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Re: Response to Gould?



Eric Lurio wrote...
> Indeed, there are thousands of books for children not all of them good,
but
> they are there, that portray dinosaurs as huge and extinct. Dinosaur isn't
> just scientific jargan, it's a common name for a group of exinct beasties
> that are well known to everyone. Centuries of usage have consolidated the
the
> meaning of the common term.

    I would hate to think that the publishers of children's book can dictate
how scientists are allowed to think and apply terminology.  If we worried
incessantly about the public's understanding of science, we couldn't discuss
or publish much on evolution, stratigraphy, functional morphology; subjects
on which the public's knowledge is pretty dismal.  I've been going to
college for five years, and before I'm done will probably have gone at least
another six, in order to gain a more in depth understanding of these
subjects then the general public has.  I've had to stretch my mind in order
to do it, and change my mind about things which I though that I understood.
I don't think I'm a fundamentally better person then those who haven't had
this background but I do understand the subject better and in more detail.
I'm not going  just to tone down how I think about things just to make
people without that background feel more comfortable.
    Now, if we want to EXPLAIN science to the public, it may help to try to
put it in terms they understand, but what we are talking about here is how
scientists who know and understand the issues involved communicate with each
other.  To make another half-assed analogy, adult don't modify thier sexual
practices to fit what children and juveniles think they understand about it.
    Of course, there are plenty of people who do have the education, either
academic or self-taught, to understand the issues involved who do not like
including birds in Dinosauria.  My point is just that in terms of how we
understand and communicate within the profession, common familiarity means
f*#@^ all.

Larry Dunn wrote...
> It was my understanding that there are more species of
> birds than of any other terrestrial vertebrate.  So,
> isn't the inclusion of "Bird" within "Dinosaur" saying
> something pretty important about the success of
> dinosaurs?

    Depends on what kind of dinosaur you are.  The sauropods,
ornithischians, and most theropods couldn't care less about the spectacular
later success of one little derived group.  Most of the designs and
lifestyles we group under the word "dinosaur" did NOT survive.  Of course,
it is a purely semantic argument whether or not the survival and radiation
of one branch means the whole clade was successful or not.

LNJ
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Jeffrey W. Martz
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