[Coral-List] Science difficult to read

John Ware jware at erols.com
Mon Sep 21 18:41:59 UTC 2020

Dear List,

The recent mail from Doug Fenner (thanks Doug) mentioned the following 
two interesting observations:

*Papers are increasingly impenetrable.

*Science is getting harder to read *

Those few that have read my comments on reef science that were published 
in Reef Encounter (1991) may recall that basically what I meant is:

*Global warming, bad for reefs but great for coral-reef scientists. *

In RE in 2019 I demonstrated that, between 1988/89 to 2019 there has 
been an approximately 4 fold increase in the number of papers appearing 
in Coral Reefs and the percentage of papers with more than 5 authors has 
increased by a more than a factor of 20.

What I should have predicted back in 1991, and mentioned in 2019, is 
that the papers will be increasingly looking at finer and finer elements 
of coral ecology.  In the 'old days' reef scientists swam over reefs and 
counted fish or corals or whatever.  Now, there is this finer and finer 
tuning on what is going on inside corals and the zoox.

This reminded me of an event from my past.  Many years ago I shared an 
office with a man who had been the Chief Engineer for the construction 
of the Los Angeles class submarines.  One of his favorite comments on 
'progress' was:

"The scientists have gotten to the point that they can exam a flea and 
tell you what hair on the dog the flea came from.  But they are not sure 
what dog the hair was on."

Are we in danger of losing the 'big picture'?



  John R. Ware, PhD
  SeaServices, LLC
  302 N. Mule Deer Pt.
  Payson, AZ 85541, USA
  928 478-6358
  jware at erols.com

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