Thursday, February 02, 2017

Real Experts Can Tell You Something

Daniel T. Blumstein has a piece in The Washington Post in which he claims to be an expert on groundhogs.

He's not.

One hint is that they actually don't have groundhogs in California.

Beware of someone from Liverpool who claims they are an expert in wolves!

A second "tell" is that he seems to thinks a yellow-bellied marmot is the same as a groundhog.

No, it isn't.

A third "tell" that we might not have a true expert here is that he tells us that Ken Armitage, now an emeritus professor at the University of Kansas, invented Groundhog Day.

No he didn't.

America's Groundhog Day celebration was kicked off in 1887 by Clymer H. Freas, city editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania who came up with the idea of a "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" and Groundhog Day as a kind of boosterism for his ill-begotten city (the name Punxsutawney means "place of sand flies").

A fourth "tell" that we might not be dealing with a real expert is that we learn almost nothing about groundhogs from the article, other than his office is full of groundhog tchotchkes.

No mention is made of the fact that a groundhogs temperature and heart beat goes from 90 degrees fahrenheit, and 80 beats a minute in summer, to 38 degrees and 5 beats a minute in winter.

No mention is made of the hundreds of pounds of dirt they move to dig their burrows, or the fact that research on Woodchuck Hepatitis Virus was important in understanding human Hepatitis B.

Nothing is said about litter size, mortality, disease, teeth, hide, or culture.

Groundhog expert? Please!

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