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RE: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions the DML in his new book



  Scientists generally want laypeople to know that there are two, or more, 
terms for essentially the same thing. Many scientists (but not all) _know_ that 
not everyone has the same term for the same thing, so prefer instead to use a 
term that encapsulates a precise, defined meaning regardless of which language 
it is used in. But this still doesn't depart from the functional use of the 
technical in application to the vulgar. When I look out my window and see the 
sciurid sciuromorph rodentian scurry along the fence of my yard every evening, 
or the procyonine canimorphan carnivoran who climbs the tree right outside my 
front door at 5am (when I'm up), I know, and _you_ know, precisely what I am 
talking about. It's still a generalization, because I can be a lot more 
specific as to what type of sciurid or procyonine I am referring to, but I can 
say "squirrel" and "raccoon" and you'll get a mental image that, instead, 
matches up with a particular concept in _your_ head. You relate this term to 
yourself, your experience, and your understanding; it may be very difficult, 
rather, for you to _get_ what I am referring to because your frame of reference 
is personal. If I use the larger technical term, this is not necessarily the 
case: you think of the broad concept, the forest rather than the tree.

  One might think that the broader the content of the group, *Synapsida* [or 
*Theropsida*] over *Sciurus*, the more problematic this usage becomes, but this 
is relative to your audience. Many people on this list do not focus on just 
*Dinosauria* and its total content (including living members) but will also 
have knowledge of *Archosauria*, *Lepidosauromorpha*, *Reptilia*, etc. We must 
cater to a language where the content is clearer, or where the specific is less 
known than the general. In communicating about these groups, scientists use the 
broad, general terms to qualify the group they are talking about, and write 
papers with titles like

"Vargas-Ramírez, M., Castño-Mora, O. V. & Fritz, U. 2008. Molecular phylogeny 
and divergence times of ancient South American and Malagasy river turtles 
(Testudines: Pleurodira: Podocnemididae). _Organisms, Diversity, and Evolution_ 
8:388–398."
or
"Sigogneau-Russell, D. & Ensom, P. C. 1998. *Thereuodon* (Theria, 
Symmetrodonta) from the Lower Cretaceous of North Africa and Europe, and a 
brief review of symmetrodonts. _Cretaceous Research_ 19:445–470."

Each of these papers were cited in papers in which the title did not include 
the mechanic of "[name1] ([name2], [name3])" or "[name1] ([name2]: [name3])". 
They would often use the terms for the larger groups in their more vulgar 
phrasing, such as 

"Gaffney, E. S. & Krause, D. M. 2011. *Sokatra*, a new side-necked turtle (Late 
Cretaceous, Madagascar) and the diversification of the main groups of 
Pelomedusoides. _American Museum Novitates_ 3728:1-28."

Or, the title might simply use the phrases "mammalian" and "avian," because 
these are more instantly recognizable, yet archetypal, terms. In the same way, 
someone talking about synapsids "leaving" something in one's yard, or the same 
for archosaurs or dinosaurs "leaving" something on your car's hood, it is the 
same way. It is the broader categorical thinking that becomes implicit in 
systematic thinking, where it is easier to see the forest for the tree, while 
also allowing the mind to narrow in toward the tree: You keep a broad 
perspective while focusing narrowly. That this involves an twist in the 
necessarity of technical versus vulgar terminology should be inconsequential.

Cheers,

  Jaime A. Headden
  The Bite Stuff (site v2)
  http://qilong.wordpress.com/

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)


"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 
Backs)


----------------------------------------
> Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 18:29:46 -0800
> From: turtlecroc@yahoo.com
> Subject: RE: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions the DML in his new book
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu; qi_leong@hotmail.com
>
> > No, I do not think you get it. In the first instance, it
> > is about professional language: We talk about how ...
>
> Sorry, who doesn't get what..? Obviously in academics
> we use language, e.g. when teaching VP or even just
> discussing something, that laypeople aren't going to
> use in everyday speech. My issue is/was that some
> professionals seem to *want* laypeople to start calling
> birds dinosaurs. Or maybe they're just trying too hard
> to make a point.
>
>
> --- On Sat, 1/7/12, Jaime Headden  wrote:
>
> > From: Jaime Headden 
> > Subject: RE: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions the DML in his new book
> > To: turtlecroc@yahoo.com, "Dinosaur Mailing List" 
> > Date: Saturday, January 7, 2012, 7:39 PM
> >
> > No, I do not think you get it. In the first instance, it
> > is about professional language: We talk about how *Panthera
> > atrox* is a pantherin felid feliformian carnivoran feraean
> > eutherian therian mammmalian synapsid, not just a "cave
> > lion." In the second instance, it is replacing the
> > vernacular with the technical; it isn't _wrong_, but it's
> > not what Tom was talking about. He remains correct on this
> > instance. I still call my cat by the term "cat," and not
> > more technical language when just talking about her -- but
> > reference to the species, to the _taxonomy_, is a whole
> > 'nother matter.
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Jaime A. Headden
> > The Bite Stuff (site v2)
> > http://qilong.wordpress.com/
> >
> > "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B.
> > Medawar (1969)
> >
> >
> > "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with
> > a
> > different language and a new way of looking at things, the
> > human race
> > has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his
> > language or
> > his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan
> > (Beast With a Billion Backs)
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------------------
> > > Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2012 17:27:51 -0800
> > > From: turtlecroc@yahoo.com
> > > To: dinosaur@usc.edu;
> > tholtz@umd.edu
> > > Subject: Re: FW: Feduccia (mis)quotes me and mentions
> > the DML in his new book
> > >
> > > --- On Thu, 1/5/12, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> > >
> > > > > We are descended from synapsids, but no one would say that we
> > > > > are synapsids, or extant synapsids, or mammalian synapsids.
> > > >
> > > > Ummm... Yes, we DO say that.
> > >
> > > (AND:)
> > > --- On Thu, 1/5/12, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> > >
> > > > Except when discussing the origins of birds or matter related
> > > > to that, people don't talk that way.
> > > >
> > > > It is probably about as common as saying:
> > > >
> > > > [when looking at kittens]: "What cute synapsids!"
> > > >
> > >
> > > So which is it..?
> > >
> > > You see my point.
> > >
> > > No reply necessary. :)
> > >
> > > Paul P.
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
>