Smoking Kraken

October 12, 2011

Folks.  Just don’t do this.  Just don’t.

McMenamin and Schulte McMenamin’s crack-smoking GSA abstract Triassic kraken: the Berlin ichthyosaur death assemblage interpreted as a giant cephalopod midden isn’t going to do anything for them except attract well-deserved ridicule; and it’s not going to do anything for the field of palaeontology except attract undeserved ridicule.  It’s a lose-lose.

So just don’t, OK?

Oh, and, Geological Society of America?  Don’t do this, either.  A reputation is a valuable and fragile thing.

And mainstream media: we understand that you feel you should be able to trust the Geological Society of America, but can please have just a little common-sense?

(Actual analysis, if anyone wants it, can be found here on Brian Switek’s Wired blog.)

Acknowledgements: public domain Brachiosaurus altithorax and Histioteuthis reversa images from Wikipedia.  Originals here and here.

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9 Responses to “Smoking Kraken”

  1. BJ Nicholls Says:

    There are an amazing assemblage of suckers involved in this story.


  2. This guy McMenamin seems to be involved in other stories of wild speculation, as his academic profile suggests:

    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/facultyprofiles/ma_mcmenamin.html


  3. Indeed. they must have smoked dried kraken – or incense, myrrh and gold….. or whatever fundies get high on.

  4. ech Says:

    Isn’t “GSA Today” one of those “open access” journals? *duck*

  5. Allen Hazen Says:

    My recollection is that the McMenamins (husband and wife team) have at least one truly bad book to their credit. … Mt Holyoke is a decent college (an undergraduate teaching institution where students get more individualized attention than they would at a large university, with at least in some disciplines academic standards as high as those of “Ivy League” universities), so it has seemed a bit of a puzzle to me how they got a crackpot on the faculty: maybe it’s just that he got tenure before his wackiness became apparent… or maybe when he’s not trying to shock people he does some good work too?

  6. Mark Robinson Says:

    Whenever you see an assemblage of fossil bones, the first thing that you should consider is that they were arranged by some ancient sculptor – that much is obvious to anybody. That these Shonisaurus vertebrae are actually a self-portrait – well, that’s the genius part!

    Holyoke College Geology Department calling William of Ockham: We are in dire need of your razor.

  7. Matt Wedel Says:

    Hey, get that ‘pod off that ‘pod! Wait, I mean–you know what I mean!

    Holyoke College Geology Department calling William of Ockham: We are in dire need of your razor.

    In this case we might need Ockham’s Guillotine.

  8. David L G Rice Says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate: isn’t there a role in scientific inquiry for the devil’s advocate?

    Nevermind. This is more like the deus deceptor’s advocate, especially in a press release targeted for consumption by an internet-public obsessed with cephalopods and kraken…

    We can only hope that the full presentation includes some reflection on the human tendency to see faces in the clouds – that’s the only primal self-portraiture going on here, I’d wager.


  9. [...] Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week: Smoking Kraken. [...]


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