Okay. So, I actually do UNDERSTAND what paleontology is. At least on it’s most basic level. I just don’t understand WHY it is that we seem to be so, well, devoted to it. The financial resources alone must be astronomical. Not to mention the great scientific minds wasted on it.
My husband spends what I would consider inordinate amounts of time engaged in watching television programming devoted to activities that he will never engage in. Cooking shows being a good example. But at least I can understand his interest in things culinary (God bless him, sometimes he even records them for me, you know, to be helpful. It’s possible that I could suddenly get the urge to whip up some canapés. Not likely, but, possible.). He often records documentaries on, what I like to call, “dinosaur bullshit” and insists that we watch. Together. I have learned from this futile activity that neither of us will be participating in any kind of paleontological research anytime soon. And not just because most of this digging for bones seems to occur in the desert, which it does. And where it is ungodly hot. And then there are the sandstorms. Don’t even get me started on the sandstorms! “Damn, Jim, there’s twelve years of research down the drain!” No, it’s mostly because I think it’s stupid. And ridiculously expensive.
I mean, it cannot possibly be cheap to mount one of these expeditions (Have you seen what they’re getting for tents these days? No. Top dollar, let me tell you, top dollar!) I’ve also noticed that a lot of these digs are in the most remote and the poorest parts of the world (parts of the world that are not, by and large, big fans of The West). Yes, one could make the argument that these expeditions provide local employment opportunities. Sure, if you’re one of the lucky folks who have a camel, or two. Wouldn’t it be better to provide educational assistance to these people? Or at least help them out with a little irrigation? Then maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t grow up chanting things like “Death to America”! Just a suggestion.
Surely if paleontology were taken out of the higher education curricula, the scientifically-minded might get interested in more meaningful research (curing cancer and designing a broom whose base remains affixed to the handle while in use come immediately to mind). I don’t know anything about curing cancer, but I have some experience with the modern broom.
Sure, being the guy who fixed the whole broom dilemma will never be as sexy as identifying yourself as a paleontologist. Unless it’s women that you’re out to impress. Women, I guarantee you will be impressed. And, I dare say, grateful. Grateful enough for you to get more than a little action, if you know what I mean!
I would personally lead the charge to award some big scientific prize, one with some money attached to it, to the scientist who could solve the damn sweepy part/handle problem! I’m not making any promises, but a Nobel in Kitchenology might just be in someone’s future!
Scoff if you will. But tell me this: what big breakthroughs that benefit humanity have been made by the current crop of highly-trained paleontologists? Are you still scoffing? If you are, please let me know what these breakthroughs are.
I’ll bet if they put their heads together in a nice clean, air-conditioned environment those former paleontologists will have the whole broom thing licked in no time. And if one of them can figure out how to use a video camera, well that’s just the kind of documentary that I’d force my husband to watch!