We were glad to see that Alexandra Morton took our idle musings seriously and is now sampling wild salmon in earnest.
We think this is fantastic.
If people want to give Alexandra Morton the $20 million she wants to set up a lab of her own, hey, it’s their money.
And who knows, some good data may actually come out of this. That is, if the army of brainwashed salmon farm-hating cultists she is enlisting can be trusted to take proper scientific samples, document everything properly, follow a proper chain of custody and ensure samples are not contaminated, and that sample sizes are meaningful (i.e. one fish from some spawning back-channel hardly provides any useful information indicative of any trends).
We hope this will be the case, but of course, we are skeptical. If this initiative actually goes anywhere, this will likely end up more like the Heartland Institute, a pseudoscience organization set up to deny climate change, deny effects of tobacco smoke, and promote other junk science. Sure, there’s scientific data there, but it’s highly selective, exists in a vacuum and can’t be scrutinized by outsiders. Kind of like what Morton is doing with her salmon sampling results, when she claims to have found viruses but won’t publish her data.
For an explanation of why this is bad, please see our earlier post “Signs of a crank: recognizing pseudoscience.”
Actually, maybe this will be more like homeopathic institutions, which get a lot of money from well-meaning people to promote complete gibberish. And there is unfortunately no lack of people lining up to place their belief in junk science.
Meanwhile, the real scientists will keep working, and the data will tell the story as time marches on. And we’re confident the data will show, as it does now, that salmon farms pose little environmental risk, and are absolutely what we should be doing to help reduce our consumption of traditional resource-intensive protein (beef) to more sustainable protein (salmon and other farmed seafood).