Reponses in the Mexican village of Ixtapa to a series of shark attacks this late spring, recall that movie, and remind us how primal and powerful that predator fear is in humans. As reported by Marc Lacey in the New York Times:
After the first attack, officials eased normally tight restrictions on shark fishing and sent an armada of fishermen out into the ocean to strike back. A number of sharks were brought back and hung as trophies, an effort to send a signal that the crisis was under control.
As a means of reducing shark attack risk, these measures are unlikely to work well and may actually increase fear of shark attacks, but they appear to mimic our response to violent crime (or is it in fact the original). Like the crime control response to the threat of violent crime, they have a powerful intuitive appeal. While it drives criminologists and apparently shark experts crazy, such responses seem to be repetitively embraced by humans facing the specter of a violent predatory attack (and not say a hurricane or a cancer).
Whether or not such responses have deep roots in our evolutionary heritage as the offspring of ancient relatives who got good at avoiding large predators they are clearly dysfunctional in their effects on crime rates or shark attacks. The key is to become conscious of the powerful appeals of these primal response and if possible develop tactics for slowing and moderating our irrational desire to attack tough and display the results.