WE ARE WRONG! WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY WRONG! DINOSAURS ARE SIMPLY TOO BIG TO WALK! WE MUST DO AWAY WITH TERRESTRIAL TYRANNY AND EXCEPT THAT DINOSAURS WADED NOT WALKED. IT MAKES MORE SENSE. DINOSAURS WERE AQUATIC. EVERYTHING ELSE IS FAKE NEWS. CHARLES DARWIN – WRONG. RICHARD OWEN – WRONG. ROBERT BAKKER – WRONG. PAUL SERENO – PLAGIARIST. PALAEONTOLOGISTS ARE THE WORST PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY’RE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.
Oh, hang on. Wait a second. I’m not me when I’m hungry (just ate my snickers!). Sorry, it seems in my rage that I completely forgot about decades of science and research. How stupid of me! I’m so glad I didn’t write a book about it – would’ve made me look like an absolute idiot! Thankfully, no self respecting publisher would ever publish that nonsense… Oh, wait.
If you’re unaware of the world of Brian J. Ford and his bizarre theories then I’ll give you a bit of a backstory. Brian is a microbiologist from the UK who, in 2012, decided to announce his ‘new’ dinosaur theory in Laboratory News Magazine. He proposed that non bird dinosaurs were actually aquatic creatures that waded in lakes because it makes more sense, to Ford, as they were simply too big to live on land. Yes, that’s right. His awe-inspiring new theory boils down to ‘it makes more sense’.
Brian, in some ways, is a doppelgänger of Boris Johnson. Eccentric, well spoken and arrogant. They have both had nonsensical books published by HarperCollins; equally works of fiction (whether purposely or not), excessively controversial and just plainly unnecessary. In other ways, he is Donald Trump. Full of crackpot theories, pretending that experts don’t know what they’re talking about and screaming FAKE NEWS at every opportunity. You get the picture? Yeah, it’s not pleasant.
Now, I’m not going to lie, I usually love a controversial opinion. I also usually love to read about ones that differ to mine – for two reasons. Firstly, I always think it is good to know all the facts and opposing ideas before drawing a conclusion; that’s the only way you can make an informed opinion of your own. Secondly, I like to pick apart everything that is incorrect about what is being argued and prove it wrong (whether that’s just in my head, moaning to family or friends, arguing in a blog post like this or maybe having a debate on social media if I can be bothered). However, I only like a controversial opinion if it at least attempts to be rooted in some sort of fact. Being controversial for the sake of it is a pointless activity. Enter Too Big To Walk. I don’t know Brian’s true motives for spreading his dinosaur theories but I can’t imagine his reason is that he genuinely believes they are actually correct. I can’t see how he could be that deluded.
This book reads like a cross between an old man having a rant and a parody. You can’t take a man seriously who consistently compares himself to Galileo whilst claiming that he is embarassed by the comparison. If you were embarassed or modest then you wouldn’t write it in your book. On top of that, any self respecting person would not use the inaccuracies of Jurassic Park to try and prove how their theory is right. It’s science fiction for crying out loud. Fiction. Yes, a T. rex could not run that fast but it is a movie that was made in the 90s. Get over yourself Brian. And, I don’t trust palaeontological theories from anyone who can’t differentiate a mosasaur from a dinosaur. Marine reptiles are not dinosaurs. If you’re going to write a hefty book about dinosaurs then get your basic facts right. PLEASE.
My faults with this book are countless. I could go chapter by chapter, page by page, sentence by sentence and pick it all apart. In some ways that would be insanely fun but at the same time I really don’t want to have to read it again. It’s not just the scientific inaccuracies and pure lunacy that makes this book dreadful but the fact it is just not any fun to read. So, I will try and cover my main issues with Brian’s nonsensical book but just be aware that for every point I make there are at least 50 others as to why this book is plainly awful.
Too Big To Walk is just too long. I don’t know why it needed to be this long. A good two thirds of it is a biased account of the history of dinosaur discovery. The other third is a mix of Brian repeating his nonsense theories over and over again (to the point where I think he’s trying to convince himself that it’s true) and him copying and pasting his articles from magazines that haven’t been peer reviewed. If I wanted to read the articles then I would google them – I don’t want to have to the read the entire articles (not even excerpts!) in a book especially when they all basically say the same thing. It is just pure, dull waffle. I mean, one chapter is over 100 pages long! Jeez.
It’s full of grammatical and spelling errors. From a man who spends half a page educating his readers that you should never put T-Rex but always T. rex. Seriously, who allowed this book to be published? Oh yes…
This book was only published because of Brian’s connections/money. Clearly a rich, old white man who has his hands in all the right pockets. He basically admits it in his book. He says that he contacted HarperCollins to publish his book because he knew people there and they agreed to publish it. He is the pure definition of it’s not what you know but who you know.
The ‘new’ science is actually old science. The idea that dinosaurs were aquatic is a really old idea. Just look through vintage dinosaur books and you’ll see sauropods wading in water. This isn’t some new, revolutionary theory that he’s come up with. It probably all stems from that he can’t let go of the dinosaur books he had as a kid. Yet, he is hypocritical enough to slate Charles Darwin for not coming up with the idea of evolution (but building on what others had discovered before him) and Richard Owen for not discovering dinosaurs. I would like to note that Galileo (who Brian clearly thinks he resembles) did not coin the idea of the planets revolving around the sun but Copernicus before him and Aristarchus before him. Hyprocrisy everywhere.
