Radford Reviews Meldrum

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 18th, 2007

In the May-June 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, a cadre of skeptics review Jeff Meldrum’s book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.

The list includes Ben Radford, Michael R. Dennett, Matt Crowley, and David J. Daegling.

Ben Radford shared the review with me to share with the readers of Cryptomundo.

As there were four separate reviews, I will share them individually over the next few days here at Cryptomundo.

First off the bat, we have Benjamin Radford’s review of the book.

The Nonsense and Non-Science of Sasquatch

Benjamin Radford, Michael R. Dennett, Matt Crowley, and David J. Daegling

Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. By Jeff Meldrum.
Forge Books, New York, 2006. ISBN 0-765-31216-6.
Hardcover, $27.95.

Sasquatch Legend Meets Science

Psst, you can purchase the book at Amazon.com for only $18.45. Click on the book cover to be whisked away to Amazon.com to purchase the book.

(SI) Editor’s note: This review is comprised of analyses by four noted researchers of Bigfoot claims, each of whom was asked to briefly critique the book on their areas of expertise.

Benjamin Radford has investigated Bigfoot and other mysteries for over a decade; his latest book is Lake Monster Mysteries.

That which appears to be scientific, or has the veneer of science but is not, is called pseudoscience. Pseudoscience can take many forms, and is often found in areas of study in which there is little hard evidence for a given phenomenon. Real science uses scientific methods, standards of evidence, critical analysis, and so on. The pursuit of free energy, aliens, ghosts, and psychic powers, just to name a few, are rife with pseudoscience, nonscience, and nonsense.

Enter the pinnacle of the scientific argument for Bigfoot: Jeff Meldrum’s new book titled (without a trace of irony) Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. Meldrum, who holds a PhD in anatomical sciences, is an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University. With the 2002 death of anthropologist Grover Krantz, Meldrum assumed the mantle as the highest-profile scientist publicly investigating Bigfoot.

Meldrum’s expertise, according to the books’ forward, is “human locomotor adaptations;” he is certainly qualified to speak about anatomy, but how that applies to Bigfoot – an animal never proven to exist – is unclear. Since we have no Bigfoot body for Meldrum to apply his real-world expertise to, he is reduced to being an armchair analyst for the Zapruder film of Bigfootery, the famous film shot in 1967 by Roger Patterson. The problem for Bigfoot proponents is that the film is an evidentiary dead end. Like any number of other ambiguous photos, film, videos, and images, it is simply a pattern of colors on a two-dimensional medium and cannot yield a shred of hard evidence or conclusive information about Bigfoot.

Meldrum often fails to seriously consider alternative explanations, a serious scientific misstep. Throughout the book, he focuses on theories that support his position while ignoring (or giving short shrift to) competing skeptical theories. Whether intentional or the result of the book’s production deadlines, some parts of Sasquatch are simply incomplete and outdate. For example, Meldrum does not include a thorough and devastating analysis by Anton Wroblewski showing that the much-touted Skookum cast imprint was most probably created by a kneeling elk – complete with a photograph showing an elk in just such a position. And Sasquatch fails to include a serious discussion of the evidence that at least some Bigfoot dermal ridges may be casting artifacts. (Though from the tone of the book it seems unlikely that these careful skeptical analyses would have been objectively evaluated and discussed.)

Meldrum was apparently not happy with Benjamin Radford’s SI overview article “Bigfoot at 50.” Among other issues, Meldrum chides Radford for quoting “unqualified individuals” and amateur investigators” as if they were authorities – researchers such as Rene Dahinden, Loren Coleman, Grover Krantz, Rick Noll, Richard Greenwell, Dave Daegling, John Napier, and others who have written widely on the topic. Curiously, Meldrum himself repeatedly quotes the very same unqualified amateurs throughout Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.

Another of Meldrum’s criticisms actually highlights the fundamental flaw in his book: a lack of scientific expertise. Meldrum writes, “The majority of those [Bigfoot] critics … have limited expertise to evaluate the diverse evidence – e.g., footprints, hair, scat – with a degree of competence or authority. Indeed, precious few qualified scientific researchers have made any serious effort to … evaluate the data.” Since that scientific expertise is the book’s subtitle and calling card, it merits a closer look.

While Meldrum congratulates himself and his fellow “qualified scientific researchers” for their academic bravery and expertise in tackling the Bigfoot issue, he fails to recognize that real science (as opposed to pseudoscience) operates on good evidence. There simply isn’t good, hard evidence for Bigfoot. Meldrum is like a chef with bare cupboards, promising to show his expertise when the food arrives but in the meantime forced to talk idly about how sharp his knives are.

