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two matters



     I am trying to find a quotation from Charles Darwin in which he 
     characterized William Buckland as "very good humoured and good-natured 
     [but] seemed to me vulgar and almost coarse man.  He was incited more 
     by a craving for notoriety, which sometimes made him act like a 
     buffoon, than by a love of science."
          This delicious bit of genteel character assassination is supposed 
     to have appeared in F. Darwin (ed.). 1887.  The Life and Letters of 
     Charles Darwin, including an Autobiographical Chapter.  3 volumes.  
     John Murray, London, 3rd edition.  I don't have this work, and if 
     anybody out there does, and would be so kind as to locate the page on 
     which it appears, and let me know, I'll be beholden to you.
          In other news, it looks like we will be permitted to use several 
     pieces of Calvin and Hobbes dinosaur artwork in our Indiana University 
     Press dinosaur book, the final title of which, now that the marketing 
     people have finishing ravishing it, will be The Complete Dinosaur.  
     Look for it in October.
          And now for something completely different.
          I'd like to address a few comments to that 14-year-old kid who 
     got blown away on this list, and to any other non-professional 
     dinosaur fans monitoring this list.  Take these as coming from a 
     professional who regards himself (rightly or wrongly) as a reasonably 
     kind-hearted sort of fellow.
          If you are new to this discussion group, you need to know that 
     participants include many professional or paraprofessional 
     paleontologists who are accustomed to exchanging ideas at professional 
     meetings and in professional journals.  Scientific debate is often, 
     shall we say, spirited.  If you advance an idea, your facts had better 
     be accurate, and your argument logical, or you're going to get 
     clobbered.  I don't consider this flaming.  Scientists were doing this 
     to each other long before email was more than a twinkle in some 
     technogeek's eye.
          The point is that participation by professionals on this 
     discussion ups the ante quite a bit.  We bring (I hope) a level of 
     expertise to the discussion that elevates the quality of conversation 
     about dinosaurs.  The down side, though, is that we also bring a 
     willingless to debate ideas very vigorously as well.  It's the way we 
     were trained, and what we constantly do in our professional life; this 
     is part of the self-correcting mechanism of science.  I agree that we 
     often could do a more civil job of disagreeing with each other, but 
     our personalities are no more civilized than those of the public at 
     large, alas.
          So--to anybody out there who wants to throw out some interesting 
     ideas off the top of your head:  Be warned that if what you suggest is 
     uninformed nonsense, you may get creamed.  You'd be better off doing a 
     little research to see if your ideas are at least plausible before 
     broadcasting them.  Barring that, work on growing a thick skin; think 
     ankylosaurian.
          And for professionals like me, let's try to remember that we were 
     a bunch of ignorant yahoos at one time ourselves (one certainly hopes 
     that the past tense is appropriate here), and try to say what we say 
     with flowers.  Otherwise we may be remembered, as Buckland was--isn't 
     it frightfully clever the way I worked my way back to that?  :-)   
     --as ill-mannered, vulgar louts.