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Davies Addresses Cryptomundo Questions

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 2nd, 2009

Adam Davies (above), expedition leader of the Orang Pendek trek, and author of Extreme Expeditions, responses, via his journal on Friday, October 2, 2009, directly to people here.

He writes, in part (edited for typos):

I should answer a few of the points raised by people in Cryptomundo and elsewhere. So here are a few that really struck me:

1/ Firstly, I am not a member of the CFZ. That said, I have always supported their aims, and the other three members of the expedition team are members. I led the expedition, and invited those people on the team because I though they had unique skills to offer, not because of any organisation they belonged to. Dave is a great Tracker, Chris a level headed explorer with considerable technical expertise, and Richard because of his considerable zoological expertise. We paid for the expedition as private individuals; we were not funded by any organisation including the CFZ, and any equipment we brought was our own. I am not under contract with any film company, and the press releases issued by the CFZ have nothing to do with me. I do not see them before they go out.

2/ In terms of planning, I have been to Sumatra some 5 times. The area I picked to go this time was very carefully chosen by me, as I have found footprints and/or hair samples before. The analysis is done by independent scientists, not cryptozoologists. For example, the hairs were previously studied by Dr. Hans Brunner, famous for his scrutiny in the Lindy Chamberlain murder trial. The prints have been analysed by Dr. Jeff Meldrum (U.S.A) and by David Chivers from the University of Cambridge. They independently came to the decision that they were from an unkown primate. Professor Todd Disotell will be carrying out the analysis this time.

3/ Equipment is always an emotive subject. There is always something better you could bring, but as I have said, we brought the best we had with the money we had. That included night vision equipment, infared cameras, and camera traps. Do not forget, you have to haul all this gear through the jungle, and weight is a serious issue. If I get better equipment I will use it. Witness the films I have made for the History Channel. My only regret in terms of equipment is that the plaster of Paris the guides had purchased for casting, had degraded and we could not use it….I have got a print there before, which has been shown on Cryptomundo, and we found several trails, these were photographed to scale. These things happen in the field .

4/ Matt Billie asked a very good question as to whether it could have been a Lars Gibbon. I am used to seeing Gibbons in the jungle, and Sahar is a really experienced guide. I am certain he would not mistake an Orang-Pendek for a Gibbon, and his astonished reaction compounds that view. The physical descriptions by both eyewitnesses do not match Gibbon.

5/ Normally my expeditions do not last more than a month or less, because I have to work full time. In my dream scenario I make films, and do this full time. Unfortunately, I am not yet living the dream, so back to the day job.

I will be sending off the samples on Saturday. I will update this blog again later next week.

Adam Davies

Orang Pendek Cast

Please click on the image for a larger version of the photograph.

Above is the Adam Davies-Andrew Sanderson-obtained Orang Pendek field cast, from September 2001. The original was displayed as part of the Bates College cryptozoology exhibition in 2006, held in conjunction with the International Cryptozoology Museum. A first generation copy of this cast will be shown in the new public location of the museum.

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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.

53 Responses to “Davies Addresses Cryptomundo Questions”

  1. kgehrman responds:

    Wow this is getting exciting Adam!
    Good luck out there.

  2. cryptidsrus responds:

    I also would like to wish you good luck, Adam. Keep on searching!!!

    And thanks for dropping by and expanding on your findings.

    This IS getting interesting!!!

  3. korollocke responds:

    The guide was just messing with you because it amused him to do so and you really wanted see something. This isn’t unusal treatment, locals pull that kind of thing alot on tourist and amature researchers all over the world involving mysterious critters and such.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:


    With all due respect—

    How do you know that the guide was “messing” with Adam???

    Is there something you know about this expedition we don’t?

    Don;t be shy. Please do share. :)

  5. praetorian responds:


    After you’ve made your fifth expedition to the Sumatran jungle I’d be glad to hear any opinions you may have concerning the locals. Until then, think before you type.

  6. DWA responds:

    cryptidsrus: Agree with you.

    A comment like that is …well, it’s why we knowitalls in the West are so constantly shown up for how little we know. It’s actually condescending, at best: those bumpkins can’t take anything seriously; it’s their only chance to put one over on The White Man.

    With no evidence – without having been there – such a statement is 25,000% untenable. In fact, many locals are angry at Western science for not taking the orang pendek seriously. What do you think we are? is the general tack that takes. We’re not stupid.

  7. Miss G-force responds:

    This is all fascinating and well done to the expedition team. I’m sympathetic to the problems encountered, not least the difficulty of trying to both correctly identify and then take a good photo of the long sought-after creature, without making enough movement/noise to immediately scare it away. I am not really surprised that so few people manage to get photos in those momentary opportunities.

    Personally, I am also confident that the team and guides were able to correctly identify the creature. Afterall, we know that the local people are familiar enough with it.

    I am also glad to know that the team did NOT go stomping off and chasing the creature. As this seems to be a type of (primitive) human/hominoid, we should treat it with respect and not stress it out in the few remote areas that they lives. I don’t think we would be too happy if small groups of Bigfoots took it into their heads to start chasing people to catch them for a better look! Apart from that aspect, I can’t see that it would be realistic to run after and catch an animal that is at home in dense forest like that.

    I do not at all agree with killing or otherwise seriously stressing these wild relatives of ours, however impatient we are to know them better (I am). In future, I hope team’s will consider using tranquiliser darts to harmlessly and temporarily disable the creatures and allow for a close examination, photos etc. I think that must be the only serious way forward to get the official proof we all want.

    There is one thing that I am very curious about regarding the Orang Pendek. In the descriptions I’ve read before about it, I understood that the creature’s legs and posture had a strange appearance, described as having knee joints that bend the opposite way to ours, and also (if I remember rightly) that the feet are childlike or something. I have taken this to mean that they often walk on their toes and that the heel is small and usually raised off the ground, so that (I have imagined) they might have the appearance of, for example, the mythical faun (think Narnia film). If this is true, that would help explain the very short and unusual shape of the footprint, and also perhaps the variability, sometimes appearing like an animal’s pads and other times with a narrow heel. I would be very interested to know the team’s views are on this. Thanks.

  8. korollocke responds:

    Simple points here, they had a camera or cameras to take pics of what may or may not be primate tracks or just odd shaped depressions in the mud(reminds me of human fossil foot prints next to dino prints that were soundly debunked, the human prints not the dino prints.), but didnt snap a pic when they claim to have found the thing they were seeking in flesh a hundred yards away? Admit it any of you would have snapped away trees or not! The plaster was poor qaulity? If it’s man size then why such tiny prints? one of them is way smaller than a mans hand. Shouldn’t you check your supplies before you head out? I would have been thrilled if they really did find what they were looking for. We all would have been. But like always no one ever has anything solid but stories and inconclusive prints.

