Correspondence | Published:

Silence isn't necessarily an admission of guilt

Nature volume 440, page 148 (09 March 2006) | Download Citation



The reaction of C. R. McMahon and colleagues (Nature 439, 392; 200610.1038/439392c) to your News story “Animal-rights group sues over ‘disturbing’ work on sea lions” (Nature 436, 315; 200510.1038/436315a) — pointing out that much animal handling, such as seal branding, is a necessary prerequisite to effective conservation — is exceptional, because it represents a rare instance of a voiced scientific opinion on a sensitive topic.

Scientists themselves are often ‘branded’ by the media, but are ill-equipped to defend themselves, having neither the time nor the schooling in this area. Alternatively, they may fear intimidation or be obliged not to enter the fray by governing bodies.

Of the various groups involved in animal-rights issues, those taking an accusatory stance would do well to consider that silence is not always an admission of guilt.

Author information


  1. Institute of Environmental Sustainability, School of the Environment and Society, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

    • Rory P. Wilson


  1. Search for Rory P. Wilson in:

About this article

Publication history




By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing