Censorship

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Fri Dec 21 07:34:38 CST 2001


At 08:11 AM 12/21/01 -0500, you wrote:

>>John is on a dedicated crusade for panbiogeography
>
>Everyone is on a dedicated crusade for whatever they do, otherwise why
>bother doing anything?

Sorry, now I have to step in again, and this time speak against Grehan's
comment.  In doing so, bear in mind that I have read none of this
literature and address general principles rather than specific cases.

As I've always understood it, and have always taught it, science is an
unbridled search for understanding.  We create hypotheses, test them, then
reject or accept as the data suggest, let the chips fall where they may.
When someone tells me they are on a "dedicated crusade" to support a
particular hypothesis or theory, it conjures up images of bad B-movie mad
scientists cackling, "The fools!  I'll prove my theory yet!!!"   It makes
me worry about an investigator's objectivity.  When we get "married" to an
idea, it becomes awfully difficult to lay it aside if the time comes to do
so.  Yes, I know we are only human.  We cannot totally avoid some biases
and subjectivity creeping into our science.  But we must strive to be as
objective and dispassionate as possible, lest we inadvertantly reject or
accept hypotheses we shouldn't.  I sincerely hope that your manuscripts do
not suggest that you have come to a conclusion first and are now casting
about for data to support that conclusion, rejecting any that don't.  That
is entirely backwards from good scientific practice and I would consider it
Bad Science and grounds for rejecting a manuscript.  If you have data that
support panbiogeographic hypotheses, they should by all means be
published.  But if you were to arbitrarily ignore data that fail to support
them, or support alternative hypotheses, I could see why reviewers might be
less than pleased.


Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

Webpages:
http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/Lammers.htm
http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Resort/7156/lammers.html
http://www.uwosh.edu/departments/biology/herbarium/herbarium.html
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"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous




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