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Re:re: Regulation of collecting...and NGS



Hello all,

Gordon wrote,
> Yes, there are dedicated, ethical amateurs (and professionals)
who do their best to search and document sites without wanton
destruction, and who try to preserve the finds for the value they have
in informing us about the origins and practices of our ancestors. But
there a lot more who are just out there to make a buck, without any
understanding at all of what they are destroying in order to put a
dollar or two in their pocket, or a trophy on their den wall.<

I am going to ask for proof of the statemet, "a lot more". If this is a
mailing list dealing with science this is not too much to ask. Isn't it
entirely possible that the work of a few unethical fools have made their
work seem as though an army of idiots have done the devil's work described?
Are there not laws already on the books that supposedly protect these
objects on public lands? If those laws are not enforced then what good will
new and improved versions do?

Gordon goes on to say,
>The history of mankind, the history of life itself, is not any one
person's personal property.<

This just aint so. Ask the fossil fuel and other resource exploiters, which
do far worse than any collector or profiteer can imagine. The work of
publishing papers, and books, lays claim to information and the
presentation of the history of life and cannot be reused without
permission. While this is not the same as holding a specimen in ownership
the paralells are clear. He who examines and publishes in regard to the
specimen holds the rights to the data it yeilds. If our guide-on is pure
science then this practice is as immoral as the specimens lost to a
hoarding private collector.

Speaking of lost specimens, what of the jacketed specimens that have been
residing in museum basements for years? If the institution doesn't have the
means to prep and study the specimens they have, how can they justify
collecting more? Is this not also a blow to science and "the history of
life"? At least in the hands of a caring collector, or uncaring for that
matter, someone will appreciate the fossil. Let's face it, if paleontology
didn't bring emense pleasure, to someone, the term would not exist.

Most disturbing of all Gordon writes,
>If there must be error in the degree of regulation to be taken to
>accomplish full, protective preservation, then I believe that an extreme
>in the direction of protecting the specimen is acceptable, if not
>absolutely necessary.<

Listen people, this is exactly the kind of thinking that lead to the rise
of the Nazi party in the late 30's. Refuse to believe or accept this fact
if you will, or scoff that it could never happen here. The fact that such
statements are made seems to suggest it not only could happen, but is
popular. If rights are revoked in the name of any "good" it might do
society, or science in this case, then we all lose. I don't think I have to
explain why.

If instead of forbiding the activities involved here, there should be a
licensing proceedure to get as many responsible people afield as possible.
If academic professionals are indeed interested in the science and not self
glorification they would indorse such a program. If you really want to save
the fossils from the effects of weathering and unethical collectors get
people out there finding them. If fees and data supplied by these license
holders cannot be put to good use, then this entire field of study is as
doomed as the dinosaurs we love. Why? Because without massive and
responsible collection efforts, an active reporting system, and internal
policing the division between professional academic paleontology and
private enterprise will only widen. The results will be more lost fossils
(black market and weathering), and a hightened risk of dangerous
confrontation.

Laws will change nothing but the risks involved. Concerned and responsible
collectors, with a collective watchful eye and dedicated mind, should be
the force now missing from this entire equation.

Roger A. Stephenson