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



Tim Williams wrote-
 
> 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.
 
Well, actually for Pickering's Archosauromorpha papers the opposite is true.  
They look like pamphlets, but most contain professional-quality descriptions.  
As you go on to say, much of this is no doubt due to Welles' work being the 
basis of it.  But I ask again, where were the complaints about Madsen and 
Welles (2000) just being Welles work that Madsen published posthumously?  I'm 
all for piling on criticism where deserved (and Pickering's earned his share), 
I just like to do it to everyone responsible instead of just those I personally 
dislike.

> 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.
 
I honestly don't think we have enough examples of self published papers to say 
they're generally bad.  Czerkas' book was terrible yes, but his peer reviewed 
papers are equally terrible.  Olshevsky's Mesozoic Meanderings have no 
significant issues as far as I can tell.  Paul's Dinosaurs of the Air is quite 
high quality.

> 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 never said we should give up trying to enforce standards, I just think that 
publishing in journals hasn't been shown to improve standards.  Instead what we 
need is useful peer review.  We could as a paleontological community come up 
with lists of qualified peer reviewers for each topic (theropods, ichthyosaurs, 
biomechanics, etc.), then demand that every paper on that topc has to not only 
go through a few of those reviewers, but any comments HAVE to be incorporated 
(even if just to say "Williams bilieves this conclusion is not justified").  
But there's a problem.  I wouldn't put Feduccia anywhere near a paper on bird 
origins, but from his perspective it's Chiappe, Clarke et al. who are misled.  
So by what authority do we decide who's qualified?  There was a time when both 
cladistics and BAD were crazy fringe movements after all, and surely we don't 
want to stifle new ideas or trends.
 
Maybe instead we have to start deciding whether we really value a name or not.  
Why is it possible for someone to potentially make a valid ganus name for 
"Dilophosaurus" sinensis?  Because the experts who did the hard work to 
determine it's distinct haven't published one yet.  That's the advantage the 
real experts will always have- the ability to determine what deserves a new 
name and what doesn't.  If we really care about a name, we can publish it at 
the same time we announce a taxon is distinct.  In the case of "D." sinensis, 
it's been over a decade since Lamanna et al. announced it wasn't Dilophosaurus. 
 How much time do they get to have dibs on naming rights?  Is there even a 
paper in preparation?  I'm certainly not advocating what happened in Aetogate, 
but there's a point past which we have less right to complain.  And at a 
certain level, why does it matter what a name is?  It's just a label.  Who 
actually knows what half the names that exist actually mean, and who knows 
anything about the people who named them 100 years ago?  What's important and 
cited are the quality descriptions that only experts can write.  The problem's 
even less important for synonyms.  Sure you can name Tyrannosaurus mofo based 
on a T. rex specimen, but who will care except Olshevsky?  How many of us have 
heard of Allosaurus "carnegeii"?  How many reviews of Allosaurus do you see 
where it's even mentioned?
 
His name is Jean Pierre d'Amore, btw.  Or Peter Mihalda.  He's really a rogue 
phylogeneticist more than a rogue taxonomist.  But the less said about him the 
better...

> 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.

So are you saying if someone described the Dandakosaurus material competantly 
under a different name that you'd start using that name for the taxon instead 
of Dandakosaurus?
 
Mickey Mortimer                                           
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