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Re: DR. Bakker, and the "Raptor Red" media circus



>From: jpoling@infinet.com (Jeff Poling)
> > >no paleontologist has the right to represent his ideas as facts without the
> > >data to back it up, and Dr Bakker went well beyond that last night.
> > 
> >    That comment, taken alone, has some merit (however, he DOES have the
> > RIGHT to represent his ideas as he sees fit.  Whether or not he SHOULD is
> > another matter.).  However, I would suggest that an AOL online chat is NOT a
> > forum conducive to presenting reams and reams of good hard data. 
>
>True.  But saying "in my opinion ..." or "this is controversial, but
>I believe that ..." is neither inappropriate nor out of place.
>
>Presenting ones own theories as *facts* not open to question is
>a great disservice to science.

   When one is certain one's theory is correct, they are not likely to say
"it's just my opinion."  I don't particularly have a problem with that.

>It tends, in the long run, to increase
>the distrust that the general public has towards scientists. It also
>tends to promote the misguided idea that science is about final
>answers rather than about the search for answers.

   I disagree.  If this goes on, and I agree that it does, it is NOT the
scientists' fault.  It's the fault of an education system that does not
teach the principles of science and scientific thought.  NO ONE should not
understand what science is all about.  Educate the public, don't dumb down
the scientists.

   Having to say "in theory" or "in my opinion" or other disclaimers
whenever a scientists says anything reminds me of the Political Correctness
movement.  Changing my behavior because the OTHER person is overly
sensitive, uneducated, or a moron.

   Which isn't to say that scientists should use such disclaimers when
warranted, as I outline below.

>When I am discussing a controversial idea, even with a beginner,
>I try to clearly identitify what is consensus and what is my own
>interpretation.  I consider this to be common courtesy at least.

   So do I, *IF* there is any thought in my mind that I might be wrong, or
that other equally plausible explanations exist.  But if I'm convinced I'm
right, I'm going to represent my idea/theory/whatever as such.  And I'm not
afraid to say WHY.

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