Wikipedia and “Tiny Minorities”

On July 20, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Of course undue attention to the opinion of “tiny minorities” may be inappropriate in the biography of a living person (BLP), in an encyclopedia or similar publication; but with a giant like Wikipedia, there is an unspoken policy that resembles this: The virtual policy of “popular opinion rules.” This unofficial policy comes unavoidably from the nature of Wikipedia: an open platform for writing and editing.

I would not change Wikipedia; I would encourage knowledge and understanding of popular opinions in Western culture. Wikipedia makes many research projects much easier, but we need to remember that it comes mostly from writings of those who comply, at least to some extent, to popular models; concepts not based on standard axioms of developed nations are not portrayed in a positive light, in general, if they are portrayed at all.

So what do I suggest about Wikipedia? Use it when popular Western ideas are not a problem; do not use it to research something unorthodox at its roots. Of course, I am thinking about modern living pterosaurs. In particular, consider those Americans who have investigated eyewitness reports that suggest extant pterosaurs. Wikipedia has a somewhat informative page on the ropen; it includes informative reference URL’s as well (mostly quite positive towards researchers and investigators).

But the Wikipedia page itself tells us little about the investigators; it mentions names: “Carl Baugh, Paul Nation, Jonathan Whitcomb, David Woetzel, and Garth Guessman,” mentioning that they are American creationists who seek to “discredit mainstream scientific views on the age of the Earth.” As of July 19, 2010, almost nothing else is said about them, although Baugh has his own Wikipedia page (very negative about him, by standard BLP policies). So let’s now consider those three investigators who do not have their own pages on Wikipedia (Nation, Whitcomb, Woetzel, and Guessman), using CreationWiki:

Paul Nation

As a living-pterosaur investigator, Paul Nation, of Granbury, Texas, conducted brief expeditions in Papua New Guinea in 1994 (with Carl Baugh), 2002, 2006, and early 2007 (Nation became involved in living-pterosaur expeditions because of his professional experience handling large ratites–flightless birds like ostriches–and their eggs). The earlier two expeditions were searching for the ropen of Umboi Island; the latter two, for the indava of the mainland interior.

Jonathan Whitcomb

While viewing an expedition video by Paul Nation, he noticed a high level of credibility in the testimonies of eyewitnesses of what is called the ropen of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. He then became involved in living-pterosaur investigations, exploring part of Umboi Island in 2004. Although he failed to see any ropen, he interviewed native eyewitnesses. In 2006, Whitcomb wrote the book Searching for Ropens. In it he criticizes the standard model of universal and ancient pterosaur extinction and criticizes the General Theory of Evolution.

David Woetzel

David Woetzel, a New Hampshire businessman, is an active cryptozoology explorer, having searched for the Mokele Mbembe in Africa and the ropen in Papua New Guinea. His 2004 expedition to Umboi Island, with Garth Guessman and Jacob Kepas, resulted in detailed interviews with villagers. In addition, Woetzel himself saw what investigators believe was a bioluminescent ropen (a living pterosaur) one night as the distant glowing form flew behind a mountain. Like Whitcomb, Woetzel has written a scientific paper about living pterosaurs (both articles being published in the peer-reviewed Creation Research Society Quarterly).

Garth Guessman

Garth Guessman, of Southern California, explored (with David Woetzel and Jacob Kepas) Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea in 2004, searching for ropens. This resulted in one brief and distant sighting by Woetzel and in many formally conducted interviews with native eyewitnesses.

Guessman’s knowledge of Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur fossils allowed him to notice an important clue about the ropen‘s classification. The two explorers learned that the native traditions describe the ropen‘s tail as being stiff, never moving except near where it connects to the body. Guessman recognized that this relates to the stiffening extension rods of Rhamphorhynchoid vertebrae: all but a few vertebrae are locked into stiffness; the few that are flexible are near where the pterosaur’s tail connects to the body.

