Wintner, Robert (2016) Reef society and the tyranny of data. Animal Sentience 8(2)
Jonathan Balcombe, In praise of fishes: Précis of What a fish knows (Balcombe 2016)
Modern science now approaches divergent processes in many areas, including health assessments of marine eco-systems and social aspects of marine species. Scientific data have long enjoyed a reputation for objectivity but incidents of science-for-hire, data spinning/skewing and political jading are more frequent than ever. In the field of reef creature sensitivity, technical treatises can “logically” explain away what a person of average education can clearly observe on any given reef. Western medicine discounted anecdotal evidence of any cure outside the 4% margin of error until those cures demanded attention and in some cases application. Modern science must now enter an age of practical truth, with data presented, interpreted and peer-reviewed in a common-sense context without regard for political or commercial expediency. A wealth of empirical content combined with credible observations and even a dose of empathy for social order in gill-breathing species makes Balcombe’s new book a welcome contribution.