I worked on a farm as my summer job while I was at School and University, so I feel just in claiming some agricultural heritage by sweat and toil if not by decent. About once every 3 month I buy a copy of Farmers Weekly to keep some background in what is going on in agriculture.
Buying a copy of Farmers Weekly in mid-Wales has no shame attached to it. I bought a copy titled alone the lines of "Railway Enthusiast" for my 3 year old who is mad about trains. While I did not comment, I felt the need to tell the chap in W H Smiths in Manchester Airport who I had never seen before or will ever see again that it was not for me. Still small man has got my monies worth out of the train mag.
This weeks copy of F. W. has a Opinion article by a Norfolk farmer called David Richardson who comes across as red faced, older version of Ben Goldacre in wellies which is probably a compliment. I suspect he would be quite happy if certain types of politicians were culled from politics.
Sound Science, however, is about evidence and research. It examines all possibilities. For that reason a scientist will never concede any product or process is 100% safe. They will admit while existing knowledge shows something is 99.999% OK, there is an outside chance something may be discovered that prevents 100% designation. It is this reluctance towards absolutism that make then vulnerable to criticism by some.
My experience of mid-Wales farmers is a tendency to pick and choose from what science has to offer as it suits them, but that is probably a mirror of the population in general and our training to believe what the media tell us on science without questioning the quality of the copy.
Also in this issue was the Farmers Weekly's Awards 2009. A good example of an exception to David Richardson's wise words where Elin Jones the local A.M. (Welsh Assembly Government Member), and Christianne Glossop, the Welsh Chief Vet, have used a combined science and common sense approach to the very real problem of Bovine TB. There is no single "black and white" right course of action around this subject, but a complex set of tradeoffs and risks. Some may say it is political suicide for Elin won't be able to count on the support of the voting Badger population in Ceredigion any longer.
Back in the equally whacky world of diagnosis of Computer System problems, claiming to be 100% sure of the root cause or fix of a problem is leading indicator for knowing too little about a computer systems ecosystem to make a useful contribution. I think so at least, but am open to evidence which may change my mind on this matter.