Seek SincerelyJune 19th, 2012 at 9:14
How important is sincerity for the seeker of truth! What can be learned from somebody who only acts out the searching, without expecting any discovery? Should a tourist visit the Smithsonian in Washington D. C., and return home to report no evidence for the existence of the President of the United States, that tourist’s lack of presidential discovery would be meaningless. Consider now the attitude of the leaders of the 2009 expedition on New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea, in particular the television production members of the team.
A pre-production lady had consulted with me briefly, months before the MonsterQuest expedition. I doubted that I would be ready to travel with them, so my associate Garth Guessman became part of their quest. But my friend was really seeking a living pterosaur, and the others were not.
From the third edition of my nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America:
I am grateful that the History Channel’s MonsterQuest episode on “flying monsters” in Papua New Guinea revealed to many Americans the living-pterosaur searches by Garth Guessman and Paul Nation; but the MonsterQuest expedition on New Britain Island, in early 2009, was not itself a serious living-pterosaur investigation but a show that cast doubt on that belief of those two Americans. . . .
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. . . .
[A paleontologist played a major role in this MonsterQuest episode.]
It seems to me that valuable air time was wasted promoting the “unknown-species-of-bat” hypothesis, for they instead could have delved into details of eyewitness accounts. . . .
Except for Garth Guessman, the Western members of the expedition team (mostly American or Canadian) went to New Britain Island to create a television show, not to search for living pterosaurs. Guessman was not the decision-maker, so his quest was at least partially nulified by the limitations imposed by the others. They found no living pterosaur.
But for those who sincerely seek the truth, even the unorthodox non-extinct pterosaur, the possibility of discovering one is thrilling.