The Book of the Week is “To Know A Fly” by Vincent G. Dethier, published in 1962. This thin, little paperback book discusses how scientists attempt to understand the behavior of a fly. Those who pull off the legs or wings of flies either come to a bad end or become biologists.
“The [required] college education not infrequently is as useful for acquiring proficiency in the game of Grantsmanship as it is for understanding biology. No self-respecting modern biologist can go to work without money for a secretary, a research associate, two laboratory assistants, permanent equipment…” a car, books, animals and their accompanying accessories, etc., and a vast quantity of money (called overhead) “to the university to pay for all the transcribers hired to handle all the papers and money transactions that so big a grant requires.”
There is much to be said for the fly as an experimental animal. The author describes in detail some clever experiments involving the fly’s eating habits and capacity to learn. “To know the fly is to share a bit in the sublimity of Knowledge.”