January 08, 2014

Biodiversity value and the beauty of honest thinking

In The value of biodiversity: a humbling analysis, Mark Vellend reviews Donald S. Maier's book What's So Good about Biodiversity? A Call for Better Reasoning about Nature's Value, and writes:
In particular, the fact that we started with a conclusion (biodiversity is valuable), and subsequently sought scientific support for it, should prompt serious introspection concerning the degree to which our biases have colored our conclusions. Maier's diagnosis of our arguments concerning biodiversity is one of ‘culturally conditioned, uncritical acceptance and unhealthy disciplinary inbreeding’ resulting in a serious case of ‘confirmation bias’. Not only have our biases colored our conclusions, argues Maier, but they have also led to ‘tacit agreement among colleagues not to rock the boat of bad reasoning – perhaps out of fear that there is no other way to defend nature and its value’.


  1. Hi. I don't have access to TREE or the book, and was wondering whether you know if either the review or book have anything to say specifically about agricultural biodiversity?

  2. Hi! Vellend's review doesn't talk about agricultural biodiversity. It's here: http://mvellend.recherche.usherbrooke.ca/Vellend_TREE_inpress.pdf
    I don't know about the book.