Tuesday, January 3, 2012

(Almost) Famous: I'm (mis)quoted in Feduccia's new book!

Today Brad McFeeters informed me that Feduccia (2011) quoted me from a 2003 DML post in his new book!  This is so great...

"Among the more amusing websites available for this group is the message board "Dinosaur Mailing List" (sponsored by the University of Southern California), whose mission is to "foster dialogue on science pertaining to dinosaurs."  Although there is much of interest on the site, sifting the grain from the chaff can be a daunting task, and numerous amateurs use the site to vent their anger at dissenters, standing like Swiss Guards at the Vatican over all matters pertaining to dinosaurology, including entries in Wikipedia.  After I was interviewed as Discover's "scientist of the month" in 2003 (the article was titled "Plucking apart the Dino-Birds"), a new thread appeared on the Dinosaur Mailing List site.  "'Tis Time to Get Medieval on Alan Feduccia" stated: "Let Feduccia make his bold claims...Let the General go into battle with his army...But!!!! On the other side of the table will be sitting our knights."  A follow-up entry even called for "a scientific crucifixion."  It indeed seems that the weaker the science, the more contentious and vitriolic its adherents.[6]"

Going to the references, we find...

"6. Dinosaur Mailing List [dinosaur@usc.edu; sponsored by the University of Southern California]; M. Mortimer, "'Tis Time to Get Medieval on Alan Feduccia," Dinosaur Mailing List, 3 January 2003, 22:36:31-0880."

But wait, I never wrote that.  As Brad noted, it was Kris Kripchak!  He misread my reply!  Feduccia can't even get quotation right.  What's especially amusing is my response to Kris embodies respect for evidence and science, and the ideal of letting dissenters be heard-

"The problem of course, is that they are ignoring the evidence. It would be interesting if some scientific organization were capable of forcing scientists to address evidence against their theories, the alternative being to lose their degrees or something. But this would only lead to stagnation, as there are also many honest scientists out there who are trying to support potentially correct alternative theories, but might be prevented if they couldn't yet deal with the problems in their ideas. Critics force us to closely examine our theories and are useful for catalyzing paradigm shifts and theory modifications. I suppose a committee could be formed to examine cases and determine when someone was just stubbornly holding on to an idea with no reason, but it would all be too subjective to work. Methodologies are as controversial as morphologies are.

Besides, ABSRDists, despite their innumerable flaws, perform useful work for the paleontological community. They describe taxa (Cryptovolans, Scansoriopteryx, Eoenantiornis, etc.) and perform research (Ruben et al. on nasal turbinates, Harwell et al. on croc respiration) that may not have been performed as quickly otherwise. And mortality will see to it that defunct theories are banished from scientific journals eventually, as younger workers are less likely to believe falsehoods as evidence against them piles up.

Science works, it just takes time."

But hey Feduccia, if you really want a 2003 DML quote by me, here's one that's properly attributed and which I still stand by-

Nov. 26 "Indeed, Feduccia and his colleagues are either incredibly ignorant, or are horrendous liars."


  1. Shalom & Erev tov...Feduccia's pseudoscience is both 'incredibly ignorant' AND formulated by 'horrendous liars'.
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham

  2. LOL!!!!!!!

    I've said i before: BANDits (and their evoloved forms) are barely better than creationists:

  3. That is a truly horrible example of misattribution, made all the worse by your having in fact said almost the exact opposite to what he quoted as your having said. I hope a formal apology will be forthcoming.

  4. Mike, what have you been smoking today? "formal apology"????

  5. Wow, is he really using the exact same arguments as creationists like Ben Stein in "Expelled"?

    Feduccia also took advantage of a few of my CC licensed illustrations without notification, which isn't required but you know, would be nice... (at least he included disclaimers in the captions that the artwork is not intended to endorse his views!).

  6. Fascinating. I don't know if it's really fair to say that the BANDits are like creationists; creationism is an invalid, non-scientific idea, BAND is perfectly scientific, it's just wrong.

    I also think it's really interesting that Feds is saying "LOL, this website (not a mailing list, a website) is stupid" and then quoting it to prove his point. Is it stupid or useful?

    Also, does this mean that Feds reads the DML archive? Why not engage in debate on the list??

  7. Schenk wrote: "I don't know if it's really fair to say that the BANDits are like creationists; creationism is an invalid, non-scientific idea, BAND is perfectly scientific, it's just wrong."

    Well, there are two things going on here, and we need to be careful not to conflate them. The BAND hypothesis is itself a perfectly good scientific hypothesis, as you say: it can be tested, falsified, etc. (The same is true of the hypothesis that the Earth is 6000 years old.)

    The problem for BANDits (as for Young-Earth Creationists) is not that their hypothesis is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific. The problem is that their hypothesis is falsified, and therefore wrong.

    The problem with BANDits (as with Young-Earth Creationists) is that, having had their hypothesis falsified repeatedly, emphatically, and by many different lines of evidence, they continue to cling to it. That is what's unscientific. In both cases, the adherents are immune to rational argument, and instead prop up their case with a flood of irrelevances, ad-hominems and re-statements of assertions long ago falsified.

    So in fact, the BANDit-YEC resemblance is pretty darned strong.

  8. I agree with Mike in the ways that BAND is like creationism. As for my ending quote, my experience in the last decade has convinced me that they're far more ignorant than they are dishonest. They just don't know about dinosaurs. When I had an email conversation with Larry Martin and he brought up how "dinosaurs have supradentaries and birds don't", I mentioned Velociraptor and Dromaeosaurus actually do. He was surprised and demanded references. They aren't obscure references. If you haven't read Currie's 1995 JVP redescription of Dromaeosaurus, you have no right to publish on dromaeosaurids. Sadly, I think even if you taught Martin or Feduccia all of the anatomy, they'd still reject BAD on some philosophical ground like 'character x can never reverse' or 'dinosaurs by definition couldn't climb or fly'. So to use the creationist analogy, you'd end up with something like Todd Wood who realizes evolution is better supported scientifically, but chooses to believe in creation due to his religious philosophy. Ah well, at least we can hope Feduccia learns from the DML...

  9. I'll be damned... "Tis Time to Get Medieval on Alan Feduccia"... That was my thread!!! Thanks for pointing that out Mickey, because I completely forgot about writing it! Too bad Fed misquoted... I'd be famous right now ;-)

  10. Sorry for my ignorance, but Feduccia or not to accept evolution? Anyway Dromaeosaurs to accept that birds are dinosaurs is convergent evolution. How can today be a biologist who refuses to Darwin?