[Taxacom] Reasons for Hominidae, pongidae, and Panidae

Robin Leech releech at telusplanet.net
Mon Dec 20 09:44:06 CST 2010

Hi Ken,

We seem to be preaching to the converted, as the messages are not
getting out to the politicians and the public.

If a large mass of the public wants sports, TV, beer, etc., and has no
touch, and wants no touch, with nature, then we as scientists are doing
a very poor job of keeping the public informed about what is important
in biology.

One of my big joys is going to grades 2-4 in Edmonton and area schools.
I know this is working, allowing kids to appreciate the biological world.
But we need more people like me everywhere, not just one here, and
then go 500 km to the next one.

Actually, in the Edmonton area, there are 3 of us:  Ian Stirling who
studies polar bears; John Acorn (the Nature Nut) of TV fame; and

Most scientists I know do not have the inclination, interest or ability to
communicate with kids.  And they tell me that they don't have the time,
either.  It is the kids that we have to turn on - it is too late for the 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kenneth Kinman" <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2010 11:43 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Reasons for Hominidae, pongidae, and Panidae

> Hi Robin,
>        I totally agree with you that some taxa are oversplit simply
> because they are sometimes overstudied (to the detriment of other taxa).
> Even as a mammalogist myself, I think we would be better off with a
> better balance (more entomologists or protistologists, and fewer
> mammalogists and ornithologists).  Governments are spending way too much
> money researching bears and wolves (who probably are tired of being
> continually darted, tagged, and chased in helicopters), while whole
> families of invertebrates could be going extinct due to neglect.  And
> within entomology itself, probably too much emphasis on butterflies
> versus more poorly studied taxa.  A better balance could easily be
> found, even though humans in general tend to be more interested in
> mammals, birds, and butterflies.
>        What I find most appalling is the amount of money spent on
> digging up and preparing dinosaurs (the dead ones) compared to
> researching many living taxa that are not popular at all.  It is
> understandable, given the public's fascination with them, but it is
> still tragic.  But even more tragic is the public's overall fascination
> with non-scientific things like sports, the funding of which completely
> dwarfs that devoted to biology.  Billions of people seem totally
> addicted to sports television, but only a small fraction seem to give a
> damn about things like the environment and biological diversity.  Much
> of humanity (especially in the world's burgeoning urban centers) have
> totally lost touch with nature.  The movies and press seem to make
> dinosaurs more deserving of funding than living taxa.  That is truly
> sad, that so many seem to care more about learning about petrified
> dinosaurs bones than living taxa that are imperiled.
>      So what we really need is to divert the millions of dollars paid
> to many individual professional athletes each year (who are basically
> just overpaid entertainers) into biological research instead (not to
> mention Wall-Streeters who endlessly play money games in their
> computers).  And the hundreds of millions of viewers watching those
> sport shows would be better going out and getting some exercise instead
> of munching on junk food and yelling at the television set from their
> couches.
>         --------Ken
> P.S.  By the way, who was the idiot who dreamed up the idea of putting
> edible gold on food.  Anybody who pays exhorbitant prices to put gold on
> their food (and then poop it out into their toilets) are spoiled beyond
> reason (but I bet many of them are the ones who are getting the biggest
> tax breaks from the latest compromise from the U.S. Congress).  The rich
> get richer, and will therefore be able to poop out even more gold.  What
> a waste.
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