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Bad Yeti Science from Ben Radford

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 5th, 2007

ben eyes

Benjamin Radford, who is called LiveScience’s “Bad Science Columnist,” lives up to his title in a new posting about Yeti in which he spreads more bad science.

I understand that newspaper writers are often not to blame for their headlines, but in this case I wonder if Radford dreamed up the headline for his own column? Entitled “The Truth About the Abominable Snowman,” it sounds dangerously close to stating an absolute and true believer stance, if you ask me. That Radford would think he has the “truth” about anything seems a bit much. He has stumbled in this attempt.

The column is about the recent Joshua Gates find of footprints said to be from a Yeti. As opposed to being totally on the opposite side of the aisle here, from Radford, I have had my own questions about the first cast shared by the media, about how intriguingly similar this 2007 cast seemed to be to the 2006 Johor “Bigfoot” cast, and I even questioned whether some stock photos were being used. But I admitted here I was mistaken about the cast being the same. Will Ben Radford someday admit this column of his is over-the-top?

I differ with Radford on various statements in his new column (which you can read completely here). I will concentrate on a few counterpoints.

First, Radford spends two paragraphs spreading the old 1960 “bad science” debunking points that footprints in snow melt into larger prints and that’s the reason we have Yeti tracks. This might be important to discuss if Gates had found his alleged Yeti footprints in snow, I suppose, but Gates did not. Amazingly enough, Radford after going on and on about melting snow, then mentions that the Gates tracks were not found in snow.

new yeti cast

As Gates has noted from the beginning, he cast the track on the bank of the Manju River. BTW, Gates says it was in sandy soil, not “rocky soil,” as Radford claims.

Next Radford shows himself to know nothing about the science of tracking animals. Radford writes: “If the soil was soft enough to make a valid impression as Gates claimed, it is puzzling that he found only one complete track. Unless the creature was dropped from a helicopter, scampered a few feet, and then picked up again, there should be a continuous line of dozens of tracks. Or, if the terrain is so poor at capturing tracks that he only found one full print, how accurate can Gates’s track be?”

Radford tries to use ridiculing “helicopter humor” to hide the fact he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Animals do not necessarily leave textbook pictures of trailways. They are, after all, animals, and they jump from rocks to rocks, go into the water at a riverbank, and check out the root systems of trees, where prints are not usually left.

Radford does not even know what the bank of this river looks like and he’s saying “dozens of tracks” should have been left. In reality, Gates made and has mostly shown one cast from one of the three footprints found on Wednesday, November 28, 2007. The media releases have focussed on the one complete track cast, as they always do. Actually, if you view the new Fox video uploaded here, you can see a partial print that Gates showed at his Asian press conference of another track.

But back to those melting snow tracks, for a moment: There is one major failing of the old 1960 World Book argument, promoted by Marlin Perkins and Edmund Hillary. In rushing to explain that Yeti tracks are just “melting fox tracks” or “melting wolf tracks,” skeptics in the 1960s ignored what the melting does to stride. Here again, Radford never addresses the fact that melting prints get closer and the stride is reduced. I don’t know a good tracker who is worth his or her salt that can’t tell that snow-melt is responsible when the stride is taken into account. Think about it.

Next, Radford takes the quick route to say: “Those who live in the foothills of the Himalayas are skeptical about Gates’s claim, suggesting that he simply misinterpreted tracks from a mountain bear.”

ben bigfoot

Ben Radford often uses “straw Yeti” and “straw Bigfoot” in his presentations to knock down better pieces of evidence by pointing to the weaker elements in the file. Above he is shown with a hoaxed image of Bigfoot during one such critical talk.

In Radford’s “Bad Science” column he seems to initially be relying on one quote in the current Gates flap from Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, who incorrectly said: “The footprints may be from a Himalayan bear. It is believed that Yetis have only four toes but the footprints recorded by the US team have five toes.” This would be news to hundreds of years of other Sherpas, Nepalese, and Western climbers such as Eric Shipton who have found five-toed Yeti footprints.

Radford then goes on in the next sentences of the same paragraph to support his “bear” argument with a New Zealander (Sir Edmund Hillary) and a German (Reinhold Messner). Messner and Hillary do not live in the foothills of the Himalayas, please note.

The “bear stories” from these two men also do not hold up scientifically. Hillary knowingly had his man Desmond Doig buy a bear fur at a marketplace during the World Book expedition, told the media he wondered if it was from a Yeti, and then later revealed to the scientists and media the fur was from a rare blue bear. Messner’s “Yeti-is-a-bear” theory was promoted to sell his book a few years ago. For those that understand there are many Yetis, Messner and Hillary merely confirmed what Sherpas, Nepalese, Ivan Sanderson, Bernard Heuvelmans, and I have pointed out for decades – the “Dzu-Teh” is an upper montane bear (but the “Meh-Teh” and “Teh-Lma” are not bears). There never has been “one” Yeti. It is more complex than what Radford would have you believe.

Unfortunately, as often occurs in such skeptical assaults against new pieces of evidence in cryptozoology, I find Ben Radford has drifted into an ad hominem (Latin: “argument against the man”) attack aimed at Joshua Gates. Radford writes: “Gates is an actor, not a zoologist or animal tracker, and has little or no experience with supposed Yeti footprints. Gates’s credibility is not helped by his appearances on the ‘Ghost Hunters’ television show.”

Radford makes no sense in this criticism. First of all, Radford is the person that actually wrote me in an email comment that Gates has a degree in archaeology. But here we find Radford questioning Gates’ credibility in his article because Gates is “working” in the entertainment field. If Gates is an actor and television host, won’t we expect him to have on his resume some jobs in this field? That makes as much sense as me asking you to question what degrees does Radford have to write about Yeti, because after all Radford’s been a part-time film critic since 1994. Come on, Ben!

ben ufos

Or does it mean that Radford can’t be a skeptic of cryptids just because he’s been associated with UFO debunkers and pictured with aliens? No, of course, not. Radford needs to reexamine his ad hominem style of critiquing people, which he so frequently seems to fall into doing. What do they say about people that live in glass houses?

I have open questions about the Yeti cast being flown out of Asia as I write this, but I have not been enlightened by reading Ben Radford’s “truth” about the Abominable Snowmen, that’s for sure.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

90 Responses to “Bad Yeti Science from Ben Radford”

  1. squatch-toba responds:

    Hi Loren, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one!! Radford and his “type” are SO desperate to debunk everything that they deem unreal, that they usually end up with a foot in their own mouths. These are people who, for the most part, don’t know a thing about the subject they are trying to trash. Yet they continue to spout off about it like they are some sort of an expert!! So maddening!!! You just have to consider the source!! I’d like to quote the late, great Rene Dahinden by saying “If you don’t know the facts, your opinion is of no value.” I think that pretty much says it all.

  2. wayne_cramp responds:

    While I agree with what you have to say in this instance, Loren, I don’t think we can lump Radford into the category of “True Believer” in that, for the most part, his work is generally well thought out. In this case, however, he seems to have crossed the line.

  3. Saint Vitus responds:

    That hoaxed Bigfoot photo is pretty funny. One thing I have heard that may explain some of the Yeti sightings is a kind of monkey found in that area that sometimes stands on its hind legs, and on the side of a mountain or somewhere where it is difficult to judge size, it could be misinterpreted as a Yeti. That doesn’t explain the tracks though!

  4. DARHOP responds:

    Talk about bad science. Ben is giving his own magazine a bad rep.

  5. Ceroill responds:

    Curious. A man who touts the use of logic, but does not check his facts?

  6. greywolf responds:

    Mr. Radford is a skeptic who does not have the open mind for what might be. Some one said the Wright Bros would never get off the ground. Also Gorillas were thought to be imagination until a “Great White Hunter” brought one dead one back and dumped it on the table. It is ok to doubt or be skeptical but do so with an open mind and don’t use hoax pictures and bad science to support your “fax”.

  7. MattBille responds:

    I respect Ben and sometimes agree with him. But I don’t understand why we never see the end of the “melted out” footprint explanation for tracks found in snow. To all who consider this possible, I say, TRY THE EXPERIMENT.

  8. jerrywayne responds:

    I think our kind host and Mr. Radford have lives that many of us dream of: on the track of unknown animals.

    I read Mr. Radford’s article and really didn’t find it nearly as objectionable as it was made to appear in the above piece.

    I’m always surprised by the bad feelings generated by skeptics here at Cryptomundo. Skeptics are not the bad guys. They are simply more cautious and far less willing to hold sure belief without hard evidence than many others who post here (on the “big ticket” cryptids, i.e., Nessie, Bigfoot, Yeti, Mothman, etc.)

  9. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Sadly, in his rush to criticize me, Loren has made several errors and mistaken assumptions. What’s especially interesting, if you read his criticisms closely, is that he has a hard time actually pointing out any factual errors.

    First, he blames me for the title, “The Truth About the Abominable Snowman.” Loren has been around long enough to know that editors, not writers, write headlines. In fact, the title I sent it under was, “Evidence for the Abominable Snowman? Not Yeti!” which I think is not only more clever, but more accurate.

    Second, he criticizes me for writing about how tracks found in snow can be misinterpreted. I clearly stated that the Gates track was not found in snow; I was merely giving a context to previous Yeti tracks. Loren doesn’t say I am factually wrong anywhere, so I’m not sure what he’s exercised about.

    Third, he takes me to task for stating that the track was found in “rocky soil.” Well, that’s apparently what Gates told the BBC: “Asked why there were only three prints, Mr Gates said the terrain was mainly rocky.” I can hardly be faulted for believing a BBC news report; I wasn’t there, and neither was Loren. Was my claim factually wrong?

    Fourth, Loren suggests that mentioning Gates’s lack of scientific credentials is somehow a personal attack. What? Gates either has scientific credentials or expertise or he doesn’t. This is a factual matter, not a personal insult. Again, everything I wrote is true: Gates is an actor; as far as has been reported, he has no particular expertise in zoology or animal tracks. Yes, Gates apparently has a degree in archaeology… what does that have to do with his ability to analyze Yeti tracks? And as for the Ghost Hunters, I have been quite candid about the lack of science on the program, and in my opinion, that does not aid Gates’s credibility.

    Fifth, Loren criticizes me for comments about four-and five-toed prints that do not even appear in my column!. I didn’t quote the person he cites or say anything about these tracks, yet Loren somehow manages to slam me for something I didn’t write! He also suggests I didn’t know Gates found three tracks, when I clearly state that in my piece…

    The only criticism that holds weight is my comment about how we might expect dozens of tracks. That is admittedly a guess; I haven’t personally seen the soil medium, and neither has Loren.

    In sum, I’m puzzled about what, exactly, Loren is criticizing. I hope he or someone else can clarify. I welcome legitimate and sincere criticism, but not unfocused smears like this one.

