Catharsis

So having dealt with both the failings of the press and the nature of the comments that followed in their wake I though it time for a final purge and go for some of the actual ‘errors’ that were highlighted by those who felt they knew enough about theropod predatory habits without reading the paper to actually read what had been said. As such, I highly recommend that you do not bother to read the rest of this as it will reach a mosquito-in-your-ear-at-3-am pitched whine in about half a paragraph and only ascend from there, whilst telling you things you probably already know. I make no apologies for this, you have been warned but some of these really got under my skin, while of course providing clear and concise examples of the kind of mistakes that seem to be made every nanosecond by the public. Thus we (i.e. you, since you are still reading) can learn what we need to address as communications while I blow off some steam…

Yes it IS a new hypothesis actually. Just because lions hunt juveniles and you know that does not mean that this is not a new hypothesis. It is a new hypothesis FOR DINOSAURS. As such it is actually worthy of publication and investigation. While we are on the subject, even if you think palaeontologists are all stupid for not thinking of this before that will not change the fact that they have not. I would also question therefore why we  are decried for stating something that has not been said before – if all other researchers are stupid, surely we are to be congratulated for showing them the errors of their ways, not chastised for getting something right? (Though I suppose you think it’s obvious: so obvious that you never said it before we pointed it out. Riiiiiight).

No we are not sure, certain or absolute in our ideas. We say so very, very clearly in our work, and the blog, and the press release and indeed this shows up in the majority of the commentary. Read the words on the actual page in front of you and see what they mean, not what you think they say. “Some” does note equal “all” so your exception that you thought of and are crowing about is irrelevant. Equally, not everything on the page was written by the scientists themselves, try to distinguish between what may be *our* words and ideas and those put upon us by the journalists. You can tell this by reading the actual paper as opposed to just a review of the paper that has already been through hald a dozen generations of changes.

Oddly enough people far more trained and knowledgeable than you have spent years working on this problem and just may have already though of some of the things you came up with. If you had a fraction of the information that we used at our fingertips you mighty realise just how completely wrong you actually are, and most of the time if you stopped to think for one second or do the slightest bit of additional fact checking you might realise that your idea is demonstrably wrong and indeed already has been shown to be. Furthermore, oddly enough newspaper reports do not contain all the information present in an academic paper so it’s just possible that the one good point you *do* have we have already though of and discussed at great length. We didn’t miss it out and we are not stupid to have (not) done so just because it is not in this 250 word article, it is however in the 7500 word illustrated academic paper.

I don’t care what you think we did or how you think we did it, it’s already written down somewhere, so why not go and read that rather than blathering on in the comments section of a newspaper. That way you might actually learn something rather than preening your narcissistic self-image in the comments thread of a newspaper for other people (who [against the odds] have a worse understanding of science than you) to croon over. Believe it or not science has value and the scientific method has value and we did not spend weeks refining our ideas, checking references and reading literature, accumulating, assessing and sifting evidence using years of experience and education for you to casually dismiss it with the wave of a finger because you have no clue whatsoever at all what we actually *did*.

Right, that feels a bit better. I guess I could reduce this to ‘scientists actually do science and train for years if not decades to do it so give them some credit’ and ‘a newspaper is NOT the same as a paper’ but then, you already knew that, didn’t you. This is the last one, promise. Until the next time i try a press release of course…

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2 Responses to “Catharsis”


  1. 1 Anonymous 20/08/2009 at 9:17 am

    Nice rant, Dave! :-)

  2. 2 Nathan Myers 20/08/2009 at 12:06 pm

    Lots of good quotes in this one.


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