Honest or Trying to Deceive?

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.


Donald Prothero and “Fake” Pterosaurs

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.

Honesty in Ropen Searching

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.

Honesty in Reports of Modern Pterosaurs

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.


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Noah: Film Versus Scripture

Since childhood, I have enjoyed watching films depicting Bible stories, with a very early memory of the depiction of some of Christ’s apostles. I probably saw several versions of the Genesis Flood story, with Noah and the Ark.

With all the various treatments, in films, of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph and his wayward brothers, I came to understand that portions of those movies were purely fictional, with words and actions not taken from the Bible but from the imaginations of those who wrote and directed those dramatizations. Yet I found joy in those parts that were from Genesis. I cannot, however, recommend the 2014 film Noah, which gets further and further away from the Biblical account and is foreign to the real man Noah.

I stopped watching the movie (which I borrowed on DVD from a library) when Noah, who was protecting animal life on the Ark, became determined to kill his only baby grandchild, even before that child was born. How could anyone imagine any characterization more foreign to the actual character of the person whom we call Noah?

I know that the film creators were not intending to portray the Genesis account; they were creating a fantasy based upon a few principle parts of that scriptural record. But why use the name Noah? Why not create a fantasy without tearing down that name? I can only plead with everyone to avoid this film. The violence has almost few boundaries and the spirit of the original record of the Genesis Flood is absent.

In contrast, I highly recommend the film 17 Miracles. How inspiring that Mormon pioneer historical dramatization is!

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Promoting Pterodactyls and the “Mormon Religion”

Did I promote the “Mormon Religion” by publishing my web page “Searching for Ropens and Finding God?” I would be delighted if a reader not yet a member of my church investigated the LDS faith after reading that page, yet that was not on my mind when I wrote it. This needs explaining.

A biology professor in Minnesota wrote a blog post, the other week, blasting my research and investigations into sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs (AKA pterodactyls). Most of his declarations about my intentions, however, were false. His mistake about my purposes in writing that page on lds-nonfiction-dot-com, however, was interesting to me; I was actually writing to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who might enjoy reading my most recent book, Searching for Ropens and Finding God (every person deserves to know the truth). That’s why the page is on lds-nonfiction, instead of something like “Christian Nonfiction-Book Readers” or something like that. I was simply targeting members of my own church.

I suggest blog writers stick to issues rather than pin imagined motivations onto the names of those with whom they disagree. Bulverism may be getting worse, since C. S. Lewis invented that name. Since the biology professor in Minnesota was trying to discourage readers from considering my writings, using bulverism, I’ll quote, on the subject of bulverism, from the third edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God:

The Smithsonian post suggests that Jim Blume and David Woetzel are themselves a problem, as they attempt to persuade people that dinosaurs and pterosaurs are still living. Switek says they’re creationist explorers, which nobody denies, but that labeling implies we should doubt modern pterosaurs could exist. Be aware: most eyewitnesses are non-creationists, a fact unknown to many skeptics. (Thus many eyewitnesses are shocked at what they see.) Let’s avoid even a hint of bulverism, examining ideas for their own strengths and weaknesses. Keep to the subject, the concept that one or more species of pterosaur may be still living. [page 295]

C. S. Lewis gave us “bulverism,” lamenting the decline of human reasoning. He defined the word in the mid-twentieth century: “The modern method is to assume without discussion that he [someone whose opinion you dislike] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly.” How much better to talk about the subject at hand! [page 326]


Evidence for Pterosaurs and Honesty

For modern living pterosaurs, however, we have BOTH physical evidence and eyewitness evidence. The difficulty some persons have with it, however, is that reported eyewitness encounters with living pterosaurs dominate the physical evidence, in both quantity and quality. So if you quickly scan a few sentences on one or two web pages, on modern pterosaurs, you’ll see only one or two sighting accounts, probably eyewitness evidence, not physical.

Live Pterodactyl

In daylight, seven native boys or teenagers climbed up to a crater lake, around 1994, on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, with no worry about the legendary ropen. Why fear the ropen, for the flying creature comes out at night, rarely in daylight; but this day was different.

