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Re: Baucus Bill

On Thu, 28 Sep 1995 12:37:44 -0400 Jeff Poling said:

>   I always say that in a free society you err on the side of freedom.  You
>can cry that fossils on public land belong to the public, but they will end
>up only as the toys of paleontologists and museum curators.  Few actually
>end up on display.  The government should be in the business of MANAGING the
>access of private citizens to resources on public lands , rather than
>restricting it only to a priveleged or educated elite.

Few fossils end up on display because display is not the object of scientifc
collecting. Paleontologists and museum curators do not consider fossils as

I am constantly amazed by the anti-science views held by certain members of
this supposedly science oriented list.  You obviously know nothing of
paleontologists or of museums.  By insulting scientists, the majority of
whom support amateur collecting, you are only hurting your cause. We would
know very little about dinosaurs if anti-intellectuals spewing libertarian
nonsense decided it was permissable to collect any site of scientific
importance and turn fossils into meaningless curios. I suggest that amateurs
and professionals work together rather than allow people with an odd political
agenda attempt to polarize them into separate camps.  Fossils are not
mere curios to be bought/traded and made into jewelry and dust-gathering
knick-knacks.  If a fossil ends up in a museum, there is a chance that
someday it will be studied by a scientist, even 100 years from now. An
important fossil in an amateur collection is lost to science.  However,
the vast majority of fossils are common enough that no one objects to it
being in private hands. By pushing this issue with rather strong rhetoric,
people like Mr. Poling will end up alienating the scientific community and
amateur paleontology will end up regulated as harshly as archaeology.  In
short, amateurs should be learning about the science of paleontology, not
just collecting dust gatherers.  Professional paleontologists in turn should
be educating the public.


Dan Phelps         jfcost00@ukcc.uky.edu
                   Ask me how to join
                   The Kentucky Paleontological Society!
   (\__/)  .~    ~. ))
   /O O  ./      .'               DANIEL J. PHELPS
  {O__,   \    {               JFCOST00@UKCC.UKY.EDU
    / .  . )    \               LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY
    |-| '-' \    } ))
   .(   _(   )_.'