Sasquatch Coffee

Bill Munns on Abominable Science

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on September 5th, 2013

Sharon Hill mentions Bill Munns’ review in her comment on this post: Bigfoot Times Reviews Abominable Science

Contrast this one review (and I would discard an even more outrageous review by Bill Munns who calls for a ridiculous ban on the book) with the series of reviews in more science-based forums.shill

abom_science

This book entitled “Abominable Science” achieves a level of scientific and journalistic hypocrisy that warrants the publisher recalling the book. The reason is that one of the co-authors, Daniel Loxton, has written a fairly substantial portion of this book practicing the very “abominable science” the book proportedly sets out to expose. In other words, he has demonstrated a journalistic or scientific hypocrisy that is either grossly negligent, grossly incompetent, or so blatantly biased that he humiliates the scientific process and journalistic professionalism alike.

In Chapter One, Co-Author Donald Prothero describes very admirably and meticulously what is good science and what is not. Sadly, in Chapter Two, Co-Author Loxton proceeds to evaluate the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin “Bigfoot” film from page 44-50 and Mr. Loxton does nearly everything that his co-author has just explained to us that we cannot rely upon. Co-Author Loxton is discussing a topic in which there is a wealth of fine empirical data and a equally voluminous heap of poor anecdotal evidence and the author totally dismisses the fine empirical data with absolutely no justifiable explanation, and wallows in the poor anecdotal evidence instead as if it were splendidly scientific. The author also looks to material nine or more years outdated, and demonstrates virtually no awareness of new research, data, developments, or shifts of the landscape of the controversy more recently than 9 years ago, when there has been tremendous new material and analysis work worthy of his evaluation. This is intolerable and unconscionable in a work proportedly to be educating the public about good science.

While my criticism focuses on Mr. Loxton’s segment of the book focused on the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Film, we must wonder if that travesty of hypocritical fodder is an isolated moment of scientific dementia or is it the tip of a much larger iceberg of unscientific and heavily biased writing throughout his half of the book’s authorship. When a write “cooks” a story with disregard for facts and academic responsibility or journalistic fairness and accuracy, that incident generally casts a profound suspicion over the entire body of the writer’s work. Thus, while I focus this concern on one section, the concern may put a serious cloud over the book in general.

As Co-Author Prothero states in his fine Chapter One, page 4-5, “Science is about testing hypotheses, or offering ideas that may explain some facet of nature and seeing if they hold up to critical scrutiny. As philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, science is not about proving things true, but proving them false.”

Hand in hand with this concept is the criteria for quality of evidence, which science relies upon. Empirical evidence (that which is quantifiable, testable and can be validated with objective verification) is superior to circumstantial, testimonial, and anecdotal evidence. Co-Author Prothero remarks on page 13 that ” The endorsement of your next-door neighbor may be good enough to make simple decisions, but anecdotal evidence counts for very little in science.” Empirical evidence is superior, and in the matter of the Patterson-Gimlin Film, the film image data and related film footage data are true empirical evidence.

And then, in Chapter Two, what does Co-Author Loxton do? He dismisses the empirical evidence (the film image data) out of hand with no apparent qualification to make such a judgment, and then wallows in anecdotal evidence for the remainder of the text. Loxton boldly states on page 44 that “no one knows whether the film depicts a real sasquatch or a man in a gorilla suit.” He than states on page 47 “In the absence of a type specimen or smoking gun evidence of a hoax, the film is, ultimately, unable to speak for itself.” Thus he has stated that the empirical evidence (the actual film) cannot speak for itself, when all classical evidence criteria values empirical evidence precisely because it can speak for itself and is not vulnerable to a person’s interpretive description or distortion. Clearly. Mr. Loxton does not understand evidence, and that does not bode well for a person trying to write scientifically.

