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Stephen Budiansky diagnoses a logical flaw

Over at LIberal Curmudgeon, Steve Budiansky has a
good insight into a subject he knows well, ever since writing the
book Nature’s Keepers: claims about species

The whole science behind the
extinction crisis is riddled with

circular reasoning
, but this is an
especially fine example. No new research was involved, no field
studies, no nothing that involved actual science as we know it.
(The researchers for example concluded that habitat loss is one of
the “root causes” of global biodiversity loss; this conclusion was
derived from the fact that many of the species listed as threatened
on the IUCN
Red List
were presumed to be threatened, and accordingly placed on
the list in the first place, because of . . . habitat

Like Steve, I care about extinctions. In my youth I worked on
three different projects to try to diagnose and arrest the decline
of rare birds in the Indian subcontinent. But like me he fears that
mega-political statements and exaggerated claims will only do that
cause harm:


By the way, in my earlier post on

, I made the point that
exaggerated warnings of impending doom and politicized science “is
already causing a dangerous political backlash that has handed
ammunition (exactly as in the case of global warming) to those who
want to reject any and all evidence of human impacts on the natural

Precisely. Stop playing into the hands of the nutters.


By Matt Ridley | Tagged:  rational-optimist