Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pick your preferred paleontologist

Paleontologists, the scientists who study and learn ethics from fossils, are a pretty dodgy bunch of characters. But every year, one of them manages to distinguish himself from his peers in a particularly depressing fashion.

The 2006 paleontologist of the year was Joshua Smith, who finally got fired after sexually harassing and assaulting his students for at least 3 years running.

The 2007 Paleontologist of the year was Marcus Ross. A newly minted paleontology PhD at the time, he came out as a fundamentalist Christian who doesn’t actually believe in the science he practices.

And our 2008 winner is Spencer Lucas. The director of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science has been accused of claim-jumping and plagiarizing the work of other researchers. At this time, two of Spencer Lucas’ best mates are currently sitting in judgment to decide if their longtime buddy is the honorable scientist they’ve known all these years, or a reconstruction-stealing scumbag.

This has inspired me to run the Lounge’s first ever poll:

Which paleontologist do you prefer? (see right sidebar)

Marcus Ross has admitted that he looks at science as a game or a puzzle to solve abstractly, while believing it can’t possibly be true. He believes that all of creation is 15,000 times younger than his samples. However, all the evidence suggests that he always played by the rules- nobody has ever accused him of doing dodgy science.

We have no idea what Spencer Lucas’s religious persuasion is, if indeed he has one. We don’t even know if he’s guilty. It sure looks like he stole somebody else’s work, but he has gamed the rules of the gentleman’s club so that his longtime collaborators form the board of inquiry. As of the time of this writing, they are still deliberating.

I’m leaving Smith off the menu, because his offenses are against people, not science, and one or more of his victims reads this blog.

So, which scientist would you prefer to work with?

(update: Lucas got off- surprise surprise. But if there are Paleontologists who work for good, feel free to mention them here.)


Ron Schott said...

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play." -- Joshua

in WarGames

Chris R said...

Wow. I think the fact that this a no-brainer sums things up very nicely.

Ron Schott said...

Ironically, another quote from WarGames is:

"Are either of you paleontologists? I'm in desperate need of a paleontologist." -- Professor Stephen Falken

Julia said...

Are we allowed to say "neither"?

Silver Fox said...

Great quotes!

Paleontology was not really my favorite subject (except for trilobites and dinosaurs), but I've known some great paleontologists - they aren't on this list, so I can't vote for them. (Waa, waa - sound of baby whining.)

And how do they learn ethics from fossils? (Try hard to immortalize yourself in stone? Try hard to get noticed?) Do we mineralogists or structural geologists (whatever we are) learn ethics from crystals or faults? (Just sit there and look pretty?) (It's not my fault!)

Julian said...

I just wanna know how that works, studying paleontology and coming up with accurate ages of samples, but not actually believing that anything could possibly be that old. Ok, it's a puzzle, sure, fine. What kind of block in his brain is keeping him from being convinced otherwise by tangible evidence, or at the very least, keeping him from being convinced that Creation happened much earlier?

Silver Fox: I want to study faults, and I have a tendency to blame myself for things. Hrmm...

Kim said...

Silver Fox: structural geologists may have our faults, that's true, and we always run the risk of failure.

Dr. Lemming said...

At this point, the tally is 12-2. I assume this means that Siberling and Anderson read this blog.

on-the-rocks said...

I think I would rather work with Ross, while disagreeing with his geologic timeline.

C W Magee said...

The final score was Ross 32, Lucas 7.