Fisheries Scientists Drowning in Alarmist Equivocation

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

So say the fisheries “scientists” from the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Center [here], in regards to their predictions for salmon runs this year and next.

In terms of ocean conditions for salmon, 2010 could be summarized in the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” …

Extremely mixed signals from ocean ecosystem indicators in 2010 made it difficult to forecast returns of coho salmon in 2011 and Chinook salmon in 2012. Our best guess is to expect near–average returns of coho in 2011 and Chinook in 2012. …

Fisheries “scientists” (I use that term loosely, as do they) are drowning in equivocation!

Record salmon runs (see all the posts below) due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) cold ocean conditions are not what I would call “the worst of times”. But our tried and true alarmist gummit functionaries can’t kick the Chicken Little habit.

They seem to be saying, “Yes, there are more salmon than ever in history, but that’s no reason not to moan and wring our hands. It could be the worst of times. It could be a disaster. In fact, since we fisheries scientists and our esteemed agency, NOAA, had absolutely nothing to do with the PDO shift, except for denying it, it is possible that the public may not fully appreciate our efforts to save salmon, which are useless compared to the PDO, so we better cry wolf.”

Meanwhile, Congressional Tea Party sharks are circling the NOAA budget [here].

If the climate in DC doesn’t change, NOAA fisheries “scientists” might have to get real jobs! Now that’s a crisis!!!

I am going out on a limb. I predict record salmon runs for 2011 and 2012. No equivocation about it. But then, I am not a gummit bureaucrat “scientist” and so I can speak with clarity and substance without choking on my grant funding.


Note: for a classic paper on the dangers of uncontrolled equivocation, see Mario Blaser. 2009. The Threat of the Yrmo: The Political Ontology of a Sustainable Hunting Program. American Anthropologist, Vol. 111, Issue 1, pp. 10–20 [here]. Some quotes:

Then, what we call “fact” (or reality) is better conceived of as a “factish” in which objectivity and subjectivity (and, therefore, nature, culture, morality, and politics) are entangled with each other in an indissoluble knot. …

Uncontrolled equivocation refers to a communicative disjuncture that takes place not between those who share a common world but rather those whose worlds or ontologies are different. In other words, these misunderstandings happen not because there are different perspectives on the world but rather because the interlocutors are unaware that different worlds are being enacted (and assumed) by each of them. …

The conflict that ensued from the hunting program highlights the need to understand these kinds of situations from a political ontology perspective that focuses on the power dynamics produced in the encounter between the dominant modern ontology and indigenous ontologies as they are embodied in concrete practices. The different political ontologies that shaped the “environments” of bureaucrats and experts make evident that “modern” factishes–-as much as any factish–-are variously “interested” and therefore not entirely coherent. …

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