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Re: bauplan convergence (NOT SO SARCASTIC!)

I don't think I've maligned anybody's work, Ralph. You've been working with pachycephalosaurs for many years now. Wouldn't you give your right arm to actually >see< a bunch of pachys in the field and have their actual behavior confirm/deny the conclusions you have reached? I work with four-dimensional objects, of which I maintain a pretty decent mental image in my mind when I think about them and discover new ones. But I would >really< like to see one in the flesh--something that is, unfortunately, at least as unlikely as traveling to the past (and these are objects whose existence can be >proved< 100%). I agree that a scientific approach to dinosaurs is the only valid way
to study their behavior, but my point is that until we can confirm these
studies empirically, we're only constructing Just So Stories. Elaborate ones, but stories just the same, stories that can and are rewritten with the advent of new data and new approaches.<<<<

I agree, George, that you haven't _intentionally_ maligned anyones work, but regardless, you have (probably unintentionlly) encouraged a rather naive view of science. If not a whole arm, I would certainly sacrifice some toes in order to directly observe dinosaurs in their habittat. But this is merely an emotional reaction to the viseral pleasure humans associate with sensual experience, as opposed to rational cognition. Even if I were given a day in the Early K (my first choice), I would be unlikely to produce any useful information at all. Without background information, I would have no context to evaluate my observations, and no corroberating obsrevations to confimr tem with. Even things like coloration and/or "simple" behavior like snoozing around noon could be particular the individual or region I was in. And my experience would provide no information what-so-ever on the evolutionary context of my observations.
Humans have demonstrated time and again what horrible observers we are (which is why I routinely "loose" keys that are in my pocket). In bank robberies, for example, there is rarely mmore than a 60% agreement over such basic things as eye/hair color, height, age, and build. How much worse would a lone observer or three be equipped to observe animals that our species has no history with at all?
Don't get me wrong, if we could send trained field observers back repeatadely, we would certainly revolutionize the way paleontology is performed, especially the behavioral and paleoclimatological data. Heck, especially _most_ paleo-fields. But we'll never be able to, and even if we could clone a dinosaur, there would be a large degree of uncertainty as to the fidelity of our clone.
These "stories" we create use the same methodology as stratigraphy, relativity, and quantum mechanics (although one of the last two has to be at least partially wrong, since they contridict one another. They are still two of the most tested and useful theories in all science).
As for the reader who implied we've been reading too much Popper: Human beings are capricious observers. Science, whether historical or observational, is currently the only way we have of slowly weeding out our own biases. Frankly, conversations like these border on the same vein as creationism.

Now I have to get back to making sure Matt wastes his time... ;-)

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