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Vampiric pterosaurs that bit dinosaurs
July 12, 2012 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Why the world has to ignore ReptileEvolution.com
posted by themadthinker (111 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
OK, done.

(Except it's funny.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:09 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


no, no, you can't. How else will everyone else learn about reptilians and David Icke..

I mean, just put on the glasses or start eatin' that trash can.
posted by k5.user at 9:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what I just read but I love it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd suggest that the least effective way to get "the world" to ignore something 99.99% of whom were already unaware of is to write extensively about it.

That said- the guy sounds like every other internet crackpot "amateur expert" out there.
posted by mkultra at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you're going to write a serious scientific takedown of what do indeed seem like crackpot theories, then it's best to write it that way instead of in a faux-conversational style, as in this caption:
At his The Pterosaur Heresies blog, Dave accused me of "lampooning" his Longisquama reconstruction. Err... what? My coloured drawing, produced for Tet Zoo, is on the right. And on the left is the skeletal reconstruction I based it on - published in 2004 by Dave in a Prehistoric Times article. Ok, so I didn't make the appendages on the head fat enough or long enough. But I'm "lampooning" him? Really? I was trying to be accurate!!
I don't mean that it has to read like a paper for Nature, just using the voice of an adult instead of that of a teenager. In the example above, it would be enough to say 'Dave has accused me 'lampooning' his Longisqualma reproduction. I based my drawing on a skeletal reproduction he published in a 2004 Prehistoric Times article.' Leave the judgments up to the reader and keep the juvenile 'internet drama' tone out of it.

On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American. It used to be a serious magazine that was extremely educational for the lay person. Now it's a showcase for arguments about amateur science projects. The publishers starting dumbing it down somewhere around 1998, and I still hate them for it.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


He's not the average internet crackpot, since he's apparently done good work previously. Unfortunately my library didn't have any of the recommended books.
posted by DU at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that the least effective way to get "the world" to ignore something 99.99% of whom were already unaware of is to write extensively about it.

Up until four minutes ago, I was ignoring it without even realizing I was doing so.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [35 favorites]


Hey guys, hey guys, it's not a personal attack.

If you have to say that three times in the first 10 or so paragraphs, it kinda feels a bit odd. That's a lot of insisting for what should be a fairly straightforward evisceration of another dudes work.
posted by iamabot at 9:30 AM on July 12, 2012


Now that I know it exists, I have gone to the site and looked at it for a good long time so I know what I am supposed to be ignoring.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, I love science fights.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that the least effective way to get "the world" to ignore something 99.99% of whom were already unaware of is to write extensively about it.

In a search-driven world, though, I'm not sure that's true any more. It's easy enough to get a niche site like this on the first page of Google results, and Google doesn't tell you anything about the validity of said results.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American

Oh that can't be so, let me go to the website..."why is the penis shaped like that?"
posted by shothotbot at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll do you one better and ignore your science blog post as well!
posted by orme at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read the bible and I know what that snake did and why he crawled on tummy!
posted by Postroad at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it more than a little bit amusing that this article starts off by saying: "This article is long and you're not likely to read it. So, basically, this site I'm writing about is not a good source of information. Do not take it seriously."
posted by asnider at 9:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am unaware of any such activity or operation, nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did, in fact, exist.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This article is long and you're not likely to read it.

Had MeFi nailed for sure, by the evidence.
posted by DU at 9:42 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Vampire Pterosaur-A SyFy original movie.
posted by dortmunder at 9:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American.

Actually, Tetrapod Zoology is a blog hosted by Scientific American but independent of it. And it's not so much a takedown of an amateur project as exposing a relatively well known website for being what it is, the opinion of one person which is largely at odds with the scientific consensus in this area. Because the website in question is by a well known writer/artist in said area, it deserves attention.

I don't mean that it has to read like a paper for Nature, just using the voice of an adult instead of that of a teenager.

Ugh, no. If that's talking like a teenager, you don't hang around teenagers much, do you?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:45 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American. It used to be a serious magazine that was extremely educational for the lay person. Now it's a showcase for arguments about amateur science projects. The publishers starting dumbing it down somewhere around 1998, and I still hate them for it.

If you look directly above the article, you will see the word "Blogs". This, generally, indicates that this article was not published, either in Scientific American the print magazine, or as part of Scientific American's edited online content. Rather, it is a blog. Hosted by Scientific American. You can learn more about the SA blog network by looking just to the right where it says About the SA Blog Network, and then clicking that link.
There are editorial blogs (more or less official voice of the organization), staff blogs (personal blogs written by our editors and staff), community blogs, and network blogs (written by independent bloggers and freelancers hired specifically for blogging, either as individuals or as co-bloggers on group blogs).
This article was published on the blog "Tetrapod Zoology", which is a 'community blog', not an editorial blog or a staff blog. It's safe to say that the editors of SA have literally nothing to do with this article, save perhaps to choose this blogger to write a community blog. Considering that digital space is, in many respects, free (unlike paper space), I find it hard to get worked up over science magazines giving some of their digital space to non-editorial voices.
posted by muddgirl at 9:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't pretend to understand paleontology, paleontography, or anything related to evolution really.

But this needs to be an album cover.
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


the downfall of Scientific American

I know! When I was a kid, SA was always really cool stuff that was a little over my head. As I've grown up, I've started to feel like it was actually crappy. It took me about a decade to realize that it wasn't just me changing. Now they seem to be bouncing around there somewhere with NewScientist and such.
posted by freebird at 9:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American

Oh that can't be so, let me go to the website..."why is the penis shaped like that?"


Exactly. I should have known something was wrong when they did a foldaround with 'top 10 reasons to subscribe to Scientific American!' and #7 was 'You don't have to read the whole magazine!'

