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The Forum > Article Comments > Scientific fails and the Great Barrier Reef > Comments

Scientific fails and the Great Barrier Reef : Comments

By Peter Ridd, published 2/2/2018

The 'Replication Crisis', well-reported in peer reviewed articles, shows that when scientific papers are checked around 50% of recently published science is wrong.

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Just another front man for the climate denier lot,IPA Marohasy Don Burke Cohen,
Not worth wasting time to read it same old crap from the same suspects,what will all the IPA fronts do once the Liberal Govt gets kicked out
I,m surprised Eargas & Sloan & the NEWS LTD mob are not there as well
Posted by John Ryan, Friday, 2 February 2018 12:03:30 PM
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Interesting article. The other notable recent comment on the veracity of the scientific literature was from Richard Horton a former editor of the world's pre-eminent peer reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, who was quoted in 2015 as saying:

... much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance ...

In my own area of forestry there is also a notable trend towards ecological research that is ill-founded on poor or wrong assumptions, errors of fact, and the big one of omitting critically important context that thereby leads to an errant implication that, for example, all forests will be logged. This is partly because the relevant ecologists are often reluctant to engage with forest scientists, forestry practitioners and timber companies whom they regard as 'the enemy'.

My own view, is that this is a cultural evolution stemming from decades of highly exaggerated portrayals of environmental catastrophe. Some of this may have been relevant to some developing countries (although Amazon rainforest loss has also been grossly exaggerated), but not to a developed country such as Australia which has the political stability and institutional and regulatory strength to manage environmental threats to a high standard (although not perfect). In the face of this, it is hardly surprising that today's (particularly younger) scientists are motivated by a desire to save the environment from thoroughly and often unfairly demonised villians such as timber companies and miners.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Friday, 2 February 2018 1:54:22 PM
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Good luck with your case Peter.

A few points.

In the late 40s, & 50s fertilisers were cheap & subsidised by government. Farmers threw tons of it at anything that did not move. I know this supported massive weed growth in some inshore areas like the Whitsundays. Some reefs on either side of the passage were badly effected with weed growth, but not further out. I did not like cane farmers at the time.

By the early 2000s more careful use of now expensive fertilisers had corrected this, & most of those reefs were back to looking good.

On my first trip back up there in 1973 I first encounter those horrible hundred acre coral spore slicks. The brown ones were the worst, staining the boats white enamel paint of the day dreadfully. The yellow stuff not so bad. A reef fisherman, who had left school at 11, & spent 40 years fishing the Swains told me it was coral spore, & how the coral released it all one night. Isn't it a pity that the "scientists" never actually went out to the real reef, or talked to uneducated fisherman. They could have done more research in a few days that they did ashore in years.
Continued.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 2 February 2018 2:37:26 PM
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Continued.
In 1984 I took 169 of the people from the park authority, James Cook & AIMS out to our tourist instillation at Hardy reef. The area was to be gazetted a park the next year. I had a couple of the "experts telling me that the crown of thorns would put us out of business with in a year or two. When I told them that the dive instructors who had dive classes on each trip, & my crew who lived out there 6 days a week had seen only 3 in a year, these experts told me they probably did not know what the starfish looked like. That from Scientists who played in fish tanks at AIMS in Townsville. I knew then that they were mostly a waste of time.

We also supported a couple of PHD students with transport & outer reef accommodation for their research trips. These youngsters were great & knowledgeable. I often wondered how this could be when so many senior scientists & professors were a waste of time.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 2 February 2018 2:37:57 PM
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Yes Hasbeen, a lot of that crap fouling the inner reef, is just that, crap. Or human sourced effluent. And as a product of Green supported tourism, which sees northern coastal areas regularly swell three or four times their sustainable size for a reef that supports the tourist operators and the like.

Just as over fishing and granting too many fishing licences eats into sustainable natural fisheries, Unfettered open slather, every boy and his dog want to operate a dive boat on the reef? One can have too much of a good thing.

As alway the green movement are off with the fairies trying to blame the damage to the reef to farm sourced fertilizer runoff etc. When millions of annual tons of human effluent is just loaded with both phosphates and nitrates! And not an ounce returned inland!

That said the camera doesn't lie even if this or that activist does? The Author or this highly conflated article, which tries to treat coral bleaching and coral spawning as similar topics or connected, it would seem, when clearly they're not?

One notes that he is in dispute with the James Cook university? Whose research he seems to be calling into question, with little or no actual countervailing evidence that would stand proper peer review, to back up his allegations of wrongdoing by grant receivers? We used to call that, verballing or impugning.
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Friday, 2 February 2018 5:14:06 PM
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Alan, where do you live?

You obviously don't have a clue regarding the reef, it's size, the number of tourists who go to it, or the infinitival area of it that ever sees a tourist, or fisherman.

We took tourists to a 400 yard stretch of Hardy reef. The Hardy lagoon is 10 miles long & 6 miles wide, giving the surrounding reef a length of 32 miles. The enclosed area is 38400 acres. Less than 400 acres would have been visited by tourists.

Hardy is part of a complex including Hook reef, Line reef & Bate reef, with a combined area of about 3 times that of Hardy. The huge run of clear ocean water coming in through this area is so great that at big spring flood tide I have been unable to make headway against it in a boat doing 8 knots.

I also frequented Net, Knuckle & Kennedy reefs, about 15 to 20 miles north east, further out to sea from Hardy. Over 8 years I spent about 5 weeks total out at these, & never once saw another boat, or sign that one had ever been there.

Reefs like these continue over 1000 miles to Torres strait, & 500 south to Bundaberg. The Swains reef complex, off MacKay is over 100 times the size of all the above, & 70 miles off shore. How much effluent do you think a small city can produce.

If ever you get up that way, have a look at Refuge bay, north of MacKay. Fly over it at a spring ebb tide. You will find 400 square miles of natural pollution, as a huge run of water from the mangroves carries enough mud to make the whole area too turbid for coral to survive. The tides in most of the area run parallel to the coast, corralling this turbidity to this area. There is a line as sharp as a fence where the clear ocean water runs past. It is worth seeing simply as an amazing natural phenomena.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 2 February 2018 7:10:19 PM
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