Prof. Steve Steve posted Entry 1272 on August 1, 2005 01:16 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1270

Hello everybody. I thought I should bring you all up to date on my travels. I have just visited Hawai’i, where I did some lecturing, research and field work. Naturally, everything I encountered supported evolution and modern biology. I’m still looking for evidence of creation, but to no avail. The reason I went to Hawai’i is that Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of modern taxonomy, believed that Eden was on a large island in the middle of an ocean, and considered it might be the Pacific. Since there is no bigger island than Hawai’i in the Pacific, if you exclude all those inconvenient islands in south east Asia and the southern Pacific (Australia, where annoying philosophers come from, and New Zealand, which has - or had before feral cats arrived and possums from Australia were let loose - some of the most extraordinary fauna anywhere). I didn’t find any evidence of Linnaeus’ Eden, though. Anything that is like the fauna of the rest of the world has been introduced in the past 1500 years by humans, who aren’t too bright.

For example, they introduced mongooses (mongeese?) to the islands to eradicate the rats that were introduced, probably by the Polynesian ancestors of native Hawai’ians, as well as European sailing ships. Only problem is that the mongoose is a diurnal (daytime) hunter, and rats are active at night (nocturnal). They sure eradicated a lot of native ground nesting birds, though… which left more habitat for the rats. So it all worked out.

Let me show you some pictures.

tsunami-advice.jpg

I went to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Oahu, where I showed the station staff how to detect tsunamis. They seemed to appreciate it. But geophysicist Dr Stuart Weinstein of the center needed to give that Australian fellow John Wilkins a long disquisition about plate tectonics, the physics of earthquakes and tsunamis and the telecommunications connection with Pitcairn Island, which I gather is state of the art.

stuart-john.jpg

See? I’m helping Wilkins, although I’m a little uncomfortable about how he’s holding me here. Between you and me, I don’t think he’s the “full quid” as those Australians say. He need to be shown on the map where Australia was. When we asked him where he came from, we got some garbled explanation about a couple of cities called Melbun and Brisbun, as far as I can recall. Even Stuart is looking confused here, and no wonder. People who name their cities after pastries are hard to understand.

Then I visited the University, but only after I had a little snack. It’s hungry work being a sage.

bamboo.jpg

Fortunately, they had a fresh stand of my favorite fast food. But I had to eat and run, as I had an appointment.

beer.jpg

After delivering a talk to the zoologists and botanists at the University of Hawai’i, Monoa, some of the less obviously employed hangers on went with me to have a beer, or in my case six. From left, Dave Fritzinger, of the cancer research centre attached to the university, Mike Dunford, who was hosting another hanger-on, Wilkins, not shown (I think he was attending to the necessaries at that point - some people can’t hold their beer) and is a doctoral student in zoology, and Stuart Weinstein, one of the aforementioned seismologists who benefited from my knowledge earlier. I’m not falling down drunk, as unpleasant folk might rumor. I’m resting after a long thought.

wallaby-release.jpg

Mike and I, and that hanger-on (still unable to hold his beer) went up a very dense bit of rainforest to release a wallaby that had been caught earlier in an inhabited area. Wallabies are not native to Hawai’i, but little now remains of what was. Here I am ushering the wallaby up the slope to its home range. These wallabies are descended from a pair that escaped from a private zoo sometime in the 20s, I think. As you can see I had to do the release myself as the other two just weren’t up to it. Something about how wet and slippery it was, and how steep and overgrown the vegetation. Poppycock! In my day we thought nothing of running up mountains covered in rainforest and carrying 300lbs of specimens back down to base camp. In bare feet, or in my case, bear feet.

pasty-hangeron.jpg

Here’s that hanger-on. Pasty looking fellow, isn’t he? He’s a philosopher, which explains why a little bit of exercise leaves him so wasted. I’m giving him encouragement and motivation here, which he sorely needed. Just because it’s poring rain, and the rocks are both slippery and fall when you stand on them, you’d think he never released a wallaby before. He’s from Australia, isn’t he? They ride them to school over there, I gather.