Here's an example of what the articles used to be like. Yes, they were harder to read than they are today; and this was an easy 'overview' article. There would usually be 1 or 2 introductory articles like this, but most had a more narrow focus and were written by a member of the research team who had made a discovery, whatever the field happened to be. Example contents page. It was like a monthly science class.

I want that Magazine back, not this discovery channel shit. Sorry OP.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


SA does indeed such compared to what it used to.

Now, back to the actual topic.
posted by DU at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2012


This is not a personal attack on iamabot, but the contention that there is an overuse of the statement that this is not a personal attack on Dave Peters is wrong-headed, and unfortunately so pervasive on the Internet that it might miseducate the naïve.

While I stress that this is not a personal attack on iamabot, nor an attempt to censor iamabot, but I think iamabot need to carefully consider the science behind personal attacks, and the rich history of personal attack research, before posting ill-founded opinions on what constitutes a disclaimer that something is not a personal attack. While this is not a personal attack on iamabot, nor am I suggesting that iamabot's viewpoints or material should be banned or prohibited in this fora or others, within the context of this statement (which is not a personal attack) I feel that any interpretation of this as a personal attack, when it is clearly not, will be interpreted by me as a personal attack, as it is a clear misrepresentation of my intent to engage in what is not a personal attack.

My judicious use of the blink tag should make it clear that this is not an overuse of the blink tag to emphasize that this is not a personal attack. Should the blink tag be disabled in this forum, I shall interpret that as a personal attack, as it is an attempt to impede my clear and stated intent to express that this is not a personal attack.

In conclusion, iamabot's heretical theories about what may or may not constitute a personal attack, within the context of this statement, which is clearly not a personal attack, are not in line with established personal-attack theory, and while this is not a personal attack, I feel it behooves me to clarify that we should all gather in a large circle to point and laugh.

A personal attack this is not; not this is an attack personal, attacking this personally I am not doing.
posted by Shepherd at 9:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


I've talked with people who position themselves as "science heretics," all speakin' truth to scientific power and the like. The repeated statements that (a) This is not a personal attack, but a scientific criticism; and (b) this is not an attempt at censorship, y'all can publish what you want, and so can I -- thay're actually pretty necessary to head off the first two angles that so-called 'heretics' will try to play to gain sympathy.
posted by muddgirl at 10:03 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Guys? Guys, listen. I have the best idea. Guys, listen! I have the best idea, ever!
posted by steef at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


In other news: Dinosaur Sex Experts Concur That Animals Mated Front To Back (SLIDESHOW)
posted by homunculus at 10:07 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ever think about dinosaur sex?

Um, is "yes" the wrong answer?
posted by chavenet at 10:11 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


An interesting, though long, article. Thanks.

But I do get the feeling that it could have all been avoided if somebody had written to Dave Peters fifteen years ago and said, "Hey Dave, all that stuff you see in those photos isn't there in real life! Do you want to come down and have a look at the fossils for yourself? Just pop in and pull up a seat." Even though Peters is pretty out there, it seems a bit unfair to castigate him for not looking at ACTUAL FOSSILS when there's no chance a layman could ever get near enough to inspect many of them with a microscope.
posted by Jehan at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd suggest that the least effective way to get "the world" to ignore something 99.99% of whom were already unaware of is to write extensively about it.

...

So… I really hope readers can understand why I’m writing this article.

Same answer for both: SEO chumps. ReptileEvolution.com is the #1 Google search result for "reptile evolution"

"ReptileEvolution.com does not represent a trustworthy source that people should consult or rely on. ... but we'll throw in a few links to it anyway."

Heh. But you're right. It's more like 99.99996%.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2012


Now they seem to be bouncing around there somewhere with NewScientist and such.

I think I prefer New Scientist.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:14 AM on July 12, 2012


Say no more - you absolutely did the right thing in bringing this to me. I have the ability to ignore things two to three orders of magnitude more intensely than ordinary mortals. In fact, if there is anything else you want me to ignore in the future, you don't even have to mention it - just think it to me, and I will pre-emptively ignore it for you. Furthermore, the rates I charge for this ignorance are surprisingly reasonable!
posted by wolfdreams01 at 10:14 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


In other news: Dinosaur Sex Experts Concur That Animals Mated Front To Back

That article really didn't need that first illustration.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2012


Exactly. I should have known something was wrong when they did a foldaround with 'top 10 reasons to subscribe to Scientific American!' and #7 was 'You don't have to read the whole magazine!'

I'd like to see a restaurant ad version of this. #7: Hey, nobody's saying you have to eat it!
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 AM on July 12, 2012


The hell of it is, I didn't actually finish the article. I only had to read about 3/4 to get the takeaway points that are important to me beaten to death:
  1. Dave Peters is some kind of amateur dinosaur scientist on the internet
  2. Some other dinosaur scientist on the internet thinks Dave Peters is a crackpot on the level with moon-landing-deniers
  3. The other internet dinosaur guy is afraid that Dave Peters is going to either:
    1. Kick his ass
    2. Never send him a Christmas card again
  4. I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs
posted by double block and bleed at 10:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


double block and bleed: "I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs"

What a sad, sad existence you must lead.
posted by brundlefly at 10:19 AM on July 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


This is actually pretty serious, as David Peters is a frequently cited source for a few wikipedia articles - his stuff is accessible and seems legitimate due to its production quality and academic tone.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


double block and bleed: "4. I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs"

What is this i don't even...
posted by rebent at 10:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank the good Lord this guy has brought to my attention this thing I should ignore.

...

