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Reviews of Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience

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Book Profile
Author (1): David Theodoropoulos

Softcopy edition:
Publish date: April 2003
Published by: Avvar Books
List price: $14.50
ISBN Number: 0970850417

Categories:

Soft-cover

  Feedback History and Summary  
1 positive
No neutrals
2 negatives

Comments:

RatingAuthorContent
Negative YakimaBelle On Apr 20, 2007, YakimaBelle wrote:

I was deeply disturbed by his misrepresentation of the salt cedar situation. Leaving aside his dubious claims about their being good for wildlife, they can transpire up to 200 gallons per day. They are literally drying up watering holes and reducing streams all over the desert West.

Positive thistlepunk On Aug 19, 2006, thistlepunk wrote:

Excellent! Finally a book which exposes the nonsense of "invasion biology". As a former NYS naturalist, and a current law enforcement officer, I have often been left amazed by the self-righteousness and authoritarianism of many of those who espouse this form of nativism. They back up their reasoning with "studies" showing that they are right, and everyone else is wrong and ignorant.

This book, however, exposes the underbelly of the nativist "invasion biology" beast. You will learn that many studies are hardly scientific, based more on emotion, profit-making, and stridency than on any science. You will learn that the native American ecosystems are not static, fragile, and uncompetitive; that native plants are robust and quite capable of resisting "invasives"; that so-called invasives primarily succeed in disturbed areas; that the militancy of some advocates of "invasion biology" has some unsavory antecedents.

Not an entirely easy read, this book will still prove quite helpful in understanding the danger and deceit of a movement which for far too long has been allowed to march across the landscape unquestioned.

Negative Equilibrium On Jun 22, 2006, Equilibrium wrote:

Personally, I had difficulty stomaching the book. I was granted permission to cut and paste the critique of this book written by James K McCarron PhD (Ken) Plant Ecologist provisional upon letting people know that Ken couldn't stand the book either.

[quote]BOOK REVIEW
Invasion Biology
Critique of a Pseudoscience
James K. McCarron
Department of Agronomy 2004 Throckmorton Hall Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 66506-5501

D.I.Theodoropoulos, AVVAR Books, 661 East Barnard Street, Blythe, CA 92225. 2003. 236 p. $14.50. ISBN 0-9708504-1-7.

Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience will raise a concerned eyebrow of the experienced researcher and enlighten the novice to be weary of following the scientific dogma. The author presents a convincing critique of the status and direction of theory and politics of the controversial topic of invasive species, although, as the subtitle infers, this is not a nonbiased critique but more of an attack. He leads the reader through a well-organized argument that scientists, human nature (emotionalism, paranoid belief systems, and extremism), and self-interested bureaucracy have blindly built a negative hysteria surrounding introduced species as a threat to native ecosystems and biodiversity. Moreover, he argues that with the majority of introduced species there is little to no negative result but the species may in fact help to increase biodiversity, hasten evolution, strengthen ecosystems processes, and "act as an important force for healing the planet."

The content of the book is well organized with an introduction which includes a thorough outline of critiques and results of the author's findings and opinions. The book is broken into three main sections. Part I, "Nature, Dispersal and Reaction," investigates the "invasion crisis" through a review of current literature, web sites, and the author's anecdotal observations. Part II, "Why? Psychology, Politics and Pseudoscience," tries to make analogies between current invasion policies and human ideologies and "nativism", with many analogies to racism and the Third Reich. In Part III, "Humanity and Diversity: Dispersal, Evolution and Diversification," the author proposes a new theory of anthropogenic dispersal, which urges unnatural "species-packing into disturbed areas."

Initially, I was enthusiastic to see someone tackle and critique the trend of the scientific establishment on invasive species. Too many studies have lumped introduced species as invasive or potentially damaging to ecosystems with little scientific evidence. However, within the first few pages it became evident that Theodoropoulos's critique was more of a criticism and personal vendetta against current concepts in invasion biology. Superficially, the book makes many valid points about the imperfection in our theories of invasive species through many scientific citations and personal observations. However, it is the one-sidedness of his arguments that tells the underlying story and this is clearly a biased viewpoint. When I encountered cited literature that I knew well, I could see that the author had carefully selected only parts of the facts and was not telling both sides of the story. A true critique should show the good and bad; this does not. In addition, the author likens our current ideologies of invasive biology to nativism, xenophobia, emotionalism, and even prejudice of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi socialism. His attempt to use these analogies to persuade the reader caused me to be reminded of Hitler's emotionalism and propaganda in Mein Kampf, and did little to sway my understanding or opinion. Furthermore, his proposed idea to increase biodiversity of most ecosystems through purposeful "anthropogenic dispersal" of non-native species just left me cold and worried. To the novice this book will provide a very persuasive argument, but to most of the scientific community the author's reactionary and emotional approach will have little influence. In defense of the book, I will keep it around and encourage others to read it. It provides a needed critical viewpoint on how we as researchers need to be careful of using generalities in science. But, more importantly, I will encourage my students to read this book to show them how not to develop an argument.[/quote]


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