Reject (Gary Goodyear's) Fear and Lies

Clarifications of inaccuracies stated by Gary Goodyear during the CBC Quirks and Quarks #scidebate


  1. So I (as I hope most of you did) listened with keen interest to the Science Debate hosted by Quirks and Quarks last weekend. I caught it when it was posted on Friday, as I knew I wouldn't be able to catch it Saturday am (you can still find a link to the whole thing here: please give it a listen in case you haven't).

  2. Listening to Gary Goodyear (Conservative representative, and MP in Cambridge and former Minister of State for Science and Technology), I became furious with the level of misinformation given. I tweeted about it at length, and others have also taken to the blogosphere to set the record straight.
  3. Here's my Storify of tweets that help clarify a good deal of the misinformation Gary Goodyear presented during the debate, as well as some rebuttals from folks who are in the know: I was a Canadian Government Scientist with DFO from 2010-2014, and was a Research Scientist at the Experimental Lakes Area, who heard about the announcement regarding the intention of the government to close the facility first-hand on the telephone at ELA. I've included tweets by myself and @katiegibbs, from Evidence for Democracy, if you know of others, let me know and I'll add them too.
  4. Right- while I was still in government, I started an (at the time) anonymous blog (linked above) regarding the issues facing government science. Speaking with my colleagues, the issues I list there have simply gotten worse.
  5. The discussion at one point was on muzzling, and Gary Goodyear defended the ability of government scientists to publish their data and go to conferences. However, he didn't mention how difficult it is to get that approval, nor how much it costs to send scientists to these conferences (rarely is this a cost to the taxpayer, since it comes right out of the scientist's research budgets- so it's the science that suffers). I elaborate on the issue on the blog post in this tweet.
  6. The discussion also shifted to the "consolidation" of library materials. What's not acknowledged was the hapazard way this was done, and that much of the material which wasn't catalogued in the DFO electronic catalogue (WAVES) has been lost forever, because they only preserved what was in the electronic database.
  7. Goodyear then attempted to demonstrate his statistical prowess, indicating that the voluntary long-form census was generating "significant results". Surely, this shouldn't be the litmus test for a good survey- poorly designed surveys can still give you significant results, but the results are meaningless because it's based on inaccurate data.
  8. Goodyear was very interested in the support of science to produce economic gain. What he failed to recognize is the value that research can provide to governments in saving them money by avoiding environmental catastrophes.
  9. Goodyear seemed very happy about the announcement of Arthur MacDonald for his Nobel Prize in Physics, but he failed to acknowledge that this government is closing the lab where those discoveries were made. The point was also missed by the other candidates, which would have made a great rebuttal.
  10. The other candidates did however seem to have good knowledge of other issues, including the lack of capacity that now exists for environmental review of projects, which was written about recently in a paper by U of C Law professor Martin Olszynski.
  11. Then the topic moved to ELA, which really got my blood boiling. I worked there for DFO when they announced the closure of the facility, and conduct the majority of my research there now. Goodyear's statement was as follows:
  12. Goodyear: "I was involved in that decision. With respect to the Experimental Lakes, we never said we would shut it down. We said that we wanted to transfer it to a facility that was better suited to operate it. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. Right now, DFO is up there undertaking some significant remediation effects to clean up those lakes that are contaminated by the science that’s been going on up there. We all hope these lakes will recover soon so that science and experimentation can continue but not under the federal envelope. So it’s secure and it’s misleading to suggest that we were trying to stop science there."
  13. There's so many inaccuracies in here, it's hard to know where to start. First, Goodyear's assertion that there are "contaminated lakes" at ELA is nonsense. Experiments conducted there are done using environmentally-relevant exposures; in other words, what you'd see going on somewhere else on earth, and in every case, each lake has recovered to it's natural state, simply by stopping the experiment.