14 August 2007

on Trevor J. Hawkeswood - Part 2: The swashbuckling knowledge-sharer

10 September 2010 — Post-postscript: This recommendation has proven itself to be rotten, and getting stinkier as time goes on. Please read all the comments below and also, these posts by Dr Alex Wild on his excellent Myrmecos Blog.
I am sorry that the journal Calodema, which had such potential to be a fresh and bravely outspoken voice, has instead become an organ that peals out arguments for the indefensible. All discoveries made must be open to scrutiny, and in the exploration of the most marvelous — species other than ours — the goal should be not numbers, as if the manifest destiny of everyone interested in, say, beetles, should be to stake a claim on every little crawler that comes into one's path.

In the case of frequent contributor to Calodema, Mr. Dewanand Makhan, the rogue in the eye of this storm, it's taken me years to write this more definitive reassessment because the criticisms of him by the scientific community have been polluted by many scientists who pealed out arguments against him that were petty and not relevant, thus obscuring what was and is important. The outrage over naming a new species after members of his family is just silly, when compared by the fates suffered by the slime-mold beetles named after Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. May those entomologists who burdened those innocents with the names of this trio be visited pre-dust by other members of the coleoptera family who can hasten inevitability.

These are the valid criticisms of DM and thus Calodema, in my opinion.
  • DM does not allow scrutiny.
  • DM does not show adequate knowledge of the phylogenetic relationships of species, and even makes many mistakes that show a poor knowledge of anatomy.
  • DM shows an overriding interest in the numbers of species he "discovers", and pretends an expertise level adequate to claim discovery of a peaceable kingdom's-worth of creatures. (My hero, Asher E. Treat, devoted a lifetime to mites of moths and butterflies, and would have considered himself unworthy to say "eureka" to a beetle, even if it had a molybdenum-coated pronotum and elytra that blared "Rule, Brittania" when opened. He would, however, save that beetle, and send it to an expert, specifically, one who is most knowledgeable in the field of coleoptera that sound out prom tunes.)
  • Thus, DM brings the historically important, respectable, and necessary "amateur enthusiast" into disrepute. By publishing the papers of this charlatan and arguing on his behalf, Trevor Hawkeswood has ruined what could be a valuable publication and hurt his own reputation.
I have not removed this post, however, as all of it is healthy in its own way. The discussion, however, is now closed, so for those scientists who look in daily, my apologies for causing stress. Onwards with good science, forever recognising that discovery often comes from mistakes, and many of the best scientists were once thought outrageous, their theories only worth laughing at.

30 Jan 2010 — POSTSCRIPT:
There has been enormous controversy about the scientific integrity of this journal and about Trevor Hawkeswood, so please read the comments, too, especially today's post by "R".

I applaud scientists who uphold the tenets of true science, and have called for those standards to be upheld also, in posts such as "So really. What IS science? Mere miracles?"

So the controversy about Hawkeswood is important insofar as it illustrates how much scientific integrity matters to some scientists.
If only they would speak up more when it comes to "science" in the aid of profits or a well-funded machine of a campaign.
How, for instance, could the Himalaya melt debacle happen?

CALODEMA natural history and biology journal

In my introduction to this unboxable footsore researcher and prolific writer, I didn't touch upon his journal, Calodema, a publication so surprisingly fascinating that I urged him to adjust his subscription prices so that subscriptions are attractive. And they are now, though this is one journal that is worth every issue at full price.

The surprise is that the articles in Calodema (named after the cover
star of Hawkeswood's indispensable though long out of print Beetles of Australia, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1987) are page-turners, even to this layperson.

The writing in Calodema is never dry, though sometimes it is scorching. There are topics that resound far beyond the world of natural history. One issue, for instance, gave me the excuse I always needed for my habit of reading several things at once. In this case, a book review by K.L. Dunn discussed plagiarism, and the rather sneaky style of plagiarism that he showed was practiced in that book was exactly that of the famed Mrs. Beeton as discussed by Kathryn Hughes in the enlightening book The Short Life & Long Times of Mrs Beeton. Another article in Calodema, by Hawkeswood himself, discusses the process of submission review procedures of another journal--and he doesn't mince words. There is a good deal of irreverence in every issue. J.D. O'Dea dares to bring up "Problems with the Honeybee Dance Language". A series of articles by Dewanand Makhan answered with a good deal of charm, a question that I've never had answered – Where do names come from? Also in that issue are the largest drawings I've ever seen, of
coleoptera male genitalia.

So far, I haven't found an uninteresting page in Calodema, and it's refreshing that the journal is so understandable to someone like me, who enjoys the Janet and John part of Nature, but finds the papers themselves mostly incomprehensible. The first issues of Calodema had a majority of articles authored by Hawkeswood (rightly called a swashbuckler by another scientist who sails the dangerous seas of research and submission), but increasingly there are more (brave?) authors in Calodema, and the journal is truly international. I highly recommend Calodema to everyone with even a smidgen of interest in the world around them.

Sharing knowledge
Although Hawkeswood doesn't blog, his website is a virtual Circus (and not just of the spineless). The site contains an ever-growing body of papers that he has put on for anyone to read. His attitude to knowledge is in the spirit of the open access movement, and his works tie in perfectly with the attitude of The Encyclopedia of Life and Edward O. Wilson, who Hawkeswood calls his "hero".

Hawkeswood actually said to me that he didn't want to hide his investigations, only to "pop off" with the information lost, as some have. Unless he meets the mother of all assassin bugs, we have many years left to enjoy along with Hawkeswood, a literate passion for the natural world.


marek said...

I am sorry to say that, but some articles in "Calodema" seem to be intended to do much bad blood in biology. Publications of Dewanand Makhan are grossly inadequate and bring much distress to experts working in groups where he describes species. They show unbelievable level of his ignorance of the subject- pictures, descriptions, identification keys, literature sources and characters used in his papers are either very poor or thoroughly inadequate! It is quite hard to explain everything in these few words (there is more on the net), may I just say that every, also constructive, criticism of their work meets with HIGHLY INSULTING and maniacal rebuttal. This doesn't speak in their favor.

anna tambour said...

Thank you for responding, Marek. No matter what the field, I think that the Salzburg Global Seminar's rules of engagement should be everyone's: "Be hard on ideas and easy on each other."

If there are debatable or incorrect statements made in any field, it should be the wish of the person who made them to be informed in a civil manner, and to respond in the same manner. Debate should be civil always, and something to look forward to, not dreaded.

This is so often not the case. I can't judge what you are saying because I don't know the details and am a lay reader in this field, but I can say with authority that the smaller the number of people interested in something, especially when it depends on minutiae, the greater the egos that get in the way of what should be a search for truth and a great adventure. It can happen with a haiku, or a single word of an ancient text that less than ten people in the world find at all interesting (and those ten, often only find it interesting as a pedant's game of aggressive 'scholarship'). So I hope that your letter fosters greater respect all round as well as reminding what the goals and joys of discovery should be - given and taken in the spirit of a better, more knowledge-craving

"Knowledge does not keep any better than fish."
- Alfred North Whitehead

anna tambour said...

It's been a few days now, and yet there has been no response from you, Marek. You talk of 'experts', though you don't speak as one. The tone of your unsubstantiated claims and character slurs on both Dr Makhan and Dr Hawkeswood is all too common on the web, where I am sorry to say that cowards have a field day. You don't give your name, but in the creepy reality of the web, you leave footprints that lead to Poland, which makes you an unlikely expert on the other side of the world.

For anyone interested in Dr Hawkeswood's work and the tone of Calodema, he has posted many articles and papers on his site.

Any fool can burn down a house.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna

Just found this site (several years late!) and wanted to let you know that Calodema is a 'boys own annual' look at biology. It is not acceptable as science because Hawkeswood is the only editor and main contributing author! He also mainly publishes articles from his friends. For a publication to be accepted as scientific it has to be reviewed by established scientists working in the field (often first assessed by the editorial board of the journal and then sent for independent review by 2-4 external reviewers). Science is a process, it's not about being perfect but about applying rigor to assessing what people think their data say.

I'm sure it's a good read but not science (and shouldn't be promoted and priced as such). I am a professional entomologist doing scientific research (I do it as a hobby also) and in my opinion the articles are of woeful standard. Biological/science journals also do not publish personal letters and arguments.(FYI; in my job I run various ento projects, have to review science/scientists often and I have published in a range of top biological journals).

This is where the animosity is coming from; the pretense of being a great scientist(!) and publishing scientifically valid articles. Combined with his constant self-congratulations. Those things (and his constant knocking of "the system" would annoy all of the hard working people who are subject to the normal scientific process and get NO recognition).

That's my honest view....I don't know Hawkeswood (never heard of him and Calodema until recently, even though work in entomological science, hence just found your blog). I don't know his friends or his "enemies" which seem to be many. That's just what I think. Oh....his PhD comes from an "internet university" too (try find that out from his site.....pretty basic thing..."What was your PhD in?").

It's easy to burn down a house, yes. It's easy to pretend too.
On the other hand, true scientific advances are hard. The complexity of science in the modern age is such that advances are rarely are achieved by individuals. Usually by groups interacting and consisting of students, scientists, technical people etc etc.


anna tambour said...

Dear R,
Thank you very much for taking the trouble and time to write such a superb letter. I wrote this piece at a time when I was filled with outrage at a number of poor but lauded works by professional(s), wherein 1) scientific observation had been sacrificed to theory, and/or 2)the facts as they were reported were ludicrous but able to be reported because so few people live close to the natural world now, and/or 3)an arrogance of language and unnecessary jargon had infected the work. As a layperson, I greatly appreciate your professional assessment of the scientific integrity of the articles in Calodema, and I agree with you entirely that any publication that is a closed network is a poor publication, especially when it purports to be scientific. As to one that ends up being a vanity pressed vehicle for self-congratulation and one-sided rants about feuds, this deserves to be condemned wherever it occurs.

So, "R", I stand corrected by you and thank you for not shrugging and thinking, "Why bother? This ignorant blog post isn't worth replying to." Though I have the choice to "erase" the recommendation posting on the blog, I think it might be more useful if I leave it all on, partly because there has been some merit to the publication, and partly because this discussion is of merit. I will, therefore add a Postscript that will appear as a preface — directing future readers to see the comments, especially yours.
So I'll do that now.

DrTJHawkeswood said...

Dear Anna

I wish to have the opportunity of reply to “R”’s rave on your blog. The statements made by him are mostly lies and innuendo, meant to smear my scientific achievements and the authors of Calodema.

I wish to put the record correct on a number of fronts.

First the true identity of “R” is Richard Glatz, a “molecule molester” from South Australia who is not an entomologist but a gene biochemist (as far as I can make out!). He apparently knows nothing about field work and traditional descriptive/taxonomic entomology.

To date, the journal Calodema has published the works of over 15 authors, including biologists from overseas whom I have never met and whom are not necessarily my friends. Most of the papers ARE reviewed. The last paper of mine (the Manwell letters) was reviewed by 6 (yes, six!) people, including an well-known academic from Wollongong University in New South Wales, a solicitor from New South Wales, an expert witness who is a crocodile scientist and three other biologists in three States - Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Some of the Calodema papers do not require any extensive review as they are basically referrals to overlooked research etc. Over 200 papers have been published so far in Calodema and there are many in press. The published research in Calodema has been accepted by most biologists throughout the world although there is always a little clique who don't like other scientists and who (for vested interests and the guilt of their own unproductivity) will nit pick and put out excuses about the publication of others works. Many of the papers in Calodema have been cited favourably in the works of others. See e.g. referred papers on my website (which will be updated soon).

As regards personal letters and comments, all good journals should do this as it stimulates thought and eliminates interior bias in refereeing and control by those editorial panels.

Glatz believes that Calodema is a “boys own annual”- well that goes for every other journal in the world that is specialised and uses referees to weed out competition from rival scientists and papers that are in conflict with their own views or restricted scope of their particular journal. Most of the Calodema papers are available as free pdf files from the www.calodema.com.

