What do paleontologists do?

    What is the job of a paleontologist?

    Most people would answer that their job is to collect and clean bones and assemble them for tourists that visit
    the museums of natural history. A paleontologist is thought of as a curator. Others might prefer the dashing
    image of Indiana Jones, a fellow who goes out there to the jungles and mountains with his pick and shovel,
    fighting mosquitoes and looking for cursed treasures.

    These notions are akin to saying that the job of an engineer is to run experiments in the lab or that the job of a
    chemist is to pour liquids into a flask. These are the tasks for technicians, the foot soldiers of the professionals,
    the assistants, the gofers, the field hands that help dust bones for a paleontologist project manager. The job of
    anyone above Masters or PhD is to think! And not everyone who has obtained such a degree is qualified to do
    the tedious task of thinking. Not everyone has inherited the gray matter. The degree they earned is not a
    measure of their reasoning abilities. It is nothing but a certificate that says that they completed a course.

    The task of a paleontologist is to figure out how species disappeared. If a biologist deals with life, a
    paleontologist deals with death. A paleontologist is a necrologist, a pathologist, a person who performs
    autopsies of carcasses and fossils to crack open the egg of extinction. He is a detective, a gumshoe, a sleuth.
    His main function is to do an investigation and tell the person who retains him and subsidizes his research
    why such and such plant or animal is not around anymore. Once he delivers his findings, we are done with
    Paleontology. We can all go home. The specifics of whether this bone belongs to Neanderthal or CroMagnon
    or whether the dinos turned into birds is left for the more fervent enthusiasts of the guild. The crowds simply
    want a rational explanation of how the ancient beasts vanished.

    And here it is clear. Judging by the most prominent celebrities of contemporary Paleontology, Geology and
    Anthropology, those that are called upon by the BBC, National Geographic, the History Channel, and NOVA
    to do documentaries, there is not a single expert on the subject of extinction. They are all amateurs. They are
    all pulling at straws, guessing here and persuading there. And worse! These people have no common sense,
    no street smartness. They propose the most breathtaking and ridiculous theories to justify how the plants and
    animals disappeared. The paleo 'experts' brainstorm a lot. They do very little thinking.

    We can now define the term paleomathemagician:

    paleo-mathemagician: a bone collector who explains ancient extinctions with
                                     catastrophes and environmental change, and blames
                                     all recent extinctions (as well as future ones) on Man.

    It is no secret that the paleontologist guild has been taken over by the mathemagicians. The coup d'etat occurred
    when Alvarez trashed Dewey and hardly any of the members of the club raised objections. They allowed their
    profession to slip out of their hands and become just another branch of Relativity. It is the mathemagicians who
    run the show today. An extinction theory doesn't get published unless it has some catastrophe and some numbers
    in the manuscript to prove it. It could be the size, weight and speed of an asteroid, the number of pebbles it broke
    into or the quantity of shocked quartz the bolide left behind. Or it could be the amount of lava a volcano spewed
    forth and the number of species that it killed. But there had better be some kind of number in the manuscript or
    the damned theory doesn't see the light of day. Luis Alvarez put his foot down and now everyone has to do what
    Simple Simon said. The faster you realize this, the faster you advance in your paleo career.

    Fortunately, most of these folks are out there in the field and in the labs hunting for evidence instead of bothering
    us thinkers here in the conference room. These people lack the skills required to solve the problem of extinction.
    They are not problem solvers. Nor have they mastered the steps necessary to decipher the enigma of extinction.

    But perhaps the main reason that the mathematical paleontologists won't solve the enigma of extinction is that
    they suffer no penalties if they don't come up with the goods. They get their paycheck one way or another...
    whether they say something sound or something stupid! These folks do it simply to have something to talk about
    at the university water cooler... much like armchair 'physicists' at Cambridge and Harvard!

    An engineer responsible for an assembly line in a factory, on the other hand, MUST solve the problem that has
    stopped the line for else the conveyor belt doesn't start running again. A production engineer deals with real,
    work stoppage type problems and has developed skills and intuitions on how to go about solving them. He can't
    tell the engineering manager that a faster-than-light, 0D particle may exist that is causing the chips to fail at test.
    He can't get away with the fable that a mini black hole caused the hole in the machine or that invisible dark matter
    haunts the production area. He will definitely get fired. Conversely, a pseudo paleontologist won't get fired if
    he says something stupid. As far as everyone is concerned, his job is simply to find bones and give them a name.

    Professional true-blue magicians are pretty much like engineers. They have to develop ingenious ways of fooling
    the audience with their tricks. A resourceful magician can spot how another one did such and such trick simply on
    the basis of experience. They are used to thinking outside the box and to see the invisible. These are the type of
    people -- magicians and engineers -- who should be tackling extinction and not some mommy's boy who warmed
    a seat for 10 years in college and has nothing to lose.

    The modern 'scientific' system inhibits thinking

    The contemporary mathematical paleontologist is an individual who solves the immediate problem easily. It was
    an asteroid. We're done theorizing! Now he leaves the conference room and goes out of his way to find evidence
    to prove his hunch and thus, perhaps, get noticed by the BBC or Nova. He may go to a field to search for ground
    zero or maybe to the lab to try to reproduce shocked quartz in a pressure chamber. Then he publishes a paper
    through his cronies mainly to justify the funds he wasted during his research.

    And let's be honest. Would you rather see a brisk, flashy Hollywood effect of dinosaurs escaping fire and
    brimstone and running for their lives from the approaching heat, or would you rather see a lengthy, boring scene
    where the T-Rex dies of starvation because he can't find anything other than a mammalian potato chip to snack
    on? Therefore, the common man has no problem absorbing the fantastic explanations peddled by the
    mathemagical paleontologists. They have their jobs practically guaranteed.

    The dinosaurs died because of an asteroid! End of story! We now know this because the theory has been
    proven and declared to be a fact by the experts. No one can ever challenge this theory again. There is nothing
    more to argue.

    However, to get the volcanists on their side, the winners of the dino extinction debate had to throw a bone at
    their disgruntled opponents. "Sure! What the hell! Why not? Eruptions also helped finish them off." That way
    everybody is happy and has an action item to work on. The asteroidists look for impact footprints and shocked
    quartz and the volcanists do lab analyses of air, water and rock samples. Everybody's got something to do.
    And the funds keep rolling in. Everybody's happy. Everybody got what they wanted. It's known as consensus.
    When the rambling loonies of Mathemagix couldn't settle their differences on whether light is a particle or a
    wave, they finally reached an agreement. It is both. Light is a wave-packet. It has been proven, settled and
    stamped. No more argument. Don't raise the issue again! Or your career could be in jeopardy! The paleo-
    mathemagicians did the same. The dino extinction was caused by both: the asteroid finished off what the
    volcanoes were doing for millions of years. End of story! And the funds keep coming in. So who's going to
    complain? These self-appointed legislators do 'science' by consensus. They vote for all of mankind at their
    pow wows and it becomes law. Try submitting an alternative theory to the secret Inquisition Boards comprised
    of these peer reviewers later on... Good luck!

    The irony is that 'science' has worked itself to a catch-22 situation. Editors want to see new and exciting stuff,
    something that will thrill the readers and get them to buy more magazines. However, the mommy's boys coming
    out of college have been conditioned for years to listen to the same old stuff. The editors do not want to
    disappoint their readers for else they themselves become extinct. The results are that you can publish anything
    you want as long as it meets the expectations of the readers. We will not only hear about black holes, Big Bang
    and 0D particles of mass until the end of time, but also about catastrophes, admixture and overkill. We're done
    with 'science'!

    A much bleaker realization is that proportionally few people care about Science any more. Merely judging by
    the number of hits certain subjects get, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of readers and Internet surfers
    have their minds on more exciting stuff. You could probably account for 99% of the readership with topics such
    as politics, sports, sex, fashion, pets, vegetarianism, gays, and movie stars. No one cares about the poor
    dinosaurs or even about how the Universe works. This state of affairs allows the 'experts' to get away with
    murder. A celebrity can say anything from the pulpit because there are very few parishioners listening, fewer
    still who question what they hear, and fewer still who have the power to contradict what the priests have
    already decreed to be the proven truth in their ecumenical councils.


    What characterizes the contemporary expert most of all is his fear of ideas that threaten his religion. Like their
    colleagues the mathemagicians, the paleontologists have constructed a fence around their theories to protect
    them from alternatives. The mathemagical paleontologist wields power and uses it to censor those who propose
    different explanations. You certainly cannot change articles at the Wikipedia without having some higher up
    remove your paragraph on the basis that the Mathemagical Establishment has not authorized it. This has partly
    to do with preserving the goose that lays their golden eggs for them. The livelihood of a university professor,
    his entire career is in one basket. Should anyone overturn the basket, his future ends up in yolk. Therefore, the
    experts sit on the secret peer censorship boards that determine what gets published in 'respectable', peer-
    reviewed journals which are the only articles that are translated for the public by popularization mags. They
    keep a close eye on what is filtered to the public to ensure that they continue to have jobs. The funds must
    continue to flow in whether from private donors or government. Like their superiors the mathemagicians, the
    paleontologists are no longer interested in Science. From now on we will hear and read about volcanoes,
    asteroids, gamma rays, climate change, admixture and other nonsense until the end of time.
An extinction expert should
look something like this...
Instead, the extinction expert
of today looks like this...
There are no extinction experts
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