Dinosaur denialism

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We all know God never created dinosaurs, and its[sic] great to have a place we can all celebrate this… I only hope that it serves as an outlet for others too afraid to speak out about their doubts in the field of paleontology. It is healthy to question the world around us and not just take the word of science as gospel.
—Idiots larping as skeptics at some Facebook group called "Christians Against Dinosaurs"[1]

Dinosaur denialism (or dino denial as a nice assonance) refers to mostly a fringe subset of the fundamentalist young Earth creationist movement that purports that prehistoric dinosaurs did not exist and are simply a fabrication of the 19th century (their definition of "dinosaur" is probably not informed enough to include birds) backed up by pseudo-palentological claims. Conspiracy theories usually supplement their arguments, with a big overlap from the conspiracy theories from evolution denialism. This is not to be confused with the pseudohistory that creationists push by having these dinosaurs coexist with humans in their stories, although it's another form of denialism. It's considered unhinged, even by other creationists, who otherwise want to include dinosaurs in their teachings to try to appeal to kids, such as with Ken Ham's including dinosaurs in his projects. Hence, it's not much of an organized movement, and most claims are derived from blogs and forum posts.

A large reason that these creationists believe this is not from a lack of evidence, but from ideology, a personal dislike of evolution, and their idea of morality clouding their perception of reality. Oftentimes, they bemoan how kids learning about dinosaurs sets a bad example for behavior or something.[2][3]

Claims[edit]

"It's corrupting our children!"[edit]

One example of this stance on this came to surface as a Mumsnet Facebook post that claims the following:[2]

I'm really concerned about dinosaurs, and I think something needs to be done. The science behind them is pretty flimsy, and I for one do not want my children being taught lies.[note 1] Did you know that nobody had even heard of dinosaurs before the 1800s, when they were invented by curio-hungry Victorians?

Charles Darwin's later theory of evolution entirely disproved dinosaurs, yet the dinosaur lie was twisted and adapted to try to make it fit. Any proper look at the facts will reveal that dinosaurs simply never existed.

Aside from the educational aspect, dinosaurs are a very bad example for children. At my children's school, several children were left in tears after one of their classmates (who had evidently been exposed to dinosaurs), became bestially-minded and ran around the classroom roaring and pretending to be a dinosaur. Then he bit three children on the face. One poor girl has been left with a severely dented nose and the whole class was left traumatised by this horrible display.

Nothing about dinosaurs is suitable for children, from their total lack of family values through to their non-existence from any serious scientific point of view.

Recently my sister foolishly gave my two youngest some dinosaurs[sic] toys for Christmas. After telling her to get out of my house I burnt the dinosaurs. My children were delighted because they know that dinosaurs are evil. I am fortunate that my family has been very supportive, and has disowned my children's former aunt.

Please, do what you can to get dinosaurs taken off the curriculum. Our school has been recently presented with a 214-signature petition, and following that and our recent protest the headmaster has said that he will take it the governors.[sic] We are lucky that he is so sympathetic to our cause, but I fear that others may not be.

If you would like to lend your support to our campaign, we have a Facebook group where we spread facts and research about the dinosaur myth. Hope to see you there! :-)

These are a lot of stunningly idiotic arguments. For instance, "the science behind them is pretty flimsy" is simply incorrect, as there are literally hundreds of thousands of fossils pertaining to dinosaurs identified all around the world, in many forms from bones to footprints to coprolites, and there are estimates of total species of dinosaurs ranging in the hundreds. To dismiss this all would either be based on bullshit or expose a severe flaw in the way paleontologists identify the remains or a spectacularly extraordinary flaw in the way we understand the basics of something like radiometric dating. The rest of the argument is not actually trying to support the claims, but more of an ideological rant on how dinosaurs are not suitable for class — even though existing animals like tigers and bears, or even mythological animals like dragons, can also inspire kids to roughhouse.

"Just an invention by curio-hungry Victorians"[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Historical forgery

Others are under mistaken impression that dinosaurs were simply not known until the 19th century (see earlier post on the "curio-hungry Victorians").

One creationist David P. Wozney, from an essay "Dinosaurs: Science or Science Fiction" published in 1997, believes dinosaurs never existed:[4]

When children go to a dinosaur museum, are the displays they see displays of science or displays of art and science fiction? Are we being deceived and brainwashed at an early age into believing a dinosaur myth? Deep probing questions need to be asked of the entire "dinosaur industry".

This article will discuss the possibility that there may have been an ongoing effort since the earliest dinosaur "discoveries" to plant, mix and match bones of various animals, such as crocodiles, alligators, iguanas, giraffes, elephants, cattle, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, dolphins, whales, rhinoceroses, etc. to construct and create a new man-made concept prehistoric animal called "dinosaurs".

Where bones from existing animals are not satisfactory for deception purposes, plaster substitutes may be manufactured and used. Some material similar or superior to plasticine clay or plaster of Paris would be suitable. Molds may also be employed.

The essay later argues from incredulity and ignorance of how fossils are formed that "only within the last 150 years and in huge unusual concentrated quantities going against the laws of nature and probability." Where is he expecting fossils to form? Most fossils are found in river beds, but other locations are good spots for fossils such as volcanic events that cover entire groups of animals or landslides suddenly burying the animals.

Why were there no discoveries by native Americans in all the years previous when they roamed the North American continent? There is no belief of dinosaurs in the native American religion or tradition.

For that matter, why were there no discoveries prior to the nineteenth century in any part of the world? According to the World Book Encyclopedia, "before the 1800's, no one ever knew that dinosaurs ever existed..".

[...]