    I notice that Loren carefully avoided commenting on the two main theses of the column:

    1) “Just because Gates doesn’t know what made the track doesn’t mean that a Yeti did.” True or not? Good logic or bad?

    2) “If the soil was soft enough to make a valid impression as Gates claimed, it is puzzling that he found only one complete track…Or, if the terrain is so poor at capturing tracks that he only found one full print, how accurate can Gates’s track be?” True or not? Good logic or bad?

    Then, of course, there are comments such as that from Ceroill: “Curious. A man who touts the use of logic, but does not check his facts?”

    What facts did I not check? Which specific facts did I get wrong?

  10. Shane Durgee responds:

    “Skeptics are not the bad guys. They are simply more cautious and far less willing to hold sure belief without hard evidence ”

    I find more often than not that skeptics display willful ignorance, as in Bradford’s article, of the subject they are attacking.

    I’m not trying to sink into name calling, but I think that’s the textbook definition of stupidity. Most people seem to be stupid about the existing yeti and sasquatch evidence.

  11. sschaper responds:

    There are people with a proper “show me” attitude, and then there are the ideological skeptics, who are likely related to the new militant atheist extremism, and insist that nothing can exist that they don’t already know about, or which doesn’t necessarily fit the dominant operant paradigm. The latter are the type of “skeptics” rightly criticized here. They would not believe even if a man rose from the dead!

  12. Sergio responds:

    As I’ve said many times here and elsewhere, Benjamin Radford is the kid on the playground who makes fun of all the kids, and then argues with everyone about how everyone should love him since he has a degree in psychology, and then wonders why no one actually likes him.

    Ben is really an expert in nothing, but wants to be viewed as an expert in many things. He knows little or nothing about the outdoors and tracking, and sadly (to use one his favorite words), actually appears to be truly ignorant of a good many things.

    It’s okay to be skeptical, but Ben’s not skeptical; he’s abrasive, arrogant, cynical and ignorant. All of that makes for a pretty nasty combination.

    A while back Ben made some comment about me not wanting to see all sides of an issue on one of the Monsterquest episodes. To the contrary, all sides of an issue are wonderful and enlightening.

    I just didn’t want to see Ben’s mug on there spouting his typical bilge (eg “Uh folks – I know it all. Everyone else is wrong and stupid. It’s really that simple. I know that all of you are not capable of solving this really incredibly stupid case, and that’s why you have me, SuperBen with the superior intellect, to solve it for you.”)

  13. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Loren, thanks for bringing Radford out of the closet. He said some hurtful things about Gates in a post you did yesterday. Some of the methods used by Gates may be questionable but he is out in the field collecting evidence. He deserves credit for that. I’m starting to think that Radford enjoys trying to debunk people in their attempts for scientific proof.
    Thanks again, SOCALcryptid

  14. deejay responds:

    I’m not going to weigh in on the debate, because I simply do not know anymore. BUT… I would like to commend Benjamin Radford for posting a response/explanation, a good discourse is what we need among the believers and the skeptics. It’s only healthy and thickens the skin! I’m gonna go make some popcorn and keep refreshing the page.

  15. Benjamin Radford responds:

    SoCal writes, “Some of the methods used by Gates may be questionable but he is out in the field collecting evidence. I’m starting to think that Radford enjoys trying to debunk people in their attempts for scientific proof.”

    SoCal is apparently unaware that I myself have spent years looking for scientific proof of cryptids, mostly lake monsters and occasionally Bigfoot. I am hardly trying to “debunk” people looking for scientific evidence of these animals: I am one of them. I have always fully supported researchers doing good science in the search for cryptids. I see little good science in claiming evidence of a Yeti from one print.

  16. Artist responds:

    BOYS, BOYS! Fight NICE!

    Don’t make me come back there!

  17. Ceroill responds:

    Artist, I’ve been tempted to say that myself. Thanks.

  18. Benjamin Radford responds:

    …By the way, Loren, if you would like to see what real ad hominem attacks and personal insults look like, see Sergio’s post:

    “Ben is really an expert in nothing…He knows little or nothing about the outdoors, and.. actually appears to be truly ignorant of a good many things….Ben’s… abrasive, arrogant, cynical and ignorant. All of that makes for a pretty nasty combination…. I just didn’t want to see Ben’s mug on there spouting his typical bilge…”

    Compared to that, stating that Josh Gates is an actor with little expertise in zoology or tracking seems pretty benign…

  19. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne says:

    “I think our kind host and Mr. Radford have lives that many of us dream of: on the track of unknown animals.”

    Um, hey there, man: it’s Loren who has the fascinating life, because he’s actually looking.

    Ben spends virtually no time in the field. I know of few who understand less of the evidence for yeti and sasquatch than he. I know that I know much more than he does when it comes to this topic. Which is why I simply don’t play with him anymore.

    Ben has nothing to offer anyone “on the track of unknown animals,” except cynicism.

  20. Ceroill responds:

    Ben, apologies for being too terse. I was referring to your mention of rocky soil instead of sandy soil.

  21. Shane Durgee responds:

    Ben, your idea of how animals leave tracks seems to be informed mainly by Elmer Fudd cartoons. I’m no expert either, but I’ve seen animal and human tracks in the wild. Rarely, unless I’m on a beach, have I seen tracks perfectly in tact in an uninterupted path. Loren already got into that anyway.

    The article isn’t so bad. You’re not dismissing the mere possibility of unknown apes in Tibet or anywhere else as far as I can tell, and the title, whether your idea or not, is obviously just a play on the show’s name, not a declaration of any type of stance. It’s that you use irrelevent theories and contradict yourself that weakens the article.

  22. mystery_man responds:

    I personally see nothing wrong with skepticism and I think it is just as viable a position as that of the “believer”. In fact I think a good amount of healthy skepticism is a very necessary thing in this field. Why is it that there are some that think it is offensive or strange that cryptozoology should have its fair share of skeptics? I might remind some here that skeptics abound in many different scientific disciplines. What would the world be like if everyone just accepted everything at face value without anyone to question it? To me, skeptics often ask the hard questions or look at things from an angle that believers may not wish to see. There have been many instances in scientific history where the skeptics proved right. So can this seen to be a counterproductive thing? As a bit of a skeptic myself, I think this sort of input is highly important in any field, and especially in a field such as cryptozoology which has been the victim of hoaxes, misrepresentations, and fakes in the past. Keep an open mind, sure, but not so much that your brain falls out.

    What I would like to see is more improved and civil discourse on these matters. There is no need for ad hominem attacks or slamming of another’s data. In my opinion, What these discussions all too often devolve into is an argument over who is “right” or “wrong” and defensiveness of one’s own stance often comes to the forefront. I sure would like to see skeptics and believers actually listen to what the other has to say rather than just trying to get their own viewpoint in. I’d like to see more give and take, concede any good points, look at each other’s data with an open mind, see where the other is coming from, and try to rationally get to the bottom of things together. There is no reason at all why skeptics and believers should be mortal enemies and indeed they should be working together. I really do think an intelligent and open minded discourse between believers and skeptics has a great potential for getting us closer to the truth behind what’s out there.

    I am actually very interested in this exchange between Loren and Ben.

  23. sasquatch responds:

    I believe it’s possible to “Hear” between the lines when one writes. A healthy suspicion can be felt while reading someones “opinion” about an issue. By this I mean you can almost feel when someone is trying to win an argument (or push the reader/listener toward a certain stance) while claiming to be neutral on a topic. Have you ever walked into a room AFTER an argument or fight? You can feel something in the air. I believe bigfoot is real but find value in reading the skeptics opinions. However, I don’t mistake their gleeful venomous undercurrent for mere “honest questioning”. I groan at the over willingness to grasp at straws by fellow believers, but also see a snide haughtiness in some who DON’T want it to be true. Some of the so-called objections to the PG film have more than proven themselves to have come from an uninformed, shallow understanding of the subject matter and the history surrounding the film itself, yet quick, great pronouncements of it’s ”falsity” have been thrown around by folks who (for whatever reason) want to appear above such things.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Well, cynicism and skepticism are two different things in my opinion. It is possible to be a skeptic without being cynical, dismissive, or have a desire NOT to believe. To paint all skeptics with that brush to me is a mistake.

  25. DWA responds:

    sasquatch: exactly.

    Ben reminds me of one of those photographs that, when you look at it, turns out to be composed of thousands of smaller ones. In Ben’s case, the small ones say things like “I never said that” or “you’re putting words in my mouth” or

    “I myself have spent years looking for scientific proof of cryptids, mostly lake monsters and occasionally Bigfoot. I am hardly trying to “debunk” people looking for scientific evidence of these animals: I am one of them. I have always fully supported researchers doing good science in the search for cryptids.”

    [If that last little photo is really the truth, then his statements become all the more alarming in their ignorance. But I digress.]

    The big photo, when you back off and look at all the little ones from 30,000 feet up, says this:


    Which, coming from someone who doesn’t seem to know how science works, isn’t really a problem.

    Except for one thing: most people have no idea how science works. And for this reason, Ben plays really well to the peanut gallery.

    If he had ammunition, you’d think he’d use it. Mud ain’t ammunition; but of course the peanut gallery, never having been in a real scientific battle, thinks it is.

    sasquatch: your statement “I groan at the over willingness to grasp at straws by fellow believers” doesn’t sound like you intend it to apply to Ben. But oh does it ever. People like Ben willingly believe known con men when the cons on them. And all you have to do is read him – I point you to “Bigfoot at 50” – for some sterling examples.

  26. DWA responds:

    I should have said this. But I already have.

    True skepticism abounds on this site. I’ve given examples: mystery_man; Daniel Loxton; Matt Bille; Alton Higgins; Daryl Colyer; things-in-the-woods; springheeledjack; and all those I now feel I’ve slighted by leaving them off.

    Want skepticism? Read them. (And me.) We’re swayed by evidence, and good science.

    True-believing scoffers, we don’t need.

  27. Benjamin Radford responds:

    DWA wrote: “it’s Loren who has the fascinating life, because he’s actually looking. Ben spends virtually no time in the field.”

    You really should check your facts before you write things, it’s just embarrassing when you are proved wrong… Actually, I’ve spent more time in the field looking for cryptids than Josh Gates and most people here.

    I have spent less and less time in the field over the years because despite all the field work done by me and others, field work has so far been a dead end in terms of good, conclusive evidence. I welcome and encourage field work, but history has shown it has a very poor record of success.

    People like Loren and I have paid our dues; what contributions have you made to cryptozoology, DWA?

    I totally agree with you, MysteryMan: I wish we saw much more dialogue and real debate between skeptics and believers. That’s a big part of why I post here despite the attacks and insults.

  28. sasquatch responds:

    BTW…I never did hear or read about how the photo of the creature standing in the water looking up was proven fake. It’s head always looked too small to me but that was all I ever took away from it…Anyone?

