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Re: Tarbosaurus?



I wrote...

< If you can have isolated situations in which a population is sampled very
>unevenly, how do you know that more of those types of situiations haven't
>occured in one formation then the other? >

Dinogeorge wrote...
>You don't. But you assume it unless you have reason to think otherwise.

    Different sites with similar lithologies can and do sample populations
in different ways.  That is a reason to think otherwise.  The best thing to
say in situations where no specific data is availible is just to say "we
don't know, but based on what we know about taphonomy and population
sampling it is probably a complex situatuion".  You don't like this, and you
want SOME kind of pat answer to fall back on until some information becomes
availible.  The trouble is, a pat answer (especially one that assumes that
two complex situations are near identical) is highly untrustworthy, and the
situation is probably more complicated.  Your reasoning is like picking two
McDonalds at random and saying "These restaurants serve the same food and
dress thier employees in the same uniforms; until data becomes availible, it
is best to assume that the proportions of black, white, hispanic, and asian
employees of these restaurants is identical".  Is it more reasonable to just
fall back on the assumption until data is availible, or just say "I have no
idea" in the meantime?  The latter is more honest.

>You
>can't know in advance what the situation will turn out to be at a
particular
>locality, what factors are important and what factors are not operating.

Exactly.

>As
>in cladistics: all characters are equally weighted, even though it >must<
be
>true that such a weighting is quite arbitrary. Waving your hands at a
problem
>and saying that it's a really complex situation just causes "analysis
>paralysis."


    Lack of data is "analysis paralysis" yes in the sense that supporting an
argument is impossible,
although you can speculate all you want.  You make your null hypothesis on
population sampling in different formations, that two complicated situations
are identical, sound like the most reasonable answer without contradicting
data.  However, there is in fact no particular reason to think that the null
hypothesis is right, and good reason to suspect it is wrong on principle;
even if a pat answer on EXACTLY how it is wrong is unavailible.
    Choosing a null hypothesis to fall back on if there is no data to the
contrary is reasonable in certain situations, for example "I'll assume those
particular holes in the crocodile and dinosaur skull both represent orbits
until data contradicts it".  For a subject as complicated as taphonomy, it
is not an appropriate practice.
As comforting as it may be George, you can't reduce subjects as complicated
as Biology and Geology into binary ones and zeros: "If its not definitely
this, it must be this, and we have an answer, TA-DA!"

LN Jeff

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
-Benjamin Franklin

Be sure to keep busy, so the devil may always find you occupied.
-Flavius Vegetius Renatus

Jeffrey W. Martz
3002 4th St. # C26
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