Darwin-L Message Log 9: 141–175 — May 1994

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.

This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during May 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.

The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”

DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 9: 141-175 -- MAY 1994

<9:141>From john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au  Tue May 10 01:05:46 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 16:03:30 +1000
From: John Wilkins <john.wilkins1@udev.monash.edu.au>
Subject: eumemics, history of historical sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

The term 'meme' as a cultural analogue to 'gene' is of course Richard
Dawkins'. As I understand it, it refers to a cultural artefact or practice
that is, in Toulmin's phrase, 'a transmit', and which undergoes selective and
other evolutionary change *independently of* gene frequencies and the
biological like.

'Eumemics', by analogy, refers therefore to intentional biassing of the
transmission process to produce a desired outcome. In other fields it is
known as 'social engineering' or censorship or political education. I hope
this is useful

John Wilkins - Manager, Publishing, Monash University,
Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria 3168 [Melbourne] Australia
Internet: john.wilkins@udev.monash.edu.au
Tel: (+613) 905 6009; fax: 905 6029
====Monash neither knows, nor approves, of what I say====


<9:142>From GGALE@VAX1.UMKC.EDU  Tue May 10 08:35:04 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 08:35:18 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Time in 'parallel' universes
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Peter Junger asks an interesting question:
>What earthly meaning can "at the same time" have in two different universes?<
Of course it can't have an "earthly" meaning :-), but it might be given SOME
sort of meaning (and, indeed, has been so given).
Leibniz' worlds are parallel in the sense of possibility. Counterpart periods
in the evolution of individual worlds are usually called "junctures", and may
be compared across arbitrarily large numbers of separate and distinct
worldlines using fairly straightforward logical analyses.

Universes parallel in quantum 'spaces', according to Mukhanov, generate
interferance (both constructive and destructive). It is possible that some
inter-universe counting (= timing) measure could be developed; indeed, it
is plausible that some method will be imagined.

Of course these sorts of cases are wildly, extravagantly speculative. But
that's what theoretical physicists and philosophers are paid to do, wildly
and extravagantly speculate.

Many of these issues are discussed in "Cosmological Fecundity: Theories of
Multiple Universes", _Physical Cosmology and Philosophy_, J. Leslie (ed)
(1990, Macmillan) and "Multiple Universes" in _Ency. of Cosmology_, N.
Heatherington (ed) (1990, Garland).



<9:143>From snow@wustlb.wustl.edu  Tue May 10 08:52:15 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 08:18:37 -0500
From: snow@wustlb.wustl.edu
To: "Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu"@WUGATE.wustl.edu
Subject: Hx cladisitcs re: plant syst.

Jeremy Creighton Ahouse recently inquired (9 May) about the apparent
absence of contributions to cladistic theory by plant systematists,
based on an article of Robin Craw.   I have not read Craw's article,
but if, upon reading the article, one must conclude that plant
systematists have contributed little or nothing to cladistic theory,
I must suggest that such is not the case.

Researchers whose study focuses primarily on the evolutionary relation-
ships of plants (plant systematists, sensu lato) have added and continue
to add to the cladistic perspective, from completely new ideas, to
refinements of existing ideas, to the critiquing of ideas, and to the
question of what are the limitations of the cladistic method.

Many plant systematists probably would prefer to think of themselves
as evolutionary biologists who happen to study plants.  Maybe the
historical tendency to label scientists as botanists (including
plant systematists) or non-botanists (as evidenced in the departmental
organization of many universities, i.e., Botany Dept., Zoology Dept.,
etc.) is outdated, but I digress.

Anyway, here is a very incomplete sampling of recent contributions to
cladistics from the pens of "plant systematists" (with the exceptions
of A. Larson and K. de Quieroz, whose primary reserach interests are
not plants).  In listing these, I do not necessarily agree with every-
thing contained therein, and I apologize to the substantial number of
plant systematists who have recently contributed something to the
cladistic literature for not including YOUR work.

Donoghue, M. J. 1985. A critique of the biological species concept
and recommendations for a phylogenetic alternative.  The Bryologist
88: 172-181.

de Quieroz, K., M. J. Donoghue. 1988. Phylogenetic systematics and the
species problem. Cladistics 4: 317-338.

Baum, D. A., A. Larson. 1991. Adaptation reviewed: a phylogenetic
methodology for study character macroevolution. Syst. Zool. 40: 1-18.

Rieseberg, L. H., D. E. Soltis. 1991. Phylogenetic consequences of
cytoplasmic gene flow in plants.  Evol. Trends in Plants 5: 65-84.

Stevens, P. F. 1991. Character states, morphological variation, and
phylogenetic analysis: a review. Syst. Bot. 16: 553-583.

Davis, J. I., K. C. Nixon. 1992. Populations, genetic variation, and
the delimitation of phylogenetic species. Syst. Biol. 41: 421-435.

Davis, J. I. 1993. Character removal as a means for assessing stability
of clades.  Cladistics 9: 201-210.

Lavin, M., M. Luckow. 1993. Origins and relationships of tropical North
America in the context of the boreotropics hypothesis. Amer. J. Botany
80: 1-14.

Rieseberg, L. H., L. Brouillet. 1994. Are many species paraphyletic?
Taxon 43: 21-32.

Obviously, workers from many fields have contributed to cladistic
reasoning; my selected sampling of writings of "plant systematists"
is of course in no way meant to ignore the important contributions
of others.  It is also important to recognize that contributions have
come from all parts of the world, although the above citations have
a decidedly North American bias (unintentional).

Hasta luego for now,

Neil Snow
Ph.D. candidate, Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)


<9:144>From ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu  Tue May 10 10:47:30 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 11:50:01 -0400
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu (Jeremy Creighton Ahouse)
Subject: Re: Hx cladisitcs re: plant syst.

        Thanks for the list of current (botanical) adherents and definers
of cladistics.  My question about the importance of plant sytematics was
motivated by the same thing that gives rise to your list.  Certainly there
is lots of contemporary work.  But to what extent are the "roots" of
cladistics in plant systematics?  (I am truly sorry for the pun... ouch)

        - Jeremy


<9:145>From turnbull@park.bu.edu  Tue May 10 11:49:54 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 94 12:49:49 -0400
From: turnbull@park.bu.edu
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Evolut'n Serial/Parallel Language/Thought

Nick Gessler raises the question of whether our serial thought and language
are indicative of a limitation of the "add-on strategy of natural selection"
such that it cannot create parallel mechanisms or if there is rather a
geniune advantage to a serial process.

One idea about this is from Baars' theory of consciousness, where he
proposes that consciousness functions as a sort of "global news agency" and
evolved to permit specialized cognitive modules to share a single important
message in the absence of specific inter-module connections.  But why a
SINGLE important message?  Since the "message posting" modules have no way of
knowing which other, if any, modules are interested in the message, having
parallel "global workspaces" would not be advantageous or would require
further "choosing" mechanisms (if not all modules were connected to each
workspace, then the poster would need information about the likely "readers";
if all modules were connected to each workspace, then each module would need
a mechanism for choosing which workspace to pay attention to next).

Then there's the notion (Wm. Calvin et al.) that spoken language developed on
a substrate of cortex specialized for the precise motor control of sequential
acts (i.e. throwing rocks at Bambi).  And also the unitary nature of the
human voice---other than Tuvan throat singing and other monkish harmonic
musical feats, speech is constrained to be the modulation of a single tone

Well, since this intriguing question has flushed me out of my lurker's blind,
I should mention that I'm a recent (though by no means college-aged!) Masters
graduate of the Cognitive & Neural Systems Dept. at Boston University
currently working in the computer-assisted training field.  I am interested
in linguistics, evolution, and the history of scientific thought and have
been quietly enjoying DARWIN-L for some time.

Mark Turnbull
turnbull@cns.bu.edu or mark_turnbull@qmgate.mitre.org

Baars, Bernard J..  A cognitive theory of consciousness.
Cambridge [England]; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1988.


<9:146>From ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu  Tue May 10 12:57:33 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 94 7:57:48 HST
From: Ron Amundson <ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Gale and job descriptions

quoth George Gale:

>Of course these sorts of cases are wildly, extravagantly speculative. But
>that's what theoretical physicists and philosophers are paid to do, wildly
>and extravagantly speculate.

Where does one apply for a job like this?

Ron Amundson
Professor of Plodding Philosophy
U. of Hawaii at Hilo


<9:147>From snow@wustlb.wustl.edu  Tue May 10 13:36:11 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 13:15:00 -0500
From: snow@wustlb.wustl.edu
To: "Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu"@WUGATE.wustl.edu
Subject: Hx cladistics/plant syst.


I would recommend the following article regarding the roots of
cladisitic thinking among scientists who study plants:

Donoghue, M. J., J. W. Kadereit. 1992. Walter Zimmerman and the
growth of phylogenetic theory. Syst. Biol. 41: 74-85.

It would be a good start on the topic.

