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What the Hell is Cryptozoology?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 13th, 2013

Wow! Not just a skeptic, but a cynic as well…

Over the last two weeks I’ve taken it upon myself to become educated in the field of Cryptozoology and Cryptid Animals. Though I know there is no shortage of crack pots or gullible idiots who will believe anything, I was amazed at how many people carry the title of “expert” believe in animals that (at best) don’t exist or (at worst) are hoaxes. So then I got to thinking, “What IS Cryptozoology specifically What does this study actually mean? Is there a school for study? Where can somebody get a degree? What qualifications must an expert have in order to be “recognized” as an expert?”

What is Cryptozoology?

Wikipedia defines it as a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven. This includes looking for living examples of animals that are considered extinct; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported; and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges.

Cryptozoology is not a recognized branch of zoology or a discipline of science. It is an example of pseudoscience because it relies heavily upon anecdotal evidence, stories and alleged sightings.

Yes, you read that right. Cryptozoology is NOT a recognized form of science because it does not follow the scientific method.

As well, Cryptozoologists tend not to be interested in discovering new species of insects, invertebrates or other “mundane forms of life (which scientists in multiple fields have stated there are plenty to find) but rather are intent on proving the existence of ”megafauna” like living dinosaurs, Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster.

What does it take to become a Cryptozoologyst?

According to Education Portal you do not need to have a degree in any field to be a Cryptozoologyst. None. You can be a high school drop out and call yourself a Cryptozoologyst…. at least to a point. The whole reason people claim the title of Cryptozoologist is to be able to claim that fantastic creatures exist, and get somebody else to fund their “research” (though usually this pursuit is self funded). Pursuing college-level training could lend credibility to any cryptid findings especially if the Cryptozoologist seeking help from an institution with a respected reputation.

As an example, let us take a look at the man who launched a Kickstarter in 2000 to lead a team of four experts (none of them accredited scientists) in search of dinosaurs and other unknown species in the Congo jungles. Stephen McCullah, says he has spent some time doing humanitarian work in South America and studied biology at Missouri State but there is no mention of him earning a degree.

”…we anticipate discovering hundreds of new insect, plant, and fish species during the course of our research and work in the area. There is also the legitimate hope of discovering many reptile and mammalian species as well. We have received reports from week to two week expeditions in the region of eye witnesses seeing canine sized tarantulas, large river dwelling sauropods, and a species of man eating fish (which was recently discovered on river monsters).” Actually that fish is a 50kg. piranah and the show, River Monsters, is about real animals that are scary, not cryptids.

McCullah was so sure that he would find all those new creatures that he offered to name the creatures after any backers who offered $500 or more as an incentive to his Kickstarter.

If it were a late night infomercial I think it would sound something like this…”Yes, you too can have a dog-sized tarantula named after you. Just send $500 and we’ll promise to name a strange creature after you if we actually find one. But WAIT! There’s More! If you are a company and pledge $10,000 you will be named our official sponsor and all expedition members will wear clothing with your company name on it. Don’t wait, act now before this offer becomes….. extinct!”… I wish I was joking about the sponsor thing.

20130413-091058.jpg

Hmm… honestly, I find myself looking at the picture of McCullah flashing gang signs, the distinct lack of any academic credit to anybody on his team… and my immediate thought is “This has to be a scam. How could anybody possibly believe this guy?” But they did apparently. He surpassed his goal and earned $29,000. In fact, there were rumors circulating that the Discovery Channel was even going to film his three month expedition and make it a new show.

Now, I’m not shocked that the Discovery Channel would be interested in McCullah’s expedition because they haven’t put out any REAL scientific programming in years. But, as far as the reputable news sources go, my personal research into this pseudoscience has also taught me that if the Cryptozoologist has a pitch that sounds convincing enough, then even the most respected news sources won’t question the validity or even the logic behind the claim. The Huffington Post of all places wrote, “One thing’s for certain: [McCullah] will have to bring enough equipment. Capturing a living dinosaur may require some very big nets.” Big nets that very well may have been stolen. After only three days in the jungle the expedition was called off due to theft and lack of funds/poor financial planning.

Going back to schooling…

If you do decide to pursue some form of a degree program, the Salisbury University recommends that you get training in zoology or biology and that you work at or volunteer with a zoo, aquarium, museum, or a non-profit conservation group. As well, get used to public speaking and paper writing because this is your primary way of obtaining funding… Kickstarter aside.

So far, UniversalClass.com is the only place in the United States that offers a certificate program. Cryptozology 101 is a $60, six month online course designed for hobbiests. Upon completion, students will earn a Continuing Education Certificate. Here is their video on the course as well as the class goals.

