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Lemming Population Flux Solved: Mass Suicide Not to Blame

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the games-to-stand-as-is dept.

Education 181

quogmire writes "Australia's ABC reports that biologists from the Universities of Finland and Freiburg (Germany) have finally solved the question of lemming population fluctuations once thought to be caused by lemmings mass-suiciding by plunging off cliffs. 'Lemming populations, they say, surge spectacularly and fall just as quickly, thanks to the combined feasting of four predators: the stoat, arctic fox, snowy owl and a seabird called the long-tailed skua.' The original article (Login required) is published in Science."

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Don't forget... (-1, Troll)

SCO$1499FeeTroll (720726) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367184)

...to pay your $1499 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367257)

I just sent in a check for all 3 of our Linux servers. Now I can legally use my Linux servers.

Thanks SCO!

A message to Cowboy Kneel (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367272)

Why does your face look so red in this [cowboyneal.org] webcam picture? Is it possible that Michael just gave you an ass pounding? Be honest with us please. Also, why are you that fat?

Anyone else think this was about computer Lemmings (0)

BigDish (636009) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367196)

When I read the slashdot bit, but before I read the article itself, I thought the article was reffering to the computer Lemmings in the video game. Anyone else think that?

Re:Anyone else think this was about computer Lemmi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367379)

What an insightful thought. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. +5 funny.

Re:Anyone else think this was about computer Lemmi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367391)

Nope..but then I realize there's actually a real world out there.

Re:Anyone else think this was about computer Lemmi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367507)

I bet you're the laugh at parties.

Pingus (5, Funny)

MooCows (718367) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367197)

Why study Lemmings when you can study Pingus [seul.org] ?

Re:Pingus (1)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367213)

Because it's a vastly inferior game when compared to the original. Playability was entirely scratched in favour of sticking an oversized geek mascot in there, in turn sacrificing all of the magic, atmosphere, well-designed levels and proportion which made the idea work in the first place.

Re:Pingus (2, Interesting)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367350)

I played some early pingus-demo (4 levels i think) and I didn't find it _that_ bad at all.
Ofcourse it's not the original lemmings and most of the levels lacked the "Doh!"-effect of the original, but it is definately worth a look also for those who played the original lemmings back and forth.

Post-It-Side-Note: I didn't really like the original lemmings past Lemmings II. Some of the bonus packs (X-Mas Lemmings etc.) were nice. But starting with Lemmings III they put in so many new modes (and very bad ones, too, like the "Jump"-Lemming and others that depended on SplitSecondMouseclickTiming(tm)) that it ruined the great "usability" known from Lemmings I+II.
In that light pingus has a really nice balance of just the right number of not-so-over-the-edge (bazooka-lemming anyone?) modes.

One mode that's really been missing from all Lemmings-Clones I know would be
the "PacMan"-mode, tho... ;-)

Re:Pingus (1)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367376)

I (and probably any Lemmings fan ever) would agree that the series died after Lemmings II. You're certainly not alone there.

Re:Pingus (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367383)

agreed, the Lemmings 3D really disappointed me.

Worms 3D seems to be pretty cool though if you like that sorta game, download the demo [3dgamers.com] , I'll be buying it when its out.

Re:Pingus (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367427)

Well, if they only made a linux-version, I'd definately give it a shot...

I'm curious if they could actually make worms "work" in 3d. Lemmings3d was so awful, I didn't even bother to finish level 1. (Playtime: ~45 minutes)

Jihad looms (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367200)

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Boooooring... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367201)

This article is so boring.. I even don't know what to troll about...


Boring! (-1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367204)

C'mon scientists, usually you replace our understanding with something much more intricate and complex. But now you replace a fun story with something much more boring. Couldn't you have kept it to yourself?

This is good news... (5, Funny)

dauvis (631380) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367205)

I thought it was because I should have had one build that bridge across the chasm. I didn't consider that the game had predators as well.

Suicide theory is a fraud! (5, Informative)

Chmarr (18662) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367207)

What? There are STILL people that believe that lemmings mass suicide?! Geez, what a hoax.

It's well known, by me at least, that the whole 'lemming suicide' thing was something that Disney cooked up during their 'bad documentary' era. In this case the lemmings were hearded off a cliff by the documentary crew, and was filmed as a 'mass suicide'.

