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RE: Sue on ABC

Hi, Jeff.  Yes, I'm still around, though I haven't been logging on to The
List for awhile.

What do I think of the press coverage?  Well, I think it confirms your
intuition that "folklore and legend" vastly outweigh scientific interest in
the story of Sue.  But I don't find this surprising since, as I argued in
the Last (!) Dinosaur Book, dinosaurs are totem animals for modern
societies.  Anthropomorphism, fantasy and speculation, metaphoric
associations, and the repetition of certain rituals of rebirth,
resurrection, and renewal are endemic to the dinosaur cult.  I don't say
this to question the real science that goes into dinosaur research, but to
apply some hard-headed cultural science to the phenomena of dinomania.

I'm not in a good position, as a non-paleontologist, to draw very sharp
lines between facts and fantasies about Sue.  And sometimes facts can get
absorbed into fantasies and vice versa.  I leave this to you guys to sort
out.  I would be very interested to hear what specifically you think of as
the mythical elements in the current retelling of the find.  Perhaps I can
help in the interpretation.

Good to hear from you.  All the best, Tom Mitchell

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Hecht [mailto:jhecht@world.std.com]
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2000 5:44 PM
To: MKIRKALDY@aol.com; dinosaur@usc.edu; wjtm@midway.uchicago.edu
Subject: Re: Sue on ABC

Mary KIRKALDY@aol.com wrote:
>Two things that have bothered me during the past week's
>coverage are the concentration on the human aspect of
>the story and the anthropomorphizing of Sue the _T.
>rex_.  Folklore and legend come to mind in the
>retelling of the find, and it just keeps getting better
>and better.  The program's title of 20/20 also
>describes the genius of hindsight in recalling events.
I wonder what W. J. T. (Tom) Mitchell, cultural historian and author
of The Last Dinosaur Book, would think about press coverage? Are you
still around, Tom? -- Jeff Hecht