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
Define cryptozoology.
Summarize the origins of cryptozoology.
Summarize the famous cryptozoologists.
Summarize the existing species that were once cryptids.
Summarize which species were previously thought to be extinct.
Summarize what keeps unnamed species hidden.
Describe what bigfoot is and compare and contract various evidence of its existence.
Summarize the history of sightings and evidence of the Loch Ness Monster.
Summarize the history of sightings and evidence of the Chupacabra, Mokele-Mbembe, Thunderbird, Mothman, Jersey Devil, and Dover Demon, and
Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

So, in conclusion, Cryptozoolgy is not a science. Cryptozoologists by and large ignore science and logic because it gets in the way of their “findings”. Dinosaurs are dead (no duh), and if you have a sexy enough pitch you can get people to give you money.

With that said I would like to turn your attention to the blog of one, very interesting Cryptozoolgist that lives in my home town of San Diego. Doctor Josh Finney (he is a doctor, that’s how you know it’s legit) has captured some pretty interesting photography in and around the Miramar area. You can read all about it and make your own conclusion at JoshFinney.com. In fact, I’d like you to leave your comments either on this blog or on Doctor Josh Finney’s findings below. I want to know what you think and if you are a believer in the unexplained.

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About

Kat “Katapult” Rocha is a writer, artist, editor and co-owner of the science fiction/horror publishing company 01 Pulishing. She and her husband, Josh Finney, have received world wide acclaim for their futuristic war epic “Titanium Rain” as well as their cyberpunk noir book “Utopiates”.

When not publishing books, Kat enjoys drawing robots, lapidary, and finding strange things on the internet.

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.


17 Responses to “What the Hell is Cryptozoology?”

  1. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    I have a degree in biology, years of experience working at a zoo, extensive experience in academic and literary writing, and I’m a professional public speaker. Maybe it’s time for a career change.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    What, she spent a whole entire two weeks learning about cryptozoology? So now she’s an expert? Pot and kettle honey…

  3. Ken responds:

    “With that said I would like to turn your attention to the blog of one, very interesting Cryptozoolgist that lives in my home town of San Diego. Doctor Josh Finney”

    “Kat “Katapult” Rocha is a writer, artist, editor and co-owner of the science fiction/horror publishing company 01 Pulishing. She and her husband, Josh Finney,”

    So this “very interesting” cryptozoologist, who happens to live in the author’s home town, also happens to be the authors husband… This entire rant was just an ad for her husband’s blog.

  4. PhotoExpert responds:

    Craig, I really like the article you posted here as a new thread for Cryptomundo. I like these types of posts that make one put on their thinking cap.

    You make some very valid points!

    You are correct, anyone can call themselves a Cryptozoolgist. Therein lies the problem. Being an expert on anything requires a lot of things, but it also requires being accepted as an expert by the public.

    Matt Moneymaker is highly degreed, but not in the scientific field. He is an attorney and that requires years of study and in the very least, a pretty good intellect. Matt’s interest are in the area of BF as far as Cryptozoology goes. He was an officer the BFRO. And he currently is one of the stars on the “Finding Bigfoot” show. The question is, does that make him an expert in the field of Cryptozoology?

    Well, the degree that puts esquire behind his name really is not related to Cryptozoology. It tells me he is at least intelligent but not necessarily a Cryptozoologist because the two things are not closely related. Is he an expert on BF? That is debateable because a BF has never been found or proven to exist. But he is accepted by the public as being an expert of BF and most would give him those dues. But does being an expert on BF also give one the title of being an expert in Cryptozoology? The answer would be no!

    I think part of the problem is what you describe, Cryptozoology is not a recognized science. The key word is science here. But the word recognized also comes into play. Is Matt recognized as a Cryptozoologist? Probably not!

    On the other hand, we have people who can take a six month online course and get a certificate. Does that make them a Cryptozoologist. First of all, a six month course is not a degree. It is also a degree that most people would not recognize as a degree. It is not comparable to a BA or BS, not even close! And you have to question where is the degree from. UniversalClass.com is not Harvard, it’s not even Gonzaga, hell, it’s not even an accredited college that has an online devision. If the school giving the certificate has no credentials, I could wipe my butt with that credential. Getting a certificate online does not make you a Cryptozoologist. And here is where that key word comes in again, recognized.

    Your main quest is this Craig, “I want to know what you think and if you are a believer in the unexplained.”

    That question can take one into ambiguous territory. Anyone can be a believer. All that is required of a a believer is to have faith. Believing requires no proof just as faith requires no proof. It is a feeling or a choice that one makes.

