Censorship

John R. Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Fri Dec 21 10:27:26 CST 2001


At 07:34 AM 12/21/01 -0600, you wrote:
>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.

I'm not quite sure I understand how the comments offered by Lammers speak
against my comment. It was Geoff who labelled my work as a crusade. Geoff
did not define what he meant and Lammers has made some inferences from his
understanding. The term "crusade" is certainly often used as a pejorative
because of its connotations as described by Lammers. I decided to take the
view that Geoff was not imputing a pejoritive meaning to my activies (if I
am wrong he will correct me) and therefore took it as to mean a commitment
to one's science. In this respect anyone who promotes their work may be
said to be on a crusade. If, however, Lammar's meaning was being used by
Geoff then of course I would disagree with it being used to label my work
as different from those who promote traditional Darwinian biogeography.

>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.

This process can be a bit more complex. Tests are context related, not
absolute criteria.

>  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.

Agreed. I think one will find that panbigoegraphic papers simply represent
an application or discussion of a method (spatial analysis) that leads to
historical inference. The Galapagos paper provides an example of how
biogeograpahic patterns can be identified using spatial geometry and how
these patterns were used to generate historical geological predictions and
also predict the current geological structure of the Galapagos area.
Croizat actually predicted the Galapagos was associated with a major
tectonic feature even before seafloor geological mapping. Geologists have
since demonstrated that the Galapagos is indeed associated with a major
tectonic feature (spreading ridge). So the panbiogeographic method works
and that's the bottom line. The reviewers ignored all this empirical
content and resorted to the rhetorical comments I posted earlier. I should
emphasize the comments I posted represented the scope of their response.
There was no critical evaluation of my data, method, evidence or sequence
of inference. I had the paper examined by a couple of tectonic theories and
none found fault with my presentation of the geological 'facts' or models.
When I showed the paper to dispersalists there were disagreements about the
inferences (based on different beliefs such as geology being the only
source of historical reconstruction), but no fault with the
panbiogeographic method itself.

>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.

This issue was not, and never has been, the focus of reviewer censorship of
panbiogeography. In New Zealand there was one review that said that because
panbiogeography did not conform to the principles of Darwinian biogeography
the paper was not be acceptable for publication! (and the editor agreed!).
In contrast,  traditional biogeographers often make historical assertions
while ignoring panbiogeographic evidence to the contrary. Galapagos studies
provide a good example. My article examines all the perspectives. It will
be interesting to see how dispersalists will dismiss the tectonic
prediction (perhaps they will just say it was meaningless "coincidence").

John Grehan

Frost Entomological Museum
Pennsylvania State University
Department of Entomology
501 ASI Building
University Park, PA 16802. USA.

Phone: (814) 863-2865
Fax: (814) 865-3048

Frost Museum
http://www.ento.psu.edu/home/Frost/index.html




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