[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

mivie at montana.edu mivie at montana.edu
Mon Jun 29 13:40:53 CDT 2009


Hmm, "Write enough gibberish and look hard enough at it with faith in its
importance and something might make sense," so sayeth Nostradamus.

Lets look at one of Croizat's sentences that you choose as evidence of his
wonderfulness: "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."

Diagram it to find the subject, verb, modifiers, and dependences:
Subject: reason
Verb modifier: of the strongest
Verb: is
Predicate: There
Predicate noun: biogeography

???Reason is biogeography???  This is the best you can find, and you
wonder why it is called gibberish?

Only religious faith can sustain such devotion.

M

it is gibberish! What does "There is reason of the strongest" mean? 
Nothing.  it lacks a critical noun that would make it English.  And, read
strictly, biogeography is an entity able to agree or disagree with
geography.  Nonsense.  The rest of the work is worse.


> 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
>> >
>> >
>
>
> _______________________________________________
>
> 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
>
>





More information about the Taxacom mailing list