Smithsonian Gets “Discovery” but Runs Away From Discovery

"Discovery" Space Shuttle takes off on a night launch

The American Space Shuttle “Discovery” takes off on another mission

On April 17, 2012, the Space Shuttle “Discovery” took its final flight on the back of a modified 747 Jumbo Jet. It will be a museum piece in the Smithsonian, the largest system of museums in the world. But even though they get the “Discovery,” the Smithsonian museums had previously run away from the potential discovery of a modern living pterosaur: the ropen of Papua New Guinea.

To be sure, the Smithsonian’s contributions to scientific knowledge may be immense, but just as none of us as individual humans are perfect, none of our institutions are perfect. I put forth my opinion here that the Smithsonian Magazine blog post “Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth,” of August 16, 2010, by Brian Switek, was full of mistakes and missed important things regarding eyewitness reports.

Before quoting Switek, I would like to make it clear that I agree with his position that the Salem-News report by the reporter Terrence Aym was seriously flawed. What’s more, even beyond what Switek says in his criticism, other weaknesses in Aym’s report are either questionable or downright wrong. But I would like to point out weaknesses in Switek’s blog post.

Switek says, “Then there is the problem of Aym’s sources. Both Blume and Woetzel are creationist explorers who have tried to promote the existence of living pterosaurs and dinosaurs.” Here begin Switek’s mistakes. James Blume is a missionary in Papua New Guinea, not an explorer, and he does not seem to have been involved in any promotion of the idea of living dinosaurs, as far as I have been able to determine.

David Woetzel has explored in Africa, searching for a living dinosaur, and has explored in Papua New Guinea, searching for a living pterosaur. But Switek takes this as if it makes Woetzel’s position weak, and the point of all of this is that Woetzel is questioning scientific assumptions that Switek has taken for granted. Putting this in the context of a court trial: The defense attorney cannot prove his case by saying that the district attorney cannot be believed because he prosecutes people.

Switek had best stop ridiculing those with different religious beliefs from his own and start looking at the important eyewitness testimonies that he ignored in his Smithsonian Magazine blog post.

Smithsonian Slams the Door

But where is any real evidence for universal extinction of general types? Why not at least allow for the possibility that valid human experience is not limited to gazing at exhibits in a museum or analyzing specimens in a laboratory?

Demon Flyer of Papua New Guinea

The word “ropen” does not actually come from a literal translation of the word “ropen,” although at least one native tradition on Umboi Island is that the nocturnal flying creature is sort of like a spirit but also sort of like a human. [Be it known that the mythical nature of traditions on Umboi Island do not reflect on the cryptozoological evidences gathered regarding its actual physical existence as a nocturnal bioluminescent flying creature.]

Smithsonian Success and Failure

I am sorry that the Smithsonian has not budged from its dogmatic article that was written by the science reporter Brian Switek.

Smithsonian Attacks Ropen Myth

I do not question the honesty of Mr. Switek; in fact I agree with his point that an amateur video of a Frigate bird is not evidence for a living pterosaur, namely the cryptid called “ropen.” Nevertheless, a number of problems appear and they are serious.

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