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Re: birds are birds, dogs are dogs

--- "King, Norm R" <NKing@usi.edu> wrote:
> This is another of those discussions that never
> seems to get resolved.  It

That's because it's philosophical.

> is phylogenetically correct to call dogs epitheres. 
> So, should I tell
> everyone I have two epitheres?  Of course
> not--they're dogs, stupid!  Gould

But you say that as though they weren't epitheres.  I
call my cats synapsids.  How is it inaccurate to do

It may not be terribly specific, but there's nothing
inacurrate about it.

What is boils down to, at least as far as I can tell,
is a bunch of lazy social biases.  It's simpler to not
refer to birds as archosaurs, or dinosaurs, or
diapsids, even it is funny at thanksgiving.

But that doesn't change the reality of it, and there's
absolutely no real reason to not call birds dinosaurs
(those that differ with the current phylogenies, of
course, have other reasons for disagreeing).

> is right, we shouldn't call them wolves, either,
> because they are known as
> dogs, and that is their most precise label (ignoring
> breeds for the moment).

But there is no more precise label than that animal's
actual name.  Why not omit "dog" altogether and refer
to him as "Bunchy"?

> Why go to a more inclusive designation, whatever it
> might be?  Likewise, if

Because it's just as true calling your dog a therapsid
as it is calling it a dog.  

> I owned a canary, I should not tell people I have a
> dinosaur.  It's a bird,
> stupid!

Well, that's your perogative.  Why don't you just call
it "Tweetles"?  That's certainly more specific than
calling it a canary.

> I've ranted about this before, as some old-timers on
> the list may remember.
> I think we need to use the labels that have precise
> meaning to people.
> Otherwise we can expect unfavorable reactions.  As
> for birds, realization
> that they are in the dinosaur clade has changed
> nothing relative to labeling
> conventions.  After all, people who think birds are
> descended from a more
> basal kind of archosaur, such as pseudosuchians,
> have never, to my
> knowledge, asserted we should call birds
> pseudosuchians.

It lacks mouth appeal.  Dinosaur has mouth appeal. 
Even archosaur has mouth appeal.  pseudosuchian has no
mouth appeal.  It's not fair, but that's the way the
nomenaclature bounces.

> Too many of us are over-impressed with our arcane
> knowledge, and take every
> opportunity to flaunt it to our non-academic
> friends, neighbors, and
> associates, as if it is some kind of inside joke
> that they are too simple to
> understand.  It's a form of social intimidation.  I

I disagree.  You may see it that way, but I seriously
doubt its reality.  I intimidate no one with this
language.  It's certainly not going to keep me from
being mugged anytime soon.  And most people tend to be
fascinated by the changes in understanding the science
itself encourages.  Why should this be the domain of
the exclusively scientific?

But then, perhaps I credit my friends with more open
mindedness than I ought to give them credit for.

> think the birds as
> dinosaurs bit even has some shock value, because it
> does fly in the face of
> conventional understanding.  That makes it even more
> fun to get in people's
> faces.

Perhaps.  But by the same token, it's often necessary
to show how science changes understanding.

Otherwise, there's no point in spreading science
around, if all we have to be afraid of being
misunderstood when we say these big words, instead of
explaining them in accessable terms, and describing
the process.

I think that goes with the territory of paloentology. 
If it doesn't, let me know now so I can change my

> Call a bird a bird, so we will all know what you're
> talking about.  Is it
> also a dinosaur, at a less precise level of
> labeling?  Of course, but we
> shouldn't be striving for reduction of precision and
> increase in confusion,
> and then berate the people who are getting confused.

So you really mean to say that it's rude to berate
others should they be confused by it?  I agree.  I
don't see how not referring to birds as dinosaurs will
have much to do with that, however.

>  A dog is a dog, even
> though it is also an epithere and eupelycosaur (as
> someone suggested here).
> Call it a dog, so we'll know what you're talking
> about!

All names for animals were made up in this e-mail to
illustrate a point.  My cats' names are Bartlett and
Kutuzov.  I would never name an animal "Bunchy."

.oO=-Oscar Quill is a nom de something for Scott Elyard-=Oo.
|    "The picture of a faithful alligator boundin' into    | 
|      daddy's lap ain't one the public is ready for."     |
|              --Walt Kelly (Beauregard)                   |
| Comic:         www.oscarquillandcoyle.org                |

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