Skepticism

To our international readers!

sheep+dog=

?

This story about sheep being sold to the Japanese as poodles sounds extraordinarily fishy. For starters, what bonehead doesn’t know a sheep from a dog? Sheep have hooves. They go “baa.” Dogs have paws and go “woof.” (Or the Japanese equivalents.) Plus, how much does it cost to breed and ship a sheep to Japan? Less than it costs to breed and ship a dog?

I’m looking into it, but my time is limited and my language is not Japanese, so I’d love it if anyone out there can offer some help here.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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17 Comments

  1. Typo with "an" and my arrow made the explanation disappear: the above symbol per Babelfish represents sheep in Japanese.

    This is dog: 犬 If you put sheepdog, there's no such thing. But if you put sheep dog you get 牧羊犬 which then retranslates into Bokuyou dog, but it really should be Bokujou, which looks like a goat.

    Japanese is difficult to translate on Babelfish. But the puppy up there is uber-cute!

  2. Saw it this morning, typed "japan" "sheep" "poodle" into Google news and see what you get The Sun as the first one putting the story out, followed by The Anorak (labelled satire). Believe it and you've got a job waiting for you in the Bush administration (or the World Bank if the first doesn't pan out).

  3. The sad thing about this story is the bigotry it embodies. The story is that the Japanese as a people are too stupid to see that the animal in question isn't a dog, which are commonplace in even the most urban areas of the country. The added detail of the 'hundreds of women' also reinforces the stereotype that women, especially Japanese women, are clueless fashion jackdaws chasing after the latest fad.

  4. It does seem too implausible to think true for a second.

    While it might be possible to convince the odd person of almost anything, the odds of sustaining a scam anything like the suggested one for even an hour *even if one had total control over who would or wouldn't come in your pet shop* must be near-zero, since it would rely on no customers interacting with anyone who knew anything about dogs, or anything about sheep from TV, books, or direct observation. No showing off to friends, no vet visits, no-one in the street saying "Hey, nice lamb, mate!"

    It doesn't just rely on women being ignorant, but also all the men they interact with.

    Added to that, even if by some extraordinary luck it might just be possible in practice to keep the scam going for a morning, unless someone was just planning it on doing it on a small scale as a practical joke, who would lay out money just on the off-chance they managed to be impossibly lucky and last for a few hours?

  5. New image caption: "Bad reporting makes Puppy sad."

    I was a New Atheist before New Atheism was new, so I'm not going to say that every time a news outlet gets a story wrong, God kills a kitten. Instead, I'm going to content myself with saying that the kittens drown themselves in grief, Ophelia-like.

    And sometimes, the cute little fuzzballs go out like lemmings.

    There. Hopefully I've ruined everybody else's Friday night. Enjoy your social lives, suckaz!!1!

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