This is a reply to the post “The Pseudo-Dragons of Genesis Park, Part 13” by Owosso Harpist. For the most part, it’s a scathing attack on the online writings of my associate David Woetzel. Yet it refers to living-pterosaur investigations in general and accuses me and my associates of being not only delusional but potentially dishonest, so I must respond.
I am not replying to the whole post, for it is long, but certain mistakes need correcting. I point out these errors, not to imply that everything that Owosso Harpist has written is faulty, but simply to put as much truth as I can before as many online readers as possible.
To the best of my knowledge, Owosso Harpist (a pen name) is an amateur harpist who works part time as a janitor. I do not relate this to ridicule O.H., for I myself worked as a janitor in my younger years. In addition, as a young adult I once played a wind instrument in a duet, for a wedding prelude, in which my sister played a harp similar to the one now played by O.H.; I respect this musical instrument and those who seek to master its use. I relate these things because that’s about all that I know about this person except for the critical writings that include this post “Pseudo-Dragons . . .”
Point by Point Reply to Part of the Post by O.H.
Q: Are creationists deluded, thinking any large flying creature is a pterosaur?
A: Do an online search with apparent pterosaur. Notice that the vast majority of pages are either written by me, Jonathan Whitcomb, or are about one of my books about modern pterosaurs. I often use the phrase “apparent pterosaur” because I recognize that an individual sighting may have come about from something other than a pterosaur.
I have also noticed that some of my associates have also shown caution in their conclusions about individual sighting reports, at least sometimes. I don’t know where O.H. got this idea about extreme bias among creationists, but it appears this critic has not done enough research, at least not with an open mind to the possibility that my associates and I might not always be entirely wrong.
Q: Do “details” in reports indicate sightings are of NON-pterosaurs?
A: O.H. mentions no details, in the first part of her post, but I will do so now: Patty Carson saw a featherless winged creature at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in or around 1965. That flying creature had teeth and a long head crest. It also had a flange at the end of its long tail. Here is the sketch she drew of what she encountered:
If this critic uses the word pterosaur only for precise species known from fossils, I can understand why she might think that eyewitness report details differ from what we know from fossils. But I and my associates use the word pterosaur in a more general sense, meaning we include those modern flying creatures that appear to be descended from pterosaurs that were related to the ones that left fossils that paleontologists have already discovered.
Q: Is “every” report of a living pterosaur “without proof of evidence?”
A: Eyewitness testimony is a form of evidence. In fact there would be no science or scientist without testimonies of human experience. What O.H. may have been thinking about is physical evidence to accompany testimonies.
Yet even there, this critic seems to be thinking only in a narrow sense: a dead or living pterosaur or an egg, perhaps. But the greatest weakness in this critic’s statement about “every” report is this: Owosso Harpist probably has very limited knowledge of the actual sighting reports. Why did she fail to mention the name of Patty Carson or the following names?
- Brian Hennessy
- Jacob Kepas
- Sandra Paradise
- Eskin Kuhn
- Peter Beach
- Evelyn Cheesman
- Sherry Cooper
- Professor Steven Watters
Q: Is “every” report “likely” to be from a native who is plagued by superstition?
A: Where does O.H. get that idea? Has that critic observed and listened to my videotaped interviews with natives on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea? I see nothing on this particular post (Pseudo-Dragons . . . Part 13) that supports that possibility. I learned about native superstitions in some villages of Umboi Island. I interviewed natives in three villages, including Gomlongon and Opai. Almost without exception, those witnesses reported details to me that were not part of their superstitions. They simply told me what they had seen.
Q: Have natives “likely” been paid by creationists to give a particular kind of report, in other words “false reports?”
A: Where is the evidence? Where did O.H. get that idea? That may be not far from the worst possible form of bulverism.
Q: Were natives “likely” “coerced” into giving a particular kind of testimony?
A: This speculation has the same weakness as the previous accusation and deserves to be dismissed.
Owosso Harpist does point out a real weakness in one of David Woetzel’s web pages. My associate quotes from a book by James B. Sweeney, A Pictorial History of Sea Monsters (1972), which has many mistakes that are not immediately corrected by Woetzel. (See the above link.) But even with all of those mistakes, a person is more likely to learn the truth from those words than from much of what I have seen in the post written by O.H.: “The Pseudo-Dragons of Genesis Park, Part 13.”
I consider much of these criticisms to be bulverism, which involves changing the subject by trying to point out another person’s weakness. I would be happy to write only about the concept of modern pterosaurs, but the accusations against me need to be addressed.
For those who go to that link in question, it may become obvious that I was not trying to deceive anybody concerning reports of modern living pterosaurs, including the flying creature called ropen; for those who read only that post by Prothero, however, it can seem like I’ve tried to deceive people about the ropen and that I did so almost single-handedly. Let us look deeper.
Countless eyewitnesses, in many countries across the planet, have pondered what it was they had seen. But ropens continue to fly overhead, continuing to shock humans who had assumed that all pterosaurs had become extinct millions of years ago.
A few weeks after my expedition on Umboi Island, David Woetzel and Garth Guessman arrived in Papua New Guinea. It’s now been ten years since our two expeditions in 2004, but what we learned from interviewing natives—that still needs more publicity, for few Americans have heard about our discoveries in cryptozoology.