Thinking aloud here a bit... it seems that frequently when we try to
successively approximate an origin (in this case the origin of cladistic
thinking), the more elusive the origin becomes.  Cladistic thinking has
its roots in general evolutionary
theory, which of course includes a mmyriad of topics governing pattern
and process.  In a similar vein, the harder we try to nail down concepts
like gene, character, homology, species, etc., the harder it is to
do so.  This is in part because one can approach (for example) pattern
and process from different angles (e.g., as a developmental biologist,
a population geneticist, etc.)  Pinning down the origins of cladistic
thinking may prove to be similarly elusive, at least that is my hunch.  Or,
in cladistic lingo, maybe the origins of cladistic thinking are polyphyletic.

I hope this reference helps.  Hasta luego, Neil


<9:148>From BENEDICT@VAX.CS.HSCSYR.EDU  Tue May 10 15:21:58 1994

Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 16:20:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Hx cladisitcs re: plant syst.
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

  And of course Dr. Warren H. Wagner, for whom the Wagner methods are named,
is a systematic botanist as well...

Paul DeBenedictis
SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse


<9:149>From jel@christa.unh.edu  Wed May 11 05:33:47 1994

Date: Wed, 11 May 1994 06:34:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: John E Limber <jel@christa.unh.edu>
Subject: Re: Evolut'n Serial/Parallel Language/Though
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Gessler asks some questions that I, too, have wondered about.  My own
conjecture (Limber, 1982;1990) to the first part is that the serial
nature of natural language
results from the constraints imposed by vocal communication; syntax is
essentially an interface between parallel/hierarchical cognitive
processes and the linear nature of phonology.  As this linguistic
artifact became embedded into the nervous system via the "Baldwin
effect", linearity had a secondary effect on consciousness and
attention.  This has been discussed extensively by Jaynes (1990) and

Whether this could have gone another way calls for an even more advanced
level of science fiction.  We are stuck with both primary and secondary
effects of vocal communication except for non-trivial artifacts like
simulation and multivariate analyses.

John Limber, Psychology, University of New Hampshire


Dennett, D. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown &

Jaynes, J. (1990). Verbal hallucinations and preconscious mentality. In
M. Spitzer & B. H. Maher (Eds.), Philosophy and Psychopathology (pp.
157-170). New York: Springer Verlag.

Jaynes, J. (1990). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the
bicameral mind (Second ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Limber, J. (1982). What can chimps tell us about the origins of language.
In S. Kuczaj (Eds.), Language Development: Volume 2 (pp. 429-446).
Hillsdale, NJ: L. E. Erlbaum.

Limber, J. (1990). Language Evolved--So What's New? Behavioral and Brain
Sciences, 13, 742-743.


<9:150>From mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca  Wed May 11 06:38:00 1994

From: mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca (Mary P Winsor)
Subject: botanists on pre-clad
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (bulletin board)
Date: Wed, 11 May 1994 07:38:56 -0400 (EDT)

As to contributions to the evolution of cladistics coming from
botanists, I have no crisp formula, but as to the pre-cladistic
years: as part of a project centered on the New Systematics (ed.
Julian Huxley 1940) I looked into archives that showed a large
committee of leading bot., zool., paleont in England 1938-9, led
by J.S.L. Gilmour.  With very few exceptions, the zoologists
believed the function of taxonomy was to express phylogenetic
relations, and the botanists believed taxonomy should be a
science of resemblances leaving evolutionary questions for
separate consideration.  Gilmour did not so much invent as
reflect this proto-phenetic leaning among botanists.
I don't know if this split was peculiar to England or if
North America or the European continent had a similar situation.

 Polly Winsor


<9:151>From rom@anbg.gov.au  Thu May 12 02:28:27 1994

Date: Thu, 12 May 94 17:28:47 EST
From: rom@anbg.gov.au (Bob Makinson)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Evolut'n Serial/Parallel Language/Thought

John Limber wrote:

<<My own conjecture (Limber, 1982;1990) ... is that the serial nature
of natural language results from the constraints imposed by vocal
communication; syntax is essentially an interface between
parallel/hierarchical cognitive processes and the linear nature of

I am replying from total ignorance (I am a botanist), but this seems
to make sense to me. I wonder however if there is a begged question
in the discussion so far, i.e. the working assumption that the
dominant vocal element is all there is to language.  Are there not in
actuality more-or-less developed parallel elements in interpersonal
communication via non-vocal cues (gestures certainly, but also the
cues of dress, posture, visual and vocal puns, third-party reactions,
etc.,  that establish common or divergent assumptions and meanings
between the communicants?

Are tone and accent a serial element of vocal language, or parallel
to the content, or are they altogether peripheral to this discussion?

Non-verbal parallel elements, and their comprehensibility, obviously
vary widely according to context.  An almost indigestably rich
example that comes to mind is Greenaway's recent film <<Prospero's

In short, in trying to follow this discussion, I am unclear where
<<language>> stops.

Bob Makinson


<9:152>From sally@isp.pitt.edu  Thu May 12 03:52:21 1994

To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Evolut'n Serial/Parallel Language/Thought
Date: Thu, 12 May 94 04:52:37 -0400
From: Sally Thomason <sally@isp.pitt.edu>

Bob Makinson asks about the nonverbal elements of human
communication and their possible relevance to the question
about the linearity of human language, and mentions things
like cues of dress, posture, etc.  Those things are
certainly relevant to the question, but that's not all.
There are quasi-linguistic nonverbal aspects of human
communication, too, like head nods and finger signs and
the like.  But much more significantly, there are also
NONvocal human languages -- namely, the sign languages
of Deaf communities around the world.

    The study of American Sign Language, in particular, has
been booming in linguistics in the last couple of decades,
and the results challenge some of [what had seemed to be] the
most obvious basics of human language.  For purposes of this
discussion, probably the most striking point is that ASL
phonology may not be exclusively linear.  That is: ASL *has*
phonology, and it appears to be structured in ways that closely
parallel the structures of vocal-language phonological systems,
but the use of hand movements and space rather than the vocal
mechanism eliminates built-in linearity.  Linearity remains,
but at least some specialists argue that there are *both* linear
*and* simultaneous features in the system.

   ASL is not English, and it is not a manual "translation" of
English.  It's also not an invention; it's a natural human
language (unlike, say, Esperanto), with native "speakers", and like
any other language it undergoes changes, has dialect variation,
and so forth.  Not all native signers are deaf, either: hearing
children of deaf parents sometimes have ASL as their first language.

   Here are a couple of recent references to work on ASL phonology:

   Dordrecht: Foris.  (See the review article of this book by
   Diane Brentari in LANGUAGE 68:359-374, 1992.]

Geoffrey R. Coulter, ed.  1992.  PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY: CURRENT
   ISSUES IN ASL PHONOLOGY 3.  San Diego: Academic Press.
   [There's a review of this book by Linda Uyechi forthcoming in
    the June 1994 issue of LANGUAGE.]

        Sally Thomason


<9:153>From rh@dsd.camb.inmet.com  Thu May 12 10:57:07 1994

Date: Thu, 12 May 94 11:57:27 EDT
From: rh@dsd.camb.inmet.com (R. Hilliard)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Evolution Serial/Parallel Language/Thought

Gessler raises a fascinating topic.  Here are a few musings inspired
by the previous postings.

We need to be clear what we mean by 'serial' -- what are we committing
to when we use the term to describe the phenomenon?  Do we mean linear
(single dimensional), sequential (ordered), flat, temporal?

Is the seriality of language a deep property of language or an
accidental property of the surface?  As Limber suggests phonology
seems a pretty flat interface to a rich conceptual system.  And
Thomason reminds us that even the phonology of sign languages is
surprisingly (though not totally) serial.  Makinson rightly asks
whether the signal is REALLY LINEAR when one considers tone, stress,
etc.  Some current theories (theories I don't keep up with!) suggest a
highly non-linear, multi-dimensional character to phonological
structure even at this 'superficial' level.

I think what is left is temporality, which certainly looks like
linearity in most cases; language is a rich, multi-hierarchical system
with temporal constraints.  Perhaps this temporality is local to
whatever systems we use to parse language and perhaps music, too --
another phenomena that is richly dimensioned but temporally situated.

What are the implications of 'seriality' (with above caveats) for
other aspects of mind?  Certainly awareness is temporally situated.
But, once one moves beyond 'natural' systems like language and music,
our constructed semiotic systems appear to quickly depart from
seriality: e.g., in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology models
are frequently diagrammatic (i.e., non-linear, non-serial, non-flat)
and can support sophisticated usage (e.g., reasoning with them).  On
the other hand, in software engineering/computer science for example,
it's still a struggle to represent and reason about complex
multi-threaded (e.g., parallel) systems -- so temporality seems close
to the root of the problem.

