Pseudo-skeptics and Pseudo-logic

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 9th, 2007

With all the talk about pseudo-skeptiks here on Cryptomundo as of late, I thought that I would republish this post.

From January 18, 2006

Answering the Bigfoot Skeptics

Published on LiveScience.com today is an article written by a Cryptomundo commenter, Benjamin Radford, editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, entitled, “Rare Woodpecker Search Sheds Light on Bigfoot.” Going to the site, I found it humorous that the ad for the page is the Canadian Sasquatch for the Discovery Channel’s show “Mythbusters.

Some of what is included in Mr. Radford’s article has been discussed here on Cryptomundo in the past.

Read the article on the LiveScience.com website, then read our rebuttal below and offer your thoughts and comments. Hopefully Mr. Radford will join us here for this discussion.

Pseudo-logic ( sū ‘ dō-lŏ’ jək) n. A system of deduction that initially appears to be based in solid inferential reasoning, but upon closer examination is determined to actually be without logical foundation.

Initially, the position staked out here by Benjamin Radford appears to have a logical foundation. He asserts that when a well-equipped team of professional and amateur scientists conducts a field study in the woods of rural Arkansas, and reports no sightings of the undocumented creature referred to as “bigfoot,” that it somehow validates or strengthens the position of those who claim that the animal does not exist.

Come again?

Actually, hundreds of excursions across North America take place every year by groups and individuals who fail to mention sightings of large, bipedal, hair-covered primates. However, Mr. Radford also seems to be ignorant of incursions into the American outback by groups and individuals who do report sightings of large, bipedal, hair-covered primates. In fact, one month-long expedition in 1967 even yielded film footage of what is possibly the animal Mr. Radford says doesn’t exist.

Mr. Radford seems to imply that simply because the well-equipped team who rediscovered the Ivory-billed Woodpecker wasn’t actually looking for large, unknown, bipedal apes, that if they reported a sighting, the sighting would somehow have some special merit that sighting reports by others in the past do not have. After all, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker researchers included biologists from Cornell University, as well as quite a few volunteer part-time field assistants. So, what if the team had reported a sighting of a sasquatch or recorded some primate-like vocalizations while out in the field? Would it have given Mr. Radford and others like him cause for consideration regarding the matter of bigfoot?

There are teams of professional and amateur scientists who have reported such encounters (including the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, a network of amateur and professional scientists dedicated to investigating the sasquatch mystery in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana), and there are individuals who happen to be anthropologists, wildlife biologists, psychologists, law enforcement and forest service professionals who have reported sightings, but apparently Mr. Radford and others like him simply choose to sweep such reports aside, citing wishful-thinking, misidentification and hallucination as the cause of such reports.

Interesting.

Apparently, what scientists don’t see is more important to Mr. Radford and others like him, than what scientists do see.

We also have many reports from hunters, who happen to be the most prolific witnesses in terms of bigfoot encounters, resulting from their sustained incursions into the remote and densely wooded areas said to be the habitat of sasquatches. While their business in the American wilderness is not of an investigatory nature, hunters are nevertheless out there for prolonged periods. However, Mr. Radford refuses to acknowledge the significance of their eyewitness reports.

Why is it that Mr. Radford seems to be more enamored with the fact that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker researchers did not report having sasquatch encounters than he is that large numbers of American and Canadian hunters, in addition to groups of researchers, comprised of amateur and professional scientists, have reported such encounters?

Mr. Radford apparently dismisses many such sighting reports because they, in his opinion, are from “believers” (which somehow invalidates their findings). Apparently, Mr. Radford is very adept at overlooking or ignoring important little facts. For example, many of the amateur and professional scientists who have reported encounters were not “believers” until they actually had the encounters; the vast majority of the hunters and motorists who reported such encounters were not “believers” at all until they actually saw something for which they had no conventional explanation. So, just because they reported a sighting (making them “believers”), are witnesses suddenly lacking credibility as individuals and scientists?

There’s more to ponder:

It is likely that, given the probable rarity of the species, there were no unknown North American apes in the area of southeastern Arkansas where the Ivory-billed Woodpecker researchers were searching.

This brings up another question: Has Mr. Radford actually talked to all the biologists and field assistants who were searching for the “grail bird” regarding what they saw or heard?

Sixteen square miles is not a very large area. Although it would certainly seem big to a person wandering around within it, it’s a drop in the bucket in terms of available habitat. To assume that an animal not observed within a prescribed area during a specific time frame must not exist anywhere is silly. How many mink did the biologists and volunteers see in that area? River otters? Did they observe black bears? Many woodpecker holes are constantly being monitored. Did the observers see flying squirrels, common animals that live in tree cavities? How many of these folks saw bobcats or gray foxes? All of these species should be expected in the ivory-billed study area. By Mr. Radford’s logic, if any of these species were not observed, they must be extinct.

