Spiritual Topics Like Astrology As Credible As Modern Science

The Science Council defines science as “the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence. Scientific methodology includes the following: objective observation; measurement and data (possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool); evidence; experiment and/or observation as benchmarks for testing hypotheses; induction; reasoning to establish general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples; repetition; critical analysis; verification and testing; critical exposure to scrutiny–peer review and assessment.”

Critics label the mystical sciences as “non-science based stuff that has no supporting evidence” since you won’t find it in peer reviewed scientific journals.

Our viewpoint that astrology, reincarnation, psychic work, and other metaphysical disciplines are just as valid as conventional science such as biology, is controversial, even though these fields of study involve all parts of the scientific method (besides peer review) outlined above.

Critics dismiss past lives, but Extensive Near Death Experience scientific research supports the theory of reincarnation.

The astrology my-science-is-science-and-yours-isn’t skeptics laugh at the idea of it, but time and time again, are only acquainted with modern Sun sign astrology, horoscopes, and other trivial forms of astrology. It’s not very scientific to claim to have invalidated a body of work without first examining that body of work. Complex patterns in ancient astrology and numerology allow for pattern recognition, the foundation of predictive astrology; these disciplines are less indistinct as sciences than cynics believe because they deliver exact patterns based on the energies associated with the location, time, and date of birth.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

–Albert Einstein

“One who scorns the power of intuition will never rise above the ranks of journeyman calculator.”

–Albert Einstein

“But instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We have, undoubtedly, certain finer fibers that enable us to perceive truths when logical deduction, or any other willful effort of the brain, is futile.”

–Nikola Tesla

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

–Albert Einstein

“Learning many things does not teach understanding.”

–Heraclitus

The mainstream scientific approach has serious defects. James Delingpole outlines the failure of peer review: “… Peer review is the benchmark by which most new scientific research tends to be judged. If that research is to be taken seriously by the scientific community then it must be accepted for publication by one of a fairly small number of academic or quasi-academic journals, such as Nature, Science and Scientific American. Peer review is not a perfect system. In the golden era of Twentieth century science it wasn’t even thought necessary: neither Watson & Crick nor Einstein were peer reviewed. But in today’s abstruse, fragmented world where the various branches of science have grown increasingly recondite and specialized, peer-review has become widely accepted as the least worst method by which quality science can be sifted from junk science… What we see happening is the deterioration of ‘peer review’ into something more akin to ‘pal review.'”

The crisis of modern science is horrific, evidenced by 157 peer reviews failing to catch a fake cancer study.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/27/open-access-journals.aspx?e_cid=20140327Z1_PRNL_art_1&utm_source=prmrnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140327Z1&et_cid=DM41525&et_rid=466546771

“… Many studies have shown that peer review does not improve the quality of scientific papers. Scientists themselves know it doesn’t work. Yet the public still regards it as a sign of quality, and says, ‘This paper was peer-reviewed,’ or ‘this paper was not peer-reviewed,’ as if that meant something. It doesn’t. Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other. Its practitioners aren’t saints, they’re human beings, and they do what human beings do-lie, cheat, steal… sue, hide date, fake data, overstate their own importance, and denigrate opposing views unfairly. That’s human nature. It isn’t going to change.”

–Michael Crichton, “Next”

The glaring flaws in modern science are illustrated further by the accepted norm regarding the true history of civilization on planet Earth, despite evidence to the contrary; ancient history might be far different than what mainstream archeologists accept as truth.

http://www.ancientpages.com/2017/09/05/controversial-discovery-57-million-year-old-footprints-crete-re-write-history-human-evolution/

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

― Isaac Newton

“Certainly there are things worth believing. I believe in the brotherhood of man and the uniqueness of the individual. But if you ask me to prove what I believe, I can’t. You know them to be true but you could spend a whole lifetime without being able to prove them. The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a leap-call it intuition or what you will-and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap”.

–Albert Einstein

Psychology is disregarded as a hard science because clear consensus on many areas within the field doesn’t exist, according to skeptics. So it may not be considered a “real” science, but surely it has credibility. Few objective people would deny the concepts of emotional repression or projection, for instance.

The heard mentality in the conventional science world silences many, but not all, as evidenced by the quote below.