 -- Rich Hilliard


<9:154>From wilcox@mail.unm.edu  Thu May 12 13:38:14 1994

Date: Thu, 12 May 94 12:38 MDT
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: wilcox@mail.unm.edu (Sherman Wilcox)
Subject: Re: Evolut'n Serial/Parallel Language

Limber and Gessler raise interesting questions and issues concerning the
serial vs. parallel nature of language. Makinson and Thomason have added
valuable information also to expand this discussion. I would just like to
point out some issues that cross-cut this questions at various points.

(1) As both Makinson and Thomason point out, it seems to me that the
characterization of language as serial *versus* parallel is less clear than
we might imagine, and depends on a priori conceptions of what "language" is
(or, at least, a priori assumptions about how to go about studying
language, which then lead us to find evidence in only certain areas of
language, which then become the defining characteristics of LANGUAGE). I
think, for example, this is what happens in a recent article by Burling
(1993), and Barbara King (1993) correctly  points out the problem in her

(2) Any coordinated neuromuscular activity is likely to be highly serial in
its organization (Greenfield 1991). The gestures of speech are no
exception, as the scientists at Haskins Labs have demonstrated (Fowler et
al. 1980). Doreen Kimura (1993) maintains that the "linguistic" skills
common to both speech and signing that are lateralized to the left cerebral
hemisphere are really expressions of the same underlying ability to
coordinate complex sequences of activity.

(3) As Thomason notes, signed languages display a high degree of
parallelism in their use of spatial syntax. I think of this as a matter of
signal bandwidth. Hockett (1978) called it "dimensionality". It is
important to keep in mind, when discussing signed versus spoken languages,
that we are not talking about "gestural" versus "auditory" language: this
is a mixing of types that is common in the literature. Both signed and
spoken languages are *gestural*. One uses gestures that result in a largely
acoustic signal, the other in largely optical signals. This leads me to
ask: is it language or the acoustic vs. optic signal of transmission that
we need to discuss? Was it serial communication that was selected, or a
signal type? We must be careful not to conflate language with medium of
transmission, and hence confuse *characteristics of one particular signal*
with *characteristics of language*.

(4) My colleagues and I have proposed a gestural explanation for the origin
of language and syntax (Armstrong, Stokoe, & Wilcox 1994a and 1994b) which
further bears on issues raised here, especially the claim by Limber that
"syntax is
essentially an interface between parallel/hierarchical cognitive processes
and the linear nature of phonology". In our Current Anthropology article we
claim that gesture holds the kernel of syntax, but (though this point is
not explicitly made in the article) not in a way which depends on linear
phonology. Our thesis, in both the book and the article, is that gesture
(including visible gesture and auditory or phonetic gesture -- that is,
gestures resulting in either optical or acoustic signals) played a critical
role in the development not only of cognition (on this claim, we rely
extensively on the work of Gerald Edelman, e.g., 1987) but also of language
in the human species. This is not a new claim (many of the commentators of
our Current Anthropology article have also written in support of this
claim, while others like Lieberman see a more important role for speech).

Sherman Wilcox
Dept. of Linguistics
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

References Cited

Armstrong, D.F., W.C. Stokoe, & S. Wilcox. 1994a. Signs of the origin of
syntax. Current Anthropology, Fall issue (in press).

Armstrong, D.F., W.C. Stokoe, & S. Wilcox. 1994b. Gesture and the nature of
language. Cambridge University Press (in production).

Burling, R. 1993. Primate calls, language,  and non verbal communication.
Current Anthropology 34: 25-37.

Edelman, G.M. 1987. Neural Darwinism: the theory of neuronal group
selection. NY: Basic Books.

Fowler, C.A., P. Rubin, R.E. Remez, & M. Turvey. 1980. Implications for
speech production of a general theory of action. In B. Butterworth (ed.),
Language production. London: Academic Press.

Greenfield, P.M. 1991. Language, tools and brain: the ontogeny and
phylogeny of hierarchically organized sequential behavior. Behavioral and
Brain Sciences, 14: 531-595.

Hockett, C.F. In search of Jove's brow. American Speech, 53(4): 243-313.

Kimura, D. 1993. Neuromotor mechanisms in human communication. Oxford
University Press.

King, B.J. 1993. Comment on Burling. Current Anthropology 34: 40-41.


<9:155>From J.Carr@uts.EDU.AU  Fri May 13 01:05:50 1994

From: "John Carr" <J.Carr@uts.EDU.AU>
Date: Fri, 13 May 94 16:48:24 EST
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Serial Language

[I originally sent this c3 days ago, but have found that it did not enter
our our list]

On Mon, 9 May 1994  G wrote:
> why has natural language evolved an essentially serial
>channel of cummunication, either as natural speech, or as sub-vocalized
>thought in words?  A number of people, including myself, have expressed
>difficulty in describing complex, parallel interactions in what is basically
>a serial, sentential language structure.

'G' seems to be ignoring the notion that 'evolution' works with whatever it
has available:- in the case of natural human language, this means that the
development of language is constrained by the nature of the human voice.
Given that the voice is essentially a monophonic instrument, it has no
option of being able to work with anything other than a serial
communicative system, just as a trumpet or any other monophonic musical
instrument just cannot make a chord (the speech organ is not an 'organ'!).

'G' comes close to answering his own question by noting the existence of
non-verbal (including paralinguistic) features/channels of communication:-
these allow communication to be 'symphonic'.  That is, many one-note
instruments operating simultaneously, and hence allowing of parallel-

I am more concerned however that 'G' may be operating from a popular but
problematic view of how evolution works.  Firstly, there is the attribution
to evolution of agentic power, that is, the implication that 'Evolution' is
somehow an entity which in itself can do something (and hence could have
chosen to adhere to G's design preferences).  This may simply be an
artifact of human styles of speech, but sometimes people do seem to act as
if 'evolution' is virtually a person capable of independent action.

The second popular problematic is connected to the first.  It is the
notion that we have a "Mail-Order Universe", in which, if God does not meet
requests anymore, then at least Evolution will.  Accordingly, when we can
see that one thing is better than another (as G is describing parallel
communication as against serial) then Evolution should obviously meet our
needs/preferences and begin an adaptation program immediately.  Sadly, as
we watch the rigors of child-birth, as we see the problems of oldage, and
even as we try to come to terms with the fact that our voice can only make
one sound at a time, then we come also to realise that Evolution - aloof
god/demon that it might be - just continues with whatever works to allow
'it' to continue on.  Survival of the fittest is definitely not survival of
the most useful or the most whizz-bang!.  If in doubt, just ask those who
bought Beta-video rather than VHS.

[The implication that G makes that thought may be serial rather than
parallel is untested and I would contend just untrue - how could we operate
our communicative symphony with up to 14 different channels simultaneously
signalling unless thought was definitely characterised by co-processing, ie
parallel form.]

To you in serial form,
John Carr
Communication Studies
University of Technology Sydney
Sydney, Australia


<9:156>From ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu  Fri May 13 03:40:26 1994

Date: Thu, 12 May 94 22:40:42 HST
From: Ron Amundson <ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: "not in our genes" =/=> "didn't evolve"

Dear List,

     Now that some we've burned off the more volatile levels of
frenzy regarding the human evolution issue, let me gently comment
on Vince Sarich's first post on the issue.  I refer not to the
more recent one in which he attributed contemporary
overindulgence (his view, I take it) in so-called PC (political
correctness) to modern society's lack of DC (Darwinian
Correctness) <oops ... pretty flamey, that>.  I'll address rather
the message in which he endorsed the suspicion that Gould and
Lewontin did not believe in the evolution of behavior.

     Bob Richardson and others have commented soundly on Gould
and the matter of within- versus between-group variation.  Bob
also raised the possibility that G∧L would probably be able to
accept cultural evolution.  I think that the writings of Lewontin
(in particular) support a more biological stance than this,
though not one which would satisfy those of a strong DC
commitment.  What follows is my loose interpretation of
Lewontin's approach; it is influenced by other readings.  I have
not attempted to document the ideas I ascribe to Lewontin in his
own writings.  I happen to agree with most of the points.  It's
probably more accurate to say that the following are _my_ views,
and ones which I think I came to believe largely from reading
Lewontin.  Yeah, that's it!  These are _MY_ ideas -- Lewontin had
nothing to do with them (unless they're wrong).

     Prof. Sarich endorsed the earlier claims that Lewontin
rejected the evolution of behavior by the simple citation of the
title of a coauthored book, _Not In Our Genes_.  This is far from
sufficient support for that conclusion.

     First of all, as has been separately discussed on Darwin-L,
the book title supports the "no-evolution-of-behavior" assessment
_only_ when we assume a very genocentric version of the
"evolution is variation in the gene pool" definition of the term
"evolution."  (Did we conclude that Dobzhansky 1937 is the source
of this definition?)  The fact that this conclusion seems (to
some) to follow is additional evidence of the poverty of that
"definition" of evolution.

     If we wish to derive "Didn't evolve" from "Not in our genes"
(applied to particular behavioral traits) at least two premises
are required.

