Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cash v. science

A critical review of the current situation relating to funding of universities, funding of political parties and 'scientific' projects comes at a timely moment from Dr. James Irvine who says of the ISG report:

"It would be easy to get a peer review of an article that was in favour of badgers, rather than cattle. Anyway, what scientist is going to stick his neck out to criticise a government appointed committee that has been deliberating for 10 years? He would have to live on Mars".

Members of the ISG 'magic circle' have been active too, in resurrecting 'badger set-aside'. Dr. Irvine quotes Prof. John McInerney at a Tb conference at the Moredun Institute in 2006 who suggested:

" .. that perhaps we should just accept the disease and not farm in these “hotspot” areas - a truly extraordinary thing to say, especially within the precincts of the Moredun Research Institute. But, in the event, this is maybe what the ISG is advising Government in its final report, although not explicitly saying so. Professor McInerney claimed that the ISG trials have been the most detailed ever carried out in the UK. It is just a pity that they have been so fundamentally flawed".

Dr. Irvine's highly perceptive article with useful links to previous Tb reports can be found on his Land-care website.


Anonymous said...

As regards the quote from James Irvine - what a ridiculous thing to say. Plenty of people (scientists included) have criticised the ISG - but their criticisms haven't stood up to scrutiny. And to suggest that it's easy to get a peer review in favour of badgers and not cattle is absurd - do you really think that peer reviewers who are judging the science will favour one species over another?
James Irvine is a scientist, as are the members of the ISG - interesting that you only listen to and believe the words of scientists who are saying what you want to hear!

Matthew said...

Anon 11.12
While University education budgets are propped up with 'research' project funding, pure science comes a poor second to cash-in-hand. In many cases members of the ISG has peer reviewed its own work.
We listen to it all. We believe, if it fits our own experiences. If it does not, we feel free to say so.

Anonymous said...

and what evidence do you have that members of the ISG peer reviewed their own work? An accusation like that is insulting (and rather serious!) to the scientists involved and to the editors of the journal. you really need to make clear where a comment like that comes from.

Matthew said...

Anon 9.07
When questioned about the ISG's work being peer reviewed at last year's ISG meeting, Bourne turned to members and remarked that "they were the experts" and thus no outside critique was needed.
So, in answer to your question, the comment was made by Professor John Bourne.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what Bourne might have said, everything that gets published in a peer-reviewed journal has been peer reviewed and not by the authors themselves. Bourne's remark sounds a bit self regarding and silly, but it says nothing about the peer review process.

Matthew said...

Anon. 8.14 said
"Bourne's remark sounds a bit self regarding and silly...."


From a layman's point of view, we have found that the 'peer review' process concentrates on the results of observations / selective data and the process by which they were calculated. The basis of such data capture, from personal experience is sometimes weak, changed in execution or incomplete, thus giving a skewed picture, totally different from what is actually happening.
Nevertheless, being 'peer reviewed' it passes into the realms of 'fact'.

An instance of this is in the 'Proactive' methodology of the RBCT. Bourne told particiapting farmers in 1997 that his intention was to 'cull all badgers' in that zone.
Krebs methodology for the trial was based on such a clearance - or as near to it as was possible.
ISG watered down this by methods used, timing of such and speak of 'population reduction' in the final analysis.
That appears to us to be 'science on the hoof' perhaps?