Well I’m sure it depends on their field. But in the Life Sciences, I suspect it’s more about grant money. Richard Lewontin is a leader in the field of Population Genetics. He gave a talk at UMass Amherst, home of the late, great maverick scientist, Lynn Margulis and here’s what Lynn reported …
[Question to Dr. Margulis] You have attacked population genetics—the foundation of much current evolutionary research—as “numerology.” What do you mean by that term?
[Answer by Dr. Margulis] When evolutionary biologists use computer modeling to find out how many mutations you need to get from one species to another, it’s not mathematics—it’s numerology. They are limiting the field of study to something that’s manageable and ignoring what’s most important. They tend to know nothing about atmospheric chemistry and the influence it has on the organisms or the influence that the organisms have on the chemistry. They know nothing about biological systems like physiology, ecology, and biochemistry. Darwin was saying that changes accumulate through time, but population geneticists are describing mixtures that are temporary. Whatever is brought together by sex is broken up in the next generation by the same process. Evolutionary biology has been taken over by population geneticists. They are reductionists ad absurdum. Population geneticist Richard Lewontin gave a talk here at UMass Amherst about six years ago, and he mathematized all of it—changes in the population, random mutation, sexual selection, cost and benefit. At the end of his talk he said, “You know, we’ve tried to test these ideas in the field and the lab, and there are really no measurements that match the quantities I’ve told you about.” This just appalled me. So I said, “Richard Lewontin, you are a great lecturer to have the courage to say it’s gotten you nowhere. But then why do you continue to do this work?” And he looked around and said, “It’s the only thing I know how to do, and if I don’t do it I won’t get my grant money.” So he’s an honest man, and that’s an honest answer.
Gotta love Lynn Margulis, rest her soul … she died late last year. I was first introduced to her by creationist author Jerry Bergman in a fascinating paper entitled “Did God Make Pathogenic Viruses“. Margulis helped change my view (shared by most people today) that “microorganisms are primarily germs and pathogens.” This is pure Pasteurian nonsense. We should have listened to his rival Bechamp instead. (Hat tip to Joel Salatin for introducing me to Bechamp) Bacteria are actually vital to all life on earth and viruses are too. Bergman uses a flower and bee analogy, where bacteria are like flowers and viruses are like bees “pollinating” bacteria with genetic information. Google the terms “Margulis Sonea Panisset Mathieu new bacteriology” for more info. Margulis also was the co-author of a theory which I now – at long last – consider to be brilliant – the Gaia Hypothesis. I didn’t understand it at first and I just dismissed it as some sort of New Age Woo, but it’s not at all. The earth is in fact a sort of living super organism and the person that alerted me to this was … drum roll … Joel Salatin, one of my main heroes of late. It was Joel who made me realize that it is actually possible for us to restart the natural hydrological cycle over arid places like the Sahara desert by using one of nature’s most powerful tools – Herbivore Herds on Perennial Grasses managed holistically (Alan Savory) to restore ecosystems. As the vegetative cover returns to the land, this causes transpiration which induces precipitation. See “Modeling Feedbacks Between Water and Vegetation in the North African Climate System” by James R. Miller and Gary L. Russell in Scientists Debate Gaia, p. 297-305 (you can read most of it for free). And, last but not least, Dr. Margulis recently joined Actor Ed Asner and 1600+ professional architects and engineers who are speaking out against the official government NIST story about what caused the 9/11 disaster. http://www.ae911truth.org/ And this brings me to the last part of my blog post title “Or Worse?” If what the “ae911″ people including Margulis and Ed Asner are saying is true, then scientists like Dr. Shyam Sunder, lead investigator for NIST are engaged in a cover up of some very scary stuff. He said, “World Trade Center 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings. It did not collapse from explosives or from fuel oil fires.” http://architects-engineers.org/ Video … start watching at 3:40 to hear Dr. Sunder. Really, Dr. Sunder? Office furnishings catching on fire can bring a modern skyscraper down? I wonder why it didn’t bring this one down. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/world/asia/10beijing.html Much worse fire. Engulfed the entire building. Yet it did not collapse.