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Re: Bad Science

In a message dated 98-08-31 13:01:03 EDT, dis@gj.net writes:

<< Do not judge us till you have played the game. Don't try and claim you
 can not publish in peer reviewed journals because you do not have page
 costs. I don't. Anyone can submit a paper to a journal and there are
 lots to pick from. If you have something to say publish it, do not just
 sit on the sidelines and critize and moan that not enough people buy
 your selfpublished stuff.  >>

I didn't say "can not." I said, "would not." There's a world of difference
here. Like yourself, I have to work for a living. To prepare a paper for
publication in a journal takes lots of time, and it is not a job requirement
for me the way it is for a person in an academic or museum position. I do not
get compensated for my research time or for my writing time or for any time
that I might spend doing dinosaur research. I do not have a salaried position
in this field. Further, I would have to >take time off from doing paying work<
in order to produce a paper for journal publication. That is, I would get hit
>twice<: once because I'm not paid to do the work, and once more because I
have to take time away from work that does pay. And >then< we pile on >page
costs<! There is thus >absolutely no incentive< for me to produce papers for
journal publication, and lots of incentives not to.

Accordingly, to recoup some of my research and writing costs, I publish the
material for sale myself. So far, I have lost large amounts of money--measured
in time spent on my dinosaur projects--doing this. My wife thinks I'm crazy
for going on with this expensive hobby, and it is beginning to sink in that
she might be right. Marsh and Cope lost much of their personal fortunes in the
pursuit of dinosaurs and other fossils, and I'm damned if I'm going to go that

Regarding mistakes in the literature. I repeat: science is about >getting it
right<. We all make mistakes; correcting those mistakes is part of the process
of >getting it right<. Science is not the process of making mistakes or
leaving mistakes stand; it is the process of correcting them.

Some mistakes are more egregious than others, and it is when the quotient of
egregiousness becomes elevated that I begin to see red. I'm no perfectionist,
just someone who relies on the literature to get >some idea< of what might be
interesting out there. So when I see an illustration of a specimen that, say,
doesn't match the corresponding photo of the specimen, I begin to question
things. So when I see pictures of stegosaur parts in Ken Carpenter's
presentation that don't seem to jibe with what he is saying, I ask him why. So
when he blows up and says I have no right to ask questions until I have seen
the specimens myself, I think he has gone off the deep end. The >least< one
might expect in a presentation is to have the pictures convey the points the
text is making. Ken could have explained that he didn't have pictures ready
and had to use _Stegosaurus_ parts in his presentation, for example. That
would have been quite enough for me.

When Ken says that I don't think it should be necessary to examine specimens
and that one should be able to rely on the published literature, this is some
kind of lunacy. I have no idea why he would think that I would think so. >OF
COURSE< you have to look at the specimens when you're researching them! I
don't happen to have a research program in place right now--thanks to having
had to live in Buffalo, take care of my mother until she died, then sell off
the estate and house (which I flew to Buffalo right after the SVP to take care
of) for the past four years--so I wasn't in any position to go rummaging
through the Chicago collections to look at dinosaur bones just then. There
would have been no point; I consider myself lucky to have been able to attend
the meeting at all--only because it was on the way to Buffalo from San Diego.
It's certainly not because I have some kind of disdain for looking at
specimens. Give me a break.

And I >am< preparing a paper or two on BCF for formal publication in a peer-
reviewed publication, as my spare time permits.