I have been undertaking research in this country and overseas since 1965 and have published over 410 papers and 3 books. The fact that Glatz hasn’t heard or seen works published by me shows just how ignorant he is! One of my books (Host plants of Chrysomelidae of the World with Dr P Jolivet of France) has been cited over 150 times. My spider book (Spiders of Australia) saved the life of a person in Western Australia when they were able to positively identify a spider shown in a great colour photograph and thereby get the correct treatment. MY papers have appeared in renowned entomological and botanical journals all over the world. Some of the research has been utilized by the USA Defence Department and the USA Agricultural Departments. It should be noted that Glatz is in his early twenties and has published (since 2003 - 7 years) about 16 papers on molecules/genes of blowflies and other lower creatures. Each of his papers have been written with many other authors - one of them has 14 authors, thereby one cannot deduce Glatz's input into such works!. In contrast, most of my papers have been written by myself.

(part 2 below in next blog entry)

Dr TJ Hawkeswood said...

(Continued from above blog entry)

Incidentally at the same time as my journal (and all of irs writers?) is being criticised, the great Edward O Wilson from Harvard University is being criticised by underlings like Glatz in the USA and elsewhere who don't have the right to criticize and should know better. The critics are also young people who are apparently jealous of the achievements and public exposure of the likes of older men such Wilson and myself and whio are very disrespectful. The clue to their jealousy is given for example in Glatz’s heated diatribe in this blog: (a) in his statement re. true scientific advances are rarely achieved by individuals and (b) the statement regarding hard working people who are subject to the (blah blah).... get NO recognition (!). Poor Glatz wants recognition but nobody out there is really interested in his boring (but expensive and taxpayer funded) research on flies! Boo hoo!

Glatz is also incorrect when he states that I have many enemies. I believe I have many more friends than enemies, but this is not what science should be all about. This Glatz statement is merely smear yet again

Suffice to say, overall I regard Glatz’s moanings as rubbish, which shlould be relegated to the dustbin of history. If he doesn’t like taxonomists and field workers (which is very apparent in his ramblings both on this blog and in others), my advice for him is to go join a cooking or sewing class and get out of science altogether, as he offends not only me but thousands of other scientists (entomologists, ecologists, taxonomists) who publish in journals which he would regard as lowly and not worth publishing in. Science for him and his mates appears only to be elitist. My science is for everyone.

And I am not scared to show myself. Those that criticise me and E.O. Wilson are cowards of the lowest order who hide behind anonymity (viz. “Marek’”, “R”, etc. etc).

Calodema and the website will continue while I am alive and I hope to be around for another 30 years at least. So there!

If anyone like Glatz has any complaints against any Calodema paper, they are free to publish a rebuttal or corrections. But at this stage, no one has sent me any such papers for publication.

Dr Trevor J. Hawkeswood

PS. Over 5,000 pdf files have been downloaded from the Calodema website already this year. Can Glatz, the “molecule molester” equal this?

Anonymous said...

Comment From Richard Wells

Hello Anna,
I've just come across this latest Glatz comment and Hawkeswood's response.
Well, who the hell are these two characters many might be now asking?
Basically, "R"s (Richard Glatz?) response is OK because I've seen it all before. Some of what he says about Hawkeswood is spot on, there is no doubt about that (I've known "TJ" for over 30 years).
But it seems to me that most of "R"s comments are just rehashed sour-grapes of the most ignorant kind.
For the record, Hawkeswood is your classic eccentric naturalist in the best British tradition - although he an Australian presumably derived from those Norman bastards as I repeatedly tell him. He is however fully qualified as a scientist anyway. TJ has two degrees from recognised Australian Universities - a BSc (Honours) from UNE in Armidale, and a BEnvSci from Charles Sturt University. However, one must say that is approach to biology is definitely not that of your average genteel scientist.
TJ is permanently stuck on fast-forward. He's got no time to waste in his desire to record the natural world and even less time for imbeciles who fall foul of his wrath if they happen to be part of what he believes is an anti-Hawkeswood clique (and, believe me it does exist).
Of course TJ's argumentative and bombast style, can be a bit of a problem for most people, making associating with him a rather trying and difficult task - particularly for those careful to protect their reputations as sane and reasonable researchers (but is there really such a thing in entomology?). Periodically even I have had to chase him through the bush with a large club in an endeavour to make him stay focused on biology rather than what someone has said about him. He has definitely been very badly affected by a number of individuals publishing and spreading their smear tactics, and this has been very sad to observe. However, he gets back on his feet very quickly, and is soon back to his annoying best, bug-bothering and the like.
I have always believed that publishing even basic observations was critically important in biology, and so too has Trevor Hawkeswood and most other experienced naturalists that I have known in over 50 years of being interested in natural history. Hawkeswood's frantic desire to document the natural world in this brief manner has its definite down-side as it can impede the more thorough study or more in-depth research that he is certainly capable of. His publications mostly reflect his approach to biology - he just records the basic facts that he has observed as natural history notes that most serious Journals in biology would nowadays ever contemplate publishing - although less than a human life span ago and prior to that, most Journals would have pleaded with authors like Hawkeswood to publish such information. But it is building-block-biology. Basic observational data is critically important data.

Anonymous said...

Continuing on from the above...

That said, there is also a body of Hawkeswood's papers that could not be dismissed so lightly as mere natural history notes. He has published many works that could be legitimately described as "scientific" by even Glatz's twisted mirage of what science is supposed to be. This rush into all things molecular is all well and good for the biotechnocrats who have usurped the naturalist's hard-earned mantle. But they would do well to realise that their elitist approach to biology is no less superficial than the nature notes of the field naturalist. But the "down-side" of their biochemical approach can breed a detached ignorance of the big picture that real world, living creature biology never does.
And yes, I know that Glatz and his kind fancy themselves as biologists, but I've never seen any of them in the field on my thousands of field trips - but I have seen Hawkeswood. I have seen him carefully examining flowers being pollinated by beetles, catching beetles and spidersm probing holes in rotting logs, turning rocks, getting soaked in the rain or cooked in the heat while trying to make the next clump of trees to see what they offered.

Anonymous said...

Pt 3 - Continuing on from earlier post...

