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re: The Times and the Vampire

Thom Holtz passed on this message from Darren Naish:

On the subject of pterosaurs, there was an article all about
Dave Peters' SVP presentation in The Times' Higher
Education Supplement last week. Without spilling the
beans, I will say that it took a somewhat err, critical, view of
Dave's research.

>> Glad they spelled my name right.  ;  )  

If you missed the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, October 26, a _perhaps_ 
similar story appeared.
Headline:  Mashed monster might be vampire. 
Subhead: Artist poses theory about flying-reptile fossil; experts scoff

Don't know where the plural came from, because the article only mentioned one 
"somewhat err, critical, view." 
After a full and satisfying (to me) story, the reporter quoted an unnamed 
expert who said, "fun but unconvincing." 

That's cocktail chatter, not science. Of course the reporter might have 
condensed a wonderfully wicked and biting rejoinder into a sound bite. As you 
already know, when reading the popular press, look for substance in the 
opposing view, either a specific weakness in a presentation or a better 
solution to the problem. And if the popular press asks you for an opinion, 
don't give an opinion. Give a fact. We've all seen the frustration that the 
anti-bird=dinosaur experts have wrought in the press. This is no different. 
It's expected.

I should probably point out the fact that in the artist vs. expert (or non-PhD 
vs. PhD) battle, no one teaches a course in pterosaurology (or any of your own 
favorite niche-ologies). God knows there is no established guru of 
pterosaurology. We're all exposed to the same books. Every one of us in the 
field of study is more or less self-taught because we all love to study. We all 
visit fossils. There are a few fossils all of us have yet to see. And the 
literature has a few problems as well. I would hope that many of you would 
agree, that after ten years of study and a few published papers, like almost 
anyone on this list, the line between expert and non-expert starts getting 
blurry -- except in the popular press.

Remember, just like in the movies, it'll all work itself out in the end.

There is _so_ much more to come.

David Peters
St. Louis