political correctness in biology?

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 13 22:34:59 CDT 1999

     I cannot understand how you as an eukaryologist can so minimize the
developmental and morphological complexity of the Protista, much MUCH less
the Metaphyta and Metazoa.  Your statement that prokaryotes are
statistically the full range of life would certainly make Woese smile, but
would certainly make many others cringe.
      Should we join Woese in being so horrified by guilt of being somewhat
anthropocentric, that we feel compelled to swing the pendulum in completely
the opposite direction (to an absurb degree)?  Is this some kind of faddish
political correctness among biologists?  Perhaps we did not pay enough
attention to bacteria in the past, but for heaven's sake, methinks you doth
protest to much.  When the pendulum swings so wildly, it does noone any good
in the long run.  I personally love studying bacterial evolution and devoted
a great of time to it, but we need to put things into perspective (and
"statistics" certainly are only part of the story).
                ---------Ken Kinman

>From: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Reply-To: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Ernst Mayr and "Life"
>Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 07:15:59 -0700
>At 09:43 AM 9/13/99 -0400, Les Kaufman wrote:
> >I think Ken is right about the three domains.  It is now being taught as
> >dogma in intro bio in many places.
>Much like the five-kingdom scheme, which is as misleading.
> >Also, while prokaryote systematics is
> >indeed very important, interesting, and of practical value, I think that
> >the act of recognizing its importance has reinforced a dangerous swing
> >within biology away from greater appreciation of the full range of life,
> >to an increasingly pathological overfocussing of research resources and
> >dollars on things miniscule.
>Prokaryotes *are*, statistically speaking, the full range of life.
>Eukaryotes are certainly important to *us*, and they are handy hosts for a
>number of prokaryotes, including mitochondria and chloroplasts, but
>everywhere life occurs on Earth, prokaryotes dominate.
>I think the pathological overfocusing is on one specific eukaryote, Homo
>sapiens Linnaeus.
>Btw, I'm not a microbiologist; I study resolutely eukaryotic angiosperms.
> > Instead of a broader embrace, a further
> >justification for narrow reductionism and the use of molecular tools that
> >have now become much more accessible, convenient, and data-rich than
> >modern ecological and evolutionary work on plants and animals
> >incorporating the full range of questions, approaches and tools.
>When molecular studies have answered all the easy questions within their
>realm, the study of ecology and evolution of prokaryotes as well as
>eukaryotes will enjoy a resurgence, buoyed up by the data from molecules.
>Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
>Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
>California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
>Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at csupomona.edu

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