Strange Flying Creatures and Bulverism

“Bulverism” C. S. Lewis labeled the slick ploy of avoiding reasoning on a subject by pointing out the reason ones opponent is so silly. Do some criticisms of living-pterosaur investigations qualify as bulverism? I believe so.


four copies of Whitcomb's nonfiction cryptozoology true-life adventure "Searching for Ropens and Finding God"

Nonfiction spiritual/true-life-adventure/cryptozoology book by Whitcomb

Searching for Ropens and Finding God

This cross-genre book is becoming known as “the Bible of modern pterosaurs.”

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LDS Nonfiction?

The Amazon page quotes the nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God:

Three Christians—one middle-aged LDS-Mormon high priest and two Protestant young earth creationists—explored Umboi Island in two separate expeditions in 2004, interviewing eyewitnesses of a glowing animal of the night: the elusive nocturnal ropen. [from the back cover]

That page does not mention that the author is that latter-day saint. The book itself mentions my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the first chapter, although little is said about it except the following:

My confidence with humans came from serving in Louisiana and Mississippi for two years as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (I myself was a convert at age twenty-two). [page 15]

So is this book LDS nonfiction? Much of it covers research and expeditions by my Christian associates and me, emphasizing how people of various belief systems need to be open minded to the work of those of different faiths:

This is not propaganda for any human philosophy, yet I extoll the accomplishments of those Young Earth Creationists who have been my associates for many years. I suggest we allow ourselves to find literal truth in the Bible, regardless of whatever passages we had assumed were mainly symbolic. For those who think that pill too bitter, at least avoid ridiculing those labeled “creationist.”

SFRFG I wrote for persons of many faiths (not including atheists, who can be offended). With that said, parts of it can be more easily appreciated by LDS readers. Living true to one’s testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—that is not mentioned explicitly in the book, yet I hope it is understood by LDS readers. During the past eleven years, I don’t recall any temptation to compromise my convictions, although I have often associated with Christians of other faiths.

Religious Bias

Latter-day saint readers should well understand the following:

What went wrong? They had already made arrangements for a party of two Americans to fly to Umboi; in addition, Woetzel didn’t want to change plans by adding an explorer he had never met: At that time, to him I was a stranger, an unknown Mormon Californian. Left out of the expedition, I was dejected.

I ended up leading the first expedition of 2004, and Woetzel led the second. Since then, we have cooperated a number of times, in promoting the truth about eyewitness testimonies of apparent living pterosaurs. (To the best of my knowledge, only two scientific papers have been written on this subject and published in a peer-reviewed journal: one by Woetzel and one my me.) As it turned out, the two separate expeditions we led in 2004 were the best way of investigating sightings by natives on Umboi Island. Although we all failed to photograph or videotape a ropen, our differing interview techniques succeeded in complementing each other. In addition, most of the interviews were non-overlapping, with their eyewitnesses being mostly different from my own.

So, is this an LDS nonfiction or not? Yes, read the book and decide for yourself.

LDS Nonfiction Author

LDS author Jonathan David Whitcomb wrote the revised and enlarged third edition of the book Searching for Ropens and Finding God.


Nonfiction book "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - third edition - by LDS author Jonathan David Whitcomb

Third edition of Searching for Ropens


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How do you Quote Yourself?

Press releases are traditionally written as if unbiased news, not in first person (If thine “I” offends thee, pluck it out). I have found the following useful when writing a press release in which I need to quote myself.

Write what you want to say in the release, then before finalizing it, write those exact words in a blog post. Of course you’ll need to use your name, probably spelled the same, in both of them. Just remember to publish the blog post before publishing the press release. If you can include the title of the post in references at the bottom of the release, it can show the news publisher it is valid and safe to publish.

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New Edition of Searching for Ropens

The new title for the third edition of my first nonfiction book will be Searching for Ropens and Finding God. This explains cryptozoological investigations of worldwide sightings of apparent modern pterosaurs. Expect many new paragraphs and even new chapters. Here is a sample of what LDS should find strangely familiar, a highly modified portion of Chapter 29 of Second Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Many of the paleontologists will say, “A live pterosaur?! A live pterosaur?! We have got pterosaur fossils and there cannot be any more live pterosaurs.”

