More from Michael Hutchins

In his most recent post, Michael Hutchins (CEO/Executive Director of The Wildlife Society) once again misses the point…


As you might imagine, I was disappointed with your response to my post. It was really just more of the same—a vague defense of the peer-review process, scientific publications, and so forth. Meanwhile, you have yet to dispute a single claim I’ve made in my extensive criticism of the feral cat/TNR literature.

But, like you, I have more important things to do. So, just two brief points:

  1. While I generally agree with your claim that “science is among the most self-correcting of all human endeavors,” I would suggest that this is often in spite of, not because of, its peer-review process.As to the “most severe” consequences for “scientific misbehavior,” I will refer you to Daniel Carlat’s book, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry—A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis. In it, Carlat reveals that about half the articles written about the antidepressant Zoloft where, at one time, actually ghostwritten by non-physicians working for a marketing firm, and funded by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (the maker of Zoloft). Prominent psychiatrists were then paid to put their names on the bogus work. These articles were published in prominent peer-reviewed journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Psychiatry.

    So, what happened when all of this came to light? “You would think that there would be repercussions,” Carlat told Dave Davies, guest host of NPR’s Fresh Air, during an interview week. “However, there have not been any such repercussions.”

  2. Regarding my alleged portrayal of professional biologists, ecologists and conservationists as cat haters, I have neither stated nor implied anything of the kind. On the contrary, I took you at your word when you wrote, “I have also kept many pets during my lifetime and have bonded with individual animals as diverse as fruit bats, dogs, cats, turtles, frogs, snakes, lizards, and tropical fish.” [1]I’m struck once again by the ease with which you—the trained scientist, as you’re quick to point out—arrive at conclusions with so little consideration of the facts. While I hardly expect you to read my blog regularly, you at least ought to familiarize yourself with the material you’re disputing. If you don’t want to read what I’ve written, that’s fine—but please don’t put words in my mouth.

I suppose I owe you a debt of gratitude, Michael. When, as the CEO/Executive Director of a 9,000-member science organization, you use your bully pulpit to publish a response plagued by exaggerations, misrepresentations, and errors—not to mention its arrogant, dismissive tone—you do a far better job of supporting my position than challenging it.

Literature Cited

1. Hutchins, M., “The Limits of Compassion.” Wildlife Professional (Allen Press). 2007. 1(2): p. 42-44.


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