It doesn't make that much sense in print.
posted by Mister_A at 10:24 AM on July 12, 2012


Ach plus I just lost the game, way to go dude!
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on July 12, 2012


Wow. Really bad case of MeFi not engaging with the article here.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:28 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Kudos to the author. As others have said, it is important to document this so that people are informed when doing research or just googling.
posted by rosswald at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2012


On a side note, this article exemplifies the downfall of Scientific American. It used to be a serious magazine that was extremely educational for the lay person. Now it's a showcase for arguments about amateur science projects. The publishers starting dumbing it down somewhere around 1998, and I still hate them for it.
posted by anigbrowl


The glory years were 1950-1984, in my opinion:
In the years after World War II, the magazine was in steep decline. In 1948, three partners who were planning on starting a new popular science magazine, to be called The Sciences, instead purchased the assets of the old Scientific American and put its name on the designs they had created for their new magazine. Thus the partners—publisher Gerard Piel, editor Dennis Flanagan, and general manager Donald H. Miller, Jr.—created essentially a new magazine.[3] Miller retired in 1979, Flanagan and Piel in 1984, when Gerard Piel's son Jonathan became president and editor; circulation had grown fifteen-fold since 1948. In 1986, it was sold to the Holtzbrinck group of Germany, which has owned it since.
The German owners turned it into a weird pro-technocracy advocacy rag for no good reason I was ever able to discern, and it completely went to hell and has stayed there.

In the sixties, seventies and early eighties the articles were often written by the most eminent workers in the field of the subject under discussion, such as Francis Crick, Murray Gell-Mann, George Wald, Charles Pierce, Manfred Eigen, Stanislaw Ulam, Bradley Efron, Arthur T. Winfree, Nils Kai Jerne, and N. J. A. Sloane among many, many others. I think the last truly great issue was Jan. '84, which contained a marvelous and fairly difficult article by Sloane and a co-author on the packing of spheres.

The major display ads back then were almost all directed toward working scientists.

There was also a great article on pterosaurs toward the end of that era which emphasized the many puzzles involved in understanding how they lived, such as how and where they perched when they weren't flying, but I can't remember exactly when it appeared.
posted by jamjam at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first frontpage post, 2009. I do still have love for SciAm though.
posted by rosswald at 10:54 AM on July 12, 2012


ricochet biscuit: "I'd suggest that the least effective way to get "the world" to ignore something 99.99% of whom were already unaware of is to write extensively about it.

Up until four minutes ago, I was ignoring it without even realizing I was doing so.
"

YOU JUST LOST... THE GAME!
posted by symbioid at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is actually pretty serious, as David Peters is a frequently cited source for a few wikipedia articles - his stuff is accessible and seems legitimate due to its production quality and academic tone.

This, a thousand times this. I'm looking at the Wikipedia entry for pterosaurs right now, and under Evolution and Extinction: Origins, you see David Peters getting the lion's share of coverage, treated as just another researcher.

Conventional theories are brought up in the first two sentences, but the next paragraph addresses Bennett and Peters' heterodox theories. While the paragraph later includes the fact that this model has been criticized, you'd never get the sense that Peters was at all controversial.

This stuff is important, even if you yourself have never gone to Peters' website.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I dunno. I was hooked by this leading paragraph...


The study of Mesozoic archosaurs – dinosaurs and pterosaurs in particular – attracts a great many interesting people who might best be considered ‘outside’ the normal, academic community. These wonderful individuals span the range from the deranged, dangerous, unhinged ones who threaten you with physical harm, to the erudite, technically adept and sometimes likeable people who succeed in publishing some of their less problematic opinions and hypotheses in the technical literature. Sitting somewhere in the latter part of that cluster we find David Peters.

I imagine one of them standing over me, striking me repeatedly with a fossilized bone, yelling,
"It's not a lizard you idiot..."
posted by mule98J at 11:02 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found this interesting as an example of a phenomenon I'm familar with in other places: the devoted crackpot who styles himself an "independent scholar" and produces high-quality but almost completely wrong material. In my case, I'm familiar with such a person who purports to be a Walt Whitman scholar but who has no notion of how to conduct literary scholarship, and does things like make sweeping statements based on, say, a passing reference in a single letter than he claims to have discovered even though it's been available in a university archive for over 100 years. (indeed, the archive is where he "discovered" it, and he can't understand why all the so-called Whitman scholars have overlooked its central importance all these years).

What is frustrating is that this guy is also a graphic artist--his website looks great--and he is a tireless self-promoter who shows up to write detailed reviews of every Whitman-related book on Amazon, for instance. In our small corner of the world--Quakers, a group Whitman had ties to--he is positioned to be The Quaker Expert on Whitman, and his work is presented in such a way as to sound professional and convincing to laypeople.

I am also interested in Whitman (though not a Whitman scholar, though I did do Whitman scholarship when I was a grad students) and I have felt like the only way to prevent this guy becoming the go-to Whitman expert in our community is to work just as hard as him at putting myself into that position, which I am not inclined to do. But by opting out, I'm ceding the field to him and his misinformation and unfounded conclusions.

It's a tempest in a teacup, sure. But the author of this blog post is in a similar situation wrt to Dave Peters, and they're in a much bigger teapot. It's a tough spot to be in. It's "someone is wrong on the internet" writ large, when that someone is positioning himself--and being accepted as--an expert, and is not easily recognizeable as a crank to the uninformed.
posted by not that girl at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2012 [30 favorites]


That's a honey badger in the top graphic, isn't it?
posted by maryr at 11:06 AM on July 12, 2012


> Guys? Guys, listen. I have the best idea. Guys, listen! I have the best idea, ever!

Maybe mankind didn't walk with dinosaurs but this surely proves that Burt Rutan did.
posted by jfuller at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2012


There are plenty of people like this editing Wikipedia. You've got to avoid getting involved in articles curated by them, because you can't win.
posted by gubo at 11:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can, however, laugh your ass off. I remember discovering that the article on the Chevy Vega had been adopted by a guy who thought it was one of the greatest cars ever.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


YOU JUST LOST... THE GAME!

Goddammit, you just broke my personal streak. It's been years.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2012


The world must go to treeosaur.com instead.
posted by Kabanos at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's not just Wikipedia, though. If you read far enough:
If you google the name of just about any fossil reptile, synapsid or amphibian (I’m using ‘amphibian’ in the maximally inclusive, enormously vernacular and technically wrong sense), you get numerous hits for ReptileEvolution.com, typically high up or even top in the search results. This goes for image searches as well as for normal ones. And, while it’s understandable that this goes for obscure animals where there’s comparatively little information available online (I tested by googling Silvanerpeton, Kotlassia, Owenetta, Eusaurosphargis, and Helveticosaurus), it goes for comparatively well known ones too (I tested by googling Platyhystrix, Seymouria, Diadectes, Placodus and Coelurosauravus – believe it or not, these are “well known” as fossil tetrapods go).
It seems to me that ignoring writers like David Peters is ceding the whole layman's sphere - it's another form of Ivory Tower syndrome, where non-scientists like Peters (and the rest of us) aren't worth the attention of Serious Scientists.
posted by muddgirl at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Up until four minutes ago, I was ignoring it without even realizing I was doing so.

I'll do you one better and ignore your science blog post as well!


I never even clicked on this thread!
posted by BlueHorse at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The world must go to treeosaur.com instead.

Oh, my word, yes you must.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on July 12, 2012


brundlefly: "double block and bleed: "I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs"

What a sad, sad existence you must lead.
"

You forgot to make it clear that you didn't intend your comment to not be a personal attack at least four times, given the length of your comment. (I hope it wasn't a personal attack :)

I can easily see how dinosaurs are cool and interesting to other people. They're just not that interesting to me. I'm not sure what the source of my disinterest is. Maybe it just didn't make it onto the long list of things that I am interested in. My interest is in the scientist vs. crackpot pissing match.

I know that haters gonna hate and all, but if we all had the exact same interests and opinions about those interests then MetaFilter wouldn't be a very interesting place. Then I would be forced to do useful and productive things, which are usually not high on my list, either.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, I love it when I see serious refutations of random pseudoscientific theories, often replete with fancy-sounding scientific language and references, that float out in cyberspace, obliviously to peer review, and occasionally infecting the public's consciousness. Another case in point: the Aquatic Ape theory. Unfortunately it's like whack a mole with these things and it doesn't help that often fringe academics with good credentials participate in endorsing or creating them. One thing you can notice with this is that they never publish their fringe stuff in journals, where it would be subject to real scrutiny.
posted by melissam at 12:42 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I love dinosaurs, but I still thought Double Block and Bleed's comment was funny.

Then I saw Brundlefly's comment, and I was disappointed. Was that kind of personal insult really called for? Furthermore, the comment had no argument. At least there was some logic and internal structure to what DB&B said, even if it was only meant for entertainment calue. What Brundlefly wrote was basically "Well, f--- you."

Nice going, Brundlefly. Way to elevate the tone of the discussion there.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2012


Well I can explain the Helveticosaurus image. Clearly the one with the less-aesthetically-formed skull is Arialsaurus.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh god. So I'm a primatologist, and when I was on OKCupid, I figured "Hey - studying monkeys is a pretty good hook, right?" I got e-mails from 2 or 3 different guys saying something to the effect of, "So what do you think about the aquatic ape theory?!? Pretty convincing, huh?" Though I suppose it is a better pick-up line than "Hey, did you hear about why our penis is shaped the way it is? Want to see mine?"
posted by ChuraChura at 12:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dinosaur Sex Experts Concur That Animals Mated Front To Back (SLIDESHOW)

Those have to be the goddamn happiest dinosaurs I've seen all day.
posted by maudlin at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2012


double block and bleed & wolfdreams01, that comment was intended as a joke. I meant no harm. I'm sorry it came off that way.
posted by brundlefly at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


(But seriously. Dinosaurs are awesome.)
posted by brundlefly at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2012


RE: Dinosaur Sex Experts Concur That Animals Mated Front To Back (SLIDESHOW)

As you might imagine, a dinosaur penis might have been pretty big

I do not know whether to be proud or ashamed that I have never spent any time up until now imagining anything about dinosaurs and the possible penis- or penis-like organs. Have I wasted my life, or have I avoided wasting my life?!?
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


...the next piece of evidence in my 20-page, rambling, non-personal attack on Dave Peters is this rage comic entitled "David Peters Y U No Draw Pterosaurs Right?"

I'd never heard of David Peters before, but he draws a good dinosaur, cladistic heresy or no.
posted by eurypteris at 1:23 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The article does a pretty good job of explaining why this actually matters. I suppose the closest thing to a solution would be a few different paleontology departments getting together to put a site to compete for google hits. Good luck to whoever wants to organize that.

For those that aren't reading the whole thing, you should! Here's a quote that made me laugh out loud:
Pterosaurs have generally been assumed to be egg-layers, an inference based mostly on their hypothesised position among archosaurs. Recent finds of baby pterosaurs preserved within eggs (Chiappe et al. 2004, Ji et al. 2004, Wang & Zhou 2004), and of an egg preserved right next to the pelvis of a particular pterosaur specimen (Lü et al. 2011), provide compelling support for that assumption.