I was pleased to see he was wearing a t-shirt about Project Steve, which lists over 500 actual scientists named Steve who confirm that evolution is the only viable scientific theory about origins. Unfortunately, Mr. Wensleydale, the NCSE courier, has my application form, but has been unable to catch up with me in my travels.

wise-mike.jpg

Mike, on the other hand took it all in his stride, even showing sufficient good sense to listen to me as I explained the nature of the geology, biology, history and economics of Hawai’i, and how to release the wallaby safely. A clever man that Dunford. He’ll go far. If only he’d brought my raincoat, I’d have granted him his doctorate right then and there.

assistance-downhill.jpg

Wilkins was bestowed the honor of carrying me assisting me down the hill, since I had done all the hard work coming up. Besides it meant I didn’t have to listen to his complaining, or as the Australians call it, whinging. They’re good at it, for darned sure.

Well, that’s all for now. At some time in the future I may go visit Australia to find out how people so amazingly ignorant can get doctorates. I know a few real thinkers there who I have respect for, so I’ll go visit them too, and find out why they stay there. For now, Aloe, which is how Hawai’ians say “g’day”.

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Comment #40729

Posted by Andrew on August 1, 2005 10:08 AM (e)

FYI – Stephen Meyer and (I think?) Jonathan Wells were on “Focus on the Family” radio program this morning. I know those shows are archived, so it should be possible to produce a rebuttal. The substance was (as usual) insubstantial, and the format was as fawning as you’d imagine.

Comment #40744

Posted by rampancy on August 1, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

According to what I picked up in my third-year population ecology course, another interesting thing about the mongooses that were released as biocontrol agents was that they weren’t specialist predators, but in fact generalists. That was one of the lessons on biocontrol that was learned the hard way, I suppose.

Comment #40776

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on August 1, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

I have to say.. that neither of those photos show my best side..

Stuart

Comment #40782

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on August 1, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

New Zealand, which has - or had before feral cats arrived and possums from Australia were let loose - some of the most extraordinary fauna anywhere

Feral cats aren’t really much of a problem, it was the rat and the original humans that came to New Zealand that did everything in. The rats wiped out tons of our bird life and what they didn’t manage to kill the Maori wiped the rest out. For example, the Moa and the great eagles that hunted them both went extinct due to the actions of the Maori. When Europeans arrived it just went from bad to worse, because not only did we bring further invaders (Gorse, possums and other problems) we also bought guns. Birds that had been difficult to kill previously, like the Kereru (wood pidgeon) became a snap to kill with a gun and they were very nearly driven to extinction.

There are numerous other biological invaders as well that we’ve bought in too. For example the beloved fishermans catch, the trout, is like a nuclear weapon in fish form for streams that it is put in. It’s an amazingly aggressive predator and in the streams it is present in has eliminated small invertebrates entirely like the freshwater crayfish Koura. Additionally, for those wanting another example of evolution in action, fish called galaxids in streams with trouts have been under intense selection in two regards: the first is to be active at night when trout aren’t around and the second is to have a much darker colouring so they aren’t seen as easily. Trout free streams have considerably more variation in galaxid behaviour and colour than streams with trout. For obvious reasons.

Comment #40783

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on August 1, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

Just as an amendment to the above, now I’ve thought about it, I’d like to point out the Maori bought the pacific rat Rattus exultans, which isn’t as big or mean as the more familar European ship rat, Rattus rattus. Both of them had a devastating effect on local wildlife however.

Comment #40784

Posted by geogeek on August 1, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

We have introduced trout problems all over the U.S. west, where german browns have taken over a great deal of the habitat of the Dolly Varden, golden, etc. trouts.

Are the famous salmon of New Zealand native? Or are they hatchery “fish”?

Comment #40787

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on August 1, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

They are not Native, but our clear waters (low pollution over here) and other factors are what makes the NZ Salmon rather good. The environment here suits them quite well, plus the lack of natural predators (unless you count humans). I believe though they are ‘hatchery’ fish and were introduced. I don’t know anything about their ecological effects however. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do though, as New Zealand animals including those in streams never had to deal with aggressive predators like trout during their evolution.

Comment #40992

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on August 2, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

Looks like Steve Steve was busy…

http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20050802153309990009&_ccc=5&cid=842

Comment #41984

Posted by josh on August 10, 2005 9:21 AM (e)

Is there any truth to the rumor that SteveSteve is having an affair with a chemical engineer who doubts evolution?