Saturday, 13 October 2012

Predictable silly ignorance

This week I blogged about the rather excellent letter by Matt Shardlow in The Times.
Rather predictably, there has been a burst of angry ignorance in the horsey community. This beautifully illustrates why it is I do this blog.

The fuss about ragwort, is as I have blogged before, largely made up. The plant is only a risk if it is put in hay and all the evidence internationally shows that poisoning is rare. However, there is so much nonsense in circulation that some people refuse to accept the scientific facts even when they are given them.

Today's great example of this phenomenon comes from the Dalesfans Message board where some horsey people have displayed a marvellous degree of ignorance.  Ignorance is, as I have said before, no crime as the word simply comes from the Latin for not knowing and we are all ignorant of many things. Ignorance abounds about ragwort hence my blogging. It is very irritating.

The first piece is probably an ignorant near malapropism which made me laugh. OK not everyone has studied classical languages but I thought it funny.

Someone who was annoyed with Matt Shardlow's fine letter and disbelieved it through apparent ignorance wrote.

Perhaps we could concoct a reply? 
I read it as meaning "compose a reply" but concoct has a subtly different meaning coming from the Latin "cook together or "cook up".
The massive multi-tomed Oxford English dictionary, which is accepted as the definitive guide to the English language, has the following:-

To make up, devise, or plan by concert, or by artificial combination; to put together, make up, or fabricate (a story, project, fraud, etc.).
The problem is that most of the panic about ragwort has been concocted in this sense! People, often with a  financial interest, have cooked up a load of misinformation and diseminated it.

Another silly misinformed and incorrect comment about Matt Sharlow is:-

What a fool
I'm sure I've read a report about how even a small amount of skin contact (pulling up a few plants) with ragwort and the toxins can be found in our liver
I know Matt Shardlow. He is no fool! The Independent newspaper described him in 2008 as :-

The environmentalist with the most conspicuous rising reputation in Britain.

Of course the clincher is that his critic here has been rather foolish and repeated the nonsensical skin absorption myth which  have blogged about before
To briefly recap it has been looked at by experts including one with a PhD in ragwort and it isn't right!

 But it gets worse! With comments like this!

Everyone should be doing their part to get rid of it. They won't actually mobilize fully until a kid drops dead from the stuff.
This is laughable nonsense. The plant is nowhere near that toxic. There are many plants which contain the same toxins which are all over the place. My local public park has plenty. Of one of them is a close relative of ragwort  and it is no danger. Tomatoes , potatoes, runner beans etc all have poisonous parts, more poisonous probably, but it doesn't stop people growing them.

Then we have this ridiculously inaccurate gem:-

I don't believe this plant should be described as native. Its(sic) not indigenous to these shores. Some Victorian collector brought it back from Asia to somewhere like Kew I think. Can't remember exactly but it was on a gardening programme a few years ago.
I am probably the last person to recommend listening to experts solely as a way of getting information but when a leading nature expert writes to The Times newspaper and says something about nature, as Matt Shardlow did when he wrote, it should at least raise the doubt in any sensible person's mind that he might be right.

Of course this is nonsense. Common ragwort is well-known by any botanist to be a native plant.

This is a classic example of what happens all the time. People having read nonsense in the press, repeat it over and over again, until it is believed.


Ragwort Hysteria latest entries

No comments:

Post a Comment