Clearer Thinking

It’s always nice to lean on others for inspirational thoughts or to express ideas that do not easily flow from one’s own tongue. More and more those sources turn out to be my kids, but here are others:


“The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.” Carl Safina Song for the Blue Ocean 1997

“When we renounce our hubris; when we see ourselves as a portion of something far older, far longer than we are; when we discover nature as our partner, not our slave, and laws applying to us as applying to all; then we shall find our faith returning.  We have powers granted never before to living beings.  But we shall free those powers to affect human solutions of justice and permanence only when we renounce our arrogance over nature and accept the philosophy of the possible.” –Robert Ardrey The Social Contract 1970

The goal of conservation biology…”To retain for the average citizen the opportunity to see, admire, and enjoy, and the challenge to understand, the varied forms of birds and mammals indigenous to his state.  It implies not only that these forms be kept in existence, but that the greatest possible variety of them exist in each community.” –Aldo Leopold Game Management 1933

“In its ultimate development, our thinking in the field of conservation must be concerned with human populations.” –Durwood L. Allen Our Wildlife Legacy 1954

“The ultimate test of conservation biology is the application of its theories in actual management situations” –Michael Soule Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity 1986

“It is just as important that managers make an effort to be informed about the real world of science as it is for the scientist to make an effort to be informed about the real world of management.” –Michael Soule Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity 1986

“No species, rare or common, lives on its own apart and disconnect from everything else in its environment.”          
– Robert Mc Farlane A Stillness in the Pines 1992

On gauging a hunter’s ethic… “It manifests itself in the choices the hunter makes, in the language he uses to talk about the experience, and in the way he acts when the hunt is over.” James Kilgo Colors of Africa 2003

“To me, with gun in hand or without, the appeal of the out-of-doors seems chiefly conditioned by the relative diversity and completeness of its native fauna and flora and the naturalness of its topography.” Paul Errington 1947. A question of values. JWM 11:263-272.

“Finally, the question may be asked, “What good are penguins?” It may be crass to ask what good a wild animal is, but I do think the question may be legitimate.  That depends on what you mean by good.  If you mean “good to eat,” you are perhaps being stupid.  If you mean “good to hunt,” you are surely being vicious.  If you mean “good as it is good in itself to be a living creature enjoying life,” you are not being crass, stupid, or vicious.  I agree with you and I am your brother as well as the penguin’s.”  George Gaylord Simpson Penguins: Past and Present, Here and There 1976

“The ultimate issue, in conservation as in other social problems, is whether the mass-mind wants to extend its powers of comprehending the world in which it lives, or, granted the desire, has the capacity to do so.” Aldo Leopold “The Conservation Ethic” 1969

“The greatest mystery in nature is its power to generate life, and life’s regenerative power responds generously wherever people find within themselves the will to allow it.” Carl Safina Song for the Blue Ocean 1997

“Some will dismiss talk of [conservation] ethics as too emotional, too much a luxury in pragmatic times. I answer that cynicisim, apathy, and greed are in fact undiluted and unquenched emotions, far less rational and thoughtful than ethics and certainly less nourishing. They are counterproductive selfish indulgences we truly can no longer afford.”  Carl Safina Song for the Blue Ocean 1997

“Nowadays, virtually nothing that swims or crawls underwater is lucky enough to be unloved.” Carl Safina Song for the Blue Ocean 1997


“Natural selection has through all its long history shown a mighty open-mindedness towards any idea that works” –Robert Ardrey African Genesis 1961

“There is no getting around it, Nature is a wastrel.  She can produce lavishly, but she destroys in a like manner.”  -Durwood L. Allen Our Wildlife Legacy 1954

“The proof is once more, that Life selects for what works, irrespective of our human efforts to define and clarify.” –Paul L. Errington Of Predation and Life 1967


“Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.” Albert Einstein

“If anything you learn should cause you to earn a wage I apologize. If it should cause you to become a better human being I have succeeded.”  Robert R. Lechleitner, professor of mammalogy and ecology at CSU (1950-1969)

“I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof.  Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?”  Aldo Leopold A Sand County Almanac 1943

“Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein


“Finding the question is often more important than finding the answer”
-John W. Tukey  (1980. We need both exploratory and confirmatory. American Statistician. 34:23-25.)

“Following the golden rule of applied mathematics, it is always better to give an approximate answer to the right question than a precise answer to the wrong question.” – Nigel G. Yoccoz (1991. Use, overuse, and misuse of significance tests in evolutionary biology and ecology. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 72:106-111.)

“The worst, i.e. most dangerous, feature of ‘accepting the null hypothesis’ [or failing to reject the null] is the giving up of explicit uncertainty.” –John W. Tukey (1991. The philosophy of multiple comparisons. Statistical Science 6:100-116.)

“Most readers of The American Statistician will recognize the limited value of hypothesis testing in the science of statistics. I am not sure that they all realize the extent to which it has become the primary tool in the religion of Statistics.” -D. S. Salsburg (1985. The religion of statistics as practiced in medical journals. American Statistician 39:220-223.)

“If a bird sings in the forest, but the investigator fails to detect it, is the forest occupied?” Evan Cooch in MacKenzie et al. 2006 Occupancy Estimation and Modeling

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…if p = 0.5” Royle and Dorazio 2008 Hierarchical Modeling and Inference in Ecology