I've seen some pretty amusing/sad documentaries that came out of Disney, including one that had the antics of a Jaguar eating various creatrues. It was OBVIOUS that it was a jaguar in a rather well done habitat where they threw in various animals, mostly eels, for the jaguar to attack. It was exceptionally amusing, but sad, too, that they thought to do something like this and pass it off as truth.

Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367214)

Yep. Here's a Snopes link for those who believe that everything that isn't on that site to be true:


Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367322)

Yep. Here's a Snopes link for those who believe that everything that isn't on that site to be true:
http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings .htm

Actually thats called a URL, here is a link [snopes.com] .

Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (5, Informative)

vidarh (309115) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367230)

You're partly wrong. The lemming suicides were NOT cooked up by Disney - the idea of lemmings mass suicides preceeded their documentary by half a century at least. Disney faked their documentary because they believed the mass suicide story but they didn't manage to get any film of it, and instead of questioning whether the suicides actually happened they faked a scene to illustrate what they thought was supposed to happen.

Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (1)

SiliconBateman (719736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367337)

Surely that is even worse... conforming to the orthodox methodology rater than carrying out an independent investigation (quenching the consumers bait for blood rather than educating it)...

Although this was a long time ago, Disney's morals still seem to wallow at this level.

Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367370)

I think you can safely assume that Disney treated a lot of their "documentaries" as they would any fiction: Write the script, and go out and film the scenes. And when you expect to follow a script and nature starts being difficult, they did what they could with the same persistence as they'd fake weather or scenery for any other movie.

I guess they thought it was only the end product that mattered.

Re:Suicide theory is a fraud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367547)

Quite! Who does Disney think they are, Fox News?

Snopes.com weighs in on the Disney story... (1)

jbum (121617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367258)

... and provides a few inaccuracies of its own, if the new article is to be believed.


sounds like exceprt from formula mystery novel (4, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367210)

those Disney lemmings didn't commit suicide, they were MURDERED! *gasp*

Re:sounds like exceprt from formula mystery novel (2, Interesting)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367339)

In fact, they were. My sister met someone who worked on the project. He said that if you actually look closely at the Disney footage, you can see the lemmings trying to swim back to the shore! They were apparently taking them and throwing them off by the bucketful...

The person's excuse was that he was a poor college student and needed the money. Makes one wonder what other atrocities have been committed by poor college students? *grin*

Or do it the Disney way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367212)

I mean, dumping lemmings of a cliff from a truck just for shooting a nature document.

Oh, crap (3, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367218)

So is the old Psygnosis game [wikipedia.org] now obsolete and environmentally incorrect?

Re:Oh, crap (2, Interesting)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367420)

I wanted to post a link to DHTML Lemmings (the original Lemmings in your browser) but it looks like they had to take it down [xs4all.nl] . Help the guy figure out who, exactly, is the owner of Lemmings!

Felching...? (-1, Troll)

Chillywang (197180) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367219)

What about dying inside of a promiscuous person's clenched asshole?

I'm sure alot of lemmings die horrible deaths that way...

And you thought Disney was evil before... (1)

The Wicked Priest (632846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367221)

The snopes.com link is really shocking. I notice it dates to '96... I'm surprised I hadn't heard about it until now.

Bugs Bunny in drag (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367226)

If masturbating to Bugs Bunny in drag is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Gee. (-1, Flamebait)

Drakin (415182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367229)

This is news?

Sheesh, I mean it's been known that any population boom in prey will boost the predator population, which will reduce the number of prey animals, thus reducing the preditor numbers for years.

So it applies to lemmings too. Big surprise.

Re:Gee. (4, Insightful)

Jodaxia (312456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367295)

I guess whoever did this study failed their first ecology course in college.

Almost every ecology teacher beats several key things into your heads.
1. Survival of the fittest
in other words an individual does not do something for the benifit of the species, mainly due to the fact that doing so diverts energy that could be used to producing more young so that their genes survive. The individual will do things to benifit their genes, but not for unrelated individuals of the same species. Social species do have some altruistic behaviours, but their communities are generally made up of individuals that are related. However these altruistic behaviors do not include suicide.