Hyprocrisy. Slates palaeontologists for not having enough evidence when he has absolutely no argument other than ‘draw a line of water over a dinosaur and it makes sense’. Honestly, he just cherry picks his data completely to suit his line of argument and his abuse at palaeontologists. Calls palaeontologists bullies for not agreeing with him yet constantly calls them idiots. Claims that scientists try to ostracise people with scientific terms yet he uses the term ‘volumetric analysis’ when describing him dunking toy dinosaurs in water. The list is endless.
FAKE NEWS. No credible scientific publication would use that term. Yet, here’s one example from the preface “scientists can get away with anything in this ignorant world, and dinosaur palaeontologists have exploited that to the full. Most of what they tell us is fake news, stories spun to perpetuate their income and preserve their mystique”. Because you’re not earning any money or publicity at all from publishing a book about your theory of dinosaurs, Brian?
The whole argument that experts are wrong is overdone. Experts are the ones doing the research, know their stuff and have studied hard to get where they are. Not like some has-been scientist who needs a bit more publicity. I know who I believe. The argument that we shouldn’t believe experts is dangerous. I can imagine that Ford is some brexiteer, climate change denier who just likes to argue at anyone for any reason. He strikes me as the type who shouts ‘PC gone mad’ and ‘fake news’ when reading a newspaper. He likes to be controversial for the sake of it. Grind a few gears. Ruffle a few feathers. Just because he can or maybe for a bit of publicity. So, one day he felt like he could take down a whole scientific community just because he could. It adds up. After a google search of Brian it comes up with an article about how he complained about there not being enough buses in his local area (if you’re intrigued then here you go). Enough said.
Crocodiles look like Stegosaurus. What?? He honestly can’t believe that can he? I can just see him sitting at his typewriter thinking ‘I can’t believe people are actually going to read this!’ whilst chuckling to himself.
The constant tangents. He explains why the sky is blue for a couple of pages and how there once was a chicken that continued living after being decapitated. Just why?
It’s just dull. If you’re going to write a controversial book then at least make it interesting. You don’t pick up a book like that to be bored to sleep. It took me three months to finish it because I just didn’t want to read it. I did actually fall asleep quite a few times.
The bad photoshop. He needs to stop photoshopping water over the top of dinosaurs. It’s embarassing.
The implications of this book are worrying. The fact that a guy can publish whatever he likes about a scientific discipline he isn’t involved in simply because he knows people in HarperCollins is disturbing. And the fact that the mainstream media jump on it like it’s revolutionary. Eurgh.
I’m not going to go into the proper science because, unlike Brian, I respect the fact that I’m not a palaeontologist. Although, I think my little finger knows more about palaeontology than Brian. If you want the scientific facts then watch Dr Darren Naish’s (an actual palaeontologist!) rebuttal to Ford’s claims here. You can also watch Brian’s nonsense here if you want to despair over his views without having to read the book. I suggest you watch Brian first and then Naish so that you feel better after hearing real science. You can also read these articles to show why Brian is so so so wrong:
Unfortunately, we naturally root for the underdog. Brian may not know much about dinosaurs but he clearly knows how to get publicity. He has waged a war on the palaeontology community and he is waging it hard.
That is why this book is actually frightening. It doesn’t matter how factually inaccurate it is because Brian will keep dispersing it. It’s him against the whole scientific community. Him against the world. He clearly believes that too. His consistent comparison to Galileo is because he too was shunned by scientists (and even jailed for his theories). Ford is not wrong is some sense. There have been occasions (and continue to be) where a new theory is shunned by scientists even if it is revolutionary and accurate. However, that doesn’t mean every single new theory should be accepted with open arms. There are reasons why papers are peer reviewed, why scientists are skeptical of new ideas and why not every Tom, Dick or Harry can come up with a scientific theory. Progress can be slow in science but it does happen. At one point, birds were not considered dinosaurs and I’m sure that theory wasn’t accepted when first introduced. Hell, it still isn’t excepted by people like Brian.
Regardless of the fact that Ford is not a palaeontologist, I can’t see how a scientist can create a book like this. It’s nonsense. You’d think a scientist would know that you have to back up your points with actual evidence? You can’t just spout that it makes sense to you repeatedly. What does that even mean?! It’s like Boris Johnson saying ‘Get Brexit Done’ over and over again – it doesn’t actually mean anything. Surely a microbiologist would actually understand how science works? A video of Ford on his YouTube shows him with William W. Hay, geologist, saying “we’re going to win, aren’t we?” (check the video out here). It’s alarming. The video just makes me believe it’s all some ridiculous ploy to gain publicity.
All in all, I would recommend to NEVER read this book. Don’t buy it. Don’t get it from the library. Don’t download it. It is not worth it. Usually, I love a good controversial book but I wasted months of my life reading this. It is a complete and utter waste of time. It is not even entertaining! It is boring nonsense and I’ve put it with my other fiction books on my shelves.
I will end with Brian’s opening sentence: “this is the book I didn’t want to publish”.
Then you shouldn’t have published it Brian because nobody wants to read your drivel.
I give this book -100/10 Goldblums.