As I said I have known Hawkeswood for decades, and he has been a consistently brilliant field biologist in entomology (AND botany I might add) during all the years I have known him.
He still rushes out into the field to study insects and plants at every single opportunity even at his present age of nearly 50 years - by car, on trains, buses, bicycles or even on foot. On his return from the field his home base is a dingy, one-room office/bedroom that he rents from one of his friends, an Accountant of similar eccentricity with money. Hawkeswood starts thumping away on his keyboard writing another paper - day in, day out - year after year. His living/working quarters is spartan to say the most. It has no furniture except his computer, a small mattress and a few rags for bed clothes and piles of scientific papers teetering like skyscrapers all around him. His "bed" is in the middle of piles of his most loved scientific papers - such as the works of Edward O. Wilson. His room is also full of living spiders and their vast web structures which grow liberally all over the place. The roof and walls and his computer and books are all interconnected with spider webs ("to control the cockroaches and mosquitos") much to the consternation of his landlord who has to interview his business clients in an adjacent office that is now periodically the roaming ground for an every growing population of several species of toxic arachnids. Hawkeswood has even been bitten by them and instead of getting medical treatment like any normal case, TJ rushes to his computer to record the symptoms for another quick paper !
And by the way, Hawkeswood does not operate his research on some cushy government grant, nor is he on some permanent university slush-fund - he is entirely self-funded. Many years ago he was virtually on the verge of starvation and I encouraged him to take up environmental consulting - and this fortunately has allowed him the money to travel the world as well as further his researches. His critic the venerable Dr Glatz would be hard-pressed to live a day by Hawkeswood's standards. The Great Glatzby appears to be a prime example of the modern academic: an undoubtedly competent technician, quite happy to toe the party-line, but woefully ignorant about how science REALLY works - and very quick to be dismissive of us lesser mortals. As his career has only just started, he is perhaps too young to have been treated to the full force of The Club's peer-review control system...but sure as bacteria flourishes under shit, it will happen to even Sir Richard. And then what will become of him ? I fancy to think you will never hear a peep from him again, once he finally understands what really goes on that vicious little pond called Academia. Hopefully, he will then be more understandng of scientists like Hawkeswood.

Richard Wells

Anonymous said...

Well that created a stir didn't it viewers?...and a coordinated response to boot!!

At least Hawkeswood replied in a (reasonably) civil manner; when I raised the concerns directly with him prior to my initial post (and gave my name to him, that's how he knows my name...which I don't mind being on the record), I got one line of pure abuse from him and one from a mate of his I'd not even contacted....but none of my concerns answered). Also, he said that I'd never have a good wife and children like him (a point of order regarding relevance, Mr Speaker)!!!! At least his contribution here is a little less unhinged....not good to make a scene in public I guess....I've just realised that he knows words of more than four letters....progress, that's what I like.

I'm basically sick of the argument because we're talking about things that are just accepted by those that know science (and it's now become to be a comparison of me and TJ...what a waste of time).....but thought I'd correct a few small details:

Firstly I am 40 (wish I was 20!) and have published almost 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals (I don't count stuff from state-based journals in that as they're not properly peer reviewed....I call them Popular Articles). I don't count the number as all that important either; it's quality, novelty and specialty that matter. Some examples are Insect Biochem and Molecular Biology, Insect Physiology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Trends in Microbiology, Progress in Neurobiology, Journal of General Virology, Journal of Bionanoscience (these all publish ento science IF a big enough advance, but TJ wouldn't know that), Aust Journal of Chemistry, Aust Journal Entomology etc etc

I AM a trained entomologist and have lectured/demonstrated on insect biology and taxonomy at uni....it's not what I do professionally anymore (which is the "molecule monster" stuff...how ignorant is that term?...this is still entomology by the way but it's not a world that Hawkeswood knows anything about or considers worthwhile even though the major advances in ento these days come from molecular biology....that's what I call ignorance) but it takes up all of my private time...I just don't consider the (untested in terms of meaning) observational stuff all that important relatively. I have done intensive field work of my own for over ten years. If I published every "new" observation such as host-plants etc, I'd never stop writing.....maybe I'll get onto that stuff when I retire but in modern entomology (which sadly for Hawkeswood has moved on since the days of Mueller etc etc), it's just not that important...it's nothing to do with ego, it just not a big deal scientifically to run around making observations and recording them as some new and important fact.

I don't work on Fly genes....don't know where that came from. My research isn't taxpayer funded...this is irrelevant anyway. There's no such thing as a "gene biochemist"....obviously no idea of this field and it's importance to entomology.

My papers mostly have multiple authors. Like I said, real advances are rarely achieved by individuals. My role on them shouldn't matter here as I'm not claiming to be a guru like TJ.

My comment about many people getting no recognition isn't related to me (I've had plenty) but to the many hard-working people I've seen around me over the years....they rarely complain like Hawksey but are subject to the full scientific process that he complains is against him.

Hawkeswood thinks it's great that he's the only author on many of his works (yikes!).....most of my papers couldn't have been done by one person. He certainly carries on about being a world expert, but why is it that he has to keep telling everyone? Basically because of a lack of peer respect.

Anonymous said...

(continued from above)
There are still hard questions that have no answer:
- how can Calodema be credible when Hawekswood authors over 60% of the articles in his own journal, which he's also the "editor in cheif" of?
- why no peer-review in Calodema (except the latest "paper" which apparently had 6 reviewers but didn't need any because it's basically a personal complaint against "the system")? He says most of the papers are reviewed...yes, by him for spelling and formatting...THERE IS NO CRITICAL SCIENTIFIC REVIEW IN CALODEMA BY ESTABLISHED EXPERTS
- why no mention of the internet doctorate but the Dr tag used to suggest credibility?
- why such a small number of authors for so many articles...15 authors in 10 issues...scary?

