[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

mivie at montana.edu mivie at montana.edu
Sun Jun 28 13:32:35 CDT 2009

Oh boy, you retreat to the straw men of the defeated:

Just because dispersalist biogeography is not science does not validate
the equally non-scientific panbiogeography.  So you can understand the
logic error, here is an example: not accepting Islam does not validate

Same for molecular clocks, of which I am not a huge fan, but at least
those hypotheses can be refuted, and as such are science.

Hoping people will associate you with McClintock and Wegener just makes
you look pathetic: I know their work and yours, and you sir are no
McClintock (and neither was Leon).  It only took a few years for
McClintock's work to go from surprising to central.  She hardly spent a
lifetime in the wilderness, nor was she a self-promoter.  Didn't need to
be, she was smart.

Lastly, it does not surprise me you are confused by logic, it  has been
clear for years that was the case.  I am confused by data I don't
understand, but at least I admit it and do not fall for just-so-stories to
explain it away.  I still seek a scientifically valid, testable and
refutable hypothesis.  I am not ashamed of such a search.


>> From: mivie at montana.edu [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
>> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:06 PM
>> I know I am going to regret this....
> Life is full of regrets, but the choices are ours.
>> Croizat being right on something is a correlate of the chimpanzee (or
>> Orang if you prefer) pounding on a typewriter and occasionally
> producing a
>> sentence.  In thousands of pages of gibberish, something would be
> correct
>> by random coincidence.  This is the major error of panbiogeographers:
>> confusing the coincidental accident with ex post facto verification.
> It has yet to be demonstrated that there are thousands of pages of
> gibberish. Yes, some sentences may be overlong or awkward, but they are
> not incompressible. The biggest challenge for most readers is that he is
> not writing an exposition (maybe not the right word), but a
> conversation.
> There are thousands of pages of what most people are not interested in -
> certainly - but that does not make it gibberish.
> Quite a bit of Darwin's writing could be criticized as poorly written,
> but so what?
> It has yet to be demonstrated that the accomplishments of
> panbiogeography (which are not confined to Croizat - a major error) are
> "coincidental accident). And it's not just occasional.
> Here's a challenge for Ivie - list the number of novel predictions about
> geological structure or biology relationships were made in dispersal
> biogeography and how many of these were later empirically corroborated?
> We can then compare that list to panbiogeography. Might make for an
> interesting comparison.
>> I have been attracted to Panbiogeography at 3 points in my career, the
>> most recent just a couple years ago. I have spent most of my career
>> working in the West Indies, and 30 years ago knew a huge amount about
> how
>> West Indian Biogeography worked.  Over the last 30 years what I know
> has
>> been dramatically decreased -- the more I learned, the less I know.
>> Today, as I write this from St. Lucia, I am mostly just confused on
> the
>> subject.  I doubt we will really understand the region without a major
>> improvement in our understanding of its physical origins and history
> that
>> differs from what we think today.
> So what you really appear to be saying is that non-panbiogeographic
> biogeography makes you confused.
>> Recently, I spent 5 years working on the tiny Lesser Antillean island
> of
>> Montserrat. The geologic history of the island and region seem pretty
>> clear, it is a volcano in a line of volcanoes.  However, the more I
>> learned about its fauna, the more weird anomalies I found that made it
>> more Greater Antillean than any of its sister islands.  Attempts to
> remove
>> this problem by more sampling of surrounding islands (hyp: the
> patterns
>> observed are due to under-sampling of intervening islands) did not
> work.
>> It just reinforced the oddities.
> So non-panbiogeographic biogeography produces "oddities"
>> The only answer seemed that there was something unknown that made
>> Montserrat's history different from the surrounding islands, that
>> something being totally beyond current geologic understanding.
> But perhaps not beyond current biogeographic thinking. Biogeography does
> not have to be the hand maiden of historical geology
>> This lead me to reexamine Panbiogeography, thinking maybe I had missed
>> something the first 2 times.  I reread what I could stomach of the
>> literature (passing on a reread of Croizat himself). But, again, for
> the
>> third time, it let me down.  It produces an ex post facto narrative
> with a
>> seductively attractive answer that fits the data, but it is circular
> and
>> inherently unscientific in the end.  It does produce predictions, but
>> those predictions can only be supported by possibly random
> coincidence,
>> and cannot be refuted by non-corresponding data, as those are
> explained by
>> the same method as just other tracks, not refutation of the one
> previously
>> proposed.  Like religion, panbiogeography will explain any discovered
>> annomaly.
> This does not make sense - or at least I cannot make sense of it. It
> almost seems to be saying that panbiogeography is so good at explaining
> everything that it is useless.
>> Plus, certain of its practitioners are so bizarre!  [NOTE: THIS REFERS
> TO
>> equivalents of someone who believes in some random but brilliant guy
> in
>> New York finding golden tablets in an unknown language descended from
>> Egyptian, finding truth there, sending the tablets away with an angel,
> and
>> then founding a religion that is centered in an isolated geographic
>> setting.  The followers then use the "fact" of the tablets to justify
