[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
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
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
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
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.