license the inventoriers

Dennis Paulson dpaulson at MAIL.UPS.EDU
Mon Oct 28 14:56:42 CST 1996

Chris asked me to forward this to the list.  Life sure gets confusing when
you have to keep straight which list replies to the entire group and which
only to the sender!

>Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 14:28:22 -0600
>To: Dennis Paulson <dpaulson at MAIL.UPS.EDU>
>From: ccarlto at (chris carlton)
>Subject: Re: license the inventoriers
>> If architects and doctors
>>and lawyers are examined and licensed, are we to say that the services
>>provided by experienced and knowledgeable biologists are to be any less
>>valued?  It certainly seems that way, if you compare salaries and prestige,
>>but I don't think it should be that way, and perhaps making biologists more
>>Professional might be a good place to start.
>This approach presupposes that doctoring, lawyering and architecting are
>somehow made better through the examination and licensing proceedures,
>which I question. Quality standards are controlled by the expectations of
>the users. If lawyers do poor jobs, the guilty go free and folks don't get
>their settlements; if doctors do poor jobs, people get sick and die; if the
>architects are inferior, the buildings are ugly and function poorly (and
>maybe fall if the engineers are from the same firm). Unfortunately, the
>expectations of the consumers of biological consultant services are so low
>that a lot of bad consulting gets done. I don't think any amount of
>examining, licensing and heavy handed regulation will improve matters. If
>people died as a result of imprecise taxonomy, good taxonomists would make
>salaries competitive with doctors and there would be more of them.  Where
>risk of punishment is minimal, there is little motivation to improve.
>Chris Carlton
>Louisiana State Arthropod Museum
>Department of Entomology
>402 Life Science
>Baton Rouge, LA  70803-1710
>Phone (504) 388-0425
>Fax    (504) 388-1643
>e-mail <ccarlto at>
And, while I'm here, I'll comment on Chris' message above.  It's becoming
apparent that we're having a dialogue (polylogue) between idealists and
realists!  It's painful being on the idealist side, as I realize which of
these two is more likely to be right (and most of the time I'm a realist,
too).  But if there's a chance to move the direction of things even a tiny
bit further in the idealist direction, it's worth the effort.

Dennis Paulson, Director                           phone 206-756-3798
Slater Museum of Natural History                 fax 206-756-3352
University of Puget Sound                       e-mail dpaulson at
Tacoma, WA 98416

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