Meldrum appoints himself the sole judge of who is qualified to critique Bigfoot evidence, yet fails to look closely at his own scientists. Experts discussing matters outside of their expertise is one hallmark of pseudoscience, and Sasquatch offers several instructive examples. For example, Meldrum quote a Dr. Lynn Rogers on the subject of eyewitness testimony. Rogers, Meldrum states, considers the likelihood of mistaking a bear from a Sasquatch “possible but unlikely.” This seems compelling until you note that Dr. Rogers is a bear biologist, not a cognitive psychologist and therefore has no particular expertise about the real issue, which is not ursine morphology but the reliability of perception and eyewitness identification. One wonders if Jeff Meldrum consults his auto mechanic when he gets a toothache.

Meldrum later quotes Dr. Henner Fahrenbach, “who published a statistical analysis of reported Sasquatch dimensions” based on a collection of stories and anecdotes that Meldrum himself admits “may or may not be credible”(!). Meldrum passes of Dr. Fahrenbach’s pseudoscience as valid research, hoping readers won’t notice that Dr. Fahrenbach is not a statistician but instead a retired microscopist, a field of expertise with little or no relevance to the type of analysis he performed. (More to the point, despite Meldrum’s puzzling claim that “anecdotal data forms the basis for many valid statistical analyses,” the jumble of stories Fahrenbach analyzed is prima facie poor data, rendering his conclusions virtually worthless; as the saying goes, garbage in – garbage out. It is troubling and puzzling that Meldrum, a scientist as he keeps reminding us, doesn’t realize this.) – Benjamin Radford

Stay tuned for the remainder of the review here at Cryptomundo over the course of the next few days…

Part two of the review, Michael Dennett’s review of the book, is now posted here at Cryptomundo at Michael Dennett Reviews Meldrum.

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.

41 Responses to “Radford Reviews Meldrum”

  1. Bob Michaels responds:

    Either you are a believer or a doubter. I am in the first camp, so prove that Bigfoot does not exist.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    Radford and the rest of the Scoftics can be boiled down to one defining statement: they will not be open to the idea of BF or accept it until they have a body in front of them.

    There is no point in arguing with them over the topic, because nothing less than a body will satisfy as evidence, and all the eye witness accounts, feetprints, hair samples, sound samples, etc. have no weight with them.

    I certainly won’t waste more time on Radford and the rest Scoftics on this. I’ve better things to read and investigate, and I will save my debate time for people who at least have an open mind.

  3. DWA responds:

    springheeledjack: you said it.

    I’m SO glad we have one word for him. Not sure his arguments are worth more than that. 😉

  4. DWA responds:

    I will waste a few more words for the benefit of the credulous, who might actually come here, read this blog, and think the so-called counterargument to Meldrum shown above carries a drop of water.

    There are so many holes up there I could be writing for days. But I’ve addressed every single one of them, at length, in other posts on other blogs. So you don’t have to. Ben keeps coming back with the same old stuff.

    When Ben comes here with something original, instead of the same old bullet-shredded flag, we can talk. But that flag’s more hole than flag, Ben! 😀

  5. mfs responds:

    What else would you expect from Radford and his SI colleagues other than negative criticism. Besides, his critique is of no significance since a majority of those who’ve read Prof. Meldrum’s unique book, myself included, found it to be a highly worthwhile read.

  6. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    Was that written by Mr. Radford? It’s odd that he would mention himself in the third person like that.

    The magazine has been filled with pseudo-skeptical thought for a long time though, this particular essay is a prime example of it. I tend to be skeptical of some of the claims made recently by certain skeptics myself, particularly if they are made in a manner that is as condescending as many of the SI’s articles are.

  7. springheeledjack responds:


    You go man. I think we are contemporaries, and we have both been hearing the same lines over and over, without any weight to it, or any new thoughts for that matter.

  8. fuzzy responds:

    Heeere we go again!

  9. alanborky responds:

    Craig, setting aside the matter of whether this is a book review or an ideological tract, let me point out that ALL evidence is ultimately anecdotal.

    Even when a learned journal publishes a scientific paper concerning some experiment or other, what that paper amounts to is an anecdote of what inspired the experiment, how they went about it, what the results were, and what they think they mean.

    When someone publishes another paper questioning the first paper, all this amounts to is an anecdote to the effect that they tried out the same thing but got different results.

    Afterall, we only have the scientists’ word for it they ever even carried out these experiments, never mind got the results they claim.

    And if anyone denies this, you only have to think about the phoney cloning experiments headlining the news recently.

    Even statistical analysis reports are anecdotes that certain data was subjected to certain methods, producing certain results, the significance of which seems to be…

    Even Ben Radford’s review is only an anecdote, because afterall we only have his word for it he actually read the book.

