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Re: <philosophy> A little off subject...Re: Sue had no wishbone...
At 9:04 AM -0500 2/26/01, Brent Jones wrote:
"A Little Off Subject"? Whew, boy howdy!
<SNIP> but the dinolist comes to work, not home
What is this thing........... home?
Being an amateur who works for a museum, I find myself in the middle
of this discussion: as a part of my job, I am expected to answer
questions on paleontology based on what I have read here and on the
web. Having said that, in my job, I am the first person to suggest
to our museums' guests that they may want to contact a person who
works professionally in this field. Someone who has studied this
subject extensively. Someboday having those letters after their
name, because that not only represents having studied, that
represents having mastered the material to the extent that an
institution responded by giving the accolade "PhD".
It's also the band-aid that goes on to cover the radiation burns that
are left from having satisfied your committee that you are not going
to embarrass them for the end of time and that is wasn't a waste to
support your education for 3-5 years. After all, who is going to get
asked: "You gave Dr. XX a Ph.D? What were you thinking?" Not you -
your Academic Advisor is going to take the blame for you.
I also get several comments from our guests that they feel that
their petty concerns are not worthy of interrupting such an
This one never ceases to baffle me. Students do it too. "I didn't
want to bother you." Sheesh. Read on:
For Crying Outloud. Ask a question! Please!
Just don't always expect an instant answer. Like anything.
The problem seems to me to be more of perception than reality.
"Academics" (note the quotations!) seem to the genereal public to be
too busy working on their 18 million different tasks
Blame the job. See today's Chronicle of Education in which one report
says that a professor at a particular university is going to be
allocated research space based upon their ability to "successfully
obtain grant money." Gives a whole different meaning to "publish or
perish" doesn't it?
to be "bothered" by a little question.
No question is "little" just as there really isn't a "dumb question."
While I in particular may fire what might appear to be a flippant
answer at times, it is often as with any of us, just buoyant
personality that is at play. A Ph.D. like anyone else must get older
but also like everyone else we have this option: We don't have to
grow up. The world is our playground and sandbox. I have to get older
and that doesn't mean that I must become what is my perception of
stodgy to do it. <grin>
Whereas I am not - my job is to answer questions. Many of the folks
who mention that they feel a professional would be too busy to
answer their question freely admit that they have not asked one yet.
Yep. I love having questions in lecture. Yet they are rare. If a
student asks me a question I will focus completely on what was asked
and if I have to continue the lecture material the next day, so what.
And those paleontologists who seem unwilling to answer questions?
Maybe I got them on a bad day; maybe a major part of their ongoing
research just was "misplaced" somewhere; maybe their significant
other just called to say that their pet wandered away. Who knows? I
believe that most professional paleontologists are dying to answer
questions - look at all of the folks who belong to this list!
Good perceptions. And if we say "come back later" or "can I answer
you later" we probably really mean it and "later" is like everything
else, it's relative.
And then the whole comment about museums and the "treasure troves"
of fossils that they hide! Oh, please! This is an extension of the
same problem - "museums are secret places, where so much work
happens behind closed doors<SNIP>.
Museums are libraries with fossils in them. A Ph.D. is your library
card. You have to work to get the library card. Not everything in
life is free. Give anyone, me or anyone else more money to fund a
graduate student and I/we could clear 10 problems off of our/my
plate(s) and send them to a dozen museums to look at specimens and
I even have to admit, the person who originally wrote about all the
fossils that were labelled "unknown" admitted that there were not
enough hands around to do the piled up work of preparing,
identifying, cataloguing and displaying all of those years of
accumulated fossils. So how do we get around this?
Quit digging? <smirk>
=00= =00= =00= =00=
Marilyn D. Wegweiser, Ph.D.
Adjunct Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology
Cincinnati Natural History Museum
Assistant Professor of Geology
Department of Geology firstname.lastname@example.org
Ball State University Office: 765-285-8268;765-285-8270
Muncie, Indiana 47306 FAX: 765-285-8265