A scholarly dismissal of the film as “unable to speak for itself” would require one of two criteria, and Mr. Loxton demonstrates neither. One would be that if Mr. Loxton himself held verifiable and demonstrated expertise in the subject, and outlined a paragraph or two on why his dismissal of the film image data was reasonable and correct. He does not. The alternative would be for Mr. Loxton to do proper research and find out who today has verifiable expertise in analyzing the film image data, and then quote and reference that authority’s appraisal of the film image data and why it cannot speak for itself. He does not.

The film image data has remarkable integrity and value. So on what basis did author Loxton reject this excellent evidence? He does not disclose any criteria, any authority, any expertise or any methodology for such a rejection. The sad reality is that he probably rejected it because he does not understand it, and he wants to win the argument of convincing the readers his personal opinion is correct, that the film is a hoax. If so, this is unconscionable for a book intended to educate the reader in good science.

Author Loxton frequently cites Greg Long’s book “Making of Bigfoot” as if this publication were of sterling integrity and unimpeachable truth, when the book is merely several hundred pages of 25 year old recollections. Loxton should have read his co-author Prothero’s remarks on page 14 citing the following passage: “As psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown, eyewitness account of events and their memory of them are notoriously unreliable.” And Greg Long’s book, which Loxton so admires and relies upon, is composed entirely of such notoriously unreliable 25 year old recollections. Now that we know author Loxton embraces “notoriously unreliable” evidence with enthusiasm, and rejects empirical evidence with casual indifference, his integrity as a science writer is highly suspect.

Sadly, Mr. Loxton’s co-author, Donald Prothero also has a blind side when it comes to the value of image data analysis. Mr. Prothero opens Chapter One with a discussion of the “Georgia Bigfoot Body” hoax, but the author fails to acknowledge that within 24 hours of the release of the first photo of this “body in a freezer”, various analysts had searched the internet, found the commercial costume mask which was purchased to make the frozen body head, and exposed the hoax long before the press conference Mr. Prothero describes. Another claim of a photographed bigfoot, called the Tongami Video, was similarly proven to be a hoax by image data analysis and an internet search to find the commercial costume mask used for that hoaxed video. Finally, image data analysis was used most recently to expose the rumored “incredible video footage of a young female bigfoot named Matilda” as being a modified Chewbacca mask and fur costume, and it was image data analysis which was responsible for the proof of hoax.

Apparently neither of the authors appreciates the value of image data analysis in exposing bigfoot hoaxes and they hesitate to apply the same technology process to the Patterson Gimlin film image data and hopefully expose it for the hoax they try to imply it must be. They would rather wallow in character assassination and pass it off as good science.

If the film truly were a hoax perpetrated in 1967, we must consider that no hoaxer can anticipate analysis technology 45 years into the future, and design a hoax to withstand the inspection of the new technology. Thus, if the film is a hoax, new technology should be able to prove it so with absolute certainty. And in that regard, the film image data is the key to the solution of this controversy. Yet Mr. Loxton dismisses it as useless, with no consideration of it’s potential to prove a hoax, if indeed a hoax were actually perpetrated at that filmed event. Time (and new analysis technology) always favor empirical evidence and improve the capacity to evaluate it, and time degrades testimonial or anecdotal evidence. Looking at the PGF 45 years after it was filmed, Mr. Loxton discards what time improves and embraces what time degrades.

Mr. Loxton does not understand this data and what it can or cannot prove. He has apparently not made any due diligence effort to seek out contemporary authorities who do understand this evidence, but his most unconscionable decision is to deceive the readers and misrepresents the idea to suggest no one else may find scientific merit to the PGF image data, simply because he doesn’t. His portion of this book on the Patterson-Gimlin Film is a travesty in terms of responsible science, critical thinking, academic merit, and journalistic integrity.

The only reason to buy this book is so if the publishers value their own integrity and recall the book, the few copies sold already will be collectable as novelties.Bill Munns

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.


15 Responses to “Bill Munns on Abominable Science”

  1. DWA responds:

    Well, wait up.

    If this review is so “outrageous,” where is the rebuttal, addressing every one of Mr. Munns’s cogent points?

