Is Bigfoot “Bad” Science?

In the post here on Cryptomundo regarding Ben Radford’s review of Jeff Meldrum’s book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, Ben mentions his having just returned from Pocatello, and the fact that he met with Meldrum.

Here are some additional details of that meeting published last week in the Idaho State Journal.

Is bigfoot “bad” science?

POCATELLO – The editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Benjamin Radford, worries valuable research dollars are being wasted on topics such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, UFOs and little green men.

Radford is convinced such researchers damage the name of science by studying fiction and calling it fact.

But Jeff Meldrum, a leading expert on Bigfoot and an associate professor of anthropology and anatomy at Idaho State University, takes exception to Radford’s label for his work – “bad science.”

The skeptic and the believer traded arguments Thursday night at the Pond Student Union ballroom after Radford concluded a speech delving into the harm that can be done when impostors are treated as the equals of scientists by the public.

About 50 people attended the speech, organized by ISU biology staff members and others.

Radford said he’s seen far too many people dedicate their lives to unworthy causes, only to retire after unfulfilled careers.

“It’s not what’s possible, it’s what’s probable,” Radford said during his 45-minute talk. “These things deal with empirical questions. Either it is or it is not. Either Bigfoot exists, or he does not exist.”

Radford noted many people believe in ghosts, aliens and other natural phenomena because they often misunderstand what science is. They consider personal anecdotes to be evidence which supports their claims supporting the existence of monsters and UFOs.

However, these stories cannot be taken seriously because people don’t take scientific considerations into account, such as control groups, validity, or the scientific method, Radford argued.

But Meldrum sees no reason why anecdotes should be so easily dismissed. Many Sasquatch sightings and stories have been reported by knowledgeable and experienced experts, such as forest rangers, veterinarians and wildlife biologists.

Regardless of the reported sightings, Radford claims that the evidence for Bigfoot is no better now than it was five, ten, or even 50 years ago.

Sasquatch enthusiasts argue that better evidence would exist if there were more money and more opportunity for research, Radford said.

“Research should follow good evidence and not the other way around,” Radford said.

Last year, Radford came to the Bigfoot conference at Idaho State University hoping to see new evidence, but instead found that a film from 1967 was still being analyzed as one of the most supporting pieces of evidence.

Another supposedly new piece of evidence was that of a body print found in the woods believed to have been left by a Bigfoot. Radford believes that the print could just as easily have been left by a kneeling elk.

Responding during the question-and-answer session of the speech, Meldrum asked Radford what constituted evidence to him. Radford answered that evidence should be tangible and testable. There have been no Bigfoot bones found or anything more concrete than an ambiguous print in mud, the skeptic said.

Even the 1967 film offers evidence to Meldrum. Every time the film is studied, Meldrum said something new comes up.

Furthermore, he said he and other scientists have compared the Bigfoot print – he notes it was actually found in clay – with a print from a kneeling elk.

They didn’t match.

When the elk print was made, Meldrum said Radford asked to see it but was denied access due to his lack of expertise.

Meldrum notes his research on Bigfoot is just one facet of his larger research at ISU. His main emphases are human locomotion and bipedalism.

If Bigfoot does exist, Meldrum said it would help humans to learn more about themselves, as well as the North American ape.

And if it doesn’t exist?

Meldrum still feels that his studies will have had a purpose – helping to prove that Bigfoot doesn’t exist is worthwhile, in his estimation, too.

Whether Bigfoot is real or not, and whether it is “bad” science or “good” science, the legendary creature is still leaving footprints on today’s scientific world. – Idaho State Journal
May 18, 2007

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

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  1. DWA: OOO, ooo, I spotted another one to play with: (”So why hasn’t somebody shot one yet? Why haven’t we found a body? Why hasn’t someone hit one with a car?”)

    I know you’re quoting somebody else, but I just wanted to point out again, that the flames are awfully close.

    Several people claim to have shot Squatches, with scope-mounted high powered rifles even, hitting the animal solidly enough to knock it down – but where another large mammal would have stayed down, the Squatch got up, roared at the shooter, and promptly disappeared into the flora!