2. The lynx and Hare.
Classic example of what is going on with the lemmings here. As the hare population increases there is more food for the lynx, thus more offspring are produced. As the lynx population increases there are fewer hare to eat and the lynx population declines, and so on.

So this study on lemmings is not surprising, actually I'm quite shocked that someone didn't figure it out sooner.

I'm sceptical (5, Funny)

spektr (466069) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367241)

This doesn't concur with the results I got from my private investigations regarding the behaviour of lemmings. I did some massive computer simulations during the 90's, which showed that lemmings are stupid animals which will walk into one direction until they fall off the cliff. Only few of them can use jack-hammers or parachutes, and even that not without explicit order.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367567)

Now, that was actually funny, but was preceeded by a dozen other, lesser, Lemmings jokes which took the wind out of it somewhat.

Could someone mod the other Lemmings jokes down to -1, so the first one everyone sees is this one?


Origin of this legend (-1, Redundant)

Psychic Burrito (611532) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367243)

The idea that Lemmings commit suicide was introduced by Disney in their documentary White Wilderness [imdb.com] .

According to some urban legend, the film makers induced lemmings into jumping off a cliff to "document" this behaviour. Interestingly, according to Snopes [snopes.com] , this appears to be actually - true!

I guess the credits didn't include the claim "no animals were harmed during the making of this movie"... :-(

Re:Origin of this legend (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367292)

The idea that Lemmings commit suicide was introduced by Disney

Actually, it was perpetuated and made into a mass-market notion by Disney, but they didn't think that up by themselves. They just made it worse.

I guess the credits didn't include the claim "no animals were harmed during the making of this movie"... :-(

"Dozens of animals were hurled off a cliff during the making of this documentory." more likelly...

But that disclaimer allways makes me wonder if the filmakers forcibly made the entire earth vegans for the duration of filming, AND prevented all accidental deaths such as roadkill...
A better phrasing would be "No animals were hurt by the process of making this film" or something.

Re:Origin of this legend (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367503)

I guess the credits didn't include the claim "no animals were harmed during the making of this movie"... :-(
But that disclaimer allways makes me wonder if the filmakers forcibly made the entire earth vegans for the duration of filming, AND prevented all accidental deaths such as roadkill...
I agree with your point. In fact preventing harm to animals is much harder than that, since almost all animals are harmed by... other hungry animals. That and starvation (life at carrying capacity ain't easy).

Re:Origin of this legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367323)

Why is the moderated as informative?? more like redundant.. the damn snopes.com link is IN THE FUCKING SLASHDOT ARTICLE

Re:Origin of this legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367353)

+4 for linking a link in the article.

Ahh dont ye just love /.

Re:Origin of this legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367412)

Yup. We all just love and hate it. It's truly a love hate relationship for me.

Re:Origin of this legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367477)

Dude, that's the best troll I've ever seen. I mean how did you pull it off? did the Oracle tell you "if you post the exact same link as the story at precisely 1:53PM, you have a chance of succeeding".

I'm truly impressed.

Who cares! (0, Troll)

mcbunny29 (583989) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367253)

I mean really, who gives a rat's arse about the Lemmings population flux??!

If the Lemmings were running Linux or if the researchers found the solution playing the Lemmings videograme then maybe I'd be midly interested...

University of Finland? (-1, Offtopic)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367269)

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as the "University of Finland". At least, I've been living in Finland for the past two years and I've never heard of it.

Re:University of Finland? (2, Informative)

AvantLegion (595806) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367344)

A little Googling reveals that the professor listed in the article is of the University of Helsinki, which, once upon a time, was the Imperial Alexander University of Finland (so changed to U of Helsinki a couple of years after Finland gained independence).

Re:University of Finland? (1)

Strandman (583695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367537)

I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as the "University of Finland". At least, I've been living in Finland for the past two years and I've never heard of it.

If you read the post once more you may notice that little detail that states:
Universities of Finland. And I'm sure that Finland have several universities.

Re:University of Finland? (1)

Ami Ganguli (921) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367589)

Hmm. Implying that all the universities in Finland participated? That seems pretty unlikely.

In fact Finland does have many universities. A great many when you consider it only has about 5 million people.

Deja vu all over again (1, Interesting)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367271)

Chaos theory was in part defined following studies of populations of just TWO animals, the arctic hare and the the Canadian lynx. This was around 1989. [google.com]

So why should it be surprising that populations of lemmings are chaotic?

