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Dinosaurgate: A non-paleontologist documents significant errors in the work of several noted paleontologists.
About two and half years ago, Dr. Myhrvold came across a 2009 paper by Dr. Erickson as he was trying to answer the question, “Why were dinosaurs big?” He said data in two of the graphs, one plotting the length of the thigh bone versus age, the other mass versus age, conflicted with each other. “I instantly knew that this couldn’t be correct,” Dr. Myhrvold said.
Dr. Myhrvold said he contacted Dr. Erickson, asking for the original data. While Dr. Erickson answered some questions, he said the data was on a computer he had gotten rid of and later that he did not have time to answer more questions, Dr. Myhrvold said.
Dr. Myhrvold was able to obtain some of the data from other researchers and thought he could do a better statistical analysis. Last year, he submitted a paper with his calculations — a fairly esoteric scientific disagreement about how best to extract reasonable generalizations from a limited number of fossils.
Dr. Erickson was one of the reviewers and argued strongly against publication. While praising Dr. Myhrvold’s accomplishments and saying the calculations appeared to be numerically correct, Dr. Erickson said the paper would not advance scientific understanding.
“In fact it will hurt our field by producing inherently flawed growth curves, misrepresenting the work of others, and stands to drive a wedge between labs that are currently cordial with one another,” he wrote. [emphasis mine]
Shades of Phil Jones of Climategate fame, who when asked for his original climate data first stalled, then stonewalled, then admitted that the data had been “lost.” Similarly, like the Climategate scientists who tried to squelch the work and careers of anyone who challenged them, the paleontologist being accused here attempted to prevent the accusation from been published.