“The reason they don’t pay attention to it (astrology) is that it would embarrass them in front of their colleagues. There’s no proven body of facts… that says human behavior does not contain elements that are related to planetary patterns at the time of birth. Instead, there’s a broad and arrogant understanding among social science professionals that folklore, like astrology, is for simpletons. Without doing any simple experiments to test some of the tenets of astrology, it has been completely ignored by psychologists in the last two centuries… Most of them are under the false impression that it is non-scientific and not a fit subject for their serious study. They are dead wrong. Whether or not the present-day practitioners of astrology are using scientific methods has no direct bearing on whether the body of knowledge they employ is true and valid.”

–Dr. Kary Banks Mullis, Nobel-Prize winning scientist

We encourage you to keep an open mind toward unconventional thought, such as the mystical sciences of astrology and numerology, along with psychic work and reincarnation because an open mind, with a healthy sense of discernment, is vital to making the most of your life.

Copyright ©

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Careers In Herpetology And Herpetoculture

So you think you want to establish a career where you get to work with reptiles and amphibians. If that is the case, this article is for you. Why did I write an article about getting what seems to be an easy-to-obtain job? First, there are a lot of people who contact zoos, museums, and websites asking just that question. While there are some pamphlets available that briefly address the question (ASIH, no date; SSAR, 1985), there are few other published resources available (Barthel (2004); Sprackland and McKeown, 1995, 1997; Sprackland, 2000). There are some guides to entering the academic world of biology (i.e., Janovy, 1985), but these generally focus on career paths in the university world, while the field of biology is far broader than herpetology or even organismal zoology. This article, then, gives professional colleagues a resource that may help them answer specific questions from their clients.

Second, many people do not consider a career in herpetology or zoology until they reach the stage where it has become obvious that their collections have outgrown their personal resources. They either wish to expand their contact with large reptiles in a zoological park setting or perhaps wish to engage in meaningful field or laboratory studies. Among the ranks of this group are many seasoned and competent herpetoculturists, and they form a significant group seeking information about how to “turn pro.”

Career Options I: The Private Sector

There are probably more paying opportunities in the private sector than can be found among the zoological parks and academic markets combined, though it may also be safe to say relatively few private sector jobs will pay a living wage. Among the jobs that can be classified as “private sector” are those that receive funding as commercial, for-profit ventures. Typical jobs would include animal dealers, pet shop workers, breeders, lecturers, and writers. For most of these positions, success will be based largely on experience and knowledge-from whatever source you obtained it-and less so on formal academic training. Some notable herpetologists came from the ranks of the privately employed sector, including Lawrence Klauber, Constantine Ionides, E. Ross Allen, Steve Irwin, and Hans-Georg Horn, as well as many of the most knowledgeable contemporary reptile breeders.

Working in the private sector generally has two paths available to you. First, you may work for someone who owns a reptile-related business. Pay is variable in such situations, and may be based more on the financial condition of the business than on any experience you may bring. Perhaps the more financially rewarding route is to operate a business of your own. Many commercial breeders start by specializing in a single species (such as leopard geckos) or a genus (such as rat/corn snakes). From there you may branch out to handle other species, or you may remain a specialist dealer and supply your personal passion for exotic reptiles with a private collection.

There are also herpetological supply businesses, school lecturers, and reptile food suppliers, among other possibilities. The key to making any of these ventures work is to tackle them as serious business activities. Take some business classes, or buy some good books about writing a business plan (essential for getting loans) and operating a small business. Take advantage of free advisory services of friends in business or the U.S. government’s SCORE program (Service Corps Of Retired Executives), where experienced business people will review business plans and loan requests, discuss accounting and inventory control, and be available to help in a myriad of ways that will make you life easier and business more likely to succeed.

Career Options II: Zoological Parks

It was once true that if you were willing to clean cages and apprentice under an “old timer,” you could get a position at even the most prestigious of zoos. By the last third of the 20th century, though, a variety of factors at zoological parks had changed drastically. Operating costs, including salaries and benefits, utilities, insurance, cost of animals, and greater competition for visitor’s dollars all made it essential to streamline the operations and assure better-trained staff from their date of hire. People wishing to work in the animal care departments were routinely expected to have completed a two-year associate’s degree in biology, animal husbandry, or zookeeper training. Now it is much more likely that a zoo will want new hires to possess a bachelor’s degree and have a few years’ experience as either a zoo volunteer or part-time worker. Moving into management may require you to have a master’s degree as well.

