Why does there seem to be a rift?

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dragoncjo
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Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by dragoncjo »

Why does there seem to be such a rift between herpers and professional biologists? Now I've never had this negative exp. and I've dealt with biologists constantly over the last five years. However, it seems that amateur herpers seem to dislike, have a lack of respect for biologists, this is just my observations reading threads for years and year on here. I'll be honest I've never totally understood it and maybe others don't get the perception of a rift that I see. But I'm curious if others have noticed the same thing? Have lots of people on here had bad exp. dealing with professional biologist in the field? I think with the influx of herpers in the field its important to work together with biologists to share what everyone is seeing for the good of reptiles and amphibians. Like I said I've never had a bad exp with a university biologist, state biologist, conseravtion officer, etc., but maybe this is just a function of having quality biologists, professor, co's in my state. One of the main reason I bring this up is because what we do and say on here reflects on all of us, ripping biologists won't help any of our causes in the long run, we many times are viewed as a group and not individuals. I also don't like to see young herpers being taught to distrust professional biologists, I just don't think its the appropriate message. Curious to see others thoughts and experiences. Thanks

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

I personally don't percieve such a rift in general, though in one area there does seem to be a loss of confidence in professional biology, and that is in the nacent DNA based taxonomy, which to the average joe herper often seems in conflict with overt phenotypical expressions.

Keep in mind that many of the posters on this forum are indeed biologists and I generally sense a great deal of respect for those individuals by the common lot.

One thing I would add on behalf of the amatuer is that we may often be more generalized and the more accomplished may have in fact a deeper understanding of herp habits and field ecology than more academicallly inclined professionals, just by matter of extensive field experience.

As a birder this point was made obvious to me when accompanying a field biologist who happened to be studying Cassin's Auklets on California's Channel Islands. I'm sure she was very good in her area of expertise, but when it came to actual birding skills, she couldn't tell a sparrow from a gull.

edit: One thing I forgot is the issue of specimen collection ....but if we open that can o' worms we'll all get our little panties in a bunch.

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Kevin McRae
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Kevin McRae »

In my opinion amateur herpers and biologists are much different. Your amateur herper spends several hours of his/hers free time reading about target species and searching for them because they have a passion for the species. While biologists often take a position and learn about the species as they work. That isn't always the case though, it's really hit or miss. There are not a lot of reptile specific biologists out there; atleast not in Canada. I also find amateur herpers to be a little careless. Imagine you are working with two dozen individual snakes and you know herpers come into your AO and are flipping rocks and handling your snakes. In most cases they are affected very little but I'm sure you'd sleep better knowing that no one besides you come into contact with your snakes. You can't blame biologists who are cautious of herpers, you never know what kind of herper you are going to get.

I think if herpers and biologists worked together there would be success. I know of a few attempted captive breeding of endangered species only to have the biologists fail because they have little experience keeping/breeding reptiles. Why not get in contact with a reptile breeder and ask for advice?

I'm currently a amateur herper whos done a little work with biologists. I hope to become one in the future.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Bryan Hamilton »

I don't think there is a big rift between biologists and amateurs. Some species, like rattlesnakes seem to bring out egos and big personalities. There are some people that seem to hold grudges against the other group, on both sides. The molecular work does seem to frustrate both groups and the issue of preserving specimens can be devisive.

For the most part though I think we pretty much get along here. There are disagreements and arguments becasue everyone is so passionate. But we all really want the same thing.

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klawnskale
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by klawnskale »

This is a great topic of discussion and one I can personally relate to. I believe that both herpers and scientists can benefit from each others knowledge and expertise. This is where the label 'citizen scientist' comes into play. I believe if herpers and naturalists who are not specifically educated or trained in following scientific method avail themselves to be tutored and guided on what protocols are accepted by science to make their contributions beneficial to the field of herpetology, this could only be a win/win situation for any field involving the natural sciences. As Monklet pointed out, that is why many ornithologists will recruit expert birders. I can't see why the same analogy couldn't work for herpetology. This was one of the main motivations for me to pursue jobs as a field flunky. I wanted to learn and I wished to contribute at the same time. Many of the State Wildlife Agencies are starting to get wise and exploit this working relationship to conduct species surveys that require alot of real estate to be covered. I believe both sides need to be open-minded and if there are errors or issues which originate from pure ignorance from the citizen scientist's part it should be the supervisory biologist's goal to instruct and rectify constructively. The issue of specimen collection used to be a point of contention in the past. Fortunately, the need for collecting at least 100 specimens of a given population for processing in order to glean accurate data
is not as necessary anymore with new advancements in laboratory analysis. A toe , tail tip or blood sample will do fine now and the animal can be released after processing. Good-bye to the days of "find 'em and grind 'em!"

