By the nonfiction cryptozoology author Jonathan Whitcomb
Scientific skepticism can be useful, when a scientist is criticized on a particular point. It can sometimes allow him or her to make a needed correction and improve the original idea. But when extreme bias exists in either that scientist or the one doing the criticism, problems arise.
Evaluating a Long Article Written by Glen Kuban
A typical web page or blog post may contain 100-600 words. The online publication by Mr. Kuban, “Living Pterosaurs (Pterodactyls)?” has, in the May 31st version, over 37,000 words. He mentions my name 343 times (“Whitcomb”). I wonder if any political critic has ever written anything mentioning “Trump” that many times. I think Kuban’s article could be titled:
“Everything Anybody Might Want to Know, to Shoot Down Modern-Pterosaur Ideas”
I can here respond to only a tiny fraction of that criticism, of course, so let’s consider one point: possible bias or objectiveness in one aspect of my own potential weakness or strength. Other perspectives on bias issues I have written about in other publications.
Bias Potential of Jonathan Whitcomb
A few weeks ago, Kuban added a new section to his long article: “Confirmation Bias.” Look at this in the following perspective:
A number of days before he wrote that section, I had been communicating with him in emails. I asked, “Would you be willing to look into the possibility that you have been influenced by a confirmation bias?” He did not reply, but within a couple of weeks or so had added that section to his article.
He speaks much about my religious beliefs, apparently being unaware of his own potential biases based upon origin philosophy. I won’t address those issues here. Let’s consider the evidence of what I have actually written, over the past 14 years, rather than what Mr. Kuban imagines about how my religious convictions may have caused me to be less than objective.
Kubans says the following, which I submit as a factual error:
In his 2014 book, Whitcomb indicates that in Kenya natives refer to apparent pterosaurs as “Batamzinga” . . .
In reality, I don’t recall ever having seen the word Batamzinga until I had read a particular section of Kuban’s long online publication. I did a word-search on the pdf version of my book Searching for Ropens and Finding God, fourth edition (the only book that I had written in the year 2014) and found nothing similar to Batamzinga. In fact, that book does not even contain the word Kenya. This is one of a number of factual errors that I have found in Kuban’s “Living Pterosaurs,” but we need to keep to the point. [addendum of June 14, 2017: Kuban made a correction on his web page, now correctly referencing Kongamato in Africa. That may be the only place where I had mentioned Batamzinga, for I had forgotten in over the years.]
The phrase “apparent pterosaur” is found only once on Kuban’s page (see the above quote), and it is there irrelevant to what follows.
Science runs its best race when it uses numbers. This includes counting. Since Kuban has used my name nine times in his section titled “Confirmation Bias,” I submit the following:
I chose the phrase “apparent pterosaur” in a Google search because it allows for the possibility that what an eyewitness reports was a modern pterosaur might have been something else. The online search was done with those two words within quotes.
Google Search: “apparent pterosaur”
The first Google page had one image result and nine regular-page results. All of those nine were written by me, Jonathan Whitcomb, with the following easy-to-see years of online publication:
The second Google page showed eight results that were pages or posts written by me. The following are the years they were written, for those which have an obvious date:
The third Google page had all ten of the results of online publications that I had written, with three of them showing the year of when they were written:
In other words 27 of 30 Google results were of my writings, all of which had at least one instance of the phrase “apparent pterosaur”. The years shown for those that showed when they were published varied from 2010 to 2017.
Contrary to what one would think after reading Kuban’s online publication, I keep an open mind about each sighting report I receive from an eyewitness. As evidence for that objectiveness, I submit the above, giving a small sampling of the many times that I have used “apparent pterosaur” in my online writings.
Copyright 2017 Jonathan Whitcomb (“Kuban, Living Pterosaurs – a Reply”)
Glen Kuban (GK) and I have a few things in common. We’ve both been writing about reports of apparent extant pterosaurs (or those who believe in them) for a long time, and we’ve written a lot. I started late in 2003; and GK, in 2004. We differ, however, in how we interpret those reports.
[One particular critic of living-pterosaur investigations] seems to have fallen into a severe combination of bias issues including both confirmation bias and belief perseverance, regarding his ideas about the old photo that is now known as “Ptp.”
This is not a reply to scientific skepticism but to a skeptic who uses a variety of tactics to persuade readers of his online page to disregard anything that might appear to give credence to the possibility that one or more species of pterosaur is extant.
We also need to understand that a more-recent imitation photo is a hoax, or at least a virtual hoax, created for a TV show. Do not confuse these two photos, for on the surface they appear similar. Some persons have been confused, thinking there is only one photograph.
Has a sighting in South Carolina and also in North Carolina