Re: insect origin

Paul Arveson (
Thu, 13 Feb 97 09:23:56 EST

Geoff Bagley <> wrote:

Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 21:37:13 GMT
Subject: Re: insect origin

I haven't had time to see whether I still have what I wrote, but from what
I can remember the papers I read in preparation gave a much more
complicated and detailed picture than what has been posted. This brings to
the point of my posting. Often when I read mailings I feel that what is
read and discussed is often not detailed and is also often does not seem to
spring from actual research but from reading papers. This is not meant to
be critical of the deep thinking that is going on, but to indicate that it
is probably often irrelevant and peripheral to what is being done by the
researchers in their respective fields.

Geoff Bagley.


Geoff brings up an important issue that has also concerned me. I don't
think the problem is necessarily that respondents are not doing research
directly in a particular field, such as paleoentomology. After all, there
are thousands of specialized fields and we can't expect direct responses
from individuals in all those fields in a listserv of any size. But they
write peer-reviewed articles so that they can disseminate information to a
broader audience. There's nothing wrong with quoting research papers.

But on the other hand, people who respond should be fairly well-read
in the peer-reviewed literature of a field. What's wrong is when we dash off
something in response to a subject we know little about, with no literature
references or anything to back up a statement. It would be better not to
respond at all to such questions, in my opinion. "I don't know" is a perfectly
respectable scientific response.

On the subject of the origin of insects, I know almost nothing. But I have
discussed this with an evangelical scientist, Dr. Paul Marsh, who used to work
in entomology at the Smithsonian. He worked in the area of taxonomy
of the hymenoptera. He generally agreed with what many in ASA believe,
i.e. that God is the Creator of all things, but not necessarily by means
of special creation of separate phyla or orders or whatever. Paul Marsh
retired a few years ago. He was one of a shrinking number of entomologists
who classify species based on morphology. Imagine the amount of 3-D knowledge
one must retain to be able to classify parasitic wasps! Computer-based
cladistics seems to be taking over as the preferred method of taxonomy
in this and other fields.

That's about all I can say. I believe that the appropriate places to look for
more information would be a University library or a thorough Web search.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, Signatures Directorate, NSWC
9500 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-4511 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)