But Dave’s claim that numerous unossified baby pterosaurs are preserved alongside – or on or even in – the bodies of adult specimens is discordant with this, since their ‘presence’ led Dave to argue that pterosaurs were viviparous. After the first baby pterosaur preserved inside an eggshell was discovered, Dave seriously proposed that it represented a miniature kind of pterosaur – he named it Avgodectes pseudembryon – that took to hiding inside broken eggshells
(emphasis mine)
(also holy shit pseudembryon haha awesome)
posted by kavasa at 1:26 PM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dave’s claim that numerous unossified baby pterosaurs are preserved alongside – or on or even in – the bodies of adult specimens is discordant [...], since their ‘presence’ led Dave to argue that pterosaurs were viviparous. After the first baby pterosaur preserved inside an eggshell was discovered, Dave seriously proposed that it represented a miniature kind of pterosaur – he named it Avgodectes pseudembryon – that took to hiding inside broken eggshells

hahaha
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Peters reminds me a bit of Richard C. Hoagland, albeit Peters is less on the sensational side. Or maybe it's just that his area of interest is less sensational to the general public. In either case there seems to be this trajectory that begins with earnest but mistaken research, followed by scientific rejection. Then there's a doubling down on the implausibility, and the claims get more and more outlandish as time goes on. Without the restraint of a scientific reputation to care for, nothing seems to stop guys like this from going off into their own worlds of speculation.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found this interesting as an example of a phenomenon I'm familar with in other places: the devoted crackpot who styles himself an "independent scholar" and produces high-quality but almost completely wrong material.

This is pretty apt. Another example of this phenomenon is Rob Bryanton, whose ideas about the "meaning" of ten-dimensional spacetime bear little to no resemblance to the usual view in physics. And yet, since he has a slick Flash-based website, he gets attention from the blogosphere more than might be warranted.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh that can't be so, let me go to the website..."why is the penis shaped like that?"

Do they post alternate suggestions?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2012


I understand how this guy feels. I work in molecular biology / biomedicine, and there are plenty of very serious-looking, high traffic sites out there that peddle complete bullshit about stuff like cancers and their treatments, genetics, and even the fucking germ theory of disease. It's infuriating. Mostly because it's the sort of thing that can seriously harm people's wellbeing, but also because I just don't like the idea of perfectly well-intentioned people who're trying to educate themselves about a fascinating and beautiful field of research, being fed a crock of shit.

There's definitely an argument that we shouldn't feed the trolls and that drawing attention to these sites just makes them stronger. Or that we should be above internet drama. But a big, well-designed site with no easily-readable dissenting sources available looks just the same to a layperson whether the information is perfect or bullshit. So the sort of article that this guy has written is important: a prominent, easily readable refutation of a crackpot that would otherwise stand unanswered as a major source of information for casual googlers. And I think that bearing this target audience in mind -- people who will stumble across his post while looking for pterosaur pictures / info -- excuses the tone of the post. He's not writing for the readers of a science magazine, he's writing for the non-scientific public at large.

So he needs a strict editor to tame a few of the digressions and bring the overall length down, and the protestations of innocence are indeed a bit much, but I actually like article overall.

This comment is a veiled personal attack against whichever MeFite has most been getting on your nerves recently.
posted by metaBugs at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


More long articles should have a TL;DR version up front. It would shorten the time I spend on the internet, and would therefore make me happier.
posted by jetsetsc at 1:37 PM on July 12, 2012


This needs a lot more timecube.
posted by dr_dank at 1:40 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"One thing you can notice with this is that they never publish their fringe stuff in journals, where it would be subject to real scrutiny."

That's true.

David Brin's new science-fiction book Existence talks about a near-future widespread culture of amateur expertise in what I think is an approving tone and clearly modeled after contemporary 'net culture. And while it's nice to believe in a democratization of ideas and scholarship where the world's amount of actual expertise expands dramatically, I think that stuff like this show that Brin's view is naively utopian. It's sort of the same with the people who are passionate defenders of Wikipedia.

The thing is, I defend Wikipedia and I do think that contemporary 'net culture provides a significant increase in the acquisition and availability of expertise at the informed layperson level. MeFi is an example of this, Wikipedia is an example of this. There's much more informed lay information out there and that's a good thing. But there's also a lot more pseudo-expert information out there which unfortunately confuses everyone. MeFi and Wikipedia are also examples of this.

This wouldn't be a problem if people learned skills in critical evaluation — the 'net is a huge boon to me because I've rarely in my life trusted a single supposedly authoritative source because early on I was trained to critically evaluate multiple sources to discern reliability and find some sort of glimmer of "truth". Most people don't do this and far too many people just consult Wikipedia, or reptileevolution.com, on a subject and assume they've become informed.

I guess this is a digression, but I think that this has to be a top priority, a very top priority, of the education of schoolchildren these days. Kids should be taught to use the 'net in this multiple-source, test-for-reliability sense the way that past schoolchildren were taught to use the library.

Anyway, Peters is a crank, although with a bit more credibility than the average crank. I've been trying to understand the psychology and sociology of crank science for a long time.

In my opinion, the single biggest red flag is a sense of persecution and an unwillingness to work inside traditional science institutions. For example, let's imagine that I discovered what Peters thought he'd discovered. I might have written that letter to Nature. Pretty quickly, though, I would have realized I needed to do one of two things: 1) find some credentialed scientists who agree with me and can advocate for my claim; or 2) go back to school and gain the credentials I need to be taken seriously. I'd realize that while this may not cause paleontology at large to accept my claims, they'd be far, far more likely to do so than before. More importantly, obviously I'd learn a bunch of stuff that I probably don't already know that is relevant or even crucial to my ideas and which, probably, assuming I'm right, I could use to support them.

But cranks never think this way. They just don't. What makes them cranks is that they've completely internalized a romantic view of science that is unfortunately widely presented in popular culture and even more unfortunately taught frequently to schoolkids. It presents science as being the product of single brilliant iconclasts who have one genius idea which, after they are ridiculed by their peers, eventually overturns the previous paradigm, dramatically furthers scientific understanding, and they are vindicated and lauded by history. But, obviously, 99.9% of science doesn't work this way at all — it's incremental and cooperative.

