Donald Prothero – The Psychology of Cryptozoologists

August 8, 2011

Our guest this week is Donald Prothero, Professor of Geology at Occidental College, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. Don is a distinguished academic; a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the Paleontological Society, he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Don contributes to the SkepticBlog and he has been featured on several television documentaries, including episodes of Prehistoric Monsters Revealed and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts. He has edited and written numerous scientific papers, textbooks and books, including Evolution of the Earth, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, and his most recent title, Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters.

In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Karen Stollznow speaks with Don about one of his pet interests, cryptozoology and the psychology of cryptozoologists. He answers the questions, why do people believe in monsters and what do they believe? Is cryptozoology all pseudoscience or are any scientists involved in the field? What would allow cryptozoology to be taken seriously as a true science?

They discuss the language, culture and characters of the “cryptozoological subculture”. Lastly, Don reveals why creationists are now exploring cryptozoology, and the reasons why we shouldn’t dismiss the study as an “innocent hobby”.