Why science outweighs want…

People have a hard time with the idea of scientific fact and what it means to change an idea over time. Take the public conception of dinosaurs over the last hundred years. Dinosauria was a new thing in the early 1800s, but bones had been found previously of “dragons” and “other beasts” for a long, long time. People get upset with the aspect that Dragons and Monsters aren’t real, but established folklore that is nothing more than passed between cultures over time. Science? Disproved it and pointed out what it really was, yet some people still sit there believing what they will believe.

Science should always outweigh want though especially when it comes to belief that is unsupported by fact. With science you start with a hypothesis to test and if it’s proven wrong after multiple experiments? You’re wrong and you move on gaining knowledge from the experience and sharing with others until you form another hypothesis and guess what? You repeat the process. If you get the answer you were hoping for? You turn around and still publish your results and see if others discover the same thing you have in your experiment. So what does this have to do with fossils and dinosaurs? Paleontologists have found fossil evidence of feathers, protofeathers, and the like in Theropod Dinosaurs. A lot of people can’t stand the idea of Dromaesaurids (Velociraptor and kin) being feathered. Either they feel it makes the animal look ridiculous or they just love the idea of the scaly reptiles running around clawing at one another. Now the thing that bothers me is that some blame Jurassic Park for this. While it may have been contributory to the “Scaly Dinosaur” group it is clearly not to blame. Jurassic Park only represented one interpretation at that time throw in the fact there’s numerous other Dinosaur fiction out there where feathered dinosaurs are clearly not featured. Why? Public perception. Feathered dinosaurs in 1992? That was a new thing, a new concept that was radical, but not unheard of at all in the slightest. The issue was as always public perception. The public wants to picture scaly horizontally bipedal animals fighting and doing monstrous things and not picture dinosaurs as they were. Why? They find it enthralling and exciting no matter how truly wrong it is. As time went on and more evidence was found the idea of feathered Theropods was more widely accepted. It cemented the relationship between dinosaurs and birds to a heavy degree. The idea of birds being members of Dinosauria itself is fairly new also, but it has older roots back in the early days of paleontology. You can thank the Dinosaur Renaissance for these old ideas being brought back to life in a manner of speaking. An old idea becoming new is not unheard of, but the essential problem is people wanted to believe different (that dinosaurs were sluggish elephantine animals), ignored the evidence (Archeaopteryx!) and it interfered (the public uses terms like dinosaur now to indicate lesser intelligence or something that’s lived past its prime).

I make “want” sound like a bad thing, and the fact is it can be a good thing also. All ideas start by want, but in the end? Science prevails. The key is being objective and that’s what a lot of people fail to realize with want. I see this a lot nowadays with people complaining about the lack of feathered theropods in Jurassic Park. Truth be told Jurassic Park, and InGen’s scientists at the time, worked off public perception of the animals to genetically recreate their theme park “dinosaurs”. Some say “Well this makes them not dinosaurs.” No. It does as they originate from dinosaur blood. They’re dinosaurs in their own right, just the interpretation is different and while the evidence of quill knobs is possible in Velociraptor (the real life one – not the Deinonychus counterpart you see in JP) it’s also equally possible in other animals related to Velociraptor. So the point is InGen, in the films and novels, can alter DNA and produce the animals how they see fit. This would mean genetic technology is a lot more advanced in say the Jurassic Park universes than our own. Of course I admit my ignorance on the subject of genetic technology in our own and that we may be advance, but there’s looser morals associated with the use of it in the Jurassic Park film and novel storylines.

Now on the flip side there are people who are also upset with the aspect of feathered dinosaurs being included possibly in the future of the films. They think this contradicts pre-established canon and to this I point out – again – this is theoretically possible as InGen treated their dinosaurs like software. Each animal to be manipulated in such a way for the “theme park setting” more or less.

So should we have feathered theropods for JPIV? Yes. But explain it to the public because people need to understand WHY and that was the biggest problem with the Jurassic Park /// “Velociraptors”.

A Fandom In Peril?

Being around the community for the last ten years I’ve noticed a fair majority of the older fans disappear from the community after getting older. It seems to be something people they just get tired of being here, and who can blame them in all honesty with the way things genuinely go for the film series. It’s been at least nearly ten-eleven years without a film and one is going to possibly occur in two to three years given Spielberg’s recent statements are Comic-con.

I can honestly say I’ve left two to three times I can offhand remember and still find myself back here in the community. I’ve often wondered if this just has something to do with “well, I got to get on with life” kind of thing that causes these disappearances for some or if it’s just a genuine “all abandon hope” sorts of disappearances. I’ve been a member of the community close to eleven years at this point. I found InGenNET (an old JP site) in about December of 1999 and didn’t began to post actively on it as of January of 2000. It wasn’t long after that I began interacting in a way I never thought I’d imagine as a Forum Moderator then eventually, as time went on, a Co-Webmaster rank on the site of trying to run it all in Neo_Maze’s absence. I loved inGenNET the truth is, but not everybody’s passion seemed to be in it. Due to a culminations of philosophical points, apathy on the webmaster’s behalf (I’ve presumed), and a poor web host inGenNET died officially in 2001. Many attempts have been made to revive it and all were unsuccessful because other greater – and better – sites filled the void.

I had a couple offers after my departure to come and work with JPAftermath.Net when it was ran by Steve before eventually settling down with JPDb for a long term 3 year tenure. Once again differences of opinion and direction left me just desiring to make my own website finally and thus JPLegacy was born. As you can tell though a lot of the people I used to speak to are relatively not here anymore because they’ve moved on to greater/bigger things. The community has this desire and sad tendency to bring notification – continually – of circumstances they could work on changing, but won’t either due to narrowed-viewpoints or just apathy itself. I say this to highlight the people that have made a positive change for the community. I can say at least a majority of the staff on the site, even the ones that have left for bigger, better things, made a positive contribution to other fans to inspire them. This ranges from the work with the Encyclopedia, which spawned not only this site but the Film Canon Mod Project, the Novel Canon mod project, Live the Legend RPG, on down to our growing costuming department. The thing with JPL is we hope to inspire others to do great things with their fandom here and maybe professionally some day in life when moving onto greater things. Unfortunately though we see a lot of people leaving Jurassic Park behind with that. The films are great, the novel is better, and the other stuff – let’s hope it gets better there.

So what can we do to keep us around after a fourth film has came and went? Undoubtedly people will leave again. It’s a point of fact in this community is the turn-over rate is sadly high, but there’s some possibility with that maybe JP fans will stay this time. Most websites themselves are not always an accurate representative of true counts of fandom though, but things are done on websites to bring attention to the fandom. The fact is if everybody cares about Jurassic Park and in order to keep the fandom from going extinct every one has to work to make the fandom known and contribute in some fashion.