[leps-talk] fwd. Post 1

Chris J. Durden drdn at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Jul 24 23:57:16 EDT 2002

Quite right Bill. There has over the last 70 years been an insidious 
confusion between basic science and applied science. It has not only 
clouded the objectivity of real science but has corrupted the ethics of 
those who call themselves scientists.
    Some basic scientists, in order to obtain funds allocated for applied 
science, have blurred the distinction. This has corrupted the objectivity 
of basic science. Today we reap the results of their subterfuge. Compare 
the contents of "Science Magazine" of 1910 with that of today!
    There are basic biologists but there are very few of them because there 
is no significant funding for basic biology. For a new centipede species 
recently discovered in Central Park, New York, the (only) available expert 
was in Italy! There are a lot of people who call themselves biologists who 
are applied scientists. Nothing is wrong with applied "science", but it is 
not real science (it is a branch of engineering) because it can never be 
truly objective. There is always the political factor. Don't get me wrong. 
A lot of good basic science has been done by applied biologists on the 
side, but it is not the funded part of their job.
    It is about time that we in this country found the guts to fund basic 
biological science - for the sake of knowing, without an applied agenda. 
Then we could consult our own centipede expert when we discover an 
apparently new species.
.................Chris Durden
"Old style museum taxonomist", retired.

At 08:05 PM 7/24/2002 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi all,
>    Thought I'd chime in with this thought:  Engineering and Biology are so
>fundamentally different in orientation that it doesn't make a lot of sense
>to me to compare their respective "cooperation  quotients." Biologists are
>exploring unknowns.  Engineers are taking "knowns" and applying them to
>specific problems with the end goal of a practical solution. Goal directed
>behavior demands cooperation.
>Biology is science, observation and investigation of phenomena, designing
>experiments, testing hypotheses:  Open ended and non goal/product
>Engineering is the APPLICATION of science, by its nature product directed,
>demanding cooperation.
>     Just a thought.
>                            Bill Yule----- Original Message -----
>From: "Ron Gatrelle" <gatrelle at tils-ttr.org>
>To: "leps-talk" <TILS-leps-talk at yahoogroups.com>
>Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 3:09 PM
>Subject: [leps-talk] fwd. Post 1
> > I thought many of you might find a couple tid bits from the Taxacom list
> > serve both interesting and humorous.  So here are two posts. RG
> > ______________________________
> >
> > At 11:51 AM 7/24/02 -0600, you wrote:
> > >I do not know what it is in biologists that makes us such mavericks.  A
> > >few weeks ago, at a Board of Directors meeting of the Alberta Society of
> > >Professional Biologists, I commented on an observation I had made:
> > >
> > >If there is an engineering problem, and there are 10 engineers, somehow,
> > >they come together to solve the problem the best way.  On the other hand,
> > >if there is a biological problem, and there are 10 biologists, there will
> > >be 10 solutions, and no one is willing to give to another.
> > >
> > >I commented further that I did not know if it was the training of
> > >engineers that made them be able to work together, or whether people who
> > >can work together go into engineering.  Conversely, I do not know if it
> > >the training for independent work that makes maverick biologists, or
> > >whether mavericks go into biology.
> > >
> > >The comment from the Treasurer of the ASPB said that a friend of his had
> > >said, "Getting biologists to work together is like trying to herd cats!"
> >
> > At least in systematics and allied disciplines, I suspect it is correlated
> > with the strong historical emphasis on a subjective interpretation of
> > and with the highly unpredictable nature of living systems (e.g., how many
> > Laws are there in biology compared to the physical sciences?).  These
> > create an environment in which individualists may feel right at home, as
> > you often have have to shoot from the hip and follow your instincts and
> > intuition, rather than have ironclad protocols to be followed.
> >
> > Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.
> >
> > Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
> > Department of Biology and Microbiology
> > University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
> > Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA
> >
> > e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
> > phone:      920-424-1002
> > fax:           920-424-1101
> >
> > Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
> > biogeography
> > of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
> >
> > Webpages:
> > 
> <http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/Lammers.htm>http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/Lammers.htm
> > http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Resort/7156/lammers.html
> > 
> <http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/herbarium/herbarium.html>http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/herbarium/herbarium.html
> > -----------------------------------------------------------
> > "Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
> >                                                                --
> >
> >
> >
> >
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