Re: Culture of Science?

Stephen Barnard (
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 12:47:04 -0800

Marty G. Price wrote:
> On Tue, 13 Aug 1996, Stephen Barnard wrote:
> [in reply to Joel]
> >
> > I believe the "Territorial Imperative" is a phrase coined by Edward
> > Albey, who wasn't a scientist at all. He was a novelist who dabbled in
> > pop science. His writings aren't taken seriously by scientists, to say
> > the least. You seem to take them seriously, however.
> >
> Check your citation. I think the author's name you're looking for is
> Raymond Dart (but check me, I didn't look that up!), an amateur and pop
> writer who did write _The Territorial Imperative_, a rather silly
> exercise in "nature red in tooth and claw."
> The name you have appears a cross between Edward Abbey (novelist,
> ecologist, and possibly eco-terrorist) and Edward Albee (absurdist
> playwright, author of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?"). I don't think
> either were involved in coining the phrase "territorial imperative."
> Blessed Be,
> Gale

You're right. I mangled the name. The Territorial Imperative was
written by Robert Ardrey (New York, Atheneum, 1966). Ardrey *is* a
playwright, which must be what pushed my "playwright" button to come up
with Edward Albey [sic].

Since I read this 30 years ago my memory is a little vague, but I do
remember enjoying it as a teenager. I hope I don't get the facts wrong.
Raymond Dart was (is?) a South African paleontologist who discovered
some very early hominid fossils -- in particular, the Tuang Child (not
sure of spelling), which was a well-preserved skull. Dart played a
major role in Ardrey's book. As I recall, Dart was considered a
maverick because the conventional wisdom at the time was that H. sapiens
originated in Asia, so his discoveries were met with suspicion.

Ardrey's premise was that modern humans have inherited agressive and
acquisitive tendencies because of our past as hunters. He also claimed
that our ancestors were quite murderous and cannibalistic.

The point is that Ardrey is not a scientist. He writes pop science and
plays. (I don't mean to put him down. Like I said, I enjoyed his
book.) As I understand it, modern paleoanthropology has a quite
different view of our social origins, but this is a topic that is very
much disputed.

Steve Barnard