August 19, 2009

Creationist Imagines Pterosaurs Soaring Over America

At the end of the 1950s and beginning in the early 1960s, a man showed up on the scene to overthrow the theory of evolution. His name was John C. Whitcomb.

J. C. Whitcomb (born 1924) has, in the recent past, described himself as a creationist, theologian, and former Professor of Theology and Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.

As Wikipedia points out, regarding an infamous 1960 book coauthored by Whitcomb:

“The work The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris has been criticized for being scientifically inaccurate. Furthermore, the work takes quotes from scientists either out of context or completely misquoting sources. For example, the writers took sources out of context and left out the date of ‘millions’ without noting the exclusion with an ellipsis.

“John G. Solum, a geologist with the USGS, has criticized the work for being inaccurate. Solum noted, ‘Whitcomb and Morris are mistaken about the nature of the rocks associated with thrust faults. Their claim about fossils is based on a YEC misunderstanding of how rocks are dated relative to each other, and how the geologic column was constructed’ and, ‘Morris’ explanation of relative dating is not ‘somewhat oversimplified,’ it is entirely incorrect.'”

Today, along comes another Whitcomb (are they related?), creationist Jonathan Whitcomb. He has studied the Ropen of New Guinea. He criticizes the standard model of universal and ancient pterosaur extinction. The younger Whitcomb criticizes the General Theory of Evolution. (MonsterQuest’s recent episode on the Ropen said the Whitcomb-promoted “demon flyer” video might be camp fires.)

“In 2003, [Jonathan Whitcomb] wrote a shorter work on a mathematical model showing the impracticality of macroevolution: An Evolutionary Boundary.”

You will note that in Jonathan Whitcomb’s new publicity campaign, he is downplaying his American Old Testament religious and Young Earth Creationist (YEC) motivations, and, instead, calling himself a “cryptozoologist.”

The new press release is headlined “Apparent Living Pterosaurs Seen By 1400 Americans, According To Author Jonathan Whitcomb,” with the subheading, “A cryptozoologist estimates that at least 1400 credible eyewitnesses have seen, in the United States, over the past 29 years, large flying creatures unlike any known bird or bat: apparent pterosaurs.”

It follows:

Jonathan Whitcomb, author of the nonfiction book “Live Pterosaurs in America,” interviewed, from 2005 to 2009, eyewitnesses from 19 states: California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Washington State. The sightings themselves were from 1980 through 2008.

Some eyewitnesses label what they saw “pterodactyl,” the layman’s word for “pterosaur.” Many descriptions included “long tails” and lack of feathers. Wingspan estimates showed a statistical peak at 8-10 feet, but 27% of the estimates were over 18 feet: too big to be birds.

Many scientists assume that pterosaurs, like dinosaurs, became extinct by 65 million years ago. But a few cryptozoologists specialize in reports of sightings of pterosaur-like animals. They believe that many recent reports of apparent living pterosaurs in North America cannot be easily dismissed. According to Whitcomb, a substantial number are not from hoaxes, insanity, or misidentifications; they are most likely living pterosaurs.

Whitcomb found that eyewitnesses are hesitant to report their experiences; many are afraid of ridicule or afraid people would think them “crazy.” Most of those who reported their sightings to him remain anonymous in his book; an exception is Susan Wooten, who reported what she saw flying over a highway: “It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers . . . like a humongous bat.” She made a sketch of what she had seen; the creature had a long tail and a head crest.

On August 15, 2009, three weeks after the publication of his book, Whitcomb made use of data from eyewitness interviews. He noted that when more than one person shares a sighting, at least one of the eyewitnesses may be shocked or disturbed in a way that prevents conversation about it, even with those who were present and saw the same thing. (But the great majority of reports are by lone eyewitnesses who fear ridicule if they talk.) Whitcomb estimated that of those who have seen an obvious pterosaur, only about 33% have sufficient confidence in their own senses to even consider contacting a cryptozoologist. Of those 33% who accept what they saw, at most only 20% will get up the nerve to phone or email an expert. And with some eyewitnesses, that may take years. Whitcomb calculated that at least 1400 Americans have seen living pterosaurs in the United States from early-1980 through the end of 2008.

“According to Whitcomb, a substantial number are not from hoaxes, insanity, or misidentifications; they are most likely living pterosaurs,” says their press release.

Wherein lies the insanity here?

Cryptozoology used in the support of extreme, unsupportable theories of creationism is unscientific and, perhaps, worse.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

Filed under Books, CryptoZoo News, Living Dinosaurs