Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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I’m happy: another book review of mine was just published, this time, by Science magazine. This book, Here Be Dragons: How the Study of Animal and Plant Distributions Revolutionized Our Views of Life and Earth (Oxford University Press: Oxford; 2009), is by Dennis McCarthy, a researcher at the Buffalo Museum of Science in Buffalo, New York. In short, I liked the book and I thought it was generally well-written, but it could easily have been twice as long and provided more depth and nuance to the points the author was discussing. You can access the review on the Science site or you can ask me for a copy and I’ll happily email it to you [PDF].

Comments

  1. #1 John Callender
    June 24, 2010

    This sounds like it might be an interesting book. Quammen’s _Song of the Dodo_ (which I’ve probably gushed about here before) was one of my favorite books ever, and covered what sounds like some similar subject matter.

  2. #2 SteveF
    June 24, 2010

    Does McCarthy talk much in the book about his rejection of plate tectonics and support for expanding earth theory. Because that’s pretty funny.

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    June 25, 2010

    john: yes, it is similar to quammen’s song of the dodo, but without all the cursing. :)

    steve: no, he doesn’t. IS the earth expanding? like a balloon about to go .. *bust*?

  4. #4 SteveF
    June 25, 2010

    I’m not too surprised he didn’t mention that, guess he didn’t want to appear as too much of a crank in his first mainstream book. It’s worth pointing out that he thinks that biogeography can be used to support this utterly discredited hypothesis. This makes me a bit concerned about the quality of science in the book itself, but I guess I should read it before coming to any conclusions on that front.

    One additional curious thing to note, McCarthy works at the Buffalo Museum of Natural Science (although I thought he’d moved recently – might be wrong). This is the same institution that John Grehan works at and Michael Heads. Both have recently published extremely heterodox, arguably somewhat whacky, papers. The former arguing that orangutans are closer to humans than chimps, the latter, well, some crazy stuff in Zoologica Scripta about primate evolution. Perhaps there’s something in the water in Buffalo?

  5. #5 "GrrlScientist"
    June 25, 2010

    nope, he doesn’t even allude to that wackaloon belief. but if he writes another book where he presents that as being anything other than a marijuana-inspired view of the world, well, i will make a point of ripping it apart in my review.

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