Phil Nicholls (
Fri, 28 Jul 1995 02:03:49 GMT

Mark Fagan <71640.2463@CompuServe.COM> wrote:

>To get the name dropping over quickly, I only met Don Johanson
>once, at an AAPA meeting in Niagra Falls in 1980. During a brief
>conversation over a beer, with Tim White (who I'd met before, when
>he was looking the U. of Chicago over for a possible job - I was a
>grad student there at the time), I found him willing to listen and
>not overbearing or a snob, at least as far as I dared to say
>anything to these guys!

I have no personal knowledge of Don Johanson as a person and I have no
doubt that he is a great guy.

>Professional scientists are many things: people first, of course,
>and so subject to all the same virtues and failings everybody is.
>They are researchers: a mix of hunter, philosopher, pilgrim and
>lots else. Beggars: they have to raise money to do their science.
> Showmen: they have to raise money, interest people in what they
>do and teach.

There is a point when being a "showmen" interfers with doing good
science. A perfect example was the unveiling of AL-444 on the Nova
series. There have been other occasions when Johanson's methods
have been called into question. The naming of A. afarensis comes to

>So what DJ does in a PBS special may not completely reflect either
>his true personality or the full range of his thought.

He might have cut a few shots of him driving his range rover and
squeezed in some descenting views on A. afarensis, the Latoeli
footprints or the Hadar fossils in general.

>For the latter, books are much better as there is much more room to
>really get into a tpic. If you read Johanson's popular books, you
>find that he gives plenty of attention to the Leakey's, both as
>praise and criticism. He worked with Louis when young, but as
>often happened, when he started to have pinions of his own and
>began to produce hominid finds of his own, a rift develped between
>them. Everything you said about DJ is equally applicable to them.

Possibly, at least to Louis Leakey.