Last night I attended the Simon Fraser University sponsored Speaking for the Salmon Series: which consisted of a recent “Scientific Think Tank” presenting its findings from a recent “Think Tank” on: The Ups and Downs of Fraser River Sockeye.
It was an interesting presentation by some good folks that have spent a lot of time ‘studying’ salmon. Many folks that I have respect for in their dedication and energy in exploring these issues. I can also appreciate that the group last night approached the issue with a certain amount of openness to other perspectives.
However, just as I mentioned in my comments last night at the public presentation — what really can one expect the outcomes to be from a gathering of some 35 scientists?
Well… from the summary paper given to attendees last night:
“efforts should be made to develop a coordinated multi-disciplinary research program to address these issues” (e.g. ups and downs of Fraser sockeye).
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So a group of scientists get together, 23 listed on the sheet from last night, 21 with “Dr.” preceding their name — and a big recommendation coming from the Think Tank is: “more science, more research.”
My thoughts passed along last night… if we got 20+ economists together to discuss the salmon issue — they would most likely suggest an approach that would explore: ‘supply & demand’, ‘cost benefit analsyis’, and marginal benefits…
If we got 20+ teachers together to discuss salmon issues — they would most likely recommend curriculum development, teaching tools, and classroom activities…
If we got 20+ lawyers together (e.g. not much unlike the Cohen Commission) — they would most likely recommend some legal analysis, constitutional rights, and legal precedent…
If we got 20+ politicians together — they would most likely launch into the importance of ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ and ‘open & transparent processes’ and the importance of their ‘constituents…
And thus scientists recommending more science — isn’t too surprising.
(of course they did also turn up the pressure on implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy too…)
I sort of ponder what would happen if we got 20+ salmon together to discuss the issue…
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As I mentioned last night, and in posts on this site —- what if instead of repeated Commissions and Inquiries and Auditor General reports, we established a process not much unlike the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform which finished its work in BC in 2004.
With this type of process, there are no experts, or preeminent scientists, or folks that tend to use lots of big words, or bureaucratic drivelers or politicians — driving the process. Those sorts of folks are just advisers making recommendations.
It’s average joe and jill folks, randomly chosen, that evaluate the information and release their recommendations. Good plain old common sense, intuition, and street smarts — all used to look for ideas, potential actions, and solid recommendations. And, in the case of the Citizen’s Assembly, it went to a referendum.
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As with any ‘group’ of people — when a group gets together that is all versed in the same language and mode of thinking, it can become challenging to really step outside the confines of that world and really think with some innovation. (even good, well-meaning individuals like salmon scientists).
One of the other problems is that some language becomes common-place — when used in the world outside of the room, average folks need some serious translation. And sometimes, after awhile, some words just don’t really mean anything at all — they become like the empty nutrients in a chocolate bar, or Coke Zero, or something to that effect…
“ecosystem-based management” as one of the finest examples of this.
For this purpose, I had a post awhile back on Bumpf-Word Bingo.
Last night, this idea came up in casual conversation — and for any of those folks attending the Cohen Commission or other fisheries meetings — we can politely rename this Bullshit Bingo.
And here is your playing card. Standard Bingo rules apply: when you black out a line, or an entire card, you shout out “Bullshit”!
|stewardship||conservation||implementation plans||ecosystem objectives||variables|
|strategic planning||biodiversity||transparency||best practices||safeguard|
|performance indicators||extirpation||establish linkages||baseline monitoring||ecosystem integrity|
|comprehensive||escapement||data management||adaptive management||framework|
This would be all the more interesting if some folks would put up some prizes for the game… happy playing.