Response to Osofsky's "Misrepresentation by Citation"

Steven Osofsky (2015) is very concerned that he has been misrepresented by citation in Pooley et al. (2015). However, we believe he misrepresents our article in turn by inferring that Osofsky (2014) (referenced alongside several others in the first instance) is of more than passing relevance to our comment on conservation responses to the Ebola crisis. He assumes that, like himself, other readers may draw inferences about his position on these issues from the juxtaposition of the citation; we have yet to encounter this reader reaction. We also fail to see how our piece suggests that public health, conservation, and animal rights communities are of like mind.

We stand by our comment that the “prominent conservation-oriented response” was to advocate stopping Africans from eating bushmeat, reiterated when Osofsky (2014) said in his CNN piece that “we should work to discourage the capture, killing, and consumption of bats … The same can be said for primates, our closest relatives.” We were simply making the point that this was a widely made response so as to set up the point that we do not think that trying to stop Africans from eating these species is practical and that it may have unintended conservation consequences. These consequences may run counter to desired positive conservation outcomes. Surely, both Williams and Osofsky have positive conservation goals in mind?

We acknowledge that we could have cited Redford et al. (2014) in support of our point on interdisciplinary research, but as this was an opinion piece, we did not seek to conduct an in-depth analysis based on a literature review of the field. It was a swift response to a developing issue in the media, and we wanted to distance ourselves as conservationists from the silver-lining approach Williams (2014) advocated in New Scientist.

We agree that the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is doing excellent work in this area and note that nowhere in our piece do we refer to the WCS, to Osofsky's colleagues, or to his program. We refer to an article in the popular media by Osofsky only. Further, we make it very clear in our concluding paragraph that the silver-lining argument applies only to Williams’ piece. If any harm has been done to Steven Osofsky's program, or to his reputation, then we can only say we are sincerely sorry about this unintended consequence of our article.

Authors: Pooley, S.; Fa, J.E.; Nasi, R.
Subjects: biodiversity, conservation, ecology
Publication type: ISI, Letter, Publication
Year: 2015
ISSN: 1523-1739

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