    As usual in bigfoot skepticism, it simply ain’t happening. Because they are more interested in what they want to believe than they are in really practicing science.

    Munns couldn’t have written better what I think of the “skeptical” (it ain’t) “analysis” of P/G.

    When they’re focusing on the character assassination and not on the film, a scientist should know what to think. Munns does.

    And I agree with him; this is more of a book-burning than a book. In fact, it sets back the biological sciences 50 years, if not more. It advocates going back to sleep, not going for the answers in the field, where they lie. It’s irresponsible, in a word.

  2. Alamo responds:

    Munns nailed it: pulp fiction masquerading as science. He has a skillset which makes him uniquely qualified to judge the evidence that the authors attempt to whistle past. The book’s name itself is poetically ironic (but probably not in the way the authors intended)… like naming your country, “The People’s Democratic Republic of…”

  3. DWA responds:

    Speaking of misnomers and poetic irony, Alamo, could anything cause one to want to Chew Trees more than that the Columbia University Press is publishing this?

  4. Goodfoot responds:

    DWA: I agree. You nailed that one. “Scofticism” is about as far from “science” as I am from Thailand.

  5. corrick responds:

    Great Caesar’s Ghost!

    Negative reviews by Bill Munns and Daniel Perez, two people who’s entire credibility depends on the full acceptance of bigfoot as real. And I might add who apparently only read chapter 2 about bigfoot but not the next 5 chapters. With the usual supportive followups by people who haven’t even read the book. How shocking.

    What’s next? Kent Hovind or Bill Gibbons reviews chapter 6 about Mkembe-mokele?

    I read this blog and it never, ever ceases to amaze me.

  6. Goodfoot responds:

    “I read this blog and it never, ever ceases to amaze me.”

    And Corrick is as dependable as rattlesnake venom.

  7. DWA responds:

    corrick:

    We read books like this – well no we don’t – and posts like yours and it never ceases to amaze us.

    In what other field of science would anyone be allowed to skip the evidence, as both these authors and you do, and cut straight to the personalities?

    Munns is far more qualified than any skeptical plug-ugly who has looked at this film. He is indeed, by far, the most qualified to determine whether it was hoaxed. And we know what he thinks of that. His critiques are possibly the most measured anywhere in the field. They stick, utterly, to facts.

    If only bigfoot skeptics would do the same, the sasquatch would be in guidebooks now, as it clearly should be. But some people just seem to be against the advance of knowledge.

    The introduction and the bigfoot chapters are quite enough to safely label the rest of the book unreadable. Does one have to taste garbage to determine what it is? Does one have to serve it with a dry red? One does not.

    (And the Columbia University Press publishes this crap. If there were an Anti-Nobel, for the polar opposite of good science, they should get one.)

  8. Ploughboy responds:

    Bill Munns is only the most recent (and I’d say, the most qualified) messenger in this field to get whacked for just doing his job.

    You ask science a question, you take the answer it gives you, OR bring forth some science that explains why it’s wrong.

    You then deal.

    In all of the disagreements with Bill’s work I’ve seen, I’ve not seen much that would qualify as anyone taking him to task on the empirical, objective evidence he has described and analyzed. You’d think that would be the low-hangers for those who resist his conclusions, right? Are we to conclude Bill is the only guy out there with film and special effects knowledge/experience, with access to the P/G film? Guess so, or so it seems for the lack of talented opposition we see. Are there really none who would want to come play in his ballyard? He’d welcome such, I know. Sure looks that way, and what does that tell you?

    When we as a society have matured enough, we will accept this fact. So far, no.

  9. Alamo responds:

    IHi DWA,

    I’m not surprised in the least that a “reputable” publishing house would stoop so.low… so I’m also not surprised that people who know nothing of science immediately jump on the bandwagon and call any research into ABSMs “not science”… a most unscientific position, as there is clearly enough evidence, in several different categories, to warrant a serious and thorough investigation as opposed to the parlor game they’ve made of it.

