Paul.Turner at jcu.edu.au
Tue Apr 18 18:13:06 EST 1995
I agree with you. Every time I open my email I have to plough through
definitions of a parasite. How long is this going to go on for? Has any
one got anything interesting to say apart from boring definitions?
On Fri, 7 Apr 1995, Mark Siddall wrote:
> Am I the only one getting tired of this?
> Whether or not we are "parasitologists" or "net-negative-effect-ists"
> or "ecto-endo-symbiontists" or "not-freeliving-ists" is wholly
> immaterial. There is absolutely no way to objectively define
> a parasite. It is semantic pidgeon-holeing with no basis in any
> biological reality. We cannot say something "is" or "is not" a parasite
> because there is no intensive definition of any such thing. All defintiions
> of parasite are extensive.
> A fitting analogy is the word "worm". Once upon a time there was
> the attempt (in systematics) to give some biological meaning to the
> word worm in the form of the taxon "Vermes". So , annelids, platyhelminths,
> acanthocephalans, nemerteans, nematodes and even rotifers all found
> themselves in the group "Vermes". This was a classic case of
> Aristotelian essentialism if not influenced by Gauthian Naturphilosophie
> and the chain-of-being.
> It was also wrong and devoid of meaning.
> A parasitologist on the other hand can be defined: someone who attends
> parasitology meetings or publishes in parasitological journals or
> simply calls him/herself a parasitologist. That is intensive.
> Being a parasitologist may well be a productive thing by bringing one
> into contact with others that are interested in "parasitology" but if you've
> ever attended the meetings of various societies, one immediately
> recognizes that there are some areas of discourse that one's
> research interest touches on and others that are just wholly unrelated.
> This is not necessarily a problem as it provides a means for those in
> attendance to achieve breadth. But it is this overall lack of anything
> biologically singular that typifies parasitology. Not some objective
> quantum called a "parasite".
> Mark E. Siddall "I don't mind a parasite...
> mes at vims.edu I object to a cut-rate one"
> Virginia Inst. Marine Sci. - Rick
> Gloucester Point, VA, 23062
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