Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ignorance and bigotry in the face of science

One of the problems encountered when trying to communicate the science of ragwort to the public is ignorance (In the sense of lacking of knowledge). Whenever you go on line and enter a forum you will find someone who is ignorant but just knows that they know it all better than you do.

One of these problems was recently encountered by a well known European expert on Ragwort, Esther Hegt from the Netherlands. A keen horsewoman, Esther runs one of the best websites in the world on the subject and it has an English language version Ragwort Myths and Facts. It is stuffed with facts and figures all gathered from a documented list of expert sources. Much of her most important information is co-authored by a leading ragwort scientist Dr Pieter Pelser who actually has a Phd on the plant!

The website contains a great deal of information for dispelling the panic over the plant and the panic originated in the UK which is why the English language section was developed. This Netherlands hosted site does not get well listed in UK search engines which is a great pity.

Unfortunately, when trying to explain things on-line she can get attacked and one vicious and bigoted example comes from the forum of our old friends Horse and Hound. A hotbed of "horsteria" over ragwort.

Trying to explain the facts to some people there this leading expert gets told "to take her ignorance back to France" ( which of course isn't even where she comes from!) The irony is of course it is the attacker who is not just ignorant but bigoted as well.
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