Sasquatch Coffee

Why No Sasquatch Sightings?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 19th, 2007

Have you noticed how routine news items on straightforward Sasquatch sightings in the Pacific Northwest and the West have decreased in the last few years?

Have such stories suffered with the increase in articles on the profiles and misadventures of Bigfoot personalities?

Have regular media reports about Bigfoot and Sasquatch encounters become endangered in the wake of more articles on hairy hominoid hunters, fakers, scammers, scientists, searchers, authors, skeptics, debunkers, and other Bigfooters?

Just look back five years ago this week:

There has been a sighting of the legendary Bigfoot in Washington State. A man spotted the hairy, human-like creature near his house in Forks.

An animal-control officer and Forks police carried out a search but found no trace of the Sasquatch.

“We were unable to locate, identify or capture the Sasquatch,” said Forks Police Chief Mike Powell. He said it was a relief because he wouldn’t know how to deal with a Bigfoot.

Mr Powell said: “I don’t know why we would impound him or where we would keep him.”

Sightings of the creature, reputed to lurk in Northwest forests, are rare.Ananova Wire Service, Monday 17th June 2002.

Or at this sighting of June 16, 1980, noted without any celebrity distractions, in a news item from 27 years ago:

Two men reported seeing a “Big Foot-like creature” on Snow King Mountain near Jackson, Wyo., early Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the Jackson Police Department said.

Robert Goodrich and Glenn Towner, no hometown or ages listed, reported to police that they were chased off Snow King Mountain by a “Big Foot-like creature” 12 feet tall with long, dark hair and arms, which hung almost to the ground. The two men said that they were going to visit a friend who had built a lean-to on the mountain when they encountered the creature, the spokesman said. The men told police the creature breathed heavily and made a moaning growl-type noise. They described the creature as having a simian-like face as big as a stop sign and that the creature was hunchbacked, the spokesman said. Goodrich and Towner told police that they ran when they spotted the creature, and that it followed them. The last time they saw the creature, it was standing under a street light near the Ramada Snow King Inn in Jackson, the spokesman said. The two men said they were going back Tuesday to take pictures of any possible tracks and to see if they could find their friend.

The police reported that the two men had not been drinking.Idaho Falls Post-Register, June 18,1980.

Wild Man

To put this in context, see also in the new introduction to my book, The Field Guide to Bigfoot (2006), the section, “The Hunt for Unknown Hominoids,” and in the Afterword, “Science and the Sasquatch.”

For further reading, please see Chapter 14, “The Changing Image of Bigfoot,” and Chapter 15, “The Bigfooters” in my other 2003 Bigfoot! book.

What do you think? Are the times a’changin’?

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.


71 Responses to “Why No Sasquatch Sightings?”

  1. MountDesertIslander responds:

    When I get together with friends sometimes the discussions turn to the paranormal. I am amazed at the willingness of people to accept the concepts of channeling the dead or remote viewing as a proven fact. Even talk of alien visitation is not ruled out as fantasy. However, when I mention the fact that I am strongly inclined towards accepting the existence of Bigfoot/ Sasquatch as a real possibility this disclosure brings reflexive derision. Most of the complaint against Bigfoot does not stem from lack of physical evidence, the viability of their eco-system, or even the absence of high quality photographs in an era of unprecidented saturation of image capturing phones and digital cameras. The discussion always revolves around the people who are scamming the public by trying to turn a profit from the “bigfoot industry”. I don’t know much about the profitability of this industry (I’ll let Loren speak to that) but, the dominating impression stated by the casual follower of the bigfoot legend is that there are real charletans in the investigation field. The second complaint is that the overall impression of people who report bigfoot sightings is that they are under educated, somewhat deprived financially, or borderline alcoholics. Not too many people desire to be lumped into that sterotype pool. There’s a fear of being painted with a broad brush that the media wields or at least being catagorized by the “birds of a like feather flock together” maxim. It’s odd to me that in the last 25 years it seems the bigfoot crowd has been assigned the stereotype that once was the domain of the alien abductees of the south. This really does cause one to think about even bringing up the subject in conversation. Reporting a sighting to the authorities? Well I’d even have to think on that if I didn’t have strong evidence in hand. That seems to be the state of things right now.

    By the way Loren, is there a reason your Patterson/Gimlin bigfoot photo in the story is reversed? I puzzeled over that for a few minutes trying to decide if there was a message in that.

  2. dogu4 responds:

    To my way of thinking the issue isn’t the number of reports, it’s the seemingly unpredictable nature of the sightings. I think that tells us something about both the hunter’s technique and the prey’s instincts, which in the case of humans and BF reveals a basic lack of understanding about how one should search, while BF has an almost infallible insticnt on how to stay hidden.I mean even if one goes into the forest to look, cuz that’s where they’re occasionally seen, and one actually does see one, it doesn’t necessarily produce anymore sightings or evidence. Puzzling, isn’t it?

