We Need A New Definition For Science

I grew up loving science; in my book, the only thing purer was mathematics. The formula was simple: you employed the scientific method and you let the data speak for itself.

Troy Marshall 2, BEEF Contributing Editor

May 14, 2010

3 Min Read
We Need A New Definition For Science

I grew up loving science; in my book, the only thing purer was mathematics. The formula was simple: you employed the scientific method and you let the data speak for itself. When the directions called for 5cc of a medicine, it meant 5cc. If I needed to know how to synchronize my cows or feed my steers, I could be pretty darned confident that if I followed the recommendations of the researchers, I could expect similar results.

My entire family was the same way – intense believers in science. And we all used it extensively in our jobs as doctors, chemical and computer engineers, science teachers and agriculturists. Science was something held in a lot of esteem, but things have changed.

That’s not to say there isn’t a tremendous amount of good scientific research being conducted, there certainly is, but the age of political correctness has changed everything. In the old days, shoddy research was exposed; today, if it’s for a good cause or done with good intentions, it’s not proper to challenge the poor “science” of others. In fact, to do so might brand you a heretic.

This week, we had a “scientific report” by activist scientists who concluded that global warming would make the earth largely uninhabitable in 300 years. While 300 years might seem like progress to some, according to some “experts,” Colorado was supposed to have had oceanfront property 15 years ago.

In fact, the lengthened timeframe of 300 years is in some ways more insidious, as it maintains the doomsday scenario but removes any accountability and makes the current anomalies in the data largely irrelevant. It’s a new kind of science – no one questions the premise that the earth’s temperature will rise 21° in the next three centuries due to our reliance on fossil fuels. It’s just taken as a given; the only thing to debate is how bad the results will be.

Also this week, a scientific opinion on cancer exemplified just how acceptable it is to advance an agenda disguised as science. I’m taking some liberties here, but essentially these scientists’ conclusion was that we wouldn’t have cancer if we didn’t have manmade chemicals, all of which contribute to cancer. Their conclusion was that the only way to prove it would be to eliminate all chemicals and chemical compounds from our lives, which wouldn’t be possible, of course, because of the infinite combinations and pervasiveness of chemicals.

That’s right – no more plastic, no more fertilizer, no more life as we know it. Admittedly, this research was designed to create more research and was geared to creating a whole new way of analyzing cancer-causing agents.

Certainly, they may be right that everything manmade may cause cancer, as naturally occurring compounds do as well. Science used to frustrate activists but now they’ve become or in their pocket have pseudo-scientists to help them advance their agenda.

We as an industry have a difficult task ahead because we’ve always relied on sound science to make our case. But, science is no longer credible. Plus, fighting science with science comes down to more than credibility; it comes down to a case where it’s better to err on the side with the most caution. If there’s no agreement on whether or not something is carcinogenic, it’s best to ban it anyway. If there’s disagreement on the effects of greenhouse gas, let’s just assume the cataclysmic view is correct.

Scientists used to be the police of good science, but they’ve moved to the sidelines. Now, the court of public opinion has the final say, and that’s why science is no longer the kind of science we used to know.

About the Author(s)

Troy Marshall 2

BEEF Contributing Editor

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock and World Champion Horse Judging teams. Following college, he worked as a market analyst for Cattle-Fax covering different regions of the country. Troy also worked as director of commercial marketing for two breed associations; these positions were some of the first to provide direct links tying breed associations to the commercial cow-calf industry.

A visionary with a great grasp for all segments of the industry, Troy is a regular opinion contributor to BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. His columns are widely reprinted and provide in-depth reporting and commentary from the perspective of a producer who truly understands the economics and challenges of the different industry segments. He is also a partner/owner in Allied Genetic Resources, a company created to change the definition of customer service provided by the seedstock industry. Troy and his wife Lorna have three children. 

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