Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 21st, 2009
Edmund Hillary at his 1960 news conference announced his World Book-sponsored expedition would try to answer the question of the reality of the Abominable Snowman. Of course, privately, Hillary had already made up his mind.
Michael Swords, Ph. D., a student of some note in the ufological field, has been trying his hand, lately, with some commentary on cryptozoology. Unfortunately, I might mildly suggest, he go back to ufology.
He writes in his blog, perhaps humorously and modestly called “The Big Study,” of “ABSMs: Conservative vs. Liberal Speculations.”
Swords begins: “My studies don’t make me much of a cryptozoologist [Henry (Bauer) will probably stand and applaud at that] but a blog is a facilitator of electronic megalomania, so off I go again to make a fool out of myself.’
He notes that, “the ‘name’: I’m using ABSMs to refer to any big ‘mystery ape.’”
Actually, “ABSMs” was the creation of Ivan T. Sanderson used in his book, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. It never caught on, and, instead, the more general terms, “Bigfoot” and “Yeti” still seem to persist.
Specifically, I am not a fan of laziness in blogs, where putting such “information” on the Internet tends to take on a life of its own, where others repeat such data bits as factoids that are assumed to be true.
I take, for example, this passage from Sword’s essay, in which all the content, including the bracketed comments, are his own:
The first hair-samples of the yeti were probably those things brought out and tested by Sir Edmund Hilary [who was from the beginning a complete skeptic]. Perhaps he had a right to be. The most spectacular claim was a sacred object in a temple claimed to be the skull-cap of a Yeti. It wasn’t. It was the dyed fur of a Himalayan ungulate [an antelope, I think--I'm being lazy and not looking the detail up], and quite the disappointment. Hilary bashed many Yeti-ish things, and was a major conservative statement all around.
This was just too much. Here’s what I sent in as my comment to his blog posting.
Loren Coleman said…
Don’t be lazy. I know you to be a better scholar than this.
It is “Hillary,” not “Hilary,” and he knew it was a serow skin used in the “Yeti skullcap” relic. He had the locals make him one and carried it around in his extra attache case, as he trotted around Europe and America with the borrowed Nepalese one, asking scientists to test what it was. It made for nice news conferences, but the end of the tale he wanted to tell was already scripted. Very deceptive, if you ask me.
Also, the lamas had told the Daily Mail expedition of 1954 and the Tom Slick expeditions of 1958-59 that these skullcaps were made in imitation of Yetis. The Sherpas, Nepalese, and lamas were not hiding a thing about the ritualistic nature of these relics, but Hillary and the World Book Expedition of 1960 was hiding much, including the truth.
Hillary’s trip was a smokescreen of constructed stories, outright disinformation, and media management. Buyer and reader beware.
Unfortunately, as I write in my Tom Slick book [Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology (Fresno: Linden Press, 2002)], it was Hillary that ended up assassinating the search for the Yeti.
October 21, 2009 12:56 AM
Above is an expedition photograph from 1954 of Dr. Biswamoy Biswas examining the Pangboche Yeti scalp during the Daily Mail Snowman Expedition of that year.
Tom Slick (above, after his March 15, 1957, near-death accident in Nepal) was most famous, of course, for his expeditions in search of the Abominable Snowmen, the Yetis of the Himalayan Mountains. He freely, but secretly, shared information he gained during his quests with Hillary, thinking that Hillary was seriously interested in finding evidence of the Yetis. It is now understood that Hillary was not.
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