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Re: Lessem takes a serious look at G. carolinii (was Megaraptor)



In response to Larry Dunn's post on Don Lessem, Ray Stanford wrote:

> Why should anyone get so 'bent out of shape' because someone (Don Lessem
>in   > this case) knows how to make a little honest money ("...shout
>'dinosaur' and  > paying audiences will come..." ) by getting the
>attention of a potential      > future generation of palaeontologists, or
>even of the popular media, for that > matter (which one pretty well needs
>these days to get any message widely      > across to kids).  When I read
>this kind of (what seems to me as) vain         > put-down, it appears to
>shout more out of unabashed jealously than in truly   > righteous
>indignation.

Here we go again.

As one who's also been accused of jealousy recently after criticizing the
work of another, I feel it necessary to come to Larry Dunn's defense. As
was the case before, what's really at issue here is the inability on the
part of some people to tell the difference between b.s. and work of real
substance.

> After all, Lessem is not trying to communicate with scientists in the
>> instances mentioned, but he is effectively using a bit of hyperbole
>that many > parents of children (myself included)  find often serves a
>constructive       > purpose.  Children can be pretty jaded these days.
>Thank God (or anyone else > you like) for people like Don Lessem.  He is a
>'voice crying in a wilderness' > of 'noisy' childhoods.  Yep, sometimes
>you have to shout -- like it or not!

So, if I'm reading this correctly, it's your contention that it's all right
to substitute hyberbole for substance. What a pathetic attitude. Why does
science have to be dressed up in order to make it interesting? Why isn't it
interesting enough without hyperbole? It is in my opinion, and people like
Don Lessem do an incredible disservice to children by exaggerating and
distorting science in their effort to make a buck off of something they
perceive as trendy. Lessem is in the self-aggrandizement business, not the
dinosaur science business.

> Incidentally, I do not know Lessem personally; but I know his books, the
>> referenced site, and children who have learned to appreciate and
>understand   > dinosaurs and even dinosaurologists through his work.  I
>tip my hat to Don.  I > can think of a lot of worse things than being a
>gifted writer and capitalist.
> BLESSED IS HE WHO MAKES A LIVELIHOOD OF WHAT HE LOVES!

I *do* know Don Lessem personally, and I know his books as well. To call
him a "gifted writer" is an insult to all serious writers everywhere. You
think that writing books that describe dinosaurs as "nasty" and "mean" and
going on at interminable length about _Giganotosaurus_ being "bigger than
_T. rex_" is the product of a "gifted" writer? And that this is excusable
because he's writing for children and not the scientific community?! "Mean"
and "nasty" are anthropomorphic terms, completely and totally inapplicable
and inappropriate when describing animal behavior. Why would you want your
kids to be taught this kind of nonsense? You say you know Don's books, Ray,
but I suggest you read them a bit more closely, where you'll find such
"gifted" bits of writing as the statement that "Some (dinosaurs) were as
tall as office buildings..." and the description of _Eoraptor_ as "a
dog-sized dinosaur". That, and the oft-repeated statement that _T. rex_'s
teeth were (all together now) "the size of bananas." And let's not forget
his classic description of Steven Spielberg as "a man who knows something
about dinosaurs."

And just so you know, I'm all for making money off of something that you
love, but what, exactly, makes you think that Don Lessem loves dinosaurs?
Since he doesn't promote serious science in his writings about them, isn't
it conceivably possible that he just loves the notoriety and the financial
rewards that come from writing about them? Lessem's promotion of
_Giganotosaurus_ certainly fits that description, since it appears to me to
be more about raking in the dough (Don somehow seems to be very proprietary
about that dinosaur; you'd think *he* discovered the thing and not Rodolfo
Coria) than it is about promoting real science. Sorry, but I don't think
that Don Lessem is good for dinosaur science. He has somehow managed to
turn himself into a "paleo-personality", but he has contributed nothing
worthwhile to the field except to drag it into the gutter of
Hollywood-style hucksterism. And no, Ray, I'm *not* jealous of Don Lessem
or his success. I just know a hack when I see one.



Brian (franczak@ntplx.net)