    It was the realisation that such reportage was always ultimately anecdotal that led the likes of the police to start recording interviews and filming many of their operations.

    The trouble with that, now, is as technology becomes more and more sophisticated the possibility what we are hearing or seeing is fabricated or at least altered becomes a greater consideration.

    It’s all very well to say scientists are specially trained, but unless the scientists are exceptional individuals that training can actually become a form of blinker: viz Wegener’s treatment over Continental Drift.

    That’s the glorious thing about the Patterson Film, it was shot at a time when such technology didn’t exist; and if we’re to go along with Ben Radford’s claim that it’s an evidentiary deadend, in spite of all the technology and methods – such as Meldrum’s – now available to analyse the film, then we must logically conclude exactly the same thing about all those new beautiful pictures of the planets and stars we’re presented with on an almost daily basis, images not only of things no one’s ever seen with the naked eye, but created from infinitely minuscule amounts of data subjected to infinitely more convoluted methods of analysis than anything Jeff Meldrum’s dreamed up.

  10. elsanto responds:

    As a book review, this is pitiful. As an ad hominem attack — it’s barely passing mediocre.

    Nevertheless, I notice that no one here has addressed Radford’s point about criticisms Dr. Meldrum raised regarding Radford’s article, while appearing to have done the very thing in his own book. Sadly, I have yet to have read Dr. Meldrum’s book, so I have no idea to what extent this is true. If it is, then does Radford not make a solid, valid criticism of Meldrum and his work (though not so much of the book itself)?

    I also find it hard to reject Radford’s point about Dr. Rogers. Comparing ursine and sasquatch morphology (assuming that Dr. Rogers accepts the Patterson-Gimlin film as bona fide) may well be within her scope of expertise. I, too, find the need to question her expertise when it comes to the reliability of eyewitness identification. This argument doesn’t seem invalid to me. Is there something I’m missing?

    As I’ve said in previous posts, the evidence is there and solid enough for me to accept the existence of sasquatch, but when we step into the realm of science as religion (which is what the mainstream is today — boy, did Pullman ever get it right), we’re playing hardball, sophist-style, and we have to play by their rules.

  11. elsanto responds:

    Too fast with the “submit” button once again… I meant to say in my second paragraph that Radford may have made a valid criticism of one aspect of Dr. Meldrum’s approach — I didn’t mean to suggest that it was a valid criticism of the whole body of Dr. Meldrum’s work.

  12. joppa responds:

    We agree to disagree, and I enjoy the spirited and open debate allowed here on this most amazing mystery. Now, let’s go catch one of these buggers and shut these guys up.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    I’m not sure whether this supports or undermines Radford’s mention of me in his review, but I have always found the two mentions of my name in the text of Meldrum’s new book quite curious.

    Meldrum notes my book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (NY: Paraview Pocket – Simon and Schuster, 2003), in his bibliography, but seems to have not read it or only very selectively picked from my almost 300 pages of text.

    Meldrum seems to be treating me as the enemy or a skeptic in his two notes about my writings in his book.

    In the case of the first appearance (page 57), Meldrum challenges my notion that one of the factors behind the Wallace hoaxing in 1958 at Bluff Creek (that happened in addition to real tracks being found there) may have been a case of “Bigfootgate.” Meldrum disputes my theory of a contract being at jeopardy, and workers being scared away. Meldrum incredibly counters it with testimony via a letter from, guess who? Ray Wallace. My points of reference to such a theory did not rely on a known hoaxer and storyteller, that’s for sure, and I was aghast when I read this passage, after I received the final version of Meldrum’s book.

    If Wallace says things that Meldrum thinks are funny (such as Bigfoot guards gold), he laughs along with the reader about the silliness of Wallace. However, if he feels Wallace’s testimony supports his point of view, then Meldrum gives support to Wallace’s stories through letters or press interviews.

    The only other appearance of my name in Meldrum’s book (on pages 63-64), again one-notes my research into the narrow parameters of my mentions on the Wallace hoaxing. In this case, Meldrum challenges my comments on the discovery that Steve Matthes (an employee of the Tom Slick expedition at Bluff Creek 1960) immediately declared the Bigfoot prints found along the road there as fakes. Despite modifications I have since made to what was rushed into my 2003 book about these being an exact match to the 1958 wooden fakes first photographed (there maybe size differences but Wallace used many fakes), Meldrum ends up in his 2006 book not disputing that they are fakes but merely that they are the wrong size.

    In overall configuration and specific key pointers, of course, the 1960 Matthes discoveries do match the early Wallace fakes just coming to everyone’s attention in 2002, as I was writing my book.

