Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Sort of "Science" Only Biology Considers Valid

I just read through this article that has the bold headline: "Study: DInosaurs Starting Having Sex Young." In that article, we read the conclusion:

Dinosaurs had sex well before they reached full physical maturity, just as crocodiles and people can, research now reveals.
The proof for this claim is:

To see when dinosaurs began having sex, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History in New York and their colleagues investigated all seven known specimens of dinosaurs that were buried while brooding eggs.
Yes. That's right. Out of all the dinosaur fossils we have, a grand total of SEVEN specimens were examined.

Don't worry, it gets worse, for later we read:

After four years of research, analysis revealed that although five of the dinosaurs had grown to adult size, two had not — one oviraptorid and one deinonychosaur.
That's right. The universal claim that dinosaurs had sex young (meaning before fully adult-sized) is based on TWO dinosaur fossils, from two different species of dinosaurs.

This is about as scientifically valid as saying all birds don't fly because we've observed two individuals, one a penguin and one an ostrich, that don't fly. Even if we generalize the two individuals to the entirety of the species, that says nothing about dinosaurs as a whole.

Yet we read:

Paleontologist Peter Makovicky at the Field Museum in Chicago, who did not participate in this study, said: "It's pretty difficult to get details on reproductive biology out of fossils, since you can't directly observe it, but the group here was able to put together a number of recently found and described fossils to good use in a fascinating piece of work."
Fascinating it may well be, but one thing it certainly is not is science. Biology, especially regarding paleontology, is the only branch of science where conclusions drawn on this type of "evidence" are not laughed at.


  1. What.... Not a word from Touchstone???

  2. Very funny, hahahaha, and what do they call this discipline? What? Did they call this thing, science?