Science and Public Policy
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Science and Public Policy

The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science

Aynsley Kellow

This book is an examination of a neglected form of scientific corruption – corruption by political attachment to noble causes.
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Chapter 1: The Political Ecology of Pseudonovibos Spiralis and the Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Science

Aynsley Kellow


They hunted till darkness came on, but they found Not a button, or feather, or mark, By which they could tell that they stood on the ground Where the Baker had met with the Snark. In the midst of the word he was trying to say, In the midst of his laughter and glee, He had softly and suddenly vanished away – For the Snark was a Boojum, you see. Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll In late 2003 the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) released a new edition of its Red List of endangered species. On the list, again, was Pseudonovibos spiralis (Peter and Feiler, 1994), commonly known as the khting vor (‘wild cow with horns like lianas’) in Cambodia or the linh duong (‘mountain goat’) in Vietnam. Pseudonovibos spiralis had been first listed in 2000 (IUCN, 2003). Pseudonovibos spiralis was categorized as ‘EN C2a’ under the categories and criteria adopted by the IUCN in 1994, meaning it was ‘endangered’, with a population estimated to number less than 2500 mature individuals, and suffering a continuing decline ‘observed, projected, or inferred’ in numbers of mature individuals and population structure in the form of severely fragmented subpopulations, each of no more than 250 mature individuals. That the Red List continued to include Pseudonovibos spiralis was perhaps surprising, but even more surprising was the fact that the IUCN, if it had to list it, did not include the designation ‘DD’, or ‘data deficient’. This category is...

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