RobK

Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by RobK »

We formed a herpetological group here in Colorado that brings together professionals, academics, and amateurs. The meetings have been excellent with presentations from each area along with a few field outings. My son (age 12) was even asked to give a brief presentation on his data collection methods/findings. After the meeting, several folks offered encouragement and advice on how he could improve.

A group like this not only helps prevent those "rifts" the OP brings up, but also promotes working and learning together. It is fascinating to hear what research projects are going on at the local universities, with the state agencies, and private organizations and gives them a chance to ask for help with their projects.

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peterknuteberg
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by peterknuteberg »

I haven't felt that there is a rift, but then I don't look for those things either. Rifts can exist wherever people exist. You can even have internal rifts within youself. My own experience of good experiences involving biologists (I am just a herper):

I have noticed very successful gatherings of biologists and herpers working together and having a great time in Kansas at the KHS annual Spring Field trips--fantastic people. They do surveys and herpers and others (even non herpers) help. I think the same can be said at the Chicago Herpetological Society, where all kinds of activities meld professional biologists with amateurs.

I herped for a 3 day weekend with some biologists from Canada in S. IL. at Snake Road, and they were some of the nicest guys I have met, putting up with my myriad questions and answering them and sharing their knowledge with me and my 9 year old son. They were also interested in what I knew. They invited me to come to Canada to see E. Massasaugas. I have herped in the Everglades with biologists doing field work, who again were fantastic, generous and patient; one have them has even since come to my home and we have herped up here. Another biologist from Indiana let me stay at his house with my son and another friend and we spent a very cold spring weekend looking for Salamanders and amphibians in his treasured, secret spots. Had a fantastic time. So, I have experienced wonderful collaborations between biologists and herpers.

I can understand a biologist being concerned about herpers disrupting their work--even a cement finisher worries about people walking into his cement. A doctor worries about hospital personnel or even the patient getting prescriptions and care instructions wrong. Lawyers worry about their staff, court clerks and even judges not properly doing their jobs so that a case doesn't get screwed up.

Happy New Year to all, herpers and biologists alike.

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by chris_mcmartin »

Kevin McRae wrote:I also find amateur herpers to be a little careless. Imagine you are working with two dozen individual snakes and you know herpers come into your AO and are flipping rocks and handling your snakes. In most cases they are affected very little but I'm sure you'd sleep better knowing that no one besides you come into contact with your snakes. You can't blame biologists who are cautious of herpers, you never know what kind of herper you are going to get.
There are two sides to that coin.

I sometimes find biologists to be a little careless. Imagine you are conducting long-term observations of a population of snakes and then you find out biologists from a university a few hours to the east come out to "your AO" and take all the snakes they find and pickle them--and don't put the rocks they flip back into place! You can't blame amateur herpers who are cautious of biologists; you never know what kind of biologist you are going to get. 8-)

I think it's fair enough to say that each community can learn from the other.

joeysgreen
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by joeysgreen »

In past times, my local herp society would occasionally get biologist members (generally new grads or still in school). It would be overly common for them to be incredibly pompous and overconfident in their education and the amatuers would be talked down upon. Naturally this created many debates upon book smarts versus experience etc etc.
I"m happy however as in recent years there seems to be a much more accepting and mutually beneficial relationship among different backgrounds.

I understand the use of the term citizen scientist but hate being tossed into that catagory, albeit that is what I am.

Ian

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umop apisdn
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by umop apisdn »

There are a few around here that seem to be adamant about voicing their distaste for the professionals/academia, however their opinions are often laughable seeing as their opinions are based on perception and no actual involvement (though not for lack of trying to be involved in some cases).

Remember, professionals start off as amateurs. To draw this distinction between the two groups that seems so set in stone is inaccurate. Any rift that might exist likely exists because of the frustration from those on either end that cannot communicate effectively with the opposite side. It's offensive to the professionals when the amateurs tell them what to do, and vice versa. It's not against the rules to question someone, but to make baseless statements that suggest the opposite side is completely wrong in their ways is arrogant and unfounded.

I play both sides of the fence and enjoy both.

I will say that I kinda agree with Kevin on the subject of the drive of passion of the amateur vs the drive of employment by the professional...but then I kinda disagree. No one has all the time in the world to wait for the perfectly suited position. Professional biologist positions are highly competitive, low-paying, and unpredictable. Sometimes, exposure to something is what facilitates passion. But within the pools of both the professionals and the amateurs, you'll find the whole spectrum. You've got the bitter jackasses as well as the charismatic enthusiasts on both ends.

