[Taxacom] Societal decline in general (was: Museum research decline

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 18 21:14:14 CST 2013


Hi Daphne,
        Too bad today's leisure class (at least the "ultra rich") no longer has much connection with the land (and nature in general).  They tend to live in big cities and now make most of their money by computer.  And when nature gets in the way of making that money (especially endangered species and more recently climate change research), they often use their wealth to fight regulations created to help preserve what biological diversity we still have.  So I tend to agree with Fred.      
 
       However, in my opinion, it really began earlier with the decline of the family farm (or even manors and plantations run by the aristocrats of their day).  You don't really have many Thomas Jeffersons or Charles Darwins in today's upper crust.  Like most of humanity, they are now attracted to cities for the most part.  And money (from both the upper and middle classes) is increasingly pouring into sports and other forms of mass entertainment, fashion, electronic gadgets and consumerism in general, and drugs (both legal and not).  It's mainly about short term pleasure or convenience.  
 
      And most of the ultra-rich still don't seem to be very alarmed about population growth (and the consequent continuance of human misery worldwide).  Malthus, on the other hand, would be horrified.  More medicine without more contraception is just kicking the can down the road, and the numbers of poor and miserable will thus continue to increase in the next few decades. And even that is optimistic (assuming we can avoid crippling attacks on our western civilization by cyber or nuclear terrorists).  Curb population growth and energy consumption NOW, or it won't just be museums going down the drain.  We could even end up burning library books just to keep warm.                     
                         -----------------Ken Kinman  

 
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> From: fautin at ku.edu
> To: bckcdb at istar.ca; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 00:21:09 +0000
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Museum research decline
> 
> Recall that much early science (including taxonomy) was done by members of the leisure class -- one need look no further than Darwin. Of course, there were the working stiffs, such as Wallace. But neither was considered a scientist -- that occupation is a very recent creation. This does not directly address the question -- but it does point out that prosperity is not antithetical to scientific curiosity/drive. In fact, an analysis I heard this week was that much DIY biology, which strikes fear into the hearts particularly of molecular and biomedical types (for good ethical reasons, perhaps, but we in taxonomy are accustomed to it -- "amateurs," "hobbyists," or whatever non-pejorative term you wish to use describe a huge proportion of new species each year!), is done by people with some training, up to and including Ph.D.s -- just in unconventional settings.
> 
> 
> Daphne
> 
> Daphne G. Fautin
> Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
> Curator, Natural History Museum (Biodiversity Institute)
> University of Kansas
> 1200 Sunnyside Avenue
> Lawrence, Kansas 66045 USA
> 
> telephone 1-785-864-3062
> fax 1-785-864-5321
> skype user name daphne.fautin
> evo user name fautin
> website: invertebratezoology.biodiversity.ku.edu/home
> cv: www.nhm.ku.edu/inverts/daphne.html
> 
> database of hexacorals, including sea anemones
> newest version released 2 January 2013
> hercules.kgs.ku.edu/Hexacoral/Anemone2/index.cfm
> 
> ________________________________________
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of Fred Schueler [bckcdb at istar.ca]
> Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:17 PM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Cc: Aleta Karstad; Francis R. Cook; Owen Clarkin
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Museum research decline
> 
> On 12/17/2013 6:41 PM, John Grehan wrote:
> 
> > A speculative question - is it possible that the decline in support for
> > research scientists is related to the decline in the 'middle class' (at
> > least in the United States where it is in decline with more ultra rich and
> > more far less well off)?
> 
> * I have long wondered about the coincidence, in Canada, between the
> beginning of the decline in support for the National Museum (1977), and
> the publication by the staff, in the 1970s, of lists of endangered
> species and studies of climate change.
> 
> There's a currently popular song about the Canadian economy - "The
> System isn't broken it was made that way," and, on this hypothesis, the
> decline of support for museum research and exploration would have
> occurred at the point where these activities began to threaten to impede
> exploitative economic activities rather than assisting them. This
> perhaps ascribes an implausible level of foresight to the
> exploitationists, but the coincidence is striking.
> 
> fred schueler
> Research Curator
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Frederick W. Schueler & Aleta Karstad
> Bishops Mills Natural History Centre - http://pinicola.ca/bmnhc.htm
> Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills - http://pinicola.ca/mudpup1.htm
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> RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
> on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
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> ------------------------------------------------------------
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