Do Monarchs need Paul Cherubini?

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Sat Apr 20 22:36:35 EDT 2002

Dear Lepsters,

When I write about the need for more scientific understanding of Monarchs, some
of you tell me that I am being elitest.

When I call Paul Cherubini on his rude and ill-justified attacks on the
scientific integrity of Lincoln Brower and Paul Ehrlich, some of you tell me I
am being rude and strident.

When I point out that the world does have environmental problems that need
fixing, and that it is more worthy of a human to work on them than to attack
those who work on them, some of you tell me that I am simply wrong.

When I point out that Paul Cherubini has been evasive about fundamental issues
of honesty on this and other email lists, what are you telling him?

I do not want to silence Paul on this list, I want to know who it is that I
spend so much time struggling with. I readily admit that Paul knows more about
Monarchs than I do (although some of what he knows appears to be wrong). I
readily admit that I learn from his observations, and need to rethink difficult
issues due to his criticisms. Does Paul learn anything from this list? Even
after being soundly refuted (as I see it) on some issues he raises the same
points on this and other lists as if no one had every shown that his ideas were
doubtful. I am not asking Paul to recant. I just want these debates to get to a
higher level.

The reason science (whether conducted by PhD's or not) makes progress is that we
realize when we are wrong, and if there are unsettled issues, we do not pretend
(as I see Paul doing) that they have been settled on his side. A good scientist,
an honest mind, admits doubt. When I teach students about speciation, I
dutifully explain Ernst Mayr's theories, even though I think he is wrong about
several. To do otherwise would be to mislead the students about the diversity of
ideas. In the ongoing debate about nonlocal butterfly releases, I recognized
several of the points my "opponents" made, while searching for a consensus. And
at no time did I suggest that anyone was wrong because they did not have a PhD.
I did suggest a deeper understanding of evolution, ecology and epidemiology was
needed, and that little empirical work directly settled the question. When I see
a similar openness in a person, I recognize a scientist.

There are settled scientific questions. The Earth is about 4.6 Billion years
old. There are about 6 billion people on earth, and the annual growth rate is
about 1.5%, and most of us would like to own ranches and drive large trucks up
and down the green earth until there is no green earth left. This is not a
debating issue. This is the world any honest human can see. And something needs
to be done about it. Whether you are a socialist, a Chicago school economist, a
libertarian biker or an African Bushman, your future is shrinking unless you get
your mind and your heart in gear soon.

This isn't about me and Paul Cherubini, this is about recognizing the problems
and solving them. If you don't want to help, get out of the way and let Brower,
Ehrlich and the other "doomsayers" deal with the mess we are all making. If
environmentalism makes you feel so guilty that you can't see the obvious and you
can't think straight, grow up. As Clint Eastwood said in the film Unforgiven,
"We've all got it coming, kid."

Patrick Foley
patfoley at


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