Pit Bull Experts: scientifically unimpressive and technologically worthless

In 1960, Louis Leaky sent a secretary with no college education into the Africa bush to study chimpanzees. Despite the objections of "experts" Leaky persevered. Leaky felt that someone with little formal training would be more likely to describe what they were seeing rather than what they thought they should be seeing. 

I think everyone will agree that hiring Jane Goodall for the job was a brilliant move. 

Keep Jane Goodall in mind while you watch this video, The Trouble With Experts, then continue reading.

Pit bull advocates make a lot of noise about their "experts" and tout the perceived consensus among "experts" as proof that "pit bulls" are not the problem, owners are. Here are four of the more impressively credentialed "experts".


The ASPCA cited BORCHELT in their anti-BSL position statement and BORCHELT was called upon to provide his "expert" opinion in favor of pit bulls when a NYC council member sought to ban them:

A Brooklyn-based animal behaviorist who opposes a citywide pit bull ban, Peter Borchelt, said strong dogs such as pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds are generally safe, if they are "raised like pets." You get into trouble when the dog is not trained to be nonaggressive," Mr. Borchelt, who has a doctorate in animal behavior, said. "They can become dangerous when they're thrown behind a fence and allowed to become overly protective. You just have to take a few extra steps to make sure the dog is friendly, affectionate, and well socialized."
PETER L. BORCHELT, PhD and "expert" for hire.

BORCHELT provided the above "expert" opinion about the safety of pit bulls AFTER he was sued for a million dollars for providing his "expert" opinion to a retired fire fighter about the safety of a pit bull that he was in possession of. The pit bull attacked the retired fire fighter. Despite the fact that the pit bull had a known documented history of previous aggression, BORCHELT assured the retired fire fighter the pit bull was safe. During the civil trial, BORCHELT testified under oath that the pit bull was not vicious. Yeah. Just in case you missed the colored text above indicating an external link, click here.

PETER BORCHELT is a member of an elite club known as Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists. According to the civil lawsuit article, he charges $300 an hour to fix your dog's problems. You can find his fee schedule here. BORCHELT'S gun for hire, er uh I mean "expert" witness page is conveniently malfunctioning.


If I were asked to recommend a dog, say for a children's psychiatric ward, my first choice would be a pit bull. When children pull their tail, if they have one, or poke them, the dog's like... he doesn't care. With a good owner, you have the most fantastic breed of all.  

Poor Ian. Yet another dupe of proof of assertion. Apparently he has yet to receive the memo regarding the official revocation of nanny dog status

Hot shot Dunbar does not appear to offer services for problematic or dangerous behaviors. Smart move.



No other breed has been maligned or vilified as much as the pit bull terrier. One commonly finds negative publicity about this breed, despite the fact that many honorable Americans have kept pit bulls as pets, including Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Edison. 
RICHARD POLSKY, PhD and "expert" for hire.

Poor Richard. All of that money and all those years spent studying to acquire impressive degrees was no guarantee that he would be able to demonstrate critical thinking skills. He still fell prey to the common fallacy known as Proof of Assertion. It is a documented fact that President Roosevelt's "pit bull" was a dangerous menace. It is a documented fact that Edison did not own Nipper and there is no documented proof that Thomas Edison ever owned any pit bull. 

The pit bulldog's long legacy of vilification is well earned and well documented.

POLSKY'S fee schedule is available on demand. I suspect it is one of those cases where if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.


DR JAMES HA, animal behaviorist at the University of Washington in Seattle and "expert" for hire.
The reason we're focusing just on pit bulls is that we hear so much about them, and that is not because of the breed difference, the genetic difference - that's because of the way they've been raised.

That quote is from a 2010 KOMO news interview. Compare that to HA'S blog post in 2008, where HA cited research that stated red and golden cocker spaniels were more likely to display aggressive behavior than black cocker spaniels and that yellow labs were "significantly more likely to be reported with aggression problems" than the black or chocolate variants, yet JAMES HA promotes the crazy notion that dogs artificially selected for violence only require a loving gentle family.

