Message Number: YG592 | New FHL Archives Search
From: RRC
Date: 2001-03-03 03:27:00 UTC
Subject: Re: topic - vitamin/mineral content of food

>Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 21:30:52 -0500
>From: Sukie Crandall <sukiecrandall@t...>
>Subject: Re: Re: topic - vitamin/mineral content of food
>I am SO GLAD that you put in the below "potentially". You have
>advanced a hypothesis, and that varies hugely from stating a fact. I
>know that YOU understand that, but I have seen confusion in a few
>places by a few people concerning just about any hypothesis stated by
>anyone when they mistake a hypothesis for a fact. Thank you so much
>for emphasizing that.

Thanks for mentioning this. I have, many times in the past, been quoted
as saying dry ferret foods cause pancreatic problems, which is
inaccurate—as you pointed out. While I may THINK it is true, it is a
long way from being proven. While most scientists are careful in adding
qualifiers to their published work, like "probably", "suggestive" and
the like, in conversations they are frequently omitted. Posting on
internet lists has the feel of conversation (at least to me) and often
the qualifiers are forgotten with the assumption that other people know
they are implied. In reading my posts, always assume I meant to include
qualifiers. but forgot them in the effort to create a conversational
tone, or because of an oversight.

Science works best with the intelligent exchange of opposing viewpoints.
Anyone can summit an idea and appear intelligent, but defending an idea
in front of a panel of experts is indeed an evolutionary experience
(poor ideas are slashed by peers faster than a lion eviscerates a zebra;
it's a bloodfest). It is quite easy to find flaws in arguments, but
coming up with good ideas is very difficult (as many graduate students
discover). Unfortunately, many people assume the undisciplined
destruction of an idea makes them an intellectual; they rarely
contribute original ideas of their own, preferring to fill the niche of
an "intellectual lamprey." It takes great courage and confidence to be
able to present ideas for others to dissect, evaluate and find worth.
Attacks and personal sniping simply smother the generation of
potentially good ideas. I applaud the moderators' decision to prohibit
personal attacks. The single most attractive aspect of this list (to me)
is that the quality of the people aboard moves comments from
"disagreements" to "peer review," which I think is sorely needed in the
world of ferrets.

In the course of discussions, sooner or later, you run the risk of
supporting a mistaken or incorrect idea. Many people see mistakes as
some sort of personal failure, but that isn't necessarily the case. All
knowledge originates from mistakes, from something as simple as learning
how to walk, or to read, to the generation of great ideas. Everyone make
mistakes; the smart ones learn from them. Allow yourself the privilege
of making mistakes. ASK questions, REQUEST references, SUGGEST alternatives.

I think it is extremely important to understand the background of the
person making the comments. In my case, I am a trained evolutionary
zooarchaeologist. So I have a strong background in anthropology,
archaeology, zoology, taphonomy and diagenesis, Darwinian-syle
evolutionary theory, and comparative osteology (vets are much better at
X-rays; I identify bones and bone fragments to species, pathologies,
method of consumption, etc.). My areas of interest (what I am studying
for my dissertation work) include morphometrics, evolution,
domestication, paleodiet, nutrition, optimal foraging, optimal
carnivory, paleoecology, and ecology of invasions (primarily epizootics
and invading exotic species). The point is, knowing this, you can always
be sure I speak from an evolutionary perspective when answering
questions. I tend to always use the progenitor species as the null model
and make the assumption whatever differences exist beyond normal
variation are due to changes wrought by domestication. So to me,
understanding polecats (and mustelids in general) is key to
understanding ferrets. When I consider the nutritional needs of ferrets
(or any other aspect of ferrets), you can be sure I am using polecats as
the null, or baseline model. This perspective doesn't automatically mean
I am correct, and no one should make such an assumption.

I would like to take this moment to personally thank all those involved
in creating this list. I think it will prove to be a great intellectual
tool that will ultimately better our ferret's lives. The professionalism
and dedication is apparent and much appreciated. Thank you all.

Bob C