  10. Alamo responds:

    Hi corrick,

    For Munns, the exact opposite of what you state is true. He is a professional creature creator, it would only help his reputation if the PG film is fake and his skill was responsible in some way… he gets no benefit from advocating its authenticity. Since he’s already well known and respected in the industry, it makes no sense for him to risk his already substantial credibility by being a proponent of something as controversial as the PG film.

  11. John Kirk responds:

    I take exception to the snide remark by corrick about my good friend and colleague Bill Gibbons. No one in the modern era has spent more time, energy and finances in the pursuit of Mokele-mbembe than he has so he is eminently qualified to review any chapter of any book that deals with the subject matter.

    I have been to Cameroon and Congo with Bill on two occasions and believe you me, anyone who has not been where we have been and done what we have done cannot pontificate from an ivory tower. I don’t agree on on all aspects of what Bill might think a Mokele-mbembe might be or where it fits in his religious paradigm, but I know plenty enough about Bill Gibbons to state that he is very knowledgeable about the animal that inhabits the rivers and swamps of West Central Africa. Some theoretical academic sitting in his lab or office and spouts off about Mokele-mbembe without having talked to the witnesses, as Bill and I have, has no business whatsoever writing a book about Mokele-mbembe.

    I have personally talked to nearly a hundred witnesses of the Mokele-mbembe phenomenon in various locations along the river systems of Cameroon and Congo. They are not trying to please us or make up crap to entertain the foreigners. These people have seen the animal and know it by a variety of names, but it is the same real, organic animal and not a figment of someone’s overactive imagination. I know people who have had it trod on their fishing nets, create turbulence that rocked their pirogues and heard it vocalize. I wish you could all see the look of terror in the eyes of some of the people who pointed out a sauropd dinosaur illustration to us as the cause of their unpleasant encounter. That being said, I am not saying MM is a dinosaur, but to the witnesses it sure as hell looks like one.

    Bill Gibbons, myself and our other colleagues in this search are not given to making stuff up. Nor, for that matter, are the witnesses we have interviewed. So If Prothero and Loxton have never been where we have and never talked to the witnesses we have, how in blue blazes does this make them qualified to discuss Mokele-mbembe with any real knowledge? Loxton is actually a colleague of mine at the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club and I respect him. I have his book and look forward to getting the time to read it. However, what I have read from Bill Munns and Daniel Perez in regard to the sasquatch section has shown the flaws and poor reasoning of using outdated info and not looking at more recent developments is unforgivable.

    I hope to return to Africa with Bill Gibbons once more and this will add to Bill’s ability to speak with some authority about the MM. I don’t ever want to see Bill’s name impugned here again as it has been by corrick’s comments. When corrick and the scofftics have been to Africa and talked to the witnesses and have found contrary evidence to what Bill Gibbons and I have ascertained, then I will pay attention. I will not be listening to remarks from anyone who knows nothing about this animal and the people it has affected.

  12. sasquatch responds:

    I’ve dabbled in and made a bit of $ in the special FX and animation business. I’ve worked on Raid Bugs Spray, Topps Buble Gum card, Samosonite luggage adds, several short animation films, and have built a stop motion animation creature for the upcoming film “Sinbads 5th Voyage”, as well as many FX for the upcoming sci-Fi comedy film “Big Trouble From Outer Space”); I quite agree with Mr. Munns.

  13. Goodfoot responds:

    Something to ponder: Is “corrick” Joe Vialls?

  14. Goodfoot responds:

    “Topps Buble Gum”

    I wasn’t aware a certain pop crooner had his own brand of gum! ;)

  15. Lyall M responds:

    So I have read the replies and counter reply but I have not read the book. Has the meaning of factual error and typographical error changed in academia? Or is it that you say “other errors” now for factual errors to not hurt anybody’s feelings?

    Wouldn’t the expectation be that people that study a certain phenomena would be the ones commenting on it. I can’t wait to see what ‘Lochness’ blog has for a book review.



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