Sasquatch Coffee


David Daegling Reviews Meldrum

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 24th, 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.

This is the third part of the review, Matt Crowley’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.

David J. Daegling is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. He is the author of Bigfoot Exposed (2004, AltaMira Press).

Not only that, but Meldrum and Daegling were college roommates! Oh, the irony…

The Fossil Record

In Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, Jeff Meldrum suggests that Bigfoot arrived in the New World via the Bering land bridge. His hypothesis that Bigfoot represents the descendants of the Asian Gigantopithecus has the veneer of plausibility, until one remembers that there is material evidence of a parallel migration by humans all over the North American continent, where we have not a single Gigantopithecus fossil.

Meldrum is committed to the idea that the absence of Bigfoot fossils is not only problematic, but actually unsurprising, given the geographic circumstances of the giant’s migration route and habitat. The reason we have no bones, he explains, is that many if not most Bigfoot fossils are now buried at sea due to recent rises is sea level, and those bones remaining on dry land have been destroyed by the acidic soils of the Pacific Northwest (p. 103). These speculations might be persuasive except for the small detail that we have plenty of fossils preserved in sediments of the Pacific Northwest that postdate Bigfoot’s arrival.

The 1967 film of Bigfoot is defended by several assertions that are impossible to evaluate based on material in the book itself. Most incredible is the application of “reverse kinematics” to the film in which the three-dimensional movements of the film subject’s skeleton are reconstructed from the film’s two-dimensional images. How this is even theoretically – let alone methodologically – possible is never explained, but the reconstruction Meldrum champions is more clearly the result of imagination than credible forensic analysis. Meldrum recycles the argument that the film subject is too large to be a human in a costume, alternatively asserting and denying that it is possible to extract accurate absolute dimensions from the film. This might explain why he insists there is a reliable way to estimate subject height from the film, yet never manages to settle on a specific figure for stature. Some of the arguments become fantastically convoluted: to demonstrate that the filmed Bigfoot has a bulkier thorax than any living human (p. 163-164), Meldrum argues – based on concern over the instruments used to take measurements – that one must compare width of the back of the film subjectwith standardized measures of human chest width from the front at a different location. Doing this, Bigfoot indeed appears superhuman, an unsurprising result since thorax dimensions at these two locations differ with individuals! (See Anthropometry and Mass Distribution for Human Analogues, 1988, currently archived here.)

Other claims, such as the exposure of muscular herniations or the dynamics of the Achilles tendon, are made without serious consideration of alternative interpretations involving film artifacts or expected costume effects. Meldrum claims that one sequence in the film shows midfoot flexibility in the film subject – considered a hallmark Bigfoot trait. The image recruited to support this claim is too blurred and critical parts of the foot are actually obscured, but what would it mean if one could see this trait? A foot placed in an oversized, flexible furry shoe might show exactly the same thing. Pareidolia – the viewing of a vague stimulus yet seeing something distinct within it – is as likely an explanation for these intricate anatomical observations.

Meldrum’s most original contribution to Bigfoot research is his claim that footprints (and the 1967 film) provide evidence that Bigfoot possesses a flexible tranverse tarsal joint, a condition strikingly distinct from the fixed arch pattern of modern human feet. The evidence for this is that some Bigfoot tracks display pressure ridges along the middle of footprints that betray this joint’s position. If this trait is to be considered diagnostic, it follows that (1) other nonhuman primates having this feature can produce similar tracks; and (2) neither human feet nor phony Bigfoot feet have this ability. Meldrum explores neither premise. In fact, some human prints mimic this condition (a trip to a crowded beach confirms this), and bogus Sasquatch feet can produce this effect as well.

In sum, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science desperately needed a logician and a psychologist. Among Meldrum’s parade of PhD experts we find few with any real expertise in the issues at hand, nor even a scientific approach. Meldrum is an anatomy expert, but his analysis of a forty-year-old Bigfoot film, as detailed and superficially impressive as it is, has little to do with real anatomy.

As the examples show, there is precious little science in the search for Bigfoot, and even less in Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. The top scientist searching for Bigfoot is unable or unwilling to distinguish good research from bad, science from pseudoscience. If Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science is in fact the best, most credible, and most scientific book to date on Bigfoot, the evidence is weaker than we imagined. The book’s copious photos, diagrams, and charts will likely impress lay readers with little understanding of the issues or the scientific methods, but those looking for a thorough, scientific analysis will be disappointed.-David J. Daegling

You can read Benjamin Radford’s review of the book, the first part of the review here at Cryptomundo at Radford Reviews Meldrum.

You can read Michaels Dennett’s review of the book, the second part of the review here at Cryptomundo at Michael Dennett Reviews Meldrum.

You can read Matt Crowley’s review of the book, the third part of the review here at Cryptomundo at Matt Crowley 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.


109 Responses to “David Daegling Reviews Meldrum”

  1. DWA responds:

    OK, and here we come back to the jokers.

    Man, I see a big blocka Swiss up there. I’m not even a scientist (this Daegling IS?) and it’s hard to know where to start.

    OK, let’s start here.

    “The reason we have no bones, he explains, is that many if not most Bigfoot fossils are now buried at sea due to recent rises is sea level, and those bones remaining on dry land have been destroyed by the acidic soils of the Pacific Northwest (p. 103). These speculations might be persuasive except for the small detail that we have plenty of fossils preserved in sediments of the Pacific Northwest that postdate Bigfoot’s arrival.”

    You need to list examples. You need to come up with number of species; volume of fossil evidence; and locations. And you need to provide references. Anyone who knows how rare a process fossilization is – we accept Gigantopithecus on the basis of about a thousand teeth and some skull scraps – knows that this is more red herring than evidence against.

    “Other claims, such as the exposure of muscular herniations or the dynamics of the Achilles tendon, are made without serious consideration of alternative interpretations involving film artifacts or expected costume effects. ”

    This is plain silly. This is up to DAEGLING, not to Meldrum. He propounded this shoddy thesis. It’s up to him to back it up. The supposition that this is a guy in a suit is plainly irrational, totally unsupported by what is clearly visible on the film, and has never been supported by a scrap of evidence. In fact, there is no way, given known ’60s technology, that a “serious” consideration can be given to a suit, as the pathetic attempts to reconstruct Patty tried so far show pretty clearly. Don’t distract a man from his science; let him practice. Meldrum ain’t a costume artist! If YOU need one, Daegling, call one in! No one’s stopping you. Red herring. Toss. And the rest of that paragraph with it.

    “Most incredible is the application of “reverse kinematics” to the film in which the three-dimensional movements of the film subject’s skeleton are reconstructed from the film’s two-dimensional images. How this is even theoretically – let alone methodologically – possible is never explained…”

    Good point. And how we manage to construct whole dinosaurs from a few bones – or to say, without reservation, that things that look like footprints in 200-million-year-old deposits MUST be footprints, and here’s what made them! – I will never, ever understand. And we even speculate skin colors! And features that show up in no fossil evidence! How do we DO that? That two-dimensional film is MUCH more evidence than anyone has for ANY dinosaur. Period.

    “Meldrum’s most original contribution to Bigfoot research is his claim that footprints (and the 1967 film) provide evidence that Bigfoot possesses a flexible tranverse tarsal joint…. If this trait is to be considered diagnostic…”

    A scientist should never write such a paragraph. Nothing about sasquatch feet can be considered “diagnostic” – i.e., scientific evidence – UNTIL THE ANIMAL ITSELF IS CONFIRMED. One cannot “diagnose” something not documented to exist. Meldrum is speculating as to what physical characteristics of a POSSIBLE, UNCONFIRMED animal MIGHT be. That’s important to do. As is following what has been seen so far to come up with proof. You can’t have scientific evidence until science confirms the animal. Which will take a lot more than footprints.

    And this is so sad that I hate to embarrass Daegling by quoting it. “it follows that (1) other nonhuman primates having this feature can produce similar tracks; and (2) neither human feet nor phony Bigfoot feet have this ability.”

    Um. oh-kay. First of all, Daegs (you’re an, um, anthropologist?): no other known primate has feet anywhere near like the sasquatch, except us. And as you say, we lack that ability. Crowded beach, whatever. Any tracker knows this: any animal can occasionally make tracks looking like exact copies of the track of another animal. Doesn’t mean those mutants are diagnostic; just makes tracking a tough discipline, is all. I know exactly how to make a track of the type Daegling is talking about myself. But I’m sure not walking 100 yards that way. Follow me and you’ll see most of my tracks don’t do that midfoot thing. Which is why the trackway – not the individual print – is important. And the midfoot break does not at all have to be “diagnostic;” it may prove to be something that is hard to detect in the kinds of substrates in which tracks are made; or it may be something that comes into full play on surfaces, such as steep inclines or rock, where this sort of track becomes hard to find.

    And finally:

    “In sum, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science desperately needed a logician and a psychologist.”

    He must be kidding. There’s nothing that undercuts your science like saying we need a shrink to do primatology.

    If this kind of stuff is all that can be tossed at the wall – by four people! – I am SO getting Meldrum’s book.

  2. DWA responds:

    Oh, and I forgot this.

    These two were college roommates?

    Well, jealousy has explained many similar situations. Why not this one? Talk about letting emotions get in the way of good science. ;-)

  3. MultipleEncounters responds:

    I haven’t yet read Dr. Meldrum’s book so my comments are not in reference to anything specifically. However, when I see there is a reference to Gigantopithicus being considered sasquatch, then I must remark. As much as we want to know what sasquatch is, we don’t, and its too soon to make a final conclusion. As I recall, even the late Dr. Krantz considered the possibility of sasquatch as being a homo species.

    Unfortunately, the one thing the scientists have lacked, is their own eyewitness experience. (Again, I don’t even know that Dr. Meldrum advocated sas being Giganto because I haven’t read the book.) What I do know is that once you look into their eyes, you know in your soul that these are not just some mere decendant of an ape lineage. Unfortunately the interested scientists are lacking this crucial aspect of analyses, to look into their eyes or to interact with them.

    What I could accept, is that sasquatch is a mix of two branches. Their behavior definitely retains human qualities, but thier instincts are quite animal in nature. Where would this put them on the evolutionary tree? Heck if I know, but it may be pretty far back there. Of course, there is the other options out there that we cannot disprove or prove either. So I must keep this door open.

    This may not entirely fit within this thread, but it just bothers me when this Giganto assumption is made by those who haven’t ever seen one close up. Maybe thier having so much hair contributes to this, but did everyone know, we have just as much if not more hair on our bodies then chimpanzees? It’s true. Only our hair and follicles are tiny in comparison. But if you look with a magnifying glass at that bare skin on your body, you’ll see a forest of tiny hairs. I wonder if this is because ‘we’ actually have a recessed gene?

    But with the miriad of Native American stories and more recent accounts that go well beyond them acting like a mere ape, I just feel this is one door that should remain open. Even my recent experience of the whistle being blown through so smoothly and without fumbling, strengthens my opinion.

    Anyway, that’s all I wanted to add for now.

  4. Questor responds:

    You know, this sure gets old.

    The most obvious, and at the same time interesting question out of all this is, “Why?”

    Why do Daegling, Radford, and the other know-it-alls even CARE what Meldrum or others write, say, do regarding bigfoot?

    WHYYY??? (I am shouting this out loudly as I’m typing it.)

    (Also I am seriously scratching my head, repeatedly, and then rubbing my chin, repeatedly, while pondering this question that seems to have an answer as elusive as bigfoot.)

    Here’s the great dichotomy: these guys seem so cocksure that this is all tooth-fairy garbage, yet they persist in attempts to criticize, discredit and debunk. Why should it matter to them?? If it’s truth that they seek, well then they need to GET OFF THEIR A—S AND CONDUCT THE RESEARCH THEMSELVES.

    Having said that, I am amazed that the best they have to offer are these so-called “reviews” that are so full of holes that you could drive a logging truck through them and run over a bigfoot.

    Since Daegling’s position of enlightenment is elevated, as he so eloquently insinuated several times, I find it surprising to have to call his attention to the fossil record of the known great apes. Where is the fossil record representing the great apes, Daegling? Let me enlighten you, sir. The fossil record for great apes is almost non-existent. But then again, since you’re not a “lay” person, you knew that, right?

    It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in anthropology to know that there are perhaps numerous species still represented in the fossil record that haven’t been found yet. Fossil digs producing previously unknown species are as far as one need look to have evidence of this.

    Daegling has to know that fossil remains of another Asian species contemporary of Gigantopithecus, the red panda, was just recently found in, of all places, Tennessee. Here we have evidence of another species that is only represented in the North American fossil record by virtue of a very recent find.

    Daegling should be more concerned with defending his own ridiculous assertions about the Patterson-Gimlin film footage than with anything Meldrum has written about it.

    It was Daegling who made the ridiculous suggestion that somehow the subject in the film was easily replicated by using water bags to simulate the muscles, and that simply by walking “like Groucho Marx” it would be fairly easy to replicate the gate.

    In fact, according to Daegling, he was able to replicate the gait in a laboratory environment, while even matching the supposed step-to-step interval of the film subject. I saw his supposed attempts at replication; it was, frankly, totally comical. This was science??

    Is there no one? I defy ANYONE, ANYONE ON THE PLANET, ANYONE IN THE GALAXY, to replicate that gait, that step-to-step interval, in a pseudo-ape costume with water bags as muscles, with rubber prosthetic feet, through THAT creek bed, in THAT environment, with not so much as a stumble or slip, through debris and all, while smoothly turning to look behind you. Oh, and remember, you’re going to have be able to be filmed while doing it in one take, and evade all attempts to detect evidence of your costume for at least 40 years.

