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Re: What to do?

On Sun, 3 Aug 1997 20:56:15 +0100 roger@arkansas.net (Roger A. Stphenson)
>anyone out there get the feeling that this revived interest in 
>diosaurs is
>doing more harm than good?
>Granted, I'm not an authority on the level of some of our other
>subscribers, but it's sure tough to fight these planted seeds even 
>facts, or proven methods.

All educators that are seriously striving to disseminate the facts
empathize with you greatly.  The movies spread errors very quickly in the
summer, with no one there to correct them, unless the parents take the
time to be dino-literate.  But if kids get hooked, they eventually get to
the museums, libraries, and eventually colleges and get the facts. 

 "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." --
William Butler Yeats.
As long as the movies light a fire, something good will come out of the
errors.  How many paleontologists got hooked on Ray Harryhausen's

>When those that never chisel away at superhard matrix, never walk for 
>in the desert sun, or worry about fossil looters ruining it for the 
>rest of
>us, can gain so much profit from the sweat of those of us that do, 
>where is
>the justice? When some of us give up a paycheck (or several), suffer 
>hardships of being away from our families, and never keep a fossil 
>less sell one, where is the justice? When already stinking rich people
>become even richer because of the fascination we have about dinosaurs, 
>never return even a pittance to further the science they exploit, 
>where is the justice? When supposedly prestigious institutions allow 
>facilities to be a launching pad for even more profiteering and
>exploitation where is the justice?

I'm not sure what to do, exactly, but I think every non-profit
institution grapples with the dilemma: do we use the draw of the
incorrect but flashy movies to get people in so we can correct the
errors, or do we ignore the commercialization completely and ban all
reference to it?  Our gift shop will not carry JP materials, but many
staff wear JP merchandize when they interpret our Dinamation dinosaur
exhibit this summer.  The museum is getting a "take" from the exhibit
that enables us to keep doing our mission: to educate the public about
the natural world.  

If this is a form of selling out, then we are in good company.  The
Smithsonian named it's Insect Zoo after the Orkin Exterminating company,
because without the funding Orkin provided, their wouldn't have been
enough money to renovate it.  Is this symbiosis?  Or prostitution?

I don't think anyone has statistics on how many people began their love
of paleontology with some dinky out-of-date dusty book, or silent movie,
or stop-motion iguana with a horn on it.  Take a poll.  Some good comes
out of it.  The work is well-worth it.  That is where the justice comes
in.  And some of that money you are talking about does waft its way to
the museums that are doing the real science eventually.  We all benefit
from the fallout.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.