We kind of figured the “Stand up for Science” rally in Vancouver yesterday would end up like this.
While some legitimate scientists did get up and speak, most of the rally was about how Stephen Harper and pipelines are bad.
Fair enough. But there’s plenty of other venues for that. We get it, Fin Donnely and the federal NDP. You hate Harper and the Conservatives. But for a rally that was supposed to be about keeping politics out of science, it was pretty damned political.
Of course, our favourite pseudoscientist was there to spout her litany of lies about salmon farms. Here’s what she said, according to the Vancouver Observer.
In 2011 we had the Cohen inquiry into why our biggest population of wild salmon is declining and I read the records of a government scientist who said he saw the evidence of European viruses known to kill massive numbers of salmon, he saw evidence that those diseases that are in the farmed salmon that are in the ocean in British Columbia.
No. Wrong. This is NOT WHAT HAPPENED and the vet who wrote those records, Dr. Gary Marty, has repeatedly corrected this lie. He puts it bed quite effectively in this letter published last spring in the Association of Professional Biology’s official newsletter.
“Alexandra Morton’s article did not mention that every fish in my database was tested for ISAV using highly sensitive and specific RT-PCR tests, and that all results were negative–no virus,” Marty writes (see page 5).
However, Morton continues to ignore the science in favour of furthering her conspiracy theory opinion.
This changed my life. I responded. I have organized a national salmon sampling program.
Really? A national sampling program? Where is the data, Alex? For all we know, you’re taking donation money people think you’re spending on tests, and socking it away in your RRSP. We have no idea, because you publish none of your test results, you just expect everyone to take your word for it. That’s not science. That’s taking advantage of your cult of personality.
The laboratories and I published in Virology Journal, the top journal on viruses. We published that the virus had come to BC in approximately 2007 and it matched a virus in Norway. How did that happen? Viruses don’t fly.
Um. No. Again, no. That’s not what the study really says. What it really says, is that PRV in Canada is a very close (but not exact) match for PRV in Norway. The paper states:
It is not known how the virus could have been transmitted from Norway to Canada since there have never been any authorized direct imports of Atlantic salmon eggs from Norway since 1985; recent imports have been from Washington State-USA (2001) and Iceland (2004–2009) . There is no information about the PRV situation in Washington State or Iceland. Horizontal spread and/or introduction of virus through wild fish migration are not reasonable routes of transmission.
Morton continues with another lie.
The lab I’m using was stripped of its international authority, humiliated amongst his peers. Nobody will say why.
I’ll take “Bullshit” for $1,000, Alex. The OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) published its report online last year explaining why. They pulled the lab’s reference status because they had many concerns, not least of which was that “the cramped, untidy conditions of the laboratories, particularly the general laboratory [room 329(S)] where both sample preparation and post‐PCR analysis were performed in close proximity to each other… The panel believes that there is a serious risk that the integrity of the test samples will be compromised.”
…. I am taking up the role of regulator…. People ask me how I will get the government to accept the results of my research. I don’t have enough years left in my life to get them to accept the results. I need you to accept the results, to stand by my findings.
Perhaps, Alex, you could start by holding yourself to the same level of transparency you demand from everyone else. Publish your test results. All of them. Show your work
Because, to paraphrase, science without data is scientific malpractice.