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General Chat Thread, Oh Look, Government Officials ignoring the science. in General; Oh Look, Government Officials ignoring the science. Pond life the lot of them. BBC News - Government rejects the science ...
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    mattx's Avatar
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    Oh Look, Government Officials ignoring the science.

    Oh Look, Government Officials ignoring the science. Pond life the lot of them.

    BBC News - Government rejects the science behind neonicotinoid ban

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    jinnantonnixx (10th September 2013)

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    I can't exactly blame them. If scientists - the guys who're supposed to have their shit together concerning matters like these - are arguing with each other left-right-and-centre about this stuff, how can you expect somebody non-scientific (i.e. M.P.s) to make judgement? (AFAIK, they're not saying "Your science is wrong.", rather "Your science cannot be confirmed." YMMV)
    Last edited by Garacesh; 10th September 2013 at 09:38 AM.

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    Flatpackhamster (10th September 2013)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garacesh View Post
    I can't exactly blame them. If scientists - the guys who're supposed to have their shit together concerning matters like these - are arguing with each other left-right-and-centre about this stuff, how can you expect somebody non-scientific (i.e. M.P.s) to make judgement? (AFAIK, 'Rejecting' science isn't saying "Your science is wrong.", rather "Your science cannot be confirmed." YMMV)
    I think you're mixing up scientists with media portrayal of them.

    Scientists will disagree over things, of course, because that's what they're supposed to do! They spend their time disproving things. Science isn't about confirming things.

    The case is quite simple here - government policy is currently shaped almost entirely by the NFU when it comes to agriculture matters. Scientific evidence is ignored in favour of arguments by the NFU regarding supposed economics. Another example would be the badger cull, and in the past, how they handled the foot in mouth outbreak. All these things are decided based on what the NFU says to the government, rather than scientific evidence to the contrary.
    Last edited by localzuk; 10th September 2013 at 09:43 AM.

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    This is what happens when politicians are liberal arts majors rather than actually learning something about science. The wealth of abused statistics that vomits forth from parliament is sickening, and this is just another demonstration of how little they actually understand.

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    @localzuk Aye, I know Scientists actively try and disprove each other, and that's how science advances. My point is, that (theoretically) that either ends with a "A-ha! Proof you were wrong!" or "Nope. Can't disprove it.", which us non-sciency laymen can then use to forge our opinion. Certainly that's the assumption that MP's will be using. (It may also be worth noting I reworded my post slightly as you were replying.). I agree that if you're arguing about a pesticide - a chemical agent - that science should certainly come into play when making a decision like this. That's no reason to 'discredit' economic reasons, though. If it was a perfectly fine drug, but would destroy the economy to produce (somehow?) then that's acceptable reason for a ban, as is vice-verca, a poisonous chemical that poses no economic threat (y'know, besides everybody dieing..)

    @jamesb I've often said MP's should be versed in their field, especially 'Minster for [x]'. I completely agree with you.
    Last edited by Garacesh; 10th September 2013 at 10:15 AM.

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    jamesb (10th September 2013)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garacesh View Post
    @lolcalzuk Aye, I know Scientists actively try and disprove each other, and that's how science advances. My point is, that (theoretically) that either ends with a "A-ha! Proof you were wrong!" or "Nope. Can't disprove it.", which us non-sciency laymen can then use to forge our opinion. Certainly that's the assumption that MP's will be using. (It may also be worth noting I reworded my post slightly as you were replying.). I agree that if you're arguing about a pesticide - a chemical agent - that science should certainly come into play when making a decision like this. That's no reason to 'discredit' economic reasons, though. If it was a perfectly fine drug, but would destroy the economy to produce (somehow?) then that's acceptable reason for a ban, as is vice-verca, a poisonous chemical that poses no economic threat (y'know, besides everybody dieing..)

    @jamesb I've often said MP's should be versed in their field, especially 'Minster for [x]'. I completely agree with you.
    I think the problem boils down to MPs giving equal weight to both sides in an argument. I'm reminded of talk shows where they deal with issues like 'Science vs Acupuncture', and representatives of both sides are allowed to talk equally - anecdotal evidence is equated with experimental evidence, and all in all it just validates woo.

    Scientific study is actually counter-intuitive - we've developed to believe anecdotes, and ascribe them weight, much more than to pore over reams of numbers. One good anecdote can completely destroy a scientific argument - a good example would be the anti-vaccination disgrace.

