The Secret Dinobird Story discussion page 01

On this webpage, and maybe on additions to the series, I’ll be discussing points others have raised over the book.

Readers may post comments to this page, or to any later ones in the series, or to the book page.

Buy at the Amazon webpage for The Secret Dinobird Story

UPDATE 30th Jan 2013:

A couple of reviews have appeared on the Amazon pages. The first (US) was short but sweet, saying it was useful for the bird/dinosaur link.

The second (co.uk) was from Mike42Trees and was I feel unfairly critical. Here is my reply:

Well, thank you for at least reading it, Mike42Trees! And what a lot of it you claim to have read despite your criticisms! Why read so much of such a book? It seems your criticisms don’t stand up:

“…his verbs are often obscure or even missing, and his parentheses open but fail to close.”

That’s a lie, as readers can easily check for themselves whether they glance over four or forty pages of the free sample offered by Amazon on their webpage. My verbs are not “often…missing” and my parentheses do not often fail to close, though in the interests of clarity I occasionally nest them. One or two typos may have slipped through, but you failed to give one example of what you claim were frequent errors!

“So I got to the end of the book, and was disappointed that I had learnt very little, although I now had an excellent list of references for further reading”

Odd that you learned so little, since I accompanied each of nearly 400 citations with at least one statement that had been made by another worker! Surely that’s 400 things I offered you from others! Then there’s the material I contributed myself, of which there must have been at least a couple of examples on each page! If the reason you didn’t learn was because you didn’t believe my conclusions, nor the contributions of others, you had plenty of examples of the unbelievable to select from, but you’ve offered none. Of course, you do allow that there was much you didn’t understand, so you weren’t in a position to judge either the validity of what I claimed, nor the seriousness of the misconducts I warned you of:

“Then I read the appendices. What a revelation! Although his cladistics appendix was just above my current level, his other appendices were genuinely informative, with much more clarity…”

If they were “genuinely informative”, why claim in your previous sentence that you had “learnt very little”? And there was not one cladistics appendix but four, leaving only A5 and A6 for you to enjoy. A5 was the time chart, and I’m glad you understood that; A6 dealt with the concrete mechanical subject of dinobirds’ shoulders, and was accompanied by a diagram. Maybe you’re happier with the non-abstract, but I can assure you the literary style was the same as the rest of the book.

“He has a very high opinion of himself and believes he should have achieved recognition in this field.”

It’s not that I’m good, but that palaeontologists are bad, and I never suggested otherwise. It’s precisely because the scientific errors made by palaeontologists are so elementary that I take them to task as I do, all the more so because they fail to make amends. Indeed I do write that I would never want to be employed in the field, and in truth I don’t care what they think of me one way or another. My ambition is not for my own recognition because as a scientific researcher my greatest reward is through discoveries only a handful might ever understand. However I also find myself highly motivated to replace massive cynical incompetence and corruption, with integrity. I wrote the book so others could avoid being misled, therefore I didn’t write the book for myself as you suggest but for the benefit of those such as yourself.

“Despite the title, not very much of the book is about Dinobirds.”

Another lie. Dinobirds is the sole subject of the 140 pages of the introduction, chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, and appendix A6. They cover theories on: the origins of birds; inferring their phylogeny through functionality; feathers; bird-style breathing; and dinosaur extinction along with the evolution and relationships of modern birds. Also, the rest of the book deals with issues essential to the study of dinobirds, except for the chapter on human and dog evolution, yet they too relate to issues of palaeontology.

“Jackson has appointed himself head of the SciencePolice, and drawn up a set of rules. These 14 rules start as good common sense, but deteriorate into verbosity.”

You mean they got more complex towards the end? That wasn’t verbosity, that was you reaching your limit. The later rules include dog-whistles the experts will tune into, though they should also be fine for non-specialists. Here’s what an expert in knowledge generation, a professor of artificial intelligence, said: “I think it’s worth every cognitive modeller’s attention and thought. I recommend it.” To what would you ascribe the difference in views?

“This book is odd. It fails to find a level, and it is not clear who the intended audience are. Not really interested laypeople like myself, nor professionals in the field.”

Actually there is now a tradition of dinosaur books explaining massive changes needed in the field, and they do cater for the casual reader but also offer technicalities for those that want them. Mine is very much several books in one, but even if you didn’t get it in a free offer, it’s quite a big book, and whichever fraction most appeals is extremely good value for the price. Parts are most suitable for laypeople and parts for professionals, but justifications had to accompany the claims, and all the refurbishing of the field had to be simultaneous because each change required the others.

“He has obviously read very widely, and has ideas that are interesting, even if they are regarded as nonsense by many palaeontologists – I do not have nearly enough knowledge to judge.”

It seems to me that you have done an awful lot of judging, and apparently from a position of relative ignorance. Of course my material is not what palaeontologists think – it’s because they had the wrong ideas that I had to write the book! That is what research is all about: giving people new ideas.

The errors in the field that I’ve had to correct make up a long list. That’s not my fault, and if you can’t disprove my ideas you shouldn’t call the list a rant. It’s a very serious issue when workers who have failed to understand the basics of their field first mislead the public, and then don’t just ignore the sound advice they’re given but do their best to block good corrections they don’t understand. It would be wrong not to be angry in the face of that, and that’s why I’ve risked endless and pointless criticism to make those corrections, which, I repeat, are for your benefit. It’s because those who need correcting are faced with embarrassment if they recant, that we must offer embarrassment if they don’t. That’s why there has always been a tradition of biting but justified criticism dating back hundreds of years and continuing to this day.

“I first thought he was an angry young man, then an angry middle-aged man. Finally, I found clues that he might even be an angry old man.”

I’m proud to be angry over this, and it’s taken many years to write the book. But which age do you recommend people should be most ashamed of? (Actually, I’m not that old, even now!)

“Jackson frequently throws in irrelevant flip comments, often followed by a smiley so that the reader is aware that Jackson has made a joke.”

Yeah, we’d got to 2012, remember? Literary style progresses, and someone probably complained about the question mark, the first time it appeared in print. You never laughed? Sorry but I think many will. And since your own writing wasn’t funny, can we say you’ve added hypocrisy to your inexpert and dishonest criticism?

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