    It CANNOT be done. If you think you can, just shut up and FREAKING do it.

    If Daegling is the best you guys can do, then you need to look at your recruiting process, because he falls far short concerning logic, reason and scientific method.

  5. Bob Michaels responds:

    As far as I know the only Giganto fossils found any where in the world were teeth and parts of a jaw in China & Vietnam. Fossils of apes are very difficult to find so that statement that there is no fossil evidence of Gigantopithecus in North America does not mean that he did not find his way to the North American continent, by crossing the Bering straits landbridge, when it was possible to do that. There is no reason that such a beast could not persist today. We know from the subfossil record that a Gorilla sized lemur lived on the island of Madagascar until they were driven to extinction by that beast we call man about 1000 yrs ago.

  6. Sergio responds:

    Good comments, DWA and Questor.

    Let me add to it.

    I have read the book. It’s outstanding, and as I understand it, there are quite a few scientists who are now looking into getting involved in this matter in unprecedented numbers. So much for Daegling’s claims.

    Daegling and company seem hellbent on blasting Meldrum, and really everyone involved in the search for bigfoot.

    It was touched on earlier, but it is an old technique that is being demonstrated here. Discredit and disinform. That’s what I see happening here. None of these guys have actually done any real research into this phenomenon, but they are very quick to roast anyone who has.

    As I understand it, in his attempts to replicate the Onion Mountain cast, Crowley did not even use the same soil. So here we have Daegling claiming to replicate the gait of Patty, and we have Crowley claiming to replicate the Onion Mountain cast, but both so called attempts were not done in environments that remotely matched the environments or characteristics of what they were trying to replicate. Isn’t that a bit like trying to compare grapes to peaches?

    Can someone tell me how this is rigorous science?

  7. fuzzy responds:

    Questor – You asked, “Why do Daegling, Radford, and the other know-it-alls even CARE what Meldrum or others write, say, do regarding bigfoot?”

    Well, “(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.”

    That’s apparently WHY they care what Meldrum wrote – they were asked to! That said, perhaps a more valid question would relate to their areas of alleged expertise.

  8. DWA responds:

    Questor: good comments, particularly expanding on that fossil-evidence bit.

    Wrong thread ;-), but yet another of the unsupportable assumptions that riddle the skeptic pseudoargument is the one from fossil evidence. To attempt to speculate about the existence of a possible current animal by looking at the fossil record (which as Questor points out is only the fossil record SO FAR) is truly bad science. There, skeptics; you’re always looking for bad science. It’s all around you! You’re practicing most of it!

    Um, Questor. Are you a scientist? Well I’m sure not. And we are KILLING these guys. :-D

  9. Ceroill responds:

    As I often do I will say simply: Interesting.

  10. DWA responds:

    Another bad-science nugget parade:

    “Among Meldrum’s parade of PhD experts we find few with any real expertise in the issues at hand, nor even a scientific approach.”

    Wrong. I haven’t even read the book; and a cursory review of the experts Meldrum recruits, gleaned from pieces of the DVD I’ve seen and the (good) reviews I’ve read, blows that one out of the water.

    And Daegling READ the book? AAAAaaaaaaah, I get it…..Meldrum didn’t ask any logicians or shrinks! Boletim, boletim: Presuming all sas proponents are nuts has been a nonstarter for decades, and it’s doing no better now. Step out from behind the couch and do some science.

    “Meldrum is an anatomy expert, but his analysis of a forty-year-old Bigfoot film, as detailed and superficially impressive as it is, has little to do with real anatomy.”

    Well, it’s got about as much to do with real anatomy as all the work ever done to give us what we “know” about dinosaurs. Hate to keep rubbin’ that one in your face, Daegs. But go back to SCHOOL, man.

  11. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Questor writes: “If it’s truth that they seek, well then they need to GET OFF THEIR A—S AND CONDUCT THE RESEARCH THEMSELVES.”

    Ahh, ignorance. He seems unaware that in fact all of us (Dennett, Daegling, myself, and Crowley) HAVE in fact conducted research on aspects of Bigfoot, from field research to lab analyses of the P/G film to pores in BF tracks. I’m surprised a person who claims to know something about the topic doesn’t know this.

    Sergio sez: “as I understand it, there are quite a few scientists who are now looking into getting involved in this matter in unprecedented numbers. ”

    Really? Unprecedented numbers of scientists doing BF research? That’s great news! Who are they?

  12. DWA responds:

    “Ahh, ignorance. He seems unaware that in fact all of us (Dennett, Daegling, myself, and Crowley) HAVE in fact conducted research on aspects of Bigfoot, from field research to lab analyses of the P/G film to pores in BF tracks. I’m surprised a person who claims to know something about the topic doesn’t know this.”

    If Ben had read all of Questor’s post he’d know what Questor knows: what he and his buddies are doing is no research at worst and poor research at best. (Crowley being the significant exception.) This blind-men-around-the-elephant routine is…well, you all see what we’re doing to it.

    Let’s put that ignorance where it belongs. At least we don’t need to call names and point up our own lack of chops by impugning others. Note how he doesn’t respond to Questor’s points at all. And watch how he won’t respond to Sergio’s, or mine. But haven’t we been HERE before.

    And, if it’s not really relevant to the topic…why would anyone who was well versed in the topic need to know about it? You can be the best informed person in the world on the sasquatch and not even know what the Skeptical Inquirer is. Other than a fly you need to brush off now and again.

    I mean, these guys (Crowley again the exception, he’s done some real research) are floating their science degrees. I avoided Chem 101 like the plague. And I’m shredding their science.

    None too good. But then again, Ben thinks few people are convinced of the existence of the sasquatch, so we have to watch our expectations here.

  13. Benjamin Radford responds:

    DWA sez: “I avoided Chem 101 like the plague.”

    and Logic 101 as well, apparently…

  14. DWA responds:

    Now see, I think that when such as Questor and I express our complete bafflement as to what Radford and his like are up to, this is what we’re talking about.

    Pretty much the whole skeptical argument against the sasquatch is lying, in pieces, scattered across the Cryptomundo terrain, destroyed in a head-on collision with the power of logic and science.

    And Ben posts something like that.

    Questor: I have something to add to your head-scratching.

    Do these guys have any idea, not only why they’re doing this, but how their so-called effort makes them look?

    Scoffticisim in a nutshell. An assertion, counter to all the evidence, with nothing to back it up.

    Surprised? Not at all.

  15. Questor responds:

    I don’t think you have, Mr. Radford. I don’t think you’ve done much of anything regarding bigfoot besides writing and talking and blowing hot air about it. How much time have you spent sweating, freezing, itching, hurting actually looking for a new species? None, you quietly mumble under your breath? Oh, okay, I didn’t think so. Getting spooked by a cow while in your freaking tent doesn’t count, dude.

    Watching the PG film over and over incredulously doesn’t count either. Looking at a cast does not mean you’ve done research. I am sure hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people have looked at casts.

    How many species were discovered in the past by some dork who constantly wrote critiques of others who WERE researching?

    Is there any chance at all of you and the other know-it-alls discovering any sort of unknown species doing what you describe as research? Any chance at all?

    I didn’t think so.

  16. DWA responds:

    Well, Questor, I wouldn’t go puffing like that.

    ‘Cause, you know, Ben thinks I flunked Logic 101. And you KNOW he’s going to come back with some substantiation of that. I mean, it would be the first solid defense he’s made of anything he’s said. But I just KNOW he’s gonna do it, maybe even before the sasquatch gets conf…oh come on. Who are we kidding here?

    I believe this has already been said, by someone else, but I’ll say it again: people who pull Ben’s 200-pound-seagull routine on other Internet forums are labeled trolls, and barred. In fact, Ben is the purest distillation of what I understand a troll to be that I’ve encountered on the Internet. Of the posters here who contribute more than the occasional one-liner at a new blobsquatch, Ben is the only one I am aware of who has not made a single positive contribution to this forum.

    I stand corrected if anyone can give me one example. And my apologies, in advance, to some posters whose ideas I esteem espeically highly who I think might disagree with me on this. Because we have to agree to disagree here.

    Skeptics are essential to forums like this. Trolls aren’t.

  17. fuzzy responds:

    OKay, Okay, let’s all take a deep breath – DEEPER – and calm down a bit. That’s it, hold it, hold it…

    We don’t want to make any enemies we may run into at Arcata or Jefferson…

    Besides, this is s’posed to be David Daegling’s Review commentary, not yet another Ben-bashing, right?

    Oh, you can exhale now.

  18. 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.

    I have been working on the Texas Bigfoot Conference DVD set where Dr. Meldrum goes into great lengths about the mid-tarsal break and for some one like Daegling to claim that this feature is not seen in any other non-human primate floored me. He then goes on to claim that the Pacific Northwest is just full of fossil evidence from the past but not of something like Gigantopithecus. How many Giganto pieces does he think exists anyways? How many short faced cave bear fossils do we have? Given the current populations on similar animals (gorillas to bears) I would say a lot more than there were of Giganto. There were apparently two corridors open during the ice ages here in North America. One was in the midwest and the other was along our western coast line. That coast line was then above water and so anyplace along there would now be underwater. This has proven out with the cave systems being explored in S.E. Alaska where a few bear skeletons are coming to light.

  19. DWA responds:

    Right, fuzzy. This is Daegling’s time in purgatory. Sorry. Having a little too much fun there. :-)

    And I’m not gonna be in Jefferson or Arcata. YOU are. I’m just giving you some stuff to talk about. :-D

    Besides which, what does Ben have to worry about? So I called him a troll. (So he behaves like one.) It’s easy enough behavior to change, if he wants to. I mean, he would have to kick the props out from under pretty much everything he’s said here. But hey, if we all find the sasquatch together, wouldn’t it be worth it?

    Don’t worry. I know Ben’s not going anywhere. And I’m not plumping for it. Not only is he fun :-D. I know he’s seen as kinda the black sheep here, the one Ma dropped on his li’l haid, but he IS clearly seen as a member of the family. Why mess with that? Some of the toughest bedfellows cryptos – especially squatchers – have are fellow cryptos! Those can get nasty too.

    Big tent. I’m fine with it. See? :-)

  20. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Y’know, if cryptozoology has an achilles heel, it’s the hostility we see here in this thread, and other threads on this site.

    Is it so out of the question that everyone just commit to civility: zero flaming, zero deliberate insults, and zero sarcasm? Is this a serious subject or not? We have to ask ourselves, does our presentation consistently embody the gravity that we think the subject deserves?

    We’ve seen posters on this site explicitly say that it’s their goal to make it uncomfortable for other posters. That stuff has to stop, completely and permanently. It’s pure poison for cryptozoology.

  21. DWA responds:

    Well, Daniel, one thing I forgot in my last post was this.

    I’ve watched proponents get whapped around on skeptic sites. And it’s no nicer there.

    You’re a nice guest here. Why can’t Ben be?

    I’m not sure why I hear anything about attacking Ben personally. The only things I see people attacking here are the things he brings to the board. And Ben has engaged in a number of personal attacks – if you ask me, conduct unbecoming a house guest. Even if he is part of the family. :-(

  22. Daniel Loxton responds:

    “I’ve watched proponents get whapped around on skeptic sites. And it’s no nicer there.”

    Be that as it may, we decide what the tone is on this site. Let’s aim high.

  23. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I’d love to see a substantive, point-by-point refutation of the arguments and evidence made in the review of Jeff’s book. All I’m seeing are glib dismissals, but that’s often par for the course, I’m afraid. Those who look for the truth should be pleased to invite (and answer) criticisms…

  24. Daniel Loxton responds:

    (I have to add, in regards to comments critiquing this multi-part book review: strong opinions from anyone who hasn’t actually read Meldrum’s book would seem to be inappropriate.)

  25. DWA responds:

    Daniel: you’re right, when you’re talking about the BOOK.

    But when you’re talking about assertions made in these “reviews” that don’t require reading the book, because they’re addressing areas of which one has personal knowledge, I believe you have fair game there.

    A number of Daegling’s assertions, particularly, simply don’t hold water, and I would not have to read the book to make any of the comments I made.

    Ya might have gotten me on one thing, though: where I say that Meldrum’s book is the last word on this track thing, until the sas is confirmed. That stems from several pet peeves:

    1. My being long past tired of folks re-hashing and re-re-hashing decades-old track casts while the sas is looking over our shoulders wondering what we’re so excited about;

    2. The arguments offered in the “reviews,” which again are almost all addressable outside the confines of the book;

    3. My impatience with the SI approach to skepticism.

    So, guilty there. :0D

  26. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    At the very least these reviews are generating discussion between those interested in the subject, which is always needed.

    That said, the Skeptical Inquirer is not exactly a magazine that is going to hold both sides of the argument, nor is it designed for a demographic that seriously considers this animals existence.

    What more could be expected of it? It has a long history of publishing “pseudoskeptical” entries, I don’t see why people should get upset on this issue with the thought in mind that the purpose of the magazine seems to be to debunk various claims for other skeptics, not offer alternative ideas to proponents.

    Jeff Meldrum’s work has gotten support from the likes Jane Goodall and George Schaller, quite possibly the two best known and respected primatalogists alive today. Not to mention a fair analysis from Sarmiento, Swindler, and others.

    His book also sold extremely well, I remember it being displayed at my local Borders quite prominently, in the Natural History section no less!

    With that in mind, I don’t see these reviews as being a particularly strong blow to his credibility, though I am sure that for some this is as far as they’ll go as to looking into the subject.

