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Sharon Hill of Doubtful News Responds to Bigfoot DNA

Posted by: Guy Edwards on November 26th, 2012

Bigfoot Lunch Club

To make such an extraordinary claim is to put yourself out on such a long, unstable limb! It is not how science is done, it’s how pseudoscience is done.Sharon Hill of Doubtful News reacting to Melba Ketchum’s Press Release

Sharon Hill is the editor of DoubtfulNews.com, it would not hurt our feelings one bit, if you jumped directly to her post titled, “Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data“.

For the rest of you, let us tell you why Doubtful News is an important blog for bigfooters to follow. Unlike some of the other skeptics, Sharon Hill is extremely consistent in her critical thinking and arguments. Also unlike other skeptics, she does not pick low-hanging fruit to mock Bigfooters. The best reason to read Doubtful News is to get a fresh perspective, at Bigfoot Lunch Club, we have been challenged by Sharon Hill and feel we have been the better for it.

You can get a taste of her style from the excerpt below lifted from her Nov. 25, 2012 post, “Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data

To make such an extraordinary claim is to put yourself out on such a long, unstable limb! It is not how science is done, it’s how pseudoscience is done. But, let’s just say that Dr. K has results and is confident in them. She sure is in a pickle now because there is still NO paper and no hint of when or where it will be published. Much is going on behind the scenes that the interested public is not privy to. To be practical, this announcement gets us absolutely NO further to a Bigfoot discovery than yesterday or the day before. It’s still vaporware. No paper, no data, no body, no Bigfoot.Sharon Hill

Read the rest at Doubtful News: “Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data“.

Click the following link to read Bigfoot Lunch Club’s previous coverage of Sharon Hill

Guy Edwards About Guy Edwards
Psychology reduces to biology, all biology to chemistry, chemistry to physics, and finally physics to mathematical logic. Guy Edwards is host of the Portland, OR event HopsSquatch.com.


23 Responses to “Sharon Hill of Doubtful News Responds to Bigfoot DNA”

  1. Loren Coleman responds:

    I agree.

  2. Redrose999 responds:

    I think it it is a good idea too.

  3. DT responds:

    Hoping? Yes. Waiting? Always. Believing? Doubtful.

  4. MR JOSHUA responds:

    I applaud Sharon Hill for her healthy skepticism on these bold claims by Dr Ketchum. In my honest opinion this so called “DNA” is right up there with the Yeti cave/hair samples in Siberia. Put your money where your mouth is and bring in an independent board of scientists to verify your results before you start telling us sasquatch is a hybrid from 15,000 years ago. Lets be a little more critical here….only evidence I see is a very strong claim on a facebook post and that just does not stand up.

  5. Ploughboy responds:

    Sad and true. The real risk here is, I think: If the data is never produced for peer review by the larger scientific world, the whole field of endeavor suffers damage. That would be a missed opportunity and a real shame to all who really want to see this science taken to the next level.

    Tick-tock Dr. Ketchum. As I understand it, your hand was forced, but you’ve now raised the bet with your press release. You’ve also done a very tidy job of building anticipation for your research results. Your bet is called. Show your cards. You can no longer delay that, even another day. Follow up now or risk having your work rendered completely irrelevant.

  6. Taylor Wypy via Facebook responds:

    Definitely. I agree with her 100%.

  7. shill responds:

    As Loren knows, I’ve long been critical of cryptozoology as practiced by people who just given themselves a title and head out into the woods. It’s very “scientifical” but not “scientific”. But this study is serious stuff. However, the route that is has taken has not only been rather unprofessional so far (posting facebook statuses and leaking information, etc.), but now Dr. Ketchum has built up a very big house of cards.

    Science by press release is often a bust. Make no mistake, she will not have an easy time of this, “good and solid” or not, when even the samples themselves are of dubious origin. Lots of people are hopeful but there will be serious questions to answer about contamination. Do you want to believe? Or do you want the real answer? To get to the real answer will take some scientific skepticism.

  8. Hapa responds:

    I find the premise of a half human half non human primate monster very iffy to begin with: what monster bequeathed the non-human primate DNA? And why is there so comparatively Facebook news briefs, but none eminating from the DNA Diagnostics page? I’ve been watching that website for who knows how long, perhaps a year or more, nothing.

    I think Ms. or Mrs. (?) Hill hits the nail on the head with how she ends her report above: “…no body, no Bigfoot.”

