1 Tahrcountry Musings: Attempts to forge an artificial consensus among conservationists may be counterproductive

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Attempts to forge an artificial consensus among conservationists may be counterproductive

Value Plurality among Conservation Professionals
Conservation Biology
Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 285–294, April 2011

Here is a very interesting paper that I read  recently. The authors emphasize the practical importance of plurality among conservation professionals.

The authors’ start off saying debate on the values that underpin conservation science is rarely based on empirical analysis of the values conservation professionals actually hold.

The researchers used Q methodology to investigate the values held by international conservation professionals who attended the annual Student Conference in Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge (U.K.) in 2008 and 2009. The Q methodology offers a quantitative means of examining human subjectivity. It differs from standard opinion surveys. Here the individual respondents record the way they feel about statements relative to other statements, which forces them to focus their attention on the issues they believe are most important. The analysis takes in the diverse viewpoints of the respondents. Factor analysis is used to reduce the viewpoints to a smaller set of factors that reflect shared ways of thinking.

 The researchers say the junior conservation professionals attending the conference did not share a unifying set of core values. They clearly held a complex series of ideas and a plurality of opinions about conservation and how it should be pursued. The researchers conclude that this diversity of values empirically challenges recent proposals for conservation professionals to unite behind a single philosophy. Attempts to forge an artificial consensus may be counterproductive to the overall goals conservation professionals are pursuing.

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