  27. Benjamin Radford responds:

    “SI has a long history of publishing “pseudoskeptical” entries”

    I don’t even know what this means, but even if it were true, it has no bearing on this particular analysis… poor logic.

    “Jeff Meldrum’s work has gotten support from the likes Jane Goodall”

    Really? I was unaware that Goodall had reviewed and endorsed Meldrum’s work… can you provide a quote or citation? (And a book plug is not the same as a real analysis…)

    “His book also sold extremely well,”

    Ah, one of my favorite logical fallacies: If the book sold well, it must be true! Since when is popularity correlated with accuracy?

  28. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    Goodall’s endorsement is right on the cover there, I said she supported his work, not that she has given it a full skeptical analysis.

    I do not claim that the reviews should be dismissed off hand, I’m just saying that they are not directed at “bigfoot” researchers. At least I hope they aren’t.

    The SI has never, as far as I know, in recent years published any article that took a balanced view of any number of “paranormal claims,” nor should it be expected to. It is, after all, a magazine for the skeptical community, so it shouldn’t be taken in such a hostile manner from this community, IMO.

    As for committing ad populum, I only meant that it is an extremely popular book and that it would seem that it is catching a lot of people’s interest. Meldrum is not a universally unpopular figure.

    I think that skeptical arguments should be published, and that I appreciate the amount of debate yours and other’s reviews have caused within this community.

  29. Judaculla responds:

    Is Dr. Meldrum going to respond to the SI reviews in some fashion?

    I am also curious about the particulars of reverse kinematics in the construction of the computerized skeleton. I’ve e-mailed Reuben Steindorf once on this issue, and did not get a reply. Daegling and Schmitt hold that the PG film will not yield reliable quantitative measurements, whether absolute or relative, and that the margin of error would overlap the distribution for humans on measurements like the IM index. This point is fundamental to whether we can use the PG film for anything outside of qualitative (and hence largely subjective) evaluation.

    If there is rigorous science behind reverse kinematics, why is Daegling not familiar with it? All I know is that the skeleton looks impressive to my untrained eye, and it took a long time to construct the animation.

    If the method is bogus and won’t hold up to scrutiny (which Daegling suggests), I want to know why and don’t spare the excruciating details. If it is valid and can yield measurements without confidence intervals you could drive a bus through, I want to know why and don’t spare the excruciating details.

  30. crgintx responds:

    I’m not a scientist but mainstream science these days seems darn near religious in its condemnation of the infant science of cryptozoology. What has happened to making new discoveries in paleontology? anthropology? Is there no room in the homonid family tree for Sasquatch? It seems to me from what science has presented so far that there are huge gaps in our knowledge of the homonid family. I saw a program that stated all the fossil bones found so far of our homonid ancestors could barely fill the back of a pick-up. Any scientist who tells me that they can conclusively exclude the existence of an giant sized, bipedal homoind/primate based on the current fossil evidence is being more religious than scientific. The mountain gorilla was supposedly mythical as well 150 years ago. If a Bigfoot or its skeletal remains is discovered, modern naysayers are going to look every bit as scientifically wrong as the flat earth society.

  31. proriter responds:

    “That two-dimensional film is MUCH more evidence than anyone has for ANY dinosaur. Period.”

    Chapter 1: Why Democracy Will Never Work

  32. Ceroill responds:

    Proriter: Huh?

  33. DWA responds:

    Ceroill:

    Proriter meant the title to be: “Why The Flat Earth Society Will Never Work.” But his color film of Tyrannosaurus Rex feeding on a woolly mammoth appears to have gotten lost in the mail. ;-)

    You gotta admit it’s funny how all the speculation about dinosaurs (about 99.9999% of what we “know” about them) gets accepted as hard cold fact (and revised every few years), and, well, you get a movie of something and…I’m not sure I can believe any dinosaur had, ferpetesake, a duck’s bill! Come ON! You know how perceptions are always wrong…

    Judaculla:

    If I were Meldrum I wouldn’t deal with those “reviews.” We can take care of those. (Did.) He has work to do.

    DavidFredSneakers:

    Watch out you don’t get into The Radford Whirlpool here. No matter what you offer him he’ll want something else. “No, I meant the actual photos of the two of them checking into the Hilton on West 57th Street with a skull of Gigantopithecus…”

    And remember, the man said “real” analysis. Like the ones we’ve been dissecting here. ;-) :-D

  34. mfs responds:

    “People who have never seen any tracks but claim to know more about them than those who did see them are not a rare breed, their number is legion, but for someone to join their ranks waving the flag of “scientific verification” is bald-faced hypocrisy. What the tracks were like may be “anecdotal” to Dr. Daegling, but it is first-hand knowledge to those of us who studied them, photographed them and cast them, and because of our efforts there is plenty of solid evidence available to any scientist who will take the trouble to see if it can be verified or not. Dr. Daegling is not among those who have been prepared to take that trouble. Instead he stayed home and wrote a book” (John Green’s email Bigfoot Exposed, Jan.3, 2005). Sounds like the good doctor isn’t into field studies. That’s too bad. At least I can’t fault Benjamin Radford on that.

  35. Lyndon responds:

    fuzzy,

    You pointed out that Daegling, Radford, Crowley were ASKED to review the book. Now why were they asked? Because they had previously been hostile and outspoken against the idea of sasquatch, almost to the point of obsession perhaps, and they were ready and waiting in the wings in anticipation of being asked????

    Questor’s reasoning is a valid one. Why? Why are they like this? Why should they care about something so obviously silly. Why does it hurt them so much?? Why do they get so offended?? If there is nothing to sasquatch then so what? Big deal.

    If these negative ‘reviews’ are the best the Scoftic clan can come up with well I don’t think Meldrum will be losing much sleep over them.

  36. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Re: fossil evidence-

    We need to be careful with our arguments here. Of course it is entirely possible that there is fossil evidence of BF out there (and possible that a species might exist or have existed for which, through the vagaries of preservation no fossil exists for), but the analogies we are giving are not always very strong.

    For instance, the reason we have almost no fossil evidence of the ancestors of the living non-human apes is primarily because they exist (and probably always did exist) in tropical rainforest environments, where a combination of factors (thin soil, acidity of soil, etc.,) make preservation extremely unlikely. If BF did enter north america across the Bering land-bridge at some point (and I can’t really see any particulary feasible alternatives) then the preservation conditions (especially in north-east asia) would have been much more ameanable to preservation.

    Furthermore, with extant great apes we do, of course, also have irrefutable proof of their current existence, which is not the case with BF.

  37. DWA responds:

    things-in-the-woods: you’re right about fossil evidnece and the great apes.

    However.

    Daegling’s argument is a old skeptical (and intelligent-designist) chestnut: fault the fossil record for being incomplete.

    For the very reasons you state, it will probably always be. The onus is on Daegling to show just how complete a megafaunal assemblage can be drawn from the fossil record of the time we’re talking about. If these animals have always lived in low population densities the probability of one being fossilized (look at Giganto) is probably very very small right off the bat.

    And one also needs to point out that the problems you note in fossilization of the great apes also appeared to be present for many extinct animals – particularly dinosaurs.

  38. fuzzy responds:

    OKay, who’s next with a Review of Dr. Meldrum’s Book?

  39. DWA responds:

    Lyndon: I agree.

    Fuzzy: you may need to be nice to these guys at conventions. Remember it’s not you jumping all over them. Feel free to remind them over a beer. ;-)

    But this SI stuff seems to be the strangest “science” I’ve ever seen being practiced. I like to go back to another old skeptical chestnut: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Science sets itself up as the religion of our time, the new millenium’s Arbiter of the Real. It swishes its imagined purple robes over everything, says that what it can’t explain doesn’t exist, and plops itself on its hands in front of big questions it should be investigating and says: you have to show me.

    Extraordinary claims there.

    I need to see – and this isn’t even that extraordinary – evidence that science put its pants on before it walked out the door today.

    The Skeptical Inquirer practices science that a layman can dissect at his desk while happily occupying himself with other stuff. (Ask me how I know.) It attacks the phenomenon by attacking the searchers. It uses faulty science that its audience can’t see is faulty because, apparently, they either lack the sophistication or Desperately Want To (Non) Believe. Its only plain goal, that I can see: keeping science from ever looking at all. SI sounds like the Big Voice yelling at Dorothy and her buddies not to pull that curtain.

    When the sasquatch is confirmed, I expect to hear a Big Voice yelling: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    YOU LOOOOKED!

    I should add that any confluence or resemblance between SI and real science that might have been implied in the foregoing is purely coincidental. And I do mean coincidental; they do behave similarly, quite often. Real science just sticks to the rails better.

    And I’ve noted another neat thing about all the true-skeptic and propoenent theories propounded here.

    The scoftics never challenge them. At all. They just keep hanging on to that curtain.

    It’s just WEIRD. They say they don’t care at all, doesn’t mean anything to them.

    Count on this: when the sas is confirmed that will be the worst day of their lives. Just read all about it, right here.

    What other motivation could there be for such strange behavior?

    Education and inspiration is tough. Break time. I’m going for a beer. Anyone need one?

  40. Daniel Loxton responds:

    …Daegling, Radford, Crowley were ASKED to review the book. Now why were they asked? Because they had previously been hostile and outspoken against the idea of sasquatch, almost to the point of obsession perhaps, and they were ready and waiting in the wings in anticipation of being asked????

    I’m bemused to see angry-sounding speculation about the personal motivations of skeptics or the editorial decisions of the Skeptical Inquirer when skeptics are available right here on this board — including the Managing Editor of SI. If this is a real question, why not just pleasantly ask Mr Radford why SI chose to run a review in this format or with these particular reviewers?

    Why? Why are they like this? Why should they care about something so obviously silly. Why does it hurt them so much?? Why do they get so offended??

    I’m really a bit at a loss to hear questions like this. It’s based on a misunderstanding, namely, that skeptics are somehow hurt, offended, or distressed by the idea of Bigfoot. This isn’t the case. Most skeptics don’t care about the topic very much; those who do (such as Ben Radford or myself) are generally delighted by the whole question. Aren’t you?

    Count on this: when the sas is confirmed that will be the worst day of their lives.

    It’s a complete mystery to me why anyone would suppose anything of the kind. Of course it would be one of the happiest days of my life, a childhood dream come true. As I’ve said elsewhere, John Kirk and I would be toasting the discovery over a nice bottle of champagne, on me.

    But that hope shouldn’t keep me from my professional journalistic responsibility to rigorously and honestly probe this and many other extraordinary claims. It’s my job.

  41. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Is Dr. Meldrum going to respond to the SI reviews in some fashion?

    I can’t speak for Dr Meldrum or the Skeptical Inquirer, but I can say that a strength of both SI and Skeptic is that both typically run a sizable letters section including substantial critiques of previous articles.

  42. DWA responds:

    Daniel: I think I’ve said this before, but what the heck: you seem quite a bit different from Radford.

    I don’t have any doubt about how YOU would react. We’re trying to figure out BEN’S stake in all this. All I can come up with as regards what he’d do:

    1. He’d crow that finally somebody applied good science (when decades of good science will be what got us to the discovery).

    2. He’d say that proof isn’t proof until proof of proof is conclusively proven.

    3. He’d say thank God some professionals finally got on this instead of all those ninny true believers.

    4. He’d say now show me there’s more than one.

    Or something.

    He seems so fevered about the idea that there’s nothing that science can follow up here that it’s, well, we’ve said it, it’s WEIRD.

    He’s been asked many times what’s up here. His “responses” tend to talk past over and at people instead of reasoning with them.

    The frustration you read from folks here is born of considerable experience with Ben. When I say he hasn’t confronted, head on, any constructive criticisms of his methods, beliefs, motivations, etc., I – and many others here – am writing from experience.

    That request to “pleasantly ask Mr. Radford” has been complied with, times beyond counting, on this board. You should go back and read the replies it’s gotten.

    Ben makes his own bed here.

    We can’t help it if that’s the one he chooses to lie in, can we?

  43. fuzzy responds:

    Okay, is there a Review of Dr. Meldrum’s book out there somewhere that we would consider “legitimate” and balanced, level-headed, open-minded, fair and intelligently written?

    Anybody? Hello?

  44. mystery_man responds:

    Again, I might have missed out on another long debate. Concerning fossils, they are certainly nothing to base too many presumptions on. Understanding of the fossils we have can change over time, and the fossilization process is rare in the best of conditions so the whole record is incomplete and full of holes. This is not to say that the fossils do not exist, but merely that we haven’t found them. That the fossil record is patchy and tricky is not really in dispute and has been demonstrated, so I feel using it as a reason to debunk the existence of an organism is a flimsy argument at best. The thing is the fossil record does not account for all of the life that ever existed on this planet, and to say that something does not exist based solely on its absence from the fossil record, is a pretty brash assumption in my opinion. This assertion assumes that the fossil record is 100% complete and infallible, which it is not. There is the possibility that Bigfoot fossil evidence does not exist, but nothing we know about fossils provides a surefire solid reason to dismiss anything out of hand.

    Some thoughts about fossils here. When thinking about fossils, keep in mind that the big fossil finds such as the “hobbits” went a very long time before being found. Could Bigfoot fossils be out there waiting to be found? Of course they could. I can see the skeptical arguments and keep in mind the fact that they might not be, but based on what we see from the track record of fossils, we should not close the door. Remember that the fossil record of primates in general is fairly poor, and some species are recognized on just a few fragments.

