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Re: Post-SICB Report: a couple more (long) thoughts

Thom -

    Great write-ups on SICB.  I wish I could have been there (Of course, I
had to do my regular job, and barely have had time to breathe - hepatic
breathing/gills/SCUBA - whatever!!!).  [Also, I just received a paycheck for
10 weeks' pay - and I have to wait until my billing agent processes it (I'll
probably be able to deposit my money into my account by Monday).  So you
might imagine that I have been a little thin in the money department

    I liked your little 'drama'.   I can understand JH's reluctance to allow
cladistic analysis to be the basis of much of his work.  For all of his (and
others) science, there is a little bit of the mystical in how he (and they)
function in the field [actually out in the field collecting specimens] -
luck and intuition play a big part in the ability of some people finding
great specimens - often in places that others have 'just' looked at.  (It
does seem to be a talent that goes beyond the obvious training about looking
for fossils.  I have a similar talent when it comes to finding good parking
spots in crowded parking lots - even during peak holiday shopping times
 :-) ).

    Because his intuition is so often right, JH would be reluctant to give
up a position just because you used mathematics to show he was wrong.  For
some people, mathematical analysis is not enough.  (And for some others, it
is often questionable - or suspect).  The contradictory idea that an
analysis can be run by multiple people and - a) get the same answer all the
time, or b) be wildly different - is merely a defensive posture by those who
are uncomfortable with mathematics, and is a feeble attempt to discredit the
viable of the mathematical analytical method.

>7)  We can agree on beer.
>    - Okay, maybe not everybody, and it doesn't have to do with
>but I wanted to end on a positive note.

>Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
>Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
>Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
>University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
>College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

    Well, I know that JH, and TH can agree on beer, and I know that AE
(moi), and PD, and JF, and DW, and TL, and PW, and so-on and so-on can also
agree on beer (maybe not the same brand, but ...).  And most can agree
philosophically with the idea of a beer - even if they cannot, or should,
not actually partake of the beverage - the idea of sharing some downtime
with similar people is good.


        Allan Edels