Interesting ...

Chuck Vaughn aa6g at
Thu Apr 18 11:31:01 EDT 2002

>> As to your divergence to others statements and thoughts
>> on Monarch populations, why do you not care if so many
>> Monarchs died in the first place? Would not the population
>> have been that much BETTER had they lived?
> I agree Mark, but I am unaware of any case history evidence
> that indicates there is a certain forest canopy structure or
> density that can prevent mass monarch mortality during severe
> winter storms in either Mexico or California.

I've been reading these back and forth arguments so long that it
seems like forever. It appears to me that Paul's major complaint
is the one-sided view the public gets from the media. There's no
doubt that the mainstream print, radio, and TV media report more
bad news than good news. I doubt this will ever change. They know
it is human nature to be attracted to bad news stories and not
good news stories. Which story would you more likely read while
thumbing through the newspaper; "Millions of Monarchs Killed in
Mexican Storm: Migration Threatened" or "Millions of Monarchs
Killed in Mexican Storm: No Long Term Threat Expected?" The
latter is closer to reality but the former sells newspapers.

IMO, if you're going to claim to be a scientist you need to be
honest and not release these kinds of reports to the media. You
cannot issue sensationalistic statements and then issue a follow-up
that basically negates it and then claim "It's not my fault the
follow-up wasn't reported." Everyone knows the follow-up will not
be reported.

A proper scientific approach would be to study the problem long term
and publish a peer reviewed article on the subject. If it then rises
to the level of public interest the story will make it's way into
the mainstream media. At this point unreported retractions or
corrections will not likely be necessary.

Any scientist who engages in "crisis" reporting has crossed the
line from scientist to activist. It's just fine if they wish to be
an activist, but once an activist, you can no longer hide behind
scientific immunity. By that I mean if you're an activist, no
matter what your other credentials may be, you have to expect
public criticism. The argument that "I'm a scientist, I know, you're
not a scientist, you don't know", no longer cuts it because you're
no longer unbiased.

Activists try to influence public policy one way or another. We
all know that public policy is seldom made on solid scientific
grounds. (It would be nice if is was but it's not.) Any scientist
turned activist has to expect that his views will become just a part
of the public debate.

LEPS-L may have a more scientific bent than most public forums but
it's still a public forum. Public criticism is expected here. I
enjoy reading the back and forth between scientists and non-scientists.
One thing I don't enjoy reading are the accusations of "environment
hater" or words to the like heaped on anyone who doesn't subscribe to
the "environment is good, man is evil" philosophy. Despite some people's
intutitions, I've never *read* anything that would qualify anyone for
that label. Putting a label on someone or making fun of them (as I've
seen here) does not advance one's argument but works against it.

Chuck Vaughn <aa6g at>


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