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Re: Semper Die(again)



On Thu, 11 Sep 1997, Kevin James Dracon wrote:

> It seems that a lot of people are down on JP and TLW.  However, I believe
> that these movies have greatly increased the public interest in dinosaurs.
> This may mean (I could be wrong) that more people will go to the museums,
> and if so (this is really sticking my neck out) perhaps there will be
> more money going into paleontology because of this.  SO, even though it
> may be inaccurate in many ways and somewhat misinforming to the public,
> the movie industry is helping paleontology overall (if my hypothesis is
> correct) and therefore should be spared at least some of the tongue
> lashings.  

You are absolutely correct. And if you get "lashed," _that_ will be the
reason why.

Despite the errors in those movies (and the misanthropic motives and
"ideals" expressed so constantly and adamantly in them and in the books),
they have provided tremendous publicity for paleontology. They put Bakker
on TV; they provide just enough background familiarity to the public that
they can be referred to in countless news and TV articles about new
discoveries; they provide impetus for paleontology shows for both children
and adults on various cable networks; they provide impetus for shows about
the science behind JP on other networks, they even provide impetus for
Star Trek episodes (if "Voyager" can be considered Star Trek), and yes,
the JP display tours real live museums which have real live paleo exhibits
maintained by real live paleontologists--and it racks up impressively high
attendance figures doing so. (Mine and my girlfriend's was among them.)

This, according to some, is "exploitation."

More power to it.

As to the effect of the errors on the general public, I've been thinking
about that lately. The problem isn't that the movies have errors--they are
fiction, after all. The problem is that this culture is increasingly
unwilling to _think_ about anything that occurs within it. Those so
concerned about the public believing that Velociraptor was nine feet long
have no concern whatsoever about--and have probably never noticed--the
public also believing that it is the mind of man that will be his
downfall, and that it is the sanctity of the Jungle God ("nature") which
must be preserved above all else. Remember that both errors are throughout
the movies and books, but that the nine foot 'raptors are merely devices
used to make speciously plausible that whole silly bit about man being a
scourge upon the earth, yadda yadda yadda. (JP is really just a
gutter-level naturalistic version of Wayne's World wherein adults who have
jobs are to bow down to the Jungle God chanting "We're not worthy! We're
not worthy!" But it has this nice side-effect of interesting the public
at large in at least some aspects of paleontology, and for that, it has
done more good than harm. Paleo is science, and science is reason, and
reason is our evolutionary adaptation to the problem of survival. And it
works out nicely that paleo is also one of our chosen interests.)

The counter to error of any kind is not mindless railing against man and
against Hollywood and against "exploitation," it is simply the willingness
to think. 


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