Extant pterosaurs and bulverism

C. S. Lewis, in the mid-20th Century, noticed an unfortunate trend becoming popular: Avoid reasoning, on whatever subject, by talking about how your opponent is silly in a mistake. This changes the topic of discussion to an imperfection (real or imaged) in the one who disagrees with you, apparently freeing you from the danger of being found wrong during a potential reasoning discussion. Thus one who never truly reasons about any idea of merit (gossip or nitpicking has no merit) may appear to reason and to be correct, simply by making someone else appear foolish. Lewis gave this habit a name: “bulverism.”

Some critics of the idea of extant pterosaurs have stooped to the lowest form of bulverism. One popular cryptozoology web site (with the subtitle of “The voice of the international crypto community”) included the remark by a commentor that information about the Kor of Papua New Guinea “comes from a creationist blog (though they hide it quite well) so we need to take everything on it with a truck load of salt. Creaionists [read Creationists] will fabricate all kinds of rubbish to back up their fairy tales.” That was basically all the critic had to contribute to the discussion.

Honesty: not telling lies but telling the truth

Regarding the honesty of Creationists who have explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for living pterosaurs, can truth be uncovered by ignoring their findings, accusing them all of fabricating falsehoods, and then dropping the subject? No, accusing everyone who might have the label “creationist” with “liar,” a beggarly excuse for reasoning, covers up the truth. How much better to examine what the investigators have said and done!

How many ropen expeditions have creationists (by whatever definition of that label) led in Papua New Guinea over the past 17 years! How often has a creationist trudged along a jungle trail, hoping to learn about (or even see) a living pterosaur! Yet when did one of us report observing the clear form of a living pterosaur in Papua New Guinea during those 17 years? Never. We had too little time, too little money, and too few resources to mount any major expedition. The point? If even just one of us had any desire to deceive, how easy it would have been to lie about observing a living pterosaur! We honestly admitted that our experiences were with vague distant sightings (when we had that) and clear eyewitness testimonies of those we spoke with. Does it seem likely that liars would spend so much of their time and so much of their own money, only to later admit that they had not clearly seen what they firmly believed in?

Accusing ones opponents of fabricating “all kinds of rubbish to back up their fairy tales” appears to me to be the worst form of bulverism, for it insinuates that a whole group of investigators lie. Perhaps an evidence against that accusation becomes obvious when the accuser has ample opportunity to give specifics and then gives . . . nothing.

Since the eyewitnesses themselves hold various beliefs, I suggest critics examine the testimonies of those who have seen living creatures; don’t rail against those who interview eyewitnesses.

More about Flying Creatures and Bulverism

Slightly off-topic: “Objective Ministries” is a hoax, not actually a creationist site.


"Live Pterosaurs in America" nonfiction book. The front coverOne satisfied reader of Live Pterosaurs in America commented, “The problem with science is that we think we know it all and that is far from reality. This book shows courage to continue the search. If you have an interest in cryptozoology you should read this.” (Dale S. Reeder, Lehighton, PA) Please support the research by purchasing this book on Amazon.com or elsewhere.

From Chapter One: “Susan Wooten was driving east on Highway 20, to the town of Florence, on a clear mid-afternoon in the fall of about 1989 . . . Where the road was surrounded by woods and swamps, Wooten saw something flying from her left, then passing in front of her, behind her friend’s car. ‘It swooped down over the highway and back up gracefully over the pines,’ but its appearance was shocking: ‘It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers, not like a huge crane or egret, but like a humongous bat.’ . . .”