Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Effects of Expertise on Dangerous Theme Park Construction

Effects of Expertise on Dangerous Theme Park Construction
Ashton Macaulay
The Pattison Chronicle

            A shot goes off in the dark, a worker’s eyes turn the beady white of a man about to confront his ultimate demise, and a velociraptor roar fills the night air. Workplace accidents are common, but have been growing as a result of shoddy practices employed in the construction of what some might consider to be overly ambitious and even dangerous theme park attractions (Crichton, 1990). Previous research has demonstrated that expertise does not always translate to accuracy (Singh, Meyer, & Thomas, 2014). Whether it be misdiagnoses in the medical population or misuse of mosquito-harvested dinosaur DNA, it is clear that expertise can often lead to mistakes, and unspeakable consequences for the general population. The present review aims to examine how the mistakes of experts may have affected the tragic outcome in the Spielberg (1993) case study.

Expertise In Computer Programming

            While most of us would agree that computer experts are necessary for building a complex network or program system, there is a dangerous side to hiring these individuals. A recent research study by Macaulay (2014) found that nearly 95% of all computer hackers were proficient in programming, and 99% claimed that they were experts in computers. With facts like this many questions are raised. Why are these dangerous individuals still employed in positions of power?

            The most salient example would be the case study of Dennis Nedry (Spielberg, 1993). Nedry was considered to be one of the top programmers in his field when he was employed at the Ingen facility formerly known as Jurassic Park. While he may have known a great deal about computers, his expertise might have ultimately led to the death of 4 individuals including himself. While it is unclear whether this murder-suicide was the result of his programming skills, the causation implied through this correlation is hard to ignore. However, it is improper to place all of the blame on one individual. Here at the Pattison Chronicle we like to spread the blame as evenly as possible, implicating as many individuals as possible, because that’s good science.

Raptor Expertise:The Life and Times of Robert Muldoon

            While Robert Muldoon’s actions did lead to the timely rescue of both Dr. Ellie Satler and Dr. Ian Malcom, it is unclear whether or not this was the result of his expertise, or sheer luck. I for one would describe expertise as the ability to keep one’s own face from being eaten by the very predator that one claims to be an expert on. In Muldoon’s (1985) self-titled biography regarding his time as a game-warden in Africa, he specifically states that running into the jungle after a group of predators in hopes of taking them out with a shotgun that would barely penetrate their skin would be considered asinine. As such it is surprising that Muldoon was killed in the exact same situation he advocated against.

            What happens when expertise declines? While it has been shown that motor reflexes decline with age (Glass, Maddox, & Love, 2013), expertise in fields that require these factors has not been studied in relationship with age. Was it possible that Muldoon was past his prime and should have thrown in the towel? Perhaps a mandatory retirement age for wardens at parks filled with easily-aggravated creatures with tendencies to eviscerate and disembowel should be instituted. Should the aging population of these experts be addressed in corporate policy? We leave you to decide.

John Hammond: Billionaire? Philanthropist? Murderer?

            John Hammond was the founder and chairman for the Jurassic Park initiative. He served on the board of construction for the park, as well as on the board of Ingen (the company responsible for harvesting the DNA). In Chrichton’s (1990) case study John Hammond was considered to be an expertise in entrepreneurial ventures, as defined by having over 10 hours per week spent on entrepreneurial ventures on average over the five years before the study was carried out. While the Chrichton (1990) study stated that John Hammond died with the park, this finding was later refuted by Spielberg (1993) in a rather controversial reversal of what had previously been considered as canon.

            The main point of their case study was to highlight the incompetence that resulted from John Hammond’s leadership. Aside from a business model that would have run the park into the ground within the first 3 months of opening, John Hammond also frequently violated the rights of his native workers (Spielberg, 1993). In one instance a worker was asked to stand on top of a raptor cage while it was very clearly not secured. While it is unclear from the study whether or not he was killed or just horribly disfigured, it nonetheless provides a human rights violation. A few more of these and Mr. Hammond would have had more lawsuits on his hands than even he could have paid off. 

            The real question here is: If John Hammond was such an expert, why would he go through with the building of an economically unsound death trap? With a business model that includes helicopter rides priced affordably to ensure access for everyone to the park, and ancient apex predators loosely contained on an island that looked suspiciously like Hawaii, John Hammond’s expertise clearly didn't help him much. When asked to comment he only said: “Spared no expense, I assure you.”

What Can We Do?

            While expertise in the fields of computers, predatory animals, and philanthropy has been shown to lead to death and destruction (Chrichton, 1990), that does not mean that all hope is lost. We as a population of consumers need to make sure to ask the right questions. When asked by a billionaire who just randomly shows up in a helicopter in the desert maybe we should stop and think: Wait, would it be a good idea for me to go to this man’s island just because he’s my boss, and to ignore all of the potential dangers that come with it? It’s time that we stop being lemmings and addresses the clear and present danger that is the idea of expertise. Question everything, trust no one, new world order, and remember, building an idea full of extinct predatory animals hastily is a terrible idea.


Chrichton, M. (1990). Jurassic Park. New York: Ballantine Books

Glass, B. D., Maddox, W. T., & Love, B. C. (2013). Real-time strategy game training: Emergene of a cognitive flexibility trait. PLoS One, 8(8), 1-7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070350

Ingen (2014). Yes our company practices led to a few deaths, but we’d do it again, and we will. Check out Jurassic World next summer kids. Ingen Publishing, 1993.

Macaulay, A. (2014). Computer expertise and the deaths of every American who ever lived, a clear and present danger. Speculative Research Magazine, 1(1), 1-555. doi: 8675309-JENNY

Muldoon, R. (1985). Game wardening in Africa: Is it really all that dangerous? Yes, you will f***ing die. Oxford Publishing Group, 1985.

Singh, H., Meyer, A. N. D., & Thomas, E. J. (2014).  The frequency of diagnostic errors in outpatient care: Estimations from three large observational studies involving US adult populations.  BMJ Quality & Safety, 23, 727-731.  doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002627

Spielberg, S. (1993). Jurassic Park (movie). Universal Pictures, 1993.

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