typo in this text:

    “A Canadian wildlife biologist explained the lemmings’ march succinctly decades ago for the few who care: Lemmings, stressed by food shortages, set out on am accidentally mass trek.“

  2. 2
    jawa says:

    Information manipulation is not new in human history. It’s not surprising that Disney could have manipulated information according to his beliefs. Same ole, same ole.

    The whole idea of “talking” mice and ducks possessing human personalities, as Disney popularized to the point of becoming a cultural feature, was easily accepted by society without much concern. My grandchildren get more excited looking at Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, cute Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, than contemplating the beautiful Norwegian fjords or the Niagara Falls.

    Welcome to this world.

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    Cue the stories of Darwinian and leftist lemmings racing off the cliff of unreason and postmodernity, to drown in the sea of reality.

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