Back in the 1990s, in at least one institution, rigorous government science was alive and well.
At Invermay Agricultural Research Centre, “Lab” meetings were being held where the scientist (or trembling student) presented his or her proposed experiment: the background, hypotheses to be tested and methods. From these proposals were hammered out, with the critical input of all to be involved (particularly sharp, insightful comments were usual from some of the technical staff). Biometric approval was required to ensure the results from the research would be meaningful.
In those days any hint of a prejudicial bias seriously undermined a scientist’s credibility. His or her worth was measured by the number of publications in high quality, peer-reviewed journals.
Twenty-five years on, it seems a scientist’s selling ability matters most. Gaining funding and successfully delivering results that generate more funding is vital to career development. And since the NZ government controls the money (grants to universities, NGOs and its own departments) the government gets and selects what it wants.
Sadly, one of the things the NZ government wants and has been getting since the 1960s is widespread aerial poisoning with the broad spectrum poison 1080. The government has argued it needs to kill introduced mammals claimed to spread bovine tuberculosis (Tb) and threaten native wildlife, and widespread poisoning is the best way …
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