How many trees?

D. Braun dbraun at u.washington.edu
Sat Mar 2 15:31:53 EST 1996


(Reply to Robert Weinberg)  
  
> Dave you have misread so many of the questions and responses 
> put to you that it is hard not to reach one of the following 
> assumptions:
>  a) You are so passionate about defending your view of the world, that 
>  you didn't take the time to read what was actually said.
>  b) You are simply a sloppy reader.
>  c) Your passion causes you to read your own meaning into what 
>  was said.
>  d) You simply find it more convenient to create 
>  interpretations that are easier to respond to than to respond 
>  to what was actually written.

I would agree with you, to a point.  These faults are present in anyone 
that is in the buisness of reading, critiquing, and responding to 
scientific information.  Obviously, they should be minimized.  I do 
object to your stating these common faults in the most general terms.  
Many of my responses to comments in this newsgroup have been to postings 
which, on the face of them, or "judged by the four corners of the 
document" were inacurate, leaving me to second guess the posters 
knowledge and motivations.  I suppose that part of the reason articles 
that are in peer-reviewed journals have a higher value than mewsgroup 
comments is because the establishment of fact has a very high standard--- 
and newsgroups have none.  We might ask how much we are using 
bionet.agroforestry for useful info trading, or just as a soap box free 
of most standards of proof.

 > I attacked your objectivity not your 
credibility, although 
> they can be related, they are not the same.  Yes, I agree that 
> we cannot eliminate bias.  Where you and I part company is 
> your apparent belief that striving for objectivity is not a 
> critical component of science, or even a very important one. 

I certainly did take a point of view.  However, I did state for what 
objective my point of view was in each case --- which is the proper way to 
conduct honest debate.  I do not believe that objectivity is not a 
component of science --- it is the entire basis of it. This is realy 
unfair.  My posts here have been constructed in the manner of a 
discussion --- which certainly has a point of view. In a scientific 
paper, as you know, the discussion follows results of an investigation, 
which flow from hypotheses that were posed earlier; the scientific method 
fails if these hypotheses are not falsifiable--- if information, objectively 
gathered, could not cause the researcher to conclude either way.  
Obviously, this newsgroup is the place for discussion, not scientific 
proofs; no one wishing to publish in journals would waste their time with 
such an effort.  Therefore,I, and other posters, assume that readers of 
their posts will believe that the posters have actually objectively 
weighed evidence for the views that they proclaim. Also obviously, this 
asumption is open to debate as well, and the fun begins.  
  
> It may surprise you to learn that several large timber 
> companies, including my employer, strongly lobbied both George 
> Nethercutt and Helen Chenowith, to no avail, in support of the 
> Upper Columbia Basin Ecosystem Project.  In case you are not 
> aware these two were the prime sponsors of bills to kill the 
> ecosystem projects. We saw the study as one of the few opportunities 
> to bring some objective science (a term I have included for your 
> benefit only, as I consider it a redundency) back into the discussion.  
> Absent such a study, we believe that the emotiomnal appeal of "lock it 
> all up" will prevail.  Nethercutt's & Chenowith's position was based 
> primarily on input from the National Grange and other farmer groups who 
> feared that the study was a precursor to the federal government
> imposing it's view of of ecosystem management on all private 
> land in the the Inland Northwest.  While we don't share that 
> view, it is not without some foundation.

This is a new angle on the issue for me.

> While I do not know whether or not the Grange spends more money on 
> lobbying than either the preservationist community or the 
> timber industry, I do know that they represent a far larger 
> voting block in the districts represented by Chenowith and 
> Nethercutt than either timber or preservationists. I believe I 
> saw figures showing that the chief executive officer of the Grange 
> receives a salary that is roughly a third of that of his counterparts 
> in The Sierra Club, The Audobon Society, or the Wilderness Society. 
>  
> You actually harm your credibility rather than boost it by citing your 
> your work as an arborist , spending a season doing a thinning 
> study, your ability to accurately fell, buck and top a tree, drive a 
> skidder, etc., as proof that you have an understanding of the timber 
> industry and harvest practices.  Though you apparently don't 
> realize it, statements of that nature, as well as several 
> others you have made, are taken as personal attacks on industrial 
> foresters, since it trivializes their level of knowledge, understanding, 
> and motivation.  We have a hard time believing that someone holding a 
> Masters in forestry and who is a Phd candidate in forest ecology would 
> know so little about what is going on in forestry as to make some of the 
> statements that you have.  We ( at least I )honestly came to 
> believe after several posts, that you made such statements based on 
> malice or fervent passion for your cause rather than on ignorance.

Whew. Let me explain. This all came up in response to one Steve Shook, 
who insisted on repeated, personal attacks on my credibility.  I included 
this information as a way of letting him know that I had hands-on 
knowledge of some of the on-the-ground activities in forest management, as 
well as professional training. It seemed to fit as a response to his message. 
I posted the message on the newsgroup because his message was posted here as 
well. It was more like a personal letter, and probably didn't belong here at 
all, but the main body of it was a response to his public posting of personal 
attacks on me.

By the way, it was not "a season doing thinning" but was a four year 
doctoral research project on the host selection of mountain pine beetle--- 
which included thinning as a treatment.  I designed and carried out this 
research, analyzed the results, and am currently writing up a final draft.
  
"Malice"," fervent passion for your cause"? Thankyou for agreeing that I 
am not ignorant. What does this name-calling 
have to do with anything? Some of the positions I have taken regarding 
forest management are hotly debated, for sure, but that is the nature of 
any of the sciences. I explained why the field activities I mentioned 
appeared in a post to Steve Shook; I in no way was trying to belittle 
practicing foresters; I apologize for any unintended slights.  I 
always argue with the issue, proposition, or facts --- not the 
person.  I strongly believe that ad hominum attacks have no place in 
the sciences; we should leave this tactic to the politicians.      


> I agree this thread has probably run its course 
and it is > obvious that we will never agree on the role of science and 
> scientists, let alone the role or nature of forest management.


Actually, we probably agree on a lot.  This simply is not a very good 
forum to talk on. I am handing your sword back to you.  

> I lay down my sword.
> Regards - Bob Weinberger








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