Mr. Radford insinuates that the place where the woodpecker was observed is a prime sasquatch area, but is it? When was the last time a credible report emerged from that specific vicinity? The BFRO has posted on their website only one report, in Cleveland County, of a regional bigfoot sighting. This is over 60 miles southwest of the Big Woods of Arkansas. The Texas Bigfoot Research Center has not received any reports, credible or not, from the area. Characterizing an entire state as “prime Bigfoot territory” illustrates ignorance regarding animal distribution patterns in general. When biologists say that any mammal may be expected within a certain approximate area or range, it does not mean that the species will be found everywhere within that area; it may possibly be found wherever suitable conditions are found within that area. The same holds true for the sasquatch.

The current well-publicized attempt to further document the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is only the latest of such efforts over the years. This active species is very large, diurnal, and quite noisy. Yet, the documentation effort, to this point, has been a disappointment. How logical is it to conclude that a rare nocturnal animal like the sasquatch, an animal the birders are likely not even thinking about, does not exist if it’s not seen?

The extensive search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was conducted almost entirely during daylight hours; no night vision or infrared devices were employed. Most sasquatch researchers believe that their quarry is primarily nocturnal because there are as many or more sightings of sasquatches during the night than during the day; far fewer humans are active at night than daytime, therefore, nocturnalism of the animal is probable. Furthermore, there are very, very few reports of diurnal bigfoot vocalizations. The vast majority of reports regarding purported sasquatch vocalizations result from nighttime encounters.

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker researchers were not, in even the most remote way, looking or listening for an unknown bipedal primate. If they had recorded sasquatch vocalizations, it’s unlikely they would have expended much effort pondering what they were hearing; their search was for a large diurnal bird with a “kent” call. They were fixated on that, during the day. However, even had they made such recordings, Mr. Radford and others like him would most likely remain dismissive and cynical, continually citing “no hard evidence.”

There also exists the extremely remote possibility that one or more of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker researchers did have some type of encounter, but like others before them, they hesitated to report it. Few researchers would be brazen enough to risk the loss of project funding, or risk their personal and professional reputations, by coming back with anecdotal reports of sasquatch encounters, exposing themselves to ridicule and insinuations from Benjamin Radford and others like him that such sightings were caused by wishful thinking and/or misidentifications.

Following the line of reasoning presented by Mr. Radford, the fact that the TBRC and investigators such as Chester Moore and others have not reported any Ivory-billed Woodpecker sightings in Ivory-billed Woodpecker habitat areas, despite spending an exorbitant amount of time in such places (like the Big Thicket in Southeast Texas), must in some way invalidate the findings of the birders who obtained four seconds of woodpecker footage and a couple of purported ivory-billed vocalizations. Obviously, this is a conclusion that reasonable people would never seek to assert, but it is tantamount to what Mr. Radford has written.

The Texas Bigfoot Research Center is not a group made up of individuals who, on a whim or dream, choose to waste a huge amount of time and finances, risking personal and professional reputations, to validate an animal that can’t possibly exist. The Texas Bigfoot Research Center continues to maintain that the body of contemporary sighting reports, ecological patterns and relationships arising from the study of those reports, the physical evidence that has accumulated during the last fifty years, and our own personal observations while in the field, all serve to indicate the existence of a living species that has yet to be documented.

This response was written by Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins and Craig Woolheater of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center.

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.


86 Responses to “Pseudo-skeptics and Pseudo-logic”

  1. mystery_man responds:

    And Rillo777, not all of us with scientific backgrounds are close minded or rigid! Some of us are willing to see what there is to see. 🙂

  2. DWA responds:

    Daniel (and skeptic too, might as well toss you in):

    Who’s losing his cool? I just point out what I see going on.

    Daniel: Don’t know how much you’ve read of the threads in which Ben participates. But pretty much everything he’s said here has been quite effectively countered, and he does resort quite quickly, if you ask me, to putting down and, yes, name calling. Most of the discussion you’ll see here is friendly give and take. Ben doesn’t give much. You gotta expect problems when you don’t.

