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Re: Tis Time to Get Medieval on Alan Feduccia



MariusRomanus@aol.com wrote-

> When I read this thing, I can't help but wonder what in the world Feduccia
is thinking, and why he voluntarily puts it in print.

He's been doing it for years now.  Note that his ideas are still stuck in
the 80's (Deinonychus as the earliest deinonychosaur, all dinosaurs as
"fairly large" and terrestrial, etc.).  I liked the fact he just skimmed
over the feathered dromaeosaurs.  Apparently the main difficulty in telling
apart neoflightless birds from dinosaurs is the presence of forged fossils,
which is a ludicrous stance.  Would be interesting to know what excuse he
would fall back on if the Archaeoraptor thing never happened.
I would have liked to read what he thought of Cryptovolans, to see if he
agrees with the new Martin-Czerkas ABSRDist doctrine.

> Doesn't it anger any of you see... in print... in a popular magazine on
every magazine rack for all to read... allegations of how the paleontology
that deals with dinosaur-bird origins isn't really science at all...

Yeah, but it's more sad than anything else.  I wonder just how Feduccia
manages to be a scientist, yet ignore so much data and logic.

> Isn't it about time to end this once and for all??? Some of you with the
connections should contact The Discovery Channel... Have them make a show...
But this will be unlike any other show that has ever been done... Place
Feduccia and what he calls "the army of people out there who do not buy into
it [dinosaur-bird]. We are just not as vocal as the other side.", and allow
for his army to remove their gags and speak. Let Feduccia make his bold
claims... Let the General go into battle with his army... BUT!!!! On the
other side of the table will be sitting our knights... Norell, Paul, Holtz,
Currie, Chiappe, etc etc etc... No fancy effects... No animations... Just a
simple, straight to the point, no nonsense debate. Evidence against
evidence. Point against point. Claim against claim. Harcore science.
Straight up shots of the finest paleo moonshine. No sissy wine coolers. To
hell with Bartles and James. Let the public hear what this science is all
about.

The problem with this is that the issues are too specialized for the public.
Which is why this interview didn't really address the questions I would like
to hear him answer.  To make/defend claims, each side would have to bring up
scientific concepts that most people just wouldn't know (and which would
take too long to explain in a tv show).  I suppose it could be a miniseries
or something, but the public has little times for those, especially without
flashy animations and effects.  Remember too, that if done right, the latter
could really help the public understand and embrace the issue.
On the other hand, a day long debate at SVP would be better.  But to really
be effective, it would have to ignore much of the etiquette that normally
exists in scientific debates.  In round table discussions I've read, and
question/answer sessions at SVP I've seen, people can usually get out of
tough questions by stating claims not disprovable on the floor, giving a
generalized opinion, or making a joke.  For this to work, BADDists would
really have to pressure ABSRDists for concrete answers and reasons.  And
that would be difficult to justify, as scientists are allowed to study and
believe what they want.  It would be akin to pressuring the ABSRDists to
change, which goes against normal scientific principles of letting the
evidence speak for itself.
The problem of course, is that they are ignoring the evidence.  It would be
interesting if some scientific organization were capable of forcing
scientists to address evidence against their theories, the alternative being
to lose their degrees or something.  But this would only lead to stagnation,
as there are also many honest scientists out there who are trying to support
potentially correct alternative theories, but might be prevented if they
couldn't yet deal with the problems in their ideas.  Critics force us to
closely examine our theories and are useful for catalyzing paradigm shifts
and theory modifications.  I suppose a committee could be formed to examine
cases and determine when someone was just stubbornly holding on to an idea
with no reason, but it would all be too subjective to work.  Methodologies
are as controversial as morphologies are.
Besides, ABSRDists, despite their innumerable flaws, perform useful work for
the paleontological community.  They describe taxa (Cryptovolans,
Scansoriopteryx, Eoenantiornis, etc.) and perform research (Ruben et al. on
nasal turbinates, Harwell et al. on croc respiration) that may not have been
performed as quickly otherwise.  And mortality will see to it that defunct
theories are banished from scientific journals eventually, as younger
workers are less likely to believe falsehoods as evidence against them piles
up.
Science works, it just takes time.

Mickey Mortimer