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Re: Stratigraphy, biogeography & cladograms

--Original Message-- From: Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. <th81@umail.umd.edu>:
Wednesday, January 20, 1999 04:38 PM

>Time for some rhetorical devices...
>At 11:38 PM 1/19/99 -0000, John Jackson wrote:
>>Have you ever written a system with a theoretical justification this
>>(though the process itself may be fairly straightforward) that someone's
>>life or livelihood depended on?
>Have you ever picked up a fossil theropod bone?  Have you ever collected
>fossils through various stratigraphic sections?  Funny, because I would
>think that these might have a LOT more to do with understanding bird
>Yeah, cheap shot, but it still makes me wonder about the relevence of your
>interlude on the subject.

Once you get into the theoreticals, its surprising how relevent quite
distant fields can become to each other.  Any complex system - doesn't have
to be a conventional information processing system, could just be a big
hospital - has effects due to its complexity which tend to impress
themselves on those who have struggled to make them work.

>In his response to Chris Brochu:
>>Why do you never consider any use of stratigraphic
>>information for the maniraptoran problem?
>See Brochu, C.A. & M.A. Norell.  1998.  There is no temporal paradox in
>origins.  JVP 18(3):29A-30A.  Chris has explicitly dealt with the use (and
>abuse) of stratigraphic info in looking at the "maniraptoran problem".

So "There is no temporal paradox in bird origins"?  I'm sorry but they're
wrong, period.  I could spend my entire life arguing this one but they are
expert foresters in the Great Wood of Clad, obfuscating, diverting and
sapping one's energy.  They would never admit defeat.  Frankly, I would
rather spend my time reading Newton's works discussing the categories of
angels and the structure of heaven.  Don't think lying with statistics is
beyond me, I've just got more worthwhile and much less boring things to do.

>>Perhaps you would like to answer this question now:  Why did Archaeopteryx
>>give rise to no flightless forms in the Cretaceous except Mononykus and
>Invalid question.  See:
>The hesperornithiforms;
>_Gargantuavis_ (if it is indeed avian).
>The first two lineages of these known before _Mononykus_, and the
>hesperornithiforms known LONG before.

Not very many really I'd say but alright, I suppose it's a matter of

>Okay, now a suggestion.  In his companion posting "Selling Science", John
>Jackson sings his own praises about fighting the good fight along with Greg
>Paul against the mainstream.
>Might I suggest (as others have before) that you allow Greg Paul to speak
>for himself?  Greg is an articulate writer and can and does post when he
>wishes to.

I do try to leave him out of all this as much as possible, referring to the
theory rather than to him.  I'll continue to try but it's hard to avoid
mentioning him entirely.

But have you considered the possibility that he might appreciate someone
speaking up for his theory?  Perhaps he has reasons of his own - I would in
his position - to go easy on it.

>Is he marginalized by the scientific community?  Funny, it seems to me he
>an invited participant to the Ostrom Symposium (the primary organizer of
>which is Jacques Gauthier).  He presents papers on his various hypotheses
>SVP, DinoFest, and elsewhere.  I know he presented a paper on bird origins
>at the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution here in Washington some
>years ago, and look forward to his chapter in the symposium volume when it
>comes out.  He has other works on the same subject forthcoming, about which
>I (and others) hope to hear about soon.

Look, this theory deserves to be mentioned EVERY TIME the alternatives are
covered, not "at the SVP" here and "some years ago" there.  Even if *no-one*
supported it, the fact that the relationship between Ax and Vel could at
first glance quite easily be one way or the other surely requires in a
proper scientific appraisal the formal consideration of the possibility
suggested by the temporal occurence in the fossil record, before completely
submerging everybody in that vile Byzantine alchemy.

>If you want to speak for yourself, go ahead.  If you have Greg's
>then speak for him.  If not, then please do not.

As you say, he can speak for himself.  But he is a historical figure, and
besides, any honest person would agree that I am doing him more justice than
anyone else.