Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Irony overload at the NBR

Please have read of this piece, posted on the NBR website yesterday (I believe it's ungated, but if not NBR has a free 30day trial).

The article starts & finishes with quotes from Peter Gluckman and unobjectionable statements about the role of science in a post-truth world. You'd think this would be fertile ground for the author, who is EPA's chief scientist.

But between those bookends, what do we have?
  • an argument that neonicotinoids do not harm bees, supported by information supplied by
    • USA beekeeper, blogger and information analyst Randy Oliver.
That's it. No reference to any of the recent scientific or regulatory information about neonicotinoids which you might think would be relevant. [several irrelevant straw-persons are brutally murdered though]

This might be excusable if it were from a junior reporter who stumbled across a single source, though even then I'd have expected an editor to notice. No such excuses for the actual author though, who is the EPA's chief scientist. Jacqueline Rowarth must be aware of the science that weighs against Mr Randy Oliver's opinion but chose to not disclose any of that, much less to discuss the evidence herself, or even point us to someone that had.

Worse, Rowarth assumes the cloak of an honest-broker scientist while promoting an obviously partial theory and strongly implying that there is no contrary evidence. I tried to comment but failed. The NBR later explained why on twitter.
So it's not just me. Readers at the "meeting place of intelligent business" have spoken. I don't condone personal abuse, but can understand how anger at this article might either spill-over into personal abuse, or be interpreted as such. Especially since Rowarth has a history of getting science wrong and attacking people without due cause.

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