    Think about animals such as the cealocanth, which dissappeared from the fossil record millions of years ago, yet it is still alive and well. Yes, it is a different type of animal but surely this demonstrates how creatures can avoid a fossil record for millions of years, which is far more time than any primate has been around.

    I also ask people to consider that some major finds are not realized for what they are until sometimes years down the line. In these cases, an entirely new or even groundbreaking find is made by re evaluating or attaining new insights into fragments that had already been dug up and filed away. I am sure Things-in-the-woods, who I understand is an archeologist, can attest to the fact that a researcher may dust off some old fossils that were packed away and think “Well, what do we have here?”. It may sound far fetched to some, but I think it is entirely possible that some fragments of Bigfoot fossils may very well have been found and just have been poorly analyzed or mistaken for something else. Somewhere boxed away could be the evidence we are all looking for and no one is the wiser. It is a possibility to keep in mind as this sort of thing has happened before.

  45. Benjamin Radford responds:

    It was claimed that Jane Goodall endorsed Jeff Meldrum’s work. I asked for a specific citation or quote to that effect, and this is the response I got:

    “Goodall’s endorsement is right on the cover there, I said she supported his work,”

    Nope, a cover blurb is not good enough. Blurbing a book is not the same as endorsing the validiity of the author’s research, as anyone in the publishing biz knows.

    “Is Dr. Meldrum going to respond to the SI reviews in some fashion?”

    I hope so. I have personally invited Jeff to respond in an upcoming issue, and had a copy of the magazine sent to him.

  46. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I have personally invited Jeff to respond in an upcoming issue.

    …Which, by the way, is far more than can be said for nearly all BF promoters.

    Skeptics give BF proponents the chance to respond and get a fair hearing. When’s the last time a pro-Bigfoot article asked skeptics to respond? Look through Jeff’s book and see how much space he gives to skeptical responses. Who’s being closed-minded here?

  47. Lyndon responds:

    “”I’m bemused to see angry-sounding speculation about the personal motivations of skeptics””

    Bemused? Why?? If anybody should be bemused it should be the people genuinely flabbergasted and astounded why such serial Scoftics waste their time on a subject they obviously feel to be ridiculous. Remember, these aren’t people who flit on the subject or give it a casual thought and then move on. They are permanately encamped in Scoftic corner with barbs and baseball bats at the ready just waiting and watching for the perfect moment to pounce. Haven’t they got anything better to do than waste their time even bothering with a subject that, according to them, is so silly? Surely a rational man doesn’t waste his time arguing so obsessively about a subject he thinks is ridiculous????

    “””or the editorial decisions of the Skeptical Inquirer when skeptics are available right here on this board “””

    My comments go out to those people as well. I find them more than a little strange. You know, I have no problem with the skeptic who comes along, laughs at the idea and calls us fools then goes away. That’s rational behaviour. That’s normal. The obsessive and angry scoftic’s behaviour isn’t.

    “””I’m really a bit at a loss to hear questions like this. It’s based on a misunderstanding, namely, that skeptics are somehow hurt, offended, or distressed by the idea of Bigfoot. This isn’t the case.”””

    It isn’t?? So why don’t they just ignore the subject and let it go?? If sasquatch doesn’t have any basis in fact then why argue against it so vehemently??? There are many many things I don’t believe to be true. I don’t waste my time arguing with those who do. The very idea of arguing with people on a subject I find silly is……………well, silly!!!!

    “”Most skeptics don’t care about the topic very much;””

    Yet some debate it almost on a daily basis. So much for not caring.

    “”those who do (such as Ben Radford or myself) are generally delighted by the whole question. Aren’t you?””

    Of course I am. That’s why I am here. I find the sasquatch argument to be persuasive and convincing with a lot of evidence to support the probable existance of these animals. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t have any interest in the subject whatsoever. I just truly and deeply do not understand why anybody who does not believe the idea of sasquatch to be persuasive and convincing (and likely true) would want to waste their time being vehementely opposed to the idea and react strongly and aggresively to people who do.

    If I was in the Scoftic camp I would just hunch my shoulders and chuckle to myself…….then go merrily on my way without giving the sasquatch or the likes of Meldrum another thought.

  48. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- One thing that you and I definately disagree on is Mr. Radford. I think he sometimes gives good input and I actually do not personally believe him to be on some mission to tear apart Bigfoot studies. I suspect, as is the case with me, that some people that are skeptical about some presumtions about Bigfoot are often just as curious in getting to the bottom of things as proponents, only with skeptics they are prepared for the possibility that it does not exist while believers will go down kicking and screaming even if it was somehow verified that Bigfoot is a myth.

    Mr. Radford’s approach may seem dismissive at times, and I wish he would educate rather than talk down to people who may not have the expertise he does. Instead of hearing how he has this degree or that degree and that our logic might be somehow lacking in his areas of study, I would like to learn more rather than see anyone dismissed. As I said on the other post, I agree with him that the science involved in this field has to be sound, so if there is any good input into how this might not be the case within Bigfoot studies, I want to hear it. I have been interested to hear what these four have to say even though I don’t agree on all points or their approach at times. Mr. Radford seems to inflame a lot of people here, but I don’t find him to be as bad as people are saying and do not personally consider him to be a site “troll”. There was a time when I was much more harsh on Bigfoot than any of these guys. I actually quite enjoy the debates his comments stir as well as some of the exchanges you two have. :)

  49. DWA responds:

    “Skeptics give BF proponents the chance to respond and get a fair hearing. When’s the last time a pro-Bigfoot article asked skeptics to respond? Look through Jeff’s book and see how much space he gives to skeptical responses. Who’s being closed-minded here?”

    Good question. Um, nobody that I can see.

    Ben gets invited to Bigfoot conferences, right? Presents at them? Gets treated as a member of the family here? Not sure what more he could want. Oh, I’d say proponents give skeptics LOTS of time. As Sergio and I have noted here, on lots of forums Ben might be kicked off as unreasonable.

    And hel-freaking-OH? Who just put up these, um, OK, we’ll call them reviews of Meldrum’s book? We could have just ignored them. Some people need to take the blinder off the other eye.

    BTW: Jane Goodall’s and George Schaller’s putting anything on a sas book (as they both have on Meldrum’s, and at least Goodall has on Bindernagel’s) is about as ringing an endorsement as it could get. Go to your friends and tell them you saw a sasquatch last weekend, and you’ll see why.

    (If you don’t believe me, go to amazon.com and look at Schaller on the back cover of Meldrum’s book. That is powerful. If anyone asks for more than that, tell him to call Schaller himself.)

  50. Benjamin Radford responds:

    “The obsessive and angry scoftic’s behaviour isn’t.”

    Obessive and angry? Wow, I’ve never been called either one, and certainly not by anyone who knows me. Most people find my writings and analysis on Bigfoot neither obsessive nor angry; sounds like you have your own odd interpretation. As I have stated many times before, I have no stake in Bigfoot’s existence, for me it’s not a matter of belief but evidence. I have nothing to get “angry” about…

  51. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: if Radford brings you to this board – OK, among other things – that’s reason enough to keep him. :-D

    It would be nice, once, to hear what he thinks, and why. Rather than just have him grab cherries and run with them.

  52. DWA responds:

    And for the Jane Goodall quote, citation, ringing endorsement and bottle of champagne, read the FRONT cover.

    For the two greatest living names in biology – OK, arguably but they’d be on everyone’s top 10 – to say what they do is endorsement 100 times beyond the damage done by SI.

    Ben Radford’s upcoming brickbat notwithstanding ;-) , I suspect readers will take those covers over all the trees that were killed to print that SI stuff.

    And Ben: you really need to stop sounding so angry, and take something. Lyndon’s right. :-(

  53. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I come to this board for the input of everyone, especially the long time posters who I really like, like you, things-in-the-woods, springheeledjack, and Dogu4 among others. There are sometimes posters here, who I won’t name, whose posts sometimes rub me the wrong way and inspire me to want to go off on a rant (not you :) ), which I often do only to delete it without posting after a deep breath but oddly even these I do not want to change or dissappear. I guess I am just very patient and know how to sort the nuggets of wisdom from the ill informed, so I want to hear it all. I am interested in hearing input and different modes of thinking on the phenomena even if it may irk me sometimes. Orbs? Ok, sure, I’ll listen. I may think some ideas are innacurate or bad science, but I’ll listen. :)

  54. DWA responds:

    Judaculla: I’d missed this and wanted to comment.

    “Daegling and Schmitt hold that the PG film will not yield reliable quantitative measurements, whether absolute or relative, and that the margin of error would overlap the distribution for humans on measurements like the IM index. This point is fundamental to whether we can use the PG film for anything outside of qualitative (and hence largely subjective) evaluation.”

    John Green has said – and he’s right – that this film yields all the relative measurements one would want to determine that, on all of them, the subject falls outside the norm for humans. If there’s a human in that suit he was a one-of-a-kind freak. Overlap on one dimension is quite possible. (And of course that’s what they seize on. Great science there, Daegs.) Two, we’re raising eyebrows. All of them….? Even if you are within the limitations of human possibility on all of them, you ARE NOT, sez here, gonna be where Patty is on all of them if you’re human. A moment’s thought – or, heck a trip to the ballpark or a crowded shopping mall – will put that one to bed. What Daegsie is doing is trying to foreshorten the discussion by just saying no you can’t no you can’t no you can’t don’t look behind that curtain…well, too late, Daegsie, we peeked.

    “If there is rigorous science behind reverse kinematics, why is Daegling not familiar with it?”

    There seems to be much he isn’t familiar with. The analysis being done here is the very kind that’s been done with many extant (and extinct) animals, the results of which we take for scientific fact.

    “All I know is that the skeleton looks impressive to my untrained eye, and it took a long time to construct the animation.”

    Translation: if I were a scofftic I’d be scared too. :-)

  55. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: awshucks, that feels like a front cover endorsement from Schaller and Goodall. :-D

    I think the board needs the patience you and things-in-the-woods provde to temper the flame-throwing, cover-me-I’m-goin’-in righteousness of such as springheeledjack and me.

    With Schaller and Goodall on the side of the angels here we might get more daring. Shoot, within a couple years I might be thinking, mission accomplished, ka-ching, let’s go off and help springheeledjack find lake monsters. :-D

  56. fuzzy responds:

    COVER: Dr. Jane Goodall : “Jeff Meldrum’s book Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science brings a much needed level of scientific analysis to the Sasquatch-or Bigfoot-debate.”

    REVIEW: “Jeff Meldrum’s book ‘Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science’ brings a much needed level of scientific analysis to the Sasquatch – or Bigfoot – debate. Does Sasquatch exist? There are countless people – especially indigenous people – in different parts of America who claim to have seen such a creature. And in many parts of the world I meet those who, in a matter-of-fact way, tell me of their encounters with large, bipedal, tail-less hominids. I think I have read every article and every book about these creatures, and while most scientists are not satisfied with existing evidence, I have an open mind.” –Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE UN Messenger of Peace & Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute

    COVER: Dr. George Schaller, Vice-President of the Wildlife Conservation : “Sasquatch does more for this field of investigation than all the past arguments and polemics of contesting experts.”

    REVIEW: “Jeff Meldrum is a scientist, an expert in human locomotor adaptations. In Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science he examines all evidence critically, not to force a conclusion, but to establish a baseline of facts upon which further research can depend. His science is not submerged by opinion and dogmatic assumption. With objectivity and insight he analyzes evidence from tracks, skin ridges on the soles of feet, film footage, and DNA, and he compares it to that on primates and various other species. He disentangles fact from anecdote, supposition, and wishful thinking, and concludes that the search for yeti and sasquatch is a valid scientific endeavor. By offering a critical scrutiny, Sasquatch does more for this field of investigation than all the past arguments and polemics of contesting experts.” –Dr. George Schaller, Vice-President of the Wildlife Conservation

  57. DWA responds:

    And since driving nails into coffins is cool, let’s.

    Ben’s the one not in quotes. Why is there something ironic about that?

    ————————————–

    It was claimed that Jane Goodall endorsed Jeff Meldrum’s work. I asked for a specific citation or quote to that effect, and this is the response I got:

    “Goodall’s endorsement is right on the cover there, I said she supported his work,”

    Nope, a cover blurb is not good enough. Blurbing a book is not the same as endorsing the validiity of the author’s research, as anyone in the publishing biz knows.

    ———————————

    Nope, actually, everyone in the publishing business but Ben got this memo: Jane and George fully support the validity Meldrum’s research.

    As reading those “blurbs” makes clear.

    Ben is once again playing the green rock game. “I want a green rock. No, one with red stripes. Nope, red stripes and white polka dots. Um, nope, blue rock.” He wants you to keep tossing him stuff that he’ll just say doesn’t pass muster.

    He’s a silly guy, that Ben.

    But here’s what might be rankling him. OK, put yer imagination caps on a sec. Imagine Daegsie – or heck, even Ben, we’re fantasizing here, all is fair game – ever got half the chops Meldrum has, and actually published a book. (I said a GOOD book. Green rock!) Imagine that the book was so good – keep your eyes closed! We’re imagining here! – that Jane Goodall AND George Schaller, the brightest lights in their fully relevant fields – wrote something on the covers, mind you, of Daegsie’s (or even Ben’s! Let yer imagination run wild!) book like they did on the cover of Meldrum’s.

    Now. Imagine what Ben would say about THAT.

    Right. I thought you’d think that.

    Let’s take this further. You’re holding a conference. Heck, a believers’, skeptics, shoot, scoftic conference. (You know it doesn’t matter.) J & G – reigning superstars of the natural sciences – come to you and say, I want to be your keynote speaker. The Four Horsemen of Scofftockery make the same request.

