Overall, I find Gary Freeman's review of the book I edited, Defining Biology, (The Scientist, November 17, 1986) to be a reasonable one that endorses the value of these essays from the 1890s. I do find his claim that "the propounding of a thesis is a disease that is endemic to the history of biology business" quite odd. Is Freeman suggesting that history should give just "one damn thing after another," as it has sometimes been accused of doing? And is this mandate peculiar to history or also to hold for biology itself?
I would argue for the value ofputting forth informed theses in both disciplines. I would also maintain that the story told in my book about the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is well documented in archival and published sources. When an institution begins with a strong, autocratic director and a bunch of junior researchers, it should...
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