    How can we know whether anybody has “found a body” – what you probably mean is that nobody has found a Squatch body and made it available to Science, right? What about Jacko, or the creature Sanderson examined frozen into a block of ice, with an apparent visible bullet hole – THAT report relates to both of these claims!

    In Maryland, in the early 70s, a guy driving thru a woodland park smacked into a Squatch hard enough to smash the front of his vehicle and knock the beast into the roadside ditch – whereupon the Squatch got up, roared at the vehicle, and promptly disappeared into the flora!

    The danger here is that in broaching these aspects of the mystery (and there are other edgy areas, too – like trackways terminating in mid-field), you’re venturing perilously close to… dare I say it… the Paranormal???

    Uh Oh!

  2. Thanks DWA, I’ll take the appeal for funds as a compliment. Now if I could just see one when I want to while holding my Hi 8 at the ready. LOL The truth of the matter is, these creatures are much more apt to approach ‘lone’ individuals out in the field then they are small organized groups of people. Long before the vehicles even pull into an area to park, the wood knockers have already signalled their alarms. In certain cases, the expeditions may even have futile expectations, but of course they do have some major successes as well (the Skookum Cast being a prime example), and I am sure the events are a valuable experience for everyone.

    Some of those night time tromps with strategically placed listening posts do get close to our hairy friends in the darkness, and do give a few people an experience they will never forget when something big is heard walking thru the brush nearby on two legs in pitch blackness, but that and a few tracks may be the typical extent of the evidence trail under those scenarios. Somehow, our big friend knows where all the ‘well placed’ cameras, emitting what may be a bright IR bean of light to ‘them’, are hidden. Of course, partnering up is also the wise thing to do for our own safety in the woods. But it may be the lone individual who is more apt to have a regular face-to-face encounter. Does that mean I can find the courage inside myself to wander into the blackness of the forest off-trail in the dark, solely relying on faith that I will be safe in their company, I don’t think so. So I am burdened by daylight.

    A few have taken it one step further and know how to coax these creatures to come within near touching distance in the darkness, but then those individuals are often passed on by the gatekeepers of bigfootery, as being fantastical stories. I imagine some of those accounts would even be thrown out because some, who could not conceive such contact as possible, would therefore rule the claims as invalid. This may be the big shortcoming of where science must step forward to meet this particular subject.

    It is the Big Man who sets the rules of engagement, what is “good or bad’ science may actually be a bit of a misnomer, because we have yet to adapt to the rules they set for us. We are still early in the learning curve to adapting our methods of research to fit the subject.

    When Dian Fossey began her work, she had to develop a trust with her subjects, which she worked long to establish. This often meant being alone with her subjects in order to build their trust, even though her guides were not far away. She was later able to bring cameramen in following strict protocols. She didn’t bring in a bunch of people to surround the gorilla’s territory either. That may be another area where science discipline has yet to meet the sasquatch. When bf begins to start feeling surrounded, they are out of there. As long as they feel in control, then chances for interaction increase. Even at my site, I can’t take my friends there, and some take it personally. I can only try to explain how bf’s might perceive others being there as to why I can’t bring them with me. I worry about the occasional nosey forest visitors, as that can even be construed in the subject’s eyes, as something organized by more then one human, or worse, to be seen as an act of betrayal on my part.

    It was Louis Leakey who first applied the field method to wild primate research, envisioned by an even earlier scientist he worked under, whose name escapes me. Leakey brought together Jane Goodall, Birute Galdikas and the Late Dian Fossey, soon known as Leakey’s Angels. Maybe there should have been a 4th angel, but for whatever reason there wasn’t, likely because sasquatch was merely seen as a myth. Oh how times (and science) haven’t changed in some respects.

    DWA, I am a little confused by the following. I will assume you were merely stating a scenario and not a judgement, because I don’t think I have ever stated anything that would imply that I don’t understand evidence. “Multiple encounters – with something very susceptible, to all appearances, to the scientific method – are EVIDENCE. If you don’t understand that you aren’t a scientist. Or, you just don’t get what scientists do.”

