Maybe you think I’m crazy but, although I know a lot about ants, I always thought I didn’t (and still don’t) know enough about the history of myrmecology… So I started already a while ago to try to find out more about that history. I found some very good books, like Mary Alice Evans and Howard Ensign Evans, 1970, “William Morton Wheeler, Biologist”, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., and I found some that I think are not so good, like Charlotte Sleigh, 2007, “Six Legs Better. A Cultural History of Myrmecology”, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, U.S.A. But not so long ago I found this:
Joshua Blu Buhs, 2000, “Building on Bedrock: William Steel Creighton and the Reformation of Ant Systematics, 1925–1970”. Journal of the History of Biology 33: 27–70. Kluwer Academic Publishers. The Netherlands.
I mentioned this article already a few times in this forum, when I found it and with the “old age” of Creighton’s book, but I think it is also very important for some observations about the “community of myrmecologists” in general, scientists and amateurs taken together. Let me say first, I won’t attack anybody specific… It is only an observation about the behavior of some members of this “community” that disturbs me very much and that I don’t like. When reading and writing in a few forums, I got the very big impression that some “myrmecologists”, mostly antkeepers, can’t stand the meaning, literally or figurative, of what others say or do and then start some topic or campaign, sometimes even over several forums, against those “others”. If it was only a small remark or mentioning in passing I would agree but some blow everything up out of proportions. What do they think they reach behaving like this? I even saw one guy say (write of course) absolute lies on one forum trying to cover his reasons for not being on a certain forum any more… Some even “play for judge” without knowing what those “others” have done for myrmecology/ant keeping, without having read certain publications or without placing them in the history of myrmecology/ant keeping! Shame on them!
And so I come to the article. Just after the publication of Creighton’s book, all was quiet in North America among the myrmecologists. Buhs writes:
Not just ant taxonomy but the entire community of myrmecologists seemed more solid, Creighton thought. He wrote to Brown, “It has seemed to me that in recent years [myrmecologists] have reached the point where we could be pointed out as an exemplary group, no jealousy, no feuds, no backbiting. I hope that we may continue in this beatific condition.” [Creighton to Brown, 19 December 1952, Creighton papers.] - page 52-53.
But on the second line behind this, Buhs writes:
The beatific condition did not last long. - page 53.
And when I see the behavior of some, I would say: And it got worse and worse ever since… More and more jealousy, more and more feuds, more and more backbiting,… Sad indeed!
For me, the result of some “attacks”, once even a warning for an a physical attack or death threat, on me is simple, I start to care less about others and even help others less often than before… So, some can be happy!
Just one thing: People (when some read this they will know it’s for them!), before you start picking and kicking on “others”, remember that someday in the future you’ll be sorry when nobody wants to help you any more when you have a real problem!