    I’d say the opposite of what you’re saying. I think that one of the ways in which crypto shoots itself – in organs much more vital than the foot – is in its failure to trot out the evidence, and demand that it be intelligently refuted, when people come to call who aren’t aware of it – and don’t appear to want to be. I’m getting tired of addressing, over and over, precisely why the anecdotal evidence for the sasquatch is so compelling. Anyone with a passing acquaintance with this evidence – and a proper assessment of the true value of sightings – would recognized that sighting reports for the sasquatch display an uncanny conformity with what one would expect of the individual variations in physiology and behavior occurring within a primate species. Uncanny, that is, for an animal that doesn’t exist. If you’re a scientist, it should REALLY ring a bell with you – which is why numerous scientists have broken away from the monotheistic religion of their disciplines and entertained the possibility we might have something here.

    Given the nature of the scientific bureaucracy – which would make most government bureaucracies look downright anarchistic by comparison – this takes not only courage, but an absolute refusal to tell your eyes they’re not seeing what they in fact are.

    But here I go again; I’ve intelligently refuted Ben numerous times on this blog, as have others, and we’ve gotten, essentially, no response. Cryptos suffer too many fools gladly, is what I see as their big problem – both within their discipline and outside of it. As has been said here: it’s essential to have an open mind, just not so open that your brains fall out.

    If folks like Ben Radford want to keep telling us that eyewitness testimony is absolutely inadmissible here – and that’s what he says, in almost that many words, and I can quote him if you’d like, although I’ve done enough of that here too – then he has to back up what he says with WHY. Ben doesn’t.

    That’s not dialogue. Oh, and by the way, this is a SKEPTIC talking to you. A REAL one. I need better evidence than I have seen that this critter exists. But the evidence I have seen tells me – and some of the heaviest hitters in zoology – that we should be making a concerted effort to follow it up. And the countervailing thesis – that it’s all made up, every scrap of it – is so absurd that if it’s not backed up by solid debunking, it deserves not the time of day.

    I see skepticism, not crypto, giving itself the bad name here. True skeptics want to let the light in, not shut it out when it’s not THEIR light.

    If that’s blowing my cool, skeptic, expect more of it.

  3. DWA responds:

    Oh. And re: this –

    “I’m especially disappointed by the mean-spirited calling of names. To begin with, it’s not reciprocal: Radford isn’t calling anyone names. (Nor am I. Nor are my family and friends, all of whom are tarred with this “scofftic” brush.) To the contrary, Radford’s often reached out to cryptozoologists, and framed his discussions in a positive, collegial, cooperative tone.”

    I’m not sure I’ve seen anything on this board – not even posted by Ben – on which I disagree more strongly. I’d consider him rigid, condescending, and transparently uninformed on the relevant disciplines. (As I’ve said more than once, we need a primatologist here, not a shrink.) You really need to read those back threads, sir.

    And as to this:

    “Cryptozoology is not only seen as too marginal for mainstream working scientists, but too marginal even for skeptics. As you note, there are bigger fish to fry, and cryptozoology, by and large, does little harm. Most skeptics are only too happy to ignore it.”

    As to name-calling and condescension, I rarely see it done better. So much for collegiality. As I’ve said, true skeptics don’t suffer fools gladly.

  4. Sergio responds:

    Mr. Loxton,

    I must say that I have rarely, if ever, witnessed the level of patronizing as displayed by Mr. Radford here at Cryptomundo, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Radford (and you perhaps) will find that people will be less resistant and even amiable, perhaps, to him, a particular theory or notion, if he would cease with the attempts at lecturing people regarding his inflated levels of knowledge, and everyone else’s lack thereof. It’s actually quite nauseating.

    Every time I see his name appear on any of these threads, I am prepared to see another lecture about how “sadly” so-and-so doesn’t know jack, and then Radford feels that he has to mention his education (for the umpteenth time) and that he’s written books.

    Who gives a rip?

    Give me reasoned conversation.

    Don’t talk down to me or anyone else on the thread.

    Don’t tell me or others on the thread more than once that you have a degree in psychology and well, you just know about such matters.

    Don’t tell anyone how lacking their knowledge is about something, or how inexperienced they are, or…

    be prepared to get as good as you give.

    That’s how it works.

  5. DWA responds:

    I might also add that, given that name-calling, condescending comment, there’s a transparently obvious reason Ben comes here.

    It’s in that link you’ll find in one of my posts above.

    If you don’t want to put in even that time, you have disqualified yourself as a person I need to talk to. At least on this topic.

  6. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: you are clearly somebody who knows a lot of what he speaks when he’s here. (Your Honshu Wolf thread is one of the best ones I’ve been on here. Is that at 100 posts yet?)

    And the last thing someone would think reading your posts is: self-proclaimed expert. You just contribute.

    And another comment about that condescending, name-calling tarring of cryptozoology you read quoted in my second-to-last post above. The past year, if anything, should show what a hollow – and dead wrong – assessment that is.

    For someone who’s paying attention, that is.