Strange Flying Creatures — Lack of fairness from critics

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Science and Clear Thinking

On June 15, 2010, in philosophy, Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” I believe Nikola Tesla was thinking clearly when he said that. I also believe that we need clear thinking in the scientists of today, at least as much as in the time of Tesla. It appears to me difficult to define, although its opposite appears easy to expose. Perhaps we should be grateful for extremes that help us to distinguish between foggy and clear thinking. I suggest a couple of examples.

A few years ago, a critic of living-pterosaurs investigations appeared offended that I had, on one of my own web pages, included a link to a creationist site; he demanded that I remove that link, insinuating that I should not be taken seriously because of that link. I now suggest that those who can be offended by such a thing should consider this: Bias is not necessarily confined to those who disagree with you.

I later found a site produced by another critic; he used the words “lies” and “stupid” in his URL, with the content of his site ridiculing me and my associates. Not to repeat much of the content, I simply refer to part of it: He declared that “John Whitcomb” had been sponsored by Carl Baugh and led a group of creationists in an expedition in Africa; I have never gone by the name of “John,” have never been sponsored by Carl Baugh for anything, have never led any group of creationists on any expedition anywhere, and have never set foot in Africa.

Regarding his URL, I have told the truth, not lies; I hope that he was simply ignorant of my intentions. I make no comment about “stupid,” although I sometimes admit that my general intelligence may be inferior to that of some of my readers and my education may seem less impressive than that of some of my critics (not, it seems, this one), but let’s return to “clear thinking,” for that is the subject.

I admit this subject cries for me to dig more deeply and learn more about human thinking, but one thing is obvious: We need to listen to each other, regardless of previous disagreements and regardless of differing labels. Truth can be found in the thoughts of those appearing to be most ignorant and foolish. Even my own most vehement critic did reveal some truth about me: My last name is “Whitcomb” and I am active in promoting the concept of modern living pterosaurs; this critic may have actually helped promote awareness of the case for living pterosaurs.

By the way, I did explore a remote island in Papua New Guinea (north of Australia) in 2004. I traveled to P.N.G. alone and found an interpreter on the mainland, before taking a small ship to Umboi Island. I interviewed many eyewitnesses of the ropen. My associates and I are convinced that this nocturnal flying creature is a modern Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.

My critic may have confused Papua New Guinea with a small country in Western Africa. He may also have confused me with John C. Whitcomb who wrote The Genesis Flood many years ago. He may also have been confused by my assistance from Paul Nation, who was once a close associate of Carl Baugh. He may also have been confused about the two expeditions of 2004, for the second one was led by two American creationists and they followed my expedition by only a few weeks.

After I had replied to this web site, stating the inaccuracies, changes were made, including the correct spelling of my name: “Jonathan Whitcomb.” The newer page mentions nothing about my being in Africa. I appreciate that correction.

But many other inaccuracies were added, related to sightings and the living-pterosaur investigations. For example, the two indava lights videotaped by Paul Nation in 2006 were compared with high-speed UFO’s (the two lights were actually sitting motionless on the top of a nearby ridge). The critic mentioned those videotaped lights “flying in the sky above the peaks of volcanoes located on Umboi Island created by creationists possessing fake credentials.” (I suspect he was trying too hard to cram too many criticisms into one sentence.) At any rate, the videotaped lights were on the mainland of Papua New Guinea, nowhere near Umboi Island. I’m afraid that the critic has a problem with clear thinking, for he still tends to become confused.

I don’t know why this critic uses the words “lies” and “stupid” for me and my associates; I assume that it is also from some kind of confusion.

More: objective evaluation of eyewitness reports and the nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America (published by Createspace; written by Jonathan David Whitcomb) This is a cryptozoology book.

Objective interview methods of Guessman & Woetzel (2nd Umboi Island expedition of 2004)

Objective Ministries” is a parody or hoax. The university is nonexistent. There’s no “objectiveministries.”