Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ragwort Debate The Nerve of the BHS

The  British Horse Society have a real nerve!
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have very little regard for them. In fact it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that I am disgusted by their behaviour. It is pretty clear now that they area poor source of information about ragwort.

This blog entry is based on the ragwort debate that is taking place on the Wildlife Extra website.

The first thing you will  notice is that the BHS offer no evidence other than to say Defra says you must control ragwort. Those of us who know will say  that Defra say this  because that BHS have created a hue and cry with false information. Not long ago they got themselves into trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority because one of their leaflets was false and companies were repeating their falsehoods

So we have a circular argument. the BHS gives Defra dodgy data . Defra repeat it and the BHS repeat Defra.

Defra of course as I blogged recently use such bad statistics it is questionable that they would pass a statistics GCSE.

In any case it is one of the biggest errors in thinking, particularly scientific thinking, to say something is correct because of someone in authority says it is. Worse than that research shows that people who do this habitually as part of their thinking tend to have lower IQ scores.

Of course the reason that the BHS don't offer any evidence is all the evidence they have tried to use has been comprehensively shreded by Buglife in the past.

One of the things that characterises the debate is how often BHS supporters are overly quick to find other reasons to panic about ragwort.  BHS supporters in Parliament have talked nonsense as in this example
and we have another excellent example in the forum debate

Oxford Ragwort is not actually covered by the Ragwort Control Act, though the code of practice does acknowledge that in some situations other species of ragwort may need to be controlled. There are a number of non-native species of ragwort present in the UK, S. squalidus and S. inaequidens being two I have become aware of. I understand some can hybridise with native species. Is there is any concern that common ragwort may through hybridisation be threatened as pure species. Once hybrids become established could these ragwort mongrels then be considered as non-native, invasive species. That would open a new can of worms.

The first thing here is going to be very clear to those of you who know botany is that this person doesn't have a lot of knowledge , as is typical in these debates. In fact I can see people chuckling if not laughing out loud. Oxford Ragwort ( S. squalidus) is absolutely insignificant in this debate. It simply doesn't grow in pastures. It can hybridise but not with Common Ragwort which is now in a different genus, but with Groundsel also not a normal pasture plant. The hybrids are usually completely sterile.
These are plants of waste ground. Oxford ragwort grows on railway lines, in gaps in the pavement and similar places. My local railway station carpark has a lot of it.

It is no crime to be ignorant. We are all ignorant of many things but it is annoying when ignoramuses find excuses for possible panic for no need at all. Unfortunately the BHS has  been spreading ignorance , by making ingnorant statements themselves.

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