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Darwin-L Message Log 6:74 (February 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<6:74>From SPAMER@say.acnatsci.org  Mon Feb 14 08:42:16 1994

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 1994 9:45:17 -0500 (EST)
From: Earle Spamer <SPAMER@say.acnatsci.org>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: RE: Rafinesque

It really strikes me that when the subject of Rafinesque comes up, there
are more interjected comments in discussions like *I can't remember just
where*, or *citation uncertain*.  This is all part of the Rafinesque
mystique.

There is a story about Rafinesque that I would like to ascertain once and
for all whether it is true or not.  (I suspect it is an apocryphal
Rafinesquism, however.)  Rafinesque, according to this story handed down
without citations, in his various scientific classifications is supposed
to have gone so far as to have applied scientific names to lightening.

However, in the Rafinesque sources available to me, I have only been able
to find passing references to lightening-like phenomena.  Under the
subject of "Atmology" in Rafinesque's (1815) ANALYSE DE LA NATURE (p. 16)
I find only the following brief passage (which I quote from Cain's 1990
English translation [TRYONIA no. 20, p. 114]) [sic, including the ellipsis,
which is part of Rafinesque's original]:

"And among the principal luminous Meteors may be counted, Lightning
flashes, thunderbolts, falling Stars, Will o' the wisps, Lithopyres or
flaming Stones, Globes of Fire, Halos, Parhelia, Aurora borealis, the
Rainbow . . . . ."

Does anyone have insight on whether Rafinesque went further than this,
and applied "genera" and "species" names to these phenomena?

Earle Spamer

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