Yet it doesn't even really work this way in the famous paradigm-shifting examples everyone is taught.

There's a reason why many paradigm-changing ideas arise independently around the same time — it's as much that there's cultural preparation and preliminary work as it is individual genius. But also it's rare that any of these geniuses are truly working alone and outside scientific institutions. Scratch a crank and they'll talk about Einstein coming up with relativity while he was a patent clerk. But that's such a distortion of what really happened, it might as well be completely false. It gives people the wrong idea.

All cranks have persecution complexes and some megalomania — I'm not saying that every layperson who has an idea about something scientific that they explore in depth is a crank. You sort of have to work your way up to being a crank. You have to respond to every criticism with an increasing paranoia and sense of being persecuted and sense of being persecuted because the credentialed experts are "jealous" of your insights. You have to retreat further and further into a self-contained, self-referential world that has increasingly baroque jargon — a sort of impenetrable style that the crank has come to associate with Real Science™ because that's how the crank experiences the actual published papers he/she has attempted to read but usually doesn't understand.

What's unfortunate is that the less scientifically literate someone is, and I suppose the less sense they generally have about how people can build complex delusions, the less they're able to recognize this stuff when they encounter it. And in today's world, anyone can register a domain name and put their crank science on the web, and it will show up in Google. And it will sometimes be posted to MetaFilter. Or wherever.

Way back in 1950, Martin Gardner wrote an article for the Antioch Review titled, "The Hermit Scientist". (That's a xenu.net link, because Gardner is partly criticizing Hubbard, and I use that link because it's the one I found for the entire article.) A couple of years ago, Brian Dunning at Skepticblog usefully summarized the characteristics Gardner described as being typical of the crank, which I'll go ahead and list in an abbreviated form here: This is actually a somewhat useful list for quickly identifying cranks.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


I just wanted to share that my workplace actually BLOCKED three of the slides in the dinosaur sex slide show.

It took me a minute to figure out that it was probably because they were animations (video of any kind is always blocked). But I'm going to continue to pretend that it was because it was especially kinky dino porn.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


double block and bleed & wolfdreams01, that comment was intended as a joke. I meant no harm. I'm sorry it came off that way.

Ah - I thought you were being serious. In that case, my apologies - I didn't mean to come down on you so hard about it. I am all for encouraging playful humor on the site. :-)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2012


metaBugs, IvanF, thanks for such clear statements.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2012


double block and bleed: "I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs"

What a sad, sad existence you must lead.


You'd think it'd be the other way around: those who care deeply about dinosaurs lead a sad, sad existence because every last one of the things they care deeply about is literally stone dead.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


No worries, wolfdreams01. Tone is hard to get across in text sometimes.
posted by brundlefly at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2012


I guess this is a digression, but I think that this has to be a top priority, a very top priority, of the education of schoolchildren these days. Kids should be taught to use the 'net in this multiple-source, test-for-reliability sense the way that past schoolchildren were taught to use the library.

Yes, please. maybe we can copy the school described in this FPP. For whatever reason, people just don't seem to understand that critical thinking is kind of hard and takes a lot of teaching and practice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does this mean no one's going to buy my shameless self-link "Velociraconteur"?

Also, one of my most favorite headlines from The Onion: (not verbatim)

"Scientists Discover Remains of Race of Skeleton People"

posted by mmrtnt at 2:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


“But, when others don’t see what he sees, when they criticise his interpretations and his methods, he remains steadfast in his opinion that they’re wrong because they’re biased, because they’re refusing to use the same method that he does (read on), or because they can’t provide a superior hypothesis."

Oh god, flashbacks. I was involved in a community some time ago, and it was taken over by on of these 'internet heretics' I was heavily involved before, and we had done a lot, as amateurs, to try and clear up a lot of misinformation and share research from academics, papers, personal communications from researchers.

Then interent heretic comes along, and buys site from owner, who was broke. Suddenly everything was his crackpot theories, and the "institution" was a big lie, and real researchers were 'the man' and part of an organized plot to tear down his ideas. No amount of data could sway his opinion and now, as site owner, he had a platform to give harmful information. Anyone disagreeing was out to get him and accused of making personal attacks. If multiple people disagreed, he was being ganged up on. That type of person can't fathom that if a majority questions you, maybe you should try at least considering it might be you.

Eventually I was gaslighted and drove from the community for holding different views. As were many others. But I've learned an important lesson, you can't argue with these people. They're poison. Ignoring doesn't help either, you need to make a case to the audience, it's probably the only thing you can do. Since that time, I've seen many more of these Internet Heretics rise up, and destroy communities, betray the trust of the niave, and just poison the well of knowledge because of my way or the highway. I'm not sure what can be done, because new ideas are good as is questioning the establishment. But sometimes I worry that the loudest, pushiest will win, and the actual ideas that hold merit be squashed because now every paranoid obsessive sounds like an expert.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:01 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that actual science will prevail, given enough time, because that's what pretty much always happens. But in the meantime a lot of curious laypeople and lazy students are going to get fooled.

The thing about most of the really committed cranks is they all seem to have begun on their paths before there was an Internet, so the question of whether or not the Net creates cranks is probably still open. All this interconnection between people makes it much easier to be casually misinformed about things, but it also makes it easier to be corrected as well. And without that ignorance in isolation (like Ivan Fyodorovich mentioned) proper crankhood is tough to get started.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:13 PM on July 12, 2012


Say all you want about the style, and this is not a personal attack nor am I trying to censor you, but the article is at its core a terrific debunking of someone who has clearly taken a train to cranksville and run for mayor. Whatever you feel about the tone of the article, the next time someone googles Dave Peters, this site is going to show up. It's a debunking sure, but it's also internet red flag.