  9. DWA responds:

    Korollocke: as a previous poster said, I’ll believe you after your fifth expedition to Sumatra.

    As someone else said: life sure looks easy from an armchair.

    Thirty years of backcountry experience tells me that 99 out of 100 people sighting an orang pendek would be lucky to get a photo of their fly (which is hopefully not open). The 100th, I will lay my next ten years’ salary, wouldn’t convince you.

    Speculation absent evidence appears to be a crypto-skeptical specialty. I am still waiting for the explanation how this easiest of all animals to photograph remains undocumented by science.

    You first. (“It doesn’t exist” is a crypto-skeptical specialty. Backed as usual by, well, nothing.)

  10. Ceroill responds:

    Excellent posting, thanks for the information and good luck on your expedition!

  11. flame821 responds:

    Question for Adam Davies –

    I believe one of the earlier reports stated that trail cams were also used. If you have trial cams at your disposal, or if you can get a company to loan/donate DIGITAL trail cams to you for this purpose. Would you be able to place those trail cams at high activity areas and then teach a few of the locals how to exchange the digital cards? Perhaps they could either save them for you or, even better, have them posted out (YES, I know that isn’t as easy as it sounds and will more than likely be a logistical nightmare)

    A year’s worth of footage may well reveal not only the OP but several other unknown to science critters that make those dense forests home.

    Just a thought

  12. Fhqwhgads responds:

    What’s with statements like I’ll believe you after your fifth expedition to Sumatra? Would you? Because, really, what on earth could that have to do with anything?

    Some Westerners went to Sumatra and someone got a glimpse of what he thinks might be an orang pendek. Meanwhile, people who live there claim to have seen it more clearly and over generations. If you or I don’t believe the natives (maybe because we don’t know them), why should we believe this glimpse from a Western expedition? Likewise, if you do believe the natives, what does this most recent sighting really add?

    And forget about the “five expeditions to Sumatra”. If the locals are like people everywhere, some will believe in the local legend, and others (who have also lived there for their whole lives) will believe it is a total crock. I have no idea which group is in the majority locally — but would it matter? If only 2% of the local villagers claimed to have seen the orang pendek, those are the ones who would be interviewed, not the 98% who did not — perhaps especially if the 98% who had not seen it also did not believe in the legend. So why do you pretend you would care what korollocke thought if he only had a cumulative 5 months of fieldwork in Sumatra if you don’t care what the local skeptics, who have lived their for decades, think?

    Maybe something will come of the other evidence; it’s too early to be certain yet. But the mere glimpse of something by a Western expedition is not scientific evidence and it will not convince anyone who was doubtful before.

  13. TheHighlandTiger responds:

    The point made about trail cams is a valid one. They are easy to use, and all you have to do is supply the locals with cash to pay for batteries and digital cards. I’m sure they can find access to an internet connection every few months, where they can email any interesting photo’s.

    More and more real zoological expeditions are going down the trail cam route, it’s about time the crypto community started to copy these practices from the professionals.

    Unless an animal is captured, the trail cam scenario is our best chance of proving the existance of the Orang Pendek

  14. Impossible Visits responds:

    I really want to thank Adam Davies for being in direct touch with Cryptomundo readers, and Loren for facilitating this communication. I am especially enticed by the apparently high likelihood that the hair samples collected indeed belong to the OP, and want to express my hope that Mr. Davies will keep us in the loop, step by step, with regard to results of the DNA testing.

  15. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: here, have a decaf. And reread my post.

    Most of the negative comments on this thread bespeak a lack of acquaintance with what an expedition to Duluth, let alone Sumatra, would entail. My fifth expedition comment (I was echoing praetorian, and we’re both right) is just saying: get out of your armchair before you sling mud. There is nothing about this sighting report that isn’t eminently understandable and, in fact, expected, if you understand the nexus of the 24-hour-news cycle, television, and crypto. (Quick summary: bad marriage.)

    Korollocke tossed off an I-was-there-and-I-know kneejerk debunk. Stated not as speculation but as flat fact. You’re what, OK with that?

    “If the locals are like people everywhere, some will believe in the local legend, and others (who have also lived there for their whole lives) will believe it is a total crock.”

    Plus option 3: many will know it’s a real animal. Forgot that one. Or, do you know already? Tell us, man! A read-up on the history of this critter will tell you that a whole lot of locals sound like option 3.

    I’ve never heard from a “local skeptic.” If you have quotes from any, please share.

    “But the mere glimpse of something by a Western expedition is not scientific evidence and it will not convince anyone who was doubtful before.”

    Thanks for a sentence that couldn’t characterize what I think any better. Where we seem to differ is that that guy was there, you and I weren’t, and I get that. Only a moment’s reflection should show anyone that we’d still be in caves if we didn’t accept others’ experiences – or at least didn’t laugh or heap trash on them – absent strong evidence that they were lying or mistaken. You don’t have to say that’s my proof. It isn’t. But that this guy saw an orang pendek is a possibility that is equal to any other that can be advanced at the moment. Period. Forget crypto going anywhere if we don’t all adopt this thinking. Think I’m wrong? Fifty years of lots of evidence and no proof on hairy hominoids proves me dead-on right.

    And all this having been said: trailcams are the future of crypto. Better yet, they’re the present.

  16. DWA responds:

    I want to highlight this thing I just said, because I know people won’t get it, and I think it may be crypto’s critical problem, at least crypto-for-TV.

    “But that this guy saw an orang pendek is a possibility that is equal to any other that can be advanced at the moment. Period. Forget crypto going anywhere if we don’t all adopt this thinking.”

    Jeremy Holden considers failing to photograph the orang pendek to be his life’s biggest failure. He also says he didn’t expect to see one. I don’t think cryptos ever do. And they’re surprised when they do, and simply not ready to react. I’m not saying that’s what happened here; I don’t think this guy had time for a good photo, period. A little shock is inevitable, and I think most of us would have done what he did. Look. But I think that even cryptos have become, well, a little bit this way: oh, I won’t see one. Now if you’re shooting for TV, you have a big barrier in the way, the biggest of all: time. It’s logical to be a tad pessimistic. Cryptids don’t appear on demand. This makes it harder to be prepared. But you still have to be.

    Patterson and Gimlin got their film because of their single-minded dedication to one goal: getting the animal on film. Period. And they put in the time, and they had a great “time multiplier”: horses. But they went in with an acquisition bias: THEY KNEW THEY WOULD SEE ONE, and they focused on what would happen WHEN they did. It is the ultimate index of Patterson’s preparation that he was thrown from his horse, and still got the film. (That they checked for tracks and could cast them was gravy. You want that, but the film was more important.)

    If cryptids are real, I’ve become fond of saying, they are real as rats. Which means, if somebody saw one, I’m not laughing at him. I’m not denying an experience of which I have no evidence but his word.

