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Re: What to do?
A few minor reactions to this thread:
Anecdotally, all but two of the nearly one dozen leading paleontologists
I've interviewed pointed to dinosaur movies (King Kong, Fantasia,
Harryhausen, Godzilla) as being the single most important motivation
toward their devoting their lives to science. Of the other two, one was
sucked in by plastic dino toys, and the other's source of interest is
mysterious (though he does like sushi).
We're on record as favoring nearly anything "intriguing" as a way of
interesting young people (and older ones for that matter) in science and
paleontology. In fact, our little inventory of mistakes in "The Lost
World" was an extraordinarily popular site. Over time, I've learned
(personally) that it is often harder to start the conversation in the
first place than it is to communicate anything of value.
If you have kids that are misinformed, it is, at the very least, an
opportunity to correct them. If they are not informed at all, it is an
> On Sun, 3 Aug 1997 20:56:15 +0100 firstname.lastname@example.org (Roger A.
> >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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> >become even richer because of the fascination we have about
> >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
> 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
> of paleontology with some dinky out-of-date dusty book, or silent
> or stop-motion iguana with a horn on it. Take a poll. Some good
> out of it. The work is well-worth it. That is where the justice
> 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
> from the fallout.
> Judy Molnar
> Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
> All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.
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