Like I said in the first post, science is not about being perfect but the rigour of the processes of gaining data and drawing conclusions from them....again I repeat that this is sadly lacking in Calodema...I don't object to its existance per se but I do object to its pretense of being a scientific journal. I stand by it being a "boys own annual" view of biological science because the "style" of science is so antiquated now.
- why no editorial board (of established experts...solicitors and "expert witnesses" don't count except are probably quite useful for for the personal and defamatory rubbish he goes on with)? When Hawkeswood calls himself "editor in chief", that implies there are others (like Dr implies a PhD was completed).
- why would I (attempt) to publish a rebuttal in journal I consider to be not peer-reviewed?

etc etc

Richard Wells seems to be a bit more balanced (if not impartial) and has quite an accurate view of his friend Hawkeswood's approach....he's certainly got the protective emails refined...they've been well needed over the years. He obviously accepts Calodema as scientific as he is one of the few other authors. The main problem with his post is his mistaken idea that my views are elitist when I simply think Calodema doesn't conform to even the most basic of scientific standards...it's that simple.....I've no personal axe to grind here (there's not sour grapes as he put it...this all comes from Hawkeswood who thinks he's been screwed by the scientific community because he can't get anything published in a decent journal in Aust)...but it's my job to assess science and scientists and that's where my opinion comes from. There's certainly nothing wrong with publishing observations but they are of much less scientific importance than science that tells us how and why something happens (this is the domain of the real experts), not just that it does.

Anonymous said...

The following paragraph from Wells sums it up very well..."Hawkeswood's frantic desire to document the natural world in this brief manner has its definite down-side as it can impede the more thorough study or more in-depth research that he is certainly capable of. His publications mostly reflect his approach to biology - he just records the basic facts that he has observed as natural history notes that most serious Journals in biology would nowadays ever contemplate publishing - although less than a human life span ago and prior to that, most Journals would have pleaded with authors like Hawkeswood to publish such information"...like I said, this approach is outdated and scientifically of relatively little value. It's fine to do it but doesn't make you an expert because you wrote it all down.

Unfortunately, Wells' comment about cushy grants etc etc is rubbish...I have to keep obtaining funding to keep over 15 scientists on short-term contracts in work (cushy?!?), so apologies for not having the time to run around the countryside making observations....we have to achieve stuff here, under real pressure and limited resources....like I said, I do my own field work privately (have a personal insect collection of over 15000 specimens...I don't have time to describe the new ones or publish the associated observations...maybe later). So, I certainly don't look down on this sort of study but again, it's relatively unimportant scientifically and I don't consider racking up a plethora of minor observational papers (or worse, those that are personal complaints) as a big deal. I think I just have a balanced view about science and what makes a real expert (it's certainly not someone who has to tell you they're one). So the comment about not being able to live a day by TJs standards is waffle and I certainly am not ignorant of "how science really works".

By the way, I've had papers reviewed both positively and negatively; I just don't subscribe to the TJ fascist conspiracy ("The Club") rubbish.

You may or may not hear a peep out of me again.....I've learned nothing from the coordinated defence of Calodema and stand by my earlier post. However, I am rather busy (with real consequences coming from my work), and tired of arguing about the basics. It has become an argument about people rather than process.

I think enough time has been wasted on this....the broad scientific community can deal with these issues.

R...the molecule monster

Anonymous said...

Dr. Hawkeswood is a great scientist from Australia who has published more than 400 papers and 3 books, mainly in in botany and entomology and other areas of biology. Richard Glatz's photograph on his internet page is that of a 20 year old and he claims to have published only 20 papers. Richard Glatz, now you are 40 years old really, when will you publish 40 papers? Glatz, you have 15,000 specimens in your collection and do you know the genera. You can not see new species and what you will do with your 15,000 specimens? You are a true molecule monster!!

Friend of Dr T J Hawkeswood

anna tambour said...

All scientists should be willing to have their work and opinions subjected to critical analysis, just as scientific concepts must shift with new knowledge gained. Trevor Hawkeswood's outrageous threat against critics is an antiscientific act, and places him outside science, not as a maverick, but where the church is--the land of crackpots, I am sad to say. In referring to Hawkeswood's attitude to criticism, see Alex Wild's The Rogue Taxonomist and the comments and Update on the Rogue Taxonomist and its comments.

In the responses on this site now, there is another pattern evident: attack being the best form of defence. It only serves to undermine the good work that Hawkeswood has done, and in that, I still think he has, in that I still think his books that I have praised are excellent (and far above the quality of many by scientists of spotless reputations), especially to enthuse amateurs into learning about the natural world (and I would like to get some honest criticism there, if I am wrong). Hawkeswood should be willing to answer criticism instead of avoiding it, and should drop both the hyperbole such as the doctorate that he should know is laughable, and the attack, which makes him look, frankly, like a crackpot.

As for the help from friends here, this is actually doing the opposite. I could remove all references to him in my posts, but I think it's more constructive for it all to be here, as there is also quite a lot of petty criticism amongst scientists which do damage to science just as much as a scientist who cannot admit fault damages himself the most.

As for the journal Calodema, of course I cannot comment on taxonomy standards, but Glatz's other criticisms here, such as the hyperbolic "editor-in-chief" do not deserve attack in response, and certainly not such a puerile attack as these friends are lobbing. The selection and editing of papers in serious journals is a problem in more than just Calodema, so some of Hawkeswood's stroppiness in this journal and other places is both justified and necessary medicine that needs to be swallowed even if the formulator might be someone who can make all his work look tainted because of his attitude to some. See, for instance, Are stem cell scientists sabotaging others' work? in New Scientist 2 February 2010. Stephen Hawking would not have been able to get away with his crackpot declarations if he were not SH, and some of the criticisms of Hawkeswood boil down to poor taste, something that Craig Venter could get a gold medal for.

It is both sad and telling that Trevor Hawkeswood feels the need to use that "Dr."

So on all sides, let's keep science as the goal here, and criticism away from the personal and pinned to the specific. If anyone really wants to get their knickers in a knot, why don't you go for a much more worthy target? Last year about this time I posted Hear the joke about the Vatican and the Science Prize? hoping to get a rise out of someone interested in science, and got more rise out of a glass of orange juice I forgot I'd poured. This year is the year Australia will celebrate getting its new saint, Mary MacKillop, based on the second miracle that she accomplished in her grave.

Dr TJHawkeswood said...

Dear Anna

Thank you so much for your commentary. Its so wonderful and exciting to be compared to Stephen Hawking and Craig Venter!!! Both of them are my heroes!

