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Re: Stegosaurus preparation photos take two...

To Thomas Holtz:
My posts were both totally off-topic so you should
remove me from your sample. The question mark, I am
happy to say, was totally appropriate.

To all:
I have not contributed to this discussion because
neither side (with the probable exception of Frank)
would like my opinions. Were I to speak my mind
freely, I would certainly be barred from the list.
I'll mostly settle for "What Dr. Frank Said." 


On 'creeping academic guildism' or 'paleo-fascism'.: 
I have been told, point-blank, that as an
uncredentialed amateur, it is "OK, I guess, for you to
go the library and datamine, but that it NOT OK to
form, test or advance new hypotheses. Especially
radical ones that may require the re-writing of
textbooks. You just can't do that." "I'm the pope and
you're Galileo." "Hey, thats pretty good, I've got
some data to corroborate that, I think I'll publish
it. You are an unpublished amateur, I don't need to
give you credit for the idea." "This idea is to big
for an amateur. Some professional will take it up,
eventually." All from conversations with well-known,
published PhDs. Note that "professional pride" is the
matrix here.

There are also very decent PhD types (even some grad
students, which is kind of amazing) out there who have
treated me very fairly indeed, and it ain't always
been easy for them. They are wonderful people, and I
hope they are not in any trouble. Sheesh.

You see, to many 21st century academic professionals,
the well of ideas is like an archeological site in
that unqualified people should not be allowed to
plunder around messing stuff up. If they do, it's war,
and all's fair. Kooky theories are OK, re-doing old
stuff is OK, but robust new ideas are strictly
off-limits. If you have tendencies in that direction
you should not be allowed to access or obtain raw data
or peer-reviewed material. In other words, they want
to take the world back to the way it has always been.
Keep your mouth shut, know your place, and stay off
the King's lands.


Don Ohmes

"Sometimes I think we should hang the whole human race
and start over." Mark Twain.

"What do we do with the hangman? Can he be trusted to
finish the job?" Don Ohmes.

--- frank bliss <frank@blissnet.com> wrote:

