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Rachel's dino library



Rachel (and other so-called amateurs developing a dino-oriented library):

(Disclaimer: I'm not trying to be patronizing here; I'm attempting to do a
service for the public. I firmly believe in the value of a friendly
interface between the "professional" and "amateur" communities (if such a
dichotomy really exists))

         Books on dino's and other big, firece, and extinct stuff are great
to have, but I'd also highly recommend starting with a healthy dose of
Gould, some basic philosophy of science, and other thinking-type books
first. Paleontology is a science, and you must get a firm grounding in what
science is before you dive into the dino hypotheses and stuff. That is, the
development of a critical mind and the art of reading cautiously are
paramount. You can hone your skills on Gould's little articles. Mental
agility and rationality become important when wading through the too-often
spurious stuff that clogs the popular literature. Wild, hand-waving
hypotheses are more appealing to the general public, so unfortunately they
are concentrated in many dino books. The deliberate, harder-science stuff
is usually pretty boring to the public, so it doesn't sell as well. In
summation, try to be eclectic in your choice of books. Reading from a wide
range of sources is important to the ability to think independently; I know
too many people in my field; even in my department that focus narrowly on
their own subject and scoff at anything else as inconsequential. So get
those dino books for roughage, but try some Gould or Darwin for high
nutrient content. And remember to think critically; think for yourself!

                        John R. Hutchinson
                  Evolving Evolutionary Biologist
                 Department of Integrative Biology
                University of California - Berkeley
                        Berkeley, CA 94720
                          (510) 643-2109

        "Thus, the student of adaptation has to sail a perilous course
between a pseudoexplanatory reductionist atomism and stultifying
nonexplanatory holism."         --E. Mayr, "How to carry out the
adaptationist program?"