Beware of Facebook science

This letter was so good we wanted to share it here, before it gets archived forever. It appeared in the Chronicle-Herald newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Oct. 23, 2012.

Beware of Facebook science

I have been reading about Alexandra Morton’s exploits in Nova Scotia, and she seems to be a self-appointed saviour whose only goal is disruption. So far, she has attempted to harm Sobeys and our aquaculture industry.

As a scientist, I would not pretend that results reported on Facebook concerning fish quality were scientifically valid. There is so much that has not been reported, including source of fish, randomness of the store and fish selection, and numbers of fish and stores sampled. Particularly important would be the number of sea lice occurring on wild-caught fish. This is in addition to the fact there is no risk whatsoever to consumers.

Ms. Morton has generated a frenzy among coastal residents, many of whom are already opposed to aquaculture. Nova Scotians who are looking at aquaculture on a factual basis rather than via scare tactics should beware of “science” presented in this fashion.

Jon Grant, PhD, Halifax

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2 thoughts on “Beware of Facebook science”

  1. According to Morton she just took a picture of some lice on a plate and posted it on Facebook, which got shared a bunch and Sobey’s decided to pull the fish on their own. She didn’t lobby them, or suggest that sea lice were a threat to human health.

    I believe Morton’s main issue with sea lice on the east coast is the effect the drugs used to kill them have on lobster. She has spoken with some very unhappy lobster fishermen.

  2. Your important point of verification being the number of sea lice on the wild caught salmon in this case would prove nothing. Lethal ISA was present in the open net pens here from 1996 until 2006 when the farms were finally able to grow market size crop without huge losses. The commercial and recreational fisheries have been closed since 2000. There are now less than 200 salmon left spawning in the 32 rivers of the entire Bay of Fundy. The chances of one of these fish surviving with a lice load sufficient to infect the millions of penned fish is 0%

    Thank you for your time

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