    Who do YOU think would be the twin! keynote speakers?

    And who do YOU think would be told, sorry, slot’s taken?

    Exactly. Conclusion? Envelope, please.

    Jeff Meldrum’s scientific chops pull the audience HE commands.

    And Ben Radford, um, he, um, gets some, um, people too!

    (I’d for absolute sure have Matt Crowley speak somewhere in there. No way I’d shut him out. THERE is a true skeptic. As the Chinese say about blind pigs and acorns…)

  58. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Fuzzy: Thanks for the Goodall citation; you are correct that she does seem to endorse not only the book itself, but Jeff’s work: “…brings a much needed level of scientific analysis to the Sasquatch…”

    Fair enough. I hope she doesn’t end up regretting the endorsement…

  59. fuzzy responds:

    Couldn’t resist it, could ya?
    Anonymous Fuzzy-boy

  60. Daniel Loxton responds:

    This was breezed by without much comment, so I thought I might post it again:

    Is it so out of the question that everyone just commit to civility: zero flaming, zero deliberate insults, and zero sarcasm? Is this a serious subject or not?

    Coming here becomes more than a little exhausting when I have to wade through thousands of words of ceaseless flaming and sarcastic ad hominem attacks — not, for the most part, aimed at me (yet) but also not constructive — to get to the substantive points. (And, the substantive points are well worth focussing on: the are many posters here raising real food for thought.)

    How about it: can’t we all just commit to a policy of courteousness? If third graders can manage politeness, surely we can do that and then far more. No funny names, such as “woo” or “scoftic.” No mean-spirited speculations about the motivations of posters.

    I’m aware of how schoolmarmish this sounds, but it’s not a good use of my time to read massive transcripts of what amounts to school-yard taunting. I don’t care who dislikes whom, or why. Can everybody please just cut it out? It won’t kill us to stick to the issues and systematically give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. (Yes, even if — especially if — you think they don’t deserve it.)

    This site is one of the major storefronts for cryptozoology. We decide if it’s inviting or off-putting.

    (This last is not a minor point: two major complaints in cryptozoology are that there aren’t enough serious people looking, and that working scientists don’t want to get mixed up in this field. But how attractive are we making it?)

  61. fuzzy responds:

    Good, positive and well-stated points, Daniel – thanx for your concern and articulation.

  62. Kathy Strain responds:

    Amen Daniel, amen.

    First and foremost, Jeff Meldrum is a decent honorable man. I’ve had him chide me in the past for being too harsh. I am very sure he would not like to see people arguing in this way in his name. If you have the facts in your favor, there is not need to resort to name calling…let the facts stand for themselves.

  63. MultipleEncounters responds:

    I didn’t think I would post anything more in this thread, but this one I can’t let go because it was Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey who were two of my childhood idols.

    Ben Radford says:
    “Fair enough. I hope she doesn’t end up regretting the endorsement…”

    Ben, it is as though you really want to sour the fine wine, that being Ms. Jane Goodall’s endorsement.

    I’m not wishing to engage in a joust here, but don’t you think your closing proclamation sounds just a little petty and maybe even a bit disrespectful? Ms. Goodall’s endorsement is so very significant in this field. She is an icon, she has a truly open mind for someone of her caliber, yet you have found a way to taint even her position. She states: “And in many parts of the world I meet those who, in a matter-of-fact way, tell me of their encounters with large, bipedal, tail-less hominids. I think I have read every article and every book about these creatures…” That is her testament Ben to the subject based on her ‘own’ research. I could only dream of receiving such an honor of having an endorsement from a magnificant lady such as she.

    Ben, it is you who should regret what you have said here, not her endorsement. My being someone who knows the truth of these creature’s existence, you already do regret it, you just don’t know it yet.

    I’d like to say, do whatever it takes to have some form of sasquatch encounter. I mean, really really want to, not just go through the motions either on a mission to disprove. But I also now realize, that’s probably not even possible is it, as your livelihood depends on you remaining a non-believer. Am I right? You literally can’t afford to become a beliver can you?

    I guess the relationship between where you are coming from and what you write does make sense. If everyone already knew this, sorry, I never really paid much attention. Now I understand.

  64. Daniel Loxton responds:

    MultipleEncounters asks Ben Radford,

    “Am I right? You literally can’t afford to become a beliver can you?”

    I feel it might be acceptable for me to address this question myself, as another writer for the skeptical press.

    As it happens, the topic of Bigfoot has almost no impact on the livelihood of any skeptic, so far as I’m aware. Radford and I give the topic a little bit of extra attention because we happen to like it, but we have all too many fish to fry professionally. My recent work has been on pyramid power, alien abduction, creationism, and evolution; most of Ben’s recent work, I believe, on hysterias and media bias.

    Cryptozoology is only a small subset of our mandate, and Bigfoot a small subset of that.

    It literally would not cost me one dime if Bigfoot turned up tomorrow. Or, if I became convinced tomorrow that every shred of Bigfoot evidence was solid and true, I would simply turn that subset of my thinly stretched time to other topics — again, at no cost to myself, and with one less topic to cover.

  65. Lyndon responds:

    “Lyndon’s right.”

    Thank you DWA.

    I often hear the old argument about proponents “needing” to believe in their monsters garbage. No I don’t. Where I live it’s of no consequence to me at all. I don’t “need monsters in the forests where I live. We don’t have them anyway LOL.

    On the other side of the coin, I’m really trying to figure out the scoftics “need” to argue against the idea of sasquatch. It really is a perplexing one to me. I don’t understand the aggressive and seemingly obsessive ‘anti’ stance of theirs.

  66. Daniel Loxton responds:

    I’m really trying to figure out the scoftics “need” to argue against the idea of sasquatch. It really is a perplexing one to me. I don’t understand the aggressive and seemingly obsessive ‘anti’ stance of theirs.

    The funny thing is that the exact opposite is true: in my experience, it’s the case that all skeptics would be universally delighted if Bigfoot were discovered tomorrow. It’s true that we have a different good-faith assessment of the current state of the evidence than do sasquatch proponents, but, y’know — that happens.

  67. Ceroill responds:

    I’d like to thank all who have been contributing to this discussion, it has been very interesting. Mr. Loxton, for whatever reason I am not familiar with your name enough to know off the top of my head where I might find your articles. Would you inform me on this? Thanks in advance.

  68. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Ceroill: Happy to oblige.

    I write for Skeptic magazine, which is published by Scientific American columnist Dr Michael Shermer and the non-profit Skeptics Society. My main responsibility is Junior Skeptic, a 10-page illustrated section intended for younger readers (and the young at heart). Junior Skeptic typically features a relatively in-depth survey or review of one “paranormal” topic per issue.

    For more info, see http://www.skeptic.com

  69. DWA responds:

    Great!

    It doesn’t mean a thing to the skeptics.

    That’s a relief, that they’ve finally opened their minds and come around to the understanding that sightings are evidence. I know they’re now going to come out (the way they really should) and back a funded effort to follow up concentrations of sightings to better evidence, and solve this once and for all. I mean, running counter to Jane and George is SO uncool.

    Sign right here.

    Big tent!

    Didn’t that feel great? Hey, compared to other topics you’re not losing sleep over, this is the winning horse anyway!

  70. Lyndon responds:

    “The funny thing is that the exact opposite is true: in my experience, it’s the case that all skeptics would be universally delighted if Bigfoot were discovered tomorrow.”

    I seriously doubt that to be true, especially with regards to those skeptics who are so strongly outspoken. Nobody likes to be proven wrong. I cannot believe that (for example) the serious detractors of the P/G footage would love that footage to end up being authentic. They wouldn’t like it one little bit if a sasquatch were brought in that shared all the characteristics of what we see in the filmed subject there. In fact I would hazzard a guess that they would all hide and lie low for a very long time and not say a word except “Dammit!”.

  71. DWA responds:

    Kathy: I know you won’t read this. Which is fine by me. :-)

    But I’m not arguing in Jeff’s name. (He chides YOU for being TOO HARSH!?!?!?! :-D ) Jeff’s a bit player in this. (Crypto needs to stop focusing so much on the personalities. It’s about the critters.) This is about good science, and about people who appear set in intellectual denial about what that is. I don’t suffer that in silence. Don’t bring it around me.

    Every field has its Mother Teresas and its Francis of Assissis. We need them.

    Just call me Guy Fawkes. I need ME. I don’t think I could last long here if every time really bad science came up on this board, with disparagement of good science to boot, everyone said, THANK you for your lovely contribution! Or treated it like we were hearing it for the very first time instead of the 3456th. I respond to the voice I read, no better, no worse, and that’s me.

    And that’s not a HappyVoice, when you come on acting like the Flat Earth Society. (And calling names to boot.) Don’t have much patience with a flat earth.

    Read my responses to Daniel Loxton, and my responses to Ben. I respond – exactly – to what I read. To those who don’t like that, “diff’rent strokes” is my only response.

    (And note how I never bash personalities, just the goods they bring to the table.)

  72. DWA responds:

    Shoot.

    Way late. But I forgot my ultimate answer to proriter’s post way above.

    More scientists have seen the sasquatch than have seen any dinosaur.
    ;-)

  73. fuzzy responds:

    DWA: “(Crypto needs to stop focusing so much on the personalities. It’s about the critters.)” True, but might I remind you that this thread ISN’T about the critters, per se – it’s s’posed to be about a Book Review!

    Somewhere along the line we seem to have gone far, far astray.

  74. DWA responds:

    fuzzy:

    Whenever Ben shows up, astray happens.

    Coincidence? ;-)

    Look, on topic is nice. But one other nice thing about forums like this is that discussion goes where it goes.

    And I see almost no flaming going on here. Grow some skin, gang! :-D I only stay on the cleanest sites I visit on the internet, which would make my staying here an automatic endorsement. We do an amazing job of policing ourselves. And of treating visitors way nice. I’ve never seen anyone here get any worse than he put himself up for. Ben included.

    And anyone who doesn’t think so simply hasn’t spent much time on the web. This place don’t get Webbies for nothin’, need I remind you.

  75. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Lyndon writes,

    Nobody likes to be proven wrong. I cannot believe that (for example) the serious detractors of the P/G footage would love that footage to end up being authentic. They wouldn’t like it one little bit if a sasquatch were brought in…”

    The thing to keep in mind is that some claims are just nicer than others. It’s pleasant to have your doubts dispelled regarding desirable things, and unpleasant to be right about undesirable things.

    For example, skeptics track claims about ruthless alien abductors, and also about infomercial-promoted “natural cures” for cancer. I think both are bogus, but my reaction would be very different if I were proven wrong about one rather than the other. (It would be a real bummer to be wrong about a terrifying alien invasion, but of course I’d be literally overjoyed to be wrong about a cancer cure.)

    Cryptozoology is definitely in this second category. If it turned out thylacines weren’t extinct after all, or that Bigfoot existed, or what have you — those would all be wins for everyone. I’d throw a party. Wouldn’t you? I can’t really imagine anyone who would not prefer that sasquatches exist. (And I say that as a “serious detractor” of the P/G film.)

  76. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Today, DWA writes,

    I see almost no flaming going on here.

    Three days ago he wrote,

    And as to Ben: bashing is deserved… I’m not sure why he comes here. I wish he would stop. But I try to make it uncomfortable when he does…

    That’s just what “flaming” means. Cut it out, please.

  77. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    To use the kind of logic Ben frequently does here: that’s not flaming. Do you see the word “flame” anywhere in there? ;-)

    That’s just turning up the electric blanket a bit. Ben is constantly talking about good science and evidence. All we ask him to do is provide as much of both for his side as the proponents do for theirs.

    And I make it no more uncomfortable for him than he does for everybody else. Someone who comes on here arrogantly presupposing he knows more than most, and showing it, and constantly getting shown UP on it, and insistently coming back with the same attitude, is being just downright un-neighborly, and an undesirable guest. On this thread fuzzy caught him on a point he could very easily have caught himself – and he still had to shove one in. Whatever he may think about the sasquatch, the guy can’t seem to bear to be wrong. Or even to concede that someone else might be right – unless that person agrees with him.

    And personally I’d like to see a little equal opportunity cut-it-out here. As I’ve said before: Ben makes his own bed here. He should not object to having to lie in it a bit. A perusal of his offerings should make that crystal clear.

    So, my post stands as written, no edits and certainly no apologies.

  78. Judaculla responds:

    When evaluating Steindorf’s forensic animation work, I want the nitty-gritty on reliability and validity testing for reverse kinematics, along with statistical confidence intervals around measurements. The creation of any measure, test, or method in a quantitative science requires all of the above and is pretty standard. If reverse kinematics hasn’t undergone that kind of evaluation process, then it’s not scientific…yet.

    It very well could be that reverse kinematics would erase all the misgivings Daegling has about taking quantitative measurements from the PG film (see Bigfoot’s Screen Test for those concerns, as well as Roger Knights’ evaluation of those methods for a critique). Steindorf could be a genius and have come up with a process that’s completely innovative and accurate.

    You don’t need a bigfoot to establish the reliability and validity of a measure or method either. Apply the same process to human test subjects and see if the results get you close to the actual measurements. Then, move on to films of chimpanzees, gorillas, and people in padded costumes. You can get the actual physical measurements of bones from those subjects. If the process has a wide margin of error with known subjects due to large variance or large bias (statistical bias, not personal bias), then there is no reason to believe it would work with an unknown subject.