    So, the biggest obstacles facing crypto: woo-woo proponents; scoftics…and cryptos who scoff. They’ll ensure crypto goes nowhere if they continue to dominate the field.

    I’m not saying take him at proof. I’m saying consider his experience at least as likely as your personal slant on it, particularly if you weren’t there.

  17. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Actually, I agree that Korollocke stated his case way too strongly, but the reaction against him was also too strong. It would only be justified to go after him that harshly if you could prove he was wrong, just as it would only be justified for him to go after Davies’ team that harshly if he could prove that they were being played by the locals. So far, no one can prove anything.

    “If the locals are like people everywhere, some will believe in the local legend, and others (who have also lived there for their whole lives) will believe it is a total crock.”

    Plus option 3: many will know it’s a real animal. Forgot that one. Or, do you know already?

    I mean “believe” in an inclusive sense, covering both those who accept the reality of the local legend because of something they’ve seen (whether or not they are correct in their interpretations) as well as those who accept the reality on the testimony of others. Your “option 3” is not really a 3rd option; if you want a 3rd option, it would be “don’t know”.

    A read-up on the history of this critter will tell you that a whole lot of locals sound like option 3.

    One of my points is that the books you would have me “read up” naturally have a reporting bias in favor of believers. “Local man sees ghost in campus library” is the kind of thing that might be written about, “Sixteen thousand other library users think he’s full of foolishness” is not so likely to see print.

  18. Fhqwhgads responds:


    To clarify, my point about the self-selection of the documentation also applies in cases where the difference in numbers is not extreme, or even when the skeptics are in the minority. If someone is looking for an orang-pendek, or the Lost Dutchman Mine, or Atlantis, or whatever, he will naturally concentrate on the evidence that indicates that the object of his quest is real, whether that evidence is solid or merely hearsay. More responsible researchers will acknowledge the existence of doubters (without ridiculing them), but even they will spend disproportionate time and space on the believers.

    So I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of local skeptics. I assume they exist because (1) if the orang-pendek is so rare that outsiders find it hard to prove, it must also be so rare that many locals will also have no first-hand evidence that it exists, and (2) even in the most conformist societies, it is human nature to at least entertain doubts about questions for which one has no first-hand evidence.

  19. cryptidsrus responds:


    Kollorocke wrote that “The guide was just messing with you because it amused him to do so and you really wanted see something.”

    That is a DEFINITIVE statement implying that Kollorocke knows for a FACT that the guide was being untruthful and Davies was being “receptive” to that untruthfulness. Therefore, it is “reasonable” to suppose that Kollorocke must then either be privy to some information regarding the psychological and temporal makeup of the expedition that we don’t, OR, he is able to get inside the heads of the expedition memebers and discern their true motives.

    Maybe somebody from the expedition we don’t know about “told” him something without the knowledge of everybody else here. Heck—I don’t know. Maybe he DOES know somebody on the “inside.” I was simply saying that if that was the truth, then by all means “share” it if he wanted to. Unless of course “privacy” issues prevent him from doing so—in which case, I understand and I’m sure everybody else here does as well. :)

    I was only trying to find out “How do you know this for certain if you were not there?”.

    If Kollorocke had said instead “The guide was PROBABLY just messing with you because it amused him and you PROBABLY really wanted to see something”—that would have been one thing. Then he would be speculating—which would be sort of irrelevant in this context, but understandable from my point of view. THat’s ultimately ALL we can do.

    I personally was not trying to “go after Korollocke harshly.” If others did that here, I don’t condone that.
    I was reacting to his definitive statement and trying to get more information.

    You said—
    “So far, no one can prove anything”.
    You’re absolutely right—all we can do is speculate. Which is just that—-speculating. We don’t know for a fact that the guide was lying. Or that Davies was “credulous.” Maybe. Maybe not. We can only go by what they tell us. What we deduce from that information is up to us.

    Heck, it may be that Davies is really an Illuminati agent and the guide was really a holographic figment of his imagination. Anything is possible. :)

    My concern with Korollocke is not necessarily whether he is “right” or not. Likewise with Davies and the guide. It’s really an issue of semantics.
    I like Korollocke. I just think it is unwise of him to make definitive statements like that without positing a reason how he KNOWS they are a FACT. In other words, without being able to “back them up.” It is simple Logic.
    Implying something is a FACT invites inquiries as to whethe that really IS a fact. And whether one can back that up.

    In short—if he really does know for a FACT that Davies was deceived, then by all means try to “share.” If he does NOT know for a fact that Davies was deceivd, then it is really presumptous, not to say borderline arrogant of him to posit something like that. It also opens him up to the insinuation he might be a “debunker”—(i.e., made up his mind already without looking at the evidence).

    You made some good points—but they’re irrelevant in this specific context. I enjoy your point of view—like everybody else’s here—but your stepping up to “defend” Korollocke is misplaced.
    That’s all. :)

  20. cryptidsrus responds:

    To get to the point (and then that is it):

    IF Korollocke is speculating, then he is doing so without any “proof” to speak of. Prove it. If not, then the “speculation” is irresponsible and unfair.

  21. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Kollorocke’s definitive statement may have been an example of hyperbole. Clearly, it’s not a good idea to use that device here; the emotions run too high. I expect he meant it only in the sense of “it looks very much to me like this is what happened”.

    I think DWA’s earlier recommendation, “have a decaf,” is good advice for all parties.

  22. korollocke responds:

    To put some thing out there I really shouldn’t have to, I have traveled to several remote areas of the world, some more than once in fact. A common thing I personally encountered were “guides” telling wild tales of fantastic flora and fauna. Ofcourse no one could provide even the smallest piece of hard evidence ever, but thats how it was and still is. On the other side of the coin I have witnessed some things I can’t fully explain, the Giant porcupine (the size of an old pickle barrel) in Iraq just outside of Tikirt comes to mind. About 75 people all saw it come through the umcp that day. Was it a giant porcupine or was it something else entirely I can’t say. Porcupines to the best of knowledge eat bark and trees are scarce in Iraq. Same applies to this topic, they don’t really know what they saw. Maybe it was a common gibbon or nothing at all.

  23. korollocke responds:

    Wheres the definitive proof they saw anything out there? I hear this all the time. Every expedition always comes back with stories and little else, the attack story was a good one, totally bogus but fun none the less. I can’t get excited over word of mouth with out real evidence and hard facts. No serious researcher would. Give me some hair,blood tissue,dna, clear photos, a body or a living specimen; not stories, inconclusive samples and indeterminable tracks to back up claims. In short prove it…

  24. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Without the stories to provide context, what would you get from blood, hair, and DNA? If there really is something to it, all you’d get would be just an “unknown”, but if the “unknown” can be associated with an eyewitness description, even without photos, that can be useful. On the other hand, if an eyewitness gives an exotic description, but the forensics says it was just (for example) a raccoon, that could be embarrassing to the research team and would tend to discredit the whole endeavor.

