Our friend Mark Rober from NASA makes some awesome videos, but this science experiment must be his best yet. He basically showed that six percent of the drivers out there are sadistic animal killers.
This is what he did:
• He alternatively placed a rubber animal—and a leaf as a control object—on the shoulder of a road: a turtle, a snake, or a spider.
• He watched one thousand cars pass by and annotated the drivers' reaction.
The results are quite surprising.
He found out that 94 percent of drivers did what anyone in their sane mind would do: keep driving on their lane. Remember that the animals were on the road's shoulder, way outside their driving path. They didn't pose any danger whatsoever to the drivers' safety.
On the other hand, six percent went out of the driving lane to run over the animals. Think about that: sixty out of one thousand drivers actually went out of their way to kill a living thing that didn't represent any danger to their lives—and risking their own lives in the process, no less. Six percent were just cruel because they could be. For their own sadistic pleasure, I can only imagine.
Mark says that "one thing that might explain the higher numbers here—in case people question my methods—is that I used a tarantula." Apparently, people seemed pretty eager about hitting a spider. "If you take that out it goes to 2.8% which is closer to the other turtle vs. snake studies I ended up finding."
It is still quite a surprisingly high number. At least compared to a 2008 study using the Psychopathy Checklist, which discovered that 1.2 percent of the US population were potential psychopaths. 1.2 vs 2.8 is a huge difference.
Now, I'm not going to pull a PETA—I actually hate PETA—and say that the six (or 2.8) percent are all potential psychopaths, but clearly these people have some kind of mental problem. At the very least, their empathy circuits must be pretty broken. Personally, I wouldn't like to be friends with any of them.