Rich Brown's response

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Thu May 22 14:36:24 CDT 1997


Mike Ivie wrote:

>This is the central reason for systematists to PARTICIPATE in temporary
>taxonomy work.  If we don't the ecologists will just go do it anyway,
>and do it BADLY. [snip]
>If we are to convince ecologists of our viewpoint on uniqueness,
>species-level values, etc., we must be in the game and demonstrating,
>not complaining in the back of the museum.  The only way we will get the
>funding, respect and recognition we crave to be contributing often, and
>well, so that we demonstrate our value.  However, we must also bend
>some, and deal with temporal issues that some of us don't want to do.  I
>know (prior personal knowledge) that Rich Brown does engage, and does it
>well.  We all should.

This begs the question - we have to be *INVITED* to participate in the
process before we can genuinely demonstrate our value. What you seem to
imply is that we must demonstrate our usefulness *first*, and that this
will then convince people we deserve support. So how do we demonstrate our
usefulness if we are not being supported to begin with? I, too, have done
LOTS of identifications for people, but only once have I been invited to
*join* a project - in which I ended up writing a field guide (I'd call that
a legitimate contribution) - but it's usually been as a tack-on "Hi, can
you give us IDs on these critters?" and a small, polite acknowledgment.
Where I *have* been invited is to several museums, where I have curated
tens of thousands of specimens generally just for room, board, and travel
expenses, but this is just keeping everything "in the family", as it were,
doing nothing for expanding the visibility of taxonomy. You said "stop
complaining about others' work, and get on with doing our own.  Also,
screaming for more money because we want a job is not very convincing to
those with the money." - If there is no money, how exactly is one supposed
to "get on" with doing *anything*? If I do not have a job that involves
taxonomy, how precisely am I supposed to contribute and demonstrate my
value? I'm not complaining solely on my own behalf, that SHOULD be obvious.
If all I want is a job, I can always go to McDonald's (yes, even in Brazil)
- but if I want a job that makes use of my skills and expertise, then
SOMEONE is going to have to make the decision that they *want* to hire
someone with my sorts of skills, and I am *not* alone. Supply and demand.

Sincerely,

Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-448-1223, fax: 031-44-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
                  http://www.icb.ufmg.br/~dyanega/
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82




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