  3. fuzzy responds:

    When I ask locals if they have heard anything about screams and howls emanating from the riparian wilderness near my home, I’m almost always answered with courtesy and enthusiasm, sometimes astonished disbelief, but never scorn or derision, and I think the reason may be – my beard.

    When it is short and trimmed to an academic neatness, I get serious, cooperative responses – when it is Santa-length, with my hair down to here, I get jocular chat.

    So, if ya wanna be treated seriously, guys, put your shavers away for a while. You distaff researchers have acceptance problems of a different type.

  4. Ole Bub responds:

    Good morning Cryptos…

    Perhaps the absence of recent reports may have something to do with a reluctance on the part of some researchers to subject themselves to the duplicity and “claim jumping” tactics of the unsavory, unethical “thugs” of sasquatchery.

    I’ve interviewed dozens of folks over the years…certainly many are rural poor, including the occassional susbstance abuser…when did being economically disadvantaged or disenfranchised become a crime…as a general rule…I trust the veracity of rural folks much more than “city folk”…JMHO

    I have never seen an alien footprint or trackway…unless it was near an illegal border crossing. Show me some channeling imagery…or past life soft tissue DNA evidence.

    Though I seldom do much field work these days, I still carry Loren’s Field Guide in my backpack…primarily for witnesses to view it’s various graphic depictions…it sure beats my stick figuring.

    Best advice I can offer…carry a quality digital camera in the field…4 megipexal or better…with quality optics and optical zoom, set to the highest resolution…if you hear or sense something….zoom in optically and take several images…

    Download the images and scrutinze them in detail on a high resolution LCD monitor…copy them to a CD or DVD and use a public library or Kinkos to enhance the images if you can’t afford high end equipment…these creatures are masters of stealth and concealment…and most importantly…trust no one until they have earned it.

    live and let live…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    Reversed green classic Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot image? Thanks for noticing.

    It is a visual metaphor to accompany the theme of this post. I am attempting to stimulate soul-searching in a new light, with a different frame-of-reference than the usual Bigfoot posts.

    Is there a change in how we are hearing, seeing, and reading about these encounters of the Sasquatch kind. Straightforwardly or through media-promoted personalities?

  6. mystery_man responds:

    Fuzzy- Haha! Well, I keep my own goatee trimmed pretty short, so maybe I should grow it out?

    My own personal preference for Bigfoot reports is this- Just give me the facts. I do not want any sensationalism or talk of “The legendary Bigfoot”, or tongue in cheek remarks. I do not want a reporter’s take on what it could be or a less than unbiased portrayal of what was seen. I would like these articles to just tell what was seen, the conditions of the sighting, and the facts surrounding the case. The article from 1980 above is a pretty good example of what I’m talking about. Just the facts, please.

    For televised stories, I do not want to see sarcastic presenters or the meat of the cryptozoology portion rushed and cut off. Nor do I want to see the subject matter made into some sort of oddity or be viewed through a strictly debunking viewpoint. It seems rare to me for a program to be made that takes the subject very seriously or doesn’t capitalize on the sense of mystery surrounding the phenomena, leading to vague, overly dramatic reports of cryptids sometimes punctuated by close minded media personalities. I didn’t see it, but according to what posters here said about it, even the Destination Truth series seems to be less about proper investigation and more about things that go bump in the night.

  7. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Maybe there are just less of them out there.

    That would be sad, but hardly unexpected- many large mammals (except humans..) that aren’t specifically protected are in decline.

  8. cor2879 responds:

    Is the problem that there are fewer sightings being reported or just fewer sightings period? Maybe there are less of them or they are just in a period of decline as some species seem to go through from time to time.

  9. greywolf responds:

    I think the lack of reported sightings could be:

    1) people who work in the woods just don’t want the ridicule if they report seeing a BF.

    2) The winter is over and more people may be out and about in places were they would not go in cold and snowy weather.

    3) There can’t be a huge population of BF in any one area and there are millions of acres of wilderness for them to hide and live in. This means a rare sighting along a lonely highway or back road is it.

    The BF is not like Yogi Bear who was always the uninvited guest at the picnic ground, they will be out and about at night while you sleep..lol lol

  10. jerrywayne responds:

    Possible reasons for less news reportage of bigfoot sightings might reflect a growing crediblity problem with the very notion of an American ape. For decades, bigfoot advocates have had free reign in the media (pro-bigfoot books, documentaries, and films) due more to the entertainment value of such works than their reasoned positions. But the years have gone by, and nothing has really advanced the case for the existence of bigfoot. And with nothing really important to move the debate ahead, the bigfoot advocates have started to fall behind. Maybe the mainstream media is beginning to grow more cautious (it has always been a little careful) in reporting tales of “12 ft tall” monsters. Perhaps news reporters believe bigfoot has finally been debunked by Long’s plausable The Making of Bigfoot or Daegling’s excellent Bigfoot Exposed! Once bigfoot was relegated to the dark forests of the northwest, he retained a modicum amount of crediblity. But now, he is seen everywhere in the U.S. and is never caught, killed, or unambiguously filmed. So, maybe the news authorities are viewing “sightings” with a healthy, renewed dose of skepticism. And that is a good thing.