    The problem is not with telling the stories, the problem is with separating the stories from the supporting evidence, which has yet to be analyzed.

  25. norman-uk responds:

    Yep, you’ve defined what we all want including A.D. I’m sure (except for those who prefer the dream) and A D is out there getting it for us. Good ol boy! The evidence of course is a means to an end.

    The evidence you want is slowly gathering but needs tethering to some research body to do it justice. One thing that should be available is DNA evidence, I mean analysed and documented with valid comparisons having been made by science aristos like Todd Disotell. Unfortunately this has not happened. See his talk on “Monster Talk” [as previously discussed] for his outlook. You may find this sceptical take discouraging though it mainly applies to Sasquatch it could equally apply to Orang pendek. I am interested in AD’s reference to one of his samples being found to have unknown primate DNA. Are you able to say Adam if this result has been looked at and characteristics or relationships of the DNA have been worked out and if not, with respect, why not?

    Adam I think you must have quite a few good footprints and maybe hand or knuckle prints now, are you able to show us some clearer ones?

    I do admire and appreciate your work and am grateful for your openess and giving us so much access. I hope you can keep it all going.

  26. korollocke responds:

    Fhqwhgads, What would we have with blood,hair,tissue and dna….Solid evidence of the beasties existance outside of the realm of hear say, blurry or non existant photos and film,unidentifiable depressions in the mud,and local folklore!

  27. korollocke responds:

    You all must understand in order for cryptozoology to be taken seriously,it itself must be a serious endevor and be approached with same attention to detail as any other scientific reasearch, otherwise it will all come to nothing, and that would be truely tragic for everyone. I’m not out to debunk anyone or anything. I’m tired of info that doesn’t go anywhere and film footage that doesn’t clearly show anything and wild stories from “expeditions that don’t yield any solid proof what so ever. I want to know once and for all whats real and whats fantasy plain and simple. If you think I’m being unreasonable then just say korollocke your being unreasonable.

  28. DWA responds:

    Not being a crypto, I’m very clear on this. “Cryptids” are the unknowns we’re talking about here. “Cryptos” is short for…either cryptozooogists (which I think is obvious) or all those other longer terms I won’t use just to fit in.

  29. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Let me put it to you this way. You’re trekking through the jungles of Sumatra. Suddenly you come across some hair that has been left on tree bark when an animal passed by, or maybe blood on thorns. Do you say to yourself, “Oh my gosh! This is probably the evidence of an animal so rare that its species, and possibly its genus, is totally unknown to Western science! I’d better carefully preserve these materials, have them shipped to a lab, and pay for an analysis!” Or do you think, “Most likely a cat, monkey, goat, or some other well-known and abundant animal,” and pass on by?

    Well, let’s say you do collect the sample, and an analysis is made, with the (not unlikely) result “probably primate, species unknown”. Is this the proof for an orang-pendek you want? Or would you recognize it as just another inconclusive lab result?

    In a situation like that, a blurry photo or an eyewitness account would go a lot further to making me believe you had something worth paying attention to.

  30. Fhqwhgads responds:

    To clarify: I meant the eyewitness account IN ADDITION TO the inconclusive lab results, not instead of the lab results.

  31. DWA responds:

    OK, folks. I’ve had my decaf.

    And no one should be expecting proof, on any of these expeditions.

    Is any of them funded by a mainstream organization which will immediately run findings up the yardarm? No, it’s all either Crypto for Cable, or amateurs of another stripe. (A professional TV guy isn’t a professional zoologist, and the latter won’t be listened to if he’s just running maverick. Ask the scientists who have gone on record positively about the sasquatch and the yeti.)

    The mainstream must get involved first. For this to happen, they have to see a variety of pieces of compelling, not proof, but, wait for it, EVIDENCE. DNA testing will prove nothing if there is no type specimen. Neither do footprints, same reason. But if this evidence consistently tests “unkown,” and is consistently found in conjunction with other compelling evidence – and sightings, people, are the most compelling evidence – then scientists might put two and two together and start thinking it’s time to get the proof.

    The inabililty to take sightings seriously is why crypto is mired on the fringes of science, and will be, until they are. When people with considerable scientific credibility – or people following that up, like the guy we are talking about here – see something that is backed by decades of other sightings, consistently described, you have evidence that, if it isn’t sufficient to get science involved, then science is the problem. Period.

    Cryptids will not be confirmed by cryptos. They will be confirmed by the mainstream of science.

    Which will require lots of footprints; lother forensic evidence that consistently tests “unknown”; and lots and lots of consistent SIGHTINGS, in conjunction with them.

    That’s how science works. When it does.

    And this from Fhqwhgads deserves comment:

    ‘One of my points is that the books you would have me “read up” naturally have a reporting bias in favor of believers. “Local man sees ghost in campus library” is the kind of thing that might be written about, “Sixteen thousand other library users think he’s full of foolishness” is not so likely to see print.’

    These actually are apples and oranges.

    If one man sees a ghost, well, it’s nothing to get excited about. (Unless he’s your financial advisor.) The things to read up on about the orang pendek do have a reporting bias…in favor of people who have seen the animal, and who have provided, from scratch, consistent descriptions of what they saw.

    Local skeptics can provide nothing but doubts. Based on nothing.

    Eyewitnesses provide evidence.

  32. norman-uk responds:

    The evidence for Orang Pendek is a network of evidence. Eyewitness reports, folklore, footcasts all have a significant value and the fact that they can be and are hoaxed sometimes or are unreliable sometimes doesnt change that. A scientist may think they cannot manage without their fix of ‘real’ facts but given enough of the first three of quality there is a diminishing need for the DNA. or its vectors, blood, hair or whole bodies or their bits to make a credible case out for the existence of a cryptid.

    Would anybody be looking for hair or blood or bodies were it not for the eyewitness reports or the footprints or the folklore? Folklore is often being used interchangeably for ethno-known isnt it, which may mean centuries or more experience of a cryptid.

    Due to the particular nature of the cryptozoological phenomenom, basically no body, peripheral type of evidence becomes more valuable and important and we have this. Footcasts, eyewitness reports and folklore. Over time there has been an accumulation of evidence but one that will become more important as time goes by is DNA . Personally I think this is a problem area hinging on some poor samples but more importantly something about the analyses of the good samples and their interpretation. I wonder if in fact there is an overlap with human DNA not yet picked up? Given that Bonobo DNA can correspond with up to 98.7% percent of human DNA whereas human DNA has a variation of up to 99.5% It is also strange that two ”unknown primate” results have been found but no follow up. There is more to be said about DNA but late after the recent samples are analysed.

  33. korollocke responds:

    Yes if I did find something like hair, blood, etc. I would have it checked out. It would be counter productive not to do so. If you spend the money to go on the track then you shouldn’t leave any stone unturned, if you want to be taken seriously. Not trying to insult you but isn’t finding and proving what your looking for is real with hard evidence and undisputable proof, the point of an expedition to seek out a cryptid?

  34. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Local skeptics can provide nothing but doubts. Based on nothing.

    So, obviously time in country does not increase believability in your eyes, which is a point I made earlier.

    I saw a lot of interest on this site in the “local skeptics” regarding the Carter Farm story. I guess that was based on nothing, too, though. Then again, maybe local skeptics can introduce a much-needed reality check from time to time.

    Of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; in that sense, local skeptics cannot add anything. What they can do is give evidence about the general trustworthiness of the alleged witnesses AND set an upper limit on the expected number of interactions with humans or the circumstances under which the animal (even if it is real) will probably NOT be encountered.

    It also has to be admitted that it is VERY hard to be sure that purported witnesses have constructed their observations “from scratch”. Did they know about the folklore of the orang-pendek before they had their personal experience?

  35. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Then you’d better have a big budget. A cryptid is, pretty much by definition, a rare animal, so almost every piece of dung, hair, etc. that you find will be from a mundane animal. If you stop to collect and test them all, you’ll be wasting both time and money. And if you get something you can’t identify, that’s all you’ll have. You won’t have “discovered” or “proved” a cryptid exists because you won’t know what it is, you’ll only know what it isn’t.

  36. DWA responds:


    “So, obviously time in country does not increase believability in your eyes, which is a point I made earlier.”

    Actually, apples and oranges.

    Time in country *doing things* counts (as in, observing, recording observations, and best of all recognizing the locals aren’t a bunch of bumpkins who get their only jollies fooling Westerners).

    Time in country *denying things*, without evidence, doesn’t. As witness all the in-country skeptics who haven’t come up with the first scrap of evidence – in over a half-century, and I’m being generous, three centuries is more like it – that the sasquatch is what they must believe it is – an endless concatenation of false positives, behaving like the data for a real animal does.

    Which is why I want to hear the local skeptics’ evidence. (You can prove false positives. This is not proving a negative. To take that tack is to admit one has no case.)

    As to the legends: a World Wildlife Fund artist sketched an animal that locals said they had seen, individually, none of the witnesses having had contact with any of the others prior to the meeting. Over and over and over, he sketched the same animal. With legends, that doesn’t happen. This had all the controls that any scientific test like it would have. To continue to question it – rather than to admit, say, that it’s a distinct possibility this animal might actually exist, and a look might be nice – is not only non-scientific. It is condescending, in the extreme, to put it as politely as I can.

    Pulling wool over one’s own eyes, on purpose, is NOT science.

  37. Fhqwhgads responds:


    You are sneaking into this (as you would say, with no evidence) the assumption that it is impossible for local skeptics to have the kind of experience that should have come across the animal, and so their opinions must be worthless. I guess I should be happy that you at least no acknowledge that people could live in Sumatra without believing in the orang-pendek. Maybe later you will acknowledge that some of those people might be hunters or have other jobs that require them to spend time in, and be familiar with, the jungle.

    Somehow, I suspect that at the back of all this is a strong conviction on your part that the orang-pendek is real, so that people who report having seen it are giving the clear, unvarnished truth, and those who do not believe in it are either ignorant or deceitful.

    Maybe the orang-pendek is real; that would be cool; but even so, I would expect at least half the “sightings” to be misinterpretations through a particular cultural lens. How many times have sightings of “big cats” (which are certainly real, even if they are not indigenous to all parts of the world) turned out to be just domestic cats seen in a context that makes it hard to get a sense of scale? In a “big cat” situation, one could certainly turn to people who have been working outdoors in the neighborhood, particularly in the area in which the cat was seen, to get a sense of what is going on. If they all believe there is no big cat in the area, maybe they just got lucky and didn’t come across one — and although that might not rule out a single individual, it would strongly restrict the possibility of a local breeding population.

    By the way, you overuse the whole “apples and oranges” shtick. A ghost, whether it is real or not, is very different from an orang-pendek, whether it is real or not, but they whole issue of responding to a startling claim is exactly the same. There really is a point in knowing how much of the community believes the claim and whether belief (or disbelief) is correlated with other factors, such as occupation or place of residence.

    You know, I’ve never seen a real leprechaun, but I know “what one looks like”. A World Wildlife Fund artist could sketch one and show it to me, and I’d be able to identify it. He could show the same sketch to someone in Idaho who I’ve never met, and he could identify it, too; or to someone in Vermont, with the same result. All this proves is that we all know what the word “leprechaun” means, not that they’re real.

  38. DWA responds:


    “Somehow, I suspect that at the back of all this is a strong conviction on your part that the orang-pendek is real, so that people who report having seen it are giving the clear, unvarnished truth, and those who do not believe in it are
    either ignorant or deceitful.”

    Um, no. How could you ever get that? (No to everything you posted, but particularly to this.) Yet another example of confusing true skepticism for true belief. The main reason I have stayed on this site is people’s difficulty in understanding what skepticism entails – which is questioning comfortable assumptions that appear countered by lots of evidence.

    (And where does the phrase “believe in” enter into any of this? It is SCIENCE, man. I believe in NOTHING.)

    It seems rather a firm conviction of skeptics that their case requires no evidence at all. If there are people out there who can tell us where all this o.p. nonsense is coming from, and prove they’re right, bully for them.

    But I’ve never seen a mink, a very common animal, in the wild, and I have spent a LOT of time in the wild. Almost all of it in mink country. Don’t think I can tell you the mink doesn’t exist because I’ve never seen one; and I don’t want any locals telling me the OP isn’t there because they haven’t, unless they have a lot more to go by than their personal experience.

    When a proposition is entered in a scientific discussion, the side opposing or questioning that proposition must enter one of its own. The existence of the o.p. seems to have a lot of evidence backing it up. That it doesn’t amount to proof – to you, me, Loren Coleman, or anyone else – does not excuse skeptics from answering the simple question: so. What do we do with all this evidence? Junk it? OK, why?

    The difficulty of making one’s case does not excuse one from making it.

  39. DWA responds:

    Oh. And I should add:

    I haven’t used the so-called apples and oranges schtick nearly enough yet. Faux skepticism is laden with it.

    Both of my examples are spot on, and stand, unchallenged.

    Unless someone wants to, that is.

  40. korollocke responds:

    I can neither confirm nor deny the existance of any cryptid based on what has been collected as evidence to the existance of said cryptids. I keep an open mind that yes in deed someday somewhere definative proof will be brought to the table, but until that day comes I stand by my opinions.

