Although I have not yet personally encountered a living pterosaur (as of March 2, 2012—I still hope), I have on occasion encountered a hoax. For example, I once investigated a teenager who had reported a flying pterodactyl that was carrying a family pet in its mouth, and I found evidence that the teenager was perpetrating a hoax in that report. If hoaxes are possible with reports, why do I publicize so many accounts of living pterosaurs? (For a detailed answer, read my books.) One reason is that a significant portion of the reports I receive show no sign of any hoax, and a portion of those show strong evidence against any hoax. But the accumulation of credible reports reveals the truth: In spite of a few practical jokes (even if more than a few), the overall evidence points to some living pterosaurs.
Practical jokes combined with misidentifications account for most of the non-pterosaur reports of apparent pterosaurs. Dreams combined with insanity account for less, with less than 5% of the reports I have received. But the vast majority of the emails and phone calls that I receive show no sign of any of those four distractions, and that, over the past eight years, has made the case for living pterosaurs, for the probability that all of those many credible reports are non-pterosaurs is so slight that it is not worth considering.
Critics and skeptics, including even a couple of paleontologists, have failed to consider simple probability in evaluating the important reports. (In fact, they also fail to consider those reports themselves, preferring to shoot down old stories that appear to have been jokes.) What is an important report, and how does it relate to simple probability? Forget all obvious hoaxes; darkness by itself never enlightens. Modify the clever proclamation of Sherlock Holmes: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In the real world, real detectives rarely have the opportunity to distinguish, with proven certainty, between the impossible and the highly improbable. I say, “When non-pterosaur explanations appear unlikely, consider a living pterosaur.”
When all “four distractions” appear unlikely in a particular sighting, I usually publicize that report, for it was probably an encounter with a modern living pterosaur. But the probability of one or more species of living pterosaurs—that increases with the accumulation of credible reports, according to simple probability. Even the position of vocal critics is worn down by the continuous rain of more-credible reports, like the millionaire who would increase his chances of winning a lottery by purchasing a million tickets; even if the most celebrated sightings are only barely-possible pterosaurs, accumulation increases that possibility: Hodgkinson-1944 plus Carson-1965 plus Hennessy -1971 plus Kuhn-1971 plus Wooten-1989 plus others.
Getting back to the hoax possibility, it is practically eliminated when an eyewitness has endured years of skepticism or even ridicule, with nothing to gain by holding onto a live-pterosaur report. Examples abound: Duane Hodgkinson’s sighting in New Guinea, Eskin Kuhn’s sighting in Cuba, an Australian couple’s sighting in Perth, Susan Wooten’s sighting in South Carolina, and others less publicized. We now need to admit the obvious: When hoaxes, misidentifications, dreams, and insanity have been eliminated, what is left, strange as that may seem to critics, is a living pterosaur.
When Hennessy reported his experience, in 2006, he was a professional psychologist. I believe that he still is. But why would he agree to have his real name be used in cryptozoology literature, if he was playing a hoax? It would likely come back to haunt him in his profession.
“Do nothing to refute mainstream geology” are the words of Glen Kuban. This phrase, however, is a clue that he is actually protecting a philosophy, for science, by its nature, is expected to bring about changes in opinion about what weused to think: changes.
Interviewing eyewitnesses of apparent living pterosaurs [for eight years] I know that a hoax (or a number of hoaxes) could not have produced the answers they have given me. While writing my book (“Live Pterosaurs in America . . . ), I saw that the data accumulated from descriptions of apparent pterosaurs in the United States showed characteristics not to be expected from a hoax or hoaxes.