I invite all people to consider the testimonies of eyewitnesses of flying creatures whose descriptions suggest an extant pterosaur more than any bird or bat known to Western zoologists. Consider the similarities in those descriptions as cryptozoological evidence, remembering the origin of Western science: Use reason to explain human experience.
The American paleontologist Donald Prothero wrote the post “Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets,” using the word deception three times regarding me, Jonathan Whitcomb. You’ll not find the word bulverism in his post about my honesty or lack thereof. Indeed, that word, invented by C. S. Lewis, remains an obscure word in the English language, although falling into the foolishness of using bulverism has been common for decades. Dr. Prothero, however, has fallen into the worst form of that fallacy, accusing a person of being deceitful rather than discussing the scientific or cryptozoological subject itself.
In the appendix of the fourth edition of my book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, I wrote about bulverism:
C. S. Lewis gave us “bulverism,” lamenting the decline of human reasoning. He defined the word in the mid-twentieth century: “The modern method is to assume without discussion that he [someone whose opinion you dislike] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly.” How much better to talk about the subject at hand!
Critical words and concepts missing
Dr. Prothero, a well-known man in his field of paleontology, said nothing about any fossil in his post about me, strange for one who should specialize in fossils. He also said nothing about eyewitness reports, strange for I specialize in those. What did he say? “Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets” mostly tries to make it appear that I have used improper online publicity methods and that I have used “deception” and have amplified a falsehood. It portrays me as almost the sole source for falsehoods about the ropen or apparent living pterosaurs.
It fails to make the case, however, for any dishonest intentions on my part, and intention is critical. Why is the word “expedition” absent from Dr. Prothero’s post? I made a comment at the bottom of his post:
. . . what about my expedition in 2004? Why did I return home to the USA admitting that I never saw anything remotely resembling a pterosaur? If I had ever intended any deception, surely I would have also reported something I had seen, even if only a flying light. I admitted seeing no pterosaur because I was honest.
For the past eleven years, I have probably spent more hours in this narrow field of cryptozoology, over 10,000 hours, than any other person on the planet. That should be clear to anyone who uses Google on phrases like live pterosaur, dinosaur bird, or ropen. So if the ropen is a “fake” pterosaur, how foolish I have been! So why are words like fool and foolish missing from Dr. Prothero’s post? He appears to have concentrated on trying to convince people that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have been dishonest, and that’s where he blundered. In addition, he misses other critical points.
Extinction—Universal or not?
This paleontologist appears unwilling to directly defend the centuries-old concept of universal pterosaur extinction. Really! Like other paleontologists with whom I have communicated, he avoids dealing with the origin of this axiom, the idea that every individual creature of every species of pterosaur (both Rhamphorhynchoids and Pterodactyloids) died long ago. Do they avoid the issue because of potential embarrassment after the general public becomes aware that universal extinctions of all pterosaurs is just an axiom, not a proven fact? I believe that’s part of it. But that assumption held by many paleontologists is outdated, even pre-Darwin.
How much better to learn about what people are observing around the world!
Failure to Photograph a Ropen
Unfortunately I am not one of those many eyewitnesses. Prothero says nothing about the 14,333 photographs I got from a deer camera that I had placed where an apparent ropen had been observed in 2012. Note what I admitted in Searching for Ropens and Finding God:
So how did the photo sessions go with my game camera anchored to a fence, a few miles to the north, in Lakewood? After examining 14,333 photos, for over a year, I saw nothing like a pterosaur. I’m glad to report that I suffer from neither hallucinations nor from the delusion of seeing nonexisting pterosaurs in vague shadows in photos. Yet all that work, over fourteen months of work, looked like a total failure.
Of course he probably never read anything in that book and has been ignorant of that failure of mine. Yet that apparent disaster in my investigation disproves his accusation that I have used deception. Why would I publish a book that clearly states that I had failed to capture an image of a ropen flying through a storm channel at night?
I have had years of experience in video editing and animation. I was certified by the American Guild of Court Videographers. I was also, at one time, a professional wedding videographer and recorded and edited other events. If I ever intended to deceive anybody, I could have done so by spending hours in creating a convincing image that appeared to be a living pterosaur.
Surely I could have created some fuzzy image, pasting it onto one of those 14,333 photographs that my game camera had recorded over a period of many months. That would have been easier than searching through those 14,333 photos, scanning them for any sign of a living pterosaur but finding none. Why did Prothero accuse me of deception?
The ultimate fool?
Consider how extraordinary must be my foolishness if the ropen really is a “fake pterosaur.” How easy for Dr. Prothero to say something about that apparent weakness in my case, if he had not been so preoccupied with demonstrating my “deception!” Being one of the most educated and most published Americans in one field does not make a person correct in another field. This paleontologist has failed to do nearly enough research to come to any reliable opinion about my honesty in my own narrow field of cryptozoology.
Am I the ultimate fool? Think what you will, but I submit that I have been honest.
Suggestion from Jonathan Whitcomb
I suggest that anyone who wants to know the truth, about eyewitness testimonies of apparent pterosaurs, consider the reports themselves. Don’t assume that an accusation of “deception” must be true when the accused person is contradicting a long-held assumption in Western culture. Avoid bulverism and consider what the eyewitnesses themselves have to say about what they have encountered: flying creatures that look like pterosaurs.
Jonathan Whitcomb, cryptozoologist
There is no physical evidence for the universal extinction of all pterosaurs. In addition, there is no eyewitness evidence for their complete extinction. In other words, there is NO EVIDENCE, of any kind, that all species of pterosaurs became extinct.
Bulverism in a post by Prothero – A major problem with Dr. Prothero’s post is in the idea that I, Jonathan Whitcomb, have used deception in promoting my ideas, thus flooding the internet with my supposed error in believing in modern pterosaurs.
The question now is this: Is it better for a scientist to use non-scientific methods to ridicule, through bulverism, someone he disagrees with or for a cryptozoologist to use scientific methods to examine the credibility of the existence of the cryptid called ropen? I choose the latter.
I’ve received emails from eyewitnesses from four continents plus islands in the Pacific, emails about flying creatures that resemble “primitive” or “prehistoric” animals more than any bird or bat. On occasion I am able to talk with an eyewitness by phone or by face-to-face interview.
This past summer, I wrote about a biology professor in Minnesota who criticized me for what he declared were my bad motivations. His post was not like a scientific article, not even slightly like a peer-reviewed paper in a journal of science . . .
Originally a collection of essays and speeches, “God in the Dock,” published in 1979, included an explanation for “bulverism,” a word C. S. Lewis invented. The idea is closely related to the “Subject-Motive Shift” concept by Antony Flew.
From the back cover of this nonfiction book (in part):
Americans, for years, have reported obvious pterosaurs, with sightings in Washington state, California, New Mexico, Texas, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri.