Quote without (much) comment

Chris J. Durden drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Jan 2 09:31:15 EST 2002

Yes Ken, I read it too. I do not like it. I think this viewpoint is 
counterproductive. I think it is a result of our recent (30+year) turning 
of science into a business rather than an art. It is sad to see these ideas 
coming from a respected scientist.
    For a long time I have maintained that if the lawyers can index such 
ephemera as our laws and the court proceedings relevant to them, surely the 
scientists can index such treasures as our species and, yes, subspecies, 
and the habitats and communities relevant to them.
................Chris Durden

At 02:14 AM 1/2/2002 -0900, you wrote:

>         Paul Ehrlich's name has come up a couple of times recently on
>Leps-L. I thought the list might be interested in three quotes from the
>Presidential Address he gave last year to the Association for Tropical
>         For those who might not know the approach to butterfly studies
>he's been advocating for the last 30 years and more--he recommends that
>people should carry out intensive work on taxonomically limited groups
>(which he calls 'model systems') rather than diluting their efforts by
>taking a "non-scientific 'shotgun' approach to nature".
>         Here are the three quotes I found interesting:
>         "Too much effort has been expended on the useless taxonomic des-
>cription of subspecies......, something with which I wasted some of my own
>time in my youth. In the United States, subspecies are important tools for
>preserving biodiversity, because of the structure of the nation's laws
>protecting endeangered organisms, but nobody should be deluded into think-
>ing the naming of subspecies is of scientific significance."
>         "It is quite clear that the lesser interest in, and much greater
>diversity of moths gives them very few of the advantages that butterflies
>enjoy as a model group. There is little scientific reason to do further
>work on them."
>         "I think that it would be wonderful if _Homo sapiens_ took the
>necessary actions to preserve present day biodiversity for a millennium
>or so, to permit it to be reasonably completely described. Or, humanity
>might allocate enough resources to get a rough describing/cataloguing
>largely done in a few decades, especially since the technical ability to
>do so is increasingly in hand. That would be fine if it did not compete
>with the funding of the much more important work on model systems."
>         These quotes have been lifted out of context. Anyone who wants to
>check context should find a copy of the ATL 'Lepidoptera News', June
>2001 #2.
>                                                 Ken Philip
>fnkwp at uaf.edu


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