Also in the 2010 KOMO interview, DR HA stated that mastiffs, chows, shepherds, rottweillers and dobermans are "all more genetically aggressive than" dogs that had been artificially selected for combat for 200 years. HA goes on to add that genetics is roughly 20-30% responsible for temperament. YET, at the roughly 4:00 minute mark of his presentation on "Behavioral Genetics" DR HA stated that in studies of selected dog breeds, none were gripping breeds btw, for defence behaviors ie, guarding, attacking, biting there is a 14 - 20% heritability rate "which in genetics world is important". He immediately followed up with "there are different genetic predispositions in different breeds." Towards the end of this 2011 youtube video, HA states that 30-50% of behavior is genetics. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with all his facts.

DR JAMES HA is a member of an elite club known as Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.
HA offers a variety of services ranging from $75 - 250 plus travel fees.

One unspoken assumption among early behavior geneticists, an assumption that was shared by most for many years, was that some psychological traits were likely to be significantly influenced by genetic factors, whereas others were likely to be primarily influenced by shared environmental influences. Most behavior geneticists assumed that social attitudes, for example, were influenced entirely by shared environmental influences, and so social attitudes remained largely unstudied until relatively recently. The evidence now shows how wrong these assumptions were. Nearly every reliably measured psychological phenotype (normal and abnormal) is significantly influenced by genetic factors. Heritabilities also differ far less from trait to trait than anyone initially imagined. Shared environmental influences are often, but not always, of less importance than genetic factors, and often decrease to near zero after adolescence. Genetic influence on psychological traits is ubiquitous, and psychological researchers must incorporate this fact into their research programs else their theories will be ‘‘scientifically unimpressive and technologically worthless,’’ to quote Meehl again.
Genetic Influence on Human Psychological Traits

Genetics, Not Parenting, Key to Temperament, Studies Say, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1994

Major Personality Study Finds That Traits Are Mostly Inherited, New York Times, December 2, 1986

PETER BORCHELT, IAN DUNBAR, RICHARD POLSKY and JAMES HA believe that purpose bred dogs, artificially selected for violent combat for 200 years are not genetically predisposed to violence. BORCHELT, DUNBAR, POLSKY and HA believe it is equally wrong to think that nature plays second fiddle to nurture in dogs. Unfortunately, they have been able to convince others of their distorted beliefs too.

So much for "experts".

Dr James Ha




Jane Goodall



The Nanny Dog Myth Revealed

Thomas Edison's pit bull

Famous Pit Bull Owners: The Thomas Alva Edison Edition

Famous Pit Bull Owners: The Presidential Edition

Pete Roosevelt: The Disgraced White House Bandog

Myth 99: Scientists know what they are talking about because they study animals in an objective way, Alexandra Semyonova

The science of how behavior is inherited in aggressive dogs by Alexandra Semyonova

Alexandra Semyonova's book, The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs is available in the right side bar of this blog.

The Trouble With Experts

Only An Expert



KaD said...

The FACT is that the BRAIN of pit bulls is structurally different and functions differently than the brain of NON fighting BREED dogs. No matter how a dog is treated it will have NO effect on the dogs BRAIN. http://www.thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-science-of-how-behavior-is.html

Even pit advocates have stated that most of a dogs behavior IS genetically determined: DIANE JESSUP, pit bull expert, breeder, former ACO, FOUNDER of pit advocacy
"Jessup, the animal control officer in Olympia, uses two pit bulls to train police and animal control officers on surviving dogs attacks.
Unlike dogs who are nippers and rippers, her pit bulls are typically "grippers" who bite down and hang onto their victims."

Jessup believes that much of dog behavior comes from their genes. “I truly believe that a dog is about 90% genetics,” says Jessup.

KaD said...

Here's another pit 'expert' for the list:
"I am the author of 'Pit Bulls for Dummies'. I will not have another after they, without warning, attacked and almost killed my other dog who they had been best buddies with for their entire lives. One of them choked my saluki unconscious and ran around the house with her like a panther with a dead gazelle while we tried to get her to let go. When they were good, they were delightful; when they were bad, they were deadly."

-- book author Caroline Colie, in a wall post to a pit bull awareness FaceBook page made on 11/14/2015

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

thanks Ka D.

Rhea Elizabeth said...