    I couldn’t say that better myself.

  9. CDC responds:

    This is where the true battle between “skeptic” and “believer” is exposed.

    Michael Shermer, Todd Disotell, and Sharon Hill, have each at one time made the claim that Bigfoot does not exist. These three well known skeptics are in my opinion practicing Pseudoskepticism.

    Science does not care one way or the other if Bigfoot exists…all that science demands is proof.

    In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant, and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He or she asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof.

    For Sharon Hill to claim “no Bigfoot”, she is making a claim that Bigfoot does not exist and the burden of proof for that claim falls upon her.

    Pseudoskeptics should be held to the same standards as those they claim are practicing “Pseudoscience”.

    The tricks Pseudoskeptics use…
    1. Denying, when only doubt has been established
    2. Double standards in the application of criticism
    3. The tendency to discredit rather than investigate
    4. Presenting insufficent evidence of proof
    5. Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
    6. Making unsubstantiated counter-claims
    7. Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
    8. Suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim

    Sharon Hill should have waited for Dr Ketchum’s paper and then challenged her evidence, not challenging Dr Ketchum without viewing her paper.

    I have attacked Matt Moneymaker for his unsubstantiated claims, for me to be consistent, I must attack Sharon Hill for her opinions on Dr Ketchum for a paper Sharon Hill has not seen.

    Sharon Hill should sit quietly and wait for Dr Ketchum’s evidence as a “true” skeptic would. For Sharon Hill to spout her opinions before seeing a paper…she is no different than the true believer.

    There is nothing wrong with being a pseudoskeptic or a true believer…just don’t either try and assume to know more than the other…until the evidence has been shown.

    In my opinion

  10. Raiderpithicusblaci responds:

    Very well put, Cdc. are we to assume dr ketchum awoke one morning and decided to throw her career to the winds?as dr Heuvelmans wrote, “The Great Days of Zoology Are Not Done”. try as they might, the skeptics STILL cannot diminish the Patterson film; the sustained brilliance of a Jeff Meldrum; the pioneering curiosity of an Ivan t. Sanderson; or the regal professionalism of a Peter Byrne.Lets all keep an open mind, people; this is our finist hour.

  11. D2K4 responds:

    What Sharon Hill says in this article is spot on. Everyone involved in this whole “Bigfoot is a human hybrid” circus has really done themselves, and cryptozoology as a study, a great disservice in how they have gone about this. Claiming that Sasquatch is a human hybrid, something that seems next to impossible all things considered, and then going out and demanding that the government provide immediate protection to them as an “indigeneous people” without producing a peer reviewed paper first is not how credible scientists conduct themselves. This, frankly, smells of a hoax and the longer we go without seeing the proof the worse it will stink. And when this does unravel like it seems on the inevitable path towards doing, it’s going to be counted as yet one more embarrassing incident that serious cryptozoologist (and cryptozoology enthusiasts) will wish had never happened as it’s going to further stigmatize the good and honest research that’s being conducted in the pursuit of the truth regarding hidden animals.

  12. airforce47 responds:

    Greetings CDC,

    Your post makes some valid points as does Sharon Hill. However, one point is missing. Dr. Ketchum is a credentialed scientist and if her DNA analysis turns out to be junk science and a fraud then her career and her business are probably finished.

    I have my skepticism about her work but I want to see her paper and the scientific review of it. She deserves that much patience but the longer she waits the greater becomes the chance her work is a fraud and not credible.

    As for the existence of the species my friends and I are in the know and we know the species exists. We’ve seen them in our research area and sometimes they’ve chased us out the last time being this past June 13th.

    The experience was my 5th and I’ve had enough of getting chased out of the woods by an angry intimidating Bigfoot. If it happens again either the Bigfoot comes out to be delivered to a forensic scientist or searchers can bring me out if they can find me. My best,

  13. D2K4 responds:

    Just a quick and respectful reply if I may to Raiderpithicusblaci, about urging us all to “keep an open mind”.

    No, let’s not keep an open mind here. Let’s apply the scientific method to this and other claims. Let’s insist that claims of scientific findings regarding cryptozoology, especially the fantastic ones like this supposed paper we are yet to see, be subjected to peer review and heavy scrutiny before we go out there saying this is “our finest hour” based on a press release. Let’s treat cryptozoology like a science rather than a religion and insist on facts and evidence, responding to these moments with the cold light of reason rather than knee jerk acceptance.

