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Yellowstone's Destabilized EcosystemElk Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict$
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Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148213.001.0001

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Why the Science Missed the Mark

Why the Science Missed the Mark

Chapter:
(p.307) 16 Why the Science Missed the Mark
Source:
Yellowstone's Destabilized Ecosystem
Author(s):

Frederic H. Wagner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148213.003.0016

Research by Yellowstone biologists was administered by the park until 1993, when they were transferred out of the National Park Service (NPS). Park northern-range research since 1971 has largely supported the natural-regulation hypothesis, which has provided a scientific rationale for the politically coerced natural-regulation policy. Park research since 1971 has produced inferences on the northern range that are contrary to pre-1971 research and post-1971 research not supported by the park, because contrary evidence has been ignored; evidence has been used selectively, hypotheses have been proposed for which there was no supporting evidence, and subsequently treated as confirmed, careless scholarship; and administrative actions coercing compliance with the natural-regulation hypothesis. Scientific objectivity in park research could be fostered by placing it in an independent NPS division that reports to the NPS director. But such a move is administratively unlikely because former park biologists are now in the Biological Resources Division of the US Geological Survey, and the park has moved to ‘backfill’ its vacated research program.

Keywords:   scientific objectivity, research administration, evidence ignored, unsupported hypotheses, Biological Resources Division, US Geological Survey

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