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    government policy is currently shaped almost entirely by the NFU when it comes to agriculture matters.
    Them and the lobbyists on behalf of the companies that make the stuff...

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    I've read up on this quite a bit over the years [ as I do keep Bees ] and the evidence not just from our scientists but others in Europe overwhelmingly states it has an effect. Basic simple experiments show this but they choose to ignore the results. To be honest though it's hardy surprising is it ? Arseholes the lot of 'em.

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    You remember that the Govt Chief Medical Officer was forced to resign? All he did was point out that horse riding was more dangerous than ecstasy. (statistically, all done properly. More people killed per 1000 "indulgers")

    But he was "off message"; he got the boot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I think you're mixing up scientists with media portrayal of them.

    Scientists will disagree over things, of course, because that's what they're supposed to do! They spend their time disproving things. Science isn't about confirming things.

    .
    Spot on.

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post

    how they handled the foot in mouth outbreak. .
    A permanent state of affairs for politicians

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    Interesting piece in the paper yesterday (which I've recycled so can't reference it). People good at maths were given two maths puzzles to sort out, one neutral and one affecting their political views. They solved the neutral one correctly but a good number of them got the wrong mathematical answer in the second one if it matched their political views. Worth a look at Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog - really good stuff on random controlled trials in public policy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I think you're mixing up scientists with media portrayal of them.

    Scientists will disagree over things, of course, because that's what they're supposed to do! They spend their time disproving things. Science isn't about confirming things.

    The case is quite simple here - government policy is currently shaped almost entirely by the NFU when it comes to agriculture matters. Scientific evidence is ignored in favour of arguments by the NFU regarding supposed economics. Another example would be the badger cull, and in the past, how they handled the foot in mouth outbreak. All these things are decided based on what the NFU says to the government, rather than scientific evidence to the contrary.

    Who would you like government policy to be shaped by when it comes to agriculture? Presumably not the people who actually carry out agricultural activities.

    IIRC the NFU and farmers opposed the mass cull around foot and mouth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatpackhamster View Post
    Who would you like government policy to be shaped by when it comes to agriculture? Presumably not the people who actually carry out agricultural activities.

    IIRC the NFU and farmers opposed the mass cull around foot and mouth.
    It'd like it to be based on a mix of scientists, economists, farmers and general populace. Not just those with a vested interest in doing only what is best for farmers... It'd be like putting transport policy in the hands of car makers or oil companies...

    The NFU pushed for a mass cull, not against it. Due to the other option, vaccination and permanent strict biosecurity rules meaning they'd lose several export markets (specifically the EU and China).

    So, they pushed for the national herd to be slaughtered.

    Then, once it was over, they pushed for fast restocking of the herd, using cattle from the south west as the main source.

    Due to bTB being more prevalent in the south west (due to dairy farming being concentrated down here), this spread bTB across the country at a very high rate. DEFRA scientists wanted to ensure strict biosecurity rules for the restocking efforts but they were overruled by ministers based on NFU demands.

    So, the current bTB problem is pretty much entirely manufactured by the farmers themselves.

    Source of my info? Dominic Dyer, an ex-DEFRA guy, involved in these very events, and as close to an expert on bTB as you can get really.
    Last edited by localzuk; 10th September 2013 at 10:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattx View Post
    Basic simple experiments show this but they choose to ignore the results.
    It must be psychological?

    Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. Itís this: facts don't necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

    This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters ó the people making decisions about how the country runs ó are not blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.
    Source: How facts backfire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatpackhamster View Post
    Who would you like government policy to be shaped by when it comes to agriculture? Presumably not the people who actually carry out agricultural activities.

    IIRC the NFU and farmers opposed the mass cull around foot and mouth.
    The people who who actually carry out agricultural activities ( Farmers etc ) will only shoot themselves in the foot if they get their way as if they plan on using the Neonicotinoids for years to come then there won't be any Bees left to pollinate their crops - the dozy idiots.
    This clearly shows again that all they want are short term goals and results - never looking 10 to 25 years ahead. Sok though we will end up like China having to hand pollinate - https://www.chinadialogue.net/articl...single/en/5193 Then they will complain about having to do this and having to pay people to do it.

    One footballer is going to get £300,000 a week salary, important projects are being scrapped up and down the country because of lack of funding and resources. That just about says it all in regards to what is wrong in the world. [ That and of course and David ' Hug A Hoody, we are all in this together, and lets bomb Syria ' Cameron. ]

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