Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Mon Dec 17 10:46:30 EST 2001

Kenelm and all,

As far as I know Robert May has no axe to grind on the issue on biodiversity.
Nor are E O Wilson and Peter Raven cranks on the subject, just experts. There is
no scientific controversy about the threat to biodiversity; every practicing
ecologist and systematist I know sees problems for members of the groups they
know best. Lomborg has no such experience, and is working with data and models
he does not have experience with. As a scientist would you not get some help
from those who know the field? As a polemicist why bother?

Cambridge University Press knew what they were doing as did Lomborg. A pity
Lomborg is not as good at science as he is at publicity.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu

Kenelm Philip wrote:

>         Lomborg is (as I would have expected) taking flak. But Patrick
> Foley and Neil Jones are attacking him (one explicitly, one implicitly)
> for not having had his chapters reviewed by 'experts' before publishing
> his book.
>         Foley:
> > And if Lomborg is writing as a scientist, not as a propagandist, why
> > did he not have his chapter on biodiversity reviewed by Robert May,
> > E. O. Wilson, Peter Raven or some other scientist who is a published
> > scientific authority on the subject?
>         And Jones reports a number of negative comments by various envir-
> onmental experts (some of whom were directly criticized by Lomborg).
>         To all this I would raise the following points:
> 1) It is standard practice these days for many journals to ask authors to
> _suggest_ reviewers. One reason for this practice is the simple fact that,
> when a controversy rages within a field, having authors on one side reviewed
> by people on the other side (and vice versa) would result in no papers
> relevant to the controversy being approved for publication.
>         There is no _scientific_ requirement for Lomborg to have his chap-
> ters reviewed by those very people he criticizes in his book. The ideal
> reviewer is knowledgeable, with no axes to grind. Mnayh of the leading
> figures in the environmental literature are knowledgeable--but their
> axes are kept very sharp indeed.
> 2) (Somewhat peripheral) There's a recent, thick, book on North American
> butterflies which gives acknowledgement to some reviewers. One of them
> informed me that his recommendations were ignored. So even reviewers who
> are credited may have had no impact on the work in question. Maybe that
> work also is unscientific?
> 3) There's a fascinating book by Bernd Heinrich: _Mind of the Raven_. I
> believe his scientific credentials are excellent--but he explains in the
> book that he was unable to get his observations of ravens published in
> journals because no reviewer would accept his 'anecdotal' observations.
> So he put them in a book. I would not want to say the book is unscientific!
> Authors of books, even on scientific topics, do not _have_ to have their
> work refereed unless they want to.
>         As far as the comments that Neil lists, I would be amazed if Lester
> Brown had _anything_ good to say about Lomborg's book, considering the
> points Lomborg raised about Brown's predictions. The same applies to other
> possible reviewers.
>         I think Lomborg's book will have to wait for responses from a number
> of people from all sides of current controversies. And someone's stating
> simply that it's all wrong, or that the author doesn't know what he's
> talking about, is not enough to shoot it down. People will have to show
> exactly how and why Lomborg went wrong. My guess is that many people will
> prefer to ignore the book instead...
>                                                         Ken Philip
> fnkwp at uaf.edu
> P.S. I am not a pesticide salesman. I am not associated with the 'Wise Use'
> movment. Nobody here but us lepidopterists, enjoying field work in some
> _really_ wild country...  :-)
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