Do Species Matter: responding to an op-ed by R.A. Pyron in the Washington Post as a piece of writing.


And I still think that Pryon’s op-ed was an alt-right dog whistle . . .

Writing Science

R. Alexander Pyron just published an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that we don’t need to protect species from extinction.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/we-dont-need-to-save-endangered-species-extinction-is-part-of-evolution/2017/11/21/57fc5658-cdb4-11e7-a1a3-0d1e45a6de3d_story.html?utm_term=.ff7c665c6c14

Many, unsurprisingly, are criticizing this piece on grounds that span from ethics to practicality. I want to evaluate it differently: as communication. Writing and rhetoric. The writing is lively and engaging; Dr. Pyron uses words well. But the core of a piece of writing is its structure and argument.

Dr. Pyron’s argument is predicated in the ethical/philosophical belief that “The only creatures we should go out of our way to protect are Homo sapiens.” One can disagree with this belief and one can be appalled by it, but one can not challenge it on scientific grounds—it’s a belief.

Instead, consider the logic of the argument that Dr. Pyron develops from that predicate. When I consider issues of writing, story structure, and even the ethics of scientific communication…

View original post 1,170 more words

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