  29. rbhess responds:

    To be perfectly frank, both Radford and Coleman need to be taken to task in this instance.

    Radford’s column seems to me to have been written under a slight cloud of desperation; it has a feel to it that suggests “slow news day” at Livescience. (I have, by the way, found the site quite enjoyable, as I find Cryptomundo enjoyable as well). Somebody finds another “yeti footprint” and… so begins the sniping? It isn’t that Radford offers any actual factual missteps in his column; rather, one feels pressed to ask, “what’s the point?” (In regards to the finding of this footprint, one is sorely pressed to ask, “so what?” as well, but I’ll come to that in a moment). I mean, really… yet another sensationalist TV effort comes along, and, yes…. they find a footprint. Well, they managed to find something for the camera–good for them–but in the vast scheme of the cryptozoological consideration over the yeti, does it really matter? No footprint yet discovered has managed to prove a thing, either way—the best we can hope for is that they are “evidence in aggregate” in a sense; i.e., if we find enough anomalous footprints, it may come to mean something. (Which isn’t the most scientific way of examining the question, but then cryptozoologists are forced to work with what scant material they have). Was it necessary to even write a column about it? Of course, one must write columns about something, if one is expected to produce columns; but in this instance it seems that Radford is reaching quite a bit. I certainly think it’s fair of him to point out that Gates has no particular expertise in judging footprints–an archeology degree certainly lends him none–but then it seems to me that only a wild assertion on Gates’ part would call for someone like Radford to point out Gates’ lack of authority on the matter. Gates’ announcement, however, simply is that a strange footprint has been found…that resembles other strange footprints found in the past….and….here it is. Whoopee. Alert the media.

    Radford then seems to scrape the barrel bottom for something to say about the finding of anomalous prints. Now, there’s no need to repeat Loren Coleman’s refutations of what Radford has to say in this regard–I certainly feel Loren had every right to go after Radford if he felt Radford was playing loose with the facts, and Loren makes some good points. And as it happens I think Loren has the slight edge here when it comes to relevancy; for whatever reason, Radford felt it necessary to produce a column about this, and Loren, finding the points made to be somewhat spurious, produced a rebuttal. But again, one can’t help the “tempest in a teacup” feeling here. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Loren Coleman got a bit shrill in his reply to Radford—but in a couple spots it came pretty close.

    Which brings me back to the footprint. “So what?” I said earlier. And so it remains. For all we know this could be a bear print, distorted or otherwise–or it could be Gates is holding in his hands a genuine yeti print cast. Will we really know for sure, ever? Almost certainly not. By all means, researchers should go on collecting footprints–and of course if a pristine set could be found–and via some empirical means they could be shown to NOT be hoaxed–then it would be a marvel of science, the kind which we hope for and long for. But in any case, the search should be continued—again, even if only to produce “evidence in aggregate” as I said earlier–a body of evidence too large to dismiss. (Meaning of course, that if we continue to find massive numbers of footprints, it becomes harder to lay the blame on natural distortion effects and/or hoaxers). In the meantime, though, a single footprint, no matter how remarkable in appearance, means little… very little. And this is as it should be, frankly. Now, perhaps TV hyped the find… and perhaps Radford felt compelled to respond to the hype. And Loren Coleman, in turn, felt compelled to put the smackdown on Radford in turn. But it all seems to me to be pointless. Radford wrote a column about nothing, with, frankly, nothing to say. Loren Coleman then jumped on his nothings. As I said earlier—I lean towards giving Loren more leeway in this; probably he tires of having to fight ancient battles that never seem to find their final resolution, and I can’t blame him. But then again, no doubt Radford sees it the same way. Maybe it’s just that next time they both should find something serious to argue about.

    Someone once said something in reference, I think, to the UFO phenomenon… it may have been Arthur C. Clarke… but anyway what was said–in essence–was, maybe we should leave this phenomenon alone for a while, and see what happens. And I think that’s the case with footprints. Yes, go on collecting them. Keep looking for them, keep categorizing them, studying them, etc. But let’s not make anything out of them for a while. Keep the media out of it. No more hype. And see what happens.

  30. DARHOP responds:

    sasquatch responds:
    December 6th, 2007 at 11:47 am
    BTW…I never did hear or read about how the photo of the creature standing in the water looking up was proven fake. It’s head always looked too small to me but that was all I ever took away from it…Anyone?

    I read somewhere that it was an action figure put in a creek. Not sure how true this is. But if I remember right, I think I read that somewhere.

  31. PhotoExpert responds:

    After reading all of the comments here, I really do not know what category I fall under.

    There seems to be to schools here. One is Believers. The second one is Skeptics. That seems pretty black and white to me. I think there are all kinds of shades of gray. Actually, I think there is a third school of thought here. I classify myself in that category. I would be a “skeptical believer”. What that means to me, is that I hold out and hope for the possibility that something may exist. However, I let evidence and fact be the the litmus test for proof. Usually that means that one must separate evidence as either viable on not viable. Here is where it gets cloudy. To clear up the cloudiness, one must use scientific tools and the scientific method.

    In clearing up the cloudiness, we can not throw out evidence or “not believe” it to be true if it is there smacking us in the face as fact. Some in the skeptical school do just that.

    And if something appears to be hoaxed or shaky evidence, we can’t just say that since it looks pretty good or ambiguous at best, that it is proof. Some in the believer school do just that.

    What I see happening in many of these discussions in crytozoology is both schools of thought trying to come in the middle for understanding and agreement. Unfortunately, the extremists in both schools almost make that impossible.

    The skeptical school extremists will come in with known hoaxed prints and photos and offer that as fact. The believer school will come in and make reference to animals that were discovered that were thought to be extinct and new discoveries that were scoffed at by extreme skeptics. And both schools make valid points. But can’t there be a third school? I like my school, the skeptical believer school. I’m sorry I don’t know everyone here at Cryptomundo but mystery_man and I tend to agree on many things and appear to be in the same class in school. We would be offended if you called us skeptics. We would also probably be offended if you called us believers. Why? Because of the extremists in both schools. That is why I have classify myself and probably many others in a third school, “skeptical believers”. We are not going to believe just to believe without good evidence. And we are not going to say it is not true if good evidence is there.

    Loren has consistently, over time, brought good evidence to this site over the years. There are times that I say to myself, wow, that is objective good evidence that makes me think this or that is very credible or exists. And there have been times when Benjamin makes some very valid arguments based on the evidence. And I find myself saying, wow, that makes perfect sense and offers a valid argument for disproving that this or that exists. Hmmm, I agree with both schools on certain debates. How can that be? It is because I do not fall into either school. I have no dog in the fight. I am open to possibilities but certain possibilities are closed by the evidence.

    One thing I would like to comment on is that frame of reference is important. Yes, it helps if one is an expert in this or that, but it is not always necessary. It helps that I am a professional photographer in getting great photographs. It helps that I have been educated in college and have a degree. It helps that I have years of life experience in my trade. But if I give a bunch of monkeys a camera and they start taking photos, there is a probability that one of them, one day, will take a beautiful photograph. By chance, it might look better than one I set up. Yet even with my degree, education, experience and passion for photography, the monkey did get a great photograph. I can not discount that. I can not say, it is not better than my photograph. I can not discount the evidence. I would have to admit that a monkey took a better photo than an expert in the field. I have to take “ego” and perhaps previous dislike of monkeys out of the equation. And I am smart enough and man enough to do just that. Anyone here smarter than a fifth grader?

    I like my school! This was a very good discussion. I enjoyed it tremedously. Keep up the good work in both schools. Thank you Loren for your post. And thank you Benjamin for your response.

  32. Saint Vitus responds:

    The comment about the Elmer Fudd cartoons was pretty spot-on. On many kinds of terrain,(pine needles, leaf litter, rocks, rocky soil, etc), tracks don’t even show at all. About the photo of the Bigfoot standing in the water-if that’s a real Bigfoot, then they are the silliest-looking creatures in the world! No wonder they try to stay hidden! That picture deserves to be in some sort of hall of fame.

  33. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Good, well-written posts by both rbhess and photoexpert. My only responses:

    rbhess: While you found my piece “pointless,” I think pointing out the basic logical flaw in identifying an unknown track as from a Yeti is hardly pointless. Valid conclusions and good research are rooted in good logic and good evidence. Plus, as you pointed out, why such an angry attack on a pointless column?

    I have no dog in the fight.Photoexpert

    I have no dog in the fight either. The existence of Bigfoot or Yeti is not a personal issue for me. I get paid whether I find them or not. I am not biased against Bigfoot, I am biased against bad evidence and poor logic in support of (or against) Bigfoot. It’s certainly possible Bigfoot or Yeti exists, and I’m open to the idea.

  34. DWA responds:

    I don’t consider “dues” to be posing for the peanut gallery, Ben.

    And if this thread weren’t pointedly about you and what you don’t-bring to the table, I wouldn’t be responding to you. On any thread other than one like this, it isn’t worth my time and effort. I paid my dues there, pardner. And I found out that you were a wall, and I don’t talk to those.

    What do I bring to the table? I let smart people read my posts, and yours.

    And decide – as everyone must – based on the evidence.

    One pointer I might toss you, though. Sniping at everything you see in the way of evidence – particularly when your credentials in relevant areas are so often found wanting – doesn’t exactly say “contribution” to me.

    Neither does a snipe like the one I expect to read in response to this. Elevate your dialogue and you might find some buyers here. Matt and Daniel have. Is it really that hard?

  35. Sergio responds:

    Benjamin Radford said:

    “…see Sergio’s post:

    ‘Ben is really an expert in nothing…He knows little or nothing about the outdoors, and.. actually appears to be truly ignorant of a good many things….Ben’s… abrasive, arrogant, cynical and ignorant. All of that makes for a pretty nasty combination…. I just didn’t want to see Ben’s mug on there spouting his typical bilge…’

    Compared to that, stating that Josh Gates is an actor with little expertise in zoology or tracking seems pretty benign…”


  36. rbhess responds:

    Mr. Radford:

    Please don’t think that I find your work *generally* “pointless.” This by no means the case.

    As it happens I agree with you—an unknown track that could frankly be made by *anything* should not be identified conclusively as being made by any particular animal—at least not until thorough study, and even then if one is going to make an extraordinary claim (i.e. that it’s a yeti print) then one ought to be prepared to back it up with extraordinary supporting evidence.

    On the other hand, though—people have been making sloppy claims like this for ages. See, if it had been me, writing your column, and I truly wished to bother with this incident, then I would have gone after Gates/his editors et al for their rather loose, unscientific jump to a conclusion (or at least it gives the appearance of a jump to a conclusion) that this is a yeti print. That and only that. Instruct them on the scientific method, and that’s all.

    But you *did* SEEM to make a show of going after the finding itself. *That* is what I thought was rather pointless.