> This is  an amazing group to say the least, what a
> brain trust!
> Tom,
> I stand chastised on who was making the "noise".  It
> was not meant 
> personally to anyone in particular just a flawed,
> not well thought 
> through observation (I believe I said perception). 
> I didn't mean to 
> suggest that paleontologist are created out of
> nothing but it takes an 
> initiating spark (like life was created out of the
> soup) and one is 
> born.  I bet you always knew you were a
> paleontologist growing up only 
> to discover when you actually became one, you
> weren't all along.  Ahh, 
> the delusions of youth. I believe my point was that
> paleontologists 
> evolve and suddenly become real paleontologists upon
> the completion of 
> a series of hurdles that have yet to become entirely
> clear to me.  
> Gradualists need not apply.  One day your not, and
> the next you are. 
> Thus the punctuation analogy.
> Apparently there is a broadly based opinion on the
> list that you have 
> to be professional ie. published/degreed/underpaid
> and peer reviewed to 
> be a paleontologist. I hereby agree that to be an
> "official" 
> accomplished paleontologist you have to fulfill all
> these obligations. 
> But I include a few more personal observations about
> obvious 
> contradictions in the logic.
> Though I am retired and ranching, I write a weekly
> local newspaper 
> column about geology, all the locals consider me a
> geologist. I must 
> admit I have occasionally have been introduced to
> groups of kids as a 
> paleontologist, usually by the teacher and not by
> me.  This will stop 
> immediately.
> As a result, I also suppose that paleontology, used
> as an adjective, 
> will become more necessary when being introduced as
> a speaker (for 
> example) to a mixed class from kindergarten to 6th
> grade from a local 
> school.  Since my highly detailed masters thesis was
> concerning 
> biostratigraphic issues, I should be introduced to
> the kids as Mr. 
> Bliss, Biostratigrapher just so I can watch the kids
> eyes spin in their 
> orbits.  It was much easier to steal (apparently)
> the title of 
> paleontologist to explain an affiliation of interest
> and activity than 
> to go into the fact that I am a 30 year experienced 
> collector/preparator of old dead things, with
> hundreds of fossils in 
> repository, who happens to have an advanced degree
> in a geological 
> field with a pseudo-working knowledge of a few
> paleontological issues.  
> I now will have to introduce myself as a
> paleontologically oriented 
> biostratigrapher who happens to collect dinosaur
> bones on my ranch 
> toward the furtherance of the science.  I have a
> suspicion that I just 
> lost all the K-third grade kids, most of the rest of
> them, and probably 
> the teachers.  It is hard to get kids back into your
> talk if you loose 
> them on the first thing you say.  This may be new to
> those of you that 
> teach undergraduates/post graduates since they are
> lost before the 
> discussion starts most of the time because of the
> hang over from the 
> night before.  I guess that all the glory and big
> money that I get from 
> grade school talks, opening up with any kind of
> paleontological title 
> will have to go by the wayside. I don't consider
> myself a 
> paleontologist anyway so c'est la vie.  I suspect it
> was just a 
> linguistic conveyance to communicate the issue to
> young minds.  I bet I 
> am the only guy on the list though with 4 big
> tattoos of fossils on 
> board.  (I think this ought to be a prerequisite for
> the title because 
> if you think you have suffered for the science, get
> a big trilobite 
> tattooed on your shoulder and reconsider the point!)
> I always have my 
> illustrations with me. ;-)
> I always thought when you got paid regularly to do
> something that you 
> were considered professional at it.  (just ask the
> IRS, professional 
> photographers and musicians) But that is flawed
> thinking here because 
> professional collectors get paid for what they do
> and the SVP will have 
> nothing to do with them let alone let any of them be
> called 
> paleontologists (except for a few special cases
> perhaps?) Do you have 
> to make a living as a paleontologist to be one?  I
> am not sure if any 
> paleontologists actually make a living as they
> should.  But wait, the 
> bigger money is with those that get big publicity.
> If I were being paid 
> as a paleontologist, I would consider my self one
> BTW.
> I do believe however, such issues are indeed fairly
> specific to this 
> science because I have never heard of this before
> this week and I 
> consider myself a pretty good observer of science.
> Maybe I should just 
> stick with Geologist as my personal title, but wait,
> I have worked 
> professionally as a geologic consultant, given
> advice to county and 
> state governments, been a spokesman for and
> secretary of the board for 
> a professional group of 30 plus geologists (the
> Geologists of Jackson 
> Hole), but I haven't published any of it in the
> journals.  I guess I am 
> not a geologist either.  I am trying to figure out
> why I spent 6 years 
> in college, and got that masters degree. This
> becomes very messy 
> doesn't it.  I guess I am just a collector now.  But
> wait, I have never 
> been paid as a collector.  Arrrrgh.  That leaves
> rancher.  Whoops 
> ....... I forgot that ranchers never make money and
> they sure as heck 
> don't publish very much. So much for professional
> ranchers. At least I 
> am an EMT, no wait, I am a
> volunteer............................
> Obviously there are many levels of achievement in
> any profession.  A 
> police officer that is a beginning road officer is
> still a cop as is 
> the desk captain who has obtained a much higher
> level of achievement 
> and training.  The main confusion is not within this
> list anymore, but 
> with the public and the public response to the
> publicity.  I am not 
> sure that some people who call themselves
> paleontologist (I mean the 
> ones that apparently by quorum, don't deserve it.)
> mean it like someone 
> claiming to be a medical doctor when they are not. 
> As I explained 
> above, it is a matter of expediency of communication
> that makes up for 
> the difficulty in communicating ones general
> interest.  I have no doubt 
> that some abuse the title occurs.
> Does the public as a whole actually grasp this
> publicity issue?  Of 
> course not, my point is that it is granted that
> highly educated and 
> accomplished paleontological types have the right
> and should be able to 
> call them selves what ever they want.  Do they have
> an official lock on 
> the title? Not yet. The SVP should press to get a
> law passed to 
> governmentally license the occupation in order to
> prevent somebody from 
> gaining from improperly using the title. (Oh boy,
> more government 
> control!)  There are licensed professional
> geologists now to go along 
> with licensed medical doctors,  psychs, etc, etc. 
> There 
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