Why all this focus on academic qualifications? There are several reasons, and we’ll examine each in detail. First, of course, is that many employers see completion of a college degree as an indicator of your ability to take on a long term project, with all its ups and downs, and finish. An associate’s degree program at one of the few community colleges that offers such a course of study will consist of far more hands-on (or “practical”) time working in a small zoo that a student would get in a traditional university setting. The two-year course is vigorous, and potential zookeepers will be trained across the lines of the zoo world, being exposed to bird and large mammal care, administration and administrative duties associated with a broad spectrum of possible career positions. The more traditional and popular four-year university degree route may entail little practical zoo keeping experience, but provides a very broad range of classes that include English (good communication skills are expected of new hires), math, history, Western Civilization, philosophy, chemistry, physics, biology, and a variety of optional, or elective, courses. There is rather little focus on zoology during the four year program, so a candidate who can “tough it out” is seen as being a well-rounded individual with a solid background in sciences and who can complete a long-term project that appears to have little direct bearing on the final goal.

The second reason for wanting a strong college background in new zookeeper hires is because animals are becoming more expensive to acquire, maintain, and replace. Zoo managers rightly expect modern keepers to know considerably more about the anatomy, physiology, behavior, and diseases of the animals for which they will have responsibility. The keeper is the first line of action for keeping animals healthy and recognizing when something may be wrong, and the better trained the keeper, the better he or she should be at handling that responsibility. College teaches students how to do research, and the working zookeeper may have to use library, on-line, or professional contact sources to get information necessary to the well being of animals.

Breeding was once the rare and much-heralded accomplishment of few zoos, and then only for large, usually mammalian charges. The pre-1965 efforts were often on so-called “postage-stamp collections” of animals, where zoos would try to obtain one specimen each of as many species as possible. With the mid-1960s enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act, establishment of the Endangered Species Act and the beginning of CITES, zoos were limited in their abilities to acquire new animals. It quickly became fashionable, responsible, and fiscally necessary to learn to breed more species and use progeny to populate zoo collections. During the pioneering days of captive husbandry, zookeepers with a greater knowledge of physiology, reproductive biology, and the natural history of the animals in their care had a decided advantage over other keepers. Such staff members became crucial to the continued success of many zoo missions, helping drive the recruitment of new employees with a more solid and diverse background in the science of biology.

Third, many zoos have come under increased scrutiny both by the general public, wanting to be sure that the zoo’s mission is actually being accomplished, and by groups who advocate against the keeping of any animals in captivity at all. Today’s zookeeper needs to know how to educate the public to the needs of animals and the important roles played by well-run zoological parks. An indispensable part of being such a zookeeper is to have a broad view of the mission coupled with exceptional speaking and/or writing skills. Every keeper is also an ambassador for their zoo and the value of all zoos to the visiting public. Employers often equate your ability to handle these tasks with the training you received in university.

Career Options III: Academia

The academic world has much to offer, but also makes considerable demands. Careers under this heading include primarily university positions-almost all of which have teaching responsibilities as well as research-and the small number of museum curators. For an entry into any of these fields a candidate must certainly hold a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, and most jobs now also require you to have held a postdoctoral position as well. There has been a fair amount of discussion since the middle 1990s to create a new post-Ph.D. degree, the chancellorate, but most critiques argue that by the time a student would attain that degree, they would be facing retirement age!

An academic herpetologist may have the greatest freedom to explore the topics of personal interest, especially in a museum setting, but even there the job will require expertise and skills that extend beyond studying reptiles. University and museum professionals enter the profession as assistant professors or assistant curators. They will be charged with setting up a research program that is funded by grants-which they must raise with limited institutional help. Earning a grant means having a solid research proposal, excellent writing and budgeting skills, and the resources that will guarantee the promised results if you are funded. Your employer will also expect a certain quantity of peer-reviewed publications (those that appear in the scientific or technical journals) from you. If, after three to seven years, depending on the employer, you meet these goals, you will probably be offered a promotion to associate professor or associate curator and tenure. Tenure means that, barring an extremely serious breach of responsibility, you have a job for life.

