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Re: scientific accuracy/ dinosaur society



Dear All,

A couple of items from last week...........

1. Dinosaurs in science fiction movies.
No matter how many errors there were in JP, I still have a hard time 
accepting the idea that JP was anything other than beneficial 
overall.  Sure, things could have been done better, BUT.....what was 
the general public's perception of dinosaurs BEFORE JP?  As much as I 
respect Ray Harryhausen's work for cinema, his dinosaurs (and the 
animated animals that they were juxtaposed with) were not reflective 
of todays attitudes/ opinions on the animals.  In terms of accuracy, 
it was way ahead of anything that had gone before, in terms of its 
impact on public awareness, and its well-informed nature.  Before JP, 
some members of the public had a no more updated perception than the 
representations featured in 'King Kong', or 'Valley of the Gwangi'.  
Therefore, bottom line, JP was excellent for the public's perception 
- for those that had any awareness of dinosaurs, but weren't in 
academic circles to connect with current thinking, it brought them 
pretty well up to date; - and for many of those poor unfortunate souls out 
there in the dark and cold void that is the home of the 
'dinosaurless', it showed them what they were missing.  The NEXT 
film, now THAT will be an opportunity for real accuracy NOT to be 
missed, now that the audience has been 'captured'..........

2. Scientific Accuracy + Dinosaur Society.
A lot of people have been asking about what can be done to 
effectively 'get the message across' re accuracy.  Communication is 
the only way - whether through the many outreach and community 
related programs cited here, or just simply talking to people.  Its 
one of those 'market saturation' things - teachers/ toy 
manufacturers/ documentary-makers - they will only change when they 
become AWARE that a)there is something inaccurate in what they are 
doing, and b) the demand for accuracy is there.  After all, everybody 
knows how easy it is to produce any old absurd piece of dino-merchandise 
that will sell, for example, do you have those horrible 2-headed 
dinosaur toys in North America? [ Just when I thought that cheap toy 
producers could not do anything worse than their Triceratops with 
razor-sharp incisors.........]
Similarly with the Dinosaur Society Seal of Approval - it only starts 
to have an effect when the general public start to become aware that there IS 
such a quality control board available.  Then, the manufacturers are 
challenged as to why their toys do not have this guarantee of 
excellence.  Thats when the change will start to happen.  How you 
accelerate the day when that happens....I'm not sure.  It would mean 
letting more material get approved than is happening just 
now....which kind of defeats the object of having a quality 
controlling seal of approval..... Does the Dinosaur Society do 
'graded approval'?  That way, maybe on a scale of 1-3 or 1-5, it 
could let some material get some degree of credit for accuracy, even 
if they don't quite go as far as they could.  That at least would 
speed up the pace at which the seal of approval would become more 
widely known....  

Hope this is helpful, and not too much of a rehash (:-x)!

J.J.Liston
Hunterian Museum
University of Glasgow
SCOTLAND