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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
>> 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.
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.