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Re: DinSoc Dinosaur Encyclopedia

At 07:22 PM 12/28/96 -0500, Ronald Orenstein wrote:

>Jeff Poling writes
>>   Feduccia's new book probably does this, although I personally wouldn't
>>trust it unless he had collaborators and a damn good editor.  For just the
>>genera, visit Dinosauria On-Line.
>BTW, There was a review of Feduccia's book in the Nov. 25 issue of Nature,
>by Norell and Chiappe (Nature 384: 230).  It is headlined "Flight from
>reason", so you can guess what they thought of it.
>Feduccia's book, I'm afraid, is a voice in the wilderness, and a
>lost opportunity to present what we really need, namely a really thorough
>survey of fossil birds that isn't driven by the need to hammer home its
>author's views on bird origins (which, I think, are both wrong and
>wrong-headed in the way they are argued).  It's too bad.

   For those who are new to the list, or don't remember the last time I
blasted Mr. F, perhaps a short explanation is in order.

   I've never hidden the fact that I argue my points from a solid conviction
and bias (which I'm sure surprises no-one on this list).  I think Feduccia
is pure dead wrong, and the fact that the professionals on this list, whose
opinions I hold in high regard, also think he's wrong just bolsters my

   But Feduccia bothers me for other reasons.  Every time there is something
about dinosaurs that comes up that may link dinosaurs to birds, the press
goes running to Dr. Feduccia.  And every bloody time he says something
terribly arrogant and/or ignorant.

   Among the many examples, two recent ones come to mind.  1) when
"Sinosauropteryx" was found he  called it the equivalent of "paleontological
cold fusion."  2) When he published a paper in _Science_ about
_Lianogornis_, he said that dinosaurs couldn't be the progenitors of birds
because the most birdlike dinosaurs appeared in the late Cretaceous.

   1 is a rather scornful dismissmal, to say the least.  Appropriate for a
scientist?  2 demonstrates that he was not fully quoted, doesn't understand
evolution, or is deliberately preying upon the ignorance of the public about
evolution and fossilization.  Given that he's said #2 many times, the first
option, not being fully quoted, probably isn't it.  Of the last two I don't
know which is worse.

   Dr. Feduccia may be a brilliant man, and may end up having the last
laugh.  But the way he's comported himself makes it very hard for me to buy
anything he has to say.  More the shame because some of his work, as Ron has
pointed out, is probably important and worthwhile.  How to pick the wheat
from the chaff......

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