And once again, I'm going to suggest that people not consider the sentiments expressed on the forums as a microcosm of the community as a whole. People's real-life personalities sometimes lay in stark contrast to the online persona. Also, it's easy to misread someone on the internet. It often appears that the most caustic of online personalities read the loudest, or the more reasonable voices have given up in the fight.

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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by heavenscloud »

dragoncjo wrote:Why does there seem to be such a rift between herpers and professional biologists? Now I've never had this negative exp. and I've dealt with biologists constantly over the last five years. However, it seems that amateur herpers seem to dislike, have a lack of respect for biologists, this is just my observations reading threads for years and year on here. I'll be honest I've never totally understood it and maybe others don't get the perception of a rift that I see. But I'm curious if others have noticed the same thing? Have lots of people on here had bad exp. dealing with professional biologist in the field? I think with the influx of herpers in the field its important to work together with biologists to share what everyone is seeing for the good of reptiles and amphibians. Like I said I've never had a bad exp with a university biologist, state biologist, conseravtion officer, etc., but maybe this is just a function of having quality biologists, professor, co's in my state. One of the main reason I bring this up is because what we do and say on here reflects on all of us, ripping biologists won't help any of our causes in the long run, we many times are viewed as a group and not individuals. I also don't like to see young herpers being taught to distrust professional biologists, I just don't think its the appropriate message. Curious to see others thoughts and experiences. Thanks
This is exactly why I question wide-sweeping negative comments about science and scientists. In my experience, these comments are often made by the "naturalist" types that seem to have something to prove. I couldn't care less about convincing the amateur who is too far gone to realize the limitations of his or her observations, but I feel strongly that we should emphasize the importance of science to those new to the hobby/forum. Part of that includes discrediting irrational anti-science viewpoints.


Brandon

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justinm
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by justinm »

I don't have a rift with professional biologists at all. I would call some very good friends. I occasionally talk to our state herpetologist and some of the state biologists about things I'm seeing. There are some here that just hate or don't understand what some biologists agenda's are, and vice versa. I think that communication on both sides is the only way to get over this issue that a small percentage of this community have.

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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by stlouisdude »

There is no occupation or hobby in the world where everyone gets along or is without its share of cranky people. Some people are trouble makers, I don't think it's about amateurs vs professionals, though, as I see the same problems within groups as between them (and generally involving the same subset). The best way to educate the public is to keep them involved and I see a trend of increasing public involvement. I suppose in some cases, people are concerned about mortality in isolated locations. Oddly, the sensible thing would seem to be getting public support for gaining or restoring connectivity rather than relying on secrecy and bullying.

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Serpentes
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Serpentes »

Bryan Hamilton wrote:I don't think there is a big rift between biologists and amateurs. Some species, like rattlesnakes seem to bring out egos and big personalities. There are some people that seem to hold grudges against the other group, on both sides. The molecular work does seem to frustrate both groups and the issue of preserving specimens can be devisive.

For the most part though I think we pretty much get along here. There are disagreements and arguments becasue everyone is so passionate. But we all really want the same thing.
I reckon that's a pretty accurate Bryan, so I need not repeat it :beer:

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reptilist
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by reptilist »

People are indoctrinated from an early age into the "us against them" philosophy and it's socially pervasive on every level. Add a dose of intellectual arrogance and good ol' fashioned jealousy to the mix... In the end, all resentment is the effect of ego, and no one is immune.

The percieved rift of professional biologists vs amateur biologists is insightful, but if you look at the big picture, it is a predictable part of the whole human experience.

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Ted
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Ted »

I think a fair part of this also lies in the grouping. I don't think that the groups as a whole have a rift, but there will always be people with personal problems with one side or the other, whether these problems are unfounded or not. I understand that we will be seen as a group, but we should remember that we're a group of individuals, who all have our own thoughts and personal biases.

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Russ_Jones
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Russ_Jones »

Personally, I think the rift lies somewhere between the biologists and the conservation officers. There aren't enough co's that are qualified to protect wildlife IMO.

Russ

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

reptilist wrote:People are indoctrinated from an early age into the "us against them" philosophy and it's socially pervasive on every level. Add a dose of intellectual arrogance and good ol' fashioned jealousy to the mix... In the end, all resentment is the effect of ego, and no one is immune.

