[Taxacom] Fwd: Nature needs names: 60 new dragonflies from Africa

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Dec 11 18:28:24 CST 2015

As rarely as I may agree with Stephen, in this case he and I perceive 
the same problem, though I think it might be better explained, and put 
into perspective.

Consider the logical extreme:

How many papers are published globally every month describing new 
species of insects alone? Maybe 100, at least, I'd wager. Well, that's 
at least 3 papers on new insects *every single day of the year*.

Now, imagine if the mainstream media outlets got three press releases on 
new insects handed to them every single day and were asked to give them 
all equal air time; how long would it take before they would start 
refusing to distribute ANY of them? It really would *not* take very long 
before people got utterly, and irrevocably, sick and tired of hearing 
about new insect species. As long as a "new insect" press release is a 
rare event, that risk is minimal, but if we did it every time a new 
insect paper came out, it'd quickly lose all sense of novelty, and we 
would not only bore the "non-enthusiast" audience, but the outlets to 
reach that audience would also slam shut in our faces.

That being said, please do note that I'm explicitly referring to 
mainstream media and press releases. *In a different context entirely*, 
I think it would be wonderful to have a visible public place, like a 
twitter feed with some catchy title like #newspecies, where people DID 
actually post every single paper published anywhere, to impress upon 
folks just how much is still being discovered. In the former context, 
you're effectively trying to shove your discoveries into people's faces, 
and using loads of hype in the process; in the latter context, only 
people actively subscribing to that twitter feed will see the constant 
bombardment (it's "opt-in"), and what they'd be getting *from* that feed 
is basically hype-free links to the papers (you can't fit a lot of hype 
into 140 characters!). Having a feed that posts every paper, from all 
sources, for all taxa from fungi to dinosaurs to insects, would also 
help level the proverbial playing field, rather than giving exposure 
only to those researchers/institutions with the resources or inclination 
to produce and promote press releases. We really do NOT want taxonomy to 
become any more of a "popularity contest" than it already is.


Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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