4JC-Ambivalence #1

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Wed Jul 9 08:07:45 EDT 2003

After a couple of weeks of deliberation and two butterfly counts, I have decided
to respond to what (with Alex's permission) we can call the ""Grkovich Gripe".
There have been other responses, but I'll keep the thread alive.

On June 24, "Grkovich, Alex" wrote:

> Martin,
> To my feeling, these "butterfly counts" are little more than social
> gatherings for like-minded people who othwerwise, in many casess, have
> nothing else to do with themselves. It seems to me that, again in many
> cases, many such people have deludeed themselves into believing that they
> are actually contributing something to science...and replacing the work of
> the Lepidopterist.
> Alex

I have vigorously recommended that butterfly counters NOT rely on the 15 mile
diameter circle, originated by the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, nearly a
century ago. (I say nearly a century because although the first CBC was in 1900,
it did not require a 15 mile circle).

On the other hand, I am the compiler of THREE 4JC's (two in NJ and one in NY).
and I participate on several others.

SECOND I agree with Alex  that "butterfly counts" are social gatherings for
like-minded people, and I enjoy them immensely.
Whether they are little more than that,  I (and responders) can examine in the
weeks to come.

THIRDLY I don't know whether as Alex feels:  "many such people have deluded
themselves into believing that they are actually contributing something to

In my view, many participants are not especially concerned with contributing
something to science (although happy to do so), and I am confident, that if there
were a proclamation that the counts had NO SCIENTIFIC VALUE, it would not reduce
the participation rate one "whit" (whatever a "whit" is).

FOURTHLY: If it were suddenly proclaimed that the 4JCs were of GREAT SCIENTIFIC
VALUE, would that have any bearing on the work of "The Lepidopterist".

FIFTHLY:   What is the work of "The Lepidopterist"?  What source(s) should we use
to define ourselves.  Does everyone on this list even consider themselves
"lepidopterists"  Is membership in the LepSoc necessary or sufficient to define
oneself as a lepidopterist (I would answer "no" to necessary and probably "yes"
to sufficient.

SIXTHLY:  I hate to say it, but I would guess that many butterfly watchers
wouldn't be aware of what lepidopterists actually do (once we figure out what we
do), just like many bird  watchers only know that "ornithologists study birds"
(or treat arthritis).

I've gotten up to six, and this is just my first message on the scientific value
or lack thereof, of the 4JC.

Well two more counts coming up this month.  MIKE GOCHFELD:

PS  Since Anne has pointed out lack of traffic on leps-l, I am cross-posting this
(sorry for double-posting)


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