Opinion: Biologists trade their opinions for the highest price

"The recent arrest of Mad River biologists Ronald LeValley and Sean McAllister on charges of using phony spotted owl surveys to embezzle funds from the Yurok Tribe should lead to an in-depth discussion of the long-standing method of obtaining a scientific consultation for any resource project. For many years, I have been troubled by the many partially trained alleged biologists willing to give an opinion on virtually any project for a large sum of money. This is usually done under the guise of “science,” and the experts usually have some scientific training. The more expensive ones may have a college degree or have written numerous reports. They may have become a member in good standing of the local scientific community.

In most situations, there is no criteria for becoming an expert. Some experts have undergraduate degrees; a few have advanced degrees; some did not complete their degree or have degrees in a field not related to their expert opinions. There are virtually no testing or knowledge standards for becoming an expert.

It is a poorly kept secret that if you have a project that needs a favorable expert scientific opinion, there are many alleged scientific experts in this area who will give you a favorable opinion for a large sum of money. Conversely if you need a negative opinion, for an equally large sum of money, you can find an alleged scientific expert who will back your negative opinion."

Get the Story:
Denver Nelson: Biologists for hire sell opinions (The Eureka Times-Standard 3/14)

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Biologist embezzlement case may go federal (The Eureka Times-Standard 3/14)

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