The final exhibit in this series is someone called Steve Hunter, with an anti-cladist website, holding a list of suitable literature and a line in corresponding T-shirts. I wrote him a very pleasant and reasonably amusing email to re-established contact with him, as I’d been recommended to ask him to put my book on his list. He said he would. Then something quite amazing happened. As soon as a hint of attention fell on him, he was transformed, just like clicking open a musical box, into a tiny prima donna, embarking on a major production, but not, as you might have expected, against our common foe. His first contribution was delay. Weeks went by without him completing the five minute task he’d said he’d do, and then, when I woke him up again, he added uncertainty: he claimed he had “issues”. I assumed at first these were in his outside life, but I eventually realised it was to do with the book – a book which he hadn’t read. We did get an admission on his site that he’d procrastinated over adding it to the list (nice to admit it), even though, as he also admits, it “looked interesting”. He seemed to be embarrassed by the reason for wasting elapsed time and mine since he gave none.
As a kid I did my share of playing with soldiers and I used to wonder why officers carried a revolver instead of the rifles the others had. “Surely a rifle was much better? It could shoot people 1,000 yards away! But a revolver could only shoot about 10 yards away. The only people you could usually shoot with a revolver would be… oh.”
I was reminded of this by Hunter’s performance. To serve science well, it is often necessary to fight a good fight well. But instead, he’s rewarded my cheery, well-informed co-operation with a pointless, insulting and unexplained rejection of some of the best weaponry we can throw at the enemy. Unfortunately he needs to be reminded of which direction he’s supposed to be fighting. I am therefore taking over the NCSCE and rehousing it on pages in this blog instead (see earlier postings). Now he’s got both the cladists and me to fight.
Had we all combined, we’d have gone a lot further a lot faster. Half a dozen or a dozen names on several well-aimed and well-written missives do a lot more than one name on anything, no matter how well argued. Henry Gee seems not to be advertised as a major asset by Nature now, just through his own actions of taking cladistic ideas to their extremes. With a little outside group action, those ideas could have been highlighted so much more effectively all over the place.
If your life is easy it’s easy to forget that co-operation is often essential for survival – at least for the survival of improved and therefore new ideas. If you can’t co-operate, don’t bother to think different.