>> their current beliefs, and tend to feel anyone who disagrees is
> attacking
>> them and their divinely revealed truth.  Plus, they are very anxious
> to be
>> viewed as mainstream, not marginal.
> Probably certain of Darwinian practioners are bizarre as well.
>> Correspondingly, panbiogeographers believe in some random but
> brilliant
>> guy in Venezuela, hammering out a series of books in a language that
> is
>> descended from English (but not quite there), whose followers form a
>> colony in New Zealand, and believe with all their heart and sole that
> they
>> have discovered truth, but that the rest of the world is out to attack
>> them.  They do send out missionaries, etc.  And, they are desperate --
>> desperate -- to be seen as a mainstream valid science, not marginal.
> Form a colony in New Zealand? What colony?
>> However, while this approach makes excellent religion, it does not
> make
>> good science.
> The same could be said of molecular clock dispesalism
>>Not a group I want to be associated with.
> Each to their own.
>>If the theory
>> was more validly based, it would attract a wider, perhaps nearly
>> universal, following.
> Probably a circular view. Remember Barabara McClintock. The validity of
> her theory had nothing to do with the reception. Look at Wegner. Look at
> a lot of historical figures in science. Acceptance or rejection of a
> theory is not science.
> The fact that it does not makes its practitioners
>> very much like the persecuted self-validating members of minority
>> religions -- very sure of their superiority and of their eventual
>> vindication and salvation in this world or the next.
> I suppose  looked the same way. I guess it's a
> choice between clarity and confusion (Ivies's that is).
> John Grehan
>> Michael
>> >
>> >> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of mivie at montana.edu
>> >>
>> >> Clearly should have stayed out of this discussion, it is not going
> to
>> >> change anything by getting into  it, but sometimes I go over the
> edge.
>> >> Spending your life in a wheelchair can make you grumpy, I am
> finding.
>> > But
>> >> a few corrections:
>> >
>> > No worries. Anyone who participates on this list is probably "over
> the
>> > edge".
>> >
>> >> > Michael feels
>> >> > that panbiogeography is ridiculous and teaches his students this,
>> >>
>> >> Again, not what I said.
>> >
>> > The quote is " I and many others still ridicule panbiogeography at
> every
>> > opportunity -- I did it this morning with some students."
>> >
>> > So I think Heads can be forgiven to interpreting "I did it this
> morning
>> > with some students" to mean "that panbiogeography is ridiculous and
>> > teaches his this".
>> >
>> > I do ridicule it, but mostly because of the
>> >> bizarre practitioners, and never in an actual teaching environment.
>> >
>> > But see above.
>> >
>> > In what way are the practioners "bizarre"?
>> >
>> > It is
>> >> hard to actually talk about Croizat's books with a straight face
> (have
>> > you
>> >> actually tried to read them?).
>> >
>> > Yes I have read them. Also read plenty of 'standard' books that are
>> > sometimes no better or worse.
>> >
>> > In the conversation I cited, I was having
>> >> a discussion with grad students and am guilty as admitted of
> ridicule,
>> > but
>> >> not as stated above.
>> >
>> > Clarification understood, but the inference was reasonable I think.
>> >
>> >> Mainstream religion believes in talking snakes, but that does not
> make
>> > it
>> >> good science.
>> >
>> > But in science publishers such as OUP seem to be pretty conservative
> and
>> > citing other fields may not be germane. If the nature of the
> publisher
>> > has no bearing on being mainstream, then the opinions by critics of
> the
>> > method don't really add to much either. They are just opinions that
> may
>> > or may not be correct. But some comments below.
>> >
>> > Cracraft's "oversimplistic interpretation" claim my or may not be
>> > correct. But if "oversimplistic" interpretations result in
> successful
>> > geological predictions then so what?
>> >
>> >> "Most applications of the panbiogeography
>> >> method tend towards the narrative rather than the analytical"
>> >
>> > This could be said of all dispersalist accounts (the analysis being
> the
>> > phylogeny, the narrative being the dispersalist claims). This claim
>> > about panbiogeography ignores the fact that the panbiogeographic
> method
>> > is analytical.
>> >
>> >> "...they strongly advocate using biogeographic distributions
>> >> as evidence of phylogenetic relationships, but their examples have
>> >> preconceived notions of relationships built into them."
>> >
>> > Who knows what this might mean. The fact is that the use of
>> > biogeographic relationships has generated phylogenetic predictions
> that
>> > have been later corroborated through biological analysis.
>> >
>> >> "The authors are strong supporters of the importance of
> systematics,
>> >> but they are short on specific analytical procedures of how
>> > biogeography might be used to infer relationships."
>> >
>> > Hard to figure that one out.
>> >
>> >> Serious problems inherent in the Panbiogeography method, which have
>> > been
>> >> documented in the literature ad nauseum.
>> >
>> > No they have not. Just theoretical objections to a method that
> works.
>> > That's the bottom line - the method does work. No one has
> demonstrated
>> > that the standard tracks and nodes do not exist, that there are no
> ocean
>> > basin correlations of global patterns of distribution, that there
> are no
>> > centers of basal evolution, that there are no correlations between
>> > distribution and tectonics, that Croizat was wrong about the
> tectonics
>> > of the Galapagos or the Americas. One can theoretically debate any
>> > method theoretically, but the bottom line is the result (in my
> opinion).
>> >
>> > John Grehan
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
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