skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Clean Power plan
Safe Chemicals

Josh Mogerman’s Blog

Wikipedia article on Ming Dynasty used to support dubious Asian carp claims. Really?

Josh Mogerman

Posted August 10, 2010

, , , , , , ,
Share | | |

Asian Carp - Shedd Aquarium by kate.gardiner via Flickr

There have been a lot of ludicrous moments in the whole Asian carp affair---but last week’s “This is Your Life” presentation on one of the fish that was caught troublingly close to Lake Michigan was particularly rich. Scientists had been analyzing  the fish to find out what some environmental markers said about its natural history, which showed that it started life in the Mississippi River and probably spent time in Lake Michigan. As my colleague Thom Cmar showed pretty convincingly, Illinois officials tried to run with this story a bit too far in order to imply a minimized threat from Asian carp. His blog is a great read. But Dan Egan’s critique of one particularly glaring overstep, an assertion that the report somehow showed that the fish had been transplanted by humans as part of a "cultural release," is an even better read in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I particularly like this passage:

Rumors have swirled for years that some Asians have a practice of releasing live purchased fish into open waters, though the Illinois DNR on Thursday could not provide evidence that this was actually ever a phenomenon in the Chicago area. When asked why this could be a leading explanation for the fish to make it passed the barrier, Illinois DNR officials provided the Journal Sentinel with a Wikipedia article that stated, "In the later Ming dynasty, societies 'for releasing life' were created, which built ponds in which to release fish that were redeemed from fishermen for this purpose. They also bought other animals which were sold in the markets and released them."

Wikipedia also reports the Ming dynasty ended in 1644.

Look, we are all for using cutting-edge science to find a way to solve these vexing problems. And, I am the first to admit, sometimes I need some help sifting through the research to ferret out what it all means. But folks have to know that interested journalists and advocates are going to read this stuff. And they will call you out if you misrepresent those findings to fit your own narrative. Kudos to Thom and Dan for keeping the State honest.


Asian Carp - Shedd Aquarium image by kate.gardiner via Flickr

Share | | |


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

Feeds: Josh Mogerman’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In