  7. Rillo777 responds:

    I’m very encouraged to hear that mystery_man. I’ve read many articles by scientists that are, in fact, very closed minded. I also guess I’ve felt a little torched by the reaction to my belief in “C” (trying not to get deleted here:-) ) on what we cryptically call, “that other thread” !

    I certainly don’t mean to imply that ALL scientists are close-minded, but it has been my experience that many scientists, because of tenures or personal reputation or even the fact that they have spent their lives (and their livelihoods have depended upon) following a certain line of investigation, react very negatively to any anomalies that would seem to threaten their work. I know of some scientists who have been essentially blacklisted by their own colleagues because they dared introduce theories or evidence that raised serious questions in their fields . The artifacts (or theories) are often relegated to backrooms, quietly tucked away and hopefully forgotten. This is very sad and doesn’t advance any sort of reasonable inquiry.

    Of course, this is human nature-to protect ourselves and what we believe is true.

  8. DWA responds:

    Rillo777:

    Why the sasquatch “doesn’t exist.” In a nutshell.

    For all it’s done to make the universe comprehensible, there’s never been an institution like science better capable of simply not seeing what it doesn’t want to see.

    At its worst, science looks more like a religion than a methodology. And not one of the more open religions, at that.

    At its best…well, we’d know about the world’s hairy hominoids by now, one way or the other.

  9. Jason P. responds:

    DWA: I think that your repeated ‘refutations’ of Radford are getting old–and very quickly. You’re acting like a bully now, and not doing yourself or anyone else any favors. I think you might need to take a step back and look at what you’re doing here.

  10. MBFH responds:

    Well, this has certainly moved on a pace! I must admit, DWA, that I was tempted to post something similar to what skeptc did, but thought it may only curtail your entertaining and enlightening commentary 😉

    As for what Mr Loxton says, I don’t know much about Mr Radford. I’m not for name calling (by this I mean offensive slang terms), and not accusing anyone of it. If it is done in this type of forum though there’s no need – a delete button exists.

    As for science, the more I read the more I become dismayed and heartened at the same time. I have a science background (geography and environmental management up to MSc – quite a long time ago now – I wish I was still at thesis age!) but nothing that would qualify me to argue with anyone on this site (kittenz and mystery_man spring to mind). My queries, I hope, come from just having an open, inquistive mind and wanting to learn. This is what dismays be about science, in general, a lack of deeper inquisitiveness into the natural world. You only have to have a glance at the wealth of information on anomalies of every kind (of which I think cryptozooligical studies are part and parcel of) to see that there is much in this world that is unexplained. Where’s the scientific exploration gone?!

    Well, that leads me on to what I find heartening – the more I read the more it seems there are some scientists willing to take risks (and they are risks if it means losing their income by going outside the mainstream) such as Jeff Meldrum and Rupert Sheldrake. What I like about these two though, and I’m sure there are others, is the fact they’re incredibly open about their study, they highlight the caveats and shortcomings of their own research – true scientists.

    Not quite sure if that adds anything but wanted to get it off my chest.

    Thanks

  11. Daniel Loxton responds:

    I wrote:

    Cryptozoology is not only seen as too marginal for mainstream working scientists, but too marginal even for skeptics… Most skeptics are only too happy to ignore it.

    DWA responded:

    As to name-calling and condescension, I rarely see it done better. So much for collegiality.

    To which I reply to DWA: oh, for gosh sake. To begin with, that isn’t name calling. “Scofftic,” “Denialist,” “fool” and “Pseudo-skeptic” are.

    More importantly, I didn’t say that I saw cryptozoology as too marginal to bother with. Why would I be here if I did? (Please don’t refer me to “The Pseudo-Skeptic Mind” article you link to above, that’s just rude.)

    When I say that cryptozoology is “seen as” too marginal even for skeptics, I’m just describing — accurately — the level of interest the general skeptics community has for cryptozoology. I know most the leaders of the skeptical community personally, and I can assure you that interest is close to zero.

    For that reason, a guy like Ben Radford is a rare asset to cryptozoology: he’s a critic who thinks cryptozoology is worth bothering with. If a review of a crypto book or an article about a cryptid appears in the Skeptical Inquirer, there’s a good chance he had to negotiate to get it in there. He reads your online forums, reads your books, talks to crypto witnesses in person, and personally conducts actual cryptozoological field research.

    What more do you want? If cryptozoology gets a half-way fair hearing in the skeptical press — or, more to the point, any hearing at all — it’s because a handful of guys like Radford cared enough about the topic to make it happen. Without them, the topic would simply drop off the skeptical radar.

    DWA, you personally disagree with Radford. That’s OK. But the mere fact that you do is not an indictment of him. Disagreement happens.

    Here’s some now: eyewitness testimony is not very useful for cryptozoology (except in suggesting leads), if only for the political reason that there’s been lots of it for a long time and most people have not been convinced by it. Moreover, I entirely agree with Radford that it is weak evidence, for a very simple reason: we know that there are hoaxed cryptid sightings, and we know that there are mistaken cryptid sightings, but we only hope that there are actual cryptid sightings.

    (Yes, I’m one of those hoping so. So is Radford. The fact that our hope is very slim indeed does not mean we’re not on your side.)

  12. MBFH responds:

    Mr Loxton, who are the leaders of the skeptical community and why do they have no interest in cryptozoology? A genuine question – no sarcasm. Seems a bit close-minded and short sighted to me. Any links appreciated so I can read up.

    Thanks

  13. MBFH responds:

    Are you referring to people like James Randi? His name just came to me, it’s getting late here!

  14. Daniel Loxton responds:

    MBFH: Sure, no problem. Yes, I mean the leaders of skeptical organizations like the James Randi Educational Foundation, the Skeptics Society, or CSICOP (recently renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, or CSI).

    These are the outfits who publish magazines like the Skeptical Inquirer (at which Radford is Managing Editor) and Skeptic (where I work).

    Those three groups and others have web presences:

    http://www.skeptic.com
    http://www.randi.org
    http://www.csicop.org

    I’m just running out the door, so I can’t tackle the reasons they see cryptozoology as a tertiary sort of concern. Most of it is captured in things-in-the-woods’ comments above: cryptozoology does little harm, and there are few resources to go around. These organizations have to have priorities: things like quack medicine can kill people, but Bigfoot doesn’t.

    Which is one of the reasons cryptozoology is so attractive to me: it’s plausible on the face of it (as I’ve often said, you don’t need to change physics for the Bigfoot hypothesis to be true, you just have to find Bigfoot), and so it’s fun and hopeful to dig into crypto mysteries; and, it’s a pleasant relief after spending so much time tracking callous con men (as is so often the case in other areas of skeptical concern, such as faith healing).

  15. Rillo777 responds:

    Daniel Loxton:
    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your openness to the Bigfoot question. I wonder, how do others at your magazine feel about the Bigfoot question?

  16. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Rillo777: I’d say that the editors of Skeptic have minimal interest in Bigfoot. When I receive crypto books for review, I know I’ll only occasionally get the chance to treat them in the pages of Skeptic.

    The three skeptics organizations that I mentioned above are all 501(c) non-profit educational organizations, and contrary to criticism, they’re all relatively small outfits with an awful lot to do. After all, they attempt to track every sub-topic under the general headings of the paranormal or pseudoscience, which includes everything from young-earth creationism, to alien implants, to shark cartilage cancer treatments, to UFO cults, to cold fusion — and hundreds more besides. Some of those topics involve crimes (fraudulent psychics who extort huge sums of money from people to remove deadly “curses,” for example) or pose a risk to public safety (herbal medicines with unknown side effects or drug interactions, for example). So, like I said, cryptozoology just isn’t a top priority.

    Myself, I have an unusual fondness for the topic, because I was a devoted crypto fan long before I heard of the skeptical literature. I’d devoured most of the major crypto books before I was out of grade school (some of them several times). I spent years equipping my future Cadborosaurus expeditions in my mind. So, for me, the opportunity to spend a portion of my professional time digging into these topics of youthful fascination is a little dream come true.

    And, I’ve argued that there are very good reasons for skeptics to pay at least some attention to cryptozoology. (The editors of Skeptic agree with this reasoning, by the way; they’re just more focused on other topics:)

    To begin with, there’s a chance (I think small) that some cryptids could really exist. (The odds are certainly better for cryptids than for most “paranormal” claims, burdened as they are by supernatural baggage.) If cryptozoologists want to do the legwork, I think it’s definitely worth a look at what they dig up.

    More importantly, for skeptics: these are scientific questions of wide public curiosity in which hoaxes and confusions play some role; it’s in our mandate to address topics like that, to the extent we can manage with our resources. People come to the skeptical literature for a fair critical analysis of weird stuff; if we can deliver that for crypto topics, we should.

    And, man, it’s just good fun. Monsters are fun. I do the kids’ section of Skeptic, called Junior Skeptic, where we attempt to teach critical thinking skills by critically examining paranormal claims. What could be a better hook for science education than cool monsters that could — just maybe — actually exist?

    You won’t be surprised to hear that my good faith assessment of the evidence for the cryptids I’ve examined is, like Radford’s, that the cases tend to rest on shaky foundations; that hoaxes pollute the data; that mistakes are common; and, that the odds, at the end of the day, are very slim indeed.