    I know people who are believers of the unexplained. I know skeptics who are believers. They have faith that all unexplained phenomena can be explained away. Scoptics or Sceptics have their own religion of belief. It is scepticism even in the light of some data or evidence. They pish posh all evidence away, no matter what. So scepticism becomes their religion, their belief system.

    I think the majority at this forum fall into two categories. The majority are composed and divided into two camps. There are the believers and they are sceptics. But there are a group of people in a third camp, whose voice is not as loud as the sceptic or believer camp. The third camp would the people who are objective! We do not dismiss the believers but we also required proof like a sceptic does. Scepticism is not a dirty word. Basically, all sceptics are asking for is proof, evidence if you will. A blurry photo of a supposed BF, a Blobsquatch is not proof. On the other hand when a believer provides proof such as footprints, hair samples whose DNA that comes back as a primate, or even video footage that is not proven as a hoax, that is evidence of something! Jeff Meldrum would say that evidence is proof. A sceptic would say it proves nothing, and they would throw out that evidence in the same way they would disregard a Blobsquatch photo. When in fact, a footprint, a hair sample, etc.–is not a crappy blurry photo.

    The third camp is where true research and analysis will take place. There are many in that camp. I am in that camp. DWA, a poster here is in that camp. One of your bloggers is in that camp, mystery_man. There are many, many more, but since we are not at either extreme, our camp gets lost in the woods. We have a loud voice but we are in the minority compared to the bickering and vocalizations of the other two camps.

    I went to the two sites you listed before answering your question. I hope no one chooses a camp or forms an opinion, based on just those two sites. I have problems with both of those sites.

    Josh Finney’s site is interesting. The bugman photo is interesting. I recently had a debate with Cryptoraptor here at Cryptomundo. And although Cryptoraptor and I disagree on many things, we do agree on points from time to time. This is one of those times. Cryptoraptor was discussing “genuine photos” with me. He did not say this but this was what he meant and was trying to convey, “That all undoctored photos could be considered genuine photographs.” And you know what, he is correct! We both agree on that statement. So Dr. Finney’s photos are genuine in that respect. But are they of a real cryptid? Who knows? You can’t tell is something is real or a good prop. Here is where Cryptoraptor and I would disagree. Cryptoraptor would say it is a prop because there is not proof of this creature. I would say, interesting photo, I can not objectively say it bugman is real or a prop. Cryptoraptor has no room for belief or evidence of any kind, because his religion of scepticism would prevent it. When the reality is, it is a genuine photo but objectively and professionally speaking, I can not tell you what the subject in the photo is or is not. There is not enough data or evidence to include or exclude that conclusion! So looking at Finney’s site does not make me a believer from what is presented there.

    Kat or Katapult’s site is interesting too. However, reading the things there would not make me a sceptic. Many of the headings that explain cryptids are not correct. For example, if you read the examples of what is listed to discredit Yeti or BF are simply half true or incorrect. She has listed unknown DNA which is completely different than the evidence that is presented, unknown hominid DNA. There is a huge difference! She leaves some important words and details out. She presents some facts mixed in with semi truths and leaves some real evidence out, such as eyewitness statements, key words such as “hominid” which she replaces with the word “unknown”. She is subjective in her writing as she tries to lean it towards the sceptic camp, which is probably her religion, unadulterated scepticism.

    In the same vein, I would have to disregard her site as a sceptic just as I would disregard Finney’s site for believers. The truth lies somewhere in between. The truth lies in objectivity. And that is the camp to which I belong and so many others. This is the camp to be in for true research, in finding unknown animals as we did in Viet Nam. This would be the camp where things may be proven or disproven. We never throw out the baby with the bathwater. We have no pre-existing ideas. We are objective like that. We go where the evidence takes us and do not follow some predetermined route that matches our belief system.

    So, no, I am not a believer in the unexplained. Nor am I a disbeliever in the unexplained. I am objective!

    That’s my two cents, well after this novel I should say, that is my twenty bucks! LOL

  5. Carol Maltby responds:

    Kat, you might want to go to your website’s “About” section, and type the name of your own business correctly.

  6. Goodfoot responds:

    Nothing to see here, lady… please move along.

  7. springheeledjack responds:

    Eh, what can I say that hasn’t been said. When ignorant people make assumptions without actually knowing what they’re talking about, it’s hard to take them seriously. As PhotoExpert pointed out and Poetics, there is indeed a lot of scientific process involved in true cryptozoology.

    Since you can’t really get a degree in crypto, it’s always a lot of other degrees that come into play to serve that cause: biology, zoology, sociology, archaeology, paleontology…have I missed any ologies? Probably. It’s not that it’s a pseudo science, but that it’s a separate science devoted to the undocumented. And people join in the hunt and the cause coming from all kinds of backgrounds exactly because it doesn’t have an academic track.

