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Museum oversight

Michael Schmidt (dmschmidt@sprint.ca) wonders:

> What I would really like to see is an honest answer to who, exactly,
> polices academics and these so called professionals??

Most museums have boards of directors which establish policies and
attempt to ensure that those policies are carried out.  In the United
States they are helped by organizations such as the American
Association of Museums.  You might want to look at their Museum
Assessment Program:


> I have seen acts of destruction and mismanagement of collections (by
> so called professionals) so extreme that these people should have
> been brought up on charges....

I presume that you actually attempted to contact law enforcement
authorities or at least those responsible for governing the
collections departments in which these events occurred, yes?  And what
were the results?

> While in France earlier this year, I was told a very interesting
> story in which the following occurred:

Presumably the person who told you the story (or the person who told
that person or the person who told that person or... whoever was the
actual witness to the event) was responsible and contacted appropriate
authorities just as you did, right?  And what was the result?

> An academic who found a T-rex this summer (while on a school funded
> dig) and then decided to sell it springs to mind.  Although this
> news story was touched on by a few members of this list, never was
> there any comments (to my knowledge) concerning the unethical nature
> of his actions.

HP Steve Brusatte should have been surprised by your claim:


Mary rightfully shut down that particular thread just after that
message, so others didn't have a chance to voice their concerns.  If
anyone wants to kick around their views on the ethics of graduate
students attempting to sell fossils they find, feel free as long as
you don't refer to students with fossils currently up for sale.

> Simply put, this list is biased.  Commercial collectors are ALWAYS
> unscrupulous, and academics are ALWAYS the pinnacle of ethical
> behavior......

The mere fact that you are allowed to post such messages without
formal censure puts the lie to your overall claim.  List participants
lean toward the academic side of most issues because the list was
created to discuss dinosaur *science*.  Thus by design we have tried
to keep scientists happy here.  Scientists are the people most capable
of discussing dinosaur science, and for a variety of cultural reasons
contemporary scientists tend not to be commercial collectors (and vice
versa).  Nevertheless, provided that people do not aid in the sale of
fossils, drift too far off topic, or deliberately (alright or
callously) inflame other subscribers, they are welcome to state and
support whatever beliefs they have.

Mickey Rowe     (rowe@psych.ucsb.edu)