Geoscience Reference
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(Letter to the Guardian from Mary Midgley, 8 October 1998)
The Bateson science is doomed for the bin. I have had an interest in the red
deer for 23 years. Professor Bateson's science in his report to the National
Trust bears no resemblance to the clinical picture. Consequently, I too had
blood samples taken from deer. Bateson came to the conclusion that because
he found high levels of the muscle enzyme (CK) that the hunted deer have a
myopathy (a severe muscle cramp-muscle damage). Unlike Bateson I took a
series of samples from each deer. This demonstrated that most of the CK
elevation is contamination from damaged muscle caused by the shooting.
This demolishes the cornerstone of Bateson's report.
(Letter to the Guardian from D.J.B.Denny, 13 October 1998)
Mr Denny's name is not to be found on the worldwide list of scientific papers
which have been published since 1981. He has not published any of the
details of his so-called study. We are told nothing of his sample sizes or his
methods. Even if he had carried out an adequate study, his findings would
not impinge on the clear evidence of high levels of stress in hunted red deer….
If he would care to expose himself to normal peer review, it might be possible
to discover how much credibility to attach to his claims.
(Letter to the Guardian from Patrick Bateson, 15 October 1998)
Hence the representativeness of the 'deer' mobilised by Bateson in the form of
scientific knowledge was questioned through the translation of other deer in other
'scientific' representations which subsequently became open to scrutiny against a
criterion of established scientific practice.
The second form of challenge to the Bateson Report involved the discrediting of
science as an appropriate means of representation and the privileging of local lay
knowledges. As Bateson and Bradshaw (1997:51) comment, hunt followers 'felt
that their impressions and personal anecdotes counted for more than the weight of
the quantitative evidence'. In particular they questioned not the scientific detail of
the report, but the conclusion that banning hunting with hounds would reduce the
suffering caused to deer herds and hence be in the best interests of the deer. The pro-
hunting lobby instead argued that banning hunting would result in the large-scale
slaughter of deer by farmers—an argument which was swiftly converted into more
mobile and graphic representation. Three days before the parliamentary debate in
November 1997, a photograph showing the antlers of over thirty stags killed by
farmers on the Quantock Hills was released to the press. This was reproduced in
national newspapers, along with statements that at least thirty-six of the seventy-six
stags on the Quantocks had been shot since the introduction of the hunting ban by
the National Trust. The newspapers quoted the joint-master of the Quantock
Staghounds, commenting that, 'I feared this would happen. It is nothing to do with
revenge. I can only assume that the deer have been doing damage and that farmers
can't see any way forward and have taken things into their own hands' (in Gibbs
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