[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sun Jun 28 13:39:51 CDT 2009


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mivie at montana.edu [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> 
> Oh boy, you retreat to the straw men of the defeated:

Whatever makes you happy.

> Just because dispersalist biogeography is not science does not
validate
> the equally non-scientific panbiogeography.  

True (although that puts you at odds with 99% of all biogeographers who
think otherwise), so is no scientific biogeography?

So you can understand the
> logic error, here is an example: not accepting Islam does not validate
> Hinduism.

Ok. 

> 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.

Yes they can be refuted. One can refute panbiogeographic predictions as
well. 

> 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.

You missed the point - it is showing that reactions to Croizat are no
different to those made to McClintock or Wegener, not to me (that would
be silly).

> Lastly, it does not surprise me you are confused by logic, it  has
been
> clear for years that was the case.  

Glad that makes you feel better.

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.

Good for you. So I take it you have no non-panbiogeographic
biogeographic novel predictions of geological facts to offer in contrast
to panbiogeography?

John Grehan

> 
> M
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> >> 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
> >> SOME PRACTITIONERS NOT TO ANY SPECIFIC ONE, AND SPECIFICALLY  NOT
TO
> >> ANYONE WHO WANTS TO TAKE PERSONAL OFFENSE] They are the
intellectual
> >> 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
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > _______________________________________________
> >> >
> >> > Taxacom Mailing List
> >> > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >> >
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either
> > of
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> >> >
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> >> >
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> >> >
> >> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> >
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> >
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of
> > these methods:
> >
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> >
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> >
> >





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