Beyond natural history Other biological sciences take up the study at other levels of organization: dissecting the individual into organs and tissues and seeing how these work together, as in physiology; reaching down still further to the level of cells, as in cytology; and reaching the final biological level with the study of living molecules and their interactions, as in biochemistry. No one of these levels can be considered as more important than any other.
natural quoteshistory quotesbiological quotessciences quotesstudy quoteslevels quotesorganization quotesdissecting quotesindividual quotesorgans quotestissues quoteswork quotesphysiology quotesreaching quoteslevel quotescells quotescytology quotesfinal quotesliving quotesmolecules quotesinteractions quotesbiochemistry quotesconsidered quotesimportant quotes
The world of organisms, of animals and plants, is built up of individuals. I like to think, then, of natural history as the study of life at the level of the individual-of what plants and animals do, how they react to each other and their environment, how they are organized into larger groupings like populations and communities.
The parasite that causes malaria edges through the cells of the stomach wall of the mosquito and forms a cyst which grows and eventually bursts to release hundreds of sporozoites into the body cavity of the mosquito ... As far as we can tell, the parasite does not harm the mosquito ... It has always seemed to me, though, that these growing cysts ... must at least give the mosquito something corresponding to a stomach-ache.
We have come to look at our planet as a resource for our species, which is funny when you think that the planet has been around for about five billion years, and Homo sapiens for perhaps one hundred thousand. We have acquired an arrogance about ourselves that I find frightening. We have come to feel that we are so far apart from the rest of nature that we have but to command.
All children are curious and I wonder by what process this trait becomes developed in some and suppressed in others. I suspect again that schools and colleges help in the suppression insofar as they meet curiosity by giving the answers, rather than by some method that leads from narrower questions to broader questions. It is hard to satisfy the curiosity of a child, and even harder to satisfy the curiosity of a scientist, and methods that meet curiosity with satisfaction are thus not apt to foster the development of the child into the scientist. I don't advocate turning all children into professional scientists, although I think there would be advantages if all adults retained something of the questioning attitude, if their curiosity were less easily satisfied by dogma, of whatever variety.
children quotescurious quotesprocess quotestrait quotesdeveloped quotessuppressed quotessuspect quotesschools quotescolleges quotessuppression quotesmeet quotescuriosity quotesgiving quotesanswers quotesmethod quotesleads quotesnarrower quotesquestions quotesbroader quotesquestions quoteshard quotessatisfy quoteschild quotesharder quotesscientist quotesmethods quotessatisfaction quotesapt quotesfoster quotesdevelopment quoteschild quotesscientist quotesadvocate quotesturning quotesprofessional quotesscientists quotesadvantages quotesadults quotesretained quotesquestioning quotesattitude quoteseasily quotessatisfied quotesdogma quotesvariety quotes
The late Alan Gregg pointed out that human population growth within the ecosystem was closely analogous to the growth of malignant tumor cells within an organism: that man was acting like a cancer on the biosphere. The multiplication of human numbers certainly seems wild and uncontrolled... Four million a month-the equivalent of the population of Chicago... We seem to be doing all right at the moment; but if you could ask cancer cells, I suspect they would think they were doing fine. But when the organism dies, so do they; and for our own, selfish, practical... reasons, I think we should be careful about how we influence the rest of the ecosystem.
late quotesalan quotesgregg quotespointed quoteshuman quotespopulation quotesgrowth quotesecosystem quotesclosely quotesanalogous quotesmalignant quotestumor quotescells quotesorganism quotesman quotesacting quotescancer quotesbiosphere quotesmultiplication quotesnumbers quoteswild quotesuncontrolled quotesmillion quotesmonththe quotesequivalent quoteschicago quotesmoment quotescells quotessuspect quotesfine quotesorganism quotesdies quotesselfish quotespractical quotesreasons quotescareful quotesinfluence quotesrest quotesecosystem quotes
One dictionary that I consulted remarks that "natural history" now commonly means the study of animals and plants "in a popular and superficial way," meaning popular and superficial to be equally damning adjectives. This is related to the current tendency in the biological sciences to label every subdivision of science with a name derived from the Greek. "Ecology" is erudite and profound; while "natural history" is popular and superficial. Though, as far as I can see, both labels apply to just about the same package of goods.
dictionary quotesconsulted quotesremarks quotesnatural quoteshistory quotescommonly quotesmeans quotesstudy quotesanimals quotesplants quotespopular quotessuperficial quotesmeaning quotesequally quotesdamning quotesadjectives quotesrelated quotescurrent quotestendency quotesbiological quotessciences quoteslabel quotessubdivision quotesscience quotesderived quotesgreek quotesecology quoteserudite quotesprofound quotessuperficial quoteslabels quotesapply quotespackage quotesgoods quotes