O fools, they shall have pterosaur fossils; and they shall come from among those animals that died during the ancient Flood written of in Genesis. And what thanks do paleontologists give to God for the preservation of basic animal types on the Ark of Noah, written of in the Bible?

Really, for paleontologists who believe in the Bible, what do they mean? Do they remember the labors of those who built the Ark and their diligence to God in bringing forth many basic forms of animal life to all the earth?

O you Bible-believing paleontologists, have you remembered the Ark of Noah, God’s ancient work to save basic animal types? Not the scientists who reject the Bible. They have denounced the Flood of Genesis and hated the scriptures and have not sought to discover live pterosaurs but only fossils. God will hold them accountable, but he remembers those who recognize his hand in preserving life.

Fools shall say, “Pterosaur fossils, we have got pterosaur fossils, and we need no more live pterosaurs.” How did you obtain fossils except from living creatures?

Don’t you know that there have been more pterosaur species than one? Don’t you know that God put all of them on the earth and that he remembers to preserve those that still live on various islands and in other places? God rules in heaven and on earth, and he brings forth various species from the basic life forms that he had preserved on the Ark.

Why murmur or why marvel that, among discoveries of new species, some discoveries should be of basic types assumed long extinct? Don’t you know that the discovery of two or more basic types, such as living Coelacanths and living pterosaurs, is evidence that God preserves basic animal types?

God remembers one basic life form as well as another, preserving Coelacanths and pterosaurs. When people come to know that these two are still living, they will have two testimonies that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Don’t look for the above in the first two editions of Searching for Ropens; it’s not there. The third edition should be published before Thanksgiving . . . I hope. [Update: It was published April 18, 2014, a major revision of this nonfiction book.]


Called the "Bible of modern pterosaurs," this nonfiction book is titled "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - by J. D. Whitcomb

Back cover of Searching for Ropens and Finding God

From the title page of this nonfiction book:

This flies high above a common true-life adventure, revealing the early stages of what may become the most unsettling scientific discovery since Copernicus and Galileo. It soars above disputes about religion, revealing why an official discovery of an extraordinary animal was delayed for so long. Above all, this explores human experiences—of eyewitnesses and those who interviewed them. People have become connected by common encounters: Persons of various faiths, with various levels of education, from various countries and cultures, have seen a living pterosaur.


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Ropen Poetry

With apologies to Emily Dickinson, I post my humble little mutation of a poem:


Humor intended, of course

I title this “Not everybody embraces a live pterodactyl.”

I believe that these bioluminescent nocturnal flying predators eat more than just bats and birds. I also believe it’s better that Western society gets to know about these wonderful creatures, although it may be “better not to know” them through close contact.

To learn about this apparent modern pterosaur, see Ropen

Here is the non-image text of my poem:

  • Ropen, the thing without feathers,
  • That sleeps inside a hole,
  • And eats the bats and perching birds,
  • And never stops at all . . .
  • Is it better not to know?

The original poem by Emily Dickinson begins, “Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul . . .”


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New Word for Marriage Between a Man and a Woman

A new word has been appointed for traditional marriage between a man and a woman: Adahmeve. Why should we need a new word for this ancient family organization? Some Western countries have legalized the use of the word “marriage” to include same-gender relationships licensed by government. But God himself organized marriage in the beginning as between male and female. The word “adahmeve” is now available to avoid confusion, for it only refers to the traditional formal relationship between husband and wife.

From “The Family, a Proclamation to the World,” from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

“. . . marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . . All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Young family right after an LDS baby blessing in Southern California in 2013

Family form organized by God: husband, wife, and children



What is this word “adahmeve?” . . . we must have a word specific to the traditional marriage of a male  husband and a female wife.


Definition of Marriage

The natural direction of growth for the English language is to add a word to our vocabulary when we find something new that we value. How unnatural to officially dilute a word, so that it refers to additional things, not originally intended!


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Amazon Rankings and Reviews

I’ve read this advice, for new authors, on how to improve book sales: Get good reviews. For Amazon sales, at least, beware of this over simplistic idea.

