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Re: Who says dromaeosaurs can't fly?



You said:
<If hypotheses are not bound to be falsifiable and tested we 
are doing religion
not science. We can forcefully argue for our own convictions 
or the results of
our research but (theoretically at least) I refuse to be drawn 
into a sort of
Feduccia personal thing: "Them or Us".
By what you are describing then Holtz and Headden ARE doing science. 
They are
able to conceive a hypothesis and then reject it and still be 
able to accept
the possibility that both could be true until  hard facts tell 
you wrong. Why
not?>

Please remember the type of testing that you're talking about. 
 As you know, evolution can be neither seen nor rerun to test 
any paleontological hypothesis.  Therefore, the type of testing 
that you're talking about is looking at the quality of an idea 
instead of implementing practical tests of the implications of 
the hypothesis, as you might be able to do in another science.
If someone wanted to be hard-headed, testing an idea against 
other ideas could be called philosophy.  To me, because the standards 
(the ideas against which paleontological hypotheses are tested) 
are based on the best available observations from many fields 
and are applied with rigorous honesty, paleontology 
deserves to be considered a science.
But insistence about the nature of paleontology alone is not 
sufficient.  Like any other hypothesis, it has to be tested (and 
that test itself could be called philosophical).  Science was 
originally called Natural Philosophy, and in some sense it still 
could be.

= = = Original message = = =

"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.

Well yes in a sense, but unlike philosophers (or like some philosophers 
willing
to do so) we should be ready to test  and submit to  hard facts 
when they are
produced. Paleontology is after all science not pure, idle speculation.

>
>
> 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.
>

Now Tracy, as you well know I have always taken a hard line against 
taking a
either/or line, and still manage to be convinced of certain things. 
I have
always been a big advocate of the trees down theory for example 
(now I'm
decanting towards a combination of run-up trees  and down again... 
but that is
another story... I have had really hard discussions with 'dogmatics' 
from
either side).
If hypotheses are not bound to be falsifiable and tested we are 
doing religion
not science. We can forcefully argue for our own convictions 
or the results of
our research but (theoretically at least) I refuse to be drawn 
into a sort of
Feduccia personal thing: "Them or Us".
By what you are describing then Holtz and Headden ARE doing science. 
They are
able to conceive a hypothesis and then reject it and still be 
able to accept
the possibility that both could be true until  hard facts tell 
you wrong. Why
not?

And yes, who says dromaeosaurs couldn't fly?  I'd say me... depending 
on the
dromaeosaur, of course.

Luis Rey

Visit my website on http://www.ndirect.co.uk/~luisrey


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