All over the planet – including here in northern California – conservationists are fighting expensive battles against invasive species. Are these efforts guided by science, or emotion? On Tuesday July 12 at 7 PM, hosts Bob Spies and Tim Bray will talk with Dr. Matthew Chew, of the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University. Dr. Chew applies historical methods to identify how basic human motivations and preferences have become structural elements of scientific theories, particularly in the field of “invasion biology.” He has co-authored several papers challenging ecological nativism, incluuding a controversial 2011 essay in Nature magazine arguing that we ought to judge species based on their environmental impacts, not their origins.
More recently, he challenged much of the basis for the discipline of conservation biology in a 2015 paper, “Ecologists, Environmentalists, and the Invasion of the “Second Greatest Threat” (International Review of Environmental History, Volume 1, 2015).
The idea for this show came from a New York Times article addressing the growing backlash against the nativist paradigm and the use – or misuse – of science in public policy.