It’s not just about the data

There was a viewer comment left on the Insight website last week which I thought was worth sharing:

 A disappointing Insight. By focussing so intently on data, the CSG representatives were able to control the whole discussion. This is not just about data, it’s about credibility, food, water, the future, farmland that’s been in family hands for generations. These are broad and important subjects which the CSG people avoid talking about. Noteworthy that the CSG industry person, academic and govt. regulator were all in agreement. Where’s the independent arbitrator?

There’s a few interesting points here. First up, “it’s not just about the data”. On the topic of CSG, it’s definitely a valid point. Although there is some disagreement about reported scientific data, there are so many other aspects to the debate. Confusingly, the community and media tend to lump all of the issues together, rather than deal with them separately. Lumping issues together creates a feeling of all or nothing, where disagreement on one issue implies rejection of CSG entirely. If the issues were worked through individually, it would be simpler to identify the road blocks to each issue and determine whether workable solutions can be reached. It’s helpful to recognise that difficult topics are better painted in shades of grey.

The second aspect of the viewer’s comment I find interesting is the implication that academia and government aren’t independent, because they agree with the industry. It’s as though the viewer has taken the default position that the industry is wrong and that the viewpoint of academia and government is worthless if they don’t also recognise the industry to be wrong. To be honest, I’m not sure what kind of independent arbitrator the viewer is looking for. Who would she consider to be independent if not academia and / or the government regulator?

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