     1)   Evolution is changes in the gene pool.
     2)   Any phenotypic trait which can evolve is specifically
          coded in the genome.

     As I understand Lewontin's attitude towards behavior and
most other phenotypic traits, condition 2 is simply false.  The
relation between a genotype and a phenotype is not one of
blueprint-matching.  The _most_ a genotype can ever do is
"specify" a range of phenotypic variation together with the
environmental conditions under which the various phenotypes will
develop.  This is more correctly termed a "norm of reaction."

     I emphasize that this is the _most_ a genotype can do.
Russell Gray, in "Death of the gene," (in P. W. Griffiths, ed.,
Trees of Life) argues that the norm of reaction is itself too
crude a description to be accurate.  Gray is working within the
"developmental systems approach" along with Susan Oyama,
Griffiths, and others.  Griffiths supplied Darwin-L with a
bibliography of the approach some months ago.

     Nowhere in my reading of Lewontin have I found him to argue
that the norm of reaction of human behavior has not or cannot
change.  What he does argue is:

     1)   particular behaviors, tendencies (and other phenotypic
          properties) are not _coded_ in the genome, but are
          rather possibilities within the norm of reaction of the
          genome, and

     2)   the activity (behavior) of humans (and other organisms,
          including plants) changes the environment of those
          organisms, and so changes both the conditions under
          which the present norm of reaction is expressed and the
          conditions under which natural selection operates, and

     3)   when biologists specify deterministic "codings" of
          traits in genes, these specifications typically serve
          the ideological purpose of legitimizing the privileged
          status of those presently in power.

     Now, even if your political scruples (and beliefs in the
"objectivity" of science) make you hesitate at 3), conditions 1)
and 2) do not support the conclusion that "behavior does not

     Consider fingerprints.  (Either Gould or Lewontin has used
this case; I forget which and where.  They cite a good "Just-So-
Story" about fingerprints in _Spandrels_, but that's a different
issue.)  Human fingerprints clearly differ from those of other
apes.  But the specific pattern of each individual's fingerprint
is not "coded" in the genes.  Are your fingerprints "in your
genes" or not?  Your _particular_ fingerprints are surely not
"coded"; at best your fingerpads' norm-of-ridge-reaction was
"coded".  (And "at best" is probably not "in fact.")  So should
we conclude that fingerprints _did not evolve_?  Surely not.  But
neither should we conclude that your fingerprints are genetically
determined, nor that they doom you to a life of crime and

     It is superficial to derive "It didn't evolve" from "It's
not in the genes."


Ron Amundson


<9:157>From p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu  Fri May 13 07:54:59 1994

Date: 13 May 1994 08:56:21 U
From: "p stevens" <p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu>
Subject: Botanical cladistics
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

To follow up on Polly Winsor's comments, what I find striking about British
botanists 1859-1940 (one could say to about 1980...) is how little their
practice changes, and what problems they have with genealogy.  J. D. Hooker,
for example, was uncertain whether more than a bare majority of taxa (genera
and above) had definite limits and an analogy   for nature that he used is
multidimensional (it is post 1859, and the only one I know of his using).
Hooker was interested in ideas of progress and evolution.  George Bentham, the
other pillar of the botanical establishment there in the middle of the century,
clearly stated that evolution meant that all taxa from variety up were
equivalent, and that Darwin's work showed that disputes over ranking were thus
immaterial.  However, he thought that genealogies were largely undetectable and
visualised the evolutionary tree from above - branches (genealogy) being
unknown.  All we see are massings of foliage more or less close to one another.
Hence we are back to Linnaeus's comparison of nature to a geographical map (or
to Whewell's as a more or less densely wooded landscape). There taxa join one
another directly, and Hooker's dubiously distinct taxa find their proper

In the United States, C. E. Bessey produced a number of "phylogenies" later in
his life which are conceptually equivalent to a Linnaean landscape, although
Bessey himself did not think so. Bessey focussed on the idea of progress (see
his political views?); interestingly, his very first "phylogenies" are quite
different from these later ones.

German botanists in the late 1800s were more likely to produce diagrams that
allowed for extinct ancestors, but there were also clearly interested in ideas
of orthogenesis and parallelism.

In Switzerland, Alphonse de Candolle basically gave up on the idea of being
able to represent relationships, theye were far too complex and

An Italian, Delpino, published some "phylogenies" in ca 1868, but these, too,
owe much to maps.

Paradoxically, in the whole of the 19thC, most botanical trees which have
characters on them are best interpreted as representations of -keys-, not
genealogical relationships.  But I don't know that Zoologists were in that much
better condition; certainly, T. H. Huxley and Hooker had quite a lot in common
when it comes to higher-level classification.

Peter Stevens.


<9:158>From p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu  Fri May 13 18:08:36 1994

Date: 13 May 1994 19:08:53 U
From: "p stevens" <p_stevens@nocmsmgw.harvard.edu>
Subject: Teaching History
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

About a week ago, a comment was made about the problems of teaching history.
Having spent the last term trying to teach genealogies of plants, I have ended
up the term rather frustrated.  Although I suspect the problems involved in
teaching organismic genealogies differ from group to group, and that trying to
teach the history of a discipline (or human history) present somewhat different
problems, I thought that airing some issues might be of interest.

Some problems are:

1. The students are faintly familiar only with a few plants.  These are
temperate and in some sense the end-points of genealogies; certainly, many of
their features are highly derived. In any event, the students don't know very
much about them. (When I teach the history of systematics, students either know
something about the history of science, or of current systematics).

2. Much of the genealogical framework within flowering plants is either
missing, or decidedly problematical.

3. Molecular genealogies are unteachable, other than by rote...

4. Insofar as we have genalogies of plants, they are based on characters.  I
can teach such genealogies, and illustrate the characters (even if most of the
plants in which I can demonstrate the characters are unfamiliar).  But
-organisms- evolve, and the characters are parts of these organisms.

5. History is not linear; the course is.

Possible solutions:
For 5. It is not too hard to demonstrate that the linear structure I impose on
the course is artificial; I compare genealogies with mobiles, with the branches
rotating with respoect to one another; any order in which you discuss the
ornaments (groups) is thus at the whim of the teacher (or wind).

For 1. Discuss a "representative", i.e. local, member of, say, the pea family
first, so that the students have some idea of the context in which the set of
character changes about to be discussed occur.

For 4. I am toying with the idea (shunted to one side in discussions of the
detection of phylogenies) of resurrecting ancestors, and drawing images of them
(this will consist both of apomorphies and plesiomorphies, i.e., the unique
features that were posessed by the common ancestor of the group + widespread
features found in other plants).  Then characters can be seen in the context of
organisms, and the student can follow from-to sequences.

For 2 and 3, perhaps time will solve all.

Maybe this is all rather naive, but I would be interested in comments.

Peter Stevens (pstevens@harvard.edu)


<9:159>From CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu  Sat May 14 09:33:49 1994

Date: Sat, 14 May 1994 10:34 EST
From: CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu
Subject: Teaching history backwards
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

To start with the present and work backwards in teaching history is a
procedure T. H.
Huxley followed in several of his historical (including paleontological)
expeditions.  For example, he introduces his  1868 talk "On a Piece of Chalk"
[Collected Essays vol. VIII] by imagining a well dug at the feet of his
Norwich audience,  the well probing Albion chalk beds.   "A great chapter of
the history of the world is written in the chalk.  Few passages in the history
of man can be supported by such an overwhelming mass of direct and indirect
evidence as that which testifies to the truth of the fragments of the history
of the globe, which I hope to enable you to read, with your own eyes,
to-night."   And then he conducts his audience to Globigerinae


<9:160>From gessler@anthro.sscnet.ucla.edu  Sat May 14 21:15:23 1994

From: "Gessler, Nicholas (G)   ANTHRO" <gessler@anthro.sscnet.ucla.edu>
To: DARWIN - postings <DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>
Subject: serial/parallel   language/thought
Date: Sat, 14 May 94 19:12:00 PDT

Carr seems anxious to read between the lines and suggest that I "may be
operating from a popular but problematic view of how evolution works."  I
don't believe this is the case having taught the subject more times than I
care to remember.  If I personified evolution, it was to make my post more
readable.  Neither do I plead guilty to seemingly "ignoring the notion that
evolution works with whatever it has available" since I said something to the
effect that it was an "add-on" process.  Nor do I imply that "thought may be
serial rather than parallel," or the reverse which Carr may have intended to
write that "thought may be parallel rather than serial."  Perhaps I should
restate my question.

In the evolving (sic) sciences it is generally recognized that natural
language and natural thought are severely limited when it comes to describing
and predicting the outcome of complex adaptive systems.  In augmenting this
natural deficiency, we have created computational models.  In engineering
these systems began with serial communication and processing, but we are
finding that computational models have greater predictive power when they are
embodied with massively parallel communication and processing.  While it is
certainly true that technological evolution is different from biological
evolution, they share enough similarities to enable us to ask (and maybe
answer) the question of how we evolved our present natural human language and
cognitive structures.  The formal question is how mutation and recombination
can produce variation in serial vs. parallel modes of operation, and under
what circumstances might their be a fitness advantage or selective
disadvantage for each?

