[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Mon Jun 29 12:58:25 CDT 2009


In what way is silly to cite a section dealing with a particular
geological prediction? There are thousands of other pages sure, but they
mostly deal with different topics. Are there thousands of pages of
gibberish? Michael Ivie says so. Whether that is an accurate claim or
not remains to be seen. Having read most of the thousands of pages I
would disagree.

Michael, please explain how you see the verification is the same as for
Nostradamus. 

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mivie at montana.edu [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 1:34 PM
> To: John Grehan
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> 
> Silly, silly.  A few paragraphs out of thousands of pages.  Do I hear
> "Nostradamus" anyone?  Same exact method of verification.
> 
> > Michael Ivie characterized Croizat's writings as thousands of pages
of
> > gibberish and that Croizat being right on something is a correlate
of
> > the chimpanzee or orangutan pounding on a typewriter and
occasionally
> > producing a sentence.
> >
> > The trouble with such characterizations is that they are made
without
> > substance. Croizat had his own style, but it was not gibberish any
more
> > than modern biogeographic papers (that in my view sometimes do read
like
> > gibberish).
> >
> > One could pick and chose I suppose, but since most biogeographers
have
> > probably never bothered with Croizat (and in my experience so far,
most
> > found his writings objectionable because they did not have the
patience
> > or interest to read about the spatial details of biogeography) I
have
> > excerpted a couple of paragraphs below that pertain to his
geological
> > hypothesis for the Americas. I think they read well enough to be
> > understood here even without the remaining text, and they make it
clear
> > that Croizat makes his geological prediction not as an accident, but
as
> > a necessary outcome of the biogeographic facts - prediction that was
> > later geologically corroborated. If anyone wants to argue about the
> > views expressed in these paragraphs that is fine with me if they
have
> > also read the overall text within which they were written.
> >
> > p. 77 Main massings and major "tracks" and channels are the
biological
> > expression of basic geologic underlying realities. Flesh and rocks
> > evolve together. There is reason of the strongest why the
biogeography
> > of the New World (and all the earth) does not necessarily agree with
its
> > present geography. This biogeography is primarily answerable as a
matter
> > of fact indeed to former geographies, not to the current one.
> >
> > p. 79 Let us assume that instead of being, as of today, of a single
> > piece in geography the American Continent was at some geological
time
> > past of two pieces, one western, the other eastern; which two pieces
> > eventually 'floated' to get together in current geography. Let us
cast
> > the dispersal of Drosera and Halenia generally to fun on these
discrete
> > pieces (Fig. 8), and next inquire whether when coming together these
two
> > discrete pieces would alter that dispersal in any manner really to
> > count. The answer is that the change, vital as it could be in the
sense
> > of geophysics, would surely not make much different in that of
> > biogeography, for Western and Eastern America would still
differentially
> > hold the dispersal of Drosera and Halenia, respectively. Figure 8 is
> > undoubtedly crude, yet what it displays is enough, I believe, to
reveal
> > that "floating continents" need not necessarily be incompatible with
> > quite orderly dispersal, of course within certain limits. I do
> > underscore, because the very moment within geophysics might claim
> > something which dispersal cannot allow, the certain limits in
question
> > would be prohibitive even against a science of geophysics and all
its
> > theories.
> >
> > John Grehan
> >
> >
> >
> > Dr. John R. Grehan
> >
> > Director of Science
> >
> > Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway
> >
> > Buffalo, NY 14211-1193
> >
> > email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
> >
> > Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372
> >
> >
> >
> > Panbiogeography
> >
> >
http://www.sciencebuff.org/research/current-research-activities/john-gre
> > han/evolutionary-biography
> >
> > Ghost moth research
> >
> >
http://www.sciencebuff.org/research/current-research-activities/john-gre
> > han/ghost-moths
> >
> > Human evolution and the great apes
> >
> >
http://www.sciencebuff.org/research/current-research-activities/john-gre
> > han/human-origins
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: mivie at montana.edu [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> >> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:06 PM
> >> To: John Grehan
> >> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> >>
> >> I know I am going to regret this....
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> 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.
> >>
> >> However, while this approach makes excellent religion, it does not
> > make
> >> good science.  Not a group I want to be associated with.  If the
> > theory
> >> was more validly based, it would attract a wider, perhaps nearly
> >> universal, following.  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.
> >>
> >> 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
> >> >
> >> > The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with
either
> > of
> >> > these methods:
> >> >
> >> > (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >> >
> >> > Or (2) a Google search specified as:
> >> > site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >> >
> >> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> >
> > Taxacom Mailing List
> > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >
> > The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either
of
> > these methods:
> >
> > (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >
> > Or (2) a Google search specified as:
> > site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >
> >





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