    If someone is going to claim whatever quantitative measurement process they are using is scientific, that’s what’s required in any scientific field.

  79. fuzzy responds:

    Sort of the “last word” in posts, eh?

  80. Daniel Loxton responds:

    It’s always inappropriate to use ad hominem arguments in a public forum. This applies especially when we dislike another person, dislike what they say, or dislike how they say it. (We wouldn’t need a name for ad hominem attacks if everyone thought everyone else was wonderful.)

    Ad hominems create an atmosphere of hostility, chase away moderates and interested new arrivals, and add nothing of use to the conversation.

    Any time we find ourselves typing a sentence that starts with someone’s name and ends in anything but a compliment, we should probably start again. If our mothers’ wisdom “If you can’t say anything nice…” was good enough for kindergarten, it’s certainly good enough for published, public discourse about a science controversy.

    If we think someone’s argument is weak, we should just say that and move on: “In my view, the argument x is weak because of y.”

    I don’t care who dislikes whom — or why — and I shouldn’t have to hear about it to use this forum. I especially shouldn’t have to hear about it multiple times per thread: flaming is always inappropriate, even if we think the other poster deserves it (flamers always think that) or think the other poster started it (ditto).

    And yes, of course that goes for everyone.

  81. springheeledjack responds:

    Then again, refuting someone’s claim and tagging their name along with it is not attacking them as much as it is attacking what they are saying.

    Sheesh I got in on this one, way late…oh well, never too late to tango, now is it???

    As always every post and every story here comes down, and always comes down to the same argument:

    What constitutes evidenc?. Pure and simple. Are eye witness reports evidence? Are tracks? Is the P/G film? And so on, and ultimately how you look at that depends on where you fall in on the position.

    If you don’t support eye witness testimony and think the tracks are all elk and bears and hoaxer, and then think all of the pics and film footage are bogus then what are you left with? Nothing. And then you would probably not believe in the existence of BF.

    And I am of the mind on certain crypto topics like mermaids, for example (sorry first thing that popped into my brain pan). There are plenty of stories, no pics (unless you count the fiji hoax), and no anthro evidence. Now me, I live toooo far away from the ocean to even look into it, and as far as I’m concerned the ocean is way too big to even want to try. So for me, that is a dead issue. If someday someone discovers a mermaid, I’ll be the first to say, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

    However, that is me being skeptical on that front.

    Where a lot of us roll our eyes toward the “skeptical” crowd is just that. If you are so convinced of the lack of evidence that you do not believe in the topic (BF), then why devote so much energy toward it?

    In the greater scheme of things, most people don’t devote a whole lot of personal time to BF, sea critters or the like. It does not impact their daily lives, and chances are, if BF pops up in the future, it won’t change the lives of the bulk of the planet except for a few water cooler discussions and dinner party topics.

    So why do we get so passionate about this stuff? And I use the word passionate because that is what it is. People get heated on these issues and if you can’t stand a little heat, to take it or give it, then you might as well stay the heck out of the field. I’ve heard bashing on both sides (and I’ve done some bashing and been bashed myself), so no one here is blameless. Well maybe Daniel L, he is sort of bashing the bashers, but he hasn’t really called anyone a dimwit yet.

    Sorry, got off on a tangent–passion–both sides are passionate because of that whole topic of evidence. What you believe counts and what you believe does not, and there is never going to be a meeting of the minds on that. For some it is going to take a body and probably several of them, and for the rest it is tracks and eye witness accounts and photo/film that is not 100% evidence perhaps, but enough to lead us toward more investigation and research because it tips the scales.

    It is on the BF front for one, that while I am skeptical of new and old information that surfaces, I do treat it seriously, and I have come to accept the eye witness accounts as credible evidence that something living is being seen out in the wilds that is not some known critter at present (doesn’t mean that the eye witness accounts prove what it is out there, but it is enough proof for me that something is indeed living out there). Same with the P/G film. The strengths of it outweigh the criticisms of it.

    And that, boys and girls is where the division is.

    Take it or leave it, but if you come to this site telling me that one hundred or three hundred eye witness accounts don’t count for anything at all, I am going to laugh and start in on you.

  82. Daniel Loxton responds:

    springheeledjack: Thanks for weighing in; that’s a substantial, thoughtful post.

    …if you come to this site telling me that one hundred or three hundred eye witness accounts don’t count for anything at all, I am going to laugh and start in on you.

    Well, perhaps we can all share a laugh, and yet disagree. I’ve posted a little bit about my position on eyewitness evidence on other threads, but in brief: I don’t think eyewitness testimony is “worthless” in any ultimate or moral sense, but I do think that it is not useful in telling us whether sasquatches exist or what qualities they might have. There must be many false positive sasquatch sightings — common sense dictates it, but also the radical divergence of descriptions demands it — and we don’t have any non-arbitrary way to sort the good (which hopefully exist) from the bad (which definitely exist).

    In one sense, almost everyone agrees about this. It’s a where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire argument. Skeptics say, “Maybe, but we can only confirm smoke.” Proponents say, “Yeah, but c’mon, that’s a lot of smoke.” Both camps are entirely correct.

    The question of why skeptics are even interested keeps coming up, but it seems to me a very strange question. Skeptics are interested in cool mysteries (even Dana Scully has a secret Fox Mulder in her heart), and they’re also interested in hoaxes and fraudulent claims. On either hand, sasquatch is the type of topic that some skeptics are going to get sucked right into.

    Speaking just for myself, I’d add a note or two. To begin with, an interest in sasquatch is no stranger than an interest in Star Trek, or watching sports on TV, or collecting antiques. And I sure got that sasquatch bug when I was just knee high to a grasshopper. So, it’s a great joy for me personally to be involved in cryptozoological research, even as a critic. After all, strenuous-but-civil criticism is an absolutely essential part of moving the ball down the field in any science.

    Then, as a “professional skeptic” I also get paid to function as a journalist and historian of strange topics, including bigfoot. Skeptics spend a lot of time grappling with horrible frauds that destroy lives (fake “psychic surgery” comes to mind), so I can assure you that it’s very pleasant to spend time in an area where many claimants are sincere, and in which the central claim could, just maybe, be true after all. I think this is a very, very long shot at this point, but it’s at least plausible on the face of it. And if not Bigfoot, maybe an orang-pendek, or living thylacine, or what have you…

    That’s just fun.

  83. Ceroill responds:

    Well said, Mr. Loxton, very well said!

  84. springheeledjack responds:

    I agree with you…and both sides do play skeptic–it is an unavoidable part of the interest because you do have people out there who like to hoax or pull the modest prank just to see people come running…or as in some cases in history just boost tourism a little.

    I read someone a while back here (and I do not remember the post or whom) complaining about how at Cryptomundo people tend to take a negative view of incoming videos and pictures…assuming they are fakes or photo-shop creations.

    I think that as investigators (proponents and opponents) we really don’t have a choice but to look at any evidence coming in and look for the possibility of hoaxing first because with the advances of technology it has become soooo easy to create good looking fiction. For me that is the tiresome side of this venture–wading through the proverbial crap to find good witnesses or photo evidence.

    I have said before here, that we are fast coming to a point where photo/video evidence is almost unusable anymore because of the advance of technology, and I am afraid to put too much stock in those kinds of images simply because so many people have access to high tech equipment that allows them to create better and better forgeries.

    However, as to the witness phenomenon, as I said, I do not imply that witness testimony clearly proves what is out there–but it does point to the fact that there is something out there that is unexplained, and I use eye witness testimony to lead to finding more concrete proof.

    My interests and personal knowledge is limited on BF, but in the case of lake/sea critters, while some eye witness accounts are indeed explainable, there are always some that defy normal explanation, and it is those that I regard as evidence for an unknown creature, and it is through those accounts that I try to build patterns of where’s and whens to see if I can go to those particular places to have my own similar experience.

    Personally, I make my own distinctions about what constitutes good eye witness testimony (as in reliable and accurate), and we all do it. The “Skeptics” just choose to discount eye witness testimony as a means to further investigate.

  85. springheeledjack responds:

    As a final thought…(or many)

    I am very secure in what I believe on the crypto front…I have been reading and studying this stuff for much of my life, and I believe what I believe and have no real stake in turning people to my point of view.

    People calling themselves skeptics are welcome to their opinions as well. Where BF and sea critters are concerned, everyone makes a stand at some point on the either for or against line, and that is fine.

    Where I feel the need to involve myself is when people take their own opinions and try to forward that as fact instead of laying the information out there and letting others who are new to this or less informed to make their own decision about “evidence.”

    For example the P/G film. Now there are proponents and opponents who can claim that both ends of the spectrum–real and fake–yet all too often everyone forgets to preface their arguments with “I believe this to be ____ (real/false) because of ____” and leave it be. It suddenly becomes a battle of wills.

    In the skeptical realm, I think the proponents and the opponents of BF (and other crypto-critters) are both skeptical, but too often I see opponents of such phenomenon hiding behind so called scientific investigation when it is no more than to use the buzz word–”science” to push their own opinion. I see no more science being used from that end, other than to refute this or that.

    I suppose some of you would see the reverse as true, but then everything is relative, is it not?

  86. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Now there are proponents and opponents who can claim that both ends of the spectrum–real and fake–yet all too often everyone forgets to preface their arguments with “I believe this to be ____ (real/false) because of ____” and leave it be.

    Yes, that’s all too true. Let’s everyone keep working on that.

  87. DWA responds:

    Daniel says:

    “There must be many false positive sasquatch sightings — common sense dictates it, but also the radical divergence of descriptions demands it — and we don’t have any non-arbitrary way to sort the good (which hopefully exist) from the bad (which definitely exist).”

    Actually, my orientation to the anecdotal evidence is why I think it is THE truly compelling evidence for the sasquatch.

    I don’t think that of the reports I’ve read there are many false positives at all – unless every one is a bald-faced lie. And the radical divergence of descriptions simply doesn’t exist when you read a lot of these. Outliers, sure. But reports have a consistency which, well, doesn’t seem to happen with anything else, other than known phenomena. On every aspect of encounter – what is seen, what is heard, what is smelled, even what is felt – the common details recur with metronomic regularity. It seems every time I read a report, I tick off five to ten of them. I know what a sasquatch looks, sounds and smells like. I know what the size ranges are for females, males, and juveniles. I know what kind of behaviors I should expect from each. I’m totally prepared for a sasquatch encounter. Well, as much as anyone could be. And I’ve never encountered one.

    And the most amazing thing is that almost all these details have virtually nothing to do with the apparent public image of the sasquatch.

    Amazing, that is, for something that doesn’t exist.

    If all we had were footprints I might swallow a hoax. Or an uncountable number of hoaxes. Or a mass delusion, even.

    It’s the encounter reports that have me thinking, no way.

  88. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes:

    On every aspect of encounter – what is seen, what is heard, what is smelled, even what is felt – the common details recur with metronomic regularity…I know what kind of behaviors I should expect from each. I’m totally prepared for a sasquatch encounter.

    Granted, there certainly are trends.

    However, I’d add a couple of notes which make the eyewitness record seem less compelling to me:

    1) All sighting databases are artificially selected samples (even if one selects and evaluates the cases personally). The most outrageous experiences may be reported less frequently, and are certainly filtered at every level of investigation, being given less weight by field investigators, organizations, archivists, and authors.

    2) Still, an amazing variety of reports do persist in coming in: Bigfoot in every state, including Hawaii; Bigfoot in every habitat, from towering mountains to rainforest to desert; Bigfoot on almost every land mass, including Australia and England; Bigfoot of tiny or gigantic, fairy-tale-like proportions; Bigfoot with a wild assortment of markings and toe counts; Bigfoot presenting paranormal powers, and so on.

    Most of these seem ridiculous to me, but I can’t see any non-arbitrary way to filter out the bad data from whatever good data there might be. At this time, all filtering comes down basically to, “these cases don’t meet my common sense standard,” and of course that same argument can be used to rule out Bigfoot altogether (no bones, no fossils, no kills by trucks or hunters).

    Seems to me that until a type specimen provides a known standard against which to compare sighting reports, we only have the two choices: provisionally set aside the claims of all eyewitnesses, as I’ve been persuaded is necessary; or, provisionally accept the claims of all sincere eyewitnesses, even when their claims seem absurdly unlikely. After all, no one has a sasquatch foot to examine, so we just don’t know if the three-toe or four-toe or five-toe reports are the genuine ones.

    3) To the degree that there is a “typical” Bigfoot encounter, this creates its own problems. We know from experiments at Loch Ness that expectant attention can lead witnesses to mistakenly distort a sighting to match a pop-culture standard. When new Bigfoot cases come in that are a reasonable match to a “standard” Bigfoot sighting, this is equally consistent with opposing hypotheses: that the witness saw a standard Bigfoot, or that the witness misinterpreted an unknown experience to match a familiar Bigfoot sighting script.

    But, again, this isn’t a value judgement about sightings or those who experience them. My point is actually the opposite: if we’re committed to the idea that eyewitness reports accurately provide true information about Bigfoot, then it seems to me we’re committed to take seriously the information eyewitnesses provide — even when that information says Bigfoot can levitate or communicate telepathically.

  89. Daniel Loxton responds:

    And the most amazing thing is that almost all these details [of sasquatch encounters as commonly described by experiencers] have virtually nothing to do with the apparent public image of the sasquatch.

    I’m interested in this statement. Can you tell us more about what makes you say this?

