It's an annual event where the really smart people in the meat business get together to discuss what's hot and what's not.  They talk about research projects and try to figure out what they really know and what they don't know.  Of course, they don't express it like that. Most of them talk about the things they know and the things they need to know more about.

Catch that subtle difference?

If you've ever attended one of the sessions, you know it can sound almost like a meeting of the English Parliament. Someone stands in front of a motley group of grad students, Ph.D's and the occasional 'don't quote me' government official and talks 'reciprocally' about his research. The reciprocal part comes when questions and comments are hurled at him from the crowd.  Our researcher has to be quick on his feet and nimble of mind because he has to respond on the spot.

It's a lot more civilized than the Parliament, though. The English will let any idiot in as long as he can collect enough votes from an often poorly lettered public, very similar to our Congress. At the Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC), etiquette demands that you must know what you're talking about before you can offer a comment.

Following Dr. Ronnie Green's statements during his Wednesday morning keynoter, beliefs and opinions are not allowed.  Quoting Sgt. Joe Friday, "The facts, Ma'am, just the facts."  It is not the place for "I believe" or "In my opinion."  The statement that carries the day at the RMC begins with "The facts clearly prove..."

There is no place here for what Dr. Green called social elitism. "I believe climate change is not a reality" is a statement without value. "In my opinion, vaccinations are a health hazard" is worthless, too.  Begin a statement with "The facts clearly prove" then have the facts at hand to back up what you're saying and you'll have an audience of academics willing to listen to what you have to say.

The heart-breaker, though, was the general acceptance by the attendees that "I believe" and "In my opinion" far out weigh Joe Friday's statement. Facts don't count; gut reaction and emotion too often carry the day and win the argument. Food Babe-style fear mongering gains a willing audience of people who need the security of simple answers to complex questions. An impassioned plea based on stuff and nonsense and 15 minutes attending the University of Google searching for anything that will back up preconceived notions will blow the facts out of the water quicker than a WWII torpedo hitting a home-made row boat.

And it's sad that so many of our academics know they are sitting in row boats on the notorious Bay of Fundy paddling furiously and fruitlessly against the world's fastest-rising tide.

And another thing became transparent during the Wednesday morning awards. People of a certain age can remember the phrase 'women's work.'  It was a dismissive term describing the presumed place for a woman: cooking, cleaning, raising children.  It was shorthand for house work, relegating it to 'house wives.' 

If you looked at the parade of dozens of students accepting various honors, 'women's work' took on a while new meaning.  Roughly 9 out of 10 people leaving the meeting with awards and plaques under their arms were women. They are a group of top academic performers, the people who will be leading the meat industry soon. 

Will the 2050 RMC, which could be held at the University of Mars and presided over by Dr. Ainsley Delmore (one of Dr. Bob's daughters), conduct a breakout session on how to get more men involved in the industry?  The U of M venue might be a stretch but a next generation Dr. Delmore running things a few decades from now is almost a sure bet.