The Fallacy of "Scientific Evidence"

(more accurately "Pompous Self Serving Prevarications")

(Stuff last added or changes made on October 25, 1996)

There was a time when I thought University people were the elite of our society. Ivory Tower. Incorruptible. Role models. And all that .

After my experiences with the bottom of the barrel that pass for "Fisheries Biologists" in this country, I have carefully and thoughtfully come to the conclusion they are no better than common prostitutes who sell their assumed credibility and integrity (that they ever so publicly worship) to the highest bidder.

So that it's clear, I don't necessarily lump all university types in this bucket. I've been told by some the reason fishery biologist quality in this country is so low is that it is generally populated by those who couldn't cut it in another field. Their work wouldn't stand up to a rigorous review in a high school setting much less at a university level. It's a very small incestuous field where they all know each other, quote each other, and generally tell each other how smart the other is and isn't it just terrible how unappreciated we all are.

Let me just cite a few examples from my own experience. My first experience came in 1975 when New Jersey decided it was time to slow down the harvest of clams in "inshore" waters ( "Inshore" as defined as out to 3 miles, the limit NJs' jurisdiction). There were large concentrations of Surf Clams inshore, mostly inside a 1/2 mile and they were being caught in prodigious quantities (probably in excess of 20,000 bushels a day). Some companies had turned to inshore clams to supplement declining offshore production (see A History of the Surf Clam Business for more complete details ), even though it was well known inshore was an inferior product (much smaller, lower yields, tongues too small to make strips, etc.).

While I don't have any direct knowledge, I'm guessing the State was "alerted" by one or two clam companies located in New Jersey when a lot of the inshore clams were being shipped out of state to their competitors. Acting out of the best interests of the State, no doubt.

At any rate, the State stepped in. (I want to make clear right here that while I don't like government intervention, there was some justification in this case. I just resent the lies, misinformation and just general ignorance put forth by the scientific community, clothed in robes of infallibility and objectivity, to justify interventions. See Fools.) And further, we were able to hammer (it wasn't easy nor was it pretty) out a set of regulations with the State that we could all live with. We ended up making our case before legislators and newspapers who, in turn, pressured the various State people to toe the line.

In this case the State imposed a 500 bushel a week landing per boat with a limited entry scheme (which sucks in any form). It worked well enough and was pretty fair (after a fashion) but it eventually got corrupted (to be addressed elsewhere.) in large interest favor.

Let's start by looking at why there are such large concentrations of surf clams in the surf. According to the "world's foremost experts" ( Fools) on bivalves, after extensive study ("Although we need much more study, if we could only get the funding". I call them the Over&Under crowd- they are perpetually Overworked and Underfunded.), we have conclusively proven:

  1. "The inshore clams are a different species from the offshore clams. This is demonstrated clearly by the much smaller size of the individual in the inshore beds." (Generally the inshore clams loosely ranged from 3-5" and offshore clams loosely ranged from 7-10")

    My Answer:
    This is just plainly bullshit, and any surf clammer who knows only a smidgeon of clam biology, can tell you why.

    When surf clams spawn, the spawn remain suspended in the water column for as long as three weeks. During that time they are subject to whims of current.

    Naturally over the years, as the time for the spawn to settle approaches, currents driven by the wind will be onshore at one time or another. When that happens it's as if the spawn would get pushed against a wall and naturally concentrate close to the beach.

    As for the smaller size, it's really quite simple. The spawn fall on top of each other and as the clams develop, they are crowded. Less room to grow and more competition for food in the area available to each clam. Consequently they would grow much more slowly, if at all.

    And it was not uncommon to find clams with distorted shells where they were growing against each other (You can just see 'em elbowing each other "Move over godammit, I'm tryin to grow here").

    Clams, like most species in the ocean, will grow to the limits of their immediate environment. Clammers would often find larger clams on the outer edges of an inshore "bed" (More room to grow and less food competition) than those in the center.

  2. "The inshore clam beds are the source for all the offshore beds. The clams, after getting to a certain size, 'walk' offshore using their tongues as a single foot to make their way offshore."

    My Answer:
    A particular favorite of mine was Horrible's assertion (as pronounced from on high in a ponderously pontifical proclamation) that clams were "born" in the surf and then "walked" offshore using their tongues as "feet" to travel with. One wonders how the companies can gettem so "tender". The tongues wouldda been tougher than a Bedouin's foot if that were true.).

    Horrible had staked out a few inshore beds and sampled them each year. On that basis, he determined that it took at least 5 years for clams to "mature", growing at the rate of at most 1" a year. And once they reached around 5" they stopped growing. (Sure they did Doctor, they ran out of room.)