  41. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: I should have responded to this.


    You are sneaking into this (as you would say, with no evidence) the assumption that it is impossible for local skeptics to have the kind of experience that should have come across the animal, and so their opinions must be worthless.”

    Um, no. Here’s what I said, in the precise words (i.e., I’ll re-post):

    “Time in country *denying things*, without evidence, doesn’t [count, in terms of increasing believability]. As witness all the in-country skeptics who haven’t come up with the first scrap of evidence – in over a half-century, and I’m being generous, three centuries is more like it – that the sasquatch is what they must believe it is – an endless concatenation of false positives, behaving like the data for a real animal does.

    Which is why I want to hear the local skeptics’ evidence. (You can prove false positives. This is not proving a negative. To take that tack is to admit one has no case.)”

    That’s what I said. If you have no evidence, I don’t care where or who you are, I am not obliged to respect what you say.

    There can be local skeptics. I want to hear what they have to say. So far, I haven’t. Which means that there is a lot of evidence coming in from people who have seen the o.p. It is consistent. And so far, un-countered by any evidence that they are seeing anything other than what they say they are seeing.

    Which means: sounds like a concerted look is warranted, to me (and no, this ‘expedition’ wasn’t one, useful though it may be).

  42. Fhqwhgads responds:


    I don’t think we’re necessarily that far apart. I get the impression that different vocabularies and/or styles of stating things are the biggest differences.

    Let me just hit one right now: the use of the word “believe”. Some people like to restrict that word to religion only; some further want to restrict it to religious views that are not based on any kind of evidence, but on (essentially) personal preference only. However, most people do not confuse the use of “believe” in “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty…” with “I believe that Florida will beat LSU in the game on Saturday.” It’s usually clear from the context in which sense the word is to be taken. And, I hate to tell you this, scientists use the word in the 2nd sense ALL THE TIME.

    Worse, we often anthropomorphize inanimate objects. It is not hard to get a Nobel-prize winning physicist to say something like, “All the electrons want to be in the ground state, but the Pauli Exclusion Principle forbids it.” This is really not the sort of thing that should be said to a class of middle-school students, and hopefully the physicist would be more careful there, but it’s very tempting to use this kind of shorthand — and if you’re speaking to a crowd of graduate students and Ph.D.’s, there’s no reason to avoid the shorthand. But it still makes me feel guilty sometimes.

    While I’m on the subject, let me stress a really important point, which might be a real misunderstanding or it might be a difference in terminology: A NULL RESULT IS STILL EVIDENCE. So if one hunter goes out and sees an orang-pendek 4 times out of 5, but 10 others from the same village never see it, I want to know what the 1st hunter is doing differently, or else the I would say there’s about a 10:1 chance of the animal being only in his head. Conversely, if 10 hunters from a village see the orang-pendek regularly, and 1 does not, I’ll again want to know what they may be doing differently, but this time the odds are that the problem (if one exists) is with the one who sees nothing.

    The problem is that all too often, cryptozoologists will report the positive findings but not the negative. That’s called cherry-picking, and it is not a practice of good science. The fact is that real information can be hidden even in the negative results, even assuming that this particular cryptid is in fact real. Do the hunters that see the cryptid go out at a different time of day? Do they hunt in different areas? Do they disguise their scents in different ways? Do they hunt with dogs? How can anyone know if no one is talking to the hunters who do NOT see the cryptid, too?

    Gotta run now, but let me end with this. “That is the track of a bear, not the track of a primate” is one kind of negative evidence. “I have hunted this mountain all my life and never seen anything like a Bigfoot” is a different kind of evidence. They are both evidence, though.

  43. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: well, we may be closer than we sound.

    But I always take the words “believe in” to mean: accept, without evidence. And I hope neither of us does that. With critters, anyway. It’s a far cry from that to “I believe the orang pendek to exist,” backed by what the person considers to be the evidence. Or, “I believe LSU will kill Florida,” backed by the pregame Gators injury report. (Broken tebow.) If you are in agreement with me there, then scratch that one. We’re good.

    As to never having seen one in one’s life being evidence: that’s what I mean when I say my – or anyone else’s, for that matter – never having seen a mink can’t be considered evidence against the mink. A skeptic frequently chimes in at that point – I’ve had scientists do it – with, yeah, but we know the mink to exist. They don’t understand that that is totally irrelevant, and they don’t understand why: the orang pendek, if it exists, is every bit as real as the mink, and science not knowing that doesn’t change it. Reality is, regardless of what science thinks.

    That’s why I can’t accept the “evidence” of someone who has lived on the boundary of Kerinci Seblat his entire life, has never seen an orang pendek, and offers that as his “evidence” that it’s not real. He might not have, just as I have never seen a mink. But many who live where he does say that they have. When science is working right, it accepts those sightings as evidence; the only question is: how good is the evidence? And that is where frequency and coherence come in. When many have seen it, and their descriptions are consistent, science has pretext for the search, whether scientists accept that or not. This is how science identifies unknown things. It follows up many consistent descriptions, and goes where the occurrences leading to those descriptions originate. (Or, of course, the unknown suddenly deposits itself in their laps. That happens too.)

    I think that the yeti, the sasquatch and the o.p. all have sufficient evidence in favor of their existence for science to go full-bore for the proof. And the o.p. is considered by almost everyone in the mainstream who will talk about it, and by most in crypto, the most likely of the three.

    Now, whether scientists actually want to do that followup is up to them. But they have the evidence, if they just follow it up.

  44. Fhqwhgads responds:

    As to never having seen one in one’s life being evidence: that’s what I mean when I say my – or anyone else’s, for that matter – never having seen a mink can’t be considered evidence against the mink.

    I’m from Florida, and yes, it is evidence against the mink being indigenous to Florida. Not “proof”, if you like, but “suggestive” evidence. Like the evidence from a blurry photo.

    Another example: No one has been able to positively identify a live ivory-billed woodpecker for decades. (There were some ambiguous sightings, but nothing conclusive.) That doesn’t PROVE that the species has gone extinct (I hope it hasn’t), but it does strongly suggest that if it’s not extinct now, it is teetering on the edge of extinction. The failure to see a once-common bird really is evidence.

    Yes, the “frequency and coherence” of data is important — but there is another quality that is important: correlation. Due to correlation, the number of INDEPENDENT observations may be much smaller than the number of observations. In the current context, a shared culture may predispose people to interpret ambiguous events in a given way: for instance, as a leprechaun or as a trickster fox. This problem can be greatly increased if a popular book or movie has just come out on the topic, since it will give people a much clearer idea of what they “should have seen”. I’m sure there are ways of dealing with this problem in the various social sciences, but that’s not really my area — but the first step is at least to know that the problem exists.

