More Critics, Less Reasoning

Early yesterday morning, November 30, 2010, I posted a short announcement on the “Cryptids on the Wing” forum of Cryptozoology.com. The quick, negative responses were no surprise to me, for I have received similar dismissals, for years, on this forum. The first criticism deserves attention here, as an example of bulverism.

Aside from the image of Mr. Kuhn’s sketch, the bulk of my own posting is in the first paragraph:

I gave Mr. Kuhn a surprise phone call earlier this year (2010). I talked with him for some time and found him to be highly credible. He answered my questions as an honest person would. He stands by his long account of the encounter almost four decades ago, even though he has been ridiculed by at least a few skeptics.

 Half a day after my comment was posted, the first reply came up; it was from “Karl.” His first sentence seemed to me a perfect example of bulverism:

Finding him credible supports your agenda.

What human who ever lived on this earth has ever said or done anything that was contrary to that person’s personal purpose? I admit to being human. So what is the difference between “purpose” and “agenda?” Karl’s choice of words simply means that he objects to my purpose, for that is the way the word “agenda” is now used among those fluent in English (but not necessarily both adept at and involved in reasoning). He insinuates that I have an improper purpose.

How is his first sentence an example of bulverism? It says nothing about the point: a sighting that suggests pterosaurs are still living; it avoids reasoning on the subject, instead pointing out a flaw or supposed flaw in an opponent, the essence of bulverism.

The next sentence wraps up what Karl had to say, at least at this time:

He can be as credible as you need him to be, but his story remains incredible, and contradicts common sense.

He continues the bulverism (referring to my own needs), concluding his remarks with a statement that the story (of Kuhn’s sighting of two pterosaurs in Cuba, in 1971) is incredible, contradicting “common sense.” He ends there, apparently assuming that everybody should therefore dismiss the story, with no other explanation necessary. Let’s look more closely.

Should every human experience that is out of the ordinary be dismissed because it is unusual? Where would astronomy be if all solar eclipses were disbelieved? Did the “unsinkable” Titanic actually avoid sinking, because one report of a disaster was incredible? No, the label of “incredible” does not, in itself, require anyone to dismiss a reported human experience.

So why not set aside my personal purpose and Karl’s personal purpose, to examine what Eskin Kuhn says that he personally experienced?

1971 sighting by Kuhn

Perosaur Sketch by Eskin Kuhn
Kuhn saw two pterosaurs in Cuba, in 1971

The two obvious pterosaurs observed by Eskin Kuhn during his military duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1971, were sketched by him soon after the sighting. I have encountered no contradiction in anything that he has said during the past four decades, nothing to discredit his account. I did interview him by phone just a few weeks ago, and I found his response to my surprise phone call truly enlightening: He was highly credible in his manner of speaking and his answers to my unexpected questions. This mature man has not been playing a hoax for four decades, for everything points to an honest reporting of a real experience. In light of many other sightings, by many other eyewitnesses, Mr. Kuhn’s sketch now deserves serious attention.

Long ago he mailed his sketch to National Geographic, but they returned it with a declaration that all pterosaurs have long been extinct. Mr. Kuhn promptly cancelled his magazine subscription to National Geographic. This man is consistent and maintains the truthfulness of his account.

I have found one critic who simply said that this account was a hoax and that he had no patience to pursue the subject nor to write more about it. He did not give any reason for his opinion. But when he was confronted by Eskin Kuhn himself, he then apologized, apparently admitting that he had no foundation for accusing the marine.

Now is the time to compare this sketch with descriptions given by other eyewitenesses. Consider all the testimonies of all those credible observers who have put their reputations on the firing line, regardless of ridicule. Now is the time to support serious scientific investigations into this extraordinary phenomenon: the existence of modern living pterosaurs. Please be heard.

Hammerhead ropen

Kuhn and Whitcomb sketches
Cuba: top -- Georgia, U.S.A.: Bottom

“. . . you don’t have to go to New Guinea. Far as I can tell, you can sit on a hill outside the town where I live in the mornings and see them. One sighting was at 7 in the morning, and one was at 9 am. Both days were overcast . . .”

So stated the eyewitness I interviewed in September of 2008. I interview many eyewitesses of apparent pterosaurs (that’s what I do), but few of them are professional artists. I was fascinated by the sketches this woman sent me, and named the cryptid “Hammerhead ropen.” Although I have not yet obtained permission to publish her sketches, I include a rough imitation here (bottom sketch), based on her sketches of the head, for it bears some resemblance to the head of the creature sketched by Eskin Kuhn (top sketch), another talented artist who witnessed two similar creatures in Cuba. The Hammerhead (bottom sketch) was observed in Georgia, U.S.A.