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2834Re: [beemonitoring] Demise of the honey bee?

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Aug 6, 2013
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      Dear Douglas:

      I'm sure we understand and empathize with you but it's really not fair to dismiss the general public based on one person inhabiting a forum on FaceBook.  That's like basing the behavior of American women on interviews with Hollywood actresses.  We all know plenty of people with pre-conceived biases because all of us have our own pre-conceived biases at some time.  The reading habits of such people ultimately favor authors whose prejudices converge with their own.  How else can anyone explain the enduring popularity of writers like... Michael Pollan?

      Does this mean, though, that the generalist (meaning people without some tertiary training in Biology) supporter of environmental issues always, always, always behave like Transylvanian peasants in old black and white movies?  I don't think so at all based on my last 35 years of trying to make our research comprehensible to people in seven countries.  The infrequent communications I've received indicate that some (many?) environmentalists are willing to read, measure the possibilities and then make rational decisions just like us.  

      Don't judge the general public based on the noisiest and the most negative.  You know, they're the sort whose real avocation or hobby is writing blistering letters to the editor.  Our e-age gives them the 24/7 platform they've always believed they deserved and you, Doug, are catering to one of them.  Yes, showing them up as jerks is a lot of fun but remember, they are as tireless as they are neurotic.  It's better to give the facts or references to the public and know you've done the right thing than try to humiliate or convert a fanatic.  I've been giving interviews to an Australian radio journalist for over 20 years because he insists that his audience likes me and trusts me.  Well, you can't please 100% of an audience (especially Australians).  When I talked about rare orchids in Oregon, and how a lady-slipper came up in massive populations in those regions with road cuts favoring selective timbering, some nut-burger in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales sent poor Robyn an email insisting I was paid off by the timber industry.  Robyn complained that this bloke had been pestering him for years making similar accusations about other scientists.  Does this all sound a bit familiar, Doug? 

      Peter Bernhardt

      On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 11:32 AM, Doug Yanega <dyanega@...> wrote:

      On 8/2/13 4:47 PM, Joe Franke wrote:

      We leave the dirty work to somebody else and wonder why the masses don’t respond to reason, empirical findings, etc. If there is a crisis, we’re not acting like it.

      The masses don't respond to reason and empirical findings because they've been told that scientists are all in the pockets of the corporations. I got into an argument with a woman in a very heavily-populated entomology forum on FaceBook, who - when I pointed out that "Colony Collapse Disorder" is a decades-old ailment that was renamed in 2006 (not *discovered* in 2006) - defended her stance (that all the world's pollinator troubles are the direct result of neonicotinoids) by citing a science writer's book, and accusing me of being a paid pesticide industry apologist. Oblivious, of course, to the irony that she paid money for that guy's book, so she is getting her (mis)information from someone who is making a profit at her expense.

      It seems like she is a representative case of what much of the modern environmental movement is about: conspiracy theories and paranoia. People who are intelligent enough to be easily manipulated, but not intelligent enough to be able to interpret the primary literature themselves, and not wise enough to be able to tell unbiased analysis from propaganda. They selectively adhere to one set of interpretive propaganda, insisting that anything that disagrees with that interpretation MUST be propaganda put into play by their enemies. I get the feeling that they're like the quintessential pitchfork-wielding mob, just needing a plausible-sounding excuse to go stabbing and burning, never stopping to turn their scrutiny on the people who are commanding them to go forth and destroy. All you have to do is holler "MONSANTO IS EVIL" and you'll have thousands of angry people ready to listen to ANYTHING ELSE YOU SAY, even if it's complete nonsense.

      I'm not sure there is any way to educate people who are convinced that you and your attempts at education are evil.

      Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
      Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
      phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
        "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
              is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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