Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Year of Darwin 9/28/2014: Lyell, if I convert you, I'm done

 Charles Darwin

"I cannot too strongly express my conviction of the general truth of my doctrines, & God knows I have never shirked a difficulty. - I am foolishly anxious for your verdict. Not that I shall be disappointed if your are not converted; for I remember the long years it took me to come round; but I shall be deeply delighted if you do come around, especially if I have a fair share in the conversion. I shall then feel that my career is run, & care little whether I ever am good for anything again in this life...Charles Darwin, Letter to Charles Lyell, September 1859

There's one thing I have noticed about scientists of a certain age - they want to leave a legacy. Early in life it is about feeding the ego: getting the papers out, producing lectures, getting the grants. My sample size is small and only men - but this is what they're saying. For Darwin, it is convincing the geologist Charles Lyell that organisms can, and have been, evolving. 

For me, I'd like to convince my community (1) that tropical bird populations respond to human disturbance as a result of altered abiotic changes and (2) presenting the probability of your hypothesis instead of p-values.  

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