If there is no way to produce parallel structures through mutation and
recombination then selection will have no opportunity to work.  But parallel
structures are produced.  Minsky in his SOCIETY OF MIND argues that thought
consists of numerous contesting agents.  One thrust in robotics is to
populate the robot "brain" with numerous agents with some voting or
tournament procedure to decide whose answer to a problem will be expressed by
the robot.  Is their any neurological evidence for such parallelism?

If there is a way to produce parallel structures through mutation and
recombination, we must ask why some conferred higher fitness on the organism
and who others were selected against.  It is certainly valid to ask why
certain parallel modes, and certain serial modes, were either selected out or
retained by the fitness they conferred.

As Carr states, there is no need to suppose that a given functionality, like
the ability to understand complex systems through parallel communication and
cognitive modalities, would even confer a fitness advantage on its possessor.
It seems that scientific or academic accomplishment actually results in a
lower net reproductive success.  But although there is no need to suppose
this would happen, there is equally no necessity to dismiss the consideration
of how selection may operate on such options.

I did mention both linguistic and para-linguistic channels of communication,
and Carr apparently agrees that this does constitute some sort of
parallelism.  That would imply that there is some selective disadvantage to
non-parallelism.  If so, would there not be a selective disadvantage to
non-parallelism in natural language?  Carr asserts that natural language is
constrained by the human voice which "has no option of being able to work
with anything other than a serial communicative system."  Is there evidence
to support this?  A serial communication channel can dump information into a
parallel processor -- the efficiency of that link depends upon the relative
speeds of the two.  Even if the phonetic structure is serial, must the
grammatical structure of a natural language follow suit?  But even the
phonetics of language have parallel structures or channels such as those
defined by sounds which are voiced/unvoiced.

I don't think the question, or its answer, is as simple as it may first
appear.  Why ask it?  For some of us interested in the fields of robotics,
artificial life, and evolutionary biology, its answer directly bears on
scientific epistemology and the role of computational models as
representations of the external world.  I don't have an answer, but I do
appreciate hearing the discussions.

If this message had been parallel processed, it would have been written and
delivered an hour ago. ;-)

Cheers, Nick Gessler
UCLA Anthropology
Artificial Life Group


<9:161>From ad201@freenet.carleton.ca  Sun May 15 07:01:37 1994

Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 08:02:06 -0400
From: ad201@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Donald Phillipson)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Serial/parallel language/thought

Nick Gessler <gessler@anthro.sscnet.ucla.edu> of UCLA Anthropology
Artificial Life Group contributed 14 May 94

> Perhaps I should restate my question.
>In the evolving (sic) sciences it is generally recognized that natural
>language and natural thought are severely limited when it comes to
>describing  and predicting the outcome of complex adaptive systems.
>In augmenting this  natural deficiency, we have created computational
>models.  In engineering  these systems began with serial communication
>and processing, but we are  finding that computational models have
>greater predictive power when they are  embodied with massively
>parallel communication and processing.  While it is  certainly true
>that technological evolution is different from biological  evolution,
>they share enough similarities to enable us to ask (and maybe  answer)
>the question of how we evolved our present natural human language and
>cognitive structures.  The formal question is how mutation and
>recombination  can produce variation in serial vs. parallel modes of
>operation, and under  what circumstances might their be a fitness
>advantage or selective  disadvantage for each?

Reformulated (and please correct any errors below) it seems to me we
(1) postulate (or more) evolution in at least four domains:
  -- biological species: source data millions of years
  -- intellectual disciplines: source data 300 years or 2500?
  -- technology: source data 1000 years or 10000?
  -- language: source data 2500 years + guesswork.
(2) We postulate that these domains are similar enough to be
comparable with respect to the object of our study.
(3) Our object of study is "variation in serial vs. parallel modes of
operation, and under what circumstances might their (sic) be a fitness
advantage or selective disadvantage for each."

Gessler's main problem seems to be one of experimental design, viz.
how to control variables and select only one or a very few phenomena
to investigate, of such a character that, even if we discovered
something contrary to our expectations, it would be meaningful.

My main problem would be clause (2).  I do not know what data or
behavior patterns in the four domains are supposed to be both
specifically evolutionary and sufficiently similar to be meaningfully
compared.  The data seem to me very different, e.g. biological data
(whether material species or genes) vis-a-vis technology (a sample of
tools and machines of unknown representativeness, amplified by some
intelligent guesswork.  Clause (3) focusses on selective advantage;
but I do not see that the four domains are sufficiently similar (as
Clause (2) requires) with respect to selection for survival.

For example, biological species compete for food and habitat with
other species (in some some species, individuals compete with each
other too: in others, not or less) and variation and competition
together select for survival and new species.  Technological
competition may be similar (for our purposes) but I do not see in the
domains of disciplines or languages either this type of inter-specific
competition or its results.

Another main criticism concerns the main object, viz. unguided
emergence of serial and parallel processes in language or thought. I
cannot see that this is soluble (in Peter Medawar's usage, viz.
research as "the art of the soluble):  while the question is
interesting by itself, I cannot see that it is important to any
particular discipline (e.g. linguistics, anthropology, history.)

>                          For some of us interested in the fields
>of robotics,  artificial life, and evolutionary biology, its answer
>directly bears on  scientific epistemology and the role of
>computational models as  representations of the external world.

Agreed for robotics and AL, but not necessarily biology:  I don't
think that the serial/parallel difference (in either structure or
function) is a recognized category in biology.  In AL and robotics, I
do not see how the emergence of serial and parallel processes in
language or thought relates to either disciplinary ideas or
engineering improvements.  (Agreed, nothing mental can be wholly
irrelevant to robotics and AL, but I was hoping for something more
explicit and concrete.)

 |          Donald Phillipson, 4180 Boundary Rd., Carlsbad         |
 |        Springs, Ont., Canada K0A 1K0; tel: (613) 822-0734       |
 |  "What I've always liked about science is its independence from |
 |  authority"--Ontario Science Centre (name on file) 10 July 1981 |


<9:162>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun May 15 22:09:11 1994

Date: Sun, 15 May 1994 23:09:28 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: May 15 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1847: EDWIN RAY LANKESTER is born at London, England.  The son of a medical
doctor, Lankester will study zoology and geology at the universities of
Cambridge and Oxford, and will be appointed professor of zoology at University
College, London, in 1872.  A wide-ranging practitioner and theorist of the new
evolutionary anatomy, he will coin a number of words, such as "homoplasy" and
"blastopore", that will become standard terms in the field.  In 1891 Lankester
will be appointed Linacre Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Oxford, and then
in 1898 director of the British Museum (Natural History).  In his retirement
he will write a number of popular books on natural history, including _Extinct
Animals_ (1909) and _Diversions of a Naturalist_ (1915).

1862: "On May 15th, 1862," CHARLES DARWIN will write in his autobiography,
"my little book on the _Fertilisation of Orchids_, which cost me ten months'
work, was published: most of the facts had been slowly accumulated during
several previous years."

Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international
network discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences.  For
more information about Darwin-L send the two-word message INFO DARWIN-L to
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, or gopher to rjohara.uncg.edu (


<9:163>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun May 15 23:24:50 1994

Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 00:25:06 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Important interdiscplinary book available
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

I have mentioned the volume below a couple of times before as one of the
most important interdisciplinary works in the historical sciences:

  Hoenigswald, Henry M., & Linda F. Wiener, eds.  1988.  _Biological
  Metaphor and Cladistic Classification: An Interdisciplinary Perspective_.
  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

It contains fifteen papers on historical linguistics, systematics, and
stemmatics by many well-known authors, including Rulon Wells, Anna Morpurgo
Davies, Konrad Koerner, Jane Oppenheimer, Peter Crane, Michael Novacek,
Don Cameron, Henry Hoenigswald, and Darwin-L member Peter Stevens.

The new University of Pennsylvania Press catalog has this volume on sale
for the amazing price of US$1.90.  I highly recommend it to all Darwin-L
members, and at this price you could buy an extra copy for your local
library, too.  The shipping charge is $2.50 for the first item and $.75
for each additional item, so one copy would total $4.40 and two copies
would be $5.15.  Would that all books could be gotten at this price.

The address for the press is:

University of Pennsylvania Press
P.O. Box 4836
Hampden Station
Baltimore, Maryland 21211 USA

And the book is item #500 in their 1994 Spring Sale catalog.  (Their
phone number is 410-516-6948, but I don't believe they will take credit
card orders for this small an amount.)  If you are interested in the kind
of interdisciplinary issues we discuss on Darwin-L, this volume would be
a valuable addition to your library.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.