    Silvereagle, I wouldn’t place too much credibility on Sylvanic just yet. The guy is showing some serious contradictions in his story and he’s a promoter, which should be a red flag. This ‘buildup’ of public fanfare through self promotion is a poor sister act to science. He previously claimed a 2′ X 2′ hole through a mountain chain hides Sylvanic. When have you ever encountered a 2′ X 2′ hole concealing a chain of mountains? Doesn’t this sound a little bit of a geologically impossible difference in scale? There is also no geographic references known as Sylvanic on the North American continent that I have ever been able to find. Could the name actually be imaginary or concocted from a fictional novel from the term Sylvan? It is also appears as though Mr. Standing may have hired some actors in early 2005, which happens to be the SAME Summer he claims to have taken the first videos. Doesn’t hiring actors BEFORE the video ring as just a little peculiar? What serious newcomer researcher do you know who would hire actors before/during the same year of an initial encounter allegedly caught on video? These are serious red flags. Of course he even launched his website BEFORE his own alleged video encounters ever took place. Use caution Silvereagle.

    Yeah DWA, what’d I’d do with an operating budget. I can only dream for now and do what I can with limited resources till then. If I knew who would take a grant application seriously, I’d write one. You see, while for whatever unexplained reasons I have had more then my share of encounters with these creatures over the decades, I am ‘new’ as a researcher per se. Sure I have taken the fast track to learning, and have some very valuable first hand experiences to draw from, but science has yet to meet sasquatch. So I must proceed as best as I can, developing my own protocols with that limited budget. At the risk of being ridiculed myself, I’ll share one of my recent successes a few weeks ago at my feed station where I had a audio recorder hidden in the middle of the woods. With food on a plywood table of sorts, I hung a small metal tube-shaped new whistle (REI brand) on a lanyard from a branch about 8′ up off to the side. When I returned to check the station a few days later, I found this new whistle laying on the ground, so I figured the wind must have somehow blown it off and I returned it to its hanger. But as I’m listening to the lengthy recordings for that session a few days later, and I could hear faint noises of something moving around. And then whatever was there, literally blew through that whistle TWICE and then made some other noise I can’t decipher. It did not fumble with the whistle, it did not use the maximum capacity of its lungs to blow hard, it gently tested the whistle for its sound. I am certain it knew exactly what this object was for, a whistle. Using deductive reasoning, and certain that no humans have found my feed station, I doubt any four legged animal blew that whistle. A plane soon approached the area so he apparently dropped the whistle on the ground, where I later found it.

    That is the kind of minor experiment and small success that develops alongside other successes and experiments with real research, hopefully leading to more meaningful results. He or she blew a whistle I left them. It was so exciting. This minor success was a major major reward for me, but it was also so fleeting. But that is their nature too, fleeting. Is it evidence for the masses? No, but it serves as evidence and a positive stroke for my efforts. It becomes part of my personal record journal, and maybe it becomes a component for other experiments. I don’t have a PhD, but I can surely research using protocol, collecting evidence when I can, and documenting what I can.

    This last time I left a child’s puzzle there for them (ages 3-5) with two pieces left incomplete off to the side. Unfortunately we got a good rain and the recordings indicate a bear showed up to ruin everything. Of course I also securely hung sort of a monkey type doll on another branch, and it was found on the ground nearby but not torn up the way I would expect a bear to do. Odd but not enough to call it evidence.

    Whew, sorry for the long winded one.

  3. fuzzy: thanks for the worry, but the fire feels just fine.

    Given that yep, one of these could have an impact on a small but by no means insignificant portion of the human race, and that the other might have an even bigger impact on the long-term habitability of the planet…thanks for making the case that bigfoot research and Titanic research are at least equal in priority.

    Now to get the scoftics out of the way so we can do the former.

    OH. And. if the anecdotal evidence presented by the two-piece set had not been followed up upon, we would have learned, exactly, what?

    The trick, fuzz, is to stand close enough to the fire so you can stay warm….and far enough away that you’re not blinded by the light. ;-)

  4. fuzzy: thanks for your argument that sas research and Titanic research should be equal in priority. OK, the sas should be higher on a Pareto-optimality basis. Good. Lower priority, done. One down, one to go. Now to get the scoftics out of the way.

    re: dead and wounded sas, cars, etc. I know that you know that I know about the reports you’re talking about – and the one where the guy killed one with one shot. My point perzackly. And I’ve talked elsewhere about my virtual certainty that a number of sas carcasses have been come across by people who wouldn’t get close enough to confirm what they were seeing. THERE’S a place where a sas might be mistaken for a bear.

    You stand at the right spot near that fire, always, so that you can both stay warm and not be blinded by the light. ;-)

  5. Uh-oh. A System Burp might have led to a whoopsy! followup post above. No apologies. Double yer pleasure, double yer fun! Pick the best one. (The second says more in fewer words. :-D)

  6. fuzzy wrote: “The danger here is that in broaching these aspects of the mystery (and there are other edgy areas, too – like trackways terminating in mid-field), you’re venturing perilously close to… dare I say it… the Paranormal???

    Uh Oh!”

    I know you are just being a stinker here Fuzzy. But I’ll take the bait.

    Just because these aspects are reported (and unexplainable) does not necessarily throw the whole field into the realm of pseudo-science and paranormal studies though.

    These topics (which I would argue are perfectly valid subjects for social science based approaches to the field) no more invalidate the potential flesh and blood reality of the Sasquatch than mythologized stories of vicious gorillas kidnapping women made the mountain gorilla “not real”.

  7. MultipleEncounters: as to this paragraph:

    “DWA, I am a little confused by the following. I will assume you were merely stating a scenario and not a judgement, because I don’t think I have ever stated anything that would imply that I don’t understand evidence. “Multiple encounters – with something very susceptible, to all appearances, to the scientific method – are EVIDENCE. If you don’t understand that you aren’t a scientist. Or, you just don’t get what scientists do.”

    I didn’t mean your handle! I meant multiple encounters with the sasquatch. :-D

  8. MultipleEncounters: “I can surely research using protocol, collecting evidence when I can, and documenting what I can.”

    What about the whistle? Fingerprints? DNA from breath moisture?

  9. “What about the whistle? Fingerprints? DNA from breath moisture?”

    That was lost even before I thought it simply fell from the branch and put it back. Of course not having proper equipment and therefore not being being able to go thru the hours of audio recordings immediately kind of limits ones ability. If I were able to walk back to the ‘research trailer’ enter the audio file into a dedicated laptop, look for spikes, we’d be on an even keel. But why was any evidence lost? The whistle had been on the ground in the weather for a few days, there was no DNA or prints to consider. If it were fresh, yes saliva could render DNA, but then exactly where would I get the money to fund the analysis?

    There are limits Fuzzy without being able to stay at a research location for several days/weeks at a time, and therefore you must drive over an hour each way instead. In fact, staying in a trailer nearby might also attract the wrong attention to me and therefore contaminate my efforts. So unfortunately there is also a balancing act to this. At some point I might be able to secure a permit to camp far behind closed gates, but that too is a ways off.

  10. DARHOP:

    What makes you think anything you put up here would be as good as Patterson/Gimlin?

    Um… How bout technology… Ever hear of a zoom lens… Let me see, then & now P/G 1967 if I remember right… Now 2007… I think 40 years of technology mioght give ya a better film… Man, now I’m getting it… A zoom lens would of mage a big difference in the film don’t ya think…?

  11. Why would I care what anybody else thinks… I wouldn’t, not really… But if I did and I have not seen one of these animals, I would want to share my experience and any proof of what I saw with others… I guess it wouldn’t matter though… No body no proof… Kinda suck’s…

  12. Silvereagle sez: “Researchers do not have to get past Radford, to make their case to the general public.”

    True enough! And BF researchers have failed miserably when making their case to the public, that’s why so few people believe in Bigfoot. Try science!

    He also writes: “will not persuade the Radfords to accept the existence of something that causes them discomfort.”

    Interesting how Bigfoot is assumed to cause me “discomfort.” Not sure how something that may or may not exist is supposed to make me uncomfortable; Bigfoot causes me no discomfort whatsoever. It is not a personal issue for me; I have no stake in its existence or non-existence. I don’t really care either way, I just want to see the evidence.

