The Pit Bull Placebo explains how function, myth, media, and the marginal elements in our society can combine to demonize a group of dogs, however precisely or vaguely defined, and to endanger our bond with all dogs. More than two decades of deliberate, concentrated, determined research has taken Delise beyond the details of the exceedingly rare tragedies in which she is the nation’s leading expert, to an understanding of our cultural habits about dogs that is paralleled in the most forward-thinking social science.


People unfamiliar with Pit bulls often rely on information presented to them through the media to make an assessment about the nature of Pit bulls. But when the media or politicians talk about vicious Pit bull attacks, and hundreds of people write in telling of their friendly Pit bulls, no one wants to hear it. Reporters and politicians have been heard to say, “Don’t tell me about your friendly Pit bulls.” In reality what they are saying is, “Don’t inform me of the behavior of one thousand or ten thousand Pit bulls, because I want to base my theories on the behavior of 10 or 20 dogs and then present this to the public as evidence of my belief.” The non-Pit bull owning public then accepts this skewed and biased presentation as reliable information, and the second conclusion does not appear as absurd as it really is.

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