    It’s not pseudo at all–however (have I mentioned I like that word???), cryptozoology gets lumped into categories like “pseudo-science” and bunk because of the extremists who make the papers, the tabloids and the stories that media turns to on a slow day for shock and campfire value. Things like the bathtub sasquatch in Georgia, just to name one.

    I often roll my eyes at a lot of the “crypto” shows that hit the channels (although I admit a guilty pleasure in that Real and Chance: Legend Hunters–sad, I know, but it amused the you-know-what out of me). Most of them fall short of what they should be doing and representing, but at the same time, all of these shows (except for maybe the one I just mentioned :)) bring cryptozoology into the eye of the public. And bingo, things like Bigfoot and Nessie and Mothman become household words. It happened back in the seventies with the “In Search Of” series and it’s happening again with Finding Bigfoot. In my social circles and work place, bigfoot is a water cooler discussion from time to time, where even five years earlier, that subject didn’t come up unless we were really off on a tangent and I was in one of my crypto moods.

    It seems that it takes ideas and subjects becoming mainstream before the general public accepts them, which in turn leads to “authoritative” groups taking them seriously. Look at how many groups (some legitimate and some more than suspect :)) are working to find DNA and other proof of Bigfoot. Look at legitimate researchers like Jeff Meldrum who are taking a stance for the existence of Bigfoot (not to insult a multitude of others here, but he just popped into my head).

    You’ll always have your naysayers on almost any topic (the world is flat you know:), but my feel is that a larger portion of the general public knows the word “cryptozoology” at least in passing and more and more people talk about things like bigfoot and lake monsters. I know it’s true for my little corner of the world.

  8. evilangusyeti responds:

    As a long time reader of this site, I have never heard it put so directly factual as PhotoExpert has. I make few comments but I really enjoy the discourse of DWA, MMan, Red Pill junkie, and of course PhotoExpert. I did not even realize I was in the third camp until I read his post. I grew up on the res (Cherokee) but obtained a Bio degree where I learned to seperate belief from theory. Photo Expert did that in a few a paragraphs where it took me 2 years of study. I would like to take this moment to thank him and DWA for many hours of reading enjoyment. It is posters like DWA, Photo Expert, MMan and many other that makes this the best Crypto site on the net. Thanks you guys! And big thanks to Craig for a platform. Make room for me in the third camp of objectivity!

  9. evilangusyeti responds:

    Taking Photo Experts advice on viewing “Kat’s” website I came across an interesting statement I have never seen before. Here is a cut and paste:
    “In 1967 special effects professionals Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin hired a friend of theirs to dress in a monkey suit and pose for the now famous Big Foot footage.”
    I have never read or heard of either of these men working in the special effects field. Can anyone confirm this? I think it is just an opinion of Kat’s but would like to know if there is any truth in her statement. I have read tons of the PG footage case and have never seen it stated that P and G were professional Hollywood Special Effects techs. Any comments welcome for my education on this piece of the puzzle.

  10. somebodyssquatchingme responds:

    PhotoExpert, thank you for giving us a home: Camp 3.

    Those of us in this camp understand one basic principle… all science was crypto- at the beginning. When mankind first started trying to figure out the world ten thousand years ago, or so, astronomy, biology, physics, zoology, etc., etc. were all crypto- fields.

    We try to figure everything out. Over those millennia, the folks trying the hardest were generally received at heretics, blasphemers, and traitors. They were banished, tortured, and burned at the stake. Today, we call them scholars and scientists.

    At best, it seems absurd that any person would think that we have uncovered all truths and figured everything out. That is why there are so many people in Camp 3. We know through the simple review of history that more truths will be found every year, and that 2014, 2015, and so on, will be no exception.

    The believers and skeptics in Camps 1 and 2 think they already have the answers. We, in Camp 3, simply ask, “Really?”

  11. DWA responds:

    The cool thing about good “idiot radar” is that it allows one to skip right down here after reading three lines or so of some stupid rant and tell someone reading up is a Good Idea before opining on something.

  12. DWA responds:

    somebodyssquatchingme:

    Then there’s good “Here’s a Smart Guy radar,” that prompts someone to read a guy’s entire post.

    Nice.

  13. Goodfoot responds:

    evilangusyeti: “special effects professionals Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin”

    There’s reason you never heard about it: IT’S MADE UP. I’m not sure about Patterson, but Gimlin was a rancher and horse-trainer.

  14. DWA responds:

    evilangusyeti: Thanks. I do what I can.

