Danny Yee (danny@ORTHANC.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Mon, 14 Feb 1994 13:56:52 +1100

Lt Commander Data <data@SELWAY.UMT.EDU> writes:
> Homo sapiens is the only animal that has the ability to change its niche.
> The result is culture (ie: learned behavior). This is a very simplified
> look at biocultural evolution; for a more detailed view, check out Paul
> Colinvaux "Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare".

I haven't read _Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare_, and I have no
intention of doing so. I have read Colinvaux's _The Fates of Nations_
(or at least the first third of it) and I was *NOT* impressed. The
opening chapter alone, with its discussion of Alexander's victory over
the Persians at Gaugamela, is enough to demonstrate not only the
author's complete and utter ignorance of history, but also his
preparedness to invent facts to make up a good story to suit his theory.
That sort of intellectual dishonesty is more than I can cope with. _The
Fates of Nations_ is one of the few books I have actually thrown out
rather than donated to charity (I didn't want people who didn't know any
better reading it).

I should add here that I do believe that biologists (I believe Colinvaux
was actually a meteorologist) have something to offer the social
sciences. They have the responsibility, however, of doing at least SOME
reading in the subjects they are writing about, at least in the areas
they draw their examples from.

Danny Yee.