But it is not as easy as the previous paragraph describes to get tenure. You will also need to serve on committees, provide input on institutional projects, and establish some sort of interaction with the broader community. Each of these tasks is designed to give you the chance to be seen as an authority in your subject and prepare you for increased responsibilities in the future. Your success or failure will also weigh in on whether or not you earn tenure. On top of all this, university faculty are also expected to teach, which means that you will essentially be charged with two very distinct jobs.

College Preparation

College education is not for everyone, and with the increased competition for available entry slots in each year’s classes coupled with ever increasing tuition and related expenses, it should be a well-planned and carefully considered step (Sprackland, 1990). For those of you still in high school-or for parents whose children want to prepare for a career in herpetology-I shall offer some basic advice on how to prepare for college. The sooner you can start your efforts, the better, because you will need three solid years of the right kinds of high school courses in order to be seriously considered for admission to a good university. Opt for the college-prep route, and take three or more years of math (algebra, geometry, algebra II, and calculus), three of laboratory-based science (biology, chemistry, and physics), and work to excel in English, particularly composition. By the junior year of high school you should be researching colleges. Find out which schools offer degrees and courses of interest; not all schools offer zoology paths, and of those that do, not all offer courses in herpetology. Start reading one of the major scientific journals (Copeia, Herpetologica, and Journal of Herpetology) and study where the authors are who have interests that coincide with yours. Each scientific paper includes the author’s address and, almost universally, e-mail address.

When you find authors you wish to contact, do so. Write a brief polite letter introducing yourself and expressing interest in studying herpetology. Ask for information about the author’s university, its courses, degree offerings, and admission requirements. Plan early, because entry requirements vary somewhat among universities.

If you choose to go the community or junior college route, there are some differences in your procedure from what you would do to get into a four-year school. You do not need the same rigorous high school course load to enter a community college, and entry requirements vary from none to minor. There is little difference to the student between the first two years of college whether at community or four-year colleges, and in many cases the former is a better educational deal. Why? Because unlike four-year colleges, community colleges do not employ graduate students to teach. Faculty almost universally have at least a master’s degree plus several years’ experience as instructors, providing a considerable potential edge over the graduate student teacher.

Once enrolled at community college, you must meet two objectives if you wish to eventually earn a solid bachelor’s or higher degree. First, be sure to register in courses that will transfer credit to the four-year school you plan to attend. If this is not possible-some universities do not recognize some community college courses as adequate-then have an alternative university to aim for or go directly to the four-year school of your choice. Second, take every course as seriously as you can. Work to earn an A average, especially in science, math, and English composition courses. Don’t waste your time at community college, assuming it is the easy alternative to a four-year school; this is rarely the case. Many community college instructors are leaders in their respective fields. The late Albert Schwartz was a herpetologist who probably did more than any other zoologist to study and document the herpetofauna of the Caribbean islands, and he is still extremely highly regarded by his peer community. Yet for his entire career, Schwartz taught only at a community college. Several distinguished herpetologists are doing just that even today.

When enrolling at university should you sign up for the bachelor of arts or bachelor of science program? There is a small difference, though few students (or graduates) know what it is. In the bachelor of science (BS) track, you have almost all of your courses determined by a university-set plan. You are required to take specific classes and have very few elective options. The bachelor of arts (BA) is more liberal; it still has a considerable number of required courses, but you have far more latitude in elective class choices. Because my interests were so broad in my undergraduate days, wanting to study paleontology, Latin, and philosophy as well as zoology, I opted for the BA program. Had I taken a BS route, I could not have taken such a range of classes and still graduated in four years.

Graduate School and Post Graduate Options

Graduate school is definitely not for everyone, though it is absolutely essential if you wish to obtain an academic career or a position as a senior zoo employee. Collections managers and zoo keepers typically opt for a master’s degree, which provides advanced coursework and a chance to engage in some project or activity that has a direct bearing on the requirements of an advanced career path. A doctoral degree is a research degree, meaning the recipient has been trained to conduct original studies. This is the degree needed for professorial and curatorial positions. The vast majority of people who plan to earn a doctorate do not need to earn a master’s degree en route.