The percieved rift of professional biologists vs amateur biologists is insightful, but if you look at the big picture, it is a predictable part of the whole human experience.
Love this kind of depth perspective! Well said Terry! :thumb:

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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by mikemike »

Some of my favorite people to herp with are academics and biologists, and when we're just out herping and having a good time, there's no difference between me or them. I

Coluber Constrictor
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Coluber Constrictor »

I don't think there is that much of a rift. There are a few who complain about "academic elitists, blah blah blah" but I don't think they are the majority.

I probably have more in common with a biologist (at least the kind who does field stuff) than someone who is just into breeding albino ball pythons or whatever.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Brian Hubbs »

The "Us against Them" mentality started a long time ago after some of the readers of Kauffeld's books misused the information for their own gain. Later, in the 1970s, many commercial collectors were at work between CA and FL, supplying pet shops with so many herps that it seemed they were going to exhaust the supply. This disturbed many professionals and academics. It also disturbed many amateurs. It also didn't help that the collectors damaged many rocky areas in their searches, but so did a few professionals too, and some still do, even today. I could name a couple of them in KS, but I won't.

So, due to some collectors being motivated by $$$, primarily in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (and even today in the Southeast, NM, parts of CA, and Texas), some academics were offended by that mentality and are reluctant to include amateurs in their studies out of a fear for the animals safety. On the other hand, amateurs see this reluctance today as a form of "ego gone mad". As much as I dislike the rift, sometimes I feel the academics and professionals have a point. On the other hand, some of them are just tactless and self absorbed.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Mike Pingleton »

Making judgments about people based on their profession, or on their credentials or lack thereof, is about as asinine as judging people by their color, sexual orientation, or whether they buy Hubb's books.

There are a lot of good people out there, on all sides.

Except ornithologists. Those guys are assholes.

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Brian Hubbs »

Mike: It's Hubbs' or Hubbs's books, not Hubb's. My name is Hubbs, not Hubb. But, after all, people named Pingleton are assholes... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Mike Pingleton »

Brian Hubbs wrote:Mike: It's Hubbs' or Hubbs's books, not Hubb's. My name is Hubbs, not Hubb. But, after all, people named Pingleton are assholes... :lol: :lol: :lol:
Really? I thought it was Hubb. I guess I've been buying some other "insert profanity here"'s books all this time...
:beer:

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Brian Hubbs
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Brian Hubbs »

It's an honest mistake. That Hubb guy has written a lot of books, but all of them were about birds, and they suck...

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reptilist
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by reptilist »

I was going to mention ornithologists too, but then Monklet paid me a compliment so that blew my snivel out of bounds.

:beer:

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

Mike Pingleton wrote:There are a lot of good people out there, on all sides.

Except ornithologists. Those guys are assholes.
Geee, I always wanted to be a real Ornithologist ...guess I was never really qualified.

Terry, get over the compliment ...everyone else has ;-) ...nah, really enjoy peeling away the layers of our behavioral motivations :)
Hubcap wrote:I feel the academics and professionals have a point. On the other hand, some of them are just tactless and self absorbed
Don't consider yourself one of those guys. :lol:

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Mike Pingleton »

They've been mentioned quite a bit lately.

Monklet is an ornithologist? Seems too nice.
reptilist wrote:I was going to mention ornithologists too, but then Monklet paid me a compliment so that blew my snivel out of bounds.

:beer:

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klawnskale
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by klawnskale »

[quote="Mike Pingleton"]They've been mentioned quite a bit lately.

LOL! that comic was funny. I am staring at three dinosaurs sharing my apartment with me right now.

Image

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

Mike Pingleton wrote:They've been mentioned quite a bit lately.

Monklet is an ornithologist? Seems too nice.
reptilist wrote:I was going to mention ornithologists too, but then Monklet paid me a compliment so that blew my snivel out of bounds.

:beer:
Thanks Mike. Nope not one o' those for snake's sake ...but I was wannabe ...just not my personality type ;-) ...oh yeah, love that cartoon! Cracks me up everytime you post it :lol: 8-)


Klawnskale - is that a Mouse Bird? ...don't mind my asking, it's just the ornithologist in me ;)

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reptilist
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by reptilist »

Birds are tough!
Monklet is my "go to" guy for birdyology!

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klawnskale
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by klawnskale »

Klawnskale - is that a Mouse Bird? ...don't mind my asking, it's just the ornithologist in me ;)[/quote]
Indeed it is, Monklet! It's a Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus) to be exact. Not sure what subspecies it is, though. There is about 8 subspecies. Heck; I'm no Birder! She's a pet and her name is Archie. I also have a Red-Faced Mousebird (Urocolius indicus) that I handfed and raised from Day 8. Also a pet.

