Saturday, April 13, 2013



Seniors' Scene

This Muzzling Madness

Open letter to MP Mark Strahl

Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack


ere is an outstanding open and sincere evaluation of the threats on democracy that our federal government is both inadvertently allowing, and even deliberately doing.

I also point out that unfortunately many people who have not studied science and research methodology, tend to undervalue the findings of scientific research. They do not realize how carefully and systematically it is conducted and how rigorous peer evaluation is, before it is allowed to be published. They do not know which scientific journals are truly scientific and which are popular semi-fiction. They have not noticed in the recommendations at the end of a science report, that the word "proved" is never claimed by the researcher.

Rather the words used are "This study suggests that........", even when proof seems obvious. The reason is that always there are some variables that have not been researched in the study.

Some gaps may have some to light during the study, and others will probably/ hopefully be discovered later. Replication of the study in different locations or circumstances, is always recommended. The first study in a chosen area is usually qualitative. After enough subcategories have been identified, subsequent studies can be quantitative.

Some scientists unfortunately try to find evidence for the theories they favor. They have a hypothesis. I prefer descriptive studies that enter a field in an open-minded manner, seeking to discover the variables and their interactions.

At the end, or beginning of each day, the researchers tabulate what they have observed. Gradually, day by day patterns emerge and begin to be arranged under headings. Interconnections are observed.

This was called Grounded Theory in my graduate studies. Assumptions are recognized and gradually identified as not relevant at all, or which seem to be true to some extent. Notice that the findings are tentative, and that they evolve as more data are collected.

The questions asked in a survey often contain more than one question, to which the respondent can answer to each part with either yes, no, or shades of maybe.

After hundreds of respondents have been interviewed, the major task has just begun. A qualitative, and especially a quantitative, analysis of the many categories in the raw data, takes much scientific skill, patience and time.

A better understanding of the above paragraphs by the government and the public at all levels could increase trust in and respect for science.

It is very undemocratic for scientific research to be ignored and for the voices of scientists to be silenced. It happens all the time without officials realizing it.

I am deeply disturbed by the political machinations of some biochemical industries to muzzle the findings of scientists. When their own scientists have found evidence that disagrees with their chosen production plan, they are persecuted and, if they persist in voicing alarm, they lose their jobs.

Those scientists and administrators who compromise so as to agree with the industry's policies, are given promotions they are not qualified for, so they may not realize the products are either unsafe or not properly verified as safe. Seeing only the benefits and being unaware of the dangers, they may sincerely promote their sale.

Some of these deceived but influential people are flattered by the industry into applying for civil service government jobs at high levels in food, health, agricultural, mining, aboriginal, fisheries and other ministries. One apparently is a supreme court judge in the USA, a man considered to be a devout Christian. The wickedness within has compromised all of us without our knowing so.

I am not ready to accuse the Conservative Government of deliberate muzzling of scientists, but I do point out that many scientists in the civil service have been silenced and/ or dismissed. Some have been bullied. This is very serious.

Above all Government funding of research at Universities must be generous. Cutbacks are unwise. This is because it is more likely to be at arms length and unbiased than research by industries. Funding by private foundations is also usually reliable. It is sad that drug companies shower doctors and medical students with their research papers, which tend to play down the negative findings.

Myrtle Macdonald, M.Sc. Applied in Research and Education in Nursing with a Minor in the Social Sciences (McGill Univ).

About Myrtle Macdonald

Myrtle Macdonald has an MSc Applied in Nursing and Research from McGill University, Montreal. Her Minor is in the Social Sciences (Anthropology and Psycho-Sociology).

She has worked in many hospital, nursing education and community health roles in six provinces of Canada and four countries overseas. She is 91 years of age and actively writes and contributes to publications in the Fraser Valley including the Valley Voice News.

Mental Health Advisory Committee,
BC Schizophrenia Society,
Rail for the Valley
Ecologic-BC (environmental issues)
singing in the choir at St. Thomas Anglican Church.

Currently, Myrtle is nearing completion of her book called People Migrations in Europe and America; 2000 Years of Nation-Building.

"It is almost ready for publishing. It is background work for family genealogy search, and it accurately brings together a lot of significant history ignored in high school and university textbooks," wrote Macdonald



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