Friday, September 14, 2007

Additional Papers Associated with Science-Conservation Case Study Assignment, Science and Value Systems, Parasitology and the Male Species

Okay, I'm being a bit repetitive here, particularly with the "iceberg model." There is one part of this "perception" that I do not agree with... tremendously. And this would be the notion that the "scientific value system" is completely dichotomous from the "public and political value system." I mean, even the metrics of measurement and monitoring systems are dichotomous. I think that is 100% bullshxt to dichotomize our world (the scientific world) versus the "outside world."

I talked to Julia and Karl about this--how the underlying ways of human thinking in science are shaped and framed by our value systems. Dr. Ed Keller in the preliminary Goleta Beach video that was displayed in UCSB's Shoreline Preservation website--Dr. Keller stated that no matter what type of science we do, our overarching decisions in management ultimately reflect our value systems, which is not necessarily science. He didn't say this exactly the way how I said it, but it was nice for a scientist to admit this. I specifically told Julia (my upcoming roommmate) that to consider the course in parasitology that I took with Dr. Armand Kuris in winter of 2003. There were three philosophical approaches to parasites: negative (obviously), neutral, and positive. Humans have learned much about parasites and the human body throughout history due to the concept of our own survival, ailing, and sickness due to those little bastards draining our bodies of nutrients and energy. Our knowledge of parasites are largely medical driven, even today. But Armand takes a unique approach. He (as well as Dr. Kevin Lafferty in the US Geological Survey) specializes in "ecological parasitology" in which parasites are studied in a "distant, detached" version. For example, the study of primitive cestodes (tapeworms) in the guts of sharks. All the scientists due is study the system as is, with no interventionist approach. We may study the life cycle of the rosette-like parasite in the shark gut, but with no intention of playing vetenarian and trying to kill the parasite in the shark. We do not imply that the shark is even in great pain! It's totally absurd to think about.... And, now beside the distant, neutralist, stand-offish approach is the "positive approach." I have seen Kevin Lafferty in particular work on how to assess "ecosystem health" by counting the number of parasites found in certain hosts, like the number of digene trematodes found in Cerithidea horn snails in our Pacific Coast salt marshes (hopefully I'm saying this right, I am mentally rusty with my parasites). Armand and Kevin have also worked on the "enemy release hypothesis," such that certain invasive species (at least in the invertebrate world, and even the plant world) display their "invasive" success, particularly because in the new region they are becoming compatible, chummy, and "virulent" (beside their high "frequency of encounter" in the region), is largely due to the lack of parasitic enemies to control their population levels. There are typically more parasites found in the invasive species in their habitat of origin. You can even apply this knowledge to humans who have traveled from the "Old World" to the "New World." Not only, these pilgrims escaped religious and political persecution, but they also were free from a high density and diversity of old-world diseases. Unfortunately, several of these old-world diseases were brought over to America, and the native Americans paid the price for that.... Anyway, in parasitology, there are negative, neutralist, and positive value systems and approaches, which ultimately govern what types of scientific questions we ask, and how we apply this scientific knowledge to the management and innovation of ecological systems, whether this ecological system is a salt marsh, a shark gut, or the human body itself.

One more aside, Armand and Kevin also study how parasites engage in "behavioral alteration" of its host to increase the likelihood of the parasite being transferred to its next "habitat," such that the parasite can continue its life cycle. It's total Alien-movie mind games. Just like guys. Guys, man. Like parasites to poor female brains. You can make an entire philosophical analogy of parasites and the male species. Chance encounter. Developing Compatibility. Total random chance. Huh, Matt? I have written quite a bit about this actually. More to come....

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