These people will encourage kids to poke, prod, and pull the tail of the pitbull and will tell you to let your kids do that then when the pitbull shreds a toddler to death they blame the kid for not knowing how to be around a dog. EVEN though they are the ones who say stuff like "Your kid can treat the pitbull anyway he wants and he won't bat an eye because pitbulls don't care" So which is it? A pitbull will tolerate all forms of abuse from a child or not!
No other breed advocate would advise you allow a child to pull the dogs tail and irritate it. THEY WOULD advise you socialize a dog to accept children playing around him or her but they would tell you not to get a dog because you think that breed is more likely to allow being abused by a toddler. And yes I have seen other breeds snap because a child was pulling the ears and tails or whatever because the parents cannot control their child around a dog. They end up with a band-aid, maybe some stitches and not a freaking tomb. A pitbull attacks until he is dead or you are. A Goldie pushed to his limits will bite and then back off.

This is how you know how how dillusional the average pitbull type dog enthusiast really is. They cannot make up their minds on anything ever.
Before attack: This is the only dog for your toddler and he will even let your toddler ride on him, pull his ears and tail, and generally accept any kind of abuse from a kid because they are so strong they barely notice it
After attack and the kid is dead: Stupid kid provoked the dog, probably pulled his tail and ears and the parents didn't teach the kid good dog manners.
NO! YOUUU are the problem. You are the breed advocate who lies and lies and lies about the nature of the pitbull, you are the one who encourages parents with small children to go out and get a enormous fighting dog from a pound and rescue it and you are the one making claims that pitties can handle whatever comes their way because of their hearty build. The rest of the sane world sees the dog's build as threatening and you see it as just another positive trait of your insane mutt. And then when your logic is failing you claim you cannot tell the pitbull is a pitbull. THE REST of the seeing world knows what the hell a pitbull is. We can see with our own eyes that a barrel chested, shovel faced dog is in fact a pitbull, even if you mislabel it at the local humane shelter as a lab-mix. And we're not fooled but ignoramus parents who want to feel like angels go out and adopt pitbulls because you said this stupid shit to them and then their kid ends up in the grave and the whole world of pibble angels, like their dogs, go for the throat of the victim instead of being proper breed stewards and accepting fault.

/end of vent (you refers to all the pitbull advocates and rescue a-holes not you the writer of Truth.)

Thanks for writing this blog. It just highlights their stupidity and lack of logical thinking skills.

Splash90 said...

We're looking into adopting a dog and at the bottom of this article there is a long section on pit bulls. https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/choose-shelter-dog-adoption/?icid=attheshelterchoosingtherightdog_011116_1

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i am not a fan of pat miller. unless she has radically changed her tune, i think i will pass.

Anon said...

Great blog. I've found it very informative. I was charged by ex-boyfriends pit-bull mix as I was walking across the living room and luckily was able to wrestle it to the floor. It was a shelter rescue and felt guilty and was duped into thinking I could train it by all the pro-pit-bull propaganda. It then attacked twice again and almost took my finger off the first time. The second, he was performing a trick for me, jumping into my arms on command, and then tried to bite my face! The ex admitted to me the dog had bitten him a couple of times and once his brother severely. (Ummmm, maybe its time it took a dirt nap then?) I've had a few large breed and somewhat aggressive breed dogs- Shiba Inu, Great Dane, and a rescued poorly socialized St. Bernard (these can get aggressive to strangers if not socialized) and I've never seen a dog act this way. The aggression in pit-bulls is so unpredictable and unprovoked. Theres no way for the owner to control an animal that is seeking fights. I see no utility for the breed to exist at all. Outlawing the breed is a very good idea.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

thank you for sharing your experience. i am glad that you learned while escaping serious injury.

Unknown said...

FBI statistics indicate that blacks commit over 50% of violent crime despite being less than 13% of the population. Is this genetic or environmental influences? Does you argument concerning pit bulls, apply to humans too? Can statements considered to be prejudice, when applied to humans, be considered prejudice when applied to animals (like pit bulls)?

scurrilous amateur blogger said...


drrbc said...

OK, so I don't disagree entirely that the owners are the problem.

Because anyone that would knowingly choose to keep a dangerous animal as a pet must have some form of mental disorder. While they at least suffer cognitive dissonance showing they have their opinions easily swayed or actually formed by others, they most likely possess some form of anti-social psychopathy.

KaD said...

Kamu: your comment is the typical pit supporter idiocy. Dogs are BREEDS, humans are not. There is NO group of humans, ever, that was selectively and specifically bred over a period of time for specific traits. Comparing apples to pizza.