In the first half, freelance science journalist Bethany Brookshire discussed her study of why we deem certain animals 'pests' and others not-- from cats to rats, elephants to pigeons-- and what this tells us about our perceptions, beliefs, and actions, as well as our place in the natural world. We tend to view animals that impinge upon us as pests, especially those that try to get into our homes, like mice and rats. However, some people have rats as cherished pets, she pointed out, and around 25,000 rats are revered at the temple of Karni Mata in Deshnoke, India, as they are considered reborn ancestor spirits. As far as snakes, some believe that humans are born with an innate fear of them, but scientific tests have shown that isn't the case, she reported.
Brookshire noted that pigeons were much more beloved in the past than they are today. They are one of the oldest domesticated birds and were used to send messages and find land. In Australia, rabbits are considered such a pest that scientists have released two viruses to reduce their population. Australia also made the mistake of importing cane toads to eat a grub that threatened their sugarcane crops. But that backfired, as the toads heavily multiplied and proved toxic to animals that tried to eat them. The most dangerous animal in the United States? Surprisingly, it's the white-tailed deer, not because they attack, but rather due to auto collisions with them, in which around 200 people die each year, she cited. Worldwide, the mosquito is considered the most deadly-- she categorized the tiny insect as a predator of humans.
Psychologist and founder of Lovefraud Education and Recovery, Donna Andersen, offers webinars to help survivors and professionals identify, and recover from sociopaths and other manipulators. In the latter half, she revealed the traits of sociopaths and narcissists and how to avoid letting them ruin your life. Around 12% of the population has an exploitative personality problem, she reported, and what they all have in common is an "unbelievable sense of entitlement." They think they deserve whatever they want and have the right to get it by any means necessary, she explained. Such individuals also lack the ability to love in the sense that they are not concerned with what is best for their partner.
She recounted a case of a woman who became involved with a man who regaled her with tales of being a Navy Seal. After marrying him, the woman discovered he was a complete phony and had purchased war memorabilia and medals as evidence of his military career. In another example Andersen shared, a woman said the man she was with used mind control on her to the point that she was losing her "executive function" and ability to make decisions in her life. Eventually, the woman figured out what was going on and escaped the manipulator, yet in her recovery, she had to rebuild her entire personality. Anderson advised people to tune into their intuition if they suspect someone is manipulating them. For more, check out her podcast, True Lovefraud Stories, which features people's harrowing accounts told in their own voices.