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Re: Ah ha! That's where therizinosaurs came from

> GSPaul wrote:

> Here's the thing. Are those who oppose my opposition to over reliance of 
> cladistics really telling me I should be a cladist? Because if I had been so 
> I 
> would not have been able to propose the neoflightless hypothesis when Nancy 
> was our 1st Lady, and only when winged microraptors were found in this 
> centry would the hypothesis have been invented. Instead I got priority and 
> the 
> community was ready for the possiblity when winged dromaeosaurs turned up. 
> Seriously, do you really think I should have toed the cladistic line all 
> those 
> years? And avoided the logical thinking that led to the hypothesis. Really? 
> How would that work, please let me know.  

Mr. Paul, I am a fan of yours and I have always been inspired by your work.

I am writing this just in hopes of encouraging you to make even greater 
contributions in this next segment of your career.

To many readers the statement above will look backwards. In the process of 
science we must find ways to empirically test hypotheses. It is not enough to 
think up the hypothesis, we must develop a way to falsify it or support it. 
Above all we must not develop a hypothesis and then accept all that supports it 
and reject all that falsifies it. To persuade others we must keep an open mind 
and develop rigorous methods.

let's say that in 1980 I researched all the clinical and cytology reports and 
wrote a book that said that I believed that, one day, the cause of AIDS would 
turn out to be a retrovirus, maybe one related to the leukemia viruses. Then, 
in 1983, when Gallo published in Science, and demonstrated that the virus was 
HTLVIII, I would claim I was right and that i had precedence over Gallo. In 
reality, I couldn't claim credit for the discovery because I didn't do the 
protein sequencing and x-ray crystallography that proved it. When the virus 
turned out later to not be related to leukemia viruses, that matter was also 
settled by rigorous methods, not merely through writing a  compelling 

In other words, the proof is not a means to the end of the hypothesis. It is 
the other way around. Otherwise we cannot know what to believe.

As Gould put it:

"The key to historical research lies in devising criteria to identify proper 
explanations among the substantial set of plausible pathways to any modern 

Evolution, of course, is a series of historical events. It is the CRITERIA, not 
the explanations, that count.

Your neoflightless hypothesis can be tested. It should be tested. You or 
someone you enlist should do ancestral state analyses on the TWG and the new 
Xiaotingia cladograms. If you do it first, and the results support the 
neoflightless hypothesis, then you will get to claim precedent after all.

Jason Brougham
Senior Principal Preparator
American Museum of Natural History
(212) 496 3544