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Re: Pickering's nomina nuda (was RE: Rob Gay's print-on-demand publication of Kayentavenator elysiae
"Honestly don't think we have enough examples of self published papers to say
they're generally bad."
I think the core issue is whether or not they meet publication requirements for
Michael Mortimer wrote:
Tim Williams wrote-
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.
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
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.
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 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...
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?
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
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
The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail.