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Re: Raptor Unread and T. rex Gangrene

On 4/23/96 Roger Stephenson wrote:

>Sure intertainment has its place, and the public gobblesit up, but to say
>these works of fiction actually contribute to paleontology is a work of
>fiction in and of itself. To me the important thing for paleontology, in
>the eyes of the public, is accurate consistant presentation of facts. Make

>takes years to correct. Sorry S.S. Lazarus, but a series of "Raptor Reds"
>would do more harm than all the "Land Before Time" and "Lion King" tpye
>products the industry could crank out in 20 years.

No one is suggesting that the scientific method be abandoned in favor of
Dinotopia. No one is suggesting that Bakker's fiction is based soley on
scientific fact. But it isn't a Walt Disney production either.
        The facts are not an end in and of themselves. The facts left in
the geologic record are incomplete and obviously debatable in their
interpretation. In short, misinformation occurs all the time at many levels
whether we like it or not. No one is arguing for the perpetuation of
misinformation. But no system is devoid of it. Why fault an advertised work
of fiction? Why discredit the whole thing as valueless and even harmful?
What harm? Do you believe that Raptor Red contains intentional
misinformation? Or is it debatable speculation? If it's deliberate
misinformation, than it is open to condemnation. But if it's debatable
opinion, where's the harm? Sauropods depicted as lake dwellers was truth
not too long ago. Today's advertised truth is tomorrow's folklore.
        Speculation (informed imagination) must enter a some point to
visualize a dinosaur. Otherwise we could never add color to a presentation
of a dinosaur because we have no fact in this case. Intuitive and
imaginative leaps and bounds are an invaluable part of the mind. They
sometimes lead to truth. They inspire in ways that cold, hard facts alone
cannot. The right and the left brain need to co-exist. In fact, they do.
One trying to throw the other out is ludicrous. More Raptor Red's, T-Rex
Green's and Lost Worlds! More Journals of Vertebrate Paleontology! Need 'em

S.S. Lazarus