By Alison Campbell 02/10/2018

The internet, while it can be a godsend if you need to find something out (gotta love google maps for directions), can also be a wretched hive of wrongness and misinformation.

That misinformation can take many forms, but when it comes to 1080 it’s clear that those opposed to NZ’s use of this chemical firmly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Any picture. Thank goodness for the ‘reverse image search’ function in Google.

For example, on the Facebook page for the group New Zealands not clean green, in amongst photos of animals that may or may not have been killed by 1080, we find several of animals that weren’t. For example:

Image may contain: bird and outdoor

It’s fairly obvious that this one was simply lifted straight off the internet – the shutterstock watermark should give it away! What’s more, in life this bird wouldn’t have come within cooee of sodium monofluoroacete – because it’s a great tit (Parus major): a bird found in the UK and Europe.

The same’s true for this little creature:

Image may contain: bird

Again, this is not a species that has ever existed in New Zealand. It’s most likely a house wren (Troglodytes aedon), which is found in both North and South America.

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to have found this one:
Image may contain: outdoor and nature

Anti-1080 groups are rather fond of claiming that these kiwi were all killed by 1080. However, the photo was first released by the Bay Bush Action group back in 2016 – the birds were collected in the Kerikeri region after they were killed by dogs or by cars. (Blunt force trauma fand dog attacks both leave recognisable traces behind, after all.) Bay Bush Action do some excellent conservation work in the Bay of Islands and are understandably annoyed that their image has been misused in this way.

We are extremely annoyed to find that an anti 1080 group is using a photo given to us, to mislead the New Zealand public…

Posted by Bay Bush Action on Tuesday, 31 May 2016

I can only say that using images in this misleading way doesn’t exactly add to the strength of the ‘anti’ argument.

The post using images to misinform appeared first on BioBlog.

0 Responses to “Using images to misinform”

  • To me, these pictures are irrelevant, one way or the other. It cannot be denied that DOC has chosen a cruel, inhumane, and — in my view — IMMORAL expediency in its quest for an impossible predator-free New Zealand. The use of 1080 would not be legally permitted, under our current animal cruelty laws, weren’t it not for the exemption given DOC and other government departments. This, to me, is more than enoughh reason to passionately oppose DOC’s use of 1080, as well as other environmental poisons. I oppose the use of my tax money to fund such cruel and inhumane activity! Not in MY name!!!

    • I’m sorry that you feel the misuse of the images irrelevant, because they do give an indication of the reliability/validity of the sites that present them in the way I’ve described.

      I do agree with you that the real issue here is one of morals/ethics. However, I’d argue that to stop the use of 1080 (which is the best option we have for predator control – not eradication, control – over large tracts of the conservation estate) is to doom a significant number of native species and their ecosystems to extinction. That, to me, would be completely immoral.

  • Worth factoring into considering morals is the painful, ‘inhumane’ way that native birds (e.g. chicks) die in the hands of predators. Life ‘in the wild’ is naturally rather brutal. It’s not as if stoats wringing the life out of a chick are acting in a ‘humane’ way!

    At the risk of getting off-topic, the gene-based approaches (gene drives and similar) are very ‘humane’: the next generation of predators simply don’t get born. No pain at all involved.

    Alison’s right about the images, though. They’re a rather obvious attempt to sucker sympathy in a misleading way. If you’re going to present evidence, you have to be honest about what it represents.

  • “… but when it comes to 1080 it’s clear that those opposed to NZ’s use of this chemical firmly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words”

    This is astonishingly inappropriate rhetoric, with no factual basis. It is a generalisation based on speculation. You can’t seriously believe that it applies to all or even most people opposed to 1080, and where’s your evidence? This is a classic straw man argument, i.e. claim that your opponents are using the weakest possible argument that you can dream up and then show that argument to be fallacious! I’m not an anti-1080 person in general, but your use of rhetoric here serves only to increase my sympathy for them!

  • You should perhaps delve into the social media a little more. The use of such images is widespread. The number of individuals in some groups (& there are quite a few groups) is not insubstantial. And I’ve yet to see anyone in those groups say, hey we shouldn’t be using these images, they’re not helping our cause.