On another blog, I replied to several comments by a critic of modern living-pterosaur investigations. But something else mentioned by Paul Pursglove caught my attention: “Basic science would suggest that these sightings are misguided.” That deserves attention. (The link to that original criticism by Pursglove is found on that Modern Pterosaurs Blogspot post: “Pterosaurs and Cryptozoology.”)
“Basic science” involves observations by humans, and human experience should be respected, even above a dogmatic tradition; that is the normal application of science. The professors who opposed Galileo’s support of a sun-centered system—those professors were trying to protect their traditions of earth-centeredness. Now many eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs tell us of their experiences; they are now opposed by critics who are trying to protect the traditions of universal dinosaur-pterosaur extinction. The point? Mr. Pursglove has taken a position similar to that taken by the professors who opposed Galileo.
What!? Cryptozoologists who search for flying creatures resembling living pterosaurs—those fringe-investigators are on the same side as Galileo? But that early Italian scientist had a telescope to show professors that Jupiter was circled by four moons, so he was using repeatable observations to convince those professors, right? Not exactly. For one thing, those moons of Jupiter do not really prove that the earth revolves around the sun (it only opens up thinking in that direction); in addition, professors cannot be forced to look into a telescope, even if they were open-minded about what they would see.
But cryptozoology, including sightings of living pterosaurs, is not repeatable science, it is unpredictable, right? Not exactly. Certain aspects of sightings in Papua New Guinea seem to be repeatable. A few months after Paul Nation videotaped two indava lights (late 2006), the television production crew for Destination Truth (with Joshua Gates) videotaped a similar light to the east (early 2007). Both sightings were on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. So why not support a major expedition, one with the expensive video equipment that might reveal the living pterosaurs that produce that incredible bioluminescence?
But science tells us that all pterosaurs became extinct many millions of years ago, right? NOT AT ALL! Not even one species can be determined to be extinct by examining fossils. Extinction is not something that fossils can tell us. It has been assumed that pterosaurs became extinct; the key word is “assumed.” Even if hundreds of species did become extinct long ago, there is nothing in “basic science” that tells us no pterosaur species could be presently living.
The truth is that the discoveries of fossils of new species of pterosaurs, discoveries over the decades, make an extant pterosaur species MORE likely. The more species that lived in the past, the more likely one or two species have survived into the present, right? RIGHT!
Human experience should not be swept away to protect old dogmas, and two of those old dogmas are earth-centeredness and universal pterosaur extinction.
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