<9:164>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Mon May 16 01:34:45 1994

Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 02:35:00 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: May 16 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1799: EBENEZER EMMONS is born at Middlefield, Massachusetts.  Emmons will
study natural history and medicine at Williams College and at the Berkshire
Medical School, and will eventually succeed his teacher, Chester Dewey, as
professor of natural history at Williams.  One of the pioneers of American
geology, Emmons will do more than any other person to establish in the 1830s
and 1840s a geologic column for North America, independent of those being
developed for England and continental Europe.  His extensive field work in New
York and western New England will form the basis for his _Manual of Mineralogy
and Geology_ (Albany, 1826), and in 1832 he will move from Williams to the new
Rensselaer School (later Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in Troy, New York.
Emmons's later career will be marred by a bitter controversy with James Hall
and Louis Agassiz over the strata that he will call the Taconic System, and
Emmons will depart New York for North Carolina in 1851 to take up a position
as state geologist.  He will die in North Carolina in 1863, a casualty of the
American Civil War.

Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international
network discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences.  For
more information about Darwin-L send the two-word message INFO DARWIN-L to
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, or gopher to rjohara.uncg.edu (


<9:165>From erast@iozb.tartu.ee  Tue May 17 07:08:38 1994

To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: Erast Parmasto <erast@iozb.tartu.ee>
Date: Tue, 17 May 94 14:51:11 +0200 (EET)
Subject: Teaching Genealogies of Plants

Subject: Teaching Genealogies of Plants

Peter Stevens wrote (13 May 1994 19:08:53 U):
< Having spent the last term trying to teach genealogies of plants,
< I have ended up the term rather frustrated...

It is really tricky to teach genealogies, i e relations of objects
students have not seen / do not know. It is almost senseless.
   In Estonia, until some few years ago we had to teach students
following very strictly prescribed schedule of courses compulsory
for all (200 or more) universities. Happily this system has gone,
but we have not yet thrown the baby out with the bath water. In
first semester, ALL biology students have to learn anatomy and
morphology of plants; during the first summer semester, they (incl.
physiologists, molecular biologists, etc.) have to learn to
recognize / identify species of animals (3 weeks in a field station),
plants (3 weeks), and fungi (1 week). - Happily about 40 % of Estonia
is covered with forests; 15 % is peatland and (high) bogs, and no
signs "Private forest. Trespassers will be punished and/or shot
dead" anywhere.
   After this (or in the first term) there is a course on methodology
of sciences ("What is science"), from 1991 compulsory for botanists
and optional for other biology students. AFTER this a course "Theory
and methods of taxonomy" follows with practical works in a computer
   Thanks to the course "What is science," students hold it quite
normal that
< Much of the genealogical framework within flowering plants is
< either missing, or decidedly problematical.
   Surely not all but the best students will understand, that
taxonomy (and genealogies) is a set of scientific hypotheses, and
there is a lot of unsolved problems for them ahead. This is science.

- Erast   <erast@park.tartu.ee>  Erast Parmasto, Tartu, Estonia


<9:166>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Tue May 17 11:17:17 1994

Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 12:17:33 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: World-wide Palaetiologists' Party! (May 24th)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

NEXT TUESDAY (May 24th) will be a major aniversary in the historical sciences,
to wit: the 200th anniversary of the birth of WILLIAM WHEWELL, one of the
intellectual patrons of Darwin-L for his writing on the conceptual relations
among the sciences of historical reconstruction, and for his coining of the
term "palaetiology" which is Darwin-L's theme (even if we can't pronounce it).

In honor of Dr. Whewell's birthday, Darwin-L will sponsor what may be an
*Internet first*: a world-wide, distributed, real-life (rather than "virtual")
PALAETIOLOGISTS' PARTY!  Here's your chance to get together with some other
folks at your local institution, and maybe even meet some people that you
don't know from other departments.  Linguists having lunch with geologists;
zoologists having lunch with historians; just imagine it!  And besides, any
excuse for a party is a good one!

Here's how the grand scheme will work.  I will very shortly post an invitation
blank, which will say something about Whewell, palaetiology, and the world-
wide party, and which will contain a space for local information to be added.
You can add a local time and place, and either e-mail the invitation to your
friends and colleagues, or print a copy and send it around your office,
department, or other locale.  For example, I plan to invite a group of folks
from UNCG to lunch in one of our university dining rooms, so I will print out
a copy of the general invitation and then add the local time and place to it
so all my local colleagues will know where to go.  All of us around the world
will be using the same invitation, so it will be one gigantic distributed
party!  I leave it to the individual participants to set the tone for their
local instantiations of this global event: anything from two people sitting
in an office raising a glass in memory of Dr. Whewell, to a day-long banquet.
(If you have a day-long banquet let me know; I may come visit.)  ;-)

The term is over in most places, and it's time to take a break.  Why not
do it with your fellow palaetiologists?  We now have about 575 members, and
there's a very good chance that there is someone out there among our number
from your very own institution that you haven't met, but that shares your
interest in the historical sciences.  To find out who you might invite you
can retrieve a copy of our current subscriber list by sending the message:


to listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, and it will be automatically sent to you by
return e-mail.  The list will be sorted (believe it or not) in alphabetical
order by e-mail-address-spelled-backwards.  (I don't write the software; I
just use it, and that not very well.)  Thus all our Canadian members (about
32) will come first because their addresses end in ".ca"; our South African
members (4) come next with addresses ending in ".za"; then our Belgian members
(also 4) with ".be"; and so on to ".nz" for our 10 New Zealand members.  Our
group has members from about 30 countries, so this can indeed be a world-wide

Watch for the invitation to follow.  Palaetiologists of the world unite!

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.


<9:167>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Tue May 17 20:59:18 1994

Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 21:51:58 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: William Whewell's World-Wide Palaetiologists' Party
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Here's the blank invitation to William Whewell's world-wide
palaetiologists' party -- an Internet first!  This is what you
can do:

(1) Cut along the dashed line below, and fill in the time and
place of your local party in the spaces provided.

(2) Either print the invitation out or send it via e-mail to
any friends and colleagues you wish to invite.  The invitation
will print most succesfully if it is put into a mono-spaced font,
such as Courier on the Macintosh (it was designed for 12-point
Courier on 8.5 x 11" paper).  To find out who else from your own
institution subscribes to Darwin-L send the message INFO DARWIN-L
to listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu.  I hope this will be a chance
for some of our subscribers who haven't met before to do so.

(3) Just for fun, send a copy (in print or by e-mail) to me; I'd
be delighted to know how many people joined in with us.  My postal
address is Robert J. O'Hara, 100 Foust Building, University of
North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 USA.  E-mail:

(4) Have fun on the 24th in remembrance of Dr. Whewell!  (Perhaps
I will send a copy of the invitation to the current Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge, who would be Whewell's present-day
successor, and see whether he would care to join us.)  ;-)

------- cut here --------------------------------- cut here ------
  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

       The 200TH ANNIVERSARY of the Birth of WILLIAM WHEWELL
     Polymathic Scientist, Historian, Philosopher, and Educator
      Friend of the HISTORICAL SCIENCES and Coiner of the Term


"As we may look back towards the first condition of our planet, we
 may in like manner turn our thoughts towards the first condition
 of the solar system, and try whether we can discern any traces of
  an order of things antecedent to that which is now established;
 and if we find, as some great mathematicians have conceived, in-
  dications of an earlier state in which the planets were not yet
  gathered into their present forms, we have, in pursuit of this
train of research, a palaetiological portion of Astronomy.  Again,
 as we may inquire how languages, and how man, have been diffused
over the earth's surface from place to place, we may make the like
 inquiry with regard to the races of plants and animals, founding
 our inferences upon the existing geographical distribution of the
  animal and vegetable kingdoms: and thus the Geography of Plants
 and of Animals also becomes a portion of Palaetiology.  Again, as
 we can in some measure trace the progress of Arts from nation to
  nation and from age to age, we can also pursue a similar inves-
 tigation with respect to the progress of Mythology, of Poetry, of
 Government, of Law....It is not an arbitrary and useless proceed-
 ing to construct such a Class of sciences.  For wide and various
as their subjects are, it will be found that they have all certain
principles, maxims, and rules of procedure in common; and thus may
     reflect light upon each other by being treated together."
                       William Whewell, 1847
     The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, second edition

                       LOCAL TIME AND PLACE:

                       SPONSORED BY DARWIN-L
             An International Network Discussion Group
        on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
   (gopher to rjohara.uncg.edu for more information, or send the
      message INFO DARWIN-L to listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu)

                      AND BY YOUR LOCAL HOST:

  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


<9:168>From KIMLER@social.chass.ncsu.edu  Thu May 19 13:37:41 1994

From: KIMLER@social.chass.ncsu.edu
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 14:37:35 EST5EDT
Subject: Re: oral and written language

Forgive me for going back to something from 2 weeks ago, but finals
and orals have to be given even in the days of the Info-Hypeway, and
I just browsed through May's discussions on oral and written language.
On May 4 [?], Donald Phillipson provided an intriguing note on what
he called "the far greater reverence for print" in North America,
compared to Britain.  He
     formed the hypothesis (never tested) that it had to do with the
     frontier schoolmarm (or at least her image in popular culture.)
     Bearing alone the burden of a whole village's connection with
     the rest of world culture, the frontier schoolmarm naturally
     felt safer relying on "objective" print rather than personal
     memory as the basis of her curriculum.  One of the consequences
     is that it is normal in N. America to seek to pronounce every
     written letter in such words as forehead, laboratory, library,
     police, etc., which the British would most often pronounce as
     "forrid, laboratry, libry, pleece" etc.

