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Re: Troodon/Orodromeus hypothesis
The words "Likely" and "Unlikely" are perfectly acceptable terms, I'm sure I've
used them often on the DML.
But, Jaime, I propose that, in the future, you and I stick to clarifying the
hypotheses and documenting the evidence for and against each. What do you say?
I think that a debate using this method will be more productive than one that
is a debate about likelihood. I feel that you and I are making excellent
progress at clarifying and improving the hypotheses and documenting the
Our assessments of relative likelihood are unscientific relative to that
method, don't you think? If I make the unsupported statement that something is
unlikely, how can someone else falsify that statement? Is it just a word that
signifies an unsupported opinion?
When Norell 1994 wrote: "the close association of two specimens with the egg of
another taxon is unlikely to be due to chance alone" how can we make progress
on that matter? There do seem to be numerous bones of small vertebrates in the
fossilized nests of the insectivorous bird Lithornis, which pretty certainly
did not prey on vertebrates of that size, so maybe it's not unlikely? Maybe the
two Byronosaurus skulls were common types of debris that lay all around the
oviraptorid nest, because the nest was in a perennial nesting ground, and bird
nesting grounds are often littered with eggshell, chick remains, and prey
remains. So if Norell et al. consider it unlikely, and I consider it not so
much more unlikely than fossilization always is, those are just matters of
opinion, aren't they? To make progress we would have to write a formal
hypothesis and test it, perhaps by surveying fossil nests and analyzing the
probability of finding the remains of other taxa in them.
Taking a more everyday example, If your friend says "I think it's unlikely that
Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, could have killed the President" don't you
agree that debating this will be very difficult and involve extremely lengthy
reiteration of all the relevant facts and that you'll still have little chance
of falsifying that belief in his mind?
So, with your permission, next I'l, gather all the hypotheses together and get
your feedback on the list.