Friday, December 30, 2011

Evolution quotes #14

With regards to the Archaeoraptor liaoningensis Sloan fraud Dr. Storrs L. Olson (Curator of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC) made some important comments about the disparity between the happenings within the science community as opposed to those occurring on the popular, or journalistic, level. He wrote an open letter to Dr. Peter Raven (Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society) in which he stated, in part:

"Prior to the publication of the article 'Dinosaurs Take Wing' in the July 1998 National Geographic, Lou Mazzatenta, the photographer for Sloan's article, invited me to the National Geographic Society to review his photographs of Chinese fossils and to comment on the slant being given to the story. At that time, I tried to interject the fact that strongly supported alternative viewpoints existed to what National Geographic intended to present, but it eventually became clear to me that National Geographic was not interested in anything other than the prevailing dogma that birds evolved from dinosaurs…

More importantly, however, none of the structures illustrated in Sloan's article that are claimed to be feathers have actually been proven to be feathers. Saying that they are is little more than wishful thinking that has been presented as fact. The statement on page 103 that 'hollow, hairlike structures characterize protofeathers' is nonsense considering that protofeathers exist only as a theoretical construct, so that the internal structure of one is even more hypothetical.

The hype about feathered dinosaurs in the exhibit currently on display at the National Geographic Society is even worse, and makes the spurious claim that there is strong evidence that a wide variety of carnivorous dinosaurs had feathers. A model of the undisputed dinosaur Deinonychus and illustrations of baby tyrannosaurs are shown clad in feathers, all of which is simply imaginary and has no place outside of science fiction.

The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age-the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion. If Sloan's article is not the crescendo of this fantasia, it is difficult to imagine to what heights it can next be taken. But it is certain that when the folly has run its course and has been fully exposed, National Geographic will unfortunately play a prominent but unenviable role in the book that summarizes the whole sorry episode."

Dr. Olson made reference in his letter to "Mr. Czerkas" who is the director of the The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah. This museum boasts that they have the only Archaeoraptor model on display for public viewing anywhere in the world. Surely, they are as most museums are not fond of putting sci-fi models of jury-rigged fossil frauds on display.

Lewis Simons, who eventually reported on the Archaeoraptor fraud for National Geographic, came to the following conclusion:

"a tale of misguided secrecy and misplaced confidence, of rampant egos clashing, self-aggrandizement, wishful thinking, naïve assumptions, human error, stubbornness, manipulation, backbiting, lying, corruption, and most of all, abysmal communication."

Lewis M. Simons, "Archaeoraptor Fossil Trail," National Geographic, 198[4]:128-132, October

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