Japan has been ordered by the UN's International Court to stop whaling in the Antarctic after a four-year-long battle over whether the whales were dying for science or for — emphasis on the quotation marks —"science".
Much of the court's decision turned on the issue of whether or not the whaling was really being undertaken for scientific purposes, as is allowed under treaty. This was a question that they answered by looking at whether the sample size of whales killed was appropriate for the amount of research done.
In almost nine years, over 3,500 whales were killed. But only two journal articles detailing research findings on seven whales were published. As a result, the sample size was found to be (to use the technical term) eye-poppingly insane.
Japan's lawyers responded to the court's skepticism with an attempt to put the very definition of science on trial, saying the Hague's court could "no more impose a line separating science from non-science than it could decide what is or is not Art." The court, of course, thought differently, and ruled that Japan must immediately stop whaling in the Antarctic, a ruling Japan has said it intends to follow.
Image: Julie Skotte