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RE: Dinosaur Art & Q's



Tom Mitchell wrote:
>Dear Dane, Thomas, Raymond:  sorry for the name confusion.  I like the
>suggestion that the issue isn't the metaphoric use of dinosaurs (we all
>agree that is inevitable, I take it) but the use of the WRONG metaphor
>(useless, outdated, etc)  Some of you now think the metaphor should be
>changed.  If the bird hypothesis is correct, it looks like dinos are a big
>success story.  Or maybe it is US (humans) who are the endangered species,
>faced with obsolescence.  What interests me about this is not who is right
>about the "success/failure" alternative, but the fact that the dinosaur
>serves as a symbol within human value systems, and a debatable symbol--a
>"bone of contention" if you like.  We can be pretty sure that these thoughts
>never crossed the minds of the dinosaurs themselves.  So what does this
>debate over a metaphor tell us about ourselves?  Tom Mitchell

My impression is that the metaphor probably dates back to Victorian times,
when scientists truly believed in "progress" (almost to the point of
religion). Dinosaurs were conveniently dead, presumably the victims of the
"progress" of evolution along with Neanderthals (another metaphor for
outdated). In the railroad era, dinosaurs were as obsolete to modernists
as, say, an oxcart.

Jeff Hecht     Boston Correspondent    New Scientist magazine
525 Auburn St.,          Auburndale, MA 02466             USA
tel 617-965-3834 fax 617-332-4760 e-mail jhecht@world.std.com
URL: http://www.sff.net/people/Jeff.Hecht/
see New Scientist on the Web: http://www.newscientist.com/