Science-Gate

My old friend Vivian Krause tweeted a week ago:

This began a back and forth about whether the publishing of the article Declining Wild Salmon Populations in Relation to Parasites from Farm Salmon in a December 2007 issue of Science was improper. Krause seems to feel that Donald Kennedy, then Editor-in-Chief of Science and a Packard Foundation Trustee, was somehow involved in the peer review process of this paper by Martin Krkošek and Alexandra Morton . Well, maybe not directly involved despite saying so. To make a long story short here is the basis of her complaint:

Right. So the paper was published because Kennedy was a Packard Foundation Trustee, and the Packard Foundation has funded research into aquaculture, (some of which is not very favourable to the B.C. fish farming industry that Krause once worked for) though they didn’t directly fund Krkošek/Morton’s work1.

So I suppose the key is whether the Krkošek/Morton was “properly reviewed”. And to that, Krause offers in evidence this letter she wrote to Dr. Alan I. Leshner at the The American Academy for the Advancement of Science. It’s long, and in my opinion full of lots of red herrings about the Packard Foundation’s activities. The heart of her argument of scientific impropriety however is this:

Senior scientists and others have noted serious flaws and peculiarities in Hites et al. (2004) and in Krkosek et al. (2007). These peculiarities appear to me to be serious deviations from the commonly accepted, good practices of the scientific community.

That’s it. No brown envelopes stuffed full on money. In terms of Krkošek et al, who are these senior scientists? Krause cites “Brooks & Jones (2008)”. I’m assuming this refers to Perspectives on Pink Salmon and Sea Lice: Scientific Evidence Fails to Support the Extinction Hypothesis by Kenneth M. Brooks and Simon R. M. Jones, Reviews in Fisheries Science 2008. Who are they? Well obviously people who can get published in Reviews in Fisheries Science. Simon is or was an employee of the DFO. Kenneth M. Brooks appears to be this Kenneth M. Brooks, owner of environmental consulting firm Aquatic Environmental Sciences. Now, that begs the question…who commissioned Brooks’s work? I dunno [cue ominous music]. And then there’s the fact it was published, you know, after Krkošek’s paper. I guess Donald Kennedy was supposed to travel to the future as part of due diligence.

Whatever. Krkošek wrote a response Sea Lice and Pink Salmon Declines: A Response to Brooks and Jones (2008) also published in Reviews in Fisheries Science. Science Magazine itself published a rebuttal piece to Krkošek from Brian Riddell – CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which generated a response from Krkošek and so on and so on.

Not being even remotely a marine scientist, I don’t know who is wrong or who is right or who has the stronger argument. But what I do know is this very much appears to be the normal back and forth that is part and parcel of the scientific process.

Once again Vivian Krause attempts to spin the ordinary into the [sinisterly] extraordinary.

1. Who were: Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems National Centre of Excellence Network on Biological Invasions and Dispersal Research (with nonacademic participants including the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Sablefish Association, Wilderness Tourism Association, and Finest at Sea), the National Geographic Society, Tides Canada, a University of Alberta Bill Shostak Wildlife Award, the Lenfest Ocean Program, Census of Marine Life, and a Canada Research Chair.

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