NCSCE – Cladistic Existentialism

[John Jackson:

I’d been in touch with Steve Hunter in 2008, when we discussed the NCSCE site which he’d set up on the troublesome nature of cladism. He also told me all about his belated but enjoyable brush with science in general and palaeontology in particular. We even negotiated an arrangement with T-shirts, though I’m leaving that to him now. In 2012 Alan Feduccia reminded me of the site, and I renewed my acquaintance with Steve. We discussed how the “National Centre…” name of the NCSCE seemed to resemble Kevin Padian’s National Center for Science Education. Apparently it was a coincidence!! He also offered to add my book The Secret Dinobird Story (see side panel on right) to the list of relevant books. Unfortunately, prior to finding anything out about it, he inexplicably started procrastinating, told me he was having “issues”, told me he couldn’t co-operate because he didn’t know me, and completely lost sight of the overall anti-cladist aim.

As Steve seems to have lost his bearings, I’ve decided to represent The NCSCE and its quite interesting site on my blog, with some helpful improvements and comments of my own…

Steve’s words follow:…]

Cladistic Existentialism is our term for the view that cladistics is the only legitimate, objective method for doing paleontology. This view has, unfortunately, become quite common in the world of vertebrate paleontology and, in our opinion, threatens to do profound harm to good science. The National Center for the Study of Cladistic Existentialism has been established to engender an honest and serious (but not solemn – witness the flippant name) discussion of the way cladistics has come to dominate in the world of vertebrate paleontology and the ramifications thereof. This will inevitably involve the dispute over the origin of birds as this is where the verbal fisticuffs over cladograms rage most intensely. But cladistics, not bird evolution, is the focus of this site.

If you have no idea what all this means but your curiosity is piqued, we have done our best to lay out the issue in normal human-speak on the Background page.

We have a T-shirt with the Fred-the-Dinosaur logo on the front and a subversive thought on the back available through our Wearable Propaganda page.

Essays, Articles and Other Stuff

The Secret Dinobird Story:
Dinosaur, bird, dog & human evolution elucidated at last as palaeontology gets real science

John Jackson

(click to link to amazon.com)

Is it a bird? Is it a dinosaur?

Alan Feduccia, New Scientist, 25 April 2012, issue 2862
(pdf file)


Riddle of the Feathered Dragons
Hidden Birds of China

Prof. Alan Feduccia

(click to link to amazon.com)

Cladistics and the Origin of Birds: A Review and Two New Analyses
Frances C. James and John A. Pourtless IV, Ornithological Monographs, Volume (2009), No.66
(pdf file)

Feathers: What’s flight got to do – got to do with it?

Steve Hunter, Grand PooPaa of the National Center for the Study of Cladistic Existentialism
Additional reading on the subject of feathers (in the form of pdf files) is provided at the end of this essay.

True Colors: Fuz, Feathers and Sinosauropteryx
This is a short introduction to a back and forth (articles in pdf form) about the nature of the fibers associated with Sinosauropteryx.

1,2,3 = 2,3,4: Accommodating the cladogram
Alan Feduccia, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 96, April 1999
(pdf file)

Giving Birds the Finger
Steve Hunter, Grand PooPaa of the National Center for the Study of Cladistic Existentialism
Additional reading on the subject of bird digit identity (in the form of pdf files) is provided at the end of this essay.

Let Your Fingers Do the Shifting
An update to “Giving Birds The Finger”
Steve Hunter, Grand PooPaa of the National Center for the Study of Cladistic Existentialism


Do Feathered Dinosaurs Exist? Testing the Hypothesis on Neontological and Paleontological Evidence
Alan Feduccia, Theagarten Lingham-Soliar and J. Richard Hinchliffe, Journal of Morphology, Vol. 266, No. 2, November 2005
(pdf file)

Birds are Dinosaurs: Simple Answer to a Complex Problem
Alan Feduccia, The Auk, 119(4):1187-1201,2002
(pdf file)

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