    Of course, far be it for me (who am I?) to tutor you on how to write your column. But then I’m a reader, a consumer, and I’m giving you my evaluation of your (and Loren’s) performance. I won’t call yours “lackluster,” exactly. Just lacking in necessity. Loren’s—I’d say pretty much the same thing… plus he jumped on you a bit hard.

    Me—I can say, looking at that footprint, that it looks like a bear’s. Distorted, probably. But then again I have nothing to base that on either.

    I’d really prefer that all these cryptozoologists collect their evidence and shut up about it until they have something serious to show us. Too much of this dog-and-pony-show stuff undermines the science, I feel.

  37. silvereagle responds:

    I await the day that Benjamin Radford attempts to debunk the world’s leading physicists, and their observations on the existence of higher dimensions through the study of higher dimension beings. Since Radford’s arguments themselves, such as too few bigfoot footprints and/or footprints that begin and end in snow, can be debunked with the theories of higher dimensions, I suspect that he may be both out of his league and out of a job, if he were to acknowledge the possibility that the physicists are correct.

  38. Ouroborus Jay responds:

    After reading the article, I’m rather shocked at the “OMG OUTRAGE” people are having to it. Mr. Bradford raises fair and logical questions to something as evasive as a print.

  39. voodoochild responds:

    Personally, I don’t like the “skeptic” or “believer” monikers (especially the latter). I do feel that most everyone who has at least a remote interest in Cryptozoology can agree that when evidence is presented, you either accept that this evidence is worth considering, or you don’t. I feel that one has to eschew preconceived notions and bias when one is presented with evidence. This applies to both “camps”. I feel that Cryptozoology requires perhaps a higher level of objectivity than any other field of study.

    I think that everyone here should be able to agree on this point, if nothing else.

    Having said that, I feel that it is often difficult to remain objective and keep our own biases and preconceived notions at bay when we are presented with evidence in whatever form it may be in. After all, we’re only human.

    Having said that, I do feel that some of us humans are more adept than others at maintaining objectivity.

  40. gavinfundyk responds:

    Here is what is interesting to me.

    (1) I believe it would be fair to say that Mr Radford is a professional skeptic. Therefore, anything he says, whether with an open mind or not, is already biased in the minds of many, including myself.

    (2) The column is called “BAD SCIENCE”. That speaks volumes to the average reader regarding the individual’s view.

    (3) There was NO opposing view. I don’t mean a quote from someone, or a debate, just a simple “some tracks and other evidence is not easily dismissed” would have been useful.

    I have not read Mr Radford’s books, he may have made many such statements regarding the validity of certain evidence. But the column was clear. There is only misinterpreted evidence, not real evidence.

    Just my take on the column.

  41. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Gavinfundyk writes:

    “Mr Radford is a professional skeptic. Therefore, anything he says is already biased”

    First of all, “skeptic” or “skepticism” is an approach to evaluating claims and evidence, not a profession. (Is “believer” a profession?) I am a writer and investigator. And it’s not clear what “bias” there is, except for logic, valid evidence, and good science. It’s true, I am biased toward those.

    “There was NO opposing view.”

    You can find the “opposing view” in nearly every other article or story about the case… mine was the only one who pointed out Gates’s bad logic. I was providing the opposing view to the mainstream coverage.

  42. Cryptid Hunt responds:

    Man! It’s like a brawl in here!

  43. gavinfundyk responds:

    With all due respect, are you not managing editor of a magazine called “The Skeptical Inquirer”?

    And please do not consider my comments personally. I was just looking at it from a layman’s viewpoint.

  44. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I am indeed managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, and have been for 10 years. It is published by a non-profit educational organization devoted to science literacy and examining unusual claims from a science-based perspective. And I didn’t take your comments personally at all.

  45. Robtastic1 responds:

    Benjamin Radford is really putting in the man hours defending himself here..

  46. cryptidsrus responds:

    Mr. Radford:

    This is an interesting debate. I can see both sides of the issue—and I tend to think that mystery_man pretty much hit it on the head. I agree both sides have gone over the edge on this one. That said:

    1) When you said I was being “snippy,” in response to my question to you yesterday two postings, I admit I laughed. It reminded in an indirect way of Al Gore (remember that, folks?) in 2000. For that, I thank you. If I did come off as “snippy,” I was simply responding to what I detected to be a dismissive, “don’t bother me with the facts” attitude that you and other “skeptics” seem to have regarding people who do not conform to what they consider to be “expertise.” Granted he may not be a zoologist, (neither am I) but it seems to me that your attitude seems to be part of an ongoing pattern of dismissimal as to “anything” that does not fit your point of view. At least he is trying. At least Gates RAISES questions in the debate over the existence of Yeti that you don’t seem to accept as even possible.
    I regret it if I seemed to go overboard, regardless. Like I said, it was a reaction to what seemd to be condescension on your part and other people here to the Gates print without actually thinking this through.

    2) I just think that even IF Gates was an expert, you would still have found space to dismiss it. Almost everything that is discussed here you dismiss—one recalls the flap about Meldrum in Canada with the Sasquatches—you found fault with the fact that stones were thrown at the cabin, and sort of implied that because that reminded you of your paranormal investigations, that made THIS was suspect, as though the notions that Sasquatches would throw stones at cabin was a priori ridiculous.
    That is an example of the ways in which this shows you as not a true “skeptic,” but a debunker.

    Again, I was simply reacting to your apparent cynicism. If I was wrong, I apologize. It’s just that you seem to do this on every post.

    The “snippy” comment DID take me back, I’ll admit.

    Like I said, good discussion. I’ll go back to my meds now.

  47. Jeffrobodean responds:

    I think the moral of this post is: don’t start flame wars.

  48. Benjamin Radford responds:

    >>it seems to me that your attitude seems to be part of an ongoing pattern of dismissimal as to “anything” that does not fit your point of view.”

    I do not dismiss evidence based upon whether or not it fits my point of view (in fact, I don’t know that I have a “point of view” about the Yeti). I accept or reject arguments and evidence based on whether the logic is sound and the evidence is gathered scientifically. In this case it was neither.

    >>At least he is trying.

    If Gates is “trying” to do anything, it’s garner publicity for himself and his TV show. If he was seriously trying to gather evidence for the yeti, he would have spent more than just one week in the area… If that’s as little effort as he put in, how seriously is he “trying” to gather evidence?

  49. Benjamin Radford responds:

    >>”At least Gates RAISES questions in the debate over the existence of Yeti that you don’t seem to accept as even possible.”

    Please, please, everyone here… Please pay attention to this, I have had to repeat this so many times, and it wears me out:

    I have never ever said or suggested that Bigfoot, yeti, lake monsters, or any other cryptid does not exist or is impossible.

    Please stop suggesting and repeating this, because it’s not true. I am open to the possibility that these creatures exist; I wouldn’t waste my time searching for them and writing about them if I didn’t.

  50. mystery_man responds:

    There is something that is interesting to me I’ve noticed during this whole discussion on “skeptics”, “believers”, and the evidence such as Bigfoot footprints and that is the extent to which evidence presented can be a malleable thing open to interpretation. I find a lot of accusations of “bad science” be thrown around here, which in some cases ignores this very facet of evidence. I think that there is a misconception of sorts concerning science and that is that science is somehow a know all, infallible thing completely devoid of subjectivity, with scientists being somehow objective beyond all other people. In my opinion, this is just not always true, and we are only human.

    The thing I think people should remember here is that evidence can most definitely be shaped by interpretation. This is hardly unique to cryptozoology. Anyone who thinks scientists all go around patting each other on the back, supporting each other’s findings all the time should look again. There are papers on the same subjects that can have a contrary stance on a particular topic, and the same data can be presented and interpreted in much different ways. Hypotheses on any one piece of evidence or set of data can differ, sometimes wildly so, and this ties into what I see as a sort of myth about science, that scientists are completely objective all of the time. This is simply not always true. If it was, then every scientist being presented with the same data would come to the exact same conclusions every single time, and clearly this just is not always the case.

    Scientists are careful with analysis of data and evidence, as well as mindful of proper procedures and protocols, but to say that science is completely objective is oversimplifying things a bit. Scientists, and indeed observers in general, hold a vast variety of preconceptions and biases towards how the world operates and I think these can affect one’s observations. There is just no way to collect and interpret evidence without any bias whatsoever. If you give two scientists the same exact data, you can not be guaranteed that they will both come to the same conclusion or interpretation, and this has to do with conceptions, creativity, prior knowledge, and perhaps sometimes even “beliefs”. History is rife with scientists that have not included certain observations in their final analysis, cherry picking if you will, and this is largely due to prior knowledge and biases of the individual. Complete, utter objectivity when appraising evidence is not always possible, and certain opinions, assertions, hypotheses, or conclusions concerning the evidence can most definitely be colored by an individuals ideas.

    Hopefully, you can see without me spelling it out that this is all very relevant to cryptozoology and the evaluation of evidence presented. The exchanges here on this thread alone are testament to the fact that there is sometimes a difference of opinion concerning the data involved with evidence related to a given phenomena, in this case hominid footprints. This is where I feel that there has to be some understanding that data can be read different ways, and neither “camp” is necessarily “wrong” at this point. They are merely viewing and analyzing the data in different ways, from different standpoints, with two different outcomes. Especially in these cases, I think that skeptics and believers need to take a good, hard look at each other’s data without dismissing it out of hand. There could be things that one “camp” or the other missed or ignored, as well as good points to be made from either side.

    Of course there can be “bad science” going on from both sides of the argument, but I think thought should be given to what I said here before meting out such an accusation. Evidence can be malleable. It can be open to interpretation. It can be colored by personal knowledge, experience, and bias. It can be shaped to fit one’s ideas of how the world works. This would not be the first time this has happened in a scientific discipline. To me when it comes to the appraisal of cryptozoological evidence, the most unscientific thing of all is to cherry pick data or jump to conclusions without fully contemplating all options. To me, it is important to weigh in everything presented, from both “believers” AND “skeptics”, and an intelligent discourse with as little bias as possible should be done to try and figure out to the greatest certainty possible what we are dealing with.

    This might be difficult to achieve, as some people are always going to see what they want to see. One thing is for sure, though, presenting a body of a sasquatch would probably speak for itself. :)

  51. rayrich responds:

    If you really don’t believe in something why would you feel the need to actually even discuss the matter. Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose and give it some validity. There is an old proverb which went something like, “He who protests too much.”

  52. rayrich responds:

    Sceptics don’t bother those who believe and/or have had experiences with these beings. I have no problem with Mr. Radford and his due diligence with the subject. I think the majority of believers have their doubts like I and many others had before having our own encounters. You don’t feel the need of confirmation from others and you almost feel your jeopardizing these creatures if you reveal their locations. One thing we should have learned by now is that man destroys everything he touches. I think the non-believers are an asset to their continued existance. These beings will always find a way to survive by going into the most remote areas on the globe probably long after our own existance..

