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Tess Kissinger writes;

>Spielberg is not the beginning or end of this debate, but I have an
>interesting point to add.  Several years ago, My partner, Bob and I had
>dinner with a number of the dinosaur scientists from the Smithsonian and
>Ray Harryhausen and his wife.  The scientists, each one, confessed to Ray
>that it was he and his movies that led them to become paleontologists.
>This same effect is what we can expect from JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST
>WORLD. Popularizing paleontology is a good thing for the future of the
>field because it encourages young people, on a level where they can be
>reached today, to go into science .

I think this illustrates a good point: Kids are a lot smarter than they are
given credit for.  When I was discovering dinosaurs, I had a number of friends
who were equally interested (they lost the dino-bug though).  We knew that
anything seen at a Saturday matinee (especially anything starring Godzilla) was
not a good source of information.  Instead, we concentrated on any/all available
books, and science movies played at school.  The moral of the story is that most
kids are able to discern fantasy from reality.

Paleontology has an advantage over most other sciences, in that our science gets
the most press (a rampaging lava flow is not nearly as exciting as a rampaging
dinosaur).  As a result, we get billions of dollars worth of free press every
time a new dino-related movie comes out.  While the quality of the films do
range from the decent (Jurassic Park) to the atrocious (Carnosaur), they give us
an immense opportunity to inform they laypeople of the science behind the films,
and to show where misrepresentations have occurred.

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro."