Colbert Report on the Orangutan Cyberthreat

Very funny video exposé of the cyberthreat posed by giving iPads to orangutans. Best part is near the end, when Richard Clarke suddenly realizes that he's being interviewed about orangutans -- and not the Chinese.

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 2:01 PM • 15 Comments

Comments

draJune 22, 2012 2:43 PM

Thanks for bring this exposé to light. More evidence that our CxO's (Chief Executive Orangutan) simply cannot have iPads: it's a national security risk!

B. D. JohnsonJune 22, 2012 2:59 PM

It was only 3.5 million years ago that the ancestors of those who planned and executed 9/11 were arboreal as well. Now we're arming their modern equivalent with advanced technology. It would be like Al Qaeda travelling back in time to give an Australopithecus a Commodore 64. The Pliocene would have been ruled by Islamic fundamentalism even before Jesus was around to save us! Madness!!

B. D. JohnsonJune 22, 2012 3:09 PM

Actually. Could we do Movie Plot Terrorist Threats as comedies? An Al Qaeda cell travels back in time (using the LHC, of course) to teach pre-Homo humans Islamic fundamentalism. After copious hijinxs (or monkeyshines, if you will) manage to train them to teach their offspring anti-American ideals only to find out that they picked the wrong primate and they end up being the Neanderthals who died out.

I'm thinking Sasha Baron Cohen as the terrorist leader with Rob Schneider as the leader of the primate clan.

paranoia destroys yaJune 22, 2012 4:00 PM

Colbert made some observations last night on terrorism. More Americans are killed by falling furniture.

jammitJune 22, 2012 5:25 PM

@B. D. Johnson
I think a comedy has already been done. Hit the Google for the movie "Four Lions". Either it was a comedy or a documentary, I forget which.

nahJune 22, 2012 6:22 PM

Nah, Clarke was in on the joke from the beginning. This is SOP for Colbert.

Jenny JunoJune 22, 2012 7:21 PM

@nah

Are you sure? I've read that Colbert checks in with on-show guests in the dressing room to make sure they know what to expect during the live interview portion of the show. But my impression is that the pre-recorded segments are usually straight-up. Otherwise a lot of people have been deliberately making fools of themselves.

Pete AustinJune 23, 2012 1:31 AM

J - that's the wrong video. Link in the original article doesn't work. Region lock? Anyone got one that does?

anonymousJune 23, 2012 6:49 PM

Anyone got a transcript? Sounds pretty funny, but I don't do Flash.

OrangutanOutreachJune 23, 2012 8:22 PM

Glad you enjoyed our piece on Colbert.
The orangutans really do love playing with their iPads, but they aren't a serious cyber-threat-- yet! {;(|}

All kidding aside, orangutans are critically endangered in the wild because of rapid deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations in their rainforest home. If nothing is done to protect them, they will be extinct in just a few years. Please support Orangutan Outreach:
redapes.org

RogerJune 24, 2012 2:01 AM

@paranoia destroys ya:

"Colbert made some observations last night on terrorism. More Americans are killed by falling furniture."

I think the claim was first made on AllGov, but it has been picked up by the blogosphere and widely repeated so it is difficult to identify the source.

Unlike most of the blogosphere, AllGov at least gives their sources. From which -- if you are one of the few people who actually checks sources -- you can see that the claim is substantially misleading, in four main ways.

Firstly, nearly all of the victims of toppling appliances and furniture are children under the age of 8. You might argue that this makes it worse (more years of lost life, etc.), but it thoroughly distorts the *perception* of the statistic. We are meant to think "gee, killed by falling television, that must be extremely rare" -- and for adults, IT IS. But adult deaths by toppling appliance / furniture are not even in the ballpark with adult deaths by terrorism.

Secondly, their figure for Americans killed by terrorist attacks is based on “private citizens” only. This figure omits not only all military personnel, and all government employees, but even employees of other companies engaged on government business.

Thirdly, the two periods being compared are not the same. Although the data were readily available to report the same periods, "for some reason" they chose two slightly different periods such that they omitted the worst year for terrorism. Now it would be reasonable to claim that 9/11 was a special case. You might claim it was a "once in a hundred years" event, and amortize it over the whole century (but won't the next “once in a hundred years” event be even worse?) Or you might claim it could not have occurred before the development of wide-bodied jets, and amortize it over 30 years. Or you could claim that such a case is just too hard to handle, and make a note that you are omitting it, which would be honest but rather prick the sails of your argument. What you cannot do is just subtly omit it without telling anyone; that is academic dishonesty.

On just these 3 points, you could easily turn this spin right back around into “adult Americans were nearly a hundred times more likely to be killed by terrorists than by falling heavy objects in the home and workplace”, but that just doesn't sound like a very remarkable statistic, and it certainly isn't as funny. But the fourth point is by far the most remarkable:

Their source for terrorism fatalities clearly shows that annual deaths due to terrorism declined sharply almost every year since the “War on Terrorism” was begun!! (I really didn't expect that!) The per capita, per annum risk of a US citizen being killed by terrorists is now – but formerly was not – 35 times lower than the world average. You may or may not think that was worthwhile, but it is certainly a remarkable piece of sophistry to turn that source data into this joke.

Clive RobinsonJune 24, 2012 3:25 AM

I'm rather fond of Orangutans and have been for many years, and on this score I'm not alone.

Two well known writers that most of you will have heard of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchet also have expressed their liking for what may be the most interesting and intelligent of the great ape primates.

Terry Pratchet has in his Discworld books used an Orangtan as the chief librarian for Unseen University, and has in his narative described some of the habits and traits of Orangutans you see in watching them in an environment they are comfortable in.

Douglas wrote a book with Mark Carwardine called "last chance to see" over twenty years ago about endangered species, since then most of the animals on that list have either become extinct or become considerably more endangered as detailed in the more recent BBC TV series with Mark and Stephen Fry which retraces and updates the original radio series with Doglas and Mark.

Whilst Orangutans might not be quite as endangered as the NZ Kakapo they are not as activly protected and still subject to hunting and having their natural habitat destroyed for the sake of western consumerism (via Palm Oil production).

I urge readers to aquaint themselves and their children with Orangutans as they are fascinating primates and in many many ways much like humans.

paranoia destroys yaJune 24, 2012 2:03 PM

Roger that.
Usually I'm the one that sends people a link to a reputable unbiased site like Snopes when someone forwards me an email designed to get people outraged. The summary you provided of AllGov indicates they may also be agenda free.

Nick PJune 26, 2012 2:33 PM

"Orangutans? You gotta be shittin' me!?" (Richard Clarke)

That reaction and the rest of the skit were hilarious. I'm glad they included Clarke's fearmongering statements about how people with IPads and some attack apps could take down critical stuff everywhere like it was nothing at all. Why, if it were that easy, you'd see disgruntled IT workers & digital sociopaths doing it all the time.

Wait a sec, we don't. Could Mr. Clarke be overstating the ease of destroying the US? No way....

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