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McGirk Exclusive: Johor and Yeti Prints

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 7th, 2007

As you may recall, British newspaperwoman Jan McGirk has shared exclusives with us before, from the jungles of Johor. Here’s her latest on the new questions about the Johor cast and thoughts on the recent Yeti finds.

McGirk’s email is followed, for visual context, by a video from September 5, 2006, of Jonathan Kent’s BBC report on the “Johor Bigfoot” reports.

Seekers

The Seekers are posing with the Johor cast in February 2006.

Seekers

Australian tracker Tony Burke stands behind a group of Seekers, from left to right, Sis, Adeek, and Illa, in the Johor bush.

I’m Jan McGirk (a journo writing you from Jerusalem, where there are large forces of another kind at work..a colleague pointed out [the recent blogs at Cryptomundo]).

Anyhow, I was reporting the activities of the SPI in Johor back in Feb 2006, and encountered the Destination Truth gang.

What you must remember is that Josh Gates hires people on site to make things happen, and whatever makes good tv is his primary concern.

Doubtless it is true that we botched casting the print in the jungle.

The Singapore Paranormal Investigators had brought along several evidence packs obtained from the police…so there was limited casting material available. It was dusk when we noticed the big footprint. I hollered for the others from the party– the Singapore Paranormal Investigators and the Uncle Seekers of Kuala Lumpur to come see.

The SPI team at least had some gear at hand. Half of Gates’s team was back at the hotel already. It was Gates who insisted on going on camera to pour the cast, once the others brought out the packets, but clearly he did not know what he was doing at the time. This did result in an aha moment for television, and Josh milked it for the international publicity to promote the series. I thought the guy would never put down the cast. (His group had earlier staged chopping their way through jungle foliage..just for typical Reality Show testosterone shots…but I have no reason to believe he faked the print. I was with him –immediately in front of him–when we spotted it. He was following me up the most direct path up a wooded slope to the road.

As a cynical observer, I do not think the Johor footprint was a deliberate fraud…and can attest that no wooden mold was used. This one was encumbered by a huge heel spur; it would not have been the form someone would have faked.

However the new yeti footprint is quite a handy find. Intriguing and as plausible as yeti prints go. (I have seen photos of alleged prints in snow taken by a French heli-skier in the 90s; they looked similar.)

In Nepal, the determining factor should be the stride, which might be measurable from three prints. It would be interesting to get some local primatologists to look at the measurements. Destination Truth doubtlessly can hire the appropriate experts, but the timing will be belated. This is not an academic research team. Josh is clever, has a bachelor’s degree, but his arrogance and enthusiasm carries him away.

There have been tales of the Yeti for many years in the Himalaya…even auburn scalps in high monasteries and celebrity dabblings in trading the bones (Jimmy Stewart & wife had a Himalayan Yeti episode in the 50s*). I have been fascinated by the legends, as have most visitors to these startlingly beautiful mountains.Jan McGirk, December 6, 2007

*For more on this episode, see Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology (Fresno, CA: Craven Street-Linden Press, 2002).

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. 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.


4 Responses to “McGirk Exclusive: Johor and Yeti Prints”

  1. Ceroill responds:

    Thanks, Loren. Always good to have a new perspective on things.

  2. mystery_man responds:

    Well, I think it is telling that he mentions Josh’s primary concern is “good TV”. That is all good and well, and this show will most probably raise awareness of cryptozoology in general, but I think getting good TV and an honest scientific approach will always be a little at odds with each other. The average joe who tunes into this type of program is perhaps going to want to see instant gratification and some sort of results. Science just does not always produce those kinds of instant results, and things can be a long, meticulous, and arduous process, with clear answers not immediately apparent. Not a group of adjectives that go well with a prime time TV show or what the average viewer may want to see.

    I do think that Mr. Gates’ intentions are good and that he has the right kind of enthusiasm for the subject matter. However, following the proper protocols and doing things in a thorough scientific matter do not make for good TV and rushing out to get results and provide entertainment do not make for good science. Case in point, the botched cast. It is very well likely that other evidence can be botched with this sort of approach as well. It is a bit of a conundrum. Anyway, at least he is out there in the field giving it a shot.

  3. cryptidsrus responds:

    MYSTERY_MAN:

    I agree. Gates probably forgot “protocol” and got carried away with himself in his quest for a “good show,” as in “botched footprint.” Like you said, at least he is trying. Well-intentioned, but thoughtless.

  4. DWA responds:

    Hey, if I were in the TV business I’d want good TV too.

    In his comments to Cryptomundo, Gates seemed to address this the very way I’d want a truly skeptical scientist to address it. Might it have been a bit more circumspect than the TV show? Sure, I’d expect that. He knows he’s talking to an audience he can’t “hook” without looking overly credulous.

    I’m willing to give the dude more than a chance based on what I’ve seen.

    (It looked like a rhino print to me. If they have a rhino, where it looks like they took this print, that’s bigger news than a yeti.)



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