  53. mystery_man responds:

    I do have to say that I agree with Ben in that he has not outright denied the existence of these creatures as far as I can see. I actually think there are very few skeptics that do. In my opinion, a lot of them are remaining quite faithful to the scientific approach to these phenomena. Indeed skeptics can be of great value when scientifically debunking dangerous or misleading “pseudo sciences”. If level headed and rational, their input can be of great value and a help to the credibility of cryptozoology in my opinion. It is interesting to me that some ideas and facts put forward by skeptics that might be very well researched and very scientific in nature, can be met with such animosity at times by “believers” merely because they may be at odds with the idea that sasquatch must exist. I do not think this is always a conscious effort on the part of skeptics to “disprove” sasquatch, but rather take into consideration data that may refute certain evidence.

    Now that I mentioned it, a trap that many I think many believers fall into, is some need for the skeptics to “disprove it”, or the demand that they show how a phenomena CAN’T be attributed to Bigfoot. That is unfortunately not how science works. You propose a hypotheses, you must do the necessary research to show that it is valid. I think “Disprove sasquatch” is a pretty ridiculous notion, since how can you disprove it if it hasn’t been proven to exist yet in the first place? Might as well say that ghosts and aliens are real until disproven too. We obviously cannot embrace the reality of every idea or notion put forth until it is disproven and to do so would be very bad science indeed.

    So I say that sasquatch researchers should collect the most solid and irrefutable evidence that they can, since in the end it is their burden to prove it. This evidence should be appraised critically, and I think one should pay heed to arguments against their findings by skeptics, since their could be valuable overlooked data offered by them. Scathing peer review can happen in mainstream science, why not in cryptozoology? As I’ve said, working together and sharing ideas and data are key, in my opinion. In the end, if it is concrete and truly of worth, the evidence is going to speak for itself. I might have a bit of a romantic view of all of this, but in the end, I think most skeptics would be perfectly happy to see a creature such as the sasquatch found. I know I would.

  54. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: you say

    “Now that I mentioned it, a trap that many I think many believers fall into, is some need for the skeptics to “disprove it”, or the demand that they show how a phenomena CAN’T be attributed to Bigfoot. That is unfortunately not how science works. You propose a hypotheses, you must do the necessary research to show that it is valid. I think “Disprove sasquatch” is a pretty ridiculous notion, since how can you disprove it if it hasn’t been proven to exist yet in the first place?”

    Couldn’t agree more. Disproving the sasquatch is logically impossible. Heck, we can’t logically “disprove” the unicorn.

    That’s not the point. The skeptics, in a scientific debate, have advanced a thesis, and they do need to provide evidence for that thesis. They have proposed the EXISTENCE of something – a somehow-interconnecting, tightly-woven, extraordinarily consistent, region-wide (yeti) or continent-wide (sasquatch) web of lie, hoax, prank, hallucination and honest misidentification – that somehow adds up to the illusion of an unknown animal species. Even not acknowledging this, they have alleged that this enormous volume of evidence does not meet the standards of science – not as proof, but as evidence of something that requires followup to determine what it is.

    When you advance the thesis that mirages in the desert aren’t really water, you’re not arguing the nonexistence of the water. You are arguing for the existence of a phenomenon that gives the appearance of water.

    If you can explain mirages, one would presume, you can explain what the yeti/sasquatch evidence IS, not what it is NOT. But your explanation has to be a reasonable one – particularly when your obvious belief is that there isn’t a thing out there requiring science to so much as lift a finger to do what it supposedly exists to do.

    I have said here, many times, that individual scientists might have their own legitimate reasons for saying they can’t personally invest precious time and research dollars in this question. This is, however, most emphatically NOT! an excuse for science, as a whole, to say: there is nothing there. Or for anyone else to propound the thesis that all this evidence is THIS, and not THAT, without defending that thesis.

    My position is that the skeptics are a deterrent to serious research into cryptids, by presenting a yahoo chorus that is one of the primary reasons science stays away. It’s one of the saddest facts of human life that the most intelligent among us can be cowed into silence by the most ignorant. But there it is. That’s what upsets me. I expect skepticism on this issue. What I don’t expect is building bonfires on which to roast our Meldrums.

    And I’d like to know: why the stunning LACK of curiosity? It’s one of the most soulless worldviews I’ve come across. How could there be a shred of anything worthwhile, least of all a spirited sense of the fun and variety of life, in…well, in SNEERING like you are up there, Ben?

  55. Robtastic1 responds:

    The big problem is that nobody can put the facts out without trying to force their point of view along with it. Its great if you have ideas and hypotheses to share, but when someone has a different point of view than you, it gets taken personally. Science always ends up being about people’s agendas rather than facts or evidence. I’m very skeptical when it comes to most cryptids, but I do believe there are some unknown animals out there. Most people seem to be either completely gullible and believe creatures like nessie and bigfoot are fact, when they are a long, long way from being fact, or they are on the opposite spectrum and are brash and abrasive and believe anyone that even thinks bigfoot or nessie is out there are morons, which isn’t true at all. I agree that Josh Gates seems to be out there for publicity, and I just personally don’t trust the guy, But I don’t need to cram that opinion of mine down everyones throat like Radford has to do.

  56. cryptidsrus responds:


    As usual, you hit the nail in the head. I ultimately think that the “truth” will eventually come out, regardless of what you, I, or Radford argue or not argue about. We are all ultimately human beings in search of truth.

    I guess I would have to say Radford has HIS point of view, which is necessary to this debate. There is nothing wrong with skepticism and careful analysis of the situation but I just think Radford’s standard of “proof” is WAAAAAY too steep. Kind of like PSICOPS. Plus the TONE comes off as dismissive.

    MY opinion, of course.


    I also agree with your post.

  57. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Robtastic1 writes, “The big problem is that nobody can put the facts out without trying to force their point of view along with it.”

    I agree 100%, you are exactly right.

    If Josh Gates had just stuck to the facts (“I found a track I can’t identify”), that would be fine, but he had to put his spin and point of view on it (“…probably from a Yeti”). If he had stuck to the facts, I wouldn’t have bothered to do a column on it. I’m the one trying to separate fact from supposition, which should be a good thing. So why am I criticized for it?

  58. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I agree that the lack of curiosity is pretty disappointing. To me, there is enough of a collection of circumstantial evidence to warrant more serious study. Unfortunately, many do not share that opinion. What I don’t agree on is that all skeptics are saying that there is nothing there and many of them do hold open the possibility that something is out there. To me, it is just a difference in perspective

    This all goes back to the personal evaluation of evidence I touched on before. I find it interesting how a Bigfoot proponent and a skeptic can see the evidence in such profoundly different ways and neither one of them is necessarily practicing “bad science” on their end. For instance, I don’t think anyone would question Meldrum’s qualifications as a scientist, and to him a footprint could be seen as possible evidence of a bipedal hominid. Then you can have another scientist, with equal credentials, that thinks the same footprint is evidence of a hoax, a misrepresentation of a known track, or nothing at all. Here you can see something that often happens in science when an extraordinary hypothesis is proposed, a difference in the evaluation of the preliminary evidence. You can’t really accuse either of doing bad science, but there is a difference in which facts are valued and what the expected outcome might be, which can affect the analysis. I think this is always going to be a sticking point between skeptics and proponents until incontrovertible evidence is obtained and good empirical data can be amassed to the point that it cannot be ignored. What needs to be done, in my opinion, is a deeper investigation into the phenomenon from both sides. I do not feel there is any reason to expunge a skeptic’s analysis of the evidence because it does not agree with the existence of sasquatch.

    There was a science philosopher, don’t remember who exactly, maybe Kuhn, who said something like – What we see depends mostly on what we look for. This rings somewhat true to me. There is a tendency for some to value some data or facts over others, or to ignore facts (although not always consciously) that are not deemed important. There can be many reasons for this happening, from pressure for funding, to personal experience and knowledge. I think there can be a strong allegiance to set theories (and remember, theories in the scientific sense are not guesses, but rather generally accepted systems for how the world works) or to the paradigm, which may call for some things to be given more weight than others or for some facts to not be seen at all based on how well they fit into the accepted way the world works. The paradigm is mostly a great thing, and keeps scientists on track, but one cannot ignore that some things we take for granted today, such as the germ theory of disease, or continental drift, or the idea of a sun centered solar system, would have been accepted quite a bit earlier if the accepted paradigm of the time hadn’t been so rigidly adhered to and new evidence had been properly considered with an open mind. I think the study of sasquatch faces this very problem.

    Therefore, I think it is important that we look at the evidence carefully, and look again in different ways, from different viewpoints from what our own might be. As much objectivity as is humanly possible must be maintained, and so I think input from both proponents and skeptics are indispensable. Every avenue must be explored, in my opinion. Proponents have to be able to look at facts contradictory to their own assumptions, and skeptics have to be open minded enough to see good evidence presented by proponents as well. I personally do not value any research that all is based on the assumption that Bigfoot must be out there. This cooperation hinges on a skeptic’s ability to accept the possibility of sasquatch and the proponent to accept that it might not be out there. In concrete terms, we don’t know, and all angles must be approached. I really feel we need to come to a common ground and share our findings.

    To me, proponents and skeptics are like the yin and the yang, the light and the dark. My take is that in a way, they need each other. They have two opposing stances on what the evidence shows and sometimes I think during heated debates, we can lose sight of the actual truth, and of the actual desire to know what is REALLY happening. There can be a blurring of what is important, which is whether sasquatch actually does exist or not, regardless of what we think about it. Somewhere in the middle, between the light and the dark, the truth is waiting to be discovered, whatever it may be, and we have to be able to see it and accept it for what it is.

    To me, skeptics are not the enemy. It is the hoaxers and fakers that do far more damage to cryptozoology in my opinion.

  59. DWA responds:

    Well, deejay, it ain’t quite so simple.

    I’ve been irritated at times by treatment of posts here, too. But that’s the prerogative of the webmaster, and I think it’s pretty amazing – I mean, really incredible – the range of viewpoints that get equal time here. I’m sure willing to live with any petty gripes I might have. I don’t think this is a biased site. At all.

    The skeptic sites I’ve seen? Oh, boy, are they biased. Or maybe I should just say close-minded.

    And that’s my point. When you are “trying to separate fact from supposition,” you are sure as hell going to be criticized when you simply omit the vast majority of the facts as not worthy of consideration.

  60. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: couldn’t agree more, with everything you’ve said.

