Friday, May 11, 2007

Spot the difference

In a comment our posting below, which links directly to the Defra paper concerned, media person for the Badger Trust, Trevor Lawson kindly sent us his press release.

Below we show part of Trevor's press release, and below that the full context of the paper from which it is snipped. Having discussed between ourselves the tactics of 'spin', we think it only fair to show a master in action.
Maybe Gordon Brown has a vacancy...?

First an extract from the Badger Trust press release:

From Trevor Lawson, Badger Trust

NFU gets it wrong on badgers - again
Badger Trust for immediate release

The Badger Trust today mocked the National Farmers Union (NFU) for failing to understand basic scientific research into badgers and other British mammals.

The NFU claims[1] that a Central Science Laboratory survey "has shown badgers are now as common as foxes across large parts of the English countryside". The NFU also claims that the survey confirms "that predation by a rapidly increasing badger population has been the key factor in the hedgehog's decline".

But Trevor Lawson, public affairs advisor to the Badger Trust, commented:

Contrary to the NFU's claim that a rapidly increasing badger population is to blame for a decline in hedgehogs, the report provides no evidence of an increasing badger population and the authors state: 'there was no overall correlation between mean hedgehog density within a survey area and badger encounter rate'.

The paper from the the CSL (Central Science Laboratory) - and for which there is link in the posting below - describes numbers of badgers found on pasture land and amenity land, and compares their numbers to those of other sighted mammals including foxes, hares deer and ... hedgehogs. With reference to Trevor's quote, the paper does contain it, but our Trevor has snipped the sentence, thus removing its subject and with that, the context in which it was said.

We quote from the paper to allow our readers the full sense of the CSL findings;

The occurrence of hedgehogs (percentage of fields with hedgehogs present ) on pasture was MARKEDLY LOWER than on amenity grassland. In total, hedgehogs were recorded on 3 (2 per cent) of pasture fields, and on 32 (26 percent) of 125 amenity grasslands. Regionally the percentage of hedgehogs were recorded varied between 19 percent and 30 percent. Hedgehogs were not recorded at all on pasture in two regions (Devon and Gloucestershire.)

The paper continues:

The mean density of hedgehogs was significantly greater in amenity grassland than in pasture in all four regions. For AMENITY GRASSLAND there was no overall correlation between hedgehog density within the survey area and badger density (from distance sampling)"

The subject (AMENITY GRASSLAND) of Trevor's snipped sentence was therefore missing and may have given his readers completely the wrong impression. The paper continues and reinforces its findings. Lots of badgers = no hedgehogs and vice versa:

Relatively HIGH DENSITIES of HEDGEHOGS, however, occurred almost exclusively in areas with relatively LOW BADGER ENCOUNTER rates."

But none at all were observed on the pasture land surveyed in Devon and Glos. Not one.

Seems pretty clear to us and of course there was correlation between the numbers of badgers and the numbers of hedgehogs sighted on pasture land, if not on amenity land. But that dear readers, is a master at work. Not of badger conservation (or hedgehogs) and certainly not cattle - but of the art of hoovering up partial sentences from the evergrowing pile of 'science' surrounding this vexed subject and regurgitating them in no particular order and, as the above quote quite clearly shows, totally inaccurately.


Anonymous said...

Well well well, just goes to show you that Mr Lawson has a lot in common with this lying government doesnt it. This badger trust should start asking some serious questions to Mr Lawson, as to why he wants to mislead honest folks that read this site!Is he on their payroll? or on the governments?
Just curious.

Matthew said...

Couldn't possibly comment!
What we do find frustrating, is the parroted, repeated and regurgitated bits and pieces that are now passed as 'fact' ,when they are the result of much misrepresented or tortured data.

Anonymous said...

Frustrating, well I would call it just plain stupid and irresponsible. Its about time some of these idiots took a good long look at the real picture, and as you say stop regurgurating bits and pieces. AND, stop making us all sick with his half witted comments !!!!