  90. springheeledjack responds:

    I’m back in…

    concerning the variety of descriptions coming in on bigfoot and the sampling…

    I think there are a wide range of details that vary from one person to the next because of the “perspective” of the eye witnesses, and that is what I believe causes persons to take exception to eye witness testimony. PEople key in on things or misinterpret data because of their own biases and takes on what they see.

    For example…smell. One person may really not like bad smells and notice the “foul” odor in a BF sighting, while another person is not so offended by smells and leaves out any reference to that because they have a greater tolerance to odors. Does BF really smell, or is it just to a degree?

    The important thing for me is that people saw something. Not always the details, but that an encounter/experience happened and one that is outside the common realm of experience.

    Again, eye witness accounts do not serve to give me detailed data on the specific critter in question (though patterns do seem to develop over time with enough accounts, and the patterns to me say that in the case of BF it is definitely something hairy), but to give me a defined series of encounters so that if I want to go out and have my own experience to compare to others, then I can use the sighting data to give me times/months and places to focus my search.

    As for the samples, I do not have as much worry about that except for censorship of data. I am all for having a COMPLETE database of sightings and letting every indvidual or group tap into that database to make their own individual samples based on what they think makes a good sighting.

    Now there are sightings that are probably going to be unanimously labeled as fakes and hoaxes, but so be it. As you said, Daniel, it is hard to decide what is a good/bad case example.

    However, the danger I see in someone limiting the database samples out there is that all too human trait of fallacy. Someone may decide a particular sighting just has to be fake, when in reality it may not.

    If everyone makes their own decisions about which are good/bad sightings and builds their own samples, no harm done, and perhaps down the road, someone may seem something unique in a set of cases that others saw as fakes, and may actually advance new ideas toward actually discovering one of the critters.

    Eye witness information is a lead to the next step in having my own experience on the subject and that is why it is important…I’ll give you, chances are I am not going to plan my next vacation to Hawaii to find me a BF. However, I am not going to discount eye witness testimony from individuals who know their wooded areas, are familiar with the normal flora/fauna and animals who come across something that completely defies what they are experienced with–that is perhaps a personal judgement call on my part, but that is how I create my samples and use information to get the next piece of the puzzle to fit.

    Next…

  91. springheeledjack responds:

    Actually, thanks Daniel…I feel we have been having a civilized conversation that is non-combative and actually an exchange of ideas.

    I appreciate it and am enjoying the thougth processes of talking about this stuff.

  92. Ceroill responds:

    Just a few cents from my end. I will for a moment make the assumption that BF is something real. Given this assumption for the purpose of discussion, I think I agree with Loren that many of the variations fall into regional groups. If BF sightings are indeed (at least a few of them) indicative of actual encounters of something unknown, I think that again, like Loren, I support the idea that some of these differences represent more than one species.

    However, if we now take the opposite tack, and work from the assumption of it all being purely a combination of errors and hoaxes, then I still find these regional consistencies fascinating. It makes me wonder what this says about the areas that the various ‘species’ are seen in, and why those particular features are perceived by the locals of that region.

    Personally I suspect that there probably is something (or somethings) out there that is/are being occasionally encountered. What is it? I’ll remain neutral on that for now, and wait for future developements, one way or the other.

  93. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Actually, thanks Daniel…I feel we have been having a civilized conversation that is non-combative and actually an exchange of ideas.

    Springheeledjack, thanks for saying so. I know that’s always my strong preference!

  94. things-in-the-woods responds:

    daniel, springheeledjack & cerioll-

    those last few posts have been some of the best (clearest, most concise, and most to the point) i’ve seen in all our many interminable eye-witness arguments.

    Keep up the good work- a joy to read.

    I agree with pretty much everything daniel says (espeically the that there may be a self-fulfilling sampling effect that produces the appearance of inter-sighting consistency) although my gripe as always is what we mean by having to ‘set-aside’ these eye-witness reports. I’m quite happy to set them aside as not being any kind of proof of the existence of BF. What i don’t think we should do is ignore them completely- they play (or should play) a role in directing our future (field) research. If we ignore them in this capacity we kill the whole research quest stone dead.

    I also think cerioll makes an interesting point regarding regional variation in sighting reports, and that is something we need to consider. I can (skeptically) think of a number of reasons why this might occur, the most significant relating to the fact that sightings often (if not always by any means) seem to arise in localised bursts. That is, you get one sighting in an area, and then you suddenly get a whole bunch of other sightings right after in the same area. Obviously this might be the result of an actual creature suddenly moving into, or becoming more active, in a particular area. But it could also be the result of people being more likely to make reports of sightings (hoax, real, mistaken, whatever) when ‘encouraged’ by the initial report. In such cases we could have localised versions of what daniel calls conformity to pop-culture; people might be more likely (for whatever reason- conscious or subconscious) to make their report tally with the initial report. If such a phenomenon were to occur, the aggregate of many such localised sighting bursts across north america might give the appearance of consistent regional types.

    Of course, that is just an hypothesis, but I think one that probably could be followed up and analysed from the details in sightings record. And, of course, if it were not found to be the case then I do think the skeptic has to come up with some explanation of regionalised patterns (or, i suppose, show that they do not exist in any statisically significant way- in fact, surely that would be relatively easy to test, if for instance Loren provided the data behind what he sees as regional variations- anyone out there who can do statistics, cos i’m jiggered if i remember).

    One more related point I think it would be interesting to consider is how features of Bf sighting reports might tally in time with our increasing knowledge of primate behaviour and morphology. What I mean is, is there any correlation with us discovering something about apes and that feature being reported with regards to BF. The one example that springs to mind is that of the discovery of chimpanzee tree drumming and reports of ‘wood-knocking’ by BF, although I am sure there must be others. If it was the case that these features start to be reported only after (and perhaps reasonably soon after) they have been documented in real primates then that would certainly give us more reason to be skeptical of those reports. Again, that is only an hypothesis to be tested.

    The problem is, of course, that such analyses would be costly and time-consuming, and so probably wont get done.

  95. DWA responds:

    Re: my statement

    “And the most amazing thing is that almost all these details [of sasquatch encounters as commonly described by experiencers] have virtually nothing to do with the apparent public image of the sasquatch.”

    I’ve talked about this on other threads. Suffice it to say that the speed, athleticism and apparent carnivory of the animal witnesses are seeing seems a marked clash with the tabloid/”Harry and the Hendersons” rendition of a lumbering vegetarian. And they’re pretty consistent. A number of other characters – eyeshine, odor, intimidation displays and vocalizations, for example – don’t really have anything to do with that public image, and they’re pretty consistently reported too.

    I don’t pretend to be doing a statistical analysis of sighting reports. But those who have (Fahrenbach, Bindernagel; I believe other similar analyses have been done of the John Green database) seem to be finding similar consistencies.

    I’m just seeing too many things that read like different experiences people are having of the same animal. They read like folks are comparing notes, which I don’t see any evidence of. It’s the kind of thing that would, I think, get any serious scientist who gave the data a chance VERY interested. As it has those who have.

    If I’m a scientist looking at the data, I think I can easily suss down to the ones that appear to be consistently describing the same animal. I drop Hawaii (although I might just set it aside for later, I’m not looking there first); I drop any tracks that don’t seem to exhibit consistent characters with the mean; I drop sizes that are well outside the bell curve; I drop states with the fewest recorded recent sightings, etc. Science has to do this, because there is bad data out there, and you can’t simply accept it all if you’re going to search on it. Is it somewhat arbitrary? Well, depends on what arbitrary means. If science, and scientists’ experience with data pertaining to known animals, is the arbiter, I can go with that arbitrary. Yes, the sasquatch is unknown, as yet. But that’s all the more reason to pay attention to ways in which the data behaves like something known. Because if your theory, I think reasonably, is that this is an animal, it’s going to be, broadly, like other animals.

    The consistencies, to me, argue more than strongly enough to search on those. And they very strongly suggest the outliers to be dropped. Scientists might argue that there isn’t enough to search on FOR THEM. But I think they’d have to concede that a sense of priorities or individual risk aversion are the main factors in the decision – not a total lack of intriguing, searchable data.

    And as to what the Yowie might be: you got me.

  96. things-in-the-woods responds:

    oh, and well said DWA.

    see everyone, its this easy…

  97. mystery_man responds:

    Wow! I didn’t realize that this thread was even still going! Lots of good stuff here. I personally agree with the idea of keeping all the sightings in the database and let the researchers sort through the ones they want to look at or deem reliable. This is only because I certainly wouldn’t want someone else choosing the data that I am allowed to look at based on their own criteria, especially with an animal that is not definitively documented by science. I do however think it might be a good idea for those who sift through these sightings to rank them in order of probable reliability. You could have what they deem very reliable reports grouped together, and then less reliable ones, and right on down to levitating Bigfoot with orb capabilities.

    That being said, I feel a thing that people sifting through these reports should keep in mind is, like DWA said, this is a creature that is going to fit within the parameters of a living, breathing animal. The overwhelming circumstantial evidence points to some sort of large primate so that seems a fairly sensible hypothesis at this point. Now if this is indeed the case and unless Bigfoot is some sort of freak of nature, it is going to exhibit at least some primate traits and behaviors. We may not know all of the specifics of this creature, but unless it is from some other planet, it is most likely going to fit within the physical needs and parameters of a bipedal primate of its size. Ok, ok, some may want to bring up the whole “flesh and blood versus paranormal Bigfoot argument”, and sure maybe it is something like that, but I am thinking along the lines of cryptoZOOLOGY here. Assuming that this is a living creature, it is going to fit within the types of habitats and physiology that is known from other primates. So three toes? That would be rather bizarre, wouldn’t it? Hawaii? Explain that one! Researchers need to look at what constitutes a feasible speculative holotype for this creature, including what its movements might be, how much energy it needs to consume to support its mass, how it might breed and so on. I say keep all the reports in, but be smart about which ones to pursue.

    As for witness sightings, it sure is a good thing that people didn’t ignore the sightings of gorillas, orangutans, and other ethnoknown species that have been found. Although sightings may not constitute hard evidence, there are many species that have been documented which were well reported through sightings before being discovered officially. On the other hand, you will have some locals attributing far fetched powers to normal animals, but even in these cases, there is often a grain of truth behind the stories. Sightings are not something to be taken all that lightly, in my opinion.

  98. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Ceroill writes,

    …I think I agree with Loren that many of the variations fall into regional groups. If BF sightings are indeed (at least a few of them) indicative of actual encounters of something unknown, I think that again, like Loren, I support the idea that some of these differences represent more than one species.

    This regional divergence issue always seemed problematic to me. It’s one thing to suppose that one species of huge bipedal ape has escaped all scientific confirmation right here in our backyards; supposing that multiple species have eluded discovery seems to me to multiply improbabilities.

    However, if we now take the opposite tack, and work from the assumption of it all being purely a combination of errors and hoaxes, then I still find these regional consistencies fascinating. It makes me wonder what this says about the areas that the various ’species’ are seen in, and why those particular features are perceived by the locals of that region.

    Yes, that is interesting, isn’t it? My temptation is to conclude that regional variations are evidence against the sasquatch hypothesis. However, I’m not yet convinced that there actually are real regional trends in Bigfoot descriptions (outside localized clusters that could be accounted for by copycat-sightings or a single hoaxer).

    This strikes me as another version of the database problems we’ve talked about on this thread. How do we know what represents a genuine regional trend and what is merely an artifact of selection on the part of Bigfoot researchers? (Or, alternatively, an artifact of expectations generated by regional media, local civic promotions, or local legend?)

    (That might make interesting if frustrating project for a mainstream grad student of folklore: “disentangling genuine animal sightings, folklore, and fakelore in the database of personal sighting experiences of the legendary Bigfoot,” something like that…)

  99. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    If I’m a scientist looking at the data, I think I can easily suss down to the ones that appear to be consistently describing the same animal. I drop Hawaii (although I might just set it aside for later, I’m not looking there first); I drop any tracks that don’t seem to exhibit consistent characters with the mean; I drop sizes that are well outside the bell curve; I drop states with the fewest recorded recent sightings, etc. Science has to do this…

    I agree that those are fairly reasonable assumptions. I can’t see any other way to narrow the descriptions down to a best guess. My point is only that these are assumptions. We don’t know anything for a fact which would allow us to rule out three-toed sasquatches. I personally think we can rule out, with some confidence, the cases that violate physics (trans-dimensional paranormal Bigfoot), but it’s worth mentioning that parapsychologists consider all arguments against the existence of paranormal phenomena to be just so much posturing by ideologically-motivated scoftics (if I may coin a term).

    Yes, we can look at the sasquatch database and select a subset of cases that seem relatively consistent and plausible. But this is a process based on assumptions (however reasonable), which represents the experience of only a subset of witnesses, and which offers plenty of room for serious missteps.

    Suppose, for example, that a smallish, shy, vegetarian, swamp-dwelling three-toed Bigfoot was a real animal, and also that a tiny fraction of Grizzly bear sightings were misinterpreted as Bigfoot. “A tiny fraction” of Grizzly sightings is plenty to flood the Bigfoot database. As a result, we might see a Bigfoot database that leaned quite heavily toward huge, shaggy, semi-carnivorous, smelly, athletic creatures from the temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest, and we might then ignore the genuine-but-rare sightings of the true Bigfoot.

  100. springheeledjack responds:

    Daniel…I am not disagreeing that looking at info from a database and deciding what is a “good” sighting and what is not is all based on assumption. I agree completely.

    We do not have a BF and so we are really only making guesses about patterns based on eye witness testimony and what not. But, again, as I said up there somewhere, that is where I will make my own sample based on criteria I think are important in witness testimony and build a sample that would hopefully help me narrow down an area to go hunt for the big guy.