    As I’ve noted, there are skeptics who acknowledge that there’s something there. For example, Matt Bille sounds to me like someone who would encourage a mainstream scientific expedition to uncover yeti/sasquatch evidence, if the money, time, interest, and suspension of incredulity were there to do it. But he’s going to raise questions about anything that is found short of proof. THAT is the kind of skepticism we need – the kind that encourages the search, but says “not so fast there” when the search says yeti! from a single print (that looks more like a rhino, and nothing like a “classic yeti print,” whatever that is, to me).

    Kuhn-or-whoever-it-was 😀 is definitely right. You can totally not-see something if you are NOT LOOKING. Go to Ghana, and you find new species of frogs and tickspiders and tiny tropical fish, which are tiny, yes, but they are exactly what the researchers are LOOKING FOR and EXPECTING TO FIND in a place like that. You can bet that any place in that forest that looked like probable habitat for katydid, or fish, or frog, or spider, got gone over with a fine-tooth comb. Now, if an unverified biped hominoid raced past one of those researchers while he was collecting a new katydid, think he’d run back to camp screaming GUESS WHAT I SAW!?!?!? Probably not. Although – this is kinda funny – he might be more likely to do it in Ghana than he would be to do it if the exact same thing happened to him in Nebraska, because, well, Africa is the Dark Continent, mysterious and unknown to most even today, and there are apes there. It could be a real animal, both places, but report it from ten miles outside Omaha and you get laughed at.

    I have no patience with “believers.” This is a scientific discussion. And I’d want both proponents and skeptics to treat it like one.

    Asking questions? Yes.

    Dismissing? Got a problem with that, unless you have a clear reason why. And “could be a fake” isn’t a clear reason. Is it? Say why. You can’t say “proof” from one track. But if you cannot clearly debunk it, you at least put it in the inventory, and keep asking questions.

  61. obastide responds:

    Skepticism is important in a rational society, but what we have now in Radford and Nickell and Schermer, are a new breed of ‘professional’ skeptics, whose job it is to gainsay everything that comes along in kneejerk fashion on every tv broadcast that deals with any cryptozoological or paranormal subject. Often their dismissals and rationalizations are way more of a stretch than the crypto/para explanation, and I’m led to the conclusion that, had they lived at the end of the last century, they would have agreed with the head of the U.S. Patent office, who wanted to shut the office down because there couldnt be anything new to discover.

  62. jerrywayne responds:

    A few random observations…

    1. I have found that the real “scoftics” are those folks who have no real interest in cryptozoological topics. I have shown the the Paterson film to many people uninterested in Bigfoot (for instance). Their unanimous appraisal: the film depicts a man in a monkey suit. No doubts.

    Such people are not hard core skeptics. By and large, they are folks interested in paranormal claims (ghosts, ESP, astrology, etc.,) or they are just plain folks. These are the people I have found in my own experience who are unthinkingly negative towards crytozoological pursuits.

    2. Skepticism is a healthy antidote to unfounded beliefs. Some cryptozoological notions are unfounded. The notion that virtually every state in the union harbors a population of native apes unknown to science is an unfounded idea. This is not to suggest that it is impossible that such ideas are true, but only that such ideas do not have enough positive evidence to offset the negative evidence (no specimens, no DNA, no indisputable film evidence, no known natural history, no oral history, etc.)

    We should never forget that the pursuit of truth should be the guiding light here. And this should entail an open mind. Mr. Radford has gone on record saying that he would welcome the indisputable evidence which would prove the existence of such cryptids as Bigfoot and lake monsters. His only crime seems to be that he has set the bar higher for verification than others have and do. There is nothing wrong with this.

    3. The vitriol dripping from the keyboards of various commentators onto skeptics like Mr. Radford is amazing. In contrast, Mr. Radford has presented himself like a gentleman. A thinking gentleman. He has defended himself admirably. Some angry posters have fared far less commendably.

    4. The yeti print that started all of this: can it be dismissed out of hand? I don’t know. I do know that it does not resemble the famous Shipton track.

    5. Apart from the occasional track, most cryptids
    are suggested by sighting accounts, This is good enough for a great many advocates, far less so for skeptics. I suggest we have a forum considering the reliability of eyewitness accounts and whether or not sightings are ever enough to convince one of the real existence of a proposed cryptid.

  63. Benjamin Radford responds:

    obastide wrote:

    “Radford…would have agreed with the head of the U.S. Patent office, who wanted to shut the office down because there couldn’t be anything new to discover.”

    Actually, that story about the patent office is a myth, an urban legend.

    How ironic that you believed it, and tried to use it to criticize me for faulty arguments and not checking my facts!

  64. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne: two of your comments are particularly noteworthy.

    “4. The yeti print that started all of this: can it be dismissed out of hand? I don’t know. I do know that it does not resemble the famous Shipton track.”

    Which means, pretty much: well, not much.

    What made the Shipton track? We don’t know. What made the Gates track? We don’t know. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: endless analysis of footprints, when one has no proof of what made them, will prove nothing. The animal itself is what needs to be found. And maybe the different tracks might suggest there is more than one to be found. That’s the conclusion a truly open-minded person would come to. An open-minded person would also say this: IF the Gates track was not faked, and IF it was taken where it was claimed to be, no animal known to science made it.

    “5. Apart from the occasional track, most cryptids
    are suggested by sighting accounts, This is good enough for a great many advocates, far less so for skeptics. I suggest we have a forum considering the reliability of eyewitness accounts and whether or not sightings are ever enough to convince one of the real existence of a proposed cryptid.”

    A personal sighting might – should – convince YOU (unless you are convinced that you are a nut). Science is a different matter.

    You can’t consider sightings – any number of them – PROOF. (Not sure how many times I will need to say this.) This is something everyone should know. Sightings are the personal experiences of the observers, and nothing more – unless they are FOLLOWED UP. It’s worked before (giant panda, gorilla, okapi, Pere David’s deer, etc., etc., etc.) At some point, one would think scientists to be a curious enough lot that sighting records as copious, and consistent, and supported by other evidence (not PROOF!), as those for the yeti and sasquatch might pique their curiosity enough for them to actually look.

    Then again: maybe not, eh?

  65. DWA responds:

    OK, jerrywayne, this deserves comment too:

    “We should never forget that the pursuit of truth should be the guiding light here.”

    I’m not seeing Radford pursuing truth. I’m just seeing him naysaying from an armchair. If you’re interested in the truth about the yeti, there’s more than enough evidence to search on, where Gates is doing it, IN THE FIELD. I do know this: sniping at footprint casts from an armchair isn’t doing anything productive. That’s been going on for over a half-century now. How much closer to the truth are we?

    “And this should entail an open mind. Mr. Radford has gone on record saying that he would welcome the indisputable evidence which would prove the existence of such cryptids as Bigfoot and lake monsters. His only crime seems to be that he has set the bar higher for verification than others have and do. There is nothing wrong with this.”

    Not sure what this higher bar is.

    I know of no one, on this planet, however cynical or skeptical, who would deny the existence of the yeti if one were placed in front of him, in a cage. So? That’s a higher bar? Nowhere have I seen Ben say anything about following up the evidence we have. Of COURSE he would welcome a yeti slavering over his keyboard. (Wouldn’t we all.)

    So? Think we’re going to get there from armchairs?

  66. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne: and of course I always need to point out errors in logic when I find them.

    “Skepticism is a healthy antidote to unfounded beliefs. Some cryptozoological notions are unfounded. The notion that virtually every state in the union harbors a population of native apes unknown to science is an unfounded idea.”

    Logical error. That notion is WELL-founded; the entire spectrum of, OK fine, alleged sasquatch evidence – tracks, sightings, hair, feces, etc. – has been found in many states, and not just in the West. The sighting records are consistent; from Alaska to Maryland, people are describing either the same animal or more than one very closely related species. There is significant evidence that they are, or have been very recently, in Maryland, and Florida, and Iowa, and Arizona, and Texas, and Georgia, and Maine – and particularly in PA and OH – as well as in the PNW. And anyone truly well acquainted with the evidence would know that. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPLY TO ME. Reply instead to John Bindernagel and John Green, much better acquainted with the evidence than either of us. They both agree with me; and you don’t have the chops to gainsay either of them.

    “This is not to suggest that it is impossible that such ideas are true, but only that such ideas do not have enough positive evidence to offset the negative evidence (no specimens, no DNA, no indisputable film evidence, no known natural history, no oral history, etc.)”

    Logical error. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NEGATIVE EVIDENCE! (Not sure how many times I will have to say this.) This is exactly what “you can’t prove a negative” means; same with “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Evidence is what you need to get to proof. By definition, it can only be POSITIVE. The case for many known animals was no better than the case for the sas, or the yeti, until someone looked. In each case, that person followed up on evidence. Evidence will never be proof, unless followed up.

    Specimens? Of course there aren’t any. If there were, would we be discussing this? DNA? Logical error; you can’t have “sasquatch” DNA until you have a specimen. Unknown DNA? You bet there is, East and West and Central, associated with other typical evidence. Again: anyone well acquainted with the evidence would know. Oral history? There is that, in plenty, in many places in the East. And not just “Indian legends.” (It is, BTW, one of the most pervasive and insidious forms of racism in our world to lay aboriginal accounts of animals to “legends.” ) There is oral history of big hairy bipeds not only in many small towns in the eastern half of the USA, but among virtually every Eastern aboriginal culture. These “legends” are almost invariably indistinguishable from their accounts of animals we know to exist. As to sightings: as persuasive as any sighting archives I’ve seen – easily up to the standards of the PNW – are in some of the Eastern states I list above, in which copious additional evidence have also been found, again easily equal to what has come from the PNW.

    Again: DO NOT RESPOND TO ME. Restrict your responses to those who know more than either of us. I listen to them. And, a skeptic as always, I searched for the data, and found it. You can too.

  67. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I agree. Active and close minded debunking of the type that you and jerrywayne eloquently described will get us nowhere in any scientific discussion where any value is given to finding out what the truth really is. The truth, or as close as we can humanly get to it with reasonable certainty, should indeed be the guiding light.

    jerrywayne- I completely agree that there has been an uncalled for amount of vitriol dripping from keyboards at times concerning some skeptics. Even if there is a skeptic that you do not agree with, is not the best way to debate with them by not letting yourself get dragged down to petty flaming? To do so will only make oneself look worse and degrade the discussion, in my opinion, and having the discussion devolve into flaming does not achieve much. The best thing to do is stay focused on finding the truth and present oneself as civil and a gentleman (or gentlewoman), with a cool head.

    Even if there was a “troll” skeptic on here stirring things up and throwing fuel on the fire (and Ben Radford is nothing of the kind I should add) we should not let them inspire such ire. I know I’ve probably said this before, but a quote that comes to mind concerning this is- Don’t ever fight with a pig. You’ll both get muddy, but the pig will like it.

    Just some thoughts. If the truth is really what someone is after, then there is no reason not to listen to everyone’s viewpoint and if there is a disagreement, to do so in a rational way.

