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RE: Pickering's nomina nuda (was RE: Rob Gay's print-on-demand publication of Kayentavenator elysiae

Michael Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:

> I don't think this is quite fair.  Being one of the
> few people to actually see Pickering's papers, I can say
> that most of them are at least on par with Gay's
> Kayentavenator paper.  Sure the King Kong / Jurassic
> Park one is quite problematic in content, but the
> Archosauromorpha: Cladistics and Osteologies ones
> (describing Dilophosaurus "breedorum" and such) are
> professionally done.  

And therein lies the problem.  Technology has advanced to the point at which 
crap science can have the veneer of a professional publication.  Just look at 
the "Dinosaur Museum Journal" as one such self-publication effort that was of 
exceedingly poor quality scientifically.

> They feature correct anatomical
> terminology, unlike Gay's work (greater trochanter "fused"
> to femoral head; "distal dorsal" vertebrae), and read like
> one of Welles' published papers as opposed to a school
> report.  I'm certainly aware of the problems with
> Pickering, but remember most of his taxa are based on
> Welles' and Powell's research.  

Which brings us to another issue.  Despite his expertise regarding Jurassic 
Park and King Kong, it is apparent that Pickering doesn't know the first thing 
about paleontology.  He is merely palming off Welles' and Powell's unpublished 
work as his own.  

> We definitely have a problem with shoddy work getting
> published, but banning self publication isn't the
> solution.  I'm especially concerned by Chure's proposal
> to ignore nomenclature in formats he doesn't find official
> enough, regardles of what the ICZN says.  

I agree with Dan 100% on this one.  "Because he did it, then it's OK for me to 
do it" isn't a legitimate defense.  We DEFINITELY have a problem with shoddy 
work getting published.  However, for peer-reviewed publications shoddy work is 
the exception; for self-published publications shoddy work is the rule.  All 
your examples are just providing more evidence for this.

So although banning self-publication won't be the en
Banning drunk-driving won't prevent all road accidents - but it sure brings 
down the number of accidents that occur.  

> Sure you may
> be fine with ignoring Tyrannosaurus "stanwinstonorum" if
> it's ever ICZN-official, but why stop there?  

Why stop here?  I say we should *start* here.  These particular crap names are 
a good place to start.  Sure, crap science still appears in official journals.  
But considering the huge number of dinosaur-related papers that have been 
published, crap papers are a relatively small minority.  Your (Mickey's) 
attitude seems to be that because some journals already have low standards that 
we should give up on trying to enforce any standards at all. 

I say we should be pulling our collective fingers out and start enforcing 
higher standards.  If we give the green light to any and all self-published 
works, then the floodgates will open.  There will be a deluge of crap names 
flooding the literature.  Pickering's verbal diarrhea is just the start.  This 
cannot be helpful to dinosaur paleontology.

The trouble with rogue taxonomists is that they don't put their hands up as 
rogue taxonomists.  Every rogue taxonomist thinks of him- or herself as at 
least as qualified as the professionals.  With the individual cited in the 
subject line (S. Pickering) the very suggestion that he might not be a 
first-rate paleontologist elicits a violent response and threats of lawsuits on 
the grounds of anti-Semitism (no, I'm not making this up).  

And when it comes to rogue taxonomy, Pickering is not the worst.  There's some 
guy who resides in Eastern Europe (I can't remember his name, but his name 
sounded French) who freely offers his own insights into dinosaur taxonomy 
complete with racist diatribes.  (Surely I can't be the only person who's 
received emails from this guy, before I blacklisted him.)  Do you want this 
nutter getting a wiff of the wonders of self-publication?

> I for one
> think the description of Dandakosaurus is a pile of crap
> that wouldn't pass review by any competant dinosau
> living since 1910.  So quality-wise, it's basically
> self published as there was no peer review to speak
> of.  Am I thus free to ignore it and describe the
> specimen myself with a different name?  I don't think
> so.

Yes, the description of Dandakosaurus is a pile of crap.  So what do we do?  Do 
we give our middle finger to piles of crap, and start enforcing higher 
standards? - which is my approach.  Or do we say, "Well there's already so much 
crap out there that there's no point trying to stop it now", which is how I 
characterize your approach.  I think the ICZN needs to update the Code to 
prevent the proliferation of rogue taxonomy.  Bringing its standards into line 
with the PhyloCode and allowing only peer reviewed publications is a good place 
to start.  I agree that it won't solve everything - but it may stop the rot.