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March 01, 2012


irene black

Just drop in between storms to say, Hi.
Love museums. A dear friend was curiator of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for years and I spent many hours there.

Dac Crossley Jr.

Thanks, Caroline. I did a pretty weak job of defending museum science, I know. Must learn to do that with more power.


Dac Crossley Jr.

Well said, Mac. Better than my weak defense of museums.


Dac Crossley Jr.

I put up a pretty weak defense of natural history museums. Should do better.


Dac Crossley Jr.

Maybe the Chinese will achieve true democracy - they are moving toward it. We seem to be moving toward a corporation culture.


Janice Pulliam

As for the Wilde quote, I often find myself wondering lately what future historians and archaeologists will give for the demise of our civilization---greed? something in the water, air or soil? My guess: the whole population doing something fatal that we think will be wonderful.

Caroline Clemmons

Very interesting, Dac. My husband and I enjoyed the PBS British series on the natural history museum in London. I was so glad our daughter told us about it, or we would have missed it. I think the series was called "The Museum of Life" or something like that. It was a fascinating series, and gave me a better idea of what you do. So impressed by your work!

Mac Jr.


As a long standing member of the choir, I intuitively accept the value of natural history collections. When I'm talking about these subjects, I frequently make the argument that as with collections in art museums, there is an aesthetic reason for collecting and keeping these biological specimens too. Simply put, there is remarkable beauty, savagery, and mystery in the products of evolution that are documented in the natural history museum. For me, these are the qualities that make it worthwhile as much as any scientific value (although this is clearly extremely important too!).

Patricia Gligor

Interesting article. Keep up the "valuable" work that you do!
Also, I love the quote by Olivia Wilde. How true!


Dac I loved the blog, but when you speak of anything that has to do with the world around us there seems to be a philosophical argument of one way or another, instead of accepting what is...I wish I knew more about stuff, perhaps that is why I love to read fiction with historical content. Add more Natural History information and ticks and things of that nature, you're educating the world as well as entertaining. Augie

Bill Stroud

Art made a great point. The question to answer is: What good are mites? Most lay persons, including yours truly, do not know either their place in nature, or their value. We only know ticks as the double bad-asses of the tiny insect gang. To answer the question of 'why we do what we do' for the ignorant masses, you'll need to make an interesting case for the importance of mites and ticks. That you collect, preserve, and study them will then logically follow. By the way, cheers for a great blog!!!

Shirley White

" a difficult task – explain to laymen why we do what we do. I don’t think I’m up to it."

I think you can do it.

James R. Callan

Interesting question, DAC. In the end, funding will have the biggest effect on the projects. I know, that's unfortunate. Most of those who determine the funding, don't have a clue what the worth is. Your job is to educate them. Good luck.

Jim Callan


Dac –

For years, I have been bothered by the spiraling support for collections/museums, the whole science of taxonomy.

Well…, gee…, it’s a descriptive science isn’t it? Where are the hypotheses to be tested? As though most of the currently funded NSF awards supported the traditional scientific method with ONE variable to be tested -- give me an effin’ break!

How do we begin to understand the world around us, the role of species and their interconnectedness, if we do not even know who the players are?

Your protégé, Tom Callahan, got it, pushed hard for support of collections at NSF during his tenure – many of the programs that continue today at NSF owe their thanks to Tom.

Years ago, I read of a WWII case of taxonomists identifying the barnacles on a captured Nazi U-Boat and determining the probable home port, which led to a bombing raid that greatly reduced the wolfpack in the North Atlantic.

Could we do that today? Who knows?


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