taxonomy in popular media

Tue Jan 14 06:26:52 CST 1997

Someone suggested "Medicine Man" as a good example of taxonomy
in popular media. I thought that, except for the fine photography
and the message about the importance of saving the rainforest, it
was a rather awful movie. It centered around the personal
interactions of the two main characters, both rather eccentric
and cantankerous, with little thought given to the science
involved. The whole notion "You have 24 hours to find the cure
for cancer or we cut down the forest" strains credulity just a
   Most of the examples I can think of involving taxonomy in
the popular media represent misrepresentations or misunderstandings.
Many portray evolution in a decidedly Lamarckian light,
apparently thinking there is nothing wrong with this. Even
Star Trek, of which I am an avid admirer, messes up the
biology. Witness their explanation of why the inhabitants
of hundreds of planets in the galaxy look so much like humans:
according to them, billions of years ago hyperintelligent
beings planted similar DNA strands into the primordial
soups of many different planets. This is why similar species
evolved there. Give me a break. Please.

Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere, 4717 E First St., Tucson AZ 85711 USA
JosephL at

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