  13. “I didn’t mean your handle! I meant multiple encounters with the sasquatch. :)

    Yeah I did kind of pick a universally utilized phrase as a handle, didn’t I? ;)

  14. DARHOP:

    “Um… How bout technology… Ever hear of a zoom lens… Let me see, then & now P/G 1967 if I remember right… Now 2007… I think 40 years of technology mioght give ya a better film… Man, now I’m getting it… A zoom lens would of mage a big difference in the film don’t ya think…?”

    SURE! I mean look how great the results have been in the 40 years since P/G! How many great shots do we have? Thousands! I guess technology finally documented that sasquatch, all right. On to Mothman! ;-)

  15. “BF researchers have failed miserably when making their case to the public, that’s why so few people believe in Bigfoot.”

    Hmmmmm. Why is 2007 the busiest Bigfoot year I’ve seen in the past 40? Why is the P/G film being talked about more than ever? Why is this site – which is basically bellwethered by the sasquatch, let’s face it – being given Webby awards for its futuristic forward thinking? Why are books about the sas showing up on the science shelves of major book vendors? Why are major museums having sasquatch exhibitions? Why are people still seeing the same animal people were seeing 40 years ago? What is the Loch Ness Monster again? Why are Bigfoot organizations being given tax-exempt status?

    I just like to give our readers occasional breaks for reality checks. ;-)

  16. DARHOP:

    I’ll be a little less flip here, presuming you might actually want to go out there with your 21st century tech and bring something back, and I’d sure like to see it when you do.

    Much more than tech goes into getting the discovery shot, as my flip comment fliply pointed out. P/G combined preparation and execution and persistence to bring about good luck. They had the exact same thing happen to them that many, many horsepackers have had before and since with wild animals (and who knows how many reticent ones have had such an experience with the sasquatch? Actually, a number of other riders that I’m aware of HAVE had it; they just didn’t come with cameras because they weren’t looking to film a sas). Horses don’t seem to spook wildlife like people on foot do. And you cover lots of ground. Go where lots has been happening, on horseback, and stay out there for weeks prepared to document, and all you need is 1967 technology to get a film that, if it were one of my relatives, I’d know which one. (Hee hee, I think it acutally is one of my relatives. One of yours, too.)

    Modern technology needs to be combined with the same old sweat equity that worked 40 years ago.

  17. Ah, I knew I could count on the rest of you to keep this thread a-going:)

    I’ve yet another point to make here…and it’s gonna take me minutes to find what I wanted from above to quote so that I won’t be raked over the coals…cause you know the coal raking would upset me terribly…

    Sheesh that took likfe forever…okay…here we go…

    Radford says, “I am open to the possibility that Bigfoot exists; you are certain that it exists.

    Therefore, my friend, it is you who is closed-minded, as you are not open to the possibility that Bigfoot does not exist.”

    As one who has delved into these topics (and again BF is not my favorite or strongest suit, but I have seen some of the highlights), I do not believe that to be so. Personally, I have wrestled with those ideas long and hard, and I do so on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. How could proponents of BF and other cryptids not be open to the possibility that cryptids do not exist (and I am talking about the grail cryptids—BF, Loch Ness, etc)? Belief in the possibility of such things meets with opposition and smirks and eye rolling on a all of the time outside of these forums.

    Have I looked at the possibility that BF and Loch Ness and other critters are not real? Of course. And I constantly weigh that in my mind as I look into these things. In the face of decades of hunting for these things, it is frustrating to come up against the no-shows again and again without thinking that what you are looking for may indeed not exist.

    It is a shallow statement, though, to think that any of us have not considered the possibility, and do not continually face that possibility all of the time.

    However, in light of evidence (and I do count sightings…not as the be end all, but as clues to the fact that there is something going on in the forests and the lakes and the oceans), I have come to be swayed that there are critters out there that have evaded detection and concentrated scrutiny.

    The bottom line is that Radford and like minded people choose to ignore eye witness testimony and choose to attribute what was seen as sticks in the water and bears on steroids.

    I choose to see the eye witness testimony as evidence that there is some animated creature living in the forests and lakes and oceans that has evaded classification so far, and that to get to the real truth continued research and exploration are not only worth my time, but worth my attention, money and own research.

    Back to our glorious Titanic analogy, the fact that fifty percent of the people were wrong and fifty percent were right has no real bearing…what matters is they could all agree that the damn boat went down. That they all could not agree on the details of how it happened, the truth was that the Titanic did sink…it was not a mirage, a floating log or mass hysteria.

    And that is why eye witness testimony has merit. Not the details per-se, but the fact that something indeed did happen.

  18. “Jason P. responds:
    MultipleEncounters – Are your recordings available online anywhere? If not, why not? If you can record voices/sounds/whatever, why can you not also take pictures of things you see during these encounters, even if it’s just trampled grass/branches?”

    Jason,

    I just now came across this question of yours. Sorry about that. I have noticed that when people post here and leave the comment window open for a while, then finally post a message they have been working on, it gets posted inline at the time window was opened and not when submitted. This causes other posts to be relocated and thus sometimes posts are overlooked. I wish it posted at time of Submission instead.

    Anyway, I have one audio recording from last Winter at the feed station posted at Stan Courtney dot com under his Guest’s Unknown Sounds, but I have not uploaded any of this year’s new recordings anywhere.

  19. This site is entertaining. I’m here faithfully, same as watching the Cubs lose, O’Reilly ranting, or Three Stooges beating themselves up. The singular possibility of this thing’s existence that makes me hope for something more from this thread than comments on comments on footage and tracks that were inconclusive forty years ago (even to me as a boy). I haven’t waited decades for someone to reproduce them, but for endless new footage of the exact same creature at different times and places. Still waiting and wanting, because it would change our understanding of this world as a place created for humans, or wherein humans are the ultimate superior freaks of nature. Much larger birds would be exciting, or survivors of the fossil record, or variations on sea creatures, but specifically this challenger to our primate authority would open a door to all that science doesn’t know and can’t prove. Same for religions. The new witness’ accounts carry the weight, and the witnesses carry the burden. Twenty years from now maybe science will enable comparable opinion to be beamed directly into my brain, but I’ll be just as disappointed if it’s about the Patterson film not having been proven fake, and that “science” won’t confirm eyewitness accounts. That’s it, I’m tired of this, I’m going out tonight and bring this thing back alive and kicking; don’t wait up.

  20. dontmean2prymate:

    The issue isn’t the information we don’t have, but the non-information we do have. The big guy is enough like us to know that withholding increases interest. OK, most men don’t know that so maybe the big guy is smarter than half of us. The big guy thrives on our ignorance. He may have infrared ultraviolet saffron vision, and hearing better than a bat’s let alone a dog’s, but he walks around with pine pitch over his eyes and pinecones in his ears because he knows our ignorance is what shields him and he loves to walk the line. He’ll never shave, download or buy a Saturn. He lives off the land, whatever it tosses him. He doesn’t take what the defense gives him; he takes what he wants. You go after him, and he goes home with you.

    I’m practicing your style in case that last sentence comes true. But if you find the giant squid instead, that’ll be the scoop.

  21. Ben & DWA: “BF researchers have failed miserably when making their case to the public, that’s why so few people believe in Bigfoot.”

    Bit of a slip, ain’t it – on the banana peel of “belief”?

  22. Fuzzy: I’d say Ben sure did.

    I know I didn’t bother helping him up; I’ll try to be more gentlemanly next time.

    This club runs on evidence; and I think a whole lot more people see that evidence as convincing than any of us realize.

  23. Wow, I’m away for a day and this thread has still been going strong! There’s too much to really comment on and I’m way too far behind the discussion, but I just wanted to air some of my thoughts on science being “bad” or “good”.