Marc Picard's response made a good point, that there is a
     tendency for literate people to forget that [language] is
     (still) first and foremost an oral phenomenon. ... The
     fundamentals of language, i.e. semantics, syntax, morphology and
     phonology, are definitely not learned from books and magazines.

But this is obscuring the intriguing part of Donald's remarks.  I,
too, can think of examples of American pronunciations that seem to be
derived from having learned the words from text, without experience,
and consequently the letters are sounded out as if English had
uniform rules of spelling-to-pronunciation.  For instance:
1) "Edinburgh" pronounced with a "g" at the end, rather than "uh"
[sorry, but this keyboard will not provide standard phonetic symbols,
so bear with me for sounds].  Any number of British words would
be examples, as perplexed Americans wonder where all the letter-
sounds went ["Gloucester" as gloster, "Worcester" as wouster,
"Magdalene" as mawdlin, "gunwale" as gunnul, "boatswain" as bosun]
and labor to sound them out.
2) Here in North Carolina, there are numerous examples of towns with
names derived from England and from other languages; most commonly
they have a pronunciation based on a "literal" reading of letters
rather than the presumably original sounds.  The converse makes the
same point:  you may have noticed that DARWIN-L comes out of
Greensboro, where the spelling has adapted to old pronunciation.
3)  "clerk" not pronounced as British "clark"; this extends
to my students transferring American prononunciation to James Clerk
Maxwell's name.  They read his name before they ever heard a
pronunciation; if not, they'll spell it "Clark."
4)  "primer" [the book] rhyming with timer rather than dimmer
5)  my student "Sean", pronounced See-Ann

These look trivial, but I'm wondering if someone has examined the
effect on American-English of widepread literacy and self-education
yet isolation from a continuous oral knowledge for certain words.  Is
there a way to distinguish "drift" [= they just change] in
pronunciations from a particular social cause of change?  Is the
transformation of British to American pronunciations the subject of
some standard theory that I'm too naive to know?  A couple of Oxford
friends have assured me that most educated-class pronunciations that
seem out-of-touch with spelling to Americans are an intentional set
of in-group, coded pronunciations to surely distinguish class in
England: you have to be a member of the oral tradition to get it
right.  Even if that was just good pub nonsense, it does raise the
point the linguists on the list have been making:  language
distinctions are full of social and political meanings.  Can one add
a social mechanism like Phillipson's?

And just for a comparison, and to agree with Picard that the oral
is primary, a small pleasure of this season of reading student papers
is to search for high-percentage misspellings that can be related to
local pronunciation:
1)  any word ending in -ist [scientist, biologist, etc.] will not
have an "s" added for plural, since the pronunciation does not differ
between -ist and -ists.
2)  "perform" will be "preform" to match the pronunciation pruh-form.

I assume this is how spellings evolve, but I note the same
expectation that spelling ought to follow pronunciation with fixed
rules.  Where did readers of English get that idea?

-- William Kimler
Dept. of History
North Carolina State University


<9:169>From michaels@scifac.su.oz.au  Thu May 19 18:54:52 1994

Date: Fri, 20 May 1994 09:56:03 +1000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: michaels@SciFac.su.OZ.AU
Subject: Freud, Schliemann and archaeology

>I would like some help in a project underway to explore Freud's interests in
>archaeology, and the importance to his work (and self-identity) of Schliemann
>and his writings. One thing, amongst many, intrigues me: Freud's use of
>mythical figures in his medical case studies. This use is often very striking.
>Consider, for example, this brief passage from his Fragment of an Analysis of
>a Case of Hysteria (1905). Freud introduces one of his interpretations with
>the comment that he 'had no choice but to follow the example of those
>discoverers whose good fortune it is to bring to the light of day after their
>long burial the priceless though mutilated relics of antiquity'. The reference
>is one of many in his works to archaeology and the classical past. Freud

When Dora stayed with the K.'s she used to share a bedroom with Frau K.,
and the husband used to be quartered elsewhere. She had been the wife's
confidante and adviser in all the difficulties of her married life. There
was nothing they had not talked about. Medea had been quite content that
Creusa should make friends with her two children; and she certainly did
nothing to interfere with the relations between the girl and the children's

Without breaking the narrative for pause or parenthesis, Freud substitutes
Medea for Mrs K. and Creusa for Dora.  It seems to him quite appropriate
that a mythical figure and a member of the Viennese bourgeoisie should sit
together in the same case study.Freud collected voraciously in
archaeological objects, mainly Egyptian (his collection comprised 3000
objects), and perhaps for a man who surrounded himself with so many
representations from the past, who daily stroked and spoke to a cast of
marble and bronze figurines, traffic across time and myth came easily.  But
it was, to say the least, unconventional to bring the past alive in this
way in medical case reports?

Or was it? I would like to know..

Freud's teacher J.-M. Charcot, for example, does not resort to such
references.  While it was not uncommon for nineteenth-century psychiatric
case studies to made reference to and quote profusely from literature,
partly to underscore their  status as learned and humane works (cf. Helen
Small's recent article in History of the Human Sciences), both the manner
of Freud's citations and their nature are, I think, unusual. The fact that
Schliemann employs this narrative technique in works of his which Freud
read and admired prompts the thought that Freud might have been influenced
in this respect by Schliemann. But my hypothesis fails, or at least
tetters, if this was more common in medical and psychiatric case histories
than I assume.

Can anyone help? Thanks in advance

Responses to Michael Shortland
Unit for History & Philosophy of Science
University of Sydney


<9:170>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun May 22 21:52:39 1994

Date: Sun, 22 May 1994 22:52:57 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: Teaching phylogenies
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Peter Stevens expressed his frustration a few days ago with teaching plant
genealogies/phylogenies.  I share his frustration, and have given a fair
amount of thought to how basic ideas in systematics should be taught, but I
don't have many useful insights to offer.  I feel as though we really just
haven't figured out how to do it yet, but this may just be an expression of my
own perpetual dissatisfaction with my teaching.  One of the problems Peter
mentioned is that many beginning students have a very limited knowledge of the
basic facts of diversity.  Most natural historians started as bird watchers or
butterfly collectors or plant hunters, and so often have years of experience
with identification, geographical distribution, groups-within-groups, etc.,
before they learn any of the technicalities of evolution.  My experience with
introductory students is that very few have this basic experience with the
phenomena, so trying to teach about how species originate or how they are
related to one another phylogenetically is very hard, since they don't really
have even a rough-and-ready idea of what species are.

(I should say that the students I am thinking of here are American college
freshmen, not necessarily with special interests in the sciences.  I have been
teaching an introductory course on Darwin and the _Origin_ for a couple of
years, and have encoutnered these problems primarily in that course.  The
course isn't so much an introductory course on evolution as it is a course in
critical reasoning and writing that uses Darwin as a framework.  I'm sure
there are different problems at different levels.)

I like very much the Estonian system that Erast Parmasto described, where
every beginning student is required to spend several weeks in field work,
identifying plants and animals, before continuing on to conceptual and
theoretical issues.  I'm sure there are many American institutions where this
is done, but it certainly is not done at every institution.  We have I think
an excessive fascination with laboratory apparatus and experimentation, and
need to spend more time exposing students to basic outdoor phenomena and to
collections.  We are too often put in the position of someone who has to
teach, say, contemporary African politics, but who has students that think
maybe Guatemala is part of Africa.

In systematics we seem to be in a transitional phase with respect to
teaching.  A great many advances have been made in the field in the last
thirty years, but these are trickling irregularly into the basic teaching
literature.  It is a very important area to think about, and like Peter I
would welcome any thoughts and practical teaching suggestions from other
Darwin-L members.

Can the historical linguists offer any insights, I wonder?  Are there any
special tricks or techniques that are used to present, say, the history of
Indo-European in a few lectures for a group of first-year students?  I should
say that in teaching Darwin's evolutionary tree in the _Origin_ I have found
the linguistic analogy to be very successful -- they seem to get the contrast
between Greek (persisting for many years but not splitting up into many
daughter languages) and Latin (splitting up geographically into the
present-day Romance languages, and itself becoming pseudo-extict), and how
the history of species that Darwin is trying to illustrate in his diagram
is very much the same thing.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.


