[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

RE: Stegosaurus preparation photos take two...



> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> frank bliss
>
> I perceived it was the
> "paleontologists" who were making a significant amount of the noise in
> this discussion about the level of achievement necessary to be titled
> as such.

Which is rather unusual, given the following observations based on the Dinolist 
Archives:

Using this post (http://dml.cmnh.org/2005Apr/msg00366.html) as the starting 
point, the relevant posters have been:
Varner (paleoartist)    7 posts
Schmidt (fossil dealer) 3 posts
Hartman (graduate student in vertebrate paleontology)   2 posts (1 sent 
multiple times)
Ohmes (?)       2 posts
Simon (?)       2 posts
Holtz (professional paleontologist)     1 post (okay, now 2 posts)
Cliff Green (artist)    1 post
Hirvela (?)     1 post
Dykes (amateur paleo-bookkeeper)        1 post
ReBecca Hunt (graduate student in vertebrate paleontology)      1 post
Rey (paleoartist)       1 post
Williams (professional paleontologist)  1 post
Pharris (graduate student in linguistics)       1 post
John Hunt (?)   1 post

Tim Williams and I are the only two professional degreed paleos (as far as I 
could see with my admittedly hurried glance) who have
posted on these threads. And I made it very clear in my posting that plenty of 
actual paleontologists (i.e., people who do
paleontology, which is a science) do not actually have degrees. So long as they 
are doing science, they are scientists, degree or
not.

And yet time and time again people who don't actually do science (see earlier 
posting for definition) are introduced on talk shows
and such as "paleontologists". Well, no, they aren't. Sorry if that makes some 
people feel bad, but I'm not in the "make people feel
good business"; I'm a scientist.

Science cannot get done without a lot of help. We need administrators to run 
institutions and help find funding; preparators to
clean the specimens (although they may also be researchers in their own right: 
see below); artists to illustrate them; editors and
publishers to run the journals; and most importantly of all, field workers to 
help collect the specimens. (And, at some places,
graduate students to do all the work...) But the administrators, editors, and 
publishers don't claim to be paleontologists, and
those preparators who aren't interested in research are happy to call 
themselves preparators. Graduate students rightly and fairly
call themselves paleontologists in training, as already stated on this list and 
in stark contrast to Frank's assertion that the
professionals somehow believe that paleos are born fully formed ex nihilo.

Sometimes, I gotta wonder: do nuclear physicists and geochemists and 
microbiologists have this same issue...?

Incidentally, what does Horner have to say about the issue of 
preparators-as-scientists? Let's see... oh, here it is! _Digging
Dinosaurs_, p. 22 [talking about his days at Princeton]:
        "A preparator's lot can vary greatly depending on his boss. He may be 
only a backroom technician, a hired hand with no say in the
research. Or he may work as a junior partner in the research, collaborating 
with his boss rather than just scubbing clean the
summer's haul of femurs and tibias. My situation was probably the best a 
preparator could hope for. My boss, Don Baird, and I worked
together on several research projects."

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796