What, exactly, is the news here?

Re:Deja vu all over again (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367361)

They aren't chaotic. They're very cyclical, following a four-year pattern, allowing you to predict when the next population rise or drop will be. That's the opposite of chaotic.

Re:Deja vu all over again (1)

pVoid (607584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367436)

Uh, if you had RTFA, you would see that the cycle isn't chaotic, but is actually precisely 4 years long.

It's not news really, that cycle has been going on for centuries, probably millenia before it was posted on slashdot... I guess it kind of depends on your definition of news.

<fight... urge..... to... make... crack-shot comment>

I knew this all along! (-1, Redundant)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367276)

It's not suicide, it's me who clicked that little "Bomb" button on the panel, next to the digging button.

They're cute when they blow. :-)

Just to remind you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367277)

Bill of Rights
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Re:Just to remind you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367349)

That's so unpatriotic, I'm gonna call Ashcroft.

Re:Just to remind you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367365)

You better call Saddam Hussein you unpatriotic pinko!

Carrying capacity (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367287)

I suspect that the human population will go through a similar cycle. Exponential growth, exceed the carrying capacity and then population crash. We're seeing it at the local scale but with globalisation, I don't see anything to stop it on a global scale.

At the moment, the western industrialised nations are fairly steady state but the developing and 3rd world nations are definitely not. We can look forward to wars over resources in the relatively near future (have they started already, iraq just the prequel?).

Re:Carrying capacity (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367366)

Even in the "steady state" western nations you can have local overpopulations with dramatic consequences.

Gang violence, school shootings, "going postal"?

We pack a lot of large, predatory animals with a complex social structure based on submission/dominance into small spaces with artificial local shortages.

Can you say, "Too may rats in the cage," boys and girls? I knew you could.


Re:Carrying capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367372)

I don't plan to be eating by anything, not even a stoat.

Re:Carrying capacity (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367387)

Birth rates are dropping on an almost global scale. As societies modernize the birth rate falls at a blistering place.

For example in India:

Birth Rate per 1k @1970 - 41.2
Birth Rate per 1k @1995 - 28.3

Sure improved medicine helps but so does the education and rise of women's rights in societies. We are currently in the end of our world's population explosion for humans.

Re:Carrying capacity (5, Interesting)

Persecuted_Telemarke (717360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367396)

Actually, it depends pretty radically on which type of model you're considering.

For example, if you assume that the population is governed by a continuous-time model, i.e. by a differential equation, then it is not really possible for a population to exceed a carrying capacity, and then crash. What happens is that the population asymptotically approaches the carrying capacity, but can never go above it. I think it is reasonable to put humans in this case, as our growth rate is a smooth frunction of time (no breeding season, for example).

Aside note: for those who may not know, the term "carrying capacity" is a term used in population dynamics which sort of represents the available resources. In most models, what happens is that there is some amount of population which can be supported by the existing resources, and if the population is below that, it should grow, and above that, it should shrink. Most "reasonable" models of population dynamics have such a carrying capacity, and I can even state a theorem: if you have any model where the growth rate of a species depends on its size, AND it is true that this growth rate becomes negative for some sufficiently large value of the population, then you will have a carrying capacity. Furthermore, if nothing in the system changes, the population will approach this value and stay there forever.

Now, I'm not saying a crash is impossible, but you need a more complicated system. There are several ways to add complexity to the system. One way is to consider a predator-prey type of system, but of course humans have nothing which can really be called a predator. The only thing I can think of is some sort of disease, but this leads to a different model altogether (some sort of "epidemological model"), and these models rarely predict population crashes, as they have a different character, which is disease needs to be carried by disease-carrying individuals (ok, duh) but then these tend to die out. So the predator carries its own destruction around with it, in some sense, and it corrects itself.

Another postulate one can make, and I think this is somewhat reasonable, is that the carrying capacity of the earth might change radically in the future (and of course, radically downward would be the interesting case in this discussion). This could happen any number of ways. And if it turns out that the carrying capacity moves on some very quick timescale (much more rapid than the change in growth of the population), then we could see a "crash". For example, if it turned out that our ability to grow food took a big hit for some reason or another, then this could happen.

