Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blinded By Science?

In 2006, a TV documentary Catalyst collected all the 'research' papers produced by the Japanese whaling programme over the previous 18 years, and locked three scientific experts in a room with them.
The experts were not allowed out until they'd peer-reviewed every paper and delivered their verdict.
What had been discovered in the 'research'?
How many animals had died for that information?
And was it all worth it?
The Japanese make no bones about it: their 'research' is geared towards a longed-for-day when commercial whaling is resumed. So the expert panel was judging these papers on their usefulness for managing commercial whaling.
Of the original 55 'research' papers, the judges found only 14 that may be relevant. They also read ludicrous papers detailing Japanese 'research' on test-tube whale babies. And attempts to breed hybrids of whales with...COWS! True! And discovering that some whales sometimes eat fish!
Then they sorted out those papers that could only be produced by lethal research (because, let's face it, the real source of contention is how many whales were killed for this information. And that figure is...6,800!). The number of remaining papers: just four.
So, some quick maths: with 6,800 whales killed over the 18yr programme, divided by four papers - that means 1700 whales were killed for each of those four papers, WITH NO DISCERNIBLE VALUE GAINED.
And with the by-product going directly to Japanese shops to finance the ongoing killing, no-one can call that true science. Not even the die-hards at Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research.

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