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Re: Problems with paleontological portrayal



"D.I.G." <dinosaur@interport.net> wrote:

> Granted that the higher reaches of any speciality (whether it is nuclear 
> physics or bowling) involve
> some sort of jargon and understanding which is not easily communicated
> to the uninitiated, nonetheless, my belief is that anything that one
> human being can experience, can be communicated clearly to most other
> human beings. 

I want to offer my perspective on this.

I'll admit that a lot of the discussion on this list goes right over 
my head.  I'm not in the sciences and, Tom Holtz's admonitions 
notwithstanding, probably will never have the time to even scratch 
the surface of the mound of difficult reference material (and 
remember, for me, this would all be spare-time, rather than 
professional, reading).  But I'm very glad that these discussions 
are going on over my head, because they indicate a focus we all want 
to see -- people dedicating their time to the understanding of the 
lives of the dinosaurs.  Even the study of extant life-forms is 
mind-bogglingly complex.  Study of long-extinct ones is no 
doubt that much more so.  We have to let the scientists be 
scientists because their disciplines are demanding and require focus.

> Science, however, is misunderstood enough and, I think,  in these "New
> Age" days under a lot of pressure that derives from pure ignorance on
> the part of the public. Perhaps we should view the "need to be clear" as
> a form of self-preservation rather than as a responsibility or worse as
> a condescention to the ignorant or stupid.

In my opinion dinosaurs are studied because they're 
interesting.  I believe that the market for dinosaur information 
will always exist, and  don't think that vertebrate paleontologists 
really need to divert themselves from their practice to "sell" 
their subjects to the public.  We're already sold!

I think it's really interesting that someone sat down and realized 
that the tyrannosaurs were coelurosaurs rather than carnosaurs.  As a 
result, we know the "tigers of the Cretaceous" that much better.  I 
guess I'm afraid that if the focus were diverted from hard science, 
we'd miss out on discoveries like these.

Regards,
Larry

"Atheism: a non-prophet organization"