Why do many readers purchase a particular book? Consider the following:

  • Many book readers could become interested in it
  • Those readers are often reminded of the book
  • Benefits of reading it are clear and convincing
  • Readers find if easy to purchase

With all four of the above, your book will sell well. If the potential audience is in the millions, it will sell at least in the hundreds of thousands. But beware of the following simplistic Amazon-review dream: A few good reviews will generate more sales which will cause more good reviews which will generate more sales, until hundreds of thousands are sold on Amazon. I suggest that rarely happens, if ever.

An associate of mine published a short book two months ago. The audience is small but the book was apparently well prepared and loved by those who read it; the illustrations were highly praised. It sold well for the first few weeks. It now has twenty Amazon reviews, each of them giving five-stars. Yet the Amazon Best Sellers Rank is now at #327,966. I suspect that the bulls-eye of the target audience mostly already owns copies of the book and that most of the secondary target has no idea the book exists.

The point? Those twenty 5-star Amazon reviews will not likely sell many more books in the next few weeks, unless other marketing avenues are used to bring the book to the attention of the secondary audience.

We need to concentrate on the four basics of successful book sales and beware of simplistic ideas about quick results.


The Miracle of Father Kapaun

Whether it’s by a medic or chaplain or regular soldier, a wounded comrade is carried in somebody’s arms. The word “literally” can distract from that simple act, tempting the reader to wonder, for a moment, how a wounded soldier could be non-literally carried. I know this is trivial in itself, but it gives us a clue that the writer is probably not professional, and imperfections can add up over the course of 200 pages.


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Did Roosevelt Have Pre-Knowledge?

I recently watched part of a documentary that appeared to try to convince people that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew, ahead of time, of the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. I don’t intend the following to be a deep examination, but only a few observations.

But first, consider the virtue of doubting the worst we hear about another person, holding back negative judgment, at least until we hear from the defense. We need to be objective, especially when somebody’s character is being attacked.

An hour before the first Japanese planes were launched from the decks of aircraft carriers, many miles from the nearest coast of Hawaii, nobody knew how devastating the attack would be. Prior reports indicated that the military forces at Pearl Harbor were not generally on high alert, but nobody could be certain, when that launching commenced, that the Americans would be completely taken by surprise.

Not even the Japanese who trained for that military mission could be sure it would be successful. Everything depended on surprise. Why do we now understand the devastation of that December 7th attack? Hindsight. We can see the photo of giant plume of water shot up from the explosion of a torpedo on the hull of a ship. We can read of the thousands of American lives lost and the many airplanes and ships damaged or destroyed. We can hear the words of those who survived that devastation.

But hindsight should not blind us to the ignorance that everybody lived in right before that attack began. Everybody was ignorant of the devastating attack, one hour before the first planes took off from those carriers.

Japanese losses were comparatively light, with only 29 aircraft lost, compared with 188 American planes destroyed, most of which were sitting on the ground. But things could have gone differently. The weather was getting rough after the second wave of attacks, instead of earlier. Somebody might have alerted the Americans in time for some of those 188 planes to have gotten into the air.  The American carriers could have been close enough to have launched an attack on the Japanese carriers. Even some of the ground aircraft might have threatened the Japanese fleet, if the advantage of surprise had been lost.

The point? Even the Japanese did not know for sure that their attack would be devastating, an hour before their planes were launched. So why believe that the president of the United States knew about that devastation, before the attack, when those men on those Japanese ships knew nothing for sure? Franklin D. Roosevelt had no idea that a devastating attack was about to take place.

Of course there’s much more that we can learn from various researchers. But let’s not get carried away with believing President Roosevelt had any sure pre-knowledge of anything related to the Pearl Harbor attack, even if he had access to many bits of evidence. Remember that when we look back at the evidences that the president may have had from advisors, we today have the advantage of looking back at a historic event; he did not.

As an aside, when I was a young man, I worked with a Charlie White, as we maintained the sprinkler systems on the campus of California State University Long Beach. He told me what he experienced during the Pearl Harbor attack.

Charlie was on a small destroyer; as I recall, they were on training out at sea. When they were attacked by a Japanese plane, they replied with live return fire. The pilot gave up the attack and looked for an easier target, or at least a safer target.


Nazi Germany Versus 21st Century America Regarding 9-11

How do our present freedoms in the USA compare with the freedoms of citizens of Germany during the rule of Adolf Hitler?

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