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Natural history: what is it and why do we do it?

(7 Posts)
thatbags Sun 10-Nov-13 07:19:46

MiceElf Sun 10-Nov-13 07:45:27

Excellent piece. I'm no scientist, but for those of us who aren't this is our 'in', and as the author says, this is way to arouse interest and enthusiasm in the wider public.

As for grants.....

ffinnochio Sun 10-Nov-13 07:54:00

Thanks for this link, B. I've passed it on to my niece who is getting bogged down with the paper she's working on in the hope of becoming a fully fledged Biologist. It may help to refocus her thinking.

I particularly liked the comment '.......... understanding the little pieces'.

Engaging with the natural world and it's history is a beautiful thing to do. smile

wingnut Sun 10-Nov-13 19:25:59

Nice link. He is right, science is driven by the need to obtain further grants, to its detriment. We are nowhere near the stage where we are 'done' with natural history and can be theory-driven. A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away...) I met a very inspiring Israeli zoologist called Amotz Zahavi from Tel Aviv university. He had done some lovely work on the behaviour of Arabian Babblers. He told me that he sent new doctoral students out into the desert for the first 6 months or so just to observe, before they formulated any research questions and began in earnest. He felt it was important to get a feel for the normal behaviour of the animal they chose to study first, rather than through the eyes of theory.

It is different here. At the very first interview it really pays to have some interesting questions in mind, a potential research program, in the terminology of Imre Lakatos. It is a shame, we miss a lot.

A lot of people think the most important, most exciting, phrase in science is 'Eureka!', but it isn't. The most exciting phrase is, 'That's funny...'

Tegan Sun 10-Nov-13 19:54:17

There's a newspaper article I'll have a go at putting on here, because it fascinated me and I don't really want to start a thread about it. Bet it won't work [or I won't be able to find it now].

Tegan Sun 10-Nov-13 19:56:47

Tegan Sun 10-Nov-13 19:59:42 - Similar
nope wouldn't let me; it was entitles 'why pterosaurs weren't so scary after all' and the pictures were brilliant