    But “very slim” isn’t quite “none.” That’s the heart of what makes it fun.

  17. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    Well whether you believe this or not, you’re souding better than Ben usually does here.

    This one thing (for now) on sightings: they are useless if concentrations of what appear to be good ones are not followed up. (Which I presume is what you mean “suggesting leads.” If no one does anything with the leads, well of course they lead nowhere. I’d think someone who’d want to find the animal would want to follow the leads. Ben never addresses this when I bring it up, and I can’t figure out for the life of me why. If you think crypto is fun, HAVE SOME FUN.

    Jason P. : Was that an, um, contribution? Um, thanks there, dude. If you aren’t the slightest bit interested in why Radford can’t respond to invitations to debate his points…my, such an incurious soul, man! You might want to step back and take a look at THAT.

    “Old” enough to elicit what I believe is your first post on this board! Why, I feel like Johnny Cryptidseed.

  18. DWA responds:

    And I should have said this to Daniel’s comment:

    “we know that there are hoaxed cryptid sightings, and we know that there are mistaken cryptid sightings, but we only hope that there are actual cryptid sightings.”

    How the heck will you ever know, if you don’t follow them up?

    The vast majority of sasquatch sightings are in neither of your first two categories. Which could put them in the third, ya think?

  19. Ceroill responds:

    I just want to chip in a few words of thanks for those participating in this thread. Very interesting.

  20. DWA responds:

    And Jason P:

    Given that I think the main reason we don’t know about the sasquatch right now is a “bully pulpit” composed mainly of people who make a lot of noise but are ignorant of the evidence, your characterization of me as a bully brought about a most hearty laugh.

    ‘Bout time, I say. Cryptos need to be doing more pushing back, and less knuckling under. They’re the ones in command of the evidence. I’m not a crypto, I’m not a Bigfooter, I’m not even a zoologist. And I’m on this site, and not subscribing to a skeptic magazine.

    Reason? The power of EVIDENCE.

  21. DWA responds:

    And Daniel: re: this…

    “Myself, I have an unusual fondness for the topic, because I was a devoted crypto fan long before I heard of the skeptical literature. I’d devoured most of the major crypto books before I was out of grade school (some of them several times). I spent years equipping my future Cadborosaurus expeditions in my mind.”

    So how did the skeptical literature turn you? It sure don’t sound like fun to me.

  22. Jason P. responds:

    DWA:

    Not sure why you think that was my first post on this board. I’ve been here since the very first day. Check out some of the Johor Hominid posts, and you’ll see many posts from me.

    I’m just tired of you saying the same thing, ad nauseum, and then replying to yourself three or four times to make the same point over again. We get it: you don’t like Radford.

  23. DWA responds:

    Jason P: I don’t like what Radford DOES. (Read Sergio up there for another. And we ain’t alone; it’s just that we’re a bit, yeah, tired of what Radford DOES.)

    For all I know this “guy” could be a mild-mannered housewife from Peoria. When she’s not being nasty and dismissive. I have less evidence of who Ben Radford is than of what the sasquatch is.

    If you’re getting tired of it, move on, man! I’m personally getting tired of the only poster I’ve ever read on this site who doesn’t give one shred of evidence that he’s paying attention to anything that doesn’t fit comfortably with his very ill-informed thesis.

  24. skeptic responds:

    DWA:

    What I meant about you loosing your cool is that you come accross that way. All of your points maybe correct, but most people won’t bother with them because of the way you present them.

    I’m just trying to give you some feedback because I thought you needed it. Instead of telling us all of the faults of some skeptics and scientists and attempting to prove it, allow them to demonstrate it themselves; that way people will make up their own minds instead of having to believe you or follow your proof of it.

    It takes longer, but it is much more effective because eventually everybody shows their true colors, IMO.

  25. DWA responds:

    Well, skeptic, all I can tell you is that some of us on the board may just have less patience than others.

    It may be because I don’t have any investment in this except interest. I’d like to get to the bottom of what’s up with the sasquatch.

    And I can tell you for sure that Radford’s approach – were it the one we took – would guarantee we never got there.

    Not only that. It seems boring and incurious to boot. You’d think that in one of those rare cases in which the best approach also happens to be the fun approach – let’s consider all the evidence, and see where it leads – intelligent people would want to do that.

    So that’s it. I’m impatiently engaged in the search for intelligent life. 😀

    But thanks for the input. I have to admit to a little zest for yelling at walls ’til they fall down. Worked for Joshua.