<9:171>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun May 22 22:38:18 1994

Date: Sun, 22 May 1994 23:38:35 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: General texts in the historical sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Lynn Nyhart asked a few days ago if there were any general histories of
the historical sciences that are somewhat more up to date than Toulmin and
Goodfield's classic _The Discovery of Time_.  I'd be most grateful to hear
a summary of the responses she got, if any.  I just came across one on our
library's new book shelf, even though it is now apparently a couple years old.
It's by the very skilled and prolific Peter Bowler (it seems that whenever I
read one of his books, two more appear in the mean time, all of them very good
and useful for teaching.)  The new one is:

  Bowler, Peter J.  1992.  _The Norton History of the Environmental
  Sciences_.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

The title is rather misleading, I think, and perhaps was a concession to
current fashion.  It isn't a history of conservation biology and ecology at
all (which is what I expected from the title) but rather a quite comprehensive
history of natural history from the Greeks to the present, covering geology,
systematics, evolution, etc.  (No historical philology, alas.)  From a quick
glance, it looks like it covers much of the same ground that Toulmin and
Goodfield cover.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.


<9:172>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Sun May 22 23:46:18 1994

Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 00:46:36 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: World-wide William Whewell Party update
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

It's not too late to plan your own William Whewell Palaetiologists' Party
for Tuesday, May 24th.  It needn't be a fancy affair, and celebrations on
any scale are welcome.  I have already heard of gatherings taking place in
New Zealand and Massachusetts, as well as my own in North Carolina.  It will
be _the_ social event of the season, an Internet first, and you will have
to wait another hundred years for the next opportunity -- don't miss out!

I have set up a special directory on the Darwin-L gopher (rjohara.uncg.edu)
with information about the party and a copy of the general invitation.  Join
your fellow palaetiologists around the world, and offer a toast on Tuesday
in memory of Dr. Whewell and to the future of the palaetiological sciences!

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.


<9:173>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Mon May 23 01:49:33 1994

Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 02:49:52 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: May 23 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1617: ELIAS ASHMOLE is born at Lichfield, England.  The child of humble
parents, Ashmole will study at the Lichfield Grammar School and then move to
London, where he will receive training in the law.  As a result of several
fortunate political and social connections he will make while in London,
Ashmole will receive a royal appointment in the College of Arms, eventually
becoming a leading authority on the history of heraldry, and a significant
collector of antiquities.  His expanding interests will lead him to the study
of botany, medicine, alchemy, and astrology, and he will be one of the
founding members of the Royal Society in 1660.  Ashmole will offer his
extensive personal collections of antiquities and natural history specimens
to the University of Oxford in 1675, and the Ashmolean Museum, the first
public museum in England, will open at Oxford in 1683.

1707: CARL LINNAEUS is born at Sodra, Smaland, Sweden.  The son of a country
parson, Linnaeus will rise to be one of the most prominent figures in the
history of natural history.  Following study in medicine and botany at the
Universities of Lund and Uppsala, Linnaeus will first spend time travelling
in Lapland, and then will move to Holland where he will receive his medical
degree.  While in Leiden he will publish the first edition of his masterwork,
_Systema Naturae_ (1735), which he will revise and expand many times over the
course of his life.  In 1741 Linnaeus will be appointed professor of medicine
at Uppsala, and through his many students and his voluminous writings on
systematics and natural history, his influence will spread throughout Europe
and the world.

Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international
network discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences.  For
more information about Darwin-L send the two-word message INFO DARWIN-L to
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, or gopher to rjohara.uncg.edu (


<9:174>From maisel@Sdsc.Edu  Mon May 23 02:04:09 1994

Date: Mon, 23 May 94 07:04:19 GMT
From: maisel@Sdsc.Edu (Merry Maisel, 619-534-5127)
Subject: RE: Teaching phylogenies
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Bob O'Hara asks about methods of teaching phylogenies to students
with little or no field experience.  I am neither a biologist nor
a linguist, but I would like to tell you how one teacher does just
this, since I took his course a few years ago and profited from it.

I'm a grad student in science studies, and I've been a science writer
for many years, so I had more book experience than the students Bob
deals with.  Take that into account.  But I probably had just as
little field experience as any college freshman.  I enjoyed the
outdoors as a child and learned the names of some bugs and flowers,
but have been basically a city person since, head in my shoes.

So the course I took was a revelation.  It was a one-quarter course
called "The Species Question," taught by Ralph Lewin at the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography.  On the first day, Lewin came in with
a plastic grocery bag full of weeds.  He spread them out on the
table and said, "Sort these into species."  There were only eight of
us in the course, me and a bunch of SIO grad students, so this was

We faced immediately what plant systematists faced _before_ they chose
their careers.  We were staring at the tangled bank, without a clue in
our heads as to how to carry on.  So, of course, we sorted the weeds
into groups that looked more or less alike.  Lewin would look at
the sorting and say things like, "Fine, fine, that's a group all alike,
now tell me which are the juveniles."  Or, "Yes, this is all Sonchus,
but is it all one species?  How can you tell?"  It seems that the only
way you _can_ tell is by breaking a stem: one species has a milky sap,
the other a clear.  But none of us had thought of dissecting the specimens!

What he showed us was exactly how a productive ignorance can feel.
The rest of the course went a little differently.  Each week we would
be assigned something--fishes, butterflies, fruit bats, benthic critters--
sometimes species by species, sometimes in groups or families.  We would
each take our assignment, go to the library, and hunt up the taxonomic
story, then write half a page (no more!) on the chief questions that
the target object had raised for evolutionists.  In this way we learned
the variety of morphological, structural, visual, and behavioral questions
that systematists had to think about.  We learned the difference between
field, museum, and laboratory.  We learned the special problems of
particular niches: if you were accustomed to identify something mainly
by coloration, that wouldn't help you if the something were changed into,
say, fish that lose their color on being brought to the surface.

The important thing was to appreciate the complexity of the questions
well before the modern synthesis.  It gave one a real appreciation of
both the power and the limitations of the genetic tools that are such
final determiners today for so many (but not all) lineages.

I don't know that this technique would work for a large class of
first-year undergraduates, but maybe it could be modified?  Anyway, it
certainly worked for me.

M. Maisel


<9:175>From bradshaw@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu  Mon May 23 20:45:32 1994

Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 15:45:51 -1000 (HST)
From: Joel Bradshaw <bradshaw@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Re: Teaching phylogenies
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Bob O'Hara asked how historical linguists go about teaching phylogeny to
first-year students. There are two groups of first-year students that
come to mind here: one is undergraduates who take Intro to Linguistics,
the other is grad students beginning the MA or PhD program in
linguistics. Each group has different needs, capabilities, and interests.

The major problem with the American undergraduate students is their
depressing monolingualism. Monolinguals have little experience in trying
to relate pieces of one language to pieces of another, the way most
bilinguals do as a matter of course. So they have little prior awareness
of linguistically homologous (or even analogous) structures.

On the other hand, the problem with the many bilingual or multilingual
graduate students we get from East Asia is that the two or more languages
they know usually show no regular evidence of being related at all, except
through massive borrowing, either from Chinese in olden times or English
in modern times. Students who know English, Korean or Japanese, and a good
deal of Sinitic vocabulary can easily grasp the regularities of borrowing,
but have little reason to ponder about any common ancestry for the
languages they know. This is very different from the context in Europe,
parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India, and Austronesia (Indonesia,
Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). As a result, few of the East Asian
grad students in linguistics seem much interested in genetic linguistics.
(But that could also have something to do with the current orthodoxies of
mainstream linguistics.)

References to differences between the highly speciated descendants of
Latin and the relatively unspeciated descendants of Greek are not likely
to mean much to the majority of students in either category here in the
middle of the Pacific. However, the Polynesian languages are a textbook
case of geographical speciation, relatively uncomplicated by such factors
as heavy borrowing from neighboring languages and by the effects of
language shift until European contact. Most of the local students have
some passing familiarity with Hawaiian words. Familiar place names that
they have never analyzed before are quite helpful examples to use. For
instance, I started the historical portion of an intro class by relating
the _utan_ of _orangutan_ ('inland/bush person' in Malay) to the _uka_ of
the Kalihi Uka ('inland/upper Kalihi' in Hawaiian) police station. It went
rapidly downhill from there as we looked at pairs of words with regular
correspondences between homologous sounds in Malay and Hawaiian. A day or
two later, after we had plowed through a small set of words in 4
Polynesian languages, we were able to reconstruct the ancestral
(Proto-Polynesian) shape of the name of the state fish, the _humuhumu
nukunuku-a-pua'a_ ('triggerfish nose-of-pig'), something like *sumusumu
ngutungutu-a-puaka, if I remember right.

Joel Bradshaw (bradshaw@uhunix.uhcc.hawaii.edu)
Center for Korean Studies
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA

Darwin-L Message Log 9: 141-175 -- May 1994                                 End

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