Guest Blog – Tactics of the raptor haters by Peter Cosgrove

cosgrovePeter Cosgrove carried out the first national pearl mussel survey and wrote about pearl mussels as a Guest Blog here in October 2012.







I have been watching the raptor haters’ tactics since Hen Harrier Day and I think they might have secret list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts, which I have identified below. To be fair and balanced, I must acknowledge that I may have missed some.

Tactics to use – 10 do’s:

• Avoid answering a question directly.
• Create a straw man and attack it.
• Be highly selective in any ‘facts’ you quote.
• Use anecdote or unreferenced ‘data’ and appeal to ‘common sense’.
• Criticise criminality generally whilst denying criminality exists in your community of interest.
• Under all circumstances assume that your knowledge exceeds those who have worked on an issue in a professional capacity.
• Deflect attention by changing the subject.
• Listen to someone unqualified (for example a clueless has-been celebrity) to comment on an issue in preference to someone more experienced, qualified and knowledgeable.
• Promote opinions that ignore peer-reviewed evidence/research/data.
• If all else fails do make sweeping generalisations based on where someone may or may not live in relation to town and country.


Tactics to avoid – 10 don’ts:

• Use actual evidence, reason and logic.
• Under any circumstance acknowledge that your salary depends on you deliberately not understanding or recognising an issue.
• Listen to other people’s point of view and re-evaluate your own position.
• Consider weight of probability.
• Acknowledge that someone may be better qualified to comment on an issue than you.
• Comply with the law when it comes to your own or your community of interest activities.
• Answer a straight question honestly.
• Recognise that a problem may destroy your own community of interest.
• Face up to responsibility.
• Consider societal benefits.

When analysing a raptor hater’s response to, say, news of the latest raptor killing, it may be helpful to plot the numbers of do’s or don’ts on a simple chart to calculate Lagopus’s Delusion Index. Each use of a do or don’t scores 0.5 points, so the maximum total is 10. Thus, rather than get annoyed and respond to each of the ridiculous arguments raised by a raptor hater, why not simply give it a Sandringham Score on the Lagopus’s Delusion Index and highlight this to them in any reply?




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15 Replies to “Guest Blog – Tactics of the raptor haters by Peter Cosgrove”

  1. These are are very accurate but you did miss a very important tactic. I believe it is the 'go to' tactic, favoured by all if them, to be used in nearly every situation

    'One must always keep ones head firmly up ones a**e!'

  2. Excellent blog Peter, I suspect if you were to plot holocaust deniers, the Flat Earth Society and members of the Westboro Baptist Church onto this same index, they would come out with an almost identical Sandringham score to Beefy or some of the latest responses to phasing out lead ammunition.

    Mark, this gives inspiration for your next book; The Grouse Delusion – a Dawkin’s style approach to exposing and deconstructing the delusional and irrational miss-truths (that make up the ‘grouse hypothesis’) that are believed by a minority group of UK shooters and their supporters in the face of growing opposing public opinion and peer-reviewed evidence in modern day society.

    In the second part of the book you could also explore grouse and morality – do you have to be a gamekeeper who loves to hug a harrier and is the general savior of all wildlife in the countryside to be a moral person? You could give understanding to shooting memes and understand how ‘utter bollocks’ spreads like “mind viruses” across elements of this society. You could also pose similarly searching questions such as “would you commit crime, hover up vast sums of public money and pollute the environment if you knew that no grouse existed?” – you could argue many people would say “no”, undermining the theory that you need grouse to be moral in your justification of environmental damage.

    Like Dawkin’s, you may advocate a similar concluding point; “the theory of commercial driven grouse shooting is an accidental by-product – a misfiring of something useful”.

      1. Filbert, what a superb resource for the Countryside Alliance, Tim Bonner will be able to use it to relate the number of English breeding hen harriers to the weight of cheese on the moon and draw some totally crackpot conclusions.

        Id love to see a couple of other key data sets plotted on the x-axis – maybe legal compliance of the estate that the raptor hater relates to, or even the IQ’s of the deluded individuals who splutter this nonsensical crap – I would assume an inversely proportional relationship on both accounts though.

  3. Another book suggestion: ‘Catch 23’. You must be mad to use lead ammunition; ingesting lead affects your intelligence; you carry on using lead ammunition.

    1. I've always thought that the ingesting of lead is behind (or should that be "in the mind" of) of the shooting fraternity. Harm from lead and inbreeding has a lot to answer for!

  4. Nice one Peter - have a 'like'.

    I'm not sure that your graph accurately represents how panic interacts with do's and don't's though. My common sense (see what I did there?) tells me that whilst panic may rise for a time, it may not be manifested in more arguments, until the raptor hater hits a threshold, has an existential crisis, and suddenly the number of arguments rises exponentially.

    We need a name for this shape, that slowly rises and then increases sharply at the end. It looks a bit like...ooh, I don't know...a hockey stick...

    1. I agree about my assumption of a linear relationship. Where is the evidence, perhaps I am wrong? I feel this is an area of ripe for research.

  5. I like this a lot Peter, I like river pearl mussels too, in fact I like all native wildlife. However we must not be lulled into a false sense of security that we might be at stage three and the next step is win, after all the grouse lobby/ raptor haters/wildlife criminals (and many are all three!) have always talked utter bollocks even the ones we think at times are reasonable-- Simon Lester Langholm headkeeper on buzzards springs immediately to mind. Yet they are currently hardly really pilloried (now there's a thought!) by the powers that be or their sport restricted in anyway. If the Tories win the next election we are in for a very long fight indeed, we may be anyway. This is not to be negative but a realist and we need to be prepared. Yes Botham is a complete T----r, as is Jonny Scot (remember Clarissa and the countryman!) but others are more astute, we've not even won over "brood management" yet. There's still no vicarious liability or licencing of shoots or a ban on burning blanket bog which may all be necessary steps towards a ban.

    1. Lest you forget Howatt, ex-Natural England? As Senior NE might he retain legacy influence with Defra / civil servants to assist his establishment bed fellows and 'sporting pals'? Funded perhaps on a generous civil service pension, or was he one who retired early with pay-off?

      Deafening silence from all three, so perhaps we should just focus on the task in hand and not let erroneous dribble divert us?

  6. I once contacted the press department of a large countryside body (the one that likes fairs and marches) to complain about factual errors in one of their press releases - the usual anti-raptor nonsense. Their first tactic was to claim that I was mistaken. Their information was accurate and their press contact named their source. I was massively surprised (and more than a little pissed off) to be named as the conservationist they had allegedly spoken to that had provided them with their 'information'. Once I introduced myself then they rapidly dropped this first tactic in favour of their second; to point out that their whole press release was contained within quotation marks so, whilst no longer defending its technical accuracy, claimed it was a true reflection of what their spokesperson had said!


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