    So I am treated more as a skeptic by Meldrum, because he does not truly see that several “classic Bigfoot” tracks are Wallace fakes, as I have. That I am a supporter of Bigfoot, however, is clearly obvious if one reads my whole body of works, and that, indeed, my attempt to have people like Meldrum and John Green look at the evidence that Wallace fakes are still being treated as “real Bigfoot tracks” completely throws off the overall analysis of truly probable Sasquatch footprints.

    However, I have endorsed Meldrum’s book privately, and soon publicly, I understand, as my recommendation will be a blurb on his new paperback edition.

  14. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Well, thats got to be the first thing i’ve ever read by ben where he doesn’t mention he has a degree in psychology so thats a start (go to the BBC website and search for ‘bigfoot’ and ‘radford’ and read the first article that comes up, and you’ll see what I mean)…

    Incidentally, I agree with what alanborky says with regards to even ‘real science’ often relying on what is, fundamentally, ‘anecdotal evidence’ or ‘eyewitness accounts’. I made just the same point to ben some time ago on this site in response to his assertion that ALL eyewitness evidence can have absolutely no place in the practice of science. His response was, if i remenber correctly, that such evidence (reports of scientific experiments) was different because other scientists can repeat and check the experiments themselves. Clearly this is, to some extent true (although, of course, much evidence used in science is not the result of controlled experiment, but rather observation of natural phenomena). However, it certainly isn’t the case that all such evidence actually is tested (and certainly is not tested by each individual scientist who uses it in their work- if it was we would get nowhere in science). Ben refused to say whether he had tested each piece of scientific information that he used in the dissertation he did for his psychology degree (did he mention he had a degree in psychology?). If he didn’t (as I strongly suspect he didn’t- no sceinetist i know test every bit of evidence they accept), then he is relying on anecdote and eyewitness reports and individual say-so.

    Having said all that, i’m sure that many of his criticism are valid (although I haven’t read this book). Its just remarkable that someone who i actually often agree with manages to wind me up every time i read anything by him. He has dismissive arrogance down to a fine art.

  15. MBFH responds:

    Strange comment by Mr Radford that Dr Meldrum “is reduced to being an armchair analyst”. In the version of the book being reviewed that I read Dr Meldrum goes out into the field looked at BF tracks…bit odd that!

    Another fringe scientist, Dr Rupert Sheldrake, also challenges how people view anecdotal evidence. He points out, quite rightly in my opinion, that in medicine anecdotal evidence is referred to as case history.

    I found the book to be quite balanced, with Dr Meldrum pointing out shortfallings and areas where further study needs to be undertaken. As Loren points out, there are some contradictions, but I didn’t feel that this took away from the overall merits of the book.

    As for studying things that we have no proof of them existing, does anyone know what the SI’s opinion on theoretical physics is? 😉

  16. things-in-the-woods responds:

    oh, and stephen jay gould was also one who knew the scientific value of ‘anecdote’.

  17. fuzzy responds:

    Too bad we have to drag all this useless historical junk (and junkies) around with us, when we SHOULD be simplifying!

    WHO CARES how many wooden feet Wallace (or anybody else) used in the woods 40 years ago???

    WHO CARES who said what about whom in obscure pulp publications decades ago?

    WHO CARES how many scoftics tsk tsk about simple anecdotal inconsistencies?

    WHO CARES if debunkers carelessly disregard priceless physical evidence, pit various writers’ comments against each other, mumble absurdly about how one writer MIGHT have reviewed another’s work, and drag a preposterous kneeling elk into the fray (just for giggles, I guess)?

    There are HUNDREDS of current, well-documented multiple-witness reports, footprint casts, videos, photos, scat piles, trackways, lairs & hairs and TONS of other data that scream loudly about the presence of huge, hair-covered bipedal man/apes living on the fringes of our society.

    Too bad we can’t toss the negativity aside, combine our intellects to properly process the wealth of available information, analyze the statistical info, come up with a working plan to technologically record the beast’s activities, find an Organization to fund the whole thing (say, oh, National Geo or the Smithsonian, maybe?) with proper publication exclusivity etc, and GET WITH IT!!

    Too bad the most intelligent species in (modern) recorded history, based for the most part on the wealthiest and most technically advanced continent on the planet, can’t get their scat together and do some productive investigating of such a potentially profound and important subject!

    Too bad, if we continue this non-productive grousing (in which enthusiasts, scoftics and debunkers alike seem to delight!), we may NEVER see any positive results before we all die!

    Too bad.

  18. mystery_man responds:

    Things-in-the-woods- I certainly agree with what you say about Mr. Radford’s apparent arrogant dismissal as he has demonstrated this tendency a few times on this site, waving his degrees around and playing the expert card as if none of us here have degrees nor any idea of what we are talking about. There has been a lot of criticism from him about us using pseudonyms and an apparent assumption that we all are a bunch of uneducated, ill informed armchair computer nerds, which is something I personally think could not be further from the truth. I think he comes across this way, and his comments can frustrate some.

