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RE: Peering at review

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
Jaime A. Headden
Sent: Sunday, October 20, 2002 8:26 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Cc: GSP1954@aol.com
Subject: Re: Peering at review

Greg Paul (GSP1954@aol.com) wrote:

<About PR in general, back in the 80s I came up with the wild and wacky
notion that a number of predatory dinosaur groups were secondarily
flightless. What was I thinking?! Fool that I was I published the idea in
84 and 88. In both cases in nonPR venues. I remember folk giving me heck
for doing so, and for coming up with such a silly notion anyway. Even had
to take the uncinates I was putting on dromaeosaur skeletons off in some
cases - the ones present on the fighting Velociraptor in the classic
quarry photo?. Mere optical illusion.>

  Yup, know what you're saying. Adding them to *Deinonychus* I could argue
with, and many other taxa show no evidence for it, but I've seen others
add full details and conjured hypothetical structures to animals that are
not supported in the specimens offered. Even restoring skull material from
missing data based on some phylogenetic scheme. One example may be the
type *Cathayornis yandica* skull, which lacks definition in the posterior
region aside from numerus plates and rods.<<

This isn't new, it's been going on for nearly as long as paleontology.

>> Little of which can be
attributed to squamosals, quadrates, pterygoids, palatines,
quadratojugals, or jugals, but you see them crop up all over the place.
Peer review (not the formal scientific pattern, but in general, just
anyone with a bit of knowledge) can add information and permits us to be
much more concise if some other data out there can advance our work, or
permit alternate, equivalent assumptions to be made that can then be

Yea right. Do you know how many times the WRONG skull of Triceratops
flabellatus has been used? Even today? I keep harping about that but come
on. Peer review doesn't go into the illustrations apparently.

>> Essential peer review is not the referee system, where they say
yea or neigh to publication, but even then is still essential to a
critical analysis.<<

What? Do you know how many papers not been published because OF peer review?

 >>A wise man said once to me: "There's nothing like
having your thesis ripped up in front of you to destroy your personality"
... but it builds a better science.<<

Or shuts down what people don't want to read.

>> Otherwise, science isn't helped by any
jack-an-ape theory being advanced (and I'm not talking about Greg's) when
the strength of the argument or the science involved is crap.<<

Oh man, I've read some dozy of papers jack-an-ape theory's that make you
wonder how it got published.

<Anyhow, it is doubtful that the secondarily flightless hypothesis would
have gotten past PR.>

  Why? The book is fine.<<

Ah you kids, so naive...Let me fill you in on something, It happened, Greg
was thought to out of his mind and he is totally correct in saying that
wouldn't have gotten past peer review. Right now my long list of names of
all names of Paleozoic and Mesozoic tetrapods won't get published because
(by the NMMNH, at least for now) because two reviewers thought it wasn't
worth the paper it would be printed on. I only received a few reviews back
(still waiting for the other 16 sections). One is on the footprints, which I
will admit was the one that needed the most work, and the other was on
pterosaurs (he hated it). It's just a list of names.

 >>I get the really odd impression from listening to
arguments by Tracy, George, and yourself among the prominent voacalists
that  peer review will destroy something outside of "dogmatic" thought,
defining dogma as anything generally held to be true within a strict
group. Meaning, not your stuff. But as others have said and I said above,
formal peer review in most journals 2ndF could be published, it is not
about beliefs, its about data.<<

That'd be great, but reality is another thing.

>> Maybe Georgre resents it because BCF has
not been received well by other scientists, but thats based on data, not
personal ideals.<<

Yea, right.

Now there is something I'd like to understand. Why is it that when someone
wrote a book about how manarapterians were NOT theropods but birds he got so
chastised that his scientific integrity (if that is the correct term) was
extremely questioned (to say the least) and when Larry Martin says the same
thing, it's ok? What gives?

What it is is this, he, like Greg, George and I are outsiders...:), and thus
goes the peer reviews and if they had really gotten their teeth into the
book, that would have been taken out and he would not be credited for coming
up with that (independently from Martin).

And, while were on this type of thing, the talk that put Alverazsaurids into
Naosaurids isn't knew. George had already done it in his Dino Press article,
but will he get cited for it? Hell now.

Clarification note:

Now I don't want people to believe that I DON'T believe in peer review, I
do. Mainly because it does add weight (to a degree) to the paper and that it
IS best done for not only the paper but for the author also. I just about
always will send out a paper to a personal peer reviewer before I submitted
it, and then get it peer reviewed again. I'm not arguing against peer
review. I want the list to understand that peer reviewers hold a hell of a
lot of more weight about the article that they are reviewing than is
generally believed.


Jaime A. Headden

Tracy L. Ford
P. O. Box 1171
Poway Ca  92074