Master’s programs take from 18 months to three years of full-time effort, and include a large number of courses, some research or work as research assistant in a lab, and often require a written thesis based on library or research work. Some master’s programs will require you to either work as a research assistant or as a teaching assistant, supervising laboratory sessions. Doctoral programs in the United States start off similar to the master’s route, and with classes, lab or teaching duties. Upon completing a set of qualifying examinations, the student becomes a candidate for the degree and begins working on an original research project, which will eventually be written up as a thesis. If the thesis passes faculty scrutiny, the Ph.D. is awarded. U.S. doctoral programs typically span five to seven years of full-time effort, after which the herpetologically oriented graduate faces a daunting job market. If you want a Ph.D., go ahead and earn it, but do not assume it is a guarantee of an academic job. During the particularly tight job market of the 1980s and 1990s, my contemporaries joked that Ph.D. stood for “Pizza Hut Delivery.” (This seemed somewhat appropriate given that we survived graduate school by ordering astronomical numbers of Pizza Hut pizzas to our labs; now “the hut” could pay our salaries!)

If you decide to enter graduate school, begin your job hunt no later than a year before you plan to get a master’s degree, or two-and-a-half years before a Ph.D. Once again, read the journals, attend conferences, and find out where people are with whom you would be compatible as a new colleague. Whose research could complement yours and help you on the road to tenure? Make those contacts early and make sure you have people who will vouch for you when those precious jobs become available.

CAREER OPTIONS IV: MISCELLANEOUS

Perhaps none of the previous categories applies to your interests. That still leaves a considerable number of possible careers that will allow at least some work with reptiles. Most require a bachelor’s degree, though a job announcement will often claim “master’s degree preferred.” Among the choices are-

Government biologist-Positions with federal and state wildlife agencies sometimes allow study of herpetofauna. Among the obvious agencies are fish and wildlife, game, and environmental services. However, biological work is also undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey, forest services, and occasionally in military research (the U.S. Army and Navy long operated a considerable snake venom research facility).

Teacher-Both primary and secondary school teachers have numerous opportunities to acquaint children with the natural world. In many states the teacher must hold a degree in a content area-say biology or zoology-while other states accept applicants whose degree is in education. Check carefully to determine the requirements for the state in which you wish to teach.

Community College Instructor-As tertiary schools have increased their dependency on lower-paid part-time instructors (who typically do not receive health or retirement benefits), the ranks of part timers has exploded. While the working conditions are extremely variable, part-timers can expect to have limited or no campus office space, no faculty standing, and perform the same teaching duties as full-time colleagues, but for 40% to 70% of the hourly pay rate. The rare full-time opening in this market is considerably more attractive, and carries no research, grant-seeking, or “publish-or-perish” responsibilities. Generally, the candidate must have a master’s degree in biology, teaching experience, and the ability to teach some combination of general biology, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology.

Writers-Natural history writing has its ups and downs, but many a herpetologist has earned at least some money from commercial publication. Choose a niche, such as writing about herpetoculture or more broadly about a specific group of animals, to get started. Financial success will ultimately depend on reliability, excellent writing skills, and the ability to expand to reach broader audiences. The more biological or scientific topics you can cover, the more your potential income. Although herpetology is my grand passion, I have also published on the topics of education, philosophy, sub-micron electronics, non-metal conductors, evolution, venom research, and history.

Photographer/illustrator-Just as a financially successful nature writer must reach a wide audience, so too must the photographer or illustrator. Few, if any, of these professionals make a living wage by only illustrating reptiles; there is more security in animals and general nature shots.

Veterinarian-A secure field if you do not plan to care only for reptiles. Like graduate school in general, there are serious academic hurdles to meet, and competition for openings (there are fewer vet schools than medical schools) is fierce.

REFERENCES-

Ackerman, Lowell (ed.). 1997. The biology, husbandry and health care of reptiles. 3 volumes. TFH Publications, Neptune, NJ.

ASIH, no date. Career opportunities for the herpetologist. American Society of Ichthyologists

and Herpetologists, Washington, D.C.

Asma, Stephen. 2001. Stuffed animals and pickled heads: the culture and evolution of natural history museums. Oxford University Press.

Barthel, Tom. 2004. Cold-blooded careers. Reptiles 12(12): 64-75.