Why has man suddenly made all these discoveries? Belgium, Mongolia, Tanzania, West Germany (and North America as well) were inhabited and very well explored for thousands of years and there were no discoveries until the nineteenth century. Why?

This is not true, as dinosaur remains have been found by humansWikipedia throughout thousands of years of history, but just were not identified. For instance, in China, people identified the remains as "oracle bones"Wikipedia and used them for medicine, while people in Europe believed they were remains from biblical or mythological creatures. Archaeologists found dinosaur remains displayed in temples in Ancient Greece, while Native Americans such as the Sioux, the Crows, and the Blackfeet, the Aztec, the Inca, the Iroquois, the Navajos, the Apaches, the Cheyennes, and the Pawnees discovered fossils; entire books are written about these such as Adrienne Mayor's Fossil Legends of the First Americans. The reason there were "no discoveries by 'native Americans'" is that their traditions tend to be passed down orally and they were systemically wiped by white settlers in a centuries-long process, so their stories and records were severely diminished and buried (notice our own curriculum does not cover Native Americans discovering dinosaur remains, and we often have large gaps pertaining to the American natural world where we learn what descendants of settlers studied but not what the several Native American tribes studied). In fact, dinosaur and other megafauna remains as well as existing predators may have inspired the widespread, worldwide occurrence of dragons in long-surviving mythology.[5]

A dino denier poster in a forum also seriously believe that paleontologists simply cut into rock and fabricated the bones.[1] Again, this shows a severe misunderstanding of how fossils form, and obviously, this person could easily volunteer for a paleontological dig to see exactly how fossils are excavated, but that would be too much work.

Fossils, then, are basically bones that have turned into a sort of rock. They are rocks that mimic the form of a bone that is now long gone. Many of the dino bones on display in museums are bone-shaped rocks essentially. The problem I have with this is that, according to many cable TV “science” shows I have watched over the years, these dinosaur fossils are often found embedded in rock. So, we're talking about digging out rocks imbedded in rock and we must trust that those who prepared these fossils for display have correctly carved away the non-bone rock from the real bone rock. But, in our hoax-filled world of fake science, doesn't this rock-in-rock situation make it rather easy for creative interpretations of what the animal really looked like? And, once a particular animal is “approved” by the gods of the scientific community, wouldn't all subsequent representations of that same animal have to conform with that standard?

"It's a deception by scientists to steer us away from God"[edit]

David P. Wozney is a known pusher of this conspiracy theory[4][6] He believes that "the dinosaur industry needs to be investigated and questions need to be asked" and that it is possibly "a fabrication of nineteenth and twentieth century people possibly under Satanic control pursuing an evolutionary and anti-Bible and anti-Christian agenda."

What would be the motivation for such a deceptive endeavor? Obvious motivations include trying to prove evolution, trying to disprove or cast doubt on the Christian Bible and the existence of the Christian God, and trying to disprove the “young-earth theory”. Yes, there are major political and religious ramifications.

The dinosaur concept could imply that if God exists, he may have tinkered with his idea of dinosaurs for awhile, then perhaps discarded or became tired of this creation and then went on to create man. The presented dinosaur historical timeline could suggest an imperfect God who came up with the idea of man as an afterthought, thus demoting the biblical idea that God created man in His own image. Dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.

Highly rewarding financial and economic benefits to museums, educational and research organizations, university departments of paleontology, discoverers and owners of dinosaur bones, and the book, television, movie and media industries may cause sufficient motivation for ridiculing of open questioning and for suppression of honest investigation.

And here's another argument from incredulity.

Discoveries and excavations seem not to be made by disinterested people, such as farmers, ranchers, hikers, outdoor recreationists, but rather by people with vested interests, such as paleontologists, scientists, university professors, museum organization personnel, who were intentionally looking for dinosaur bones or who have studied dinosaurs previously. The finds are often made during special dinosaur-bone hunting trips and expeditions by these people to far-away regions already inhabited and explored.

This seems highly implausible.

Paleontologists are underpaid in their field and not all of them can even find jobs related to their field. Additionally, some of the most well-known fossil discoveries were made by Christians such as Gideon Mantell,Wikipedia Rev. William Buckland,Wikipedia Mary Anning,Wikipedia and Richard Owen.Wikipedia Finally, if there is a potentially good excavation site, teams are hired to do the dirty work, not just random disinterested people (at least the word "disinterested" is applied correctly to mean "without motive"). This person also has a false impression that fossils can simply be found just lying on the bedside or digging a few rocks when it's more likely they're buried and in a remote location, requiring dedicated teams of experts as well as tools to excavate and retrieve the fossils. So, of course those that have the means and knowledge to discover fossils will discover more fossils than those without.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bonnet, G. (February 16, 2015). "The dinosaur deniers". Skeptophilia. Blogspot. Accessed August 14, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ra-Men special — Dinosaur deniers — with Kristen Auclair, RationalSkepticism.org forums, 20 Feb 2015
  3. Evoluted New Media. (April 17, 2015). "The crazy dinosaur denialist movement". Laboratory News. Accessed August 14, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mckay, John. (April 1, 2006). "The conspiracy to create dinosaurs". Archy. Blogspot. Accessed August 14, 2022.
  5. Strauss, B. (October 10, 2019). "The Real Story Behind Dinosaurs and Dragons". Thoughtco. Accessed August 14, 2022.
  6. Prothero, D. (December 14, 2011). "Dinosaur Denialism". Skepticblog. Accessed August 14, 2022.

Notes[edit]

  1. We'd say something about hypocrisy, but most creationists are genuinely stupid, delusional, and/or (willfully) ignorant enough to confuse their own opinions for "empirical" facts.