Chris Durden's "apocryphal tales"

Neil Jones Neil at
Mon Jun 18 11:50:53 EDT 2001

Paul Cherubini wrote.

>>Neil Jones wrote:

> > I apologise for breaking with tradition. One of these guys used to be on
> > this list and was NOT noted for his polite, rational, sensible, style.
> > There is a tradition of not mentioning his name for fear he will return.
> >  You can find more in the archive if you have a strong enough stomach or
> > even a taste for the wierd.

> Thomas Kral 
> Wed, 20 Mar 1996 21:55:59 -0700 
> "Re: British Butterfly Conservation ...and Neil Jones" 

Oh Yes. This does take me back. I must thank Mr Cherubini on behalf of  some
friends who saw the posting. I was away over the weekend and borrowed their
 computer to check my email over the web (Demon Internet has this facility). 
They found the posting very amusing.  I have to reply despite the risks of 
bringing back a pest. People who were around at the time this guy was active
will know that he is not to be taken seriously but others may not.

For information. Thomas Kral is a very notorious character. A crooked butterfly
dealer who was prosecuted for violating a whole load of laws. He is the worst
kind of collector. Most on this list, if not everybody, condemn this kind
of thing.
His obsessive philatelic collecting led to his felony conviction. The legal
indictment ran to EIGHTY FIVE pages. It is apparent that there is very little
attention to science in what he did. The indictment is peppered with quotes
containing errors in the "latin" names of the species all marked "(sic)".

You can find out more at
There is a picture of him there for those who are curious. (I do try to do my

 I am a little suprised to see anyone who supports collecting quoting this
guy.  It really does the cause of net carrying a disservice to quote him. 
I don't think it looks too good for Mr Cherubini himself to support him like
this. People might  think "Birds of a Feather Flock Together".

A bit of background. Poor Tom Kral lost his father at around the time of 
his felony conviction and was left all alone. He had, so other collectors tell
me, always been a bit eccentric in his belief of his own superiority but he 
lost it completely at this time.
As I said at the time. He wasn't lying but he had developed a different 
internal model of the world to other people. The stress gave him some very 
odd characteristics.

A few days after his conviction he "went postal" on the net spraying abuse and
venom liberally in what he described as "historic" postings.

A look in the archive will see him  making all sorts of wierd and deluded 
statements. The agents and lawyers behind his prosecution are crooks, the 
board of NABA is full of criminals and poachers and Paul Opler in particular
is accused of lies and deceptions. None of this is true in anyway at all.

I could quote all sorts of people telling him to shut up, grow up,
or go away. I think one of the best illustrations of Kral's foul ranting
comes from John Shuey when he posted the stuff I quoted from. He says that
he hopes that his (John Shuey's) mother doesn't read what is going to be said 
about him.

> One of the best points I can make about the problems caused by
> certain overzealous individuals, claiming to be
> environmentalists, but in reality are doing much more harm to
> environmental causes than good, is perfectly illustrated below. According to
> the March 15 posting by Neil Jones of the organization known
> as The British Butterfly Conservation, he would have you believe that my
> comments are untruthful, while Mr. Jones represents "rational" thinking.
> Most amusing is his claim that he does not wish to see collecting
> banned. Lets examine the accuracy of Neil Jones' claims. I'll start by
> quoting Dr. Robert M. Pyle in the December 1995 issue of the _JOURNAL OF THE 
> LEPIDOPTERISTS' SOCIETY, Vol 49, No. 4, page 406.

> "The British group Butterfly Conservation, however, has adopted an
> anti-collecting stance that has alienated and tarred many entomologists.
> I hope this sort of needless polarization can be avoided among North
> American collectors and watchers."

Actually Bob Pyle was wrong there, but as somebody said at the time he was 
probably being misquoted anyway. 

I have got to know Bob Pyle quite well.
He is one of those people who has got in touch with me through a common
dislike of Mr. Cherubini's attacks on conservationists and conservation 
generally. I  got to meet him in person a while ago when he came over here 
to be guest speaker at an international scientific symposium that 
Butterfly Conservation runs every few years. Kral's quote does not accurately 
reflect his view of Butterfly Conservation.

Butterfly conservation is, like NABA, a conservation group but I feel it does
more scientific work.  Some of the scientists
it employs actually do collect. For moth work you just have to. 
Anyway you can find Butterfly Conservation's web site at

> Though Dr. Pyle may have disclosed this fact to us only recently, myself,
> and so many others logged onto LEPS-L have known this for quite some
> time. Not all members of this organization are anti-collecting, but
> certainly its leaders, like Neil Jones, have directly implied and even
> stated this fact - and please don't try and argue with a statement made
> by Pyle - Mr. Jones you HATE buttefly collectors.

In point of fact I have a number of good friends who are collectors. Some of
whom replied to Kral at various times.

> Having noted Mr. jones
> behavior back from March of 1995 on LEPS-L, curiously, I began printing
> and saving most all his postings. I have made him into a case study
> infact. Anyone desiring to see where the faults lie, by all means,
> please retrieve some of the original messages from LEPS-L made by Jones
> and myself.

> Oh my, how Mr. Jones can distort things. He would have you believe
> that I'm some racist, among other slanderous remarks. Here are the FACTS
> which one may retieve from LEPS-L beginning with Neil Jones' unprovoked
> attack on me on January 11, 1996 - notice Neil's name calling where he
> specifically states "To continue the animal theme (although I prefer a
> less asinine one) he is like a turkey clamoring for an early
> Thanksgiving."

My point here was that by being so obnoxious and clearly 
ranting in an irrational matter he was harming his own cause.
Hence a turkey wanting an early thanksgiving. My remarks
were quite mild compared with others.  As I said at the time.
It served its purpose in illustrating to the journalists covering his
case that he really was a nut, when his egotistical and irrational reply
proved the point.

I am told the analogy is quite accurate since a lot of the evidence
against him came from his unceasing bragging to investigators about how 
magnificent he and his collection were.

> Neil Jones minces up quotes I made and slants them biasly (just like
> the USFWS does!). For those desiring to see the entire messages he picks
> the quotes from, look at our postings back and forth, starting january 14
> to January 30 on LEPS-L. To briefly summarize, I successfully pointed
> out that Mr. Jones' claim of a moth's alleged extinction by
> "overcollecting" was nothing more than hearsay - akin to the Loch Ness
> monster myth - gosh, 

 His actual refutation was quite wierd and didn't add
up. He believed that predation couldn't affect insects at all and
he ranted on about getting rid of the Endangered Species Act.

> lots of people claim they have seen "Nessie" and
> swear of its existence, but no-one has ever produced a specimen (proof),
> and recent scientific research at Loch Ness has debunked the myth -
> sounds alot like the "overcollecting myth" regarding bug collecting -
> lots of people swear by it, yet nobody ever proves anything!!!

> But Neil jones' snide remarks and attacks on others have had a far
> more sinister outcome... A perusal of some of Mr. Jones' (and other
> Butterfly Conservation radicals), back from June 3, 1995 to about July 6
>in LEPS-L where he discusses the dilemna of _Eurodryas aurinia_(a common
> paleartic butterfly of vast distribution, but now rare in Britain & a few
> other W Europpean countries), at a site called "Cwmgwrach", slated to be
> turned into a coal mine by Celtic Power.

Believe me the butterfly isn't common any longer. If you look in the archive he
was using a really old textbook.

> Perhaps they could have
> addressed the problem seriously, BUT INSTEAD they talk about "witches"
> and that "King Arthur's band of warriors are sleeping nearby", add in the

A look in the archives will show just how ludicrous this attack is.

> "tree people" (whom I refer to as "tree hippies" for a more accurate
> term) run amok and protesting at the site, and we have a real joke fest!

This wasn't  particularly a hippy protest but contained all sorts of people
involved from the local community. Even two local politicians
opposed to the development slept in the trees

This was a protest where an important butterfly site had
been scheduled for destruction and a load of people of all kinds protested
sitting in trees, in front of bulldozers etc.
I wasn't part of the protest but was the guy in the suit who explained the 
ecology and conservation story to the media. This was a wonderful flower meadow.
It was so full of flowers that they actually seemed to supress the grass.
In all my travels around the world I can only recall two occasions 
when I saw flowers in this profusion. One was at the famous Bernwood Meadows
in England and the other some serpentine grassland in California.
The decision had already been taken to dig it up for a strip mine.

> Too bad Britains greatest contribution to western civilization, THE BENNY
> HILL SHOW isn't still around to further the cause with one of Benny's
> famous fast-motion skits!!!

> But look at the sobering news that Neil Jones posts to LEPS-L on
> March 8, 1996, titled BLACK DAY FOR TOP BUTTERFLY SITE, reveals that the
> circus at Cwmgwrach (supported by Butterfly "Conservation") was to no
> avail. Celtic Power is moving in! Gosh, I WONDER WHY Neil Jones & his
> gang of "eco-fanatics" failed miserably in their quest?

The truth  is as is available in the Butterfly Conservation press release
I said "While the Society is not part of the protesters'
actions, we do welcome the attention they have brought to the
plight of this threatened butterfly." No failure. The decision was made
BEFORE the protest.

> Certainly, part of this failure is due to Neil Jones beligerent
> behavior and his failure to seriously negotiate matters with British
> officials which he has attacked in the past (yet he says that I should
> not criticize certain U.S. officials -USFWS).

When I criticise people I am factual about it. I work closely with
local officials. In fact the local action plan for species in  the area 
concerned was written by me before the officials took it and edited to fit in 
with the others they are working on.

These officials do know that if they get involved in destroying
wildlife sites they will be criticised publicly. It is what conservationists the
world over do.

> Neil, do you not notice in my earlier recent postings, that I
> indeed predicted that your efforts would fail! A simple deduction, given
> the fact that I can accurately label you a "nutty radical" Whether the
> "lunatic fringe" are members of Butterfly Conservation or the U.S. Fish &
> Wildlife Service, they will only bring destruction to their causes. But
> I also realize that the radical will never abdicate willingly, hencer why
> I feel the best remedy is to call for more rational members of an
> organization (be it the B.C. or the USFWS) to remove the radicals and
> restore reasonable cooperation -- indeed we should take Dr. robert Pyle's
> advice more seriously... Clean up your act Neil - if you can.

"Nutty Radical". It really was the pot calling the kettle black but
then he was the worst net nut we ever had.

Neil Jones- Neil at
"At some point I had to stand up and be counted. Who speaks for the
butterflies?" Andrew Lees - The quotation on his memorial at Crymlyn Bog
National Nature Reserve


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