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critical thinking



The recent dig prompts a different response. Over the many years that the DML 
has been in exsistence, the quality of the discussions have varied from 
excellent to darn right poor. Excellent discussions involve some thought, not 
just the first idea that pops into your noggin. There is more to it than "I 
think it, therefore it must be." There are some out there for whom a thoughtful 
answer is the norm (e.g., Mickey Mortimer), but a few others .... My comment 
about trying to change the level of thinking on DML isn't directed to those who 
already engage in scientific thinking, but to those who have yet to think, "Is 
this idea reasonable?" There really is some parallel between this "sloppy" 
(sorry for this word) thinking and the thinking of Creationists. For example, a 
Creationist really put his foot in his mouth in discussing an extinct whale. I 
asked him if the whale drowned in the Flood. The silliness of his earlier 
statement suddenly struck him and he walked off. Likewise, th!
 er!
e have been some darn right silly statements on the list from not thinking 
something through. So does this mean that there is no room for speculation? Not 
at all, because it is speculation that forms the basis for developing a 
hypothesis. Horner's speculation about parental care prompted some careful 
analysis of the fossil record. This would not have happened if the speculation 
was not there as a reference frame for study. But it becomes another matter 
when speculation evolves into accepted fact. In this case, the Emperor has no 
clothes.

Like it or not, we can only understand the past by understanding the present. 
There may indeed be things about the past that were different than what we know 
today, but we have no reference to comprehend those. Even speculations about 
life on other planets are framed by what we know of life on earth today, 
biochemistry, pysical laws, etc. In many ways, speculations about the nature of 
life on other planets and extinct life on Earth are very similar. Perhaps that 
is why Dougal Dixon has done illustation books on both topics. 

So the point of all this is that any of you on the list can do science by first 
learning critical thinking. Any of you can publish scientific papers provided 
you first learn this one point. You do NOT need a college degree, a myth some 
hold. Karl Hirsch, before he died, was THE world's expert on fossil eggs. He 
graduated from high school, then was drafted into Hitler's army and fought on 
the eastern front. Afterwards, he was a machinist (how blue collar can you 
get?), when he developed a passion for fossil eggs and published extensively on 
the subject. So if he can do it, so can you - learn critical thinking.

Ken