  26. mystery_man responds:

    Rillo777, well there certainly is the tendency within the scientific community to have closed minds about anything seen as going against the grain and that is why I typically do not advertise my interest in this subject to colleagues, especially about completely undocumented cryptids such as Bigfoot. It’s as if they were to know, then it would somehow degrade my credibility as any sort of scientist. Just look at what happened to Meldrum. It’s sad but true. Some scientists that may hold an interest in this topic are just wary of sticking their heads out and so they stick with the status quo. I wish I could devote more of my time professionally to this subject, but I gotta pay the bills and put food in my baby’s mouth. I sincerely hope that this attitude comes to change within the mainstream scientific community. I think the scientific input, research, peer review, and funding that would come with more acceptance would be extremely beneficial for cryptozoology.

  27. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Thing-in-the-woods asks, “Why doesn’t [Ben Radford] tackle peoples irrationality in more significant realms? If he really cares about tackling illogic and bad science, why doesn’t he direct his energies into something where such bad science has a significant detrimental effect?”

    In fact, that is exactly what I do. Trying to understand the evidence and arguments for Bigfoot is only a small part of my attempt to increase science literacy. I think skepticism should be imposed across the board, on all topics, from claims of WMDs to sex offender laws to alternative medicine. I have written and investigated dozens of topics outside of cryptozoology, but this is what I’m best known for around here.

    In fact, my 2003 book Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us is full of examples of skepticism applied to more significant and urgent social and scientific issues.

  28. Benjamin Radford responds:

    My thanks to all here who have taken the time to really participate. I appreciate Dan Loxton’s eloquent explanation of my/our position. I really do feel like I am trying to help cryptozoology, help the public’s respect for it, and help the search for cryptids. I also feel like I’m often attacked for it.

    This forum, as democratic as it is, is of limited use. What is really needed is a full-on, live discussion session at a Bigfoot conference. Somewhere where these topics can be rationally debated and discussed and we can really give each other’s arguments a fair hearing.

  29. DWA responds:

    things-in-the-woods: this passage of yours is worth addressing from another angle.

    What I don’t get is why he chooses to do so in this rather ‘peripheral’ realm. Why doesn’t he tackle peoples irrationality in more significant realms? If he really cares about tackling illogic and bad science, why doesn’t he direct his energies into something where such bad science has a significant detrimental effect?

    In the long tradition of the thing seen as least important turning out to be most important….

    Might be talking too soon here, but with the sas we’re talking what we call charismatic megafauna. As in, people care about them and identify with them and think they’re warm and cuddly. (OK, the giant panda is warm and cuddly. At least it looks that way on its best days. The sas, not so much.)

    People don’t rush to the defense of squid or insects. Birds in New Guinea or monkeys in Africa don’t touch people here very much. But the discovery of a major – how could one get more major than World’s Biggest Primate? – new species right here in our proverbial backyards could do a lot of unexpected, cool things. Like spark debate over a number of less-than-salutary developments in land usage patterns and planning over here – which tend to spark and spur similar developments everywhere else in the world. (Every day, in every way, the world gets more like America.)

    I think that the sas is the most likely cryptid to be uncovered. When and if it is, all the other hairy hominoids suddenly become really plausible. And people all over the world are suddenly starting to look at how much habitat REALLY needs to be conserved, and how it can happen. These hominoids are umbrella species. Protect them and protect everything that lives with them.

    As someone who thinks there is only one ecological issue – human population and what we do with it – the discovery of the sas could have effects that dwarf the sunniest possible scenarios for any of the “non-peripheral” areas you mentioned. Not much sense putting all your eggs in medicine when, at the rate we’re biggering, we’ll be so cheek by jowl, so soon, that medicine will be the least of our worries. Maybe what we need is a scientific discovery that makes us re-consider biggering before a global catastrophe does that for us.

    And TV and the internet were supposed to save the world too. So maybe not.

    But this still deserves the best efforts of those working on it. It probably deserves more effort than the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker, to name just one. (Save the sas and you save the woodpecker.) We’ve already found enough stuff in places like Borneo, New Guinea and Cambodia that if they aren’t protected completely, right now, then no one cares and they are doomed anyway. The case has been made in those places.

    We need to make another case, somewhere else, that will throw a different light on all conservation efforts everywhere.

    And a good acquaintance with the data on the sasquatch points us, I think, to as good a place as any to start.

  30. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Good to hear, Ben- I’ll try and get a look at your book if I have time.

    Infuriating as I do sometimes find you, I am glad you are here, and I hope you keep on contributing.

    p.s.- I’m not sure a live discussion would actually be better. From my experience of live debates (even at academic conferences) I tend to find them a very bad place for having serious, detailed, in depth discussions, especially where the participants are emotionally wound up (as- lets be honest- they would be on this topic). The ‘victory’ almost always goes to the best speaker, or even the one with the loudest voice- not necessarily the best argument. It is much more effective, I think, to have the space and time to set out ones arguments in writing.