    I think DWA made a point earlier that I kind of wanted to elaborate upon. He said that science is nearly a perfect system, but used by fallible humans. This is very true, in my opinion. As far as I’m concerned, science is the best way to understand the world we live in and how it works. It is a system for finding out facts from theories, and if used properly, it can open our eyes to the wonders of this universe. However, one of the very important things that one needs to keep in mind in any sort of scientific endeavor is that an unbiased approach to the data and evidence is essential if good research is to be done. The problem is, we humans are not particularly good at being completely unbiased. We are not cold, logical machines. We have passions, wants, beliefs, emotions, and desires, and all of these can influence us no matter how much we try to eliminate bias and look at the data with a “zen” mind as I like to say.

    This can cause problems in any field, really, and I think very much so in cryptozoology, where passions are obviously running high on both sides of the fence. This is what leads to the cherry picking of data and using of evidence to fit into preconceived theories, often the ignoring of other perfectly good data that happens to contradict one’s one hypothesis, that happens here and indeed in mainstream science as well. The proponent side and the skeptical side are both guilty of this I feel. The way I see it, there is a lot of “bad” science going around but it is not because of the topic at hand, but rather how the data and evidence are approached. Science is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used to good effect, or it can be misused or even abused. Don’t blame the science, blame the people using it.

    In this sense, I have to say that Mr. Radford and I agree on one point very strongly, and this is that the science has to be done right. All of the evidence has to be considered from every angle. If there are skeptical opinions made, I don’t think we should be blowing them off, but rather looking at these opinions and evaluating just how good the methods being used are. These skeptical ideas may turn out to be wrong, but to not at least consider them would be unscientific, I feel. Science is a framework in which to operate so it is up to anyone doing this sasquatch research to make sure that they are respecting the proper way of doing things and not leaning to far towards any one assumption. Follow the data, do not make it follow you.

  24. mystery_man: good post.

    And as we’ve been doing a lot of jousting with Ben here, it provides me an opportunity to say where our differences lie.

    Things-in-the-woods pointed out: “The thing is Ben, I’m pretty much ‘on your side’. I’m coming from near enough the same position as you (with a few disagreement over epistemology and your occasional lapses of basic logic) (in fact, on the grand spectrum of views on this site, so is DWA-although he won’t thank me for saying so).”

    Well, actually, that didn’t even make me wince. As things goes on to point out, Ben regularly gets his hackles up. (He just inspires me to educate. ;-) ) Where our difference with Ben lies is that things and mystery_man and I and some others here question all assumptions on the sasquatch. There are many assumptions Ben doesn’t question; he just presents them as givens.

    Chief among them is the assumption that if it isn’t scientific evidence, it isn’t evidence. Well, science would certainly be stuck, on all fronts, if that were the case. We wouldn’t have penicillin or aspirin yet. We might not have the wheel. Evidence leads to proof; it never suffices as proof in itself. (Even scientific evidence is such only so far as it is diagnostic of something already proven.) At some point, science has to go: what might this mean? I think we’re at that point on the sasquatch, and that any scientist who knows as much about it as even I do would have to agree. He might say that there are other things on the plate right now that are more important; but he’d have to agree that there’s a worthwhile pursuit here, that certainly appears to be leading somewhere. George Schaller seems to think that the search should remain in the hands of those already doing it; but he’s on the record that “a hard-eyed look is essential.” Much of the evidence on which Schaller basis this statement is eyewitness testimony. It is always to be suspected, and never swallowed without further evidence to substantiate it. But the patterns seen so far seem to transcend that problem, and suggest places and ways for the search to proceed.

    Another basic assumption Ben seems to make is that the track record of the searchers is tantamount to the probability of the animal. If you’re truly skeptical on this, you question everything the searchers are doing. Is the TBRC’s traditional approach still the way to go? Do we need a Jane Goodall soloist in the bush for months at a time, resupplied solely by water or air? (BTW: I think it should be a woman. ;-) ) Are game cameras – the more the better – the ticket? But you look at the evidence, not the searchers, for what to do next. The searchers’ missteps mean nothing to the existence of the animal. In fact, it’s the witnesses, not the searchers, who provide more of an index of the animal’s probability. Those who don’t believe this need to get there.

