Monday, 18 June 2012

Mob mentality of True Believers

There is a discussion on the Horse and Hound forum, where ragwort expert Esther Hegt has tried valiantly to explain to them about the hysteria and myths  surrounding the plant.She gets many responses that are just  full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Esther, a keen horsewoman, is known to people working on ragwort for her towering intellect. She has written a magnificent website with the help of quite a stellar cast of experts. If you want to know anything about the plant Esther will have a reference or a scientific  paper to hand.

Unfortunately, this intelligent woman is casting pearls before swine on that forum. There are  some there who are  "True Believers" in the hysteria and who dismiss her out of hand. I know the regular scientific readers of this blog will be holding their heads  in horror as a time after time one   ignoramus after another  repeats the endless ragwort myths and uses poor cognitive skills to do so. Ignoramus is the word all right. It comes from a the name of a  character in a play and means "we don't know" in Latin.

It is perhaps understandable that some people.think that reading things on-line or in newspapers or magazines is the correct way to get information and there has been some really bad information in the horsey press. Like this stuff from your horse magazine a few years ago

The reality of course is that  the international consensus is that ragwort poisoning  is quite  rare.
The only significant problems being caused by hay and starvation. Liverpool University, for example, tells me that despite having records of treating a number of horses with liver damage at their  animal hospital, they have no record of any case of diagnosed ragwort poisoning at all for the five year period 2006-2010.

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