    I think it would be great if someone could put together a journal with input from ‘both sides’. Skeptical mags are great, and so are crypto mags, but i think it might be a whole lot more constructive if we could engage directly. Of course, this is what happens here on cryptomundo to some extent, but of course its not always conducive to reasoned debate (although I happen to think we are all pretty good- best I’ve seen on the net anyway), and can be a bit of a free for all (thats not a bad thing- its just a different way of engaging- probably more fun, but not necessarily always the most constructive for moving things forward). It would be great to be able to have extended dialogues between say Loren and Ben (or even DWA and Ben), each putting their argument on something, and then taking it in turns to address in proper detail the points the other makes, and to provide detailed references for everything.

    Any takers? If i wasn’t writing up my thesis, i might just consider trying to organise something myself.

  31. things-in-the-woods responds:

    And DWA- I agree, if we find sas this obviously wont be a ‘peripheral’ area. Until we do though, it’s gonna be.

  32. things-in-the-woods responds:

    And by that I mean, gonna be treated that way.

  33. DWA responds:

    things-in-the-woods:

    The orang pendek is being taken seriously (National Geographic, which has pooh-poohed the sas, has put seed money into a photo-trap effort for the OP) because two Western scientists with excellent professional credentials are adamant that they have seen it.

    Let’s hope somebody with some big-time zoo cred soils his knickers in the American backcountry this year.

    And I’d have to agree with Ben that this ain’t perfect, and with you that the “sound bite” atmosphere of a live conference ain’t perfect neither. In fact, nothing is. You can prepare and polish your posts here; the most prepared and polished script can gang agley live. But I believe that the likelihood of the existence of unknown hairy hominoids asymptotically approaches 100% in good company with ample sudsy beverages on hand.

    Dunno. Taking it off this board somehow somewhere does seem to have appeal.

    Tell your higher ups to accept your thesis through an unconventional personal access point. Follow yer passion. Organize Sas Scream ’07.

    Easy for ME to say. 😀 But I’d count myself a Yea.

  34. mystery_man responds:

    I think the same thing about this being a peripheral area until it can be given a chance. If Bigfoot is ever found, then all other reports of hairy hominids will gain a tremendous amount of credibility. It is a fringe idea now, but then again so was the gorilla and the okapi. If this animal is documented and we have a holotype, know where to look, and what evidence is potentially bogus, I think suddenly it will not be such a crazy idea after all. Everything will fall into place in a way. But until that time, I think the skeptic treatment and even scoffing is going to come with the territory and I for one am all for that. Skeptical input is essential for any field that wants to be known as a real science, it is par for the course, especially in this particular field. I think in the end, even with pseudo skeptics floating about, of which I do not think Mr. Radford to be, this kind of input is ultimately healthy for cryptozoology. We should not exist in a cocoon where only our ideas carry any weight, I feel. Even if bigfoot is found, there are going to be conflicting ideas and skepticism, and critical peer review. As long as it is done in an open minded way, I think this is mostly not a bad thing. As you might know I am a bit of a skeptic myself, although quite an open minded one. I am open to skeptical analysis of the ideas presented here, but I for one am done with being made to feel that I am somehow unscientific or foolish for pursuing this field. I think things-in-the-woods has a great idea about a journal in which both sides of the argument publish their ideas. Has anything like that been tried before?

  35. springheeledjack responds:

    I was getting ready to put on my swim suit and dive right in when I read all the comments on this last one…don’t need to say much at all, other than way to go people!

    Good thoughts, good reasoning…

    DWA thanks for quoting me, I stand by it.

    As for Science it is a valuable tool for observation, and gathering data to test ideas and hypothesis (don’t even ask for the plural). Science is also supposed to keep an OPEN MIND. Doesn’t mean you have to believe everything lock, stock, and you know what, but it means you don’t dismiss things because it’s not fashionable thinking or lucrative thinking.

    Science as a tool to help learn more about the world, I have NO PROBLEM with…I use it and work with it. Science as a religion where it is used by fanatics to try to shape the beliefs of others by deciding what is valid and what is not based on a VERY thin line of criteria used to control ideas, I have a serious problem with. Fundamentalist thinking in any field is out of balance.

  36. Troodon56 responds:

    You know, I’m getting tired of Cryptomundo. Pretty much the only cryptids they ever talk about are Bigfoot, Yeti, Lake Monsters, and Chupacabras. There are many other cryptids which are just as interesting!




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