A change of heart about Jeremy Rifkin | March 10, 2010

NOTE: I know this essay seems really emotional and hits Jeremy Rifkin hard, maybe a little too hard, but that was the goal of the essay, to find fault in his argument. This was my junior year in High School, and I particularly, again, didn’t really put much effort into it. So it does seem like a half-hearted done essay. Whether I agree with him or not, that is not the point. The original article I used to write this from is “A change of heart about animals”, by Jeremy Rifkin.

             Jeremy Rifkin is a con-artist of the art of writing. He doesn’t practice the fine art of writing, but the art of propaganda, by way of persuasion and deception. He calls himself a journalist, one with morals of the classic press. But really his writing style and skill is like the muckrakers from celebrity and teen magazines of the lower tier. He is an activist under the guise of a true journalist. He uses this position to sway the general public to his side of the issue. There are two sides to the issue, the one where this article lays its foundation on, the animal rights side, and the opposing side, where these studies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and animals are really as primitive as believed. He doesn’t represent the sides fairly, if he represents the latter at all. Rifkin is a spin doctor armed with the power of the press.

              His article’s format, as a whole, states animal after animal like a circus, each with their own unique property that humans show and supposedly make us unique as a species. He uses these examples each with different animals. Why? If you read the article indifferent and uncritical, your mind, after reading it would think, ” If those animals are like that, they must be like us, because you would see animals, in general possess all these traits, but you wouldn’t that it was one animal each, differently possessing these traits, you don’t think about it enough and it goes right over your head(because of how people view animals, altogether then humans separate, not every single little animal is truly its own in the human mind, it’s just because people are desensitized to animals, people don’t take a second look, in that matter).So, why don’t any other species, in Rifkin’s article possess all of the “human qualities”, and why does Rifkin fail to recognize it.

                The format of his paragraphs are as this, he states a study, then states how it proves the humanism of the animal, he always leaves it at that, he never reinforces it with evidence, or show another example with another animal. One example was the pig stalls in Germany, and about human contact, and toys, and lastly to insulate the pigs. It does not explain why, but he gives his own reason, making it seem like its truly related to the issue, He states “In Germany, the government is encouraging pig farmers to give 20 seconds of human contact each day and to provide them with toys to prevent them from fighting.”First off, it doesn’t explain the 20 seconds of contact, why does it have the law and does it even have to do with emotions? For all I know it could be daily checks of health or poison check, there are many reason, he has yet to explain it. Secondly, the toys, what are these toys, he could have twisted this so easily, they could be exercise devices that many could call toys, and doesn’t explain the history of why they do this. he doesn’t explain the nature of these “toys”. Lastly, He adds, “…to prevent them from fighting.”He doesn’t quote anybody, or explain why this is, but he adds words, and people would assume too easily that it is very much related to it as if it was part of the law article. He engineers his words that you assume the Germans are very in-tuned to the pigs and that they are very emotional. But he doesn’t explain the law nor a study to back that. He also fails to explain the origin of this law, if from animal rights issues or from a economic background, he explains nothing. He uses foreign countries for this because he knows we know less of foreign countries, that if it were in the U.S., we would know what he was talking about and could dispute it. But no, he plays on our ignorance to make up for lack of substance.

                    He also gives the names of the animals but not of the scientists. Why? He does this to humanize the animals, to give it a personality, through the use of a simple name, to relate it more to us. So the animals are not as distant in our eyes. He wants us to believe that the animals are more like us without stating so bluntly. He also de-humanizes the scientists; he does this by making them blank faces in our minds, so we don’t relate to them as much, so we don’t know them. He mentions “scientists” once per paragraph/study, if that, but does no more. He wants us to pay less attention to the people and keep it on the animals. He mentions them at all just for the credibility scientists bring, no more, no less. It’s so the idea seeps into our heads without us know, its a very simple tactic that we overlook. He does this very subtly. Also, these scientists, who are they, what credibility do they have? He loses all credibility to me for this, for all I know, they could be mentally ill people who call themselves scientists. I don’t know what qualifies for a scientist to Rifkin, and I don’t know their biases. They could be Radical animal rights activists. I don’t like the tactics Rifkin uses.