    Also, I’ve talked about the problems with the “they all recognized a picture someone else drew” analysis. There are at least 2 problems: (1) the fact that they may already have expectations for what they “should be seeing” (like the traditional description of a leprechaun), and (2) the fact that in any of these cases they’re basically saying, “Yeah, that’s close enough.” But how close is “close enough”, and is “close enough” good enough?

  45. norman-uk responds:

    Im reading your discussions, like two ancient greek senators, with enjoyment and keep wanting to come in but you are ahead of me, mostly. Coming from a low educational base I do so with some trepidation. But getting old has its advantages and I am still prepared to ” keep butting that dam ”

    The problem with discussing things in a scientific way is it all tends to get a bit negative. I quote Todd Distotell who says his job is to disprove, not prove anything, thats not what scientists do!

    Then as with a books or films coming out on some topic. This gives rise to at least two outcomes, folks will step up describing similar or parallel experiences either before the book or film came out or after. Some of these will be fantasy some real, but in both cases individuals will feel enabled, authorised or interested enough to come out. There will be many who will still keep their experiences or fancy to themselves. We tend to hear only one side of this situation, from the sceptics, which seems to go unchallenged.

    Similar situation applies to, is it a bear or is it sasquatch? How many sasquatchs are mistaken for bears, rather than bears for sasquatch.
    In addition the book or film may help somebody recognise what they have seen-could have been the case with the recent out of place coati-if the lady, who wanted the strange beats exterminated, had first seen the book !

    A couple of quotes, one from a top international scientist and one from my little grandaughter. You have to guess which is the joke and which is the serious observation and… which is the most sensible.
    1 How do you identify one end of a worm from the other? Answer, you tickle the middle and the end which laughs is the mouth end!

    2 People find bigfootprints because bigfoot is called bigfoot and little footprints because littlefoot is called littlefoot.

    In my opinion this illustrates the problem with evidence for cryptids, it is hard to get and even harder for scientists to accept it, partly because of the cultural matrix they exist in. Mustn’t forget though science is not scientists who are also a socialogical phenomenom, thank goodness!

  46. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: I can agree with most of that.

    When you haven’t seen a distinctive bird with a three-foot wingspan, right up there, in te sky, with clearly-delineated habitat requirements that almost don’t exist anymore, for decades, there may, um, be fewer of them. (In truth, I think the ivory-bill searchers should harbor less hope than bigfooters.) When you have previous existence as your benchmark, your negative argument is stronger, because fewer people will doubt you when you see one, and, well, no one is seeing any.

    When no one believes you, or ever has, is when I start to have issues with “negative evidence.” That was the case for a long time with the eastern puma; it’s only somewhat lessened in recent years, with many sightings still being labeled escapes, period. But previous existence – and the coast-to-coast run of the coyote in the absence of the gray wolf, which provides a template – has worked in the cat’s favor over time, and wildlife agencies are loosening their stance gradually. The sasquatch and the yeti and the o.p. haven’t caught that break. Too few people in positions of influence will respond positively to a report. I’m not totally sure that many skeptics haven’t seen one, and are keeping a lid on it. And that’s the thing: how could you find that out?

    (The mink is native to small fragments of Florida. It looks goofy on the map; part of the Panhandle and the extreme north…and the extreme southern tip. That’s at least from one book I have. But most of FL, nope, none. That we know of.)

    “Due to correlation, the number of INDEPENDENT observations may be much smaller than the number of observations. In the current context, a shared culture may predispose people to interpret ambiguous events in a given way…”

    Can’t argue there. But it sounds to me that in the context of Westerners working the o.p. beat, that’s research that’s already been done. The local opinion seems to be: it’s an animal, bipedal like a man, but no, not a man. It doesn’t seem so much a legend to them as an aspect of local fauna that they take for granted…except for the village headman who’s laid pit traps all over the place, because he’s incensed by Westerners patronizing the locals and wants to show them. (Nope, no o.p. in the traps yet, that I’ve heard.) I don’t get the feeling that Westerners who think this is real are trying to cut through local b.s., or sort out woo-woo sounding legends, but to confirm something locals are telling them is flesh and blood, and out there.

    “Also, I’ve talked about the problems with the “they all recognized a picture someone else drew” analysis.”

    As I understand it, no one in the WWF sessions looked at a sketch; they provided a description to an artist, who drew what they described. He kept drawing the same thing. There is, yes, an obvious pitfall here: you tell me the brow looks like this and I will draw you what that says to ME. But of course the witnesses are going to look at the sketch and say, yes, that’s it. And sure, they could be agreeing just to agree, or leading the artist intentionally or not, and any of a number of other things. But that I am aware they are not looking at what anyone else has provided.

    But I guess this is where I come down on the role cryptozoology should play in science. That is the role that works like this: the evidence looks intriguing. Let’s look. As George Schaller says: “But negative evidence does not disprove the yeti’s existence.” It’s the same for any cryptid. If the positive evidence looks the way we’d expect it to look for a species, in my mind, the case has been made to look. At the very least, not to scoff and toss brickbats at the ones looking, but to let the evidence come in and see where it goes.

  47. DWA responds:

    norman-uk: Glad you’re enjoying the discussion. I do think we’re closer than the start of our exchange seemed to indicate. 😉

    As to this statement: “I quote Todd Distotell who says his job is to disprove, not prove anything, thats not what scientists do!” Wow. I hope you’re misquoting him. Scientists – if they are doing anything worthwhile to me – should be rolling back the frontiers of knowledge, not serving as The Flat Earth Society in our stead.

    Of course they have to debunk (most crypto-debunking, indeed all of it, really, is done by proponents). But they should be open to evidence, and immune to the urge to scoff. SCIENCE SHOULD NEVER SCOFF! I could not sum up my core purpose in contributing to this site any better. Determining that no, we don’t have a cryptid here is part of what science does…AFTER examining the evidence carefully. Knee-jerk debunking of the kind you can get from drunk insurance salesmen at a party is unbecoming science, and should stop.

    I find it interesting that one of the “wow, this is intriguing, I’m interested, let the search continue” responses to this latest episode came from mystery_man, one of this site’s skeptics, and a scientist in a field directly relevant to the discussion.

    THAT is a scientific attitude.

    Show me, sure. But I’m going to back your right to search without getting laughed at. We’ll deal with the evidence when you present it. Oh, and thanks. Someone needs to be looking, and I’m glad you are. Whoever you are, and whatever you are looking for.

    (BTW, statement 1 is the scientist. Has to be. Your granddaughter will go far.)

