This past summer, I wrote about a biology professor in Minnesota who criticized me for what he declared were my bad motivations. His post was not like a scientific article, not even slightly like a peer-reviewed paper in a journal of science; it appeared more like a dirty political attack. But I don’t recall ever hearing any American politician refer to the writings of his opponent with the word “turds,” and this biology professor was referring to my online publications in general, not to a collection of animal feces.
More recently, I was surprised that an American paleontologist, Donald Prothero, had written a similar post, mostly about me, with special emphasis on the word deception. He even wrote, “Whitcomb admitted the deception.” I do not accuse Dr. Prothero of telling a lie, but I respond to his words against me. I was not trying to deceive anyone.
In his comments at the bottom of his post, Prothero reveals that he had read the post by that biology professor in Minnesota. I suggest he put too much confidence in those non-scientific declarations. Let’s now consider the basic accusation against me, that I have used deception in my online publications. I maintain that I was being honest.
“Sock puppets” or proper pseudonyms?
I’ve already written much, on other posts, about my temporary use of two pen names. They were not “sock puppets” but used on a minority of my blogs for a legitimate purpose. Years earlier, a few skeptics had accused me of dishonest, making it difficult for some readers to consider the eyewitness reports that I was publishing. To make the truth known to more online readers, I began using two pseudonyms. That allowed anyone to learn about the worldwide reports of apparent pterosaurs, without any reader rejecting them because of my name. At the same time, I continued to use my regular name, Jonathan Whitcomb, on most of my blogs and in most of my posts.
What about being honest in portraying how many people support the idea that one or more modern pterosaurs are still living? In his post “Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets,” Dr. Prothero says, “Virtually all discussion of the ropen comes from a single individual, Jonathan Whitcomb!” A few words later he uses the word deception. Let’s look deeper.
How many people promote belief in the ropen?
If Donald Prothero had said that my web pages dominate those of any other single writer, when “ropen” is used with a search engine, then he probably would have been correct. But he says nothing about Garth Guessman or David Woetzel, two of my associates. Those two cryptozoologists have given lectures with plenty of “discussion” on the ropen. They have written material online, over the years, and I don’t recall ever reading any of it that appeared to have come from any of my writings. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find many mention of “Jonathan Whitcomb” on any of their web pages, for they are independent searchers and researchers, with only limited and occasional help from me.
If I had used two pen names to fool people into thinking several people were promoting the concept of a non-extinct pterosaur, when it was only me, I would have been acting dishonestly. Reality is far different.
Two Americans and one Australian, at least, are almost entirely unheard of. They have been either anonymous or unheralded in publications. I have communicated with two of them but will not reveal their names. Consider now how they relate to the possibility that I may not have been completely honest in the use of two pen names.
What could be greater evidence of a belief than this: traveling from a developed country to a remote island in Papua New Guinea to search for something most Westerners believe does not exist? Three men have done this without fanfare or great publicity online.
I knew of them while using two pen names online, so how could I have tried to deceive people into thinking more people were deeply involved than were actually involved? If I had been trying to deceive readers by dishonestly magnifying the number of those who passionately believe in modern pterosaurs, I would have had to use at least four pen names, instead of two. Remember, three men have searched for the ropen in Papua New Guinea with hardly a trace of their names being publicized.
“Fake Pterosaurs and Sock Puppets” and other posts by other critics appear to attempt to discredit me through accusations about dishonesty and impropriety. Dr. Prothero appears to want to isolate me as almost the sole source for the idea that the ropen is a real creature that is a modern pterosaur. I suggest paleontologists would do better writing about fossils.
I’ll not say much about the sock puppet accusations here; I’ve written much on it already. For those who go to that link in question, it may become obvious that I was not trying to deceive anybody concerning reports of modern living pterosaurs, including the flying creature called ropen; for those who read only that post by Prothero, however, it can seem like I’ve tried to deceive people about the ropen and that I did so almost single-handedly.
A different kind of attack has been launched, as an American paleontologist has dismissed the ropen as a “fake” pterosaur and dismissed me, Jonathan Whitcomb, as one who practices deception. He also ridicules my belief in the Garden of Eden and in the Flood of Genesis.
A deceiver intends to lead someone away from truth; intention is a critical ingredient of the poison. Nobody can accidentally deceive anyone, as in carelessly typing on a keyboard and hitting “Tr” instead of “R,” resulting in a sentence about “Troy” instead of “Roy.” Someone can be mislead by a mistake like that; one cannot be deceived by that.