One last way to get population crashes is to consider the case of the discrete system. For example, this does apply to species which have a discrete (say, yearly) breeding system. The population does not change smoothly over time, but is simply a function of one year to the next. It is somewhat surprising, but true, that the dynamics of a population with a discrete model can be much more complicated than those with a continuous model. In fact, a discrete model can actually have what satisfies the mathematical definition of "chaos". Thus you can see any type of behaviour you might imagine, including crashes, but also including periodicity (say, a 17-year cycle for population values). I do not think it is reasonable to assume that humanity can be modeled by this sort of model, even in a coarse-grained sense, because we breed day in and day out all the time. This (and this is somewhat surprising) makes our population a much more stable quantity.

Re:Carrying capacity (1)

pVoid (607584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367460)

We can look forward to wars over resources in the relatively near future

I think they haven't "already started", they've been going on for at least 30 years since the first Petroleum crisis of the seventies.

Aside from that though, the earth is humoungous, we will kill each other well before we run out of harvestable food bearing land. Just a number: something 80% of american produce is wasted (in transport or other places).

The reason ethiopia doesn't have food is not exactly because they don't have land, but rather because they don't have water to irrigate it... ie money.

Beyond the article... (3, Funny)

FollowThisLogic (710628) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367312)

Apparently it has also been found that when the lemmings do jump off the cliff, they all have little umbrellas to make it down safely.

RTFA? (4, Informative)

Persecuted_Telemarke (717360) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367314)

Ok, fine, I guess most people can't get to the original Science article. I had to do some funky proxy shit with my university's library server. So it should be somewhat forgiven.

But I just wanted to point out that the ABC article is somewhat misleading. The original research article at no point addresses or attempts to refute the mass-suicide myth. Because, honestly, no scientist believed that was possible. The question they considered was much more reasonable: do the large deviations come from predators eating lemmings, or from a lack of vegatation for the lemmings to eat? It seems as though they have resolved that the crashes in population come from predator over-population, not from food scarcity.

This article will probably not shake the foundations of population dynamics. As some other posters have pointed out, it is not so surprising that one sees immense highs and massive crashes in a predator-prey system, because these phenomena exist even in simple mathematical models of pred-prey systems. So for a mathematician this should fly right under the radar.

On the other hand, to a population dynamics guy, this is somewhat interesting, as in that field it is typically considered hard to model these dynamics accurately. It seems as though these guys have determined some parameters in the population dynamics model experimentally, and this is what it is interesting.

Suicider Lemmings And Bomber Blemmings ... (0, Offtopic)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367324)

Now that we are discussing suicide, and how we had a whole messed up definition of what the suicider-lemmings were doing, I wonder if we have a similarly messed up understanding of the suiciders ...

I know that POTUS has defined it in pretty much black and white, and the LUNATIC calls them the deadenders, the military calls them operatives ... but whatever ... basically the question that pops in my head is whether the operating definition of a suicide-bomber that is currently in vogue is comprehensive or not.

And the analogy with the lemmings is whether the use of a suicide-bomber as a strategic and assymetric weapon of war is something that may make sense when the analysis is done at the level of survival of not individuals or groups but at the level of cultures ... or at some other level that is atleast higher than that of a boot in the face.

Re:Suicider Lemmings And Bomber Blemmings ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367455)

There is no need to "understand" suicide bombing. The nature of suicide bombing makes rationalization irrelevant. Trying to logically dismantle a suicide bomber seems quite pointless. Now, if you want to look at it emotionally, that's another story. Perhaps you've never lost family members or close friends suddenly. But when the people you love have died, it's not uncommon for a person to want to join them in death. This isn't a logical issue, it's emotional and the longer the violence persists, the worse it will become. The only way to stop suicide bombers is for all sides to stop the violence. Now, who is perpetuating the violence? When all of those parties stop their violence, the suicide bombings will eventually stop as well.
No justice, no peace. The logic is simple. There is no mystery in the logic, nor in the emotions.

Re:Suicider Lemmings And Bomber Blemmings ... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367522)

Our own cultural view of suicide is the anomoly and derives, essentially, from Jewish tradition and thus Christian. Even if one does not subscribe to any religion and does not believe in God the social culture that you grew up in, and thus absorbed, is at its heart based on Judeo-Christian ethics and morality.

Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not kill.


If you believe you belong to God than harming yourself, God's property, is a sin. I have a friend who cannot be buried in his family plot because he has tatoos. This is selfmutilation and a sin against God. Imagine if you are outcast by a tatoo what suicide must mean.

Most cultures do not have such an underlying belief structure and actually "glorify" suicide, or at least hold it as a valid personal choice.

Chingachgook's selfinflicted death in fire has deep social significance that is difficult to understand unless one abandon's one's own cultural biases and adopts the point of view of the North Eastern Native American.

Suicide is perfectly understandable, especially that done in the name of cultural selfdefense.

What do you suppose Thermopylae was?

Do we not have our own fallen war heros for "God, Honor and Country"?


What a stoater (1)

RabidStoat (689404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367328)

What with this .. 'Lemming populations, they say, surge spectacularly and fall just as quickly, thanks to the combined feasting of four predators: the stoat, arctic fox, snowy owl and a seabird called the long-tailed skua.

and this .. This page was generated by a Group of Trained Rabbits for RabidStoat (689404) it's been quite a day !

Natural Selection? (1)

shirai (42309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367330)

This Article [ec.gc.ca] suggests that the population flux may be strongly linked to the evolution of the species through natural selection. Here is the relevant quote:

Although several species of small rodents that live in temperate climates also reach peaks of abundance about every four years and some of them reach much higher densities at the peak than lemmings do, none can equal the extreme scarcity of lemmings at the nadir. Such extreme scarcity raises the spectre of extinction. But passing through a population "bottleneck" probably strongly favours the individuals best adapted to survival in harsh arctic conditions. Doing it once every four years or so may be a device to keep selection abreast of the changes continually going on in the Arctic.

Lemming Recipe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367359)

Take 5 lemmings, alive or dead (if alive bite their heads off with your mouth, then clean them)

put olive oil or butter in a skiller

use 1 bell pepper
use 2 onions

sautee on high for 15 minutes or until meat turns

you can also pre season with lea and perrins

makes a great meal!

News for nerds and stuff that matters??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367368)

this is becaming another fuckedcompany.com place.

this place used to be cool..good job Taco hole

Caribou and animal suicides (1)

vishakh (188958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367382)

I wonder why it took them so long to come up with a model for lemmings' weird population behavior. I think such "boom and bust" cycles have also been observed for caribou and the arctic wolf. A rise in the caribou population causes a corresponding rise for wolves and both fall dramatically afterwards. I'm not completely sure about this, so please feel free to correct me here.

Also, it is interesting that suicidal behavior among animals does exist. This Everything2 node [everything2.com] provides some very interesting information about this matter.

This is new information? (3, Interesting)

azaris (699901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367389)

Apart from the "University of Finland" and all the cutesy Lemmings jokes, does this strike anyone as horrificly unscientific? I mean, it's been observed for ages that the growth of the population of the prey causes a growth in population of the predator. Then your population growth for the lemmings looks something like:

dL/dt = bL/2 - hP

where L is the lemming population, b is the average number of lemmings born in a time interval, P is the number of predators and h is some constant. P on the other hand is related to L by some observed relation:

dP/dt ~ L

Given suitable values for b and h we can predict the behaviour of the lemming population without having to invent catastrophic events to explain the fluctuations of L without any empirical evidence to support them.

The real killer of lemmings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367394)

http://www.you-are-a-huge-nerd.com/public/freepix/ wallpaper2.jpg

a new study needs to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367401)

This new study needs to be focused on the slashdot lemming and how the groupthink slashbots started and evolved.

Parallels closer to home (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7367473)

Back in the day, THE thing to study at university was Chemical Engineering, since graduates were in high demand and earned a fortune.

Guess what ? 3 years later, there was a glut and they couldn't find jobs.

Parallels with today's job market anyone ?

Parallels with lemming population ?

The game! (0)

cuban321 (644777) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367566)

Man I wish I could find that game for download, hell even for purchase. Hours of entertainment.

Survival Strategies (3, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367590)

A popular survival strategy for many insects is to synchronize their breeding so that they produce a huge number of offspring within a short period of time. The predators can stuff themselves silly but there are plenty of survivors.
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