I do take one exception though:

Huehuecuetzpalli...pronounced something like ‘whey-whey-ketz-ul-paa-lee’

NO, no, and also NO.

The name comes from Nahuatl and means 'old lizard." You were close, Darren (and this is not a personal attack on you), but it would be 'whey-whey-kwetz-PAH-lee' (accents in Nahuatl fall on the penultimate syllable, Latin adaptation can bite me). What the wrong pronunciation actually says is something like 'Huehuequetzalpalli,' which would be something like "old feather black soil."
posted by Panjandrum at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Either both, none or one of these guys is just joking around here, right?

This is like a dinosaur researcher inside joke, right?

Right?
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:58 PM on July 12, 2012


Peters' responses: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

(I have not read them yet.)
posted by brundlefly at 5:08 PM on July 12, 2012


I wouldn't be surprised if paleontologists unconsciously add an extra syllable (because kwetz-PAH is a bit awkward). Over time it becomes more pronounced as students learn the pronunciation from older researchers, and on and on.
posted by muddgirl at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2012


Part 1 is a bunch of tilting at strawmen and taking offense at imagined slights. As expected.
posted by muddgirl at 5:10 PM on July 12, 2012


Timecube is still authoritative, right?
posted by b1tr0t at 5:36 PM on July 12, 2012


Came in just to say what anigbrowl nailed - that caption stuck out like a sore thumb in my first scan-through of the article, and made the decision for me that it probably wasn't worth investing the time reading and taking the article seriously.

Didn't help that the author headed the article with their own "tl:dr" - whaaaat?
posted by Catch at 5:59 PM on July 12, 2012


Didn't help that the author headed the article with their own "tl:dr" - whaaaat?

This is exactly what happens when you spend your procrastination time on Reddit. The memes and general language used on that site become embedded in your own communication style. That is really one of the most dangerous aspects of that site.
posted by melissam at 6:16 PM on July 12, 2012


But in his rebuttal, David Peters again claimed that he was being mocked/accused for using his very own illustrations/descriptions. The captions and disclaimers make a lot more sense when you read the rebuttals, which really says something.
posted by muddgirl at 6:17 PM on July 12, 2012


Didn't help that the author headed the article with their own "tl:dr" - whaaaat?

If he had called it an "Executive Summary" would you have read it?
posted by benito.strauss at 6:20 PM on July 12, 2012


If he had called it an "Executive Summary" would you have read it?

That's a term I associate with business project plans, so that would be yet another element of weird. Whatever you want to call it, insulting the intelligence of your potential readers by assuming they can't handle a long document, and yelling so here's the point, dummies at them, doesn't have the same charm and style as a well-expressed thesis statement.

Maybe I'm hopelessly old fashioned.
posted by Catch at 6:31 PM on July 12, 2012


I wouldn't be surprised if paleontologists unconsciously add an extra syllable (because kwetz-PAH is a bit awkward). Over time it becomes more pronounced as students learn the pronunciation from older researchers, and on and on.

I'm guessing it's not just phonological awkwardness (though you're right, the 'kwetz-PAH' bit is a bit awkward) but also interference from the name of the better-known critter quetzalcoatlus.

The similarity between the words is total coincidence — the cuetzpal- part of huehuecuetzpalli means 'lizard,' and the quetzal- part of quetzalcoatlus means 'tailfeather.' But if you're not interested in Mesoamerican linguistics then you must lead a sad, sad existence you've probably got more important things to worry about, and it would be really easy to conflate the two.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mongol General: Nerdy Twelve-year-old Conan, what is best in life?
Nerdy Twelve-year-old Conan: Dinosaurs! And ancient Aztec manuscripts! And Legos! Wait, no Lego dinosaurs! Lego robot dinosaurs...

[later that week]

Nerdy Twelve-year-old Conan: ...and and and like twenty laser beams!
Mongol General: That is good. That is good.

posted by nebulawindphone at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!
/notpersonal.
posted by Catch at 6:47 PM on July 12, 2012


Peters reminds me a bit of Richard C. Hoagland, albeit Peters is less on the sensational side.

Yes, right down to this:
(for this work, Dave relies almost wholly on images from the published literature)
Hoagland's schtick, for those unfamiliar, was—or eventually devolved into—taking JPEG from made from spacecraft images and looking at them in extreme magnification, and claiming that JPEG compression artifacts were bits of alien technology or architecture. None of this stuff, of course, is discernible in the original, uncompressed FITS files—which he never looks at. Just JPEGs from press releases and blog posts and webpages and stuff. And all NASA spacecraft data is now available to the public one year after it is taken, so it's not just that the mean, mean NASA scientists won't let him see it.

You just can't make sweeping claims based only on published images, which are naturally degraded relative to original high-res imagery—not to mention the actual object in question. The idea that this Peters guy expects his wild claims to be accepted as valid when they're disputed by the people who can go look at the rock under varying lighting angles, using light of various wavelengths, and even do CT scans and things... It's a little maddening. (Of course, to an astronomer, the idea that paleontologists can actually walk up to the rock in question and look at it with a hand lens provokes a twinge of jealously.)
posted by BrashTech at 6:52 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


tl;dr, but this will totally enhance my next reading of Kafka's The Village Schoolmaster.
posted by quoquo at 6:59 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


... insulting the intelligence of your potential readers by assuming they can't handle a long document ...

Hmm, I didn't take it that way. It seems like his intended audience it the casual internet-surfing dinosaur lover, exactly the sort of person who does not want to bother reading a long article. He also seemed to be trying to keep the tone very casual and friendly, free from any formality that some find off-putting. I guess striking the right tone on the internet, and conveying it with only words-on-the-page, is one of the last remaining unsolved mysteries of the Universe.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams01: "double block and bleed & wolfdreams01, that comment was intended as a joke. I meant no harm. I'm sorry it came off that way.

