[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Re: Stegosaurus preparation photos take two...
First of all, Frank, please accept my sincere thanks for your work as
an EMT. While I support the importance of basic scientific research,
nothing I will ever do in this field will have the immediate level of
impact and emotional importance that saving lives has. That is truly
I don't, however, think it's entirely fair to suggest that "...there is
an emotional need to make a distinction between a "paleontologist" and
a 6 year old who just found their first fossil. You both are on the
same team. One just has more ego than the other."
I'm not sure it's the paleontologists who are desplaying an ego trip.
For example, imagine (actually, you can probably just use your personal
experience) that you were at the scene of a horrific accident. And in
this case an EMT was being interviewed by a local television crew. What
would the other EMTs have thought, let along the nurses and doctors, if
on the evening news that EMT had kept referring to himself as a doctor?
Like, "In my opinion, as a doctor, I knew the person would not survive
as soon as we arrived on the scene"? Who, in this case, is displaying
an emotional need to benefit their ego? I don't think it would be the
doctors who went through medical school, I think it would be the EMT
who apparently (and wrongly) thought so little of his job that he or
she felt the need to grab a different professional title to sound more
I am happy to be the first to agree that people who dig up fossils are
extremely important to paleontology. It would be awfully hard to do the
science without them. Likewise, fossil preparators are incredibly
important. But if a fossil preparator refers to him or herself as a
"paleontologist" I still think they are the ones trying to inflate
their sense of self worth, not the paleontologists. Worse, it is
belittling the all-important contribution that preparators make.
I have published a few minor papers and made some presentations at
professional meetings, so in theory I would fall under my own minimum
definition of "paleontologist." That being said, I still would feel
uncomfortable using that term to refer to myself in an interview. I'd
use "student of paleontology" until such time as I can contribute more
frequently to the science. In all likelihood this will happen near the
end of grad school for me. On the other hand, with a number of years
of field experience, I can certainly refer to myself as an experienced
field hand (although it's been a few years now, so I'm probably out of
practice). I also have prepped a number of bones, but that was even
longer ago, and I was never terribly skilled at it, so I don't ever
refer to myself as a fossil preparator.
Now, why should fossil collectors of any ilk have the emotional "need"
to call themselves something they aren't? Certainly when the public
hears the term "paleontologist" they think of someone who is a
scientist. Not to sound like I'm picking on fossil collectors either;
we all know that there are some paleontologists don't do much field
work, and I think we'd all think it was equally wierd if they
publically referred to themselves as excavators, expedition leaders, or
I do think you hit the crux of the matter when you said "we're all on
the same team." Because, of course, some paleontologists do question
whether all collectors are in fact on the same team as the scientists
are. That's a discussion for another time (and another list), but
surely we can all participate in this debate without some people
asserting they are scientists when they are not, in fact, doing
science? I thought that was just common decency.
Zoology & Physiology
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82070