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Re: book reviews, parsimony and some loose ends



Micky Rowe writes;

>Might I submit, Rob, that if you really want to impress us then
>instead of digging in your heels when met with unexpected data you
>would just admit that your previously expressed certainty was
>unwarranted?  Are you trying to understand how sauropods lived, or are
>you merely trying to demonstrate that you were right when you made
>your first utterance on the subject?

This thread began with my questioning the model of rearing sauropods
and stegosaurs.  I may be guilty of being stubborn, but my doubts on
the subject ran deep.  From what I see, we tend to take many
dinosaurian models for granted: Predaceous T-rex, Stupid Stegosaurs,
and Rearing Sauropods.  Many of these ideas are based more on
consensual opinions rather than hard science ("this is the way things
are ... just 'cause we like 'em this way").  Yet, these are topics
that need to be thoroughly researched, if we are to continue to
support them.  In spite of all the flak that Horner has taken for
challenging the idea of T-rex as an active predator, his objections
have forced theropod experts to go back to the fossils to find hard
evidence to support their claims.

Another problem (and I'll steal a line from Bakker for a moment) is
that some ideas have either been so seductive or been around for so
long that they are beyond questioning.  As a result, as we learn more
about dinosaurs, any new fact is made to fit with the existing theory.
This is not good science.  To quote Sherlock Holmes, "It is fatal for
a researcher to develop a theory before all the facts are in, because
one ultimately tries to twist facts to fit theories, rather than
develop theories to fit the facts."  Perhaps I have been guilty of
this too, but I think its time for us to put our egos aside, put
everything we know into the scientific blender and see what comes out.

I have been coming from a similar position.  I have had serious doubts
about the vertical-feeding posture for quite a while, and for various
reasons that I have tried to demonstrate.  Quite simply, I have asked
for the *evidence* people use to support the vertical-feeding model.
What I have tried to show is that some of the data can be interpreted
to support a very different model.

Admittedly, I am more accepting of the vertical-feeding model than I
was in the beginning of this thread.  I still have a few doubts, but I
can let it go for now.

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

***
"If anything will go wrong, it'll happen at maximum velocity."
        -Red Green