    And to CDC, again, respectfully:

    The fact of the matter here is that Dr. Ketchum and co here have handled this whole thing irresponsibly-putting out a press release to announce really fantastic findings before the paper was subjected to the peer review process and without releasing any of the data or other relevant information to the findings. Not only that, but Dr. Ketchum is claiming that Bigfoot is a human-hybrid, something that, when you look at the science of genetics, seems down right impossible. Furthermore, she took the outrageous step of calling for them to be protected as indigenous people by the government while doing this. This is not how a responsible scientist behaves when they have an important new discovery.

    Crytozoology is “the science of hidden animals”. As such, we should take the approach of scientists and subject claims and findings to the highest scrutiny we can. I think all of us here want this to be true-we all want to see the day that a major cryptid is proven to be a real animal. But we have to put those feelings aside and go about this in the right way-the scientific way.

  14. dconstrukt responds:

    i’m with Loren on this one.

  15. DWA responds:

    Um…you’re all right.

    1) Science isn’t done this way. You get Breath One when they present the findings, in toto. There’s never any of this “here, let’s raise a corner of the curtain” stuff. It’s not as utterly professional and completely objective as scientists would often have you believe. But it usually beats this by a lot. Burtsev overstepped. The proper response from Melba would have been folks, paper isn’t ready yet, so no further word until it is. But there seems in this field quite a lot of the kid on Christmas morning who just can’t wait to see the prize, and the gossip who just got something really juicy and can’t help but spill a few beans. Is it really that hard to keep the lid on this – to say nothing of all the bigfoot you’ve hung out with – until all ducks are in a row?

    2) By the same token, “skeptics” – and when it comes to crypto, they generally aren’t – always attack the soft underbelly rather than the hard research. The evidence points overwhelmingly to an unlisted species. But they say it isn’t evidence. That’s not skeptical; that’s an untested assumption, which actual skeptics – like, for example, Jeff Meldrum – know never to make. And it’s an incorrect one to boot. They don’t do their homework. All the significant debunking in the sasquatch field has been done by the proponents.

    So there’s plenty of blame to go around here. Anyone who is wondering what the sasquatch’s “invisibility cloak” is, just re-read.

  16. Redrose999 responds:

    I think Sharon’s thoughts are well put, but I also think CDC hit the nail on the head. I would like to add, being a skeptic, is not science, it is a profession. Their job is not to discover, it is to seek out possibilities or explanations with pre-existing data. Not to discover new data.

    I do agree with Sharon on this matter, and would also like to point out that many people in the science community frequent her blogs and hold her in high regard. Any of the discussions I’ve seen about her posts have always focused on assumptions based on skepticism and not looking into the people involved in Cryptozoology. And it all comes down to the skeptic ideology of if it doesn’t exist, you’re a fool to look for it. Curiosity in these subjects is only based on proving the object in question doesn’t exist and if you do any different, you are a believer and a nutjob.

    Where I stand differently on the subject is, I feel it’s wrong to discourage curiosity and the desire to explore ideas dealing with unknown animals. We’d never discover anything if we listened to skeptics all the time.

  17. norman-uk responds:

    CDC

    Very well said!

    I don’t think sharon hill’s venting hot steam added anything to sasquatch knowledge or scientific development. Her own statements are very suspect.

    For those who have serious doubts about Dr Ketchum’s and her teams work I recommend following professor Hawks example whether for or against.

    I quote:

    This has been developing for a while. Until I see the data, I am withholding judgment.

    One benefit of the world of genetics as opposed to traditional anthropology: The original sequence data must be made available to the public. No data, no discovery.

  18. shill responds:

    Re: CDC You have mischaracterized science, skepticism and my position. I’ve never said “Bigfoot doesn’t exist”, I’ve said the evidence so far is not convincing and it’s a HUGE claim since other lines of evidence (fossil record, wildlife surveys, photographic evidence, etc.) have not pointing in this direction either. Skepticism is about considering the evidence. After a certain point you have to make an effective decision on whether Bigfoot exists or not. Right now, I’m with “not” but that could change. If the evidence is convincing, I will change. Evidence, however, is seen rather differently by various people.