                    The animals he describes in the studies are that of a specific animal, like Koko, and Abel and Betty. They are just one of their species, not a group in the whole species. For all we know, they could be very developed, very practiced animals, and very exceptional for their species. In real scientific studies, you cannot do one test, or test one animal for reasonable doubt and also coincidence, you have to take an average, and I doubt if these are wild animals in the first place. Mr. Rifkin fails to recognize this, and it is very critical in understanding the animals by proper studies, not a Koko the gorilla “study”.

                    One more example I find is when he actually did state whole species doing a particularly “human” activity, his examples were so broad and could be said to as anything, but he spins it to his liking. He does it in a way that he makes it sound more significant than it truly is, and he makes it sound so exact that it is the reason, without a doubt. But that isn’t so.

                          One example of this is the elephant “mourning the dead”. Maybe instead of being so intelligent that it senses death, it might be so stupid that it thinks its taking a nap, and is protecting it while it sleeps, and it’s trying to wake it up. He provides no alternative to his explanation, and there could be more than I stated. He does this to make it seem like a solid fact. He doesn’t even back this up with an explanation or real evidence, or real accounts of this. He also provides no study of this, all here say. Since people know little of this, he provides as little information of this to play on the ignorance of people. Using this tactic, he can then engineer his words that he twists them to his liking. Also, on a separate note, but of the same topic, whoever said that mourning was a truly human-only characteristic? This is the first I’ve seen of this. He actually, does this a lot; he stretches his facts in this way.

                     Another one that Rifkin uses this same format for, like the elephants, is the orangutans. He stated, without a study, or any kind of evidence, that the orangutans use mirrors to look at themselves, which shows a “sense of self”. What made that “human” in the first place? Secondly, how so? They might not even be looking at themselves, and if so, they might itch, or could be looking for fleas, etc., who even knows if they know what they are looking at. Another thing he states is that they “groom” each other, he states this as to imply that it is for beauty reasons, he does this by having the “sense of self” part precede this. But it could easily be said for health reasons, and nothing more, and that is more logical and more widely accepted. Rifkin’s article, how it states sense of self as pure human is the first I’ve heard of that theory, it bothers me to keep hearing thing like that.

                       Is Rifkin in fact a good journalist that stumbled upon a pioneering trend that will revolutionize animal rights, affecting all we do? Or, is he a deceptive con-artist slash extremist animal rights activist trying to push his own agenda? I think he’s the latter, to a lesser degree. He argues this one-sidedly, and uses deceptive tricks that cause him to lose any credibility, but the sad part is he will get away with it because people won’t see this; the unsuspecting public is the hapless victim of Rifkin’s charade. The public is the innocent victim of this war of politics in which Rifkin is a soldier in. They will not suspect it because he is in a position that is “credible”, “honest”, and supposedly “uncorrupt”, he is also in a position of great influence and it is sad when the people are tricked in this way. He has the power of the press, which has natural credibility, but to me he has damaged its reputation, and completely destroyed his own credibility with this article that is in my opinion trash.



  1. Dear Editor,
    In your article, A Change of Heart About Animals, you explained how “Researchers are finding that many of our fellow creatures are more like us than we had ever imagined. They feel pain, suffer, and experience stress, affection, excitement, and even love” (Par. 2). You also ask what does all the examples you give “portend for the way we treat our fellow creatures? How, if we feel it is wrong to kill animals for human consumption?” (Par. 15). Also that many try to change these actions with organizations like Peda, Whale Wars, ASPCA, etc. I agree that since there has been many tests on animals and we have discovered that they feel the emotions we humans do, we should not be treating them as if they don’t feel. Its wrong to cause pain or abuse to animals if they have the same emotions. Animals are very much like humans. I think it would have been better if you gave prof in your article that these tests were real and what happened in the testing results.

    Comment by Amanda — October 31, 2012 @ 8:05 AM

  2. Animals have been consumed for millions of years. Its a way of life and always will be. Killing animals is the natural way. They bring us the nutrition we need and that’s the way its gonna be until the end of days. So learn to like it.

    Comment by justin — February 6, 2015 @ 9:00 PM

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