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Re: Stegosaurus preparation photos take two...

Don, thanks for the honorary PhD but I broke education (because a grad student got paid very little in the 1980's) after a Masters to go make money. No Dr. please.
Frank Bliss
MS Biostratigraphy
Weston, Wyoming

On Apr 27, 2005, at 5:22 PM, don ohmes wrote:

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 You are an unpublished amateur, I don't need to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!


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
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
accomplished paleontologist you have to fulfill all
these obligations.
But I include a few more personal observations about
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

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
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
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

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

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.
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