    When I said “no Bigfoot” with regards to Melba’s study, I was saying that in the context of her claim that she has Bigfoot DNA. We don’t have a body so how can we know it’s actually from the animal itself. Contamination is an explanation that makes sense and must be considered. I’m not going to say Bigfoot exists on the basis of a press release. That was the point of the piece – there is no data.

    If I was dismissive of Bigfoot, I wouldn’t be eager to see this paper and what it says. I’d assume that it’s already bogus. I suspect there is something wrong with her conclusions but I’m actually not well versed enough in genetics to tell so I will leave that determination up to people who do. My beef is with the way this study has been handled and many here agree it’s been handled less than ideally which leaves it open to criticism. That is what scientists do. The burden of proof is on the person saying she has Bigfoot DNA.

    I appreciate the comment that said I don’t attack people but just ideas and methodology. That’s my goal.

  19. dconstrukt responds:

    you gotta be open minded to whats out there… but at the same token, some of the stuff passed as proof is comical.

    Make it easy for people to believe… give them good proof. :)

  20. DWA responds:

    dconstrukt:

    This isn’t about “belief.” And it isn’t about proof, yet.

    It’s about the evidence.

    For my part I consider this a sideshow until the results are reviewed and finalized.

    Until then, all is gossip (something scientists generally avoid by zipping lips until results are in).

    When you are read up on the evidence, you don’t need stuff like this to tell you what to think.

  21. CDC responds:

    @Shill

    Ms Hill, I only go by what you have written and what I have read. I try to be as honest as I possibly can, so please forgive me for my “opinion” if it offends.

    I do not believe you are a skeptic based on what you have written in the past. In my opinion you practice pseudoskepticism, and are a “debunker” not a skeptic.

    A true “skeptic”…
    1. Acceptance of doubt when neither assertion nor denial has been established
    2. No burden of proof to take an agnostic position
    3. Agreement that the corpus of established knowledge must be based on what is proved, but recognizing its incompleteness
    4. Even-handedness in requirement for proofs, whatever their implication
    5. Accepting that a failure of a proof in itself proves nothing
    6. Continuing examination of the results of experiments even when flaws are found

    Today genuine skepticism that looks evenly in all directions and encourages the advancement of knowledge seems vanishingly rare. Instead, we find a prevalence of pseudoskepticism consisting of harsh and invidious skepticism towards one’s opponent’s points of view and observations, and the egregious self-congratulatory confirmatory bias towards one’s own stances and findings misrepresented as the earnest and dispassionate pursuit of clinical, scholary, and scientific truth.

    “Debunkers” such as Phillip Klass, Joe Nickell, Penn & Teller, James Randi, and yourself, attempt to expose or discredit claims believed to be false, exaggerated, or pretentious. You try to reduce the inflated reputation of someone, especially by ridicule. These are members of the skeptic community who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry.

    You have every right to state your “opinion” on how Dr. Ketchum handles anything, but you use science as the hammer to pound that nail that is only your “opinion”.

    When I was young, we had a weatherman on a Hawaiian TV station that would tell jokes, wear costumes, and have clownish behavior, but he always told us when it would rain…he got it right. You can comment on Dr Ketchum’s actions, but that’s not science. Science doesn’t care how anyone behaves…science just examines the evidence, NOT THE PERSON

    You once tweeted, “I don’t think much of Hollywood types. Very shallow thinkers, not creative”. That is your “opinion”, and I wonder if you were “critically thinking” when you made it.

    There is nothing wrong with being a “debunker”, but please allow Dr. Ketchum to be whatever she chooses to be. Bottom line is, it is Dr. Ketchum who will rise or fall in the end…there will be plenty of time to praise or attack once her paper is provided.

    I understand skepticism better than most…just sometimes “skeptics” don’t understand skepticism themselves.

  22. shill responds:

    CDC: Well, I guess you showed me that I’ve just been doing it wrong all these decades with my sciencey degrees and activism and all…

    :rolleyes:

  23. CDC responds:

    @Shill

    Again, forgive me for expressing my opinion of your statements. By your “rolleyes” response, I will take it that my comments were not welcome nor appreciated. I apologize if I offended you in any way…again, it was simply my opinion.

    I wonder how Dr. Melba Ketchum must feel when her comments and actions are judged by others in a similar way? I guess you and others really “showed” her.

    Maybe she should be less sensitive to comments and possibly look at them as constructive opinions on how to…well, nevermind, who am I to make comments on how others should present themselves when they make public statements.



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