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2837Re: [beemonitoring] Demise of the honey bee?

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  • Joe Franke
    Aug 6, 2013
      Re: [beemonitoring] Demise of the honey bee? Peter,

      I wouldn’t blame other readers of the forum if they found this thread this too far off topic, but I’d like to keep this discussion going. I can give you a Wordpress URL where we could start another thread if anybody is interested.

      A few questions that might help clarify the issues that are obliquely being discussed here.

      Michael Pollan represents the “green consumer” angle to solving social and environmental problems, one that allows a largely well-off sector of the population to do very little in the way of changing their behaviors in order to feel good about themselves, without really sacrificing anything. So of course he will be enduringly popular. But what is your problem with him and his readers, exactly?

       What is an “environmental issue” in your view?

      What is an “environmentalist”, and how are they somebody other than people “just like us”?

      What do you mean by “neurotic”?

      While there might be problems with the arguments presented by the apparently deranged woman who assaulted Doug, There are plenty of reasons that Americans have in not trusting the veracity of any media report, book, and particularly internet sources, here in the States we have plenty to be cautious about and actually should be more critical of everthing we read or hear.  We have regulators that come right out of industry in order to write and re-write environmental and public health legislation (for instance, what’s going on now in New Mexico in regards to how toxic mine waste is handled thanks to our relatively new Governor, involving regulation that will contaminate groundwater across the state), polluting and extractive industries writing “environmental education” curricula loaded with rubbish and handing them out free to school systems, we have a system of democracy that works only for the the highest bidder, and all sorts of things that absolutely should be regarded with considerable suspicion by the general public. So here again, what is it that you’re trying to say?

      Unfortunately, people across the (very short) political spectrum in the US are all victims of a lousy educational system that doesn’t encourage debate and critical thinking, and everybody’s arguments tend to come from off as weak. I’d be the first to say that those that the people on the “right” would consider to be on the “left” (the later doesn’t really exist here, in my opinion) are both equally under-informed and not capable of formulating a coherent argument about much of anything. You know the now trite adage about how we’re like mushrooms...

      However, here’s your chance! And again, since we’re straying pretty far from Bee Monitoring per se, we can take this somewhere else, like another forum. All for the cause of greater mutual understanding, of course.


      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.

      Joe Franke
      Sapo Gordo Ecological Restoration Services
      Chile Dog Designs, Inc.
      1228 Lafayette Dr. NE
      Albuquerque, NM 87106 USA
      ph: 505-515-8736
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