    Anyone who lists mystery_man, red_pill, PhotoExpert (and personally I’d toss Springheeledjack in there too) as his favorite posters lists very good reasons to be here. They’re why I come, too.

  15. PhotoExpert responds:

    Wow! I am truly surprised and also flattered by the reaction to my post. Thank you so much to those that responded. I did not know that it would touch that many people the way it did. I just post, speak my mind and rarely care if anyone agrees or disagrees with it. This time I care because I see I have touched people who feel the same as I do. Thank you all for your responses. And now for some personal comments to a few of those responders.

    springheeledjack– As you know, I have been reading all of your posts. I enjoy each and every one! You always have something interesting to add and do it a way I find humorous. Good points made with this latest one!

    evilangusyeti–You are welcome! Thank you so much for your kind words and sentiment. Yes, you are definitely a member of the 3rd camp. We are part of the same tribe as far as that is concerned. I always try to help people and bring clarity to people. I am glad I could do for you what 2 years of study could not! Your second post here was also excellent! You and I both agree on Kat’s site. In fact, the exact sentence you cut and pasted from that site is the same one I took most issue with. I believe that is Kat’s opinion. Patterson and Gimlin had about as much to do with special effects as a beer vendor has to do with Major League Baseball. From what I know about both men, there is little to no truth in Kat’s statement. But she will try to lean you that way, to her religion, scepticism! And she claims that the BF in the PG film was a friend of the two men, dressed in a monkey suit. LOL Well, I do know where she gets that ridiculous idea from. Dr. Bob Heironimus claimed to have dressed in the suit for that footage. He made all kinds of claims which he could never back up. In fact, he was challenged to produce the “monkey suit” and could not. Of course, at the time, the best Hollywood special effects artist could not produce a suit with the detail in the PG footage. But even decades later, Heironimus could not produce the suit or any kind of suit. Heironimus could not back up his statements. In the opinion of most, he is a bit of a kook! But that is where she comes up with these ideas. She reads some internet drivel, that was never proven and states it as fact! I hope that helps!

    somebodyssquatchingme–You are very welcome! You are also a member of the tribe, Camp 3! As the other two camps fight back and forth and name call, we are left to do the true research. It is good to have you around brother! I have not read many of your posts, but I look forward to reading your future posts. Your posting makes perfect sense! I am going to keep an eye out for you here at Cryptomundo!

    DWA–Geesh, for a minute I thought you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. But after reading your last post in this thread, I realized it was the same DWA I always knew. Whew! Good to see you posting. As DWA already knows, but a few of you may not know, DWA is one of the reasons I frequent this forum. I would add his name to my “must read” list. We are like brothers from a different mother. His posts are awesome and inspiring. And one thing DWA is an advocate for and I have followed him in his path of advocacy, is that as researching goes–one can not exclude eyewitnesses and their testimony. Sure, you can scrutinize that testimony all you want, but what you can not do as an objective evaluater is EXCLUDE that testimony! This is what many sceptics or scoptics do!

    Goodfoot–Your second post here was excellent reading. You got it exactly right. It was made up! I do not know why people do that, but they do. Excellent point and excellent post! Very to the point.

  16. DWA responds:

    PhotoExpert:

    Speaking of “wrong side of the bed,” I’m surprised that nobody has “called” me on “not noticing” that the rant to which we are all responding isn’t in fact a “stupid rant,” as I phrased it, but rather a nepotistic sales pitchdisguised as a stupid rant!

    (Thanks Ken. I’d never have read back.)

    As if there’s a diff.

    (Think of the effectiveness of one’s sales pitch if I never got to the pitch.)

    But still. Can’t win ‘em all! Thanks for the kind words, as usual.

  17. springheeledjack responds:

    I think we’ve beat Kat’s horse down to its bones…good show. And I’ve successfully avoided going to the site to make sure her marketing tool didn’t do it’s job.

    Thanks for the nods from the rest of you–I always enjoy the debates and the back and forth banter from the “usual cohorts.” We have a lot of worthwhile discussions or else I wouldn’t spend so much time here. There’s a lot of good heads on this site with GOOD common sense–who are promoting and using a scientific approach to cryptids.

    I also troll the site to see and listen as new people get involved. Just because you’re new to the site or even the pursuit of crypto, don’t be afraid to jump in. It’s all in good fun and investigation. Some sites I’ve seen and lurked around are a lot more cynical and snide when it comes to new or less knowledgeable posters. So thanks to Craig for running a quality show here!

    I also appreciate those who just like to peek in to see what the rest of us are on a rant about…or who. Speaking of which, where’s Ben…



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