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I am sending this message along in the hopes of accelerating closure on
this topic.

It should be no surprise to anyone who has had contact with the general
public that there are a lot of folks out there who have a lot to learn
about science in general and dinosaur science in particular.  Some, such as
kindergartners, may not be prepared to differentiate between terms such as
"warm-blooded" and "endothermic," much less to immediately grasp the
multiple meanings of "reptile" as we do.  Sometimes, it is unfortunately
necessary to simplify things a bit in order to convey essential information
to the lay public (just as I sometimes need things put into simple terms if
I am going to understand things).

And sometimes this mission is frustrated by a conflict between the
nomenclature used by today's cutting edge scientists and the common uses of
words.  Yet, while I feel that it is important for informed individuals
(from your Gould and Sagan types on down to the humble museum docents and
school teachers) to come into the fray to serve as a bridge between these
worlds, I don't feel that it is the job of the researchers themselves to
refashion their cherished terms to please the general public.  As long as
paleontologists are doing sound, conscientious work and using terms that
are accepted as standard within the scientific community, I have no
complaints.  Sure, it would have been nice to have seen a new word for the
group known as "Reptilia," but those are the breaks.  There are plenty of
words in the English language that have more than one meaning.  Look
through a dictionary some time.  This may be confusing, but it's something
we must deal with.  If, as an educator, you must leave out certain details
in order to get across the larger points, so be it.  But if you feel that
your students or the public can handle it, lay the truth on them. 
Sometimes it is not so harmful for one to realize that science is not
always so simple, and that there is much more to learn.

-- Ralph Miller III     gbabcock@best.com