Maybe if I had a decent laboratory and assistants I could undertake research for the "top" journals like the Great Glatzby but for the moment I will remain with the other few biologists left in the world who still do the very hard slog of field work under trying conditions to gather new species, new records, biological observations, interesting stuff for both scientist and layperson. Been doing this for almost 50 years, all over the world. Your criticisms and those of others are like water off a duck's back to me. In 100 years time they will still be citing my work and those of Venter and Hawking. Doubt very much if they will be citing or remembering Glatz, whose name is already lost in his multi-authored publications.

Oh by the way despite your comments, I am highly regarding the PhD from the Cosmopolitan University in the USA and am no way ashamed. All of my published research up until 2000 was reviewed by a review panel for 3 months before I was awarded it. Two European presidents and Nelson Mandela (yes the real one from South Africa) also accepted the award from this University. They dont give the degree out to every "Tom, Dick (Richard) or Harry". And as far as I am concerned, the total impact of my research publications, which are continually cited all over the world is worth at least 3 University PhD degrees.

Well, I may come back soon if I am not suppressed by this blog, but at the moment I am busily packing up for my next adventure to the coniferous mountains and forests of eastern USA where I will no doubt make new records on Coleoptera and other weird creatures. Its my destiny and nobody can stop me.

So bye for now Anna, thanks for your support and criticisms and for calling me a crackpot. You are entitled to both but I dont have to agree or disagree.

Australia's biggest crackpot (and as Maxwell Smart would say, "And loving it!"), Dr Trevor J. Hawkeswood, Editor in Chief, Calodema, www.calodema.com, google's highest rating biological website

Chris J Parker said...

Anna, all I can say is what a load of useless elitist drivel this blog is. I’ll give you one thing though – at least you, Hawkeswood, and Wells use their full names which can’t be said for cowards like “R” and “marek”. I really don’t get it. If Hawkeswood is such a dud with a dodgy PhD and journal then why do you even worry about the man? How can this one little man cause you highly educated geniuses so much stress? Wouldn’t you all be better off making sure your roses are properly pruned?

Look, I’m just a lowly lay person with an interest in science and to me you, marek, “R” and the like all look like a bunch of stuck up dickheads.

What harm can Hawkeswood’s web site and journal possibly do to you - being so smart and all - and your science? What’s wrong with a different way of doing things? What’s wrong with working “outside the square” to use a cliché? From what I can see TJH came across a road block and found a way around it. It sounds like exactly what one does in business. You really have a hide. Everything you do is probably tax payer funded and as far as I am aware TJH’s work is all from private funds. At least his website is interesting and different. I wonder if he has a Blogger page?

anna tambour said...

You might not have noticed that in this blog of useless elitist drivel I have taken particular care to praise Hawkeswood, in not just one but two posts. Even my criticisms here have been to say that he should respond to justified criticisms rather than attacking the critics. You might also have missed, in my drivel, the point I tried to make at the end of my last comment, so I'll say it again:

"So on all sides, let's keep science as the goal here, and criticism away from the personal and pinned to the specific. If anyone really wants to get their knickers in a knot, why don't you go for a much more worthy target? Last year about this time I posted Hear the joke about the Vatican and the Science Prize? hoping to get a rise out of someone interested in science, and got more rise out of a glass of orange juice I forgot I'd poured. This year is the year Australia will celebrate getting its new saint, Mary MacKillop, based on the second miracle that she accomplished in her grave."

You're also accomplished in the accusation-throwing department, I see, making assumptions such as "Everything you do is probably tax payer funded."

Nothing I do is tax payer funded, and I say again and again that I am also just a lay person. I have also praised Hawkeswood's differences to the normal way that science is droned, and even in my criticism of him have stressed, as I will again now, that his attitude to criticism hurts his good work, which I also praised again in my last post.

So thank you for posting your opinion, but it would have been better if you had actually bothered to read the posts and responses on this elitist blog. I do thank you for posting your name, and agree that it would be better if everyone did.

anna tambour said...

In the interests of civil discussion, no more assumptive accusations and pejoratives will be tolerated by anyone here, and this includes nicknames for anyone. Also, as I said to Marek in my first response here,"Be hard on ideas and easy on each other."

Chris Parker said...

Fair enough Anna. I'll let you have the last word then as this is, after all, your blog.

anna tambour said...

Thanks for your graciousness, Chris. I'd like to reassure you about Trevor, too. Even if I wanted to, I could hardly hurt him from my blog. This blog has no following and I'm not part of any clique or group. If I can't even get some interest going in what should be a scandal, The Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics as part of the celebrated Australian Eureka Science prizes, then my comments here shouldn't worry you at all. Consider this blog what it is, just a little set of postings about what interests me. I don't try to find followers or like-minded people through this, nor do I organise comments on it. If that makes it elitist, then the definition of elitism has changed since I was hatched.

Anonymous said...

From R


I applaud your post of the 20th for calling it like it is and actually taking time to try and understand the ideas that were being argued, and also to see through the smoke-screens being put up along the way.

The latest intervention is obviously from someone who doesn’t seem to care about the scientific process or understand it……they have obviously not read the blogs or just simply failed to grasp all the main points and just don’t like that there has been any criticism of TJ. If someone’s going to produce a rant so late in the piece, the least they can do is make it relevant to what’s happened previously! (And why do they keep bringing up taxpayer funds?????....which aren’t involved and are totally irrelevant).

Consider this commentary: “What’s wrong with a different way of doing things? What’s wrong with working “outside the square” to use a cliché? From what I can see TJH came across a road-block and found a way around it. It sounds like exactly what one does in business.”

It’s exactly what one DOESN’T do in science. In terms of adhering to scientific process, there’s a lot wrong with it. The ethos of science is nothing like business. The whole argument has been about that very issue of “what’s wrong with it?” and I have raised these questions over and over again.

“At least his website is interesting and different”….SO WHAT….what’s that got to do with the shortcomings raised previously.

