Another scientist who doesn’t understand science: A former biologist at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Migratory Bird Center has been found guilty of attempting to poison feral cats in Washington, DC.
It isn’t her crime here that disturbs me. It is her own research and testimony during her trial:
In addition to the videotaped evidence, prosecutors also introduced evidence that Dauphiné has a long history advocating in academic literature for the control of feral cat populations in order to protect native bird populations. In one paper, in the 2009 Proceedings of the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics, Dauphiné and co-author Robert J. Cooper, a wildlife biologist at the University of Georgia in Athens, argue that feral cats kill upwards of 1 billion birds in the United States every year. They also argue that the “trap-neuter-release” model for population control, which is advocated by many animal rights organizations, does a poor job of managing feral cat populations.
Yesterday, Judge Truman A. Morrison III noted in his remarks that, during Dauphiné’s testimony during the trial, she declined to discuss whether she agreed with various academic papers on which she was listed as an author, and said she wasn’t familiar with many of their statements about the danger that feral cats pose to birds. In delivering his verdict, Morrison said that the notion that Dauphiné wouldn’t be familiar with papers she authored or co-authored “doesn’t have the ring of the truth.” He also “found that her inability, indeed her unwillingness to own up to her own professional writings … undermined her credibility.” [emphasis mine]
First, the claim that feral cats kill a billion birds a year in the U.S. seems extremely implausible. Second, for this scientist to then pretend she “wasn’t familiar” with this claim, written in her own work, tells us just how untrustworthy she and her work are.