Regarding pterosaurs, the only kind of discovery allowed by the Smithsonian is the fossil kind. Apparently no number of eyewitness accounts of living pterosaurs can sway their minds. It’s been many months since Brian Switek’s Smithsonian Magazine online post, “Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth,” but they have not budged from their dogmatic position, unless Switek is the exception with that institution, which I doubt.
The Smithsonian should judge human experience, regarding eyewitness sightings of living pterosaurs, objectively. Instead, with Brian Switek’s poorly conceived blog post, dogmatic assumptions are taken as if fact. But where will science go, how will science progress, if human experiences are kicked out the back door?
Observe the weight of eyewitness testimonies, especially the sightings of Brian Hennessy, Duane Hodgkinson, and Gideon Koro. Each of those sightings carries its own weight independently. The combination of all three makes dogmatic universal extinction proclamations ludicrous, when taken in context with the real history of that assumption of extinction.
David Woetzel has explored in Africa, searching for a living dinosaur, and has explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for a living pterosaur. But Switek takes this as if it makes Woetzel’s position weak, and the point of all of this is that Woetzel is questioning scientific assumptions that Switek has taken for granted. Putting this in the context of a court trial: The defense attorney cannot prove his case by saying that the district attorney cannot be believed because he prosecutes people.
From the book Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition):
The world’s greatest expert on chickens—that’s a fox. The details of that expertise culminate in picking bones, executed differently than, but for the same purpose as, the work of a fossil expert: to make a living. The hope differs: The paleontologist searches for ancient bones somehow protected from the destructive forces of time; the fox, for fresh meat, somehow unprotected by the farmer for a time. Interminable dogmatism keeps both of them searching: one for death anciently; the other, death soon-to-be.
We trust no fox to analyze the automatic switch that turns on the electric fence protecting chickens; why trust a paleontologist to analyze reports of live pterosaurs, for supporters of that idea appear to threaten standard paleontology? Both fox and paleontologist have specialized knowledge, with each specialization tied to its own dogma. Trust neither one outside.