In the context of the whole discussion Chris is actually asking “What’s wrong with not having peer-review in scientific journals”, “What’s wrong with misrepresenting qualifications and journal processes” “What’s wrong with describing species wrongly” etc etc. The brief answer is A LOT (maybe not in business but in science). There isn’t much point revisiting the long answer (see above). So…he’s more worried about people putting their names down (complete with middle initial!) than these issues.

I’d like to ask “what’s wrong with exposing a shonky approach?”.

You (Anna) have obviously considered these issues quite deeply (much more than some others here) and I think there should be more of it. As I have heard Richard Dawkins say “How do we know what we know?”….it’s not just because someone said it’s so.

As for giving names….. I said previously I gave mine directly to Hawkeswood when I raised the issue DIRECTLY with him through his website (PRIOR to any blogs….and just copped abuse as I outlined above)…..who cares anyway?….the argument was about Calodema, until TJ brought my background into it to avoid the main questions. His approach was to try and make me look bad rather than deal with key questions for which there are no good answers.

There is no need to defend your blog……anyone here heard of free speech? TJH and friends are using this concept to it’s maximum, so why do they complain when others do. At least our comments are independent. You will also note that I never used nicknames.

This is R, the molecule monster signing off for the last time and wishing you all a good day.

Chris J Parker said...

Anna perhaps you would allow me just one more post? I guess a guy can change his mind? Please understand I am not a very smart man and I recognise this but all my life I have tried to improve my lot. There is so much I don’t understand but fortunately I have been able to learn a bit as I have meandered through my almost 50 years of life. I have been quite successful in business, mainly on account of very good luck than anything else. Right place at the right time etc etc.

On the matter of “The Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics” and your disappointment over the lack of blog posts on the subject - this is only because there would be only four people in the whole of the southern hemisphere who would know the first thing about the Eureka Prize! It’s not a reflection on the quality or worth of your blog but rather a reflection on our society. Have faith Anna! And guess what...there is nothing wrong with having followers or like minded people in the bus with you. That’s actually how we things get many things achieved. However it’s important that one keeps an open mind as folk riding on the roof of the bus might be of more help inside. This leads me to my main point.

Anna, what spun my hoop was the likes of “R” and “marek” criticising this guy Hawkeswood who, from what I can see, has stood up, done the hard yards in the field, and published scientific material. OK, so possibly he did it outside the “accepted parameters”. Well who the hell cares? It’s certainly infinitely better than anything I could produce so he instantly receives my admiration. Does it mean if I go blundering around in the bush and some across (say) a new frog species and write my observations, opinions, and thoughts about the find that elitists like “R” and “marek” will call me a crackpot because I don’t have a PhD from UQ? Does this mean that someone like me has no right to contribute to science?

Finally I am stunned that Hawkeswood, the so called “crackpot”, can ruffle the feathers of so many highly educated geniuses. It just doesn’t seem to add up to me. How can Hawkeswood’s journal, publications, and website upset so many so badly? There must be another agenda. Insecurity perhaps? Jealousy? Maybe their minds are closed to others outside their comfy clique? I suggest they do something worthwhile that the average punter can relate to.

What Hawkeswood has done is make science, at least in his field, available to anyone and it sure as hell won’t worry the vast majority that the work is not officially sanctioned by the CSIRO. I love reading his work. Sure, I understand only 25% of it but that’s my problem. I say let the man alone to achieve what he will. I have to tell you that the most interesting people I have ever met are those who were thought to be a bit loopy, unconventional, or “out there”. I don’t know if Hawkeswood falls into that category but he certainly appears to be an interesting bugger to me!

By the way I hope you’ll excuse my use of a little colloquial language. I know it does not really belong on your blog.

Chris Parker said...

Now there you go Anna! Your blog is turning into a little ripper! You mave must have confidence now. It looks like a firecracker's been tossed under a sleeping man's hammock!
[I agree about the "J" in the name thing. It was a bit wanky. An unintended slip up. I won't do it again.]

anna tambour said...

Dear Chris and Richard,
Thank you both for responding. First, I must tell you, Chris, that your last letter (woops! your second to last letter, for you wrote another as I was writing this) is in the spirit that I was hoping for in these responses, except when you denigrate yourself. There is nothing wrong and only something to be praised in your interest in learning and efforts to find something that actually teaches you something about the world around you. If all of us did this, our species wouldn't be such pests. As for colloquial language, what's wrong with that? Nothing! On the contrary, people often disguise their ignorance and lack of anything worth saying, in jargon. I have a friend who's been a science editor for many years. This editor complains about the difficulty editing an annual in which most of the papers say nothing, in many words and diagrams.

As for the other agenda that you mention in regard to criticisms of Hawkeswood—jealousy, closed minds, comfy clique—there is indeed, very much squabbling amongst scientists and many knives pushed into backs, and the smaller the number of people who are experts in the field, as in all fields, the more hot the tempers and more sleepless the nights of those involved in the fights. This is true in all fields where a few experts make the rest of us go "uh?" In my experience, the two worst examples I've witnessed have been 1) amongst ancient Near East language experts
2) haiku poets
But watch fob collectors also have their fights.

Richard's criticisms are nothing like these, and concern the integrity of scientific discovery itself, something you should be very interested in, especially as you and I must trust that people who report their discoveries are trustworthy. The largest body of criticism of Hawkeswood's work involves not himself, but the work of another he has published. Hawkeswood has not only refused to take these criticisms seriously, but has attacked all critics and constantly refuses to allow any criticism, while being very willing to engage in the spread of misleading information. This is why there are scientists unhappy with his attitude.

This stance of his is important in that he taints all of his important work by this refusal to deal with criticism in a reasonable manner. In a world in which less and less of us understand and are even interested in science, people with the skills in communicating and the drive to get out into the real world to observe, are critically important. That's why I have criticised him too, as he could be such a wholly good force and a respected name. Even in his response to me just now, he showed that he doesn't take any criticism. None of us should ever be above criticism. I have learnt from criticism, too, and in the field of fiction, it can be rough, as the only way to respond there is to take it, however wrong it is, in silence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

The molecule masher, molecule monster, molecule molestor or whatever he wants to call himself, should also add the molecule mistaker.

