The rule is, never read the comments at a big site.

Newspaper comment sections are a vile cesspool, we all know that.  So I’ll freely admit I’m showing the worst case scenario.  But look at this, from the Bee, whose comment section makes me despair of my neighbors:

That a certain amount of self-interest will skew the findings of this panel of “experts” is predictible – and inevitable.

Similarly, the power and prestige – say nothing of budgetary concerns – of the government agencies who fund such studies is heavily dependent upon the corrupt panels of “experts” conducting such studies lending legitimacy to the funding agency’s agenda.

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Just because a bunch of grant money hungry second-rate scientists say something is true and terrible, we shouldn’t believe them without solid and peer-reviewed proof. These bozos who have never done a day’s work in their lives are just like politicians: liars, cheats, thieves, and self-interested men and women. Be very cautious and skeptical of what they proclaim as truth. Look behind the curtain to ascertain who is speaking and what agenda they are promoting for personal interests. The more they shout “Armageddon”, the more restraint you must exercise.

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The biological opinions are the scientific equivilent of political slush fund. As usual, follow the money trail. The panel agrees the unmanageable is an appropriate alternative, but more research is needed. Hmmm… This is code for I do not have my next research grant, but this seems like an opportunity.

It would be informative to know the composition of the panel and their areas of expertise. It would also be informative to know how many of the scientists have received grant money and/or paid or unpaid consulting contracts, etc.

This is what I predicted. The NAS review didn’t change anything about the political landscape here. The only new element in the conversation is libel directed against the Delta National Research Committee. That wasn’t in the air before Sen. Feinstein brought them into this. She was relying on their extremely good reputation, and now she’s dinged it, just a little bit. She’s willing to trade pieces of their reputation for a process that weakens the ESA (although it strengthens the reputation of FWS scientists, who had their Biological Opinion right) and hasn’t changed the infighting here. If I were the National Academy of Science, I’d be pissed at being her pawn.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The rule is, never read the comments at a big site.

  1. Senator Feinstein created a thankless task for the fifteen people who accepted it. They accepted it, and now they are part of the messiness of their message.

    Except that they signed on for a fraught task full of unfair accusations and as you say possibly libelous public comment. Still, no real sympathy for them. If they are to be taken seriously as experts, then do the job.

    They sent an ambiguous message, one that was entirely predictable. It was also sound.

    The work of the NAS panel will now dig into other reasons why the Delta is dying. That will not do anything except to equip each side with additional, incomplete but amen talking points.

    If I were one of them, I would get out now. Make a big statement in support of conservation, Westlands retirement and solar farms (etc.), and the temptation of Iowa as a place to raise a family.

    California, scarcity. Start dealing with it.

  2. cohoho

    “One of the panel’s duties was to consider short-term actions to help fish that would also allow water deliveries to increase this year. Feinstein had hoped for quick relief for drought-plagued communities that depend on Delta diversions.

    But the panel had no short-term fixes to offer.”

    Oh no! Not even the NAS can summon the magic unicorns that pour water from their horns. Crap, that was totally gonna work, too. Their reputation should be dinged.

  3. onthepublicrecord

    The least the NAS could have done is released the WaterHorn Unicorn life cycle analysis.

    “WaterHorn Unicorns are called into being by pouring fresh concrete. Curing concrete (t<2 months) will bring forth sterile hybrid unicorns with less horn capacity. WaterHorn unicorns brood their young in pipe (PVC or metal) for two years before their young venture out in search of their own freshly poured concrete. There are field reports of unicorn pairs nesting in rip-rap, but these are unsubstantiated.

    This is why the state must be constantly building new dams, even if there isn't rainfall to fill them. Our future depends on continuing to lure WaterHorn Unicorns to California."

  4. Unicorn milk is the next big thing. You open the carton and imagine the contents. Exquisite stuff and very slimming.