In the midst of the madness of teaching my very first class, I made time to go see Jennifer Jacquet speak at SIO on Tuesday. Her talk was entitled “A Way Forward in a Sea of Market-Based Efforts to Save Wild Fish,” and I found it most disturbing. Not because of her ideas (which were interesting), but because she heavily criticized Mark Powell’s blogging in the context of her formal scientific talk.
Jacquet first brought up this blogfish entry to illustrate the criticism of her April 2007 paper in Marine Policy. She implied that Powell had directly compared her to Dick Cheney, saying “the picture of Dick Cheney was a really low blow.” It got chuckles from the audience, sure, but that’s not at all what Mark said. Is misrepresenting a blogger somehow different than misrepresenting peer-reviewed citations?
She brought up Mark Powell again at the end of the talk, using this entry to illustrate “lots of what we find in the NGO world.” She said (and this is not an exact quote) that Powell illustrates defensiveness in the NGO world, who put a lot of effort into seafood watch cards and get frustrated because they don’t work. When has Powell ever advocated telling people to avoid eating seafood? That mischaracterizes his position quite severely.
She also nailed Powell for contradicting his earlier entry, saying that he had come around to her point of view on the need to elect environmentally-friendly politicians. Maybe so or maybe not, but I thought that pointing out contradictions in a blog (rather than in his actions or published works) was kind of a tacky argument. It’s a BLOG – people crank out an entry every day for years. Obvously there will be some contradictions.
To make the Powell references all more ironic, Jacquet advocated for working with suppliers higher on the demand chain, such as Red Lobster. Isn’t that exactly what Powell just did with red snapper and Wal-Mart? This was not mentioned at all in the talk (though I did bring it up during the question period).
Citing blogs in formal talks has big implications for all scientist-bloggers. Though I stand by everything I’ve written here over the last 11 months, TOG is designed for fun and speed. I don’t put 1/1000th of the work into a given entry that I put into a formal talk or paper. I understand that everything I write in this blog is public for ever and ever, and I do it under my real name because I like being a science communicator. They don’t, and shouldn’t have the weight of a published, peer-reviewed paper that is the result of months of work.
So I suppose science bloggers have to decide – are blogs fair game in formal presentations?