    Really, everyone who has ever hunted for BF has done that, whether conscious of the process or not.

    DWA–good points about looking at the data…

    Ultimately it is a game of trial and error…as Daniel pointed out with the bear sightings and Mystery_Man talking about bizarre stuff throwing the samples off…that is true, AND I believe that is why the search for BF and other cryptids often leads to the proverbial “needle in the haystack” hunt, and largely constitutes for a lot of the expeditions that come up with little or no new data.

    Sifting through human experience and inexperience (not to mention all the hoaxes that rise up) has most likely led to all kinds of red herrings in the data, making it infinitely harder to get a reallllly good pattern of description and behavior that we can begin to anticipate.

    I had an experience once (not crypto related) that stuck with me. A group of friends were out all day and returned home, dropping me off at my place. While we stood talking, a guy walked by, passed my place and through a nearby lot and kept going.

    Now none of us paid too close attention, but minutes later a police car approached us and asked us if we had seen anyone wandering around that we did not know.

    Each of us took turns describing who we had seen–and it amazed me how different and at times contrasting the descriptions were. The only points that were universally agreed upon that it was a man, and that he had a beard. Everything else was up for grabs.

    I have always looked at eye witness accounts for sea critters and BF in the same light. As I said before, the minute details I do not put too much stock in, because everyone’s accounts are colored by their own biases and idiosyncrasies. BUT, the importance for me, in the case of BF, is that generally we have encounters of something hairy, and something that is walking upright for long distances, and that it is often perceived to be very large.

    And that is why eye witness accounts stand out as the basis for investigation, and make me personally believe that not everyone is crazy or mis-identifying normal things. If even one report in the whole database is on the money, then we have something solid to investigate.

  101. DWA responds:

    “Daniel…I am not disagreeing that looking at info from a database and deciding what is a “good” sighting and what is not is all based on assumption. I agree completely.”

    I do too. And I think scientists make assumptions like that, all the time.

    It’s tricky when to say “this is unknown, so we can’t just go presuming about it” and when to say “we need to extrapolate from what is known.” But again this is a call scientists make routinely.

    It seems reasonable to assume that

    (1) this is an animal;

    (2) its behavior seems to place it with the apes; and

    (3) drawing the great middle of what people are encountering, and using the center of the bell curve as your general search parameters, is the way to go.

    I guess the three-toed, shy, vegetarian, swamp-dwelling Bigfoot will have to wait until we get to him. But unless we look for the seven-to-eight-foot, five-toed guy that many many people seem to be seeing, our eyes will never be opened enough to even consider the other one. Which might not only be out there, but might be found in the search for the one clustering around that mean.

    That’s my point. At some juncture, science has to either fish or cut bait. And the best way to proceed in that instance is to work from what seem to be the best assumptions.

    Which are extrapolated from what you know. Which in this case is: find the mean, and search around it. That gives you the best chance of finding what you’re looking for.

    And as to the statement that “parapsychologists consider all arguments against the existence of paranormal phenomena to be just so much posturing by ideologically-motivated scoftics (if I may coin a term),” I have only this to say to them: science doesn’t have the tools to confirm yet (unless you have some ideas for them). It might be best to wait until it does. And in the meantime confirm what science can.

  102. Daniel Loxton responds:

    I had an experience once… While we stood talking, a guy walked by, passed my place and through a nearby lot and kept going… minutes later a police car approached us and asked us if we had seen anyone wandering around…and it amazed me how different and at times contrasting the descriptions were. … I have always looked at eye witness accounts for sea critters and BF in the same light.

    Springheeledjack, I think this is an exceptionally important point which people often do not fully appreciate. An especially striking aspect of your story is that there was such a high degree of distortion even though the sighting was made in essentially optimal viewing conditions, and even though the sighting was reported almost immediately, while your memories were fresh…

  103. Daniel Loxton responds:

    At some juncture, science has to either fish or cut bait. And the best way to proceed in that instance is to work from what seem to be the best assumptions.

    Which are extrapolated from what you know. Which in this case is: find the mean, and search around it. That gives you the best chance of finding what you’re looking for.

    I’d buy that, as a best odds strategy. It is a gamble—in my view, a very long shot indeed—but long shots pay off from time to time.

    (The true mean can be a bit elusive in this field, however, because of the sampling problems touched on in this thread.)

    Scientists might argue that there isn’t enough to search on FOR THEM. But I think they’d have to concede that a sense of priorities or individual risk aversion are the main factors in the decision – not a total lack of intriguing, searchable data.

    I think this is right. Working scientists are busy with their own professional commitments within their own fields, and they’re averse to dabbling in outside research projects that seem unlikely pay off. (Napier still put this best in his observation, “it is hardly unsurprising that scientists prefer to investigate the probable rather than beat their heads against the wall of the faintly possible.”) And, there is the additional serious risk of appearing ridiculous in the eyes of your colleagues.

    But, you’re right that there is no shortage of intriguing data, some of which can (and has) led to practical search strategies.

  104. DWA responds:

    Daniel: points taken.

    I mean, science isn’t perfect. It’s scientists. And sooner or later all scientific discovery turns on the willingness to look – and frequently to trust a hunch. I’d have to agree that a mean is only “true” when you’re talking about something known. What those of us who advocate a look are saying is, there’s enough to trust a solid hunch that it may be. But you’re right; it’s an investment, a big one at that, and it would be very hard for me to fault any scientist who showed me what he had on his plate and said, I’m rooting for the sas but this is more important.

    And “more probable” would be an acceptable alternative, because there are good reasons to see what you’re working on as precisely that. I’d argue that those reasons cut to things we’ve been taught to think, rather than things the evidence is telling us. But as we’ve said – and you’ve said it again – about ridicule, the mere feeling that it’s likely can be sufficient deterrent. I knock Science for lassitude and cowardice on this question. But when I’m feeling fair I have to admit: a PERSON needs to stand up first. A few have, and some are cautiously joining them. But we’re a ways short of critical mass.

    And as to springheeledjack’s example: it’s food for thought. But he and his buddies see tons of people, daily, most of them barely registering. Most sas encounters involve witnesses just a weetad more focused on what they’re seeing.

  105. Ceroill responds:

    Discussions like this has been recently is one of the reasons I love this site. DWA, Mr. Loxton, I’d like to thank you especially , but also all the others who’ve been keeping this patient, thorough, and civil. All making excellent points, too. Thanks, folks.

  106. mystery_man responds:

    This debate has pretty much been passing me by but it’s interesting reading the posts here. I’m feeling out of the loop on this one, but I have a few more random thoughts and comments about things.

    First of all, I don’t completely blame science on the lack of willingness to go out and explore these subjects. DWA says that there is “cowardice and lassitude” happening and that may be true to some extant but I don’t buy that as any definitive reason why science doesn’t spend more time on this. I feel it is not “cowardice” so much as lack of any real interest on the parts of many scientists. As was said before, they have been trained in their own fields and prefer to do research and work within the fields they are involved with, so they are unlikely to drop their own work to go off on a side project to search for Bigfoot. The unwillingness to search is not because they are cowards, but rather that they are scientists involved with other work. As far as i know, there are no degrees given out for cryptozoology, so I can’t fault these scientists for wanting to pursue their own areas of interest and expertise. Even someone like Jane Goodall, who openly supports the idea of Bigfoot, may not be willing to drop her work with chimps to go out and search for Bigfoot.

    I also don’t think it’s all about risk aversion either. I agree that there is enough data to act on and lead to search strategies, and I think the evidence we do have is very worthwhile to me personally, but I feel that in total there possibly just isn’t enough to make most scientists that are caught up in their own work sit up and take notice. I can sort of see why alot of mainstream scientists might shy away from Bigfoot studies and it might not necesarily be because of risk aversion. Let’s face it, if the evidence was undeniable and concrete, there wouldn’t be any reason to fear ridicule on the part of the scientists because it would be seen based on the strong evidence as a legitimate pursuit. Searching for the sasquatch would then be seen as a potentially career making research opportunity. As far as risk aversion goes, I say what scientist wouldn’t be interested in the find of the century? Why would scientists knowingly avoid such a groundbreaking potential find? They are not all rushing to drop what they are doing because the evidence may not be perhaps as solid as we would like and maybe in their eyes not worth pursuing at this time. I don’t like it, but I can see the mentality they have.

    I personally think we should not blame science for cryptozoology’s woes. Instead of complaining about mainstream science not looking at the evidence, maybe it is time to just present stronger evidence, stuff that is more solid and irrefutable that can be proudly held up to a critical eye. This is what needs to be done in any field, so let’s get to it. I think this evidence is very likely out there, so let’s make sure it is collected and analyzed according to scientific methods. Instead of waiting for mainstream science to go out and search for the creatures, we have to think more along the lines of those interested in Bigfoot getting the knowledge or degrees they need and starting their own research. It may be hard because cryptozoology doesn’t pay the bills (science in general doesn’t!), but maybe cryptozoologists need to take things into their own hands rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

    I do hope that more people take to this area of study and do that field research because the more evidence we show science, the more people will be inclined to help out and the faster we will reach the “critical mass” DWA mentioned.

  107. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: fair enough.

    And I did mention that I don’t do the cowardice/lassitude thing when I’m being fair. ;-)

    To me, not wanting to rush in because one doesn’t see the evidence as compelling is a form of risk aversion. You’re putting your research where you see the greatest likelihood of return. And as I said, when I’m feeling fair, I can’t fault scientists for that.

    Actually, most feelings you see about this topic are perfectly understandable. I believe that anyone, at least any scientist, who doesn’t see the evidence as meriting further review and field searching isn’t properly acquainted with the evidence. But then, I’m not particularly well acquainted with quantum physics. So that, by itself, isn’t a knock. I’m sure that the closest many scientists want to get to science after a long day in the lab or in the field is an evening of CSI. :-D This is one reason – and only one – why Meldrums, Krantzes and Bindernagels are so rare.

    The high dudgeon into which some particularly intractable people launch about Science’s unconscionable lassitude on this subject is also understandable. :-D I am not sure how the Todd Neisses and the Multiple Encounters(es?) and the Sergios even keep it in sometimes. I’d be even worse than I am if I’d ever seen one. Or maybe not; after all, I’d probably feel privileged more than anything else. But still.

    And those who haven’t seen one and who have been coached their whole lives to believe that it’s either impossible or way unlikely are going to have a hard time simply becoming proponents, even if they find what sure look like tracks to them. (Can’t say they were but boy did they look like them.)

    And those who desperately want to believe, one way or the other…well, look at the world and you can come up with many of their reasons why.

    So. We look or we don’t. Either way, it is, or it isn’t, whatever we do.

  108. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Ok, I see what you meant about risk aversion. I was looking at it from a different angle. I agree it certainly makes more financial sense for a scientist to play it safe and work within the framework of known animals than go out and spend a lot of money on new equipment to hunt sasquatch without any promise of success or monetary stability, not to mention all of the extra hours on top of another job. I do not underestimate the impact that money can have on this. I am sure there are a lot of scientists (and I suppose I could be put into this category) that would go off and look into this phenomena if they didn’t have wives, children, and bills to pay. Heck, I had to resort to teaching science and translating scientific papers because field work just doesn’t pay all that well no matter how interested I am in it.

    I am sure there are scientists who feel the same way as I do and have an open mind to the evidence for sasquatch but simply do not have the time or money to afford to look. I also agree that after all their duties are done, they just might not have the energy. It is frustrating because it is an area where I feel there is a lot of potential and a lot of leads that could be followed up on, but alas I live in Japan, I do not have the funds, and being a skeptic, I feel that there is the chance that I could go through all of that for nothing. I think this could be a big sticking point with some scientists, the chance that there is nothing. With your example of quantum physics, at least if a physicist’s theory is proven wrong, they can come up with another since the laws of physics are known to exist and physics is an established science. Same with any hypothesis about known animals that turns out to be wrong. At least they know the animal they are studying is real. If Bigfoot doesn’t exist, what is the scientist who dropped the research they were doing and invested the time and energy to do? This could be a very persuasive deterrent to some. Increase the available concrete evidence and I think this attitude will change.

  109. mystery_man responds:

    What a lot of it comes down to is how feasible the research seems to scientists. Within any field, the majority of scientists usually follow the leader and work within established principles and ideas. Many scientists are not always the adventurous revolutionaries we may imagine them to be who are boldly breaking through the barriers of what we know. That is a very romantic view of science but unfortunately with the exeption of a few brave souls, not always true. There can be a real aversion to trying to break new ground and delve into things that may be against the norm, which I think we can all agree the idea of a large bipedal primate inhabiting North America is. Without any peer support, it is hard to shed light on new mysteries and ironically this becomes counterproductive to what science should be all about, which is discovering how our universe works.

    So even in mainstream science, it is only a few that will put forth bold or fantastic new theories, and only when it is seen to be plausible and supported by enough evidence do others follow and accept these ideas. This has been true throughout history in science, and what it takes is for someone to break out of the mold and show that this research is viable and can produce results. This is why i agree with DWA when he says a PERSON needs to step up and bring cryptozoology to the forefront. If there was a scientists such as Godall, and she embraced Bigfoot studies and showed some compelling findings, I am sure that other scientists would jump on the band wagon. As it is, I feel there just isn’t enough to really convince most to drop what they are doing and take that plunge. I think you will find that as soon as undeniable evidence supporting Bigfoot is presented, you will see a big surge in scientists researching within this field and the funding will come in as well.



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