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Re: Sheesh

On 10/24/06, Mike Taylor <mike@indexdata.com> wrote:
I can see that this discussion is not likely to reach a consensus, so
I will put a sock in it before I put a foot in my mouth.  However, let
just get in a final statement before I retire from this fray (and I'm
sure Mike will do the same :-)

Well, I won't think too harshly of you if you change your mind.... :)

>> I hate to disagree with you, Tom, but -- well -- I disagree.  I
>> don't see how this is any different from asking "I wonder why no
>> fish developed the ability to suckle their young".  If someone
>> asked that question, I wouldn't expect to see responses saying "One
>> subclade did", referring to Mammalia.
> But how is this an interesting question? Surely the more interesting
> question is, "I wonder why only certain synapsids* developed the
> ability to suckle their young?"

That may or may not be a "more interesting" question.  But it is not
the one that I asked.

But (in all likelihood) the answer is the same. This reworking focuses more on the crux of the matter, that suckling is a completely unique trait of certain synapsids (including mammals). It's not strange that fish lack it. You might as well ask why humans don't spin silky webs from their butts.

After all, one of the most important things in science is to ask the
right questions.

 I don't believe that people should be able to
rewrite others' question in the name of preserving their own
terminological preferences -- or for any other reason.

It's not really about terminological preferences, though. Whether you call members of Clade Dinosauria minus Aves "dinosaurs" or "non-avian dinosaurs" doesn't really make a difference here (although it would be nice for purposes of clarity if we could agree on one, and I think the latter is preferable). The fact is that, whatever you call this group, it's not the group which best corresponds to the phenomenon in question.

The original wording is not necessarily incorrect, but it is
potentially misleading. If you note that no (non-avian) dinosaur is
aquatic (which is correct), you could then reason that, since
(non-avian) dinosaurs are characterized by certain locomotory
commonalities, such as upright stance and flightlessness, then those
might be correlated. But by refining the question to asking why no
non-ornithuran pan-avians are flightless, we can emphasize that there
are related volant groups (non-ornithuran avialans, pterosaurs) and
possibly sprawling groups (pterosauromorphs?, basal pan-avians?) which
also never became aquatic. The answer must be something else, perhaps
something to do with traits of ornithurans (or perhaps even
independently-acquired traits of hesperornitheans and neognathes).

If somebody asks me one question, it is at best bad manners if I answer a
different one.

Even if the answer is the same?

Then I accuse you of Spockism -- an intelligent man behaving stupidly
either to make a point or because the script demands it.

Live long and prosper. -- T. Michael Keesey The Dinosauricon: http://dino.lm.com Parry & Carney: http://parryandcarney.com