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Who said: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Marston Bates Quotes

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Marston Bates
(23 Jul 1906 - 3 Apr 1974)

American zoologist and writer who studied mosquitoes and tropical diseases. He was also an environmental activist.


Science Quotes by Marston Bates (14 quotes)


All children are curious and I wonder by what process this trait becomes developed in some and suppressed in others. I suspect again that schools and colleges help in the suppression insofar as they meet curiosity by giving the answers, rather than by some method that leads from narrower questions to broader questions. It is hard to satisfy the curiosity of a child, and even harder to satisfy the curiosity of a scientist, and methods that meet curiosity with satisfaction are thus not apt to foster the development of the child into the scientist. I don't advocate turning all children into professional scientists, although I think there would be advantages if all adults retained something of the questioning attitude, if their curiosity were less easily satisfied by dogma, of whatever variety.
— Marston Bates
The Nature of Natural History (1950, 1990), 256-257.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Children (20)  |  Curiosity (89)  |  Question (315)  |  Scientist (447)

Human language is in some ways similar to, but in other ways vastly different from, other kinds of animal communication. We simply have no idea about its evolutionary history, though many people have speculated about its possible origins. There is, for instance, the “bow-bow” theory, that language started from attempts to imitate animal sounds. Or the “ding-dong” theory, that it arose from natural sound-producing responses. Or the “pooh-pooh” theory, that it began with violent outcries and exclamations.
We have no way of knowing whether the kinds of men represented by the earliest fossils could talk or not…
Language does not leave fossils, at least not until it has become written.
— Marston Bates
Man in Nature (1961), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Communication (58)  |  Different (110)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Exclamation (2)  |  Fossil (107)  |  History (302)  |  Human (445)  |  Idea (440)  |  Imitate (5)  |  Know (321)  |  Language (155)  |  Origin (77)  |  Outcry (3)  |  Response (24)  |  Similar (22)  |  Sound (59)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Talk (61)  |  Theory (582)  |  Violent (15)  |  Write (87)

I can remember … starting to gather all sorts of things like rocks and beetles when I was about nine years old. There was no parental encouragement—nor discouragement either—nor any outside influence that I can remember in these early stages. By about the age of twelve, I had settled pretty definitely on butterflies, largely I think because the rocks around my home were limited to limestone, while the butterflies were varied, exciting, and fairly easy to preserve with household moth-balls. … I was fourteen, I remember, when … I decided to be scientific, caught in some net of emulation, and resolutely threw away all of my “childish” specimens, mounted haphazard on “common pins” and without “proper labels.” The purge cost me a great inward struggle, still one of my most vivid memories, and must have been forced by a conflict between a love of my specimens and a love for orderliness, for having everything just exactly right according to what happened to be my current standards.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1950, 1990), 255.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (137)  |  Beetle (8)  |  Butterfly (19)  |  Child (189)  |  Conflict (49)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Early (39)  |  Encouragement (17)  |  Excitement (33)  |  Fourteen (2)  |  Gather (29)  |  Haphazard (3)  |  Influence (110)  |  Label (11)  |  Limestone (6)  |  Love (164)  |  Memory (81)  |  Mount (7)  |  Orderliness (5)  |  Parent (39)  |  Pin (6)  |  Preservation (28)  |  Proper (27)  |  Purge (8)  |  Resolution (16)  |  Rock (107)  |  Scientific (169)  |  Specimen (12)  |  Stage (39)  |  Standard (41)  |  Start (68)  |  Struggle (60)  |  Twelve (4)  |  Vivid (16)

I … object to dividing the study of living processes into botany, zoology, and microbiology because by any such arrangement, the interrelations within the biological community get lost. Corals cannot be studied without reference to the algae that live with them; flowering plants without the insects that pollinate them; grasslands without the grazing mammals.
— Marston Bates
In The Forest and the Sea (1960), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Alga (2)  |  Arrangement (45)  |  Biological (21)  |  Botany (47)  |  Classify (4)  |  Community (65)  |  Coral (9)  |  Flower (65)  |  Grazing (2)  |  Insect (57)  |  Interrelation (6)  |  Mammal (28)  |  Microbiology (9)  |  Object (110)  |  Plant (173)  |  Pollinate (2)  |  Reference (17)  |  Zoology (28)

Natural history is not equivalent to biology. Biology is the study of life. Natural history is the study of animals and plants—of organisms. Biology thus includes natural history, and much else besides.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1961, 2014), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Biology (150)  |  Equivalent (14)  |  Life (917)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Organism (126)  |  Plant (173)  |  Study (331)

One dictionary that I consulted remarks that “natural history” now commonly means the study of animals and plants “in a popular and superficial way,” meaning popular and superficial to be equally damning adjectives. This is related to the current tendency in the biological sciences to label every subdivision of science with a name derived from the Greek. “Ecology” is erudite and profound; while “natural history” is popular and superficial. Though, as far as I can see, both labels apply to just about the same package of goods.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1961, 2014), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Biology (150)  |  Common (92)  |  Current (43)  |  Derivation (12)  |  Dictionary (13)  |  Ecology (55)  |  Equal (53)  |  Goods (6)  |  Greek (46)  |  Label (11)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Name (118)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Package (5)  |  Plant (173)  |  Popular (21)  |  Profound (46)  |  Related (5)  |  Similarity (17)  |  Study (331)  |  Subdivision (2)  |  Superficial (7)  |  Tendency (40)

Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.
— Marston Bates
Epigraph, without citation in Jefferson Hane Weaver, The World of Physics (1986), Vol. 2, 63. Webmaster has seen cites to The Nature of Natural History (1950), but thus far has not found the quote therein. If you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Research (517)

Science is a progressive activity. The outstanding peculiarity of man is that he stumbled onto the possibility of progressive activities. Such progress, the accumulation of experience from generation to generation, depended first on the development of language, then of writing and finally of printing. These allowed the accumulation of tradition and of knowledge, of the whole aura of cultural inheritance that surrounds us. This has so conditioned our existence that it is almost impossible for us to stop and examine the nature of our culture. We accept it as we accept the air we breathe; we are as unconscious of our culture as a fish, presumably, is of water.
— Marston Bates
The Nature of Natural History 1950)
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Language (155)  |  Printing (12)  |  Science (1699)  |  Stumble (11)

The commonest forms of amateur natural history in the United States are probably gardening, bird watching, the maintenance of aquarium fish, and nature photography.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1950, 1990), 265.
Science quotes on:  |  Amateur (18)  |  Aquarium (2)  |  Common (92)  |  Fish (85)  |  Gardening (2)  |  Maintenance (13)  |  Naturalist (49)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Photography (7)  |  United States (31)

The late Alan Gregg pointed out that human population growth within the ecosystem was closely analogous to the growth of malignant tumor cells within an organism: that man was acting like a cancer on the biosphere. The multiplication of human numbers certainly seems wild and uncontrolled… Four million a month—the equivalent of the population of Chicago… We seem to be doing all right at the moment; but if you could ask cancer cells, I suspect they would think they were doing fine. But when the organism dies, so do they; and for our own, selfish, practical, utilitarian reasons, I think we should be careful about how we influence the rest of the ecosystem.
— Marston Bates
From Horace M. Albright Conservation Lectureship Berkeley, California (23 Apr 1962), 'The Human Environment', collected in Conservators of Hope: the Horace M. Albright Conservation Lectures (1988), 44.
Science quotes on:  |  Cancer (44)  |  Ecosystem (21)  |  Alan Gregg (4)  |  Population (71)

The world of organisms, of animals and plants, is built up of individuals. I like to think, then, of natural history as the study of life at the level of the individual—of what plants and animals do, how they react to each other and their environment, how they are organized into larger groupings like populations and communities.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1961, 2014), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Building (51)  |  Community (65)  |  Environment (138)  |  Group (52)  |  Individual (177)  |  Larger (8)  |  Level (51)  |  Life (917)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Organism (126)  |  Organization (79)  |  Plant (173)  |  Population (71)  |  Study (331)  |  World (667)

We have come to look at our planet as a resource for our species, which is funny when you think that the planet has been around for about five billion years, and Homo sapiens for perhaps one hundred thousand. We have acquired an arrogance about ourselves that I find frightening. We have come to feel that we are so far apart from the rest of nature that we have but to command.
— Marston Bates
'The Human Environment', Horace M. Albright Conservation Lectureship, Berkeley, California (23 Apr 1962).
Science quotes on:  |  Arrogance (12)  |  Earth (487)  |  Funny (9)  |  Homo Sapiens (19)  |  Nature (1029)

[Beyond natural history] Other biological sciences take up the study at other levels of organization: dissecting the individual into organs and tissues and seeing how these work together, as in physiology; reaching down still further to the level of cells, as in cytology; and reaching the final biological level with the study of living molecules and their interactions, as in biochemistry. No one of these levels can be considered as more important than any other.
— Marston Bates
In The Nature of Natural History (1961, 2014), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Biochemistry (46)  |  Biology (150)  |  Cell (125)  |  Cytology (5)  |  Dissection (26)  |  Final (33)  |  Importance (183)  |  Individual (177)  |  Interaction (28)  |  Level (51)  |  Life (917)  |  Molecule (125)  |  Natural History (44)  |  Organ (60)  |  Organization (79)  |  Physiology (66)  |  Seeing (48)  |  Study (331)  |  Tissue (24)  |  Work (457)

[The parasite that causes malaria] edges through the cells of the stomach wall of the mosquito and forms a cyst which grows and eventually bursts to release hundreds of “sporozoites” into the body cavity of the mosquito … As far as we can tell, the parasite does not harm the mosquito … It has always seemed to me, though, that these growing cysts … must at least give the mosquito something corresponding to a stomach-ache.
— Marston Bates
In The Prevalence of People (1955, 1962), 165.
Science quotes on:  |  Bursting (3)  |  Cell (125)  |  Growth (111)  |  Harm (31)  |  Malaria (8)  |  Mosquito (12)  |  Parasite (28)  |  Release (15)  |  Stomach (18)


See also:
  • 23 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Bates's birth.
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “Research is the process of going up alleys” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “Research is the process of going up alleys” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “The commonest forms of amateur natural history” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “The commonest forms of amateur natural history” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “if…curiosity were less easily satisfied by dogma” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Marston Bates - context of quote “if…curiosity were less easily satisfied by dogma” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • The Nature of Natural History, by Marston Bates. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for author Marston Bates.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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