Next Article in Journal
Immune Responses and Performance Are Influenced by Respiratory Vaccine Antigen Type and Stress in Beef Calves
Previous Article in Journal
Effect of Feeding Lactating Ewes with Moringa oleifera Leaf Extract on Milk Yield, Milk Composition and Preweaning Performance of Ewe/Lamb Pair
Open AccessCommentary

Bias and Misrepresentation of Science Undermines Productive Discourse on Animal Welfare Policy: A Case Study

1
Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key, FL 33050, USA
2
Department of Biology, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX 75962-3003, USA
3
Biology Department, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA 02747, USA
4
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(7), 1118; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071118
Received: 9 June 2020 / Revised: 25 June 2020 / Accepted: 26 June 2020 / Published: 29 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Zoo Animals)
Creating good animal welfare-related laws, regulations, and policies depends on accurate knowledge. To that end, scientific reviews that explain and contextualize the relevant research can be powerful tools for informing decision-makers, assuming these reviews represent the state of the scientific knowledge accurately and objectively. In this commentary, we examine the major flaws, biases, and misrepresentations of the scientific literature in one such recent review regarding the welfare and care of captive killer whales. Such pervasive problems, in this or any review, make it impossible to determine the true state of knowledge of the relevant issues, and can ultimately result in misinformed, arbitrary, or even harmful decisions about animals and their care.
Reliable scientific knowledge is crucial for informing legislative, regulatory, and policy decisions in a variety of areas. To that end, scientific reviews of topical issues can be invaluable tools for informing productive discourse and decision-making, assuming these reviews represent the target body of scientific knowledge as completely, accurately, and objectively as possible. Unfortunately, not all reviews live up to this standard. As a case in point, Marino et al.’s review regarding the welfare of killer whales in captivity contains methodological flaws and misrepresentations of the scientific literature, including problematic referencing, overinterpretation of the data, misleading word choice, and biased argumentation. These errors and misrepresentations undermine the authors’ conclusions and make it impossible to determine the true state of knowledge of the relevant issues. To achieve the goal of properly informing public discourse and policy on this and other issues, it is imperative that scientists and science communicators strive for higher standards of analysis, argumentation, and objectivity, in order to clearly communicate what is known, what is not known, what conclusions are supported by the data, and where we are lacking the data necessary to draw reliable conclusions. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; misrepresentation; orca; killer whale; captivity; brain size; legislation; policy; management; bias animal welfare; misrepresentation; orca; killer whale; captivity; brain size; legislation; policy; management; bias
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Jaakkola, K.; Bruck, J.N.; Connor, R.C.; Montgomery, S.H.; King, S.L. Bias and Misrepresentation of Science Undermines Productive Discourse on Animal Welfare Policy: A Case Study. Animals 2020, 10, 1118. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071118

AMA Style

Jaakkola K, Bruck JN, Connor RC, Montgomery SH, King SL. Bias and Misrepresentation of Science Undermines Productive Discourse on Animal Welfare Policy: A Case Study. Animals. 2020; 10(7):1118. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071118

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jaakkola, Kelly; Bruck, Jason N.; Connor, Richard C.; Montgomery, Stephen H.; King, Stephanie L. 2020. "Bias and Misrepresentation of Science Undermines Productive Discourse on Animal Welfare Policy: A Case Study" Animals 10, no. 7: 1118. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071118

Find Other Styles
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Search more from Scilit
 
Search
Back to TopTop