    Another basic assumption is one we’ve haggled to death here: that if one tiny facet of the hoax is possible, then the hoax is likely. This old shibboleth must be tossed. The only effective counter to the almost overwhelming volume of evidence that this animal exists is a cohesive, comprehensive and reasonable scenario – taking into account every scrap of evidence, including a thorough familiarity with the anecdotal data – showing how ALL of it, or at the very least a significant portion, could be the result of lie, hoax or misinterpretation. Skeptics wield a peashooter until one or more of them comes up with this scenario. Saying it could be, or probably is, so, without showing how, simply implies – if not directly points up – unfamiliarity with the scope and depth of the evidence. Most of the skeptic camp doesn’t seem to understand that if what they recognize as the “crown jewels” of sasquatch evidence were all conclusively shown to be fakes tomorrow, I would not have to change a word of this paragraph.

    I don’t know whether Ben’s tack will change; but it really doesn’t matter one way or the other. The animal’s out there – or not – whether we think it is, or not.

  25. “POCATELLO – The editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Benjamin Radford, worries valuable research dollars are being wasted on topics such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, UFOs and little green men.”

    In the end its all about who gets the money.

  26. Modern technology needs to be combined with the same old sweat equity that worked 40 years ago.

    Agreed…. And your right, I think one of them BIG GUYS being seen is my long lost uncle… Unhappy Jack…awhoooooeeeeeeeehehehe I kill me sometimes…

  27. “POCATELLO – The editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Benjamin Radford, worries valuable research dollars are being wasted on topics such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, UFOs and little green men.”

    Research dollars? What dollars? What money? What grants? I have not heard of any Government money being spent on proving and/or researching any of the above topics. Instead, the Government money is likely spending millions of tax payer dollars on on disproving, psyops, anti-propaganda, disinformation, helicopter rental, cold storage structures for bodies, hangers for UFO’s, rental for satellite NSA offices, mobile phone location tracing equipment, phone monitoring, phone harassment of private researchers. I estimate that the Government has at least 20 full time employees spread across the country, that are involved in maintaining the secrecy of Bigfoot, UFO’s, aliens, and an assorted list of interdimensional beings.

    In the May 16th Biscardi internet radio show, the Feds appeared to cut out the person being interviewed, exactly when he was explaining that “interdimensional people that have not been often observed wearing clothes, likely have an” NSA APPEARS TO INTERRUPT PHONE LINE FROM INTERVIEWEE FOR ABOUT 5 SECONDS! What was blanked out was “orb phase!” You can hear is for yourself, the U.S. Government in action. Your tax dollars at work.

    So Radford, is afraid of something that does not exist. Rather, the opposite exists. No significant government grants go to researching Bigfoot, UFO’s or other things that may upset the hundreds of millions of Americans who are hanging onto reality by their fingernails. U.S. Government money all goes to fighting the acquiring and the spread of, dare I say it, KNOWLEDGE !

  28. I forgot to add another very basic erroneous assumption the skeptic camp continuously makes. It shows up most recently on the thread featuring the Daegling review of Meldrum’s book.

    Daegling takes Meldrum to task for not seriously considering the man-in-a-suit or movie-special-effects alternatives to the possibility that the P/G film shows a real, unclassified animal.

    THIS IS NOT MELDRUM’S JOB.

    In science, if you propound a thesis, YOU are responsible for backing it up. That skeptics continually fail to recognize this is telling. They ask proponents to back up their theory that we have a new animal here. (Good job, proponents!) Then they ask the proponents to consider – “seriously” – the proposition that this is a guy in a suit. Actually, this HAS been seriously considered; it is the basis of every analysis ever done of the Patterson film. The critter presents itself, prima facie, as something new to science. There is nothing in that film that says “guy in suit.” (Look at Sixties ape suits.) One might as well have made such an accusation against the first live coelacanth. Bipedal does not a human make. Ask any bird. Be that as it may, no analysis has shown how this could be human.

    The only thing proponents are required to do is substantiate their proposition that this is an undocumented animal. As the skeptical counterclaim that it isn’t has not a scrap of evidence backing it up, they cannot offload onto the proponents their own dismal failure to put even one thin reed, much less a crutch, under their own proposition.

    Other than the above, yep, Ben and I are around the same place on the Bigfoot-“belief” continuum.