    Many clammers can tell you stories of working on a bed of small clams, and come back next year only to find the clams much bigger. As far as that inch a year goes, my experience offshore was that they grow much faster (exactly how much I don't really know but I'd bet that under normal conditions a clam will grow to decent market size (6") in under two years).

    The clear implication of his position was that by harvesting the inshore stuff, we were threatening to extinct ourselves offshore, which, of course was complete bullshit. (and he had to know it, hell biology was his business for christ's sake.)

  3. "Clams can never get more than a few inches in the bottom as that is the limit of their siphons, therefore they are in danger of being wiped out by dredges scraping the bottom down to 7". They have no protection."

    My Answer:
    This particular gem came from The Old Delaware Mossback. His incontrovertible "evidence" was that he had an aquarium in his laboratory where he had a pet clam. He often observed it and it NEVER went below the bottom lower than the limit of his siphon. He had also often observed it moving around using its tongue to push itself. (Probably where Horrible got his clam caravan theory.) of course it was moving around Doctor, it was trying to get the hell out of your aquarium.

    As far as the siphon limit theory goes, that's just obviously more self serving bullshit.

    • Clams have been observed by divers (using pumps to do salvage work) to be as much as 8 feet below the bottom. They may have been much deeper but 8 feet is as deep as the divers had gone.
    • In order for clams to survive storms when the bottom gets riled up, they have to be able to get below the riling. This is particularly true in the shallow inshore waters, else they would never be able to survive as a species. This isn't to say the don't get washed out in shallow water, they do. Every few years we would get a particularly nasty Easterly and they would wash up on the beach, sometimes by the truckload. But, hell, even old buried barges and stuff like that would get washed up as well.
    • Just for the hell of it, sometime in the 70's, I did some calculations on how intensively the bottom off Point Pleasant was worked in the 60's. We had a cumulative dredge width (among 80+ boats) somewhere in the neighborhood of 300'. Working that out using a 3 mph towing speed (some towed faster), 9 hours a day (many worked longer), 200 days a year (a few worked more), every square inch of bottom between Point Pleasant and Barnegat was covered several times each year (If I remember rightly 25 years later). Factor into that the boats concentrated in specific locations consisting of probably less than 10% (the most productive sections) of that area, that the boats worked that area for 20 years (up until the pollution kill of 76 - another story to be covered elsewhere - stay tuned) and you can see where the Mossback just hadda be wrong, and by a major league large margin.
Some other examples of "scientific evidence" I was to run up against in years after this first encounter:

The real crime of lobster regulation

Following is an excerpt of a letter I sent to a friend overseas talking about the lobster fishery (he's a lobsterman):

35 years ago (1960) I was on deck on a boat and we trawled (Fishermen in this country call it "dragging", only the academics call it "trawling") for lobsters in the Gulf Stream in 120 to 200 meters of water along the sides of a canyon the Gulf Stream flows in. It bends in toward the coast here about 75 km off shore from my home. In a decent tow we would get 5-6 bushels (maybe 75-100 kilos in weight) for a 4 hour tow. 4 men (including the captain), we fished round the clock (24 hours a day) for usually 5 days.

One trip when fishing was poor the skipper decided to do a little hunting in deeper water. (We had extra wire on the winch to build up the drums so we could haul faster.) He tried in 225 fathoms (about 500 meters) and when we hauled back we had 40-50 bushels of lobster. Wow. I remember hearing them crunch when we split the bag (cod end), it was too full to take in a single lift so we had to split it. This was a side rig and we lifted the bag over the rail. Big trip that time. Something like 5,000 lbs (2500 kilos) at $.35 a lb. Probably $2,500 stock with the fish. That was the end of it though. Never got them back. I don't remember the reason why anymore. Maybe it was just a lucky trip.

Nobody drags for lobster any more. (I think I explained why in the last letter - trap fishermen covering the grounds with traps). Today the boats average around $4.00 a lb ($8.00 a kilo). New Jersey is about the southern reach for in the United States. Water too warm otherwise I guess.

I talked to an oldtimer one time (a friend of my father's) who had spent nearly his whole life dragging off-shore. He told me that they started to drag offshore for lobsters after the war (World War II), and 15-20 bushel a tow was not uncommon. In the spring or early summer, they would catch a lot of females with eggs on their tails, and have to throw them back. He said sometimes, it seemed like it was only females they caught and give up on lobsters for awhile until they had shed in the fall. Lobsters were pretty cheap then, as low as $.20 a kilo. And sometimes they were hard to sell.