    That being said, he does have expertise whether it comes across as arrogant or not, and I think he sometimes makes some valid points that I think true believers need to hear. We can say he is being dismissive towards theories in support of Bigfoot, but I think he could say the same thing for some who refuse to see the skeptical arguments, which can often be very sound and rational ones. I actually think this particular article makes some good points and they are points that should be addressed rather than saying “Oh, he’s a scofftic, let’s ignore him.” That is somewhat dismissive in its own right and I think what he has written should at least be read before being too quick to write it off, as we claim he does with proponents. This kind of thinking is not going to further the search for the truth no matter if it comes from skeptics or proponents. I for one am very interested in seeing all sides of the argument, including Radford’s ideas, even if I don’t always agree with them.

    Although the word scoftic has already been thrown around here, I for one am not going to be too hasty to write this review off as a scoftic rant just yet. Mr. Radford does not once claim in this article that Bigfoot does not exist, but rather tries to question some of the research methods and evidence in the field of bigfoot studies, which I find nothing wrong with and do not see as scofticism. Again, although I may not agree with everything Ben Radford says, I can at least see where he is coming from in this review, and none of the criticism of Meldrum’s book is denialist in nature. To tell the truth, although this review is certainly critical, I do not see anything particularly outright dismissive about it and tend to think it takes a relatively rational approach. All arguments that are brought up are backed up with fairly sensible reasons why Mr. Radford thinks this way and although I don’t agree with all of the points made, some of what is said is worthy of consideration.

    In the end, I think this review should not be taken as an attack on Bigfoot research. There are no declarations of Bigfoot being a myth here. This is a critical analysis by someone who may not share the views of others here, and should be seen as a chance to appraise and think about some of the supposed methods used in this field of study as well as get an idea of the skeptical side of the argument. In science, there will be peer review, and sometimes that peer review will not be what you want to hear. It does not mean that one should get upset about it, but rather make absolutely sure that the methods used and evidence presented is of the best quality possible. I have no patience for scoftics, but I do not see scofticism in this article.

  19. Bob Michaels responds:

    I wonder if Mr Radford would not have believed that a Mountain Gorilla existed, or was merely a western lowland who got lost climbing a hill and couldn’t find his was down.

  20. bill green responds:

    hey loren & craig this is a very interesting new article about radford reviews meldrum. very informative indeed. thanks bill green 🙂

  21. Ceroill responds:

    Interesting. Thanks for passing this along.

  22. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    Ah Mr. Coleman (Loren?), I didn’t get the impression of Meldrum treating you as a “skeptic” in LMS, just that he disagreed with some of your statements. (BTW, I just got a chance to hear your bit recently on Coast to Coast AM, I thought the program was very informative!)

    What’s this about a paperback edition? Sounds like the book is selling well, excellent.

    I am very skeptical of Radford’s writing, not because he disagrees with my thoughts (alot of people do) but because of the condescending tone that echoes throughout it.

  23. things-in-the-woods responds:

    ah mystery_man- as ever you say what I try and say much more eloquently than me.

    My real complaint is that Ben Radford manages to damage the skeptic case (which I have much sympathy with) with the way he comes across. It’s a shame.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Thanks, things-in-the woods. I definately agree that Mr. Radford can come across as arrogant and dismissive at times and this can cause people to dislike him, which is not the best way for him to make people see his point of view.

    Another thing I wanted to mention is the slightly disturbing tendency I’ve been noticing on this site recently for people to become hot under the collar when there are theories that are contrary to their own or criticism of Bigfoot proponent ideas. If anyone here thinks that researchers even within the same field of mainstream science are constantly patting each other on the back and supporting each other’s theories, think again. There can be a lot of friction and debate and even outright denialism even within mainstream science. This is all par for the course and this sort of peer review and criticism is ultimately good for science if it is done in a civil way. Contrary ideas are in no way something I feel people here should be getting angry or venomous over.

    Now consider that cryptozoology is considered a fringe science by most in the mainstream and I feel that some skepticism and yes, even scofticism is to be quite expected. I think that the main thing to keep in mind is that we should not fight amongst ourselves or get angry with the varied opinions presented here, but rather use this input to increase constructive debate and to further our search for the truth. This will ultimately lead to what we need to show mainstream science that cryptozoology is no joke. If there are those out there who can’t handle criticism, then science and cryptozoology are probably not for them.