  68. Benjamin Radford responds:

    DWA writes: “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NEGATIVE EVIDENCE! This is exactly what “you can’t prove a negative” means”

    Sorry, DWA, wrong again. Back to Logic 101. You certainly CAN prove a negative: I can prove that there is not an elephant in my coffee cup. What you cannot prove is a universal negative, that X doesn’t exist anywhere. There is a difference.

  69. DWA responds:

    Ben: wrong. You CANNOT prove there is not an elephant in your coffee cup.

    There could be a microscopic elephant in your coffee cup. You could have a very big coffee cup. There could be a toy elephant in your coffee cup. I can’t see your coffee cup, can I?

    Which points are as relevant to our discussion as the one you just made.

    Everyone else here, at least, knows that the sort of “negative evidence” jerrywayne refers to is no evidence at all. Thus, irrelevant. It simply doesn’t register as evidence. It means nothing, one way or the other.

    As opposed to the proponents’ evidence – which is the reason we’re all here.

  70. DWA responds:

    Ben: I should probably add a query: Are you sure the avalanche of points I made above is going to generate from you only that one spurious response?

    A better substantiation of my argument I couldn’t have made myself.

    Thanks! :-)

  71. DWA responds:

    As I said: you can’t prove a negative.

    Ben’s red herring – the “universal negative” – is no different from any other negative. Try me here. Remember: Ben says that the only negative you cannot prove is the one that says: X doesn’t exist anywhere. That’s ANYWHERE.

    OK? Let’s go.

    1. No sasquatch in the world? Can’t prove it.
    2. In North America? Can’t prove it.
    3. In Maryland? Can’t prove it.
    4. In Garrett County, Maryland? Can’t prove it.
    5. In the town of Oakland? Can’t prove it.
    6. On any given street in Oakland? Can’t prove it.

    The rest of you are getting this by now.

    And of course – and I should have played this one straight the first time – Ben CANNOT prove there isn’t an elephant in his coffee cup! No he can’t, with the cup right in front of you and me, and the receipt saying he bought it. He can’t. Why? Simple.

    Can you prove the nonexistence of the unicorn? No, you can’t. Of COURSE it doesn’t exist. Can you prove that? NO. Can you prove there is NOT one in your backyard right now? NO. How about in your backyard during a party, with 200 people out there? There could always be a spot, anywhere in that yard, where no one is looking, and there’s a unicorn, right? Silly. But can you PROVE it? NO.

    Can Ben prove there is no such thing as a microscopic critter that researchers, looking through a microscope, would see and go: I’ll be damned. THAT’S AN ELEPHANT!?!?!?!?!? Let’s say that its only known habitat is coffee cups. OK?

    Of COURSE no such animal exists.

    Can you prove that?


    Logic 101 is a tricky critter, Ben. Sorta like a yeti that way. 😉

    Hey. You said this was about bad science. Logic is part of it.


    You CAN prove that.

  72. gavinfundyk responds:

    I have been fascinated by the possible existence of cryptids since I was a teen-ager, and read Heuvelmans and Mackal.

    I think most would agree that Mr Gates has no definitive “proof” that his track is the real deal.

    However, it is instances like this, that, however briefly, put Cryptozoology into the mainstream press.

    Cryptozoology, more than perhaps any other science, NEEDS this. It is the amateurs that will discover these creatures. The Okapi wasn’t pursued by the “scientific establishment”.

    So sensational claims are made. Websites like this one easily discard obvious hoaxes and fakes. But when pioneers like Heuvelmans, Mackal and others (Mr Coleman included) discuss “Monsters”, as most persons view them, it is the rush that you feel that keeps one interested.

    Whether individuals agree or not, let the Gates of the world keep putting their findings in the news for us to learn about. Who knows, maybe one day something spectacular will be discovered.

  73. DARHOP responds:

    “I know of no one, on this planet, however cynical or skeptical, who would deny the existence of the yeti if one were placed in front of him, in a cage.”

    I know a guy that would. I honestly think if a Yeti slapped him in the head, bit a chunk of his arm off. He still would think it was a guy in a suit. And that is no joking.

  74. DWA responds:

    gavinfundyk: what you are talking about is at the same time one of crypto’s great advantages, and one of its greatest crosses to bear.

    The “rush” is what keeps the conversation going, and what brings in each generation of new cryptos, among which are numerous qualified scientists. New blood is essential to finding out new things.

    At the same time, the “rush” can turn off serious scientists, who respond (as we frequently do here) to almost every “new development” with another here-we-go-again eye roll.

    It’s tough to strike a balance between stoking the rush and over-promotion. But it’s good to try. One doesn’t want to scare off too many potential mystery-solvers before they get a chance to get hooked.

  75. Benjamin Radford responds:

    DWA writes, “There could be a microscopic elephant in your coffee cup.”

    SIGH. Nope, wrong again. Elephants are by definition not microscopic; check a dictionary. Could there be a microscopic animal in my coffee cup? Certainly, but it could not be an elephant.

    By the way, DWA, since you can’t seem to grasp the basics, here are a few other negatives I can prove, just off the top of my head:

    1) I can prove that Edgar Allan Poe is not the current president of the United States.

    2) I can prove that China does not have a common border with Colorado.

    And so on…

    I gotta go, there’s not enough hours in the day to correct all your errors, mistakes, and bad logic.

  76. DWA responds:

    Wow! Ben, this is a privilege.

    Not every day you get to carve somebody to ribbons in something he considers an area of specialty. OK, Ben, here’s some Logic 001, since you obviously didn’t take it.

    “SIGH. Nope, wrong again. Elephants are by definition not microscopic; check a dictionary. Could there be a microscopic animal in my coffee cup? Certainly, but it could not be an elephant.”

    How do you know, Ben? The defiinition covers only those elephants we know about. Checking a dictionary proves nothing. The unicorn is in there, as a mythical beast. That’s not a proof. That’s an assumption. It is NOT a logical proof. The definition of elephants as non-microscopic (which you will NOT find in the dictionary) is NOT a proof that there are none; just an implied statement that there are none we know about. Do you know what a proof is?

    “1) I can prove that Edgar Allan Poe is not the current president of the United States.”

    Wow, um, this is fish in a barrel. You cannot prove he isn’t. You can only prove someone else IS. Any logician would consider that a critical, fundamental difference. You are only “proving” (NOT!) that he isn’t by proving something else, a POSITIVE, the only kind of proof that can be made.

    “2) I can prove that China does not have a common border with Colorado.”

    EXACT same thing.

    See, folks, this has critical implications for crypto. Skeptics actually use negative proofs as a key linchpin of their case. It’s no support at all. Ben says that the likelihood of the sasquatch’s existence gets lower with each passing day. (You could look it up.) Unless he means that they’re going extinct – and he clearly doesn’t from the context – he’s making a flatly incorrect, even absurd, statement.

    YOU CAN’T PROVE A NEGATIVE. Each day that goes by without discovery is nothing more than one less day until discovery. It doesn’t affect the evidence, one way or the other. (Oh sorry. It does. The evidence for the sas gets STRONGER with each passing day. That’s the power of evidence; it’s POSITIVE. It ACCUMULATES. It gains weight, heft, power. Nothing, zero, nada, “negative evidence” does NOT.)


    And jerrywayne – thanks for the teachable moment there, guy! – is still wrong.

  77. cryptidsrus responds:

    I can’t believe this thread is STILL running. You must have hit a raw nerve, Mr. Radford.

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I’ll leave you THIS thought:

    I try to read philosophy as much as I can. I admit I’m not an expert. Some of what I read I can grasp, some of it I cannot—particularly MODERN philosophy, which relies too much on defining terms and “metalanguages” and “this comes before that, so therefore A must be B because it is also C,” and so forth. I prefer the older, classical, back-to basics people like Plato and Socrates and Aristotle–and some of the medieval people too.

    So therefore, people, I’m the first one to admit I’m not much on logic, but what Radford just said about the elephant somehow just does not make sense to me!!!

    I may be wrong of course, but saying an elephant, by “definition” is large leaves out the fact that a microscopic elephant would still BE an elephant. The tusks, body shape, large ears, etc.? It may be microscopic in size, but it has the FEATURES of an elephant, common to ALL elephants. It is just a microscopic VERSION of one. What then, would you call one, Mr. Radford? ASSUME you WERE to SEE one, what would you call it, then? ASSUME one were to exist—WHAT is it then?

    How do you know one was not shrunk SOMEHOW?

    If an ant were SOMEHOW (humor me) to grow to GIGANTIC size, and it would be proven that it did exist, wouldn’t it STILL be an ant? A gigantic VERSION of one?

    And how do we know we’re here RIGHT now anyway?

    Some philosophies (and religions such as Buddhism) state that all we see is an ILLUSION. So how do we NOT know E. A. Poe is not president right now?

    On a lighter note—have you ever seen the MATRIX? Which is based partly on Descartes’ “Demon” thought experiment, btw—I’m sure you know that. How do we know we’re not in the Matrix right now?

    If I’m not making sense, all of you fine folks can correct me. Like I said, I TRY to understand logic as much as I can. I’m just trying to contribute something to the discussion before I get off this thread permanently—(and once again, I can’t believe this thread is still going on).

    It just does not “sense” to me, people. Do you agree folks? DARHOP?

  78. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Wow, this is so obvious I don’t know why I bother, but:

    Edgar Allan Poe is dead.
    Our current president is alive.
    Poe cannot be our current president

    “To argue with a fool makes two fools.” I’m outta here.

  79. DWA responds:

    Something else I should have taken time to point out in my previous post, were there not so much else to correct:

    The dictionary is no place to look for proof of anything, as anyone who professes to know anything about science should know. The dictionary gives you one thing: definitions of words. It is a progress report on word usage, and nothing more. One does not look in the dictionary for proof of anything; one can only find evidence of what a word means – at the time the dictionary was published. That’s it. That the dictionary doesn’t point out the nonexistence of microscopic elephants – I bet that the only dictionary that has “microscopic” under “elephant” is Ben’s – means nothing except that, at the time of publication, this is what the compilers of the dictionary thought “elephant” meant.

    Another thing: like most reference works, dictionaries talk about what IS [known at publication time], not about what is NOT. The dictionary does not state absolutes of any kind; it’s a progress report and does not deal in what the things described are or are not, but only in what THE WORDS MEAN. (Which, of course, is changing all the time.)

    When one is using dictionaries for logical proofs, well, let’s just say that we hope that ain’t the foundation of one’s argument we’re looking at there.

    Sadly, it’s pretty close.

  80. DWA responds:

    Wait, I was wrong about something. And, of course, I caught it but you might have missed it.

    The unicorn’s status as a mythical critter in dictionaries IS an assumption on the part of the compilers (and pretty much everyone else). But that’s not why they say it. The unicorn IS a mythical beast, as it appears in myths (and only in those…so far as we know).

