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RE: Refutations and the Middle J (was Re: Another Alxasaurus quer y & others)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John V Jackson [SMTP:jjackson@interalpha.co.uk]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 8:07 PM
> To:   dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject:      Re: Refutations and the Middle J (was Re: Another Alxasaurus
> query & others)
> --Original Message-- From: Dinogeorge@aol.com Cc: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Date: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 01:53 AM
> Of course, since it's really difficult to say anything for certain, maybe
> nothing can ever be disproven.  But I still feel the concept should
> remain.

           I wouldn't go far as to say nothing can ever be disproved, though
when you are working with data that
        appears to refute an established theory, it can seem that way. :-).
The scientific method isn't perfect, but it's better than the blind
authoritarian and superstitious paradigms that it replaced.  Of course, it
didn't replace them in some circles.  It can be thought of in quasilegal
terms, where you are looking for a preponderance of evidence.
        This is true in every science.  It's certainly true in Physics and
from what I have observed it's true in Paleontology
        too.  Lack of evidence is less of a problem in Physics; sometimes it
appears that I get "too much data".
        But, in a discipline like Paleontology, lack of data can imply a
wide range of possibilities.  Dealing with extinct
        systems has its own, unique set of problems.  But (having said that)
I look at what I learned about dinosaurs
        in my school days and compare that with the current thinking about
dinosaurs, and there has been a lot 
        of change.  Being human, we tend to invest emotional energy into
theories to which we have devoted time
        and energy.  This is especially true when our views are well
publicized on this or that subject.  For example,
        I was "identified" with a theory in plasma field physics from 1983
until 1998.  I wrote papers on the subject
        & went to conferences & presented those papers.  A technological
development allowed us to test this theory in late 1998 & every piece of
evidence we collected refuted my (and others') theory.  Was our theory
        100% false?  No, but the "camel's back finally snapped" and I have
moved on to other things.  To my mind;
        being work is just part of the process.  That's science.  :-)