  48. Fhqwhgads responds:

    I think the Distotell quote can be saved by starting with the position that no testable hypothesis should be rejected without evidence. This gives a HUGE number of initial possibilities, and the job then is to start weeding out ones that can be shown to be wrong. But the hypotheses can come from pretty much anywhere. Schliemann started with the hypothesis that Troy was described by Homer in an essentially accurate way, but of course allowance must be made for rivers to change their courses, etc., over the course of millenia. Kekule got the idea for the structure of benzene from a day-dream. What makes an idea science is not where it comes from, it’s the methodology with which it’s tested.

    Now I do think the amount of evidence needed to be persuasive depends on the claim. I was really reluctant to believe in cold fusion because the energy scale of electrochemistry is so different from nuclear energy scales; in this case I was right. On the other hand, I wasn’t persuaded by the initial proposal of dark energy — there are too many things that could go wrong. Now that several different groups have come up with several different observations, it looks like they’re onto something — however strange the idea may be to us. Being cautious is a good idea; it’s not the same thing a scoffing.

  49. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: I’d agree with everything you said. (Well, I have to accept that I’m not going to personally verify anything said about physics. I’ll have to take your word.)

    And as to “no testable hypothesis should be rejected without evidence,” it is my opinion – and the opinion of a number of notable scientists – that the evidence for hairy hominoids, at least for several postulated ones, presents a testable hypothesis. That should be tested, not rejected outright, because enough evidence is there to test.

    (I’m reading Meldrum’s book now, and finding out that the general public – to say nothing of the scientific mainstream – has no idea how good the evidence for the sasquatch indeed is.)

  50. norman-uk responds:

    Unfortunately the Tom Disotell quote was about right. Though I think he did indicate that something might survive that process. What I was concerned with was the negative perspective this revealed and how this is must be one of the obstacles to establishing credibility generally for such as sasquatch or Orang Pendek.

    The logic of disproving all and what you cannot might be valid, has its problems. Not only because Sherlock Holmes said it first, in his own way. It could be thus said Sasquatch cannot be disproved so it is true. I think it is, but I dont think the logic makes sense.

    Sorry, the first quote regarding the whereabouts of a worms mouth was my grandaughters. The second, concerning large footprints are found (only) because we call Sasquatch Bigfoot was the eminent scientist and I do not think it does him any credit!

  51. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Well, I don’t know if I can agree with the statement that an animal being known to exist is irrelevant. With a mink, if someone doesn’t see it, we can be sure that this is because they in fact just haven’t seen one.

    This is a bit more difficult with something like the Orang Pendek. Whereas with a mink, you can sit down and show someone indisputable proof that it does indeed exist despite the lack of seeing one, whereas with cryptids all you can do is show the evidence up to now and then they are in the same position as us, trying to make sense of it. They may deny what you show them, but we are in no position to say that they are definitely wrong. We can do that with the mink. This is why I think it is perfectly reasonable to say “but we know the mink exists.” It’s existence is not in dispute. The Orang Pendek’s is.

    Of course if the Orang Pendek exists, then they do so without needing scientific confirmation. But if that is your stance, then you have to say the same thing applies to fairies, ghosts, and interdimensional orbs (things that many people believe to be real). But consider how do we know what is real and what is not? The key word here is if they exist. Until we can be sure, then I for one am not going to assume the Orang Pendek must be real and we just haven’t found it yet. I will look at the evidence, but it is an unknown at this point, at least from the view of mainstream science. Until it goes from if it exists, to it does exist, we just don’t know and as such can not make too many assumptions. All we can do is take a look at what evidence turns up. We can’t compare that to an animal that we know is real and is well documented (like the mink).

    Science doesn’t make something real just by confirming it, but does help to parse out what is real from what is not.

    Many cryptids might exist, and in many cases seem like they likely do, but we have to be sure. Science does not go around assuming something is real until is is shown not to be. We need to find out what is really going on through careful means, to go from if to is beyond a reasonable doubt. That is what Davies is out there trying to do.

    The mink has passed this threshhold, the Orang Pendek has not. If it had, it would no longer be a cryptid. That doesn’t mean I think it doesn’t exist, in fact I think it is quite plausible, but we don’t know yet. Well, at least I don’t. I am not completely convinced at this point.

    As far as “local skeptics” go, I’ll use an example from another animal. I’m not trying to get off topic, bear with me. In Japan we have a very rare wildcat known as the Iriomote cat, from the tiny island of Iriomote. It is documented to exist, this is not in dispute at all. Yet many locals who have lived on the island have never seen one, and among these, many actually deny that it is a real animal, or that it is merely stray cats.

    The thing is, like with the mink, we can sit them down and show them that it does indeed exist and that they just haven’t seen one. With the Orang Pendek, that might be the reason locals haven’t seen one, or it might mean there is nothing there to see. We just don’t know.

    That being said, the Iriomote cat wasn’t documented until the 60s, and was well known to some locals before that. So of course we should seriously consider what the locals say about the Orang Pendek. But until we know for sure, it is no mink or Iriomote cat just yet. We cannot be assured of its reality.

    I think cryptozoology is trying to find out about these things to the best of our knowledge, and it is not helpful to treat these cryptids as givens that exist “whether we want them to or not.” Time and evidence will be the judge of that.

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood what you were saying, but I don’t think we can compare unknowns to knowns and treat them as the same thing.

  52. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- And yes, I still think that the Orang Pendek search should continue. I don’t mean to detract from that. It is actually one cryptid that I am fairly excited about concerning the possibilities. I just think that like any research, it should be conducted carefully and without too many assumptions. It remains an unknown as far as science is concerned. Maybe to some locals it is quite real, and perhaps it is, but we just don’t know.

    I’m not laughing at those who search for the Orang Pendek. In fact, I commend them. If they turn up something solid, it will be a great help to zoology.

    Until we can be sure, though, I just don’t think that the mink is a good analogy here. I hope you realize that I am certainly not jumping down your throat. I may have even misunderstood your angle there. I was just trying to explain my thoughts on that statement.

    Or maybe I just need a decaf. 😉

  53. DWA responds:


    “Well, I don’t know if I can agree with the statement that an animal being known to exist is irrelevant. ”

    Oh, I didn’t say it was irrelevant. I said that it’s a logical fallacy to consider stuff like, say, guys in suits to be evidence against an animal, because if the animal’s real, then the guys in suits ARE irrelevant. (And most of the sightings – all of them, in fact, of the orang pendek – don’t have anything to do with fakery, and they don’t appear to reflect lying either.)

    If my statement that I haven’t seen a mink doesn’t serve as evidence that the mink isn’t real, people not having seen an orang pendek can’t count as evidence against it, either, because if it’s real, then the lack of sightings obviously happened for other reasons.

    My point comes down to this. The evidence for the existence of an animal can only be countered by debunking, i.e., showing that that evidence is in fact evidence of something else. If the evidence for is unchallenged, then it stands. Not as proof, but as a hint that maybe we haven’t looked enough yet.

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