    What the definition is is a STATEMENT of what the word “unicorn” can be said to mean, at the time the dictionary was published. (Should the unicorn be discovered, you can bet future dictionaries will note that it’s a real animal. They just can’t talk about microscopic ones ’til we find one.)

    It ain’t a scientific treatise, nor is it proof of anything.

  81. mystery_man responds:

    Whoa there, everybody! This thread started off about Yeti footprints, their value as evidence, and the skeptic angle on things, and somehow it has turned into an argument about microscopic elephants in teacups. I like a good discussion on logic, but this has gone off into left field a bit if you ask me. It might be a little helpful and more pertinent to others here if examples used to illustrate points actually had something to do with sasquatch studies.

    What is the point, here? We cannot prove there ISN’T a sasquatch? That isn’t a scientific way to approach it in the first place. Regardless of the possibility of microscopic elephants (and I have to agree I’m fairly certain there is not one in my coffee as I write this. We cannot presume them to exist, can we?), if you make an extraordinary claim (or really any new claim), the onus is on you to prove it not others to disprove it. If you were to make the claim that Edgar Allen Poe is president, then prove it. If you claim there is a large, hairy hominid in North America, then you have to do the legwork. We cannot ASSUME things exist or work a certain way in science unless they have rigorously been proven to the best of our ability to be so. You study and you build up the evidence to prove your hypothesis. If not, you open up a whole can of worms and must believe a whole plethora of things that have no known basis in fact.

    As to elephants? I’ll say this about it. Right now, all studies done and evidence collected by diligent scientific people show elephants to be quite large. Are we to go about drinking our coffee with the idea that a microscopic elephant MIGHT be in there? If you can somehow study them and produce evidence for such a creature, then fine, but until then leave my coffee alone. :) You need to prove that there IS one, not the other way around.

    Please, please no more about elephants and Edgar Allen Poe. This conversation is going off into outer space.

  82. mystery_man responds:

    Another thought on the matter.

    One thing that needs to be remembered I think is the existence of a paradigm, or a generally accepted set of laws and theories pertaining to how things work, that science works under and which keeps scientists on track. This paradigm can sort of be considered a collection of knowledge that is held to be true to the greatest certainty possible given our knowledge, evidence, observations, and equipment available. This knowledge has been collected, researched, and rigorously tested, in essence fairly safe understanding or guideline of what is going on. This is not to say that the paradigm is the final truth or completely unsusceptible change, indeed history shows many examples of the paradigm being shifted one way or the other to better encompass new knowledge brought to bear. However, it does give us a generally good idea of what to expect.

    The paradigm is an important point of reference and eliminates the need for scientists to research and test every single little thing completely from scratch. I think you can imagine the advance of knowledge would be very slow if that were the case.

    Now I said the paradigm can indeed be changed or modified, it is not necessarily an end all, be all final answer. But in order to do that, you must present evidence to that effect. Unless you do this, basically one can continue to operate under the relatively safe assumption that our current knowledge is sound in whatever area is under analysis. In essence, as I said before, if you present a claim that falls outside what is generally known, you must provide evidence to that effect or we will continue to value what has been shown to be correct to the best of our current knowledge.

    A simple example from my own point of view. My own personal observations and knowledge of my house has shown there to be no monkeys on the premises. This is a fact to the best of my understanding, a paradigm of sorts, if you will. If one were to claim that a monkey lived in my house, I would ask them to prove it in some fashion. Any failure to do so would result in me continuing to operate under the current knowledge that there is no monkey here until compelling proof to the contrary was shown to me. Failure to produce a positive allows me to presume that my current knowledge is true (a negative). Same goes for elephants in my coffee. :)

    Now, if I suddenly started to find little monkey footprints around the house or guests reported that they had seen one, I might start to question what I thought I knew and look deeper into the matter (hopefully you are seeing the relevance to cryptids here). I would also look into the possibility that the prints were chocolate stains on the rug or that guests were fooling with me, and we would see where the evidence led. Until I am more sure, I will state with reasonable certainty that there is no monkey here as there is absolutely no evidence to show there is.

    I cannot say that every house in the world has no monkey, but through the lack of any positive evidence to suggest there is one here in my house I can hold to my paradigm and I suppose basically prove a negative of sorts in the case of my own house through lack of anything to show me otherwise. And I guess the longer I go without finding one, perhaps the more sure I will be of that assumption. Perhaps this is what Ben’s opinion is when he says that every day that the likelihood of sasquatch gets lower with each passing day? In his opinion, nothing compelling enough to challenge the paradigm (that there is no such animal in North America) has come to light. It seems as though he thinks maybe it IS out there (am I right here Ben?), but he has seen nothing adequate enough to presume as much.

    In my opinion, there is enough to want me to dig deeper into the phenomena and the circumstantial evidence has increased enough throughout the years to inspire curiosity. In the end though, really no one can prove that sasquatch isn’t out there at all and I don’t think skeptics should be asked to do so. These cryptids will not be accepted as real until the ones who claim they are show evidence enough to more or less overturn what we generally accept to be true.

    I think to find that sort of thing out, to reach any decent level of truth, we have to LOOK, delve deeper, follow up leads, and keep an open mind towards what is found.

  83. DARHOP responds:

    I myself am finished with this subject.
    Ben Radford is entitled to his opinions. As well as the rest of us that frequent this site. I have said it before. I am here to try and learn things. And the best way for me to do that is by listening to all points of view. Be them right or wrong. This is how we learn. I have no degrees in anything. I am just your normal average DAR. But I do respect everyones opinions, right or wrong. Who am I to say an opinion is wrong. Unless I know for a fact and can back it up with some kind of proof. I don’t know about the whole science thing anyway. Can’t different scientist do the same type of research on something, using the same methods. But come up with different conclusions? I mean after all, it is just their opinions on the research right. Man I don’t even know what point I’m trying to make here.
    Anyway, Ben has a right to state his opinions. Even if most don’t agree with them. And I agree. I can’t believe this post is still going either. But as of now, I’m done with it. Peace!

  84. DWA responds:

    Wow. Ben thinks Dubya is ALIVE. 😀

    Did we say WHICH Edgar Allan Poe, Ben? No, we did not. A point as trenchant as any you have made, I might add. Look in the phone book – a repositiory of great proofs, probably better than the dictionary – and you’ll find quite a few of them.

    But anyway, here’s my larger point: Ben tugs at dog-ends, gets roughed up even there, and can’t touch the meat of the argument. He knows where he’s not qualified to tread. If he didn’t before, he does now. And I’m sure he’s off trying to figure out how he can debunk cryptids without leaning almost totally on the negative-proof gig. Note how this entire blog comes down to: Poe’s dead? Not debunking any yetis that way, are we?

    And m_m: don’t you follow him! 😀 I would hope there is no one out there who thinks microscopic elephants or monkeys in apartments demand proof. I’m content to wallow in my ignorance of them, and unicorns, until…well, until they have the level of compelling evidence we have for sasquatch and yeti.

    (If there are microscopic elephants, cream and sugar seem to make them taste better.)

    Just drink your coffee. 😀

    And just because I can’t resist?

    How does Ben even know THAT Poe is dead? Did he ever meet him? Was he at his funeral? Nope, he read about it.

    Which is visual evidence.

    Which, according to Ben himself, just cannot be relied upon. 😀

  85. Ceroill responds:

    Oh, good grief. This all is reminding me strongly of something from an old book I used to have. It was a collection of imaginary conversations that were meant to be amusing and/or thought provoking. This one went as follows:
    A) What’s wrong? You look distraught.
    B) I have a problem I’m trying to solve.
    A) Oh, well then, let’s use rational logic to solve your problem.
    B) Alright! Whose rational logic shall we use, yours or mine?

  86. cryptidsrus responds:


    I agree with all three of you. I have no comment on Dubya, though. That’s political opinion country, and I prefer to stay out of that.

    Thank you for the “fool” quote, Mr. Radford.

    Didn’t answer my question about the microscopic elephants but I like the quote. I guess it was aimed at me or DWA. Does not surprise me—avoid the question by taking a sliver out of the main argument and go from there. And insult the asker of the question.

    I agree, MYSTERY_MAN. This thread has gone way out on left field. Let’s give it a merciful death.

    I was simply responding to Mr. Radford’s “strict” interpretation of a word on a dictionary.

    Good info btw, DWA.

    Like Radford said, I’m outta here.

  87. mystery_man responds:

    It is amazing the amount of posts this thread generated! I think I’m going to leave it alone now too. I think everyone’s points and positions are fairly clear here.

    DARHOP, you are right about what you said about scientists coming to different conclusions even when using the same evidence or data. I actually wrote at length about that very thing somewhere up there towards the middle of the thread.

  88. springheeledjack responds:

    Ah, back, and a little late it seems to get into the fray, but you know…doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say:) (sorry, been on a sabbatical of sorts, and unfortunately it was not crypto-related).

    The one point I am going to make (and I will assume that most of you are done with this post, so assume I am going to bring it up again elsewhere:) is thus:

    I have heard a ton of talk here about cryptozoology and skeptics and the differeneces between those two camps, etc., etc.

    IT is high time that cryptozoologists (and that includes all of us here) quit making that differentiation. The people I read here, including Loren, Craig, Rick and John are skeptics. Cryptozoology is, always has been and is skeptical by its very nature. We look into sightings, evidence, and stories and then sift through all of those things to see if there is any truth left over.

    What differentiates cryptozoologists and the debunkers/scoftics is NOT the word skepticism, but the idea that cryptos are open to the possibility that there as yet undiscovered critters roaming the earth, and big ones.

    We, as cryptos need to embrace that word skepticism as part of our own vocabulary and start using it in a positive way, instead of as a name for the debunkers. The debunkers are not skeptics, but rather people who naysay using fancy words like skepticisism and scientific process to hide behind and try to use to make themselves look more credible.

    Cryptozoologists are skeptical. It is our nature BECA– USE we have to sift through so many hoaxes and misinterpretations of data. If we weren’t skeptical, we would not spend all of this time on the net debating this stuff.

    So, from one skeptical cryptozoologist to the rest of you, let’s go find us some more evidence to support our favorite cryptids…

  89. DWA responds:

    springheeledjack: I was done with THAT part of this thread. ;-p

    But I think that what you are saying is precisely the reason that some-other-word-for-“skeptic” threads happen here. You’re right. At its core, cryptozoology IS skeptical; it asks questions and searches. It doesn’t sit on its tuchus and toss around theories without bothering to get off said tuchus and come up with evidence.

    I hate to have an approach that is at the very core of this topic hijacked by inadequately schooled spokeswags for the hoi polloi. But – as this blog illustrates all too well there, Ben – that is precisely what has happened.

  90. mystery_man responds:

    Springheeledjack- Well said. I completely agree.

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