He said that sometime in the late 40's or early 50's one boat (The Endeavor out of Atlantic City) began to scrub the eggs and come in with pretty good trips. Of course all the boats began scrubbing and from that season, production went straight down every year. I scrubbed lobsters too, but I never liked it. Sometimes fishermen are their own worst enemies.

One time in the early 80's Russell Cookingham (then Director of NJ State Fish and Game Council) and I were talking about lobsters and he told me there was an easy way to tell if a lobster had been scrubbed that had been around for years. By using some sort of dye and a UV light. It was fool proof (an obvious necessity if government people are gonna use it ). I asked him why they never used it and he told me there were too many political repercussions from large lobster dealers like Jack Baker (the biggest lobster dealer in NJ at the time) and they didn't dare use it.

Makes you wonder about the real motivations behind fishery regulators. I ask you who is the greater criminal:

And these are only a few of the aromatic "proofs" (a few of the ones I have direct knowledge of) put forward as incontrovertible truths by the "eminent" scientists (such as Dr. Haskins - who was to parlay his lying deceptions on the backs of fishermen here into a major grant receiver (payoffs) from NMFS for Rutgers University in later years.).

Now ask me again why I'm an angry man.

I would like to make one other point here (actually there's lots more I wanna say but it I'll do it in other papers):

How they "LIE" by telling a truth.

  • "Stocks are being (insert a dire adjective) depleted at a (insert a cataclysmic adjective) rate."

    By definition, if you take a single animal, the overall stock has been reduced ("depleted"), so that's a true statement. The clear implication though - stocks are in imminent danger of extinction - is a lie (in my book anyway).

    There is one indisputable fact - Long long long before commercial fishermen can come even close to reducing a population below unrecoverable levels the fishermen will go bankrupt chasing them. I challenge anyone to show me a species of fish now extinct because of commercial fishing. There are none.

    Even the "devastated" whale populations are many times greater than was ever thought according to recent disclosures of long secret SOSUS data. There is no species in the ocean more easily or longer, or intensively studied than whales. So much for "scientific stock assessment".

  • "What we need to do is build a statistical model of the fishery using a computer".

    While a true statement on the surface, he knows it is virtually impossible to do given the truly extraordinary complex, intricate, and still unknown interactions of the ocean environment.

    It's not at all like controlling the amount of nutrient to a field of experiment corn or watching bugs fornicate in the laboratory using different stimulations.

    Just consider the amount of computer power applied in trying to predict the weather, and that's only for a few days ahead, where all the variables are directly observable and measurable.

    So in my book that's a BIG lie.

  • They quote each other's studies as if they were the holy grail - "In Hobsen's study of whiting penises (Las Vagas Univ. 1936) he proved ......".

    Studies that have never (and never could have) stood up to a rigorous peer review that is standard in any other field. I submit to you that's a lie as well.

    If they weren't so incestuously corrupt it would be funny. They remind me of nothing so much as little kids in the back yard: "If you tell me I'm smart, I'll tell you you're smart. And we can prove to the world how smart we are by quoting (peer reviewing) each other."

    And the kicker is........ They actually believe each other! What a fucking joke.

  • If a fisherman testifies that his experience:
    1. directly contradicts what the scientist is saying or has "proven", it is dismissed as "anecdotal".

    2. supports (or can be twisted to conform to) the scientist then it is "empirical".

    That I submit is a lie by implication.

  • They present everything in the blackest of scenarios.

    They show films of heavily laden boats, bursting nets, even admittedly wasteful practices as if they were everyday occurrences, knowing full well they aren't.

    That I submit is a lie by implication.

  • They present their shabby evidence to an ignorant audience knowing full well the audience is going to be interpreting what they say through land based experiences:

    I submit to you these lies, deliberate deceptions, misrepresentations, and intentional acts of omission form the basis of a corrupt conspiracy clearly designed to benefit a select few special interests (not least their own) under the guise of fishery management in this country.

    If they are the cream of our system then God help our country.

    They are the basest of pretenders trading on the exalted reputation hard earned by doctors and scientists in other fields - medicine, chemistry, biology, .................

    And on the basis of their fraudulent "science":

    One more point, and maybe the most important point, All that they did, they did in full knowledge of the consequences. It isn't like what I've said here and much more hasn't been pointed out to them in innumerable "public hearings".

    They just don't care. They don't care about fishermen. They don't really care about the ocean. They don't care about our country. They're on a huge "save the world at any cost" ego and power trip.

    Now ask me again why I'm an angry man.

    {End of "Scientific Evidence"}

    This document is Copyrighted by G. H. Lovgren. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without this copyright notice.
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