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Re: Cooperation between amateurs and professionally...



 
Jerry Hodges wrote...
>I think of professionals as someone with a degree (some don't have a degree) whose job is to find, gather >and publish data for the greater good of the public, and/or academia (same thing?).  Amateurs are those who >find specimens, and they may or may not gather data, and they seldom publish.  I haven't addressed what >happens to the specimens..[snip]..Then there is, of course, the strict definition that simply says that if one is >paid money, they are a professional.
 
    There is a huge amount of overlap between your definitions.  Professionals do field work and collect specimens too, amateurs sometimes publish, and degreed professionals in paleontology don't always get paid money, but amateur collectors might.
    In my opinion, professionalism is a state of mind, attained through a combination of acquired knowledge and disciplined thinking.  A person can get both of these things without going to school for a degree, but he second is more difficult.  It is invaluble to have some kind of mentor who forces you to rationalize your thinking and find the weak or poorly explained parts of an argument.  I've heard the opinions expressed on this list along the lines of "I know what I think and don't have to rationalize my veiwpoint to anyone" (an odd thing to say if you are posting it to an entire mailing list), but in science this is a reprehensible attitude.  If someone uses legal arguing tactics to squirrel out of answering criticisms to their ideas, then they are missing the point of doing science in the first place. Learning to critically attack your own arguments from all angles and consider opposing veiwpoints is a big part of professionalism, and I think this is the main reason why a lot of amateurs who are very familiar with the literature still have a hard time breaking into mainstream paleontology (of course, having a non-paleontological day job that you have to work in order to eat and pay rent can really suck up research time).
 
>I believe that for both categories, a great many specimens in up in drawers; too many. 
 
    If you were to browse through a museum's collection, what criteria would you use to decide which specimens make it "to many" ?  Where should these extra specimens have gone?  A private collection?  Left to weather?  The secret room in the Pentagon where the extraterrestrial artifacts are kept?
 
LN Jeff
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