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Re: Sinosauropteryx filament melanosomes challenged
After what Olson has stated in print, I don't think the wording in
this thread is unfair...
"Just as a revival tent is not the haunt of free-thinkers, there are
few authors in this book who depart from the true path and numerous
papers consist of the cladogram-thumping dogma we have come to expect
from the more insistent proponents of the BADM. Kevin Padian, the
Elmer Gantry of the theropod crusade, is an author on no fewer than
four contributions, which does nothing to diminish the impression of
the whole volume as a dreary, sectarian tract from the Kingdom Hall
of Hennig’s Witnesses."
"The whole underpinning of the BADM is cladism, a systematic
formulation elevated to a religion years ago and with adherents as
fervent as any biblical zealot."
"On the other hand, opponents who are not members of the faith can be
handily stigmatized as heretics whose views should be ignored simply
because they refuse to accept the ‘‘only’’ methodology."
Translation: "I don't like the entire science of phylogenetics, because
it fails to show I'm right; so it must all be wrong, and why doesn't
everyone else understand that!!!"
"Cladism" is an especially delicious word: science made to look like an
ideology. How very reminiscent ooooof...
"In the meantime, however, the birds-are-dinosaurs equation has
achieved cult status and has become a sociological phenomenon
embodying vigorous religious and political components and strongly
influenced by economics. Ornithologists reading Prum’s (2002)
‘‘Perspectives in Ornithology’’ should be aware that there is much
more going on here than a conflict of scientific hypotheses and
What has Olson smoked, and can I get it legally in the Netherlands???
Does he think "parsimony" means "saving money"? (Etymologically that's
not far off, AFAIK.)
...Conflation of all of society with one scientific concept is again
"If Caudipteryx is not a feathered dinosaur, what about all those
other supposed feathered dinosaurs from China that the public has
recently been bombarded with? To be succinct, there are none. The
whole story is essentially a hoax."
That's the point where one can only point and laugh anymore.
"Prum’s own essay is little more than naked proselytizing, designed
to cajole the heathen onto the path of enlightenment. Like a harassed
politician, Padian (p. 485) blames the media for helping to keep
controversy alive and bemoans the fact that the BADM agenda is
diminished by what he regards as an inappropriate attempt on the part
of reporters to achieve balance and fairness."
I have indeed noticed that journalists, especially in the USA, seem to
1) There are exactly two sides to every issue. Not one, not three, not
five, not ten -- two. Always exactly two.
2) Their job is to identify these two sides and to present them using
equal amounts of space or time ("fair and balanced"); in short, their
job is to report the controversy between the exactly two sides. Facts
are, if at all, reported as something somebody said, not as something
that was discovered.
This holds for science, politics, economics, and probably everything
else that journalists touch (no idea about sports). It is a
postmodernist attitude: "there isn't even such a thing as reality, there
are only opinions about it, and all opinions are (therefore) equally
valid (at least as long as they're not too insulting to people who are
not currently being insulted in polite company)".
I think a journalist's job is:
1) Dig down, _under_ the controversy or seeming controversy, to find the
facts that the different opinions are (hopefully) based on.
2) Report the facts.
3) Optionally find out how many sides there are to the issue, report
them, and explicitly compare each to the facts. This is optional
because, once the facts are reported, the readers can do that for
themselves if they know the opinions that exist.