The development of life tables and their analyses so dominated the field of insect population dynamics in the 1960s that the approach may be regarded as a paradigm: the prevalent model in the field which frames the way in which we view the natural world. We examine, here, the validity of the life table approach, and what we have learned from several decades of its use. In 1989 the first life table for understanding natural populations of insects and their dynamics, developed by Morris and Miller, 113 was 35 years old (see Reference 37 for earlier life table developments). Analytical approaches for a series of life tables began to appear in 1959. 110, 167 This method for studying natural populations became widely adopted, and was a force which developed enormous research energy in the 1960s. Insect population dynamics became a major focus in ecology, and a flush of books soon reflected this interest (e.g., References 24, 38, 111, 159, and 169).