A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taking it further.

Saw this over at Kate's, and thought I might be able to shed a little more light on the topic, or at least generate some further thought. I suggest you go read the whole post to get a full idea of it's point, but the gist seems to be summed up here:

Back to insects, it couldn't be that the area being studied has a lack of that insect's food, or a plethora of predators. No. It must be pollution!

Proxies can be a good initial indicator, but why not use positive measurements? It would be better to monitor the pollution level directly. That way, you know the type and severity of the pollution without relying on proxies.

It should be noted that proxy indicators are only a start; chemical testing and other methods of determining pollution through technology are both time-consuming and expensive, while spending a few hours quantifying the absence of ecologically significant marker species is cheap and can tell us whether more tests are warranted. Those subsequent tests will determine what further actions can or need to be taken. Tests cost money and they can't just be done willy nilly. The scientific method is (or should be) thorough, and doesn't (or shouldn't) make assumptions or leap to conclusions outright. A natural cause for the absence of marker species might exist, but that would be determined through further testing.

It seems to me that the introduction of the idea of 'marker species' is an appropriate 'starter' concept to be taught to younger children in school, and kudos to John for encouraging his son to think critically by exploring the concept further.

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