Friday, December 24, 2010
A Christmas Caudipteryx Chapter V
The whole "not reading signs" phenomenon that's present at zoos and other similar institutions really baffles me. If people don't know what they're looking at, why don't they read the sign that's right in front of them (or, in most cases, not too far off at least) instead of guessing arbitrarily and making themselves look like fools? Of course, even when they do read signs they probably still don't know what they're looking at (though chances are that it is explained a few lines down), but at least learn its proper name, please. (I remember reading a post at Tetrapod Zoology about red pandas, and Dr. Naish mentioned that one of the comments he heard while looking at the red pandas in a zoo was, "That's not a panda, pandas are black and white." A painful experience that must have been, indeed.)
As it happens, this phenomenon also appears online. In my experience, explaining why birds are dinosaurs (for example) can be extremely frustrating, mostly because the people you're trying to explain things to keep ignoring your main points and bringing up entirely irrelevant topics. (For an example of one of these discussions I've had, see here. My contributions begin on the second page.) It's particularly weird with people who accept the fact that birds had dinosaurian ancestors but don't grasp the implications. They think that it's somehow possible for something to be descended from another and not belong in the same clade as its ancestors. A living thing can never get out of a clade that its ancestors were in! There are also people who think that birds are just "related" to dinosaurs but not dinosaurs themselves, which is wrong. We are related to dinosaurs, and so are mushrooms and trees and bacteria if you go back far enough. The difference is that birds are nested deeply inside dinosaurs, not a branch that lies outside of Dinosauria. Finally, there are those who think that there's some sort of "debate" about whether birds are dinosaurs when there hasn't been for at least ten, if not twenty years. Only the BAND (who are nuts and don't know what they're talking about) and news media who only like to stir up controversy instead of actually learning about what they're reporting think there's any debate. Don't listen to fringe lunatics and idiot reporters, please.
To be fair, I must say I myself have recently had a "d'oh" moment when I failed to grasp the title of a journal entry. In my defense, I didn't realize that the title was actually the name of a blog.