Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Junk Science: the basis for all Ecomyths

At the heart of all ecomyths is a mis-use of science.  Sometimes it is a mis-representation of data, sometimes it is a lack of proper context, sometimes it is an inappropriate study protocol, poor study design, bias in variables or method, or just suspect interpretation.  Sometimes it is the subservience of science to ideological presumption, sometimes it goes beyond manipulation and exaggeration and constitutes lies.  All are possible within Junk Science.

Terence Corcoran introduces the 12th Annual Junk Science Week in the Financial Post with this explanation of Junk Science:

  • Our standard definition is that junk science occurs when scientific facts are distorted, risk is exaggerated and the science adapted and warped by politics and ideology to serve another agenda.
  • That definition needs to be refined. It was shaped by the idea that junk science is strictly the bailiwick of scaremongers.
  • But science can also be warped to promote the opposite of fear. Unscientific hope mongering may be just as prevalent as scare mongering. In some ways, the role of the media in hope mongering is more important than in scare mongering. In the hands of journalists bent on doing what they think is socially beneficial work making people aware of new developments, even good science can be twisted, distorted and exaggerated for political purposes.
Examples of contemporary Junk Science profiled in this year's series include:
  • the absence of scientific evidence to validate the scaremongering around the amount of salt in people' diet,
  • the assertion that smog is claiming thousands of deaths despite improvements in air quality and, of course,
  • the harder to kill than a vampire continuance of climate junk despite virulent discreditation and refutation of every kind.
Not only do these profiles highlight how and why people should discount these ecomyths, they highlight the more insidious nature of ecomyths themselves.  If Junk Science is so easily disproven, why then do ecomyths continue to be embraced by governments, agencies and authorities even though the evidence of the Junk Science upon which they are based is clearly and categorically outlined?

The answer is both simple and depressing: ecomyths are a contrivance.  The issue is not people's health in the case of salt, nor people's health with smog, nor the sustainability of the environment with climate change.  These are the excuse, the contrivance upon which public compliance to policies and p[programs is required.  The focus is those policies and programs, and the control which they seek to enforce over people and their lifestyles.  Ecomyths are merely a contrivance by which power can be exerted over people, their lives and their lifestyles.  Junk Science is the authoritative assertion of "The Truth" by those whose ideology is predicated on the desire to impose control over others.

Beyond Petroleum indeed.