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I took time to look at the 2nd edition of Brian Ford's #TooBigToWalk. It includes modifications relative to the 1st, and they warrant comment. I can't bring myself to buy this book since it represents miseducation & misrepresentation, shame on you @HarperCollinsUK. Thread.
First of all, the section where he notes that I object to his 'aquatic dinosaurs' bullshit at least now mentions me by name, rather than by my Twitter handle. Yes, I'm hostile, Brian. This is because you're peddling pseudoscience and promoting distrust of qualified scientists.
The larger addition of text concerns the evening of presentations held at Conway Hall (it wasn't a debate). You can see how this went down at #FordvNaish since there was copious live-tweeting PLUS both of our talks are online. Sadly, the Q&A afterwards wasn't filmed....
... and this is where I need to comment on what he's added to the 2nd ed, since it's absolutely dishonest.
Mr Ford starts by saying that I "reiterated the standard view". What I actually did is go through each of his claims, one by one, and show how he'd misinterpreted evidence or simply been wrong. You can watch my talk for yourself on YouTube to confirm this.
In other words, my talk is damage limitation intended to curtail or stem his dishonest and misleading claims. I didn't just stand up and spout textbook wisdom.
His claim that "those attending remarked on the lack of objections to the aquatic dinosaur theory raised by those attending" might be true, because the objections that emerged during the Q&A mostly concerned the role of fringe contrarians in science (are they good or bad?)....
... with one audience member even accusing @HarperCollinsUk of highly unsound judgement in giving Brian the chance to publish this book.
There just wasn't the time or opportunity to discuss details of the Ford case. BUT nor was there the need to, since the overwhelming response from the audience (look at the #FordvNaish tweets) was that his claim had been successfully demolished.
Moving on, yes: an audience member "wondered whether footprints persisted under water". Brian's response - repeated in his book - is that they could. But he hasn't mentioned my response, which is that sedimentology shows that these tracks were FORMED ON LAND. In fact...
... I even pre-empted this claim by showing in my talk how the footprints concerned were formed in aerially exposed sediments, and featured mud cracks and other signs of terrestrial formation.
Also mentioned is a question where the audience member asked how the armour plating, horned heads etc of some dinosaurs fit with Mr Ford's idea. The same thing happened here: he rattled off a nonsense answer, but didn't say what - in the book - he claims to have said... (cont)
What he actually said on the day was that "nobody understands this", that palaeontologists "haven't got a clue" and that armour, cranial ornamentation etc doesn't fit with any model of dinosaur biology...
While there was pressure to move on to another question, I again had to fight hard to engage in damage limitation. I said that cranial ornamentation was likely linked to sociosexual behaviour (as per extant analogues), that armour may have had this role and a defensive one, and..
... that none of this was at all consistent with Mr Ford's claims of aquatic life in these animals. It's easy for charlatans to quickly rattle off bullshit answers, but harder to physically respond and undo the damage. But I did what I could on the evening of the event. Finally..
Mr Ford notes in the 2nd ed that the event "generated hundreds of hostile remarks". Rather than claiming that he's an underappreciated genius who's besieged by tyrannical orthodoxy (oh, please), Brian should reflect on why this is. It's because...
... those who know something about dinosaurs, geology and logic can tell that he's being misleading and is spouting an invalid pet theory that isn't consistent with evidence, plus it's positively harmful as goes public perception of science....
You cannot actively promote bullshit and expect to get a free pass, Brian, and I will continue to contest you on this issue. I just discovered various of the screengrabs I had made for the event, here are some...
Here are some images from the night, or made shortly afterwards. Featuring the talents of @palaeoguy12 @Himmapaan and with cameos from @Dean_R_Lomax @Paleocreations @Dr_EmmaNicholls and others :)
And here's the talk I gave on the evening...
A reminder that #TetZooCon 2019 happens 19th and 20th October and features a bunch of dinosaur palaeontology stuff - REAL stuff, not the Brian Ford bs. Book tickets here... tetzoo.com/convention
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