  25. proriter responds:

    It appears to me that Mr. Radford isn’t attacking the existence of a Sasquatch as much as he is the nature of the evidence that’s been offered in support of it. The truth is that such evidence just doesn’t hold up by scientific standards. If a demonstrable Sasquatch carcass were to turn up, I’m sure Mr. Radford would be among the first to say “Well, I was wrong!” As it is, however, despite the films and casts and anecdotal accounts, etc., nothing exists that moves Sasquatch out of the realm of folklore — a field that’s worthy of study on its own merits. And as is the case with UFO studies and other endeavors, it seems to me that the unqualified will (or need) to believe in a literal, physical Sasquatch says more about the believer than it does about the phenomenon itself.

  26. windigo responds:

    I am still waiting for a scientist to show us a direct and physical image of an atom, and yet the scientific community has no trouble subscribing to its existence. This illustrates the hypocrisy in the world of academia, because there exists as much tangible evidence for the Sasquatch as there does the atom. The only difference is that the proven existence of the atom does not shatter theories in the anthropological communities.

  27. fuzzy responds:

    “If a demonstrable Sasquatch carcass were to turn up, I’m sure Mr. Radford would be among the first to say ‘Well, I was wrong!’”-proriter

    NAAH! I think Ben would say, “Well, I was RIGHT!”, and still insist there had been no valid evidence for the existence of (insert fave phenomenon here), and that all the anonymous enthusiasts out there had indeed been wasting their collective, un-degreed, un-published, un-professional time all along.

    “…it seems to me that the unqualified will (or need) to believe in a literal, physical Sasquatch says more about the believer than it does about the phenomenon itself.”-proriter

    You bet it does ~ it also says something about the word “belief”, and how its use instantly transforms paranormal enthusiasts, in the writer’s eye, into fools.

    The (Sasquatch – UFOs – Water Monsters – Ghosts – ESP – Alien Abductions – etc, your choice) researchers I know and know of, seem to regard the anecdotal Reports themselves as evidence, and as such worthy of their further scrutiny, much as they would treat anecdotal evidence of, say, Angels.

    But “belief”? In Bigfoot? NAAH!

  28. Judy Green responds:

    Thanks for the heads up on this review, Loren, I had let my subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer lapse due to the totally biased reporting it exuded. I couldn’t wait to read all of the reviews so went out and bought the magazine. It makes me wonder if Mr. Radford has even looked at Chris Murphy’s, “Meet the Sasquatch” which in my opinion is the best Sasquatch book out there, bar none. If you were to put Dr. Meldrum’s and Chris Murphy’s books side by side, it is no competition, Murphy’s would win hands down. It is so well presented, so full of well researched facts and so full of wonderful color images, I could not put it down the day I received it and read it cover to cover twice that same day. I also ordered it for two of my friends that day. Not to disparage Dr. Meldrum or his book, but I think it is a day late and a dollar short. It belongs in the realm of latter day books while Murphy’s is so relevant and timely, it is not to be missed. It has always been a mystery to me why Grover Krantz and Jeff Meldrum both find Freeman’s research to be so highly credible. I even asked Dr. Krantz that question once before he passed and he responded that he felt Freeman’s early research was true while when he was not able to follow up with much after that, he began to hoax some of it. Hm! I wonder how he told the difference. Much to be learned from the hoaxed cast foot track.

  29. DWA responds:

    Um, whew.

    1. alanborky: right on.

    2. elsanto: awaiting further review. 😉 Except the first paragraph of your first post: two thumbs way up. I haven’t read the book myself. But I can tell Ben didn’t either. Contrary to what Ben seems to think, Meldrum’s scientific qualifications are in very relevant fields, particularly human locomotor adaptations. Note Radford’s sudden shift on the Patterson film from “guy in ape suit” to “pattern of colors on a two-dimensional medium.” He knows that Meldrum is very well qualified to tell us that the “human locomotor adaptations” of the film subject are, plainly, NOT human.

    3. mystery_man/things-in-the-woods: as usual, hard to argue with. Although we may disagree on Radford. I think the guy shows a lack of grasp of the relevant sciences and of science in general.

    4. windigo: yup. Scientists don’t want to admit it, but they take stuff for granted (that fuzzy ball is a planet like Earth?), and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. We can’t “prove” evolution, but it is a powerful explanatory tool. The P/G film is clearer than the “proofs” of atomic and subatomic phenomena I’ve seen. But again, atomic and subatomic phenomena do seem to explain things that we experience in the real world very well. (and P/G does NOT look to me like a guy in a suit. 😉 )

    5. proriter: the sasquatch evidence does not hold up as PROOF. What we’ve been long saying here is that it is of sufficient volume and quality that any scientist objectively reviewing it would come out for further research. The problem is in getting scientists to objectively review it.

