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Meditation 323
Anachronistic Dinosaurs

There's a man in the funny papers we all know
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
He lived 'way back a long time ago
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
He don't eat nothin' but a bear cat stew
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
Well this cat's name is-a Alley Oop
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)

He got a chauffeur that's a genuine dinosaur
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)
And he can knuckle your head before you count to four
(Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)

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Surveys regularly report that about 50% of Americans believe dinosaurs and early man coexisted. I suppose that represents some form of progress as creationists used to claim that dinosaurs never existed. Rather, their fossils were just rock formations laid down at Creation - or were whales beached in the receding waters of Noah's flood. Now, most creationists accept the findings of science that dinosaurs existed; they are just unclear on when.

But the belief that dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time is not tied to a belief in creationism. Others, even those more rational about religion, tend to think this way to.

Why? I suggest it is a cultural artifact. It is a concept that has become embedded in the way we think, because dinosaurs and humans are presented together so often in popular entertainment.

I grew up with Alley Oop as my favourite comic strip - it was probably my introduction to the joys of science fiction, with its cavemen living among the dinosaurs regularly visited by scientists from the future. Then a little later, we got the Flintstones on TV which was probably far more influential in shaping young minds. Perhaps the technology of show was recognized as humorous, but the image of stone age cavemen living with the dinosaurs persists. And of course there's the thoroughly anachronistic B.C. comic strip with its somehow Christian cavemen ( in the Before Christ era!) with regular cameo appearances by the neighbourhood dinosaur.

Add to this numerous movies and TV shows which regularly put humans together with dinosaurs either through time travel, genetic engineering, or simply without explanation, and it is possible to see why coexistence is becoming the default assumption.

I'm not going to suggest here that the entertainment industry should change. I'm not a fan of censorship.

But what I would like to emphasize is the importance of education, the importance of using education to present the truth, the importance of educating our children to properly interpret the signals the received from popular culture.

Parents should ensure their children get a proper understanding of the world by defending the science curriculum. And if the schools sell out to the anti-science forces, then make it your job to teach your children the truth and how to interpret popular culture.