We’ve talked a lot about Blackfish. Other sites have talked about it more. And while Andrew and I do want to reiterate the very real dangers associated with keeping large, intelligent marine mammals in captivity, we want to widen our lens a bit today and discuss how to navigate through misinformation and distinguish facts from falsehoods.
Science is meant to expand our understanding of the natural world. Data obtained through the scientific method can go a long way towards informing various levels of policy. In the case of the Blackfish-SeaWorld controversy, we see plenty of false information that is portrayed as truth. Therefore, it’s important that you look at the credible science when trying to make sense of all this information. For example, SeaWorld has put out many statements over the years claiming that captivity does not harm orca individuals. However, these statements come either from SeaWorld itself or organizations funded by SeaWorld. Conversely, the large majority of scientists, not funded by any conservation organization or marine park, have put out studies concluding that captivity is extremely detrimental for large, social marine mammals. The data supporting this is overwhelming.
With all of the news that has surrounded SeaWorld ever since Blackfish came out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information and confused as to how much of this information is credible and accurate. Though we as a society are getting better at not believing everything we see online, there’s still plenty of misinformation out there that is consumed as fact. This is especially true among controversial and polarizing issues like climate change and marine mammal captivity. In these instances, there are some ways to help sort through the garbage and find accurate information.
Peer-reviewed scientific articles, though dense, are very thoroughly vetted prior to publication by a wide variety of researchers. Neutral organizations or websites that do not receive any funding marine parks also typically have less bias than those receive industry funding. If you still can’t determine fact from fiction, ask the author of the article or study what they’re credentials are. Or better yet, ask them to walk you through their study. Researchers and scientists appreciate when the public takes an interest in their work, and most would be happy to explain their findings to you. By following these simple guidelines, we can hopefully move past all the misinformation out there and focus on developing scientifically-sound management practices and policies.
Enjoy the Podcast!