It’s about time that scientific studies about domestic cats were written in plain, straightforward English so that cat owners can read them and learn from them.
There seems to be an desire by scientists to make their reporting of studies and surveys as unintelligible as possible to non-scientists in an effort to make it read more important and clever to colleagues. It is a deliberate use of obscure English language to make the report sound more scientific. Obscure language also hides defeciencies in studies.
Therefore, I would like to put a message out to all scientists who conduct studies on domestic cats, and there are quite a lot of them on the internet, please write them up in a language which can be understood by cat owners anywhere which means straightforward English. You might even do two versions if you like. You can do one version for the scientists and the other version for laypeople.
What prompted this little discussion is a report of a recent study on that old age subject of Toxoplasma gondii and how it affects people. There are various write-ups of a recent study conducted by a group of scientists led by a specialist in the subject of toxoplasmosis, Rima McLeod MD. We are told that she is an internationally recognised expert on toxoplasmosis and has carried out extensive research on the subject. She lives in Chicago and works at the university.
In this study which has been published on the nature.com website and reported on by other main sites including Gizmodo.com, she starts the report with the shocking statement that one third of humans are infected, lifelong, with the brain-dwelling, protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. That is about 2 billion people. Yes, 2 billion people according to this lady have a chronic infection of their brain with a nasty little parasite. I wanted to find out the supporting evidence for this statement which I presume is somewhere in her report but I am unable to read it because the language is too dense, opaque and unintelligible which I think is a great shame. The lady should make sure that people can read it and understand it easily.
The gist of the study, which I take from the Gizmodo.com website, is that this parasite, described as a “brain parasite” transmitted from cats to humans, can trigger changes in the brain which can exacerbate several pre-existing neurological conditions. We have heard this before a number of times. In fact this topic pops up from time to time like a bad penny.
To be honest, I could barely bother to write about it but what prompted me to do so was the fact that the language, as mentioned, is too opaque.
In conclusion, the study appears to link the parasite with several brain conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and even some cancers according to the Gizmodo.com article. The study is called a “paradigm shifter”, which means that it is a very important study. However, believe me, nothing will change and it will be forgotten. Important? No, not at all. If it were true that 2 billion people are infected with a brain parasite for the entirety of their lives then you would think that somebody somewhere would do something about it but no one does. Because nobody believes these studies.
I wonder sometimes whether the people who do the studies are cat haters or bird lovers or both. There is almost some sort of campaign going on in the background amongst the scientific community to denigrate the domestic cat. Perhaps I’m being paranoid but that is what it looks like to me.