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Re: Bambiraptor (=comment on comments on Padian paper)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Simon, Robert (RISI)" <RISI@chevron.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2000 9:59 AM
Subject: RE: Bambiraptor

> The Padian paper was well-written, but somewhat misleading. Here are some
> excerpts.
> > >From Kevin Padian's paper, "Feathers, Fakes, and Fossil Dealers: How
> > the Commercial Sale of Fossils Erodes Science and Education" at
> > http://palaeo-electronica.org/2000_2/editor/padian.htm
> > --
> "Consider the case of the Tyrannosaurus named "Sue," bought at
> auction by the Disney and McDonald's for Chicago's Field Museum at a price
> of more than eight million dollars, after a long court fight and an
> jail term for the commercial collector who thought he had purchased the
> specimen from the owner of the land"
> >  The commercial collector's jail term was totally unrelated to Sue. Sue
> > was merely the catalyst in the long court battle.
> "Extended jail term" sounds like a life sentence. Padian needs to
> check his sources. The jail term was not 'extended'.

The "extended" in the phrase "extended jail term" is open to subjective
interpretation.  Some might not view a five or ten year sentence as
extended, while in my opinion anyhting more than 30 days would be an
extended jail term.  Perhaps we should ask Pete Larsen what he thinks.

> Padian then sets the stage for a wonderful Catch 22. His statements
> are conflicting and disturbing:
> He states:
> "There's a growing movement to recommend that all scientific
> journals reject out-of-hand manuscripts based on commercially collected
> specimens that are in private hands."
> Then he states:
> "Commercial collectors seldom publish scientific papers."

This is not a Catch-22 situation.  Presumably the movement to reject any
manuscript based on a specimen held in private hands would apply to all
researchers, academics and commercial collectors.  If a journal had such a
policy, then anyone (academic or commercial collector) wishing to publish on
a specimen would only have to seek out some other publication that did not
have that policy OR get the specimen into an appropriate museum collection.
I am against journals rejecting manuscripts on privately held specimens,
because I feel it is essential to document the scientific information in
those specimens in case they are eventually lost or destroyed.

Padian's observation that "Commercial collectors seldom publish scientific
papers" is correct and it has been so for years.  This is not because the
scientific community has been trying to prevent commercial collectors,
amateurs, etc. from publishing.  It is because most commercial collectors
have not had any interest in publishing on the specimens they collect.
However, some commercial collectors and amateurs have wanted to publish and
have not able to.  As far as I know, that is because they have been unable
produce a manuscript that meets the basic requirements of peer-reviewed
journals.  In such cases I have suggested that the author find a mentor or
co-author who knows how to put together an acceptable manuscript.  I do not
know of ANY instance in which a manuscript has been rejected simply because
its author was a commercial collector or amateur, nor do I know of ANY
instance in which the status of the author has been a significant factor in
the evaluation of a manuscript.

To sum up, I do not think that Padian's article was misleading in any way!


S. Christopher Bennett, Ph.D.
Asst. Prof. of Basic Sciences
College of Chiropractic
University of Bridgeport
Bridgeport, CT  06601-2449