Burcaw, G. Ellis. 1975. Introduction to museum work. American Association for State and Local History, Nashville.

Cato, P. and C. Jones (eds.). 1991. Natural history museums, directions for growth. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock.

Janovy, John. 1985. On becoming a biologist. Harper & Row, NY.

Myers, George. 1970. How to become an ichthyologist. TFH Publications, Neptune, NJ.

Pietsch, T. and W. Anderson (eds.). 1997. Collection building in ichthyology and herpetology.

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication 3, Lawrence, KS.

Rajan, T. 2001. Would Darwin get a grant today? Natural History 110(5): 86.

Sprackland, Robert. 2001a. To the parents of a young herpetologist. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 36(2): 29-30.

Sprackland, Robert. 1992. Giant Lizards. TFH Publications, Neptune, NJ.

Sprackland, Robert. 1990. College herpetology: is it for you? Northern California Herpetological Society Newsletter 9(1): 14-15.

Sprackland, Robert. and Hans-Georg Horn. 1992. The importance of the contributions of amateurs to herpetology. The Vivarium 4(1): 36-38.

Sprackland, Robert. and Sean McKeown. 1997. Herpetology and herpetoculture as a career. Reptiles 5(4): 32-47.

Sprackland, Robert. and Sean McKeown. 1995. The path to a career in herpetology. The Vivarium 6(1):22-34.

SSAR. 1985. Herpetology as a career. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Cleveland.

Winsor, Mary. 1991. Reading the shape of nature: comparative zoology at the Agassiz Museum. University of Chicago Press.

Zug, G., L. Vitt, and J. Caldwell. 2001. Herpetology: an introductory biology of amphibians and reptiles. Second edition. Academic Press, San Francisco.

Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective By Robert Ulanowicz (1997) – Book Review

This is a review of the book Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective, by Robert E. Ulanowicz.

Brief overview:

Ecology: The Ascendent Perspective, first published in 1997, is in many ways a more accessible and more philosophical follow-up to Ulanowicz’s groundbreaking but highly technical Growth and Development (1986), and can also be viewed as an intermediate book between this earlier technical text and his later book A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin (2009), which is primarily philosophical. It is intended for a scientific audience, and is not a pop-science book, but it is quite accessible, and will be an easy read for career scientists in any field, as well as motivated, science-minded undergraduate students.

The book outlines the core aspects of Ulanowicz’s network-based theory of how ecological systems grow and develop, but without going into as much depth about the mathematics. It is primarily a book of ideas. The book also explores the philosophical and historical underpinnings of the ideas, which I personally find are much more important than the specific theories themselves. Ulanowicz seems to know full well that his theories are a bit raw and unrefined, but I think that the philosophical points he makes are rock-solid and show deep insights that go far beyond what most scientists have to offer. While there are many grounds on which Ulanowicz’s theories can be criticized, it is hard to argue with the big-picture themes he presents, which show a deep awareness of cultural and societal influences on scientific research, and the innate limitations on what types of questions can be fruitfully asked and answered in a scientific context.

A Personal Story:

My story of reading this book is quite personal and bizarre.

In the fall of 2001, I was enrolled in Oberlin college, where I was in my senior year, majoring in mathematics. This semester, I was taking a private reading in the Biology department, on the topic of systems theory as it applies to biology and ecology. On September 11th, 2001, early in the morning, I secluded myself in one of the higher floors of Oberlin, and set out to read this book. I read a large chunk of this book in one sitting, and I can say, it produced a revolution in my world-view, an unfolding of new ideas which has continued to this day. When I left the building to take a lunch break, I was shocked to hear about the terrorist attacks that had recently taken place. This day was truly a worldview-changing day for me, in more ways than one.

My recommendations:

I recommend this book as a must-read for anyone studying any of the following subjects: ecology, networks, philosophy of science, and systems theory. The book will be of particular interest to anyone who is interested in questioning the dominant paradigms of science, and anyone who wishes to become more of a systems thinker or who wants to think more in terms of networks. The book may even be useful to economists or people interested in adopting a more systems-based approach in business, public policy, or other fields involving systems of people. The style is lively and the book is thought-provoking. And it’s a surprisingly easy read, given how deep the repercussions are of the ideas contained within.