Ah - I thought you were being serious. In that case, my apologies - I didn't mean to come down on you so hard about it. I am all for encouraging playful humor on the site. :-)
"

No worries. I took it in the spirit in which it was intended (hence the "not a personal attack" joke that hearkened back to article that apparently fell flat.) wolfdreams, I appreciate your sticking up for me. Sometimes Often jokes fall flat on the internet.

I did sit and wonder why I don't give a shit about dinosaurs for a little while. It is a mystery.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:07 PM on July 12, 2012


I have to confess that I've never really cared about dinosaurs, either. I mean, I am interested in Science, and dinosaurs are Science, so there's that. I liked the movie Jurassic Park and Land Before Time, but I like Cera more than some random Triceratops.
posted by muddgirl at 8:14 PM on July 12, 2012


Peters' responses: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

(I have not read them yet.)



I did, and Peter's doesn't come off well in them, and he takes a drubbing in the comments. His main rebuttals seems to be: Those two points are basically the brunt of Peter's argument, mixed in among 7 posts wherein he acknowledges that he does not always make his tracings from high-res photos, attacks Naish's choice of words as being too absolutist, repeatedly compares his detractors to religious dogmatics and makes references to how he has been snubbed by them, and generally acts like even the chip on his should has a grudge.

For scientific rebuttals (and attacks on other paleontologists), he repeatedly cites his own website, because... conspiracy to silence him, I guess? But this is the same website built on his own Digital Graphic Segregation technique that Naish just spent so much time critiquing. That technique, by the way? Peters sums it up in a comment as "a jpeg is opened in Photoshop, transparent layers are added and various [skull] parts are colorized until all the bones are accounted for. It’s really that simple. He does not mention if he has ever had this method independently tested for reliability or accuracy.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


We could eliminate many misunderstands if we legitimize emoticons in science writing. Save a bunch of space by not having to write those ingratiating apologies, too. :-?

Anyhow, isn't there some place for science writers, sort of like Snopes for us normal folks, a legitimate forum for scientists to publish their well-researched stuff... Oh. um, like Scientific American.

I'm just saying...

Also, I too am reading Brin's book. The compendium is the thing, but you gotta watch the cred rating.
posted by mule98J at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2012


Wow. Really bad case of MeFi not engaging with the article here.
Yeah, seems like science threads on metafilter fill up with random jokes and bullshit rather quickly. Exemplified by "I still don't give a shit about dinosaurs" and dumbass comments about "losing the game". As if science threads were just an opportunity to make jokes or something. Compare that to reddit's askscience where they delete any comments that aren't "scientific", the discussion is way more informative.
Then I saw Brundlefly's comment, and I was disappointed. Was that kind of personal insult really called for? Furthermore, the comment had no argument. At least there was some logic and internal structure to what DB&B said, even if it was only meant for entertainment calue. What Brundlefly wrote was basically "Well, f--- you."

Nice going, Brundlefly. Way to elevate the tone of the discussion there.
Oh please. If you don't give a shit about dinosaurs, why are you posting in a thread about dinosaurs to tell everyone how much you don't care? I don't really see why bragging about being willfully scientifically ignorant shouldn't be discouraged.
posted by delmoi at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, what the heck are you talking about? You quoted me so I assume you're referring to me but in your next sentence you tell me that I said I don't give a shit about dinosaurs, whereas in fact I said quite the opposite - that I love dinosaurs.

Furthermore, if you read further down in the thread, you'd see that the argument got resolved already - everybody involved already apologized in a very civil way. It was actually rather inspiring.

I don't mean to sound rude, but if I might venture out on a limb here, it's possible that your reading comprehension skills could use some work. Either that or you might need to be more clear about whom you're referring to when you quote somebody. Generally putting words in people's mouth that they didn't actually say is rather poor form...
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read this when it first came out because I'm super cool and am friends with Tet Zoo on Facebook. I actually think it's a fantastic science blog, even though it's nowhere near my specialties; Darren focuses on making things like joint structure or jaw development in various species interesting and I greatly appreciate his detailed citations and footnotes.

In this case, it was an especially long blog post even for Tet Zoo, so the disclaimers do make sense. People routinely ask me about aliens, wheels, mermaids, and other crazypants theories while I try teaching their kids about dead people, so I can only imagine what having such a huge amount of misinformation floating around is like for paleontologists.

Oh, and I suspect he could see many fossils up close or view different photographs-- many museums have research options even for unaffiliated scholars (or interested members of the public) if you ask about specific pieces.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2012


delmoi:

If you don't give a shit about dinosaurs, why are you posting in a thread about dinosaurs to tell everyone how much you don't care? I don't really see why bragging about being willfully scientifically ignorant shouldn't be discouraged.
"

The comment about not caring about dinosaurs was mine. I commented in the thread because, although dinosaurs don't interest me, the meta-topic of Real Scientist vs. Wacko does. The way I see it, the real topic of the thread is not so much about the science of paleontology as it is about the difficulty real scientists face when attempting to rebut non-real scientists. A big part of the problem for them is that they often provide, as in this case, long-winded and technical refutation in a cringe-worthy apologetic tone against the authoritative-sounding non-scientist who can take the liberty of presenting their theories in a way that is clear, understandable and apparently wrong. My comment was an attempt to humorously illustrate that difficulty.

I'm sorry my comment didn't sit well with you. Jokey comments have been a part of Metafilter since 1999. I think they have their place alongside more serious comments. I admit that I didn't anticipate the derail that it would cause. If I had, I wouldn't have made it.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:29 AM on August 1, 2012


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