    6. elsanto II: Dr. Rogers is a he, not a she. But good blow for feminism there! 😀 I guess my problem with Radford’s discussion of him is that we don’t need an expert in witness veracity. Bear morphology will do nicely. Many people think sas sighters are seeing bears. Rogers knows enough to know they aren’t. (A psychologist would, I think, know enough to know that it’s much more likely for someone to see a sas and think, bear. THAT’S where psychology comes in.)

  30. Craig Woolheater responds:

    The second part of the review is posted here at Cryptomundo at Michael Dennett Reviews Meldrum.

  31. Kathy Strain responds:

    One thing I would like to point out is the redherring presented by Radford that Meldrum purposefully did not address Anton’s analysis of the Skookum Cast in his book. As I have noted elsewhere, Anton didn’t begin to present his case until July, 2006, and then, only on the BFF. Meldrum’s book was mailed out to the public in September, 2006. That would have been quite a feat to call back a book already being printed to include some talk on a bigfoot forum.

  32. Ceroill responds:

    Kathy, wouldn’t that seem to indicate that Radford did incomplete research? That doesn’t seem right, after all he is an important, esteemed and credible scientist! Surely that’s not possible! But…the other possibility is also unpleasant, namely that he knew of the conflict in the information and presented it anyway…But wait. There is a third possibility. It could potentially be just an oversight, an inadvertent glitch in his presentation. I’ll let each draw their own conclusions as to what they consider most likely.

  33. DWA responds:

    The result of “Anton’s analysis” – that Skookum is a kneeling elk – got laughed out of court years before he apparently made it.

    And this phrase – “complete with a photograph showing an elk in just such a position” – REALLY worked my laugh lines. I’m supposed to think that a photograph of an elk kneeling cinches this supposed “analysis?” Over the real analysis performed by real specialists in actually relevant fields, up close and personal with the cast?

    Such is the audience of the Skeptical Inquirer – indoorsmen who have been ticked off ever since their classmates told them the Easter Bunny wasn’t real. People who can be shown a photograph that says, look, elk KNEEL, bet you didn’t know that – and make the vast, Space-Shuttle-engine-assisted jump to “the Skookum Cast is not a sasquatch.”

    At least they provide comic relief. 😀

  34. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Well, let me say that I picked an inopportune time to visit Pocatello, Idaho. I just got back (had a nice chat with Jeff Meldrum), and figure I can catch up a bit, if need be.

    There’s so much to look at, I’ll just note a few obvious comments:

    1) “ALL evidence is ultimately anecdotal.” Utterly ridiculous, and shows that alanborky’s understanding of science (and reality) is shaky at best. Everything is anecdote and story? Whatever.

    2) “Strange comment by Mr Radford that Dr Meldrum “is reduced to being an armchair analyst”. In the version of the book being reviewed that I read Dr Meldrum goes out into the field looked at BF tracks…bit odd that!” Actually, I was referring to Jeff’s comments on the P/G film.

    3) “Mr. Radford’s apparent arrogant dismissal”
    I’m really not sure what this refers to… what exactly was I arrogantly “dismissing?” I did not “dismiss” anything, I carefully considered my comments and gave valid reasons for them.

    “To tell the truth, although this review is certainly critical, I do not see anything particularly outright dismissive about it and tend to think it takes a relatively rational approach. All arguments that are brought up are backed up with fairly sensible reasons why Mr. Radford thinks this way”

    Thank you.

    4) I would love to find evidence of a Bigfoot, and I one day hope to.

    5) I am puzzled by the criticism that I am seen as dismissive, arrogant, and condescending. I actually try very hard not to be condesceding. I will admit that I used one phrase (about Jeff consulting a mechanic for a toothache) which might be seen as nasty, but it was meant as a good-hearted jibe, and I don’t think he’d take offense to it. I like Jeff Meldrum and consider him a friend; it wasn’t meant in a condescending way.

    6) Judy Green criticizes me for not mentioning Chris Murphy’s book, but of course I wasn’t reviewing Murphy’s book.

    7) Kathy writes, “One thing I would like to point out is the redherring presented by Radford that Meldrum purposefully did not address Anton’s analysis of the Skookum Cast in his book. As I have noted elsewhere, Anton didn’t begin to present his case until July, 2006” …Ceroill then picks it up with, “Kathy, wouldn’t that seem to indicate that Radford did incomplete research?”

    Actually, a closer reading shows both of them are in error. This was not a red herring, in fact in my review I clearly wrote “Whether intentional or the result of the book’s production deadlines…” so I did not in fact write that Jeff purposefully left out Anton’s analysis.

  35. DWA responds:


    Right on. I have neatly encapsulated your post in a previous blog as follows:

    All science is anecdotes, backed by advanced degrees.

