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Various things

Just a few comments on a few things that have bee bouncing around:

1) Concerning the students inquiries - the Internet is so new that
it is really tough to know exactly what seems reasonable. Certainly
requests for pointers into good recent books is. Certainly, clarification
on points that have been read about is also. I think asking for a data
dump on extinctions is not, but I think this is the type of thing we
need to work out in Society as everyone gets into this monster that's
developed. I think as teachers get to be better informed on the internet
and what is or is not reasonable, then they will be able to help their
students by letting them know how to ask questions best on the net
and get answers. If a question comes in that seems unreasonable or
too vague, then I suggest we ignore it - provide our own Darwinian
selection into who we spend our precious time on. That way we can
spend the time we can provide helping those who are not being lazy but,
instead, are trying to learn about our wonderful science. I suspect we're
just in the growing phase and proper net etiquette will be second nature
to most very quickly (in a few years). Not that it'll be perfect by a
long shot.

2) Peter B. wondered if paleontologists were being unfair by ignoring Greg
Paul's synonymization of Dein. with Veloc. I suspect this brings up a
misconception among many about fairness in science in general. I'll answer
it in two bursts. Actually, I've heard professionals discuss Greg's idea
a lot but the results are always the same - they look different to
paleontologists given the standard variance seen among reptile taxa. It is
up to Greg to go to the detailed trouble of demonstrating the amount of
differences present among the two and provide supporting info that supports
his synonymyzation. He has yet to do that, especially in a refereed journal or
book. I speak on this as someone who has done this for Stegoceras and
Plateosaurus. Until Greg does this, the idea has gotten all the discussion
it merits in print. That's the way the science is done. Greg is a friend of
mine so this isn;t personal. It's just the process that must be followed
to do what he wants to do. In the larger scale, this reflects on the
suggestion that professionals pick too much on Bob Bakker. No one doubts
he's got a very imaginative brain and has the capability of doing some
great work. certainly, a lot of his early stuff was very important and
influential. However, to take his current ideas from being just interesting
ideas to being seriously discussed involves steps he has not taken for a
while. He has published some things in Hunteria, which is a journal
that is not widely read and has an unknown editorial philosophy on where
it gets it referees for papers, etc. To be "fairly treated" by the science
he must take his ideas, develop them, support them up the wazoo, and then go
through the process of submitting them to a quality journal with all
the referee-ing that goes with it. I'll admit it's a pain in the butt and
can remove some stomach-lining, but that's how it's done and the
responsibility is on Bakker to do that. Throwing off ideas at public
lectures is not the way its done. The science process is fair to
everyone - a pain for everyone, but a necessary pain. It makes the
quality of the work better. Bakker could do it if he chose.

3) Finally, Larry Smith says we should not have political comments
in our postings. I tend to stay away from them myself but I find
that an interesting comment from someone that publicly labeled
Dinotopia as a piece of political brainwashing drivel (my wording
interpreted from his comments) rather than a simple fantasy.
I guess only some political comments are allowed, as long as
they are acceptible.

For now, Ralph Chapman