Stephen Bocking at Trent University blogs about environmental science, and recently did a post about the Salmon Confidential film.
He followed up with some great information from Dr. Gary Marty about the errors in science in the film.
He makes some very valid points about the film, and about this blog:
…the film provides a ready demonstration of how flat-footed an industry can be when it tries to respond to an activist like Alexandra Morton. Science is only part of Morton’s argument: her real target is government obfuscation as it seeks to support an industry that, in her eyes, has no place on the coast. But the salmon farmers at salmonconfidential.com focus on picking away at Morton’s scientific techniques – apparently oblivious that these techniques are a kind of theatre, aimed at dramatizing the failure of government to do the tests that she is thereby forced to do herself. With such a clumsy response to criticism, it’s no wonder the BC salmon farming controversy is now in its fourth decade.
I agree, Stephen. This blog is a clumsy attempt at responding to this film. We as an industry could have done much better. But that’s not my call. Instead it was left to me, and a few others who helped me, to do what we could with limited resources. And like I said in my comment on your post, I’m not interested in being seen as a cheerleader for the government that regulates my industry. It’s not up to me to address the issue of government obfuscation, as frustrating as it is to see her spin ridiculous conspiracy theories around that topic. If DFO doesn’t respond and address the criticisms about them, there’s not really anyone else who can, and still be taken seriously.
And I am quite aware that her scientific techniques are theatre. The only avenue available to me is to pick apart the lies of the charlatan, which is rarely effective when the charlatan is selling a story and a feeling. But at least the facts are out there for people who haven’t made up their minds or bought into the story.
The core of the problem, as I described in this post, is that the debate over salmon farming isn’t about science and facts and actually measuring impacts and actually looking at data for the loudest opponents. It’s about emotions and spirituality and a feeling. Believing whatever Alexandra Morton says about salmon farming “feels right” for her devout followers and they are hostile to any challenge to the information she uses to make her claims.
She has devoted her life to getting rid of BC salmon farms. It is a personal crusade for her, her life mission. It has become a religious and spiritual mission. She views herself as the Jane Goodall of salmon, and basks in the adulation of her followers.
Religious figures are always divisive. How do you respond to someone who is selling feelings, and whose followers are hostile to any information which contradicts what their icon says?
Take, for example, the example of Rob Ford, Toronto’s mayor. The man has been shown time and time again to be a liar and buffoon, but he still has strong supporters. Why? Because they desperately want to believe in him.
Likewise with Morton, she has been caught in numerous lies since she started opposing salmon farming publicly, but those are quickly forgotten because people so desperately want to believe in her story of one woman in the wilderness fighting against evil corporations.
It’s all about the story. The facts don’t even enter into it.
But for me, facts matter. A lot. And I hope they matter for other people, too.
They are who this blog is for.