    Anyone who believes otherwise is treating science as a religion, not a tool. As a matter of fact, I challenge anyone to find anything, in any scientific text, that makes a convincing case otherwise.

    It’s the inability to understand this that sticks science in the mud, which is where it is on the question of the sasquatch.

  36. Kathy Strain responds:

    Ben – you and I both know what the word “intentional” means. You stated, “Whether intentional or the result of the book’s production deadlines…” which clearly means that Jeff either purposefully left out the analysis OR it was the result of the books deadline. Since it took all of five minutes to find out that it was the book deadline, you obviously wanted to give the impression that Meldrum purposefully left out Anton’s analysis…when in truth, there was no way for him to include it. A gentleman would admit his error.

    Having said that, if you have any influence on Anton, I wish you would encourage him to complete the work he started. I don’t know why DWA states that the case for the Skookum Cast being an elk “got laughed out of courts years before he (Anton) ever made the case.” Am I missing something? I don’t think the case is closed on this cast being from either an elk or an unknown primate. More work is needed and it should be encouraged.

  37. Benjamin Radford responds:

    “… clearly means that Jeff either purposefully left out the analysis OR it was the result of the books deadline. Since it took all of five minutes to find out that it was the book deadline, you obviously wanted to give the impression that Meldrum purposefully left out Anton’s analysis…when in truth, there was no way for him to include it. A gentleman would admit his error.”

    I did not intend to suggest that Jeff purposefully left out Anton’s work (though as an author I know that late material can often be included if the author insists….).

    I think what happened was that there were three or four examples of material that were omitted. I didn’t have the space to list each one and try to decide whether it was intentionally left out or not; it wasn’t relevant, so I phrased it such that Jeff was given the benefit of the doubt in all cases. If I was trying to make Jeff look bad (and I had the space), I could have singled out the cases where I know for a fact he could have included skeptical arguments and evidence but chose not to.

    Kathy, do you really believe that Jeff would have (or will) do a fair and balanced evaluation of Anton’s work?

  38. Kathy Strain responds:

    Of course I do! But Jeff has to have something to look at first. I truly want Anton to finish his analysis because I just want the truth. If it’s an elk, then so be it…if it’s not, then we have more work to do.

  39. MBFH responds:

    Thanks for the clarification Mr Radford. I just thought your statement of “reduced to and armchair analyst” implied some lowering (reduction) of status for some reason. As it applies to watching a film not sure what would be a better way to do it than indoors though!

    What were you discussing with Dr Meldrum on your visit – care to let us know?

  40. Rick Noll responds:

    Read all four pieces of the Vol. 13, No. 3 May/June SI article. It is horrendous. The only one who made any sense was Michael Dennett. Ben’s was a gloss over with no substance. Matt’s was convoluted and very hard to follow and Daegling’s came out as bitter and defensive. Ben’s piece is the only one really about the book while the others seem to just pick on what they think is their expertise.

    The original thought behind this book was as a companion piece for the DVD of the same name. If Dr. Meldrum was going to do a book on just his work I think it would have been to a much greater depth and not have covered as many topics as did the TV special for Discovery. As it is I think it is fine for its intended purpose, the book that is.

    Of course Ben did mention that Jeff left out “a thorough and devastating analysis by Anton Wroblewski…” (). I was not aware of this analysis. I had heard that he was planning on publishing something but haven’t seen anything since. All I know is that the man declined to go on national TV being interviewed on his interpretation of the Skookum Cast. Ben did fail to mention that Jeff also did not include all the material that Owen Caddy produced from first hand experience with the original cast and not just an art piece depicting it. Remember that this was planned as a companion piece and that material wasn’t existing then.

    Anton, if people would care to look for his postings on Bigfoot Forums, claimed that the cast was made undoubtedly by an elk. He failed to produce any original information proving this assertion except for some pictures of elk that he obtained from the internet. Apparently he has not seen an elk in the flesh. Anton is a scientist who looks at animal tracings and determines things from them, what I don’t really know since most of his work as really been about worms and he currently works in the oil industry.

    He was offered an all-expense paid trip to the Seattle area to view the original cast in person and interview myself but declined stating he had seen enough with the art piece shown at a Texas museum recently. Art really is in the eye of the beholder.

  41. obastide responds:

    No one has more of an axe to grind than the new breed of professional skeptics, like Radford. If anyone is an armchair researcher it is he, not Meldrum, who has been out in the field walking the walk for years. The simple fact is, there is a very large amount of testable physical evidence, and testing physical evidence, is, I thought, science, not Radford’s ‘pseudoscience’. The evidence is so compelling that to explain it any other way than to simply acknowledge it is the product of a real but elusive creature, not a centuries old conspiracy dulls Ockham’s razor to uselessness.

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