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Re: Who says dromaeosaurs can't fly?

On Sunday, September 15, 2002, at 05:14 PM, Tracy L. Ford wrote:

Welcome to the world of Paleontology.

To me paleontology is more like philosophy than other sciences. Unlike
molecular science in paleo you don't have the chance of discounting theories
with cold hard physical evidence. We have to relay on theories and beliefs,
whether it's our own or a computers (i.e. cladistics). That's the way it is
in paleo.

All science is theory driven, not specifically palaeontology. Molecular science involves a set of assumptions, just like palaeontology. As for "cold hard physical evidence", the last time I checked, fossils were pretty cold and hard.

Many of the things we would like to know are very hard to test, but that doesn't mean that palaeontology is just a relaying of belief, which is what you seem to be saying.

I think the philosophical attack on cladistics has been pretty unsuccessful, as cladistics is based on some philosophies very basic to science. The fact that the calculation is done on computers has nothing to do with it. We may as well be telling theoretical physicists that they have to do the calculations in their heads, because computers can't be trusted.

The idea that palaeontology is entirely subjective is a dangerous one, which will not help progression.

And if you can't prove cladisically when or if some animals could fly, why
to cladist argue about it so much? Sure, some say, it's possible that some
dinosaurs could fly or climb trees, then argue completely against it (see
Holtz and Haedden's posts). This is one of the things that bothers me which
makes me not believe what they are trying to say.

Attack the theories, not the people. Just because some cladists believe A and B, doesn't mean that A and B have to go together. Just because some cladists hold an erroneous belief, doesn't mean that cladistics is wrong.

I suggest we adjust our mind to another reality, the art of palaeontology dying, the science of palaeontology is being born.

Oh, almost forgot: dinosaurs.

John Conway, Palaeoartist

"All art is quite useless." - Oscar Wilde

Systematic ramblings: http://homepage.mac.com/john_conway/
Palaeoart: http://homepage.mac.com/john_conway/_palaeoart.html