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

klawnskale wrote:
Brad wrote:Klawnskale - is that a Mouse Bird? ...don't mind my asking, it's just the ornithologist in me ;)
Indeed it is, Monklet! It's a Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus) to be exact. Not sure what subspecies it is, though. There is about 8 subspecies. Heck; I'm no Birder! She's a pet and her name is Archie. I also have a Red-Faced Mousebird (Urocolius indicus) that I handfed and raised from Day 8. Also a pet.
Thanks :) ..the only reason I knew is cause a friend had one and introduced me. Great pets eh?

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klawnskale
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by klawnskale »

Thanks :) ..the only reason I knew is cause a friend had one and introduced me. Great pets eh?[/quote]

Awesome pets! Very social, playful, curious and cuddly. Mine are are real pals! Unfortunately most South Africans regard them as pests and would think nothing of shooting them with pellet guns because they think they ruin their fruit crops and garden fruit. :(
They may not talk or be as colorful as parrots, but they don't bite nasty and scream. ;)

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Kelly Mc »

I think in Our Realm , what we do almost becomes what we are, and if our toil and observations are percieved as dismissed its more than just an irk , its almost as if a core part of our very identity is called into question , whether its work we have done in the field , or in herpetoculture - or in completing a classical curriculum of academia and being able to say I am A Biologist . When passion is involved - what we Do becomes as organic as our eye color .

I am a Crote Man

I am an Australian Python Breeder

I am a Desert Herper/ Photographer

like that

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

Kelly Mc wrote:I think in Our Realm , what we do almost becomes what we are, and if our toil and observations are percieved as dismissed its more than just an irk , its almost as if a core part of our very identity is called into question , whether its work we have done in the field , or in herpetoculture - or in completing a classical curriculum of academia and being able to say I am A Biologist . When passion is involved - what we Do becomes as organic as our eye color .

I am a Crote Man

I am an Australian Python Breeder

I am a Desert Herper/ Photographer

like that
Holy cow, I'd given up faith, but despite all doubts that you might wax coherent, that I find is awesome! Cheers to you Kelly!

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jonathan
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by jonathan »

As several others have said, I think it's a natural "us vs. them" mentality that happens when you attach labels to groups. Lots of academics are great, lots of amateur herpers are great, but you're always going to notice the crap on the other side more than the crap on your own side. We all know that there are bad apples everywhere, but we focus on the bad apples who are in a different group than our own and we get really defensive about our own group.

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monklet
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by monklet »

jonathan wrote:As several others have said, I think it's a natural "us vs. them" mentality that happens when you attach labels to groups. Lots of academics are great, lots of amateur herpers are great, but you're always going to notice the crap on the other side more than the crap on your own side. We all know that there are bad apples everywhere, but we focus on the bad apples who are in a different group than our own and we get really defensive about our own group.
Love it! :) :thumb: ...halleluhah!

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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Jimi »

Oh, there's a rift, make no mistake. Many share some blame and all can be part of the solution. If we want to be. From my experience some (in all sectors - govt, academia, zoo, "amateur", "interest group") revel in maintaining the rift. Others thankfully would like to help, or at least allow, the rift to diminish. I think the existence of the NAFHA database, and this community, can go a long ways towards shrinking the rift among reasonable people. But again, some folks are just plain unreasonable...and only a fool keeps trying to reason with unreasonable people. The trick is to discover the difference...
what we do almost becomes what we are, and if our toil and observations are percieved as dismissed its more than just an irk , its almost as if a core part of our very identity is called into question
Merely dismissed I could live with. Perceived to be - and then treated as - aberrant, "unmutual", a threat to resource and/or society, something to be prevented, outlawed, stamped out...well now.
It's not like having one's identity called into question; it's like being mugged for a kidney, testicle, or eye. It robs one's very integrity: one's wholeness. That is unreasonable. There's an increasing source of rift.

Besides a very few trolls we do get along pretty well here, which I sincerely appreciate.

Cheers,
Jimi

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Why does there seem to be a rift?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) »

Brilliant thread. Me, I like biologists, especially herpetologists. They love herpers - they're always amazed that someone would do for pleasure what they have to do for money: deal with a much-maligned family of often dangerous animals on a daily basis.

Now, herpers are cool, too. For the above-mentioned reasons, they're the one-percenters of the biology scene. They even have chapters, wear offensive T-shirts, and have dirty fingernails.

HFFH!

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