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Re: Fact, opinion or just BUNK?

In a message dated 95-12-01 18:10:57 EST, kferrant@njlink.pppl.gov (Ken
Ferrante) writes:

>In my opinion...  the above suggestion is anything BUT nit-picking!
>I feel Ron makes a VERY IMPORTANT point here.
>There ARE many students (some very young too) whose love of dinosaurs
>has brought them (most as quiet observers) to this list.  Many ARE able to
>'filter out'the facts and near-facts from the bulk of speculation, 
>opinion and fantasy, but some ( as I have observed in classroom situations) 
>seem to take what's written here as fact (or truth) and pass it on to others

>as 'real' or factual, when often, there is little or no basis in fact or
>to substantiate what's been written.
>I do realize that today's instant electronic communication requires a
>certain level of "type it as you think it" freedom, but I also feel that 
>we have to be a bit more mindful of "what we've actually written... 
>after we've thought it", and how it might be received by the wide range of 
>potential users of this list.
>For a lot of list members (both young & old) the majority of  'vocal
>(to the list) are regarded as 'experts' in the field of: paleontology... 
>dinosaurs... etc. While this is not necessarily a complete truth, I'll be
>first to say that there IS a great wealth of knowledge, experience, and
>important discussion taking place here most of the time.  Having said that,
>I've also got to say that there is good share of intelligent sounding "BUNK"

>that gets tossed around here too! The trouble with that (beyond being
>is that some of that "BUNK" ends up getting passed on as 'valid stuff' to 
>a very dino-hungry, impressionable public (especially children... our next

When I was a kid of age 9-13 seeking knowledge in the library, nobody was
there to guide me through the BUNK to the GOOD STUFF. I learned to do this on
my own, after having sifted through and even believed for a while a fair
amount of BUNK. (Such as Velikovsky's books and George Adamski's _Inside the
Flying Saucers_, both of which were on the library's science shelf, not the
BUNK shelf.) It's part of growing up. What is perhaps most unfortunate is
that there are often too few accessible counter-BUNK books available; I'm
doing my share to produce counter-BUNK material, but finding publishers for
GOOD STUFF is tough.

Everything I post here is something that has some validity (except the puns
and yokks--they are outside the "validity purview"). If it turns out to be
wrong later, that's fine. It's part of my learning process. To those who come
to the dinosaur group for the heck of it, it doesn't matter very much what
they pick up here. Those who are more seriously interested will figure out
soon enough, by watching the debates and by learning how to follow arguments,
who's spinning BUNK and who's worth paying attention to.

Now explain how you personally can distinguish "intelligent-sounding BUNK"
from "real, factual information" from "speculation" from etc. Perhaps the
dinosaur list should hire you at some nominal fee to moderate the material
and return the BUNK to sender?

>Here's another reason for concern (with regards to this particular topic):
>Because of the 'traditional manner" in which many teachers RELY on text 
>(in forms like: textbooks, newspapers, magazines, electronic articles, etc.)

>as a key part of the educational process...
>TEXT (as in: typed or printed materials) and consequently... what the text 
>says... often goes unchallenged (and therefore, becomes 'personally' factual

>to the reader or learner).
>Borrowing from Ron's example of:
> "...T rex's vision was based on movement...".  I can tell you, firsthand, 
>that (following this weeks TV rebroadcast of the movie Jurassic Park)
>were discussing 'dinosaurs', and several actually used the movie (and book)
>"prove" their arguments to be correct.  Until I (as casual observer) stepped

>in and challenged their proof, the other students had begun the process of 
>giving in and adopting the 'movement-stuff' as legitimate, in part, because 
>of this seemingly ingrained idea that "... THEY wouldn't allow it to be
>(in the movie and/or book) if it wasn't true."  Well, I did what I could to
>de-bunk ... and get them back to examining, thinking, and rethinking, but 
>it's going to take a lot more... on the part of... each of us for the long 
>term.  TEXT remains king... and as such... goes unquestioned far more
>often than it should.
>SO... maybe... we ought to take a few extra minutes (if necessary) to
>read... and reread the text we are about to post to the list.  It probably 
>wouldn't hurt if we double checked to be sure that our content has been 
>properly identified as theory, fact, opinion... etc.  
>I believe we'll be better understood by those who know us... AND 
>far less likely to be passing on possible misinformation to those who don't.

I'll tell you what I could do: in my subject header I could include the word
BUNK to denote writing of mine that I'm tossing out just for the heck of it,
that I don't really believe, the way Charles Fort used to do. That way,
people who object to reading BUNK and impressionable students and other types
who cannot distinguish BUNK from GOOD STUFF can hit the delete key and not
waste their time reading BUNK.

Is there anyone out there on the dinosaur list who knowingly passes BUNK to
the group? Who are you? Why don't you label your stuff BUNK so we can get rid
of it?