Panbiogeography and history of science

John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Tue Dec 26 14:44:51 CST 2000

I found a somewhat intriguing reference to panbigoeography in the 1992 book
"The Earth Encompassed" written by the historian of science Peter J.
Bowler. In chapter 10 "Darwinism triumphant" Bowler makes reference to
Croizat's anti-Darwinian panbiogeography and how Darwinians dismissed him
as a crank and younger biologists attempting to "rehabilitate" his views
were at first treated as dangerous lunatics. He quoted a paragraph from
"Vicariance biogeography: a critique" to "give some idea of the passions
that can still be inflamed by scientific debate, and of the power that
existing paradigms acquire to block criticisms."

The intriguing aspect of this passing reference was the evident fact that
on one hand the author felt Croizat's panbiogeography was important enough
to demonstrate an important or critical historical point, but on the other
it was not necessary to inform the reader of why Croizat and
panbiogeography was worth mentioning at all. This is a case where the
significance of a historical document lies not so much in what was said as
what was left out. What might an author wish to impress on the reader by
saying nothing about the historical significance of panbiogeography for the
disciplines of biogeography and systematics while the issues were clearly
indicated to inflame scientific debate etc.

I admit not to have kept up with the writings of historians of science. If
any TAXACOM sybscribers are aware of recent publications by historians of
science writing anything on panbiogeography in the last decade
(1990-present) I would be most interested to hear. Certainly some continue
the habit of his non-existence, but others may be taking a broader perspective.

John Grehan

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