Beyond Difference: A Biologists Perspective by Anne Fausto-Sterling

In her 1997 Journal of Social Issues article, Beyond Difference: A Biologists Perspective, evolutionary biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling argues against the controversial issue of whether or not evolutionary psychology explains human sex differences.

Fausto-Sterling’s orientation to social change is dichotomous. While she is a “defender” of the current scientific paradigm, which heavily relies on the scientific method, she also seeks to “reform” the ideological stance taken by many evolutionary psychologists, and to do so at the level of the scientific community. In Fausto-Sterling’s article, she strives to foster communication and collaboration with her peers in the emerging field of evolutionary psychology, attempting to share the wisdom she has gleaned from her much more established field of evolutionary biology.

The “popular media’s publicity blitz” was Fausto-Sterling’s occasion to advocate for good science in response to several mainstream articles that had attempted to smear the credible reputation of biologists by presenting evolutionary psychologists latest theories as facts.

Fausto-Sterling’s core values are to uphold the current framework surrounding the concept of credible scientific research. Her beliefs, stated and restated, are that the entire scientific community should adhere to the existing scientific paradigm, including the scientific method, and “solid theory and detailed empirical information”.

Fausto-Sterling believes that evolutionary psychologists need to create more specific hypotheses and need more data to back up those hypotheses. She believes that researchers of all sorts should conform to a standard measure of scientific hypothesis that can be answered empirically rather than merely assuming vague answers, as is being done by some in the arena of evolutionary psychology. To the social scientists studying gender inequity and skewing their incomplete theories to support their own cases, she warns them that a credible scientist cannot pick merely one level of analysis to answer a question; one needs to consider many different possibilities, including development, evolution, and environment.

She gives the example of answering the question: why do frogs jump? One can’t just say that frogs jump because they are part of an environment and they are jumping to escape from a predator. Fausto-Sterling explains that one must deepen ones levels of analysis and consider different possibilities of why frogs jump, for instance because of twitching muscles, or an even deeper analysis, that frogs jump because nerve impulses cause proteins to contract.

Fausto-Sterling has very valid points that should be considered by all in the scientific community in order that they are on the same page on a worldwide level. These are the means by which science advances.

Fausto-Sterling offers sound advice and methodological suggestions as well as two research-based models that are available to assist this new breed of social scientist. She strongly believes in the value of collaboration amongst the scientific community and sees biologists as potential assets to social scientists. Because collaboration increases information Fausto-Sterling suggests that we, “engage in current discussions using the best available knowledge and the most highly detailed hypotheses available”, and by these means, together, social scientists, evolutionists, and behavioral biologists could develop “scientifically sound theories about the evolution of human behavioral patterns and their relationship to contemporary behavior”.

Fausto-Sterling also recommends that social scientists utilize the plethora of already existing data, for example archaeological and geographical records, or molecular evidence. She also suggests making sure they are able to generalize their correlations to humans when drawing inferences from animal studies, as “elegant” as they may be.

The research-based model that Fausto-Sterling identifies and suggests for use in making specific hypotheses regarding human evolution is called “Latour and Strum’s Nine Questions” and is used to evaluate theory quality. She also cites four standard questions used by evolutionary biologists that “have been suggested as essential to the acceptance of conjectures about the evolution of human reproductive behaviors”.

Fausto-Sterling’s argument contributes much to the understanding of the problem at hand. She bends over backwards to make sure that her writing is clear and her points are understood. She creatively uses hypothetical examples, such as the jumping frogs and the mice to bats to demonstrate her points. She even criticizes her own hypotheses, along with those of some evolutionary psychologists, to show that while both of their theories are “plausible”, they both also “lack essential information”. She also offers a great deal of alternative hypotheses to Buss’s hypothesis.

Fausto-Sterling is not just tearing the competition apart; rather she humbly portrays herself and her peers in the scientific community as having knowledge and wisdom to share with their uprising peers and this article seems to be an attempt to reach out to them. She sees the potential that these social scientists have to contribute, and attempts to persuade them to stop manipulating their knowledge of biology to fit their own ideological social beliefs, and misrepresenting other sciences in doing so, when we could all benefit from what they have to offer if they use science properly, “thick, complex, multivariate descriptions of human behavior”.