Actually, I have never published in the journal Calodema, nor has Hawkeswood ever published any article of mine.
As for Hawkeswood not answering the more serious of his critics concerns, I fully agree that this is his most significant error. He really has to just carefully, calmly and collectively deals with such criticisms in a rational and intelligent manner. And this also applies to the character assasins that have stalked Hawkeswood for years. The fact that the all-knowing, omnipotent, peer-reviewed and highly respected scientific community has never once openly brought the more idiotic of Hawkeswood's detractors to task is far more appalling that anything Hawkeswood has said or done. As I said, I have known him for many years so am accordingly more attuned to his character and past experiences with his detractors. This allows the few of us who really know what he has been through to be more understanding of his more careless responses. Those not so blessed with a ready access to a dose of Hawkeswood would naturally be justifiably perturbed by some of his more outrageous outbursts. For instance, when Trevor got a critique of his work from a German colleague once, his response was rather off the mark by implying that the entire German Nation were Nazis ! He obviously would never believe such a view...although some of the Germans in my field of herpetology would probably like to gas me if they had the chance. I have repeatedly told Hawkeswood to stick to the species and leave the faeces for others....
Without wishing to sound too paranoid, those nefarious "others" are always lurking out there on the frontiers of science. The "others" don't really do the out-front work - they're the behind the scenes boys. Like the safe settlers who follow the true pioneers who take the risk of an arrow in the back. The "others" in science are always just out of range of scrutiny as they lob their own grenades of abuse from their shields of polite society....and so it is and probably always will be...

Regards from

Richard Wells

anna tambour said...

Dear Richard,
These are excellent recommendations. Thank you for putting them forward.

Dr T J Hawkeswood said...

Dear Anna

"The dogs (detractors) bark loud and snap at heels, but the traveller (Hawkeswood) carries on with his journey without fear!" (old French saying).

Thats all I have to say and need to say!

Thank you! Dr Trevor J. Hawkeswood

anna tambour said...

"Water off a duck's back", eh? I said that I will not tolerate any more pejoratives, and I meant it. I would remove this last post of yours, which insults even the best efforts of your friends, but I think the best punishment for your failure to act in a rational manner, and to act like a scientist worth respect, is to leave your last words here. And believe me. They are your last words here.

Anonymous said...

It should be made clear that the Hawkeswood site "Calodema" is not a scientific journal as it makes out to be for the reasons discussed by the "molecule monster". It is an apparent attempt at wanting to be like a real scientific journal. There should be no room for pseudoscience in Australia, unfortunately Calodema demonstrates that it does exist, luckily this a minority, as evidenced by the publications of the "editor-in-chief" and limited other credible authors in Calodema.

anna tambour said...

Theoretically, late contributions can add greatly to discussion.
Your contribution adds
a bovver’s kick to a bleeding concussion.

You state but don’t substantiate.
You cite with improper citation.
Your sense of the perspective:
bent as a reduviid's proboscis.
Pseudoscience is everywhere,
so your outrage here: preposterous.

By Fabre’s beard!
Take off your boots
and use your head instead.
If you love science, go help its cause,
or go drink beer in bed.

OR do some good in a larger role.
Stop pseudoscience from harming.
Save kids from being drugged for being kids.
Go challenge smoking-kills hyperbole,
how magnets in mattresses slow ills' toll,
the lie of no resistance no-till farming,
the science-avoidance that can be: computer modelling.
Go be a proper wowser at a peer-review mutual fondling.

By all means keep your morals high.
Go strike those who need a licking.
We need good warriors, brave and true, who know the difference between a good cause, reasoned,
and a dead-horse kicking.

Anonymous said...

Going back to where it started...

But first:
- Collecting and publishing simple data, like food preferences of insect species, does qualify as research. It helps with finding the ecological ties between species;
- Ranting, nicknaming, cursing, shouting and other such things disqualify any person, educated or not, of entitlement on being taken serious;
- One who is worth being praised does not have to praise him/herself; others will do it for him/her;
- Unsourced allegations are not of much value in argumentations;
- Many important discoveries are made by dedicated individuals, although very expensive research is almost exclusively done by groups of people who are funded by governments or large companies;
- Being an amateur entomologist (with lots of hours in the field and, so far, no publications) I know through friends Hawkeswood has, at least in the past, been working with serious entomologists (I don't now about other ~ists);
- There's not much difference in staying anonymous or presenting yourself with a name on the internet, since it is very easy to create a convincing alias.

This al being said, I would like to point out that the articles of Dewanand Makhan which are published in Calodema are, as marek pointed out (the start of basically all of the postings above), totally devoid of any scientific value. Unfortunately, they cannot be ignored due to the rules of international nomenclature. Makhans descriptions are very short (often to short to actually describe the mentioned specimen accurately), do not cite recent relevant literature (which would basically render most species named by him as being synonyms) and mostly show very vague pictures (too vague to show many relevant characteristics of the specimens). Being sufficiently knowledgeable on animal groups as varied as jumping spiders, ants, water beetles, millipedes etc. to accurately describe new species in all of these groups is highly unlikely by itself (given the numbers of species already known by science). That he is naming most of the dozens of 'new' species and genera he describes after his wife, children and one friend does not attribute to his credibility (this is done by many taxonomists, but not on the scale Makhan is doing it). All of this is making that articles written by Makhan are not (anymore) accepted by renowned journals. To give examples I won't name any sites here (that would be a biased list. And yes, I am aware of the third thing I pointed out to you), but would ask you to merely google the name Dewanand Makhan and read his descriptions of 'new' species (don't be distracted by scientific wording) and any discussions about those descriptions. You might want to try to count the number of species he named after his wife Soesila... Not being much of a taxonomist, he must at least be a loving husband and father!
To sum up the above, at least the articles of Makhan are lowering the scientific relevance of Calodema: if his articles are accepted, then what standards is this journal created by? Then what is the value of the other articles within it? Despite the fact that Hawkeswood is a prolific researcher of nature and is able to write in a fashion that does appeal to people, from a scientific point of view the journal Calodema can not be recommended.

anna tambour said...

Thank you for this most reasoned post. As I said earlier, I could just remove my earlier recommendation, but I think that all of this is more educational to everyone who comes here. If only we all lived and learned.