  11. Daniel Loxton responds:

    MountDesertIslander writes,

    …the dominating impression stated by the casual follower of the bigfoot legend is that there are real charletans in the investigation field.

    Unfortunately, this has proven to be the case in several instances. There have been dishonest “investigators,” and often this dishonesty has had a financial motivation. I’m not saying it’s common — my sense is that cryptozoological investigators are, by and large, perfectly decent folks — but some Bigfoot investigators have themselves hoaxed Bigfoot evidence. That can’t help. It’s too bad, but it’s a PR burden cryptozoology has to carry.

  12. Roger Knights responds:

    I think I’ve got the answer (for the decline in sighting reports in the mainstream media): Many, maybe most, witnesses are now reporting encounters to BFRO and other Bigfoot websites, rather than calling the sheriff or the local paper. The ridicule factor is thereby side-stepped.

    If the Internet had existed thirty years ago, I bet that over half the incidents from the old days wouldn’t have made it into to the local press. Think about it.

  13. DWA responds:

    I think Roger’s right.

    Think about it, indeed. Better yet. [hotkey] READ SIGHTING REPORTS. There’s enough on the BFRO database alone to keep you reading for weeks, and it gets updated, steadily if I won’t say regularly.

    When I saw what could have been footprints in 1986, there was no one in any kind of media outlet or land management agency I had any intention of contacting. It would have gone straight to BFRO if that had existed (well, it was actually about a year old then, I think, but I didn’t know squat about it and no more about the Internet).

    I will never contact anyone but a sasquatch research site with anything I ever see, hear or smell.

    That having been said, a lot of people find out about such sites by chance, as they state in their reports, which means that some people go to the media ignorant of any other avenue.

  14. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne says: “Once bigfoot was relegated to the dark forests of the northwest, he retained a modicum amount of crediblity.”

    Funny, over time the reverse has happened to me, and I’m not alone.

    John Bindernagel talks about the “regional monster” as being an impediment to scientific interest in the sasquatch, and he might have a point. (Think “Champ.” Think “Loch Ness monster.”) When a cryptid has this teeny, apparently arbitrary range, it’s easier to chalk it up to charming local legend. That is still being done with the sas; you still hear people parroting the “dark forests of the Pacific Northwest” line, when the majority of the current evidence comes from elsewhere.

    From everything I’ve read, the sasquatch has the chops – and the necessity – to range far, wide and fast, and to occupy a wide range of habitats. We can’t get used to that idea because all the recognized apes are tropical. (Except one, the one that the sasquatch reminds us of the most.) They can’t stay in one area; the local fauna get wise to their presence and the local flora get depleted. At least that sure seems to make sense.

    Many – it seems most – encounter reports are of local people seeing and hearing things they never have heard before or since, in areas they either visit or once visited often. This seems consistent with an animal frequently on the move – and not restricted to “dark forests.”

    Needless to say, this kind of behavior makes the sas an extremely tall order for scientists to document, as they’re geared to working with animals that have relatively small, clearly defined home ranges and therefore leave copious evidence of their presence – two things not characteristic of the sasquatch.

  15. jerrywayne responds:

    How can you have the great American ape strolling around virtually the entire country, seen time and time again, and not have been rendered definitively long ago?

    Sanderson told us a long time ago that the saquatch’s northwest range was vast and secluded, not “teeny”. This was one reason why he argued for its existence. Now we are told it is more plausable for bigfoot to live down the road somewhere.

    Except for a few places that have a “wildman” or “skunk ape” tradition, it seems that the expanding range of bigfoot “sightings” has grown geometrically in concert with the number of locations that posses cable and cable channels that show “documentaries” that present sasquatch as fact.

  16. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Oh, yeah, the old “ridicule” excuse… I recall asking for all these specific cases of where BF eyewitnesses were “ridiculed,” and I got lots of defensive comments but few actual cases…

    give it up, or get some evidence to support your claims.

  17. Roger Knights responds:

    First, it’s not after-the-fact ridicule that inhibits the submission of reports to newspapers, but the fear of it beforehand. It’s less daunting to submit an online report, or to call a local Bigfoot organization, than to contact the local newspaper (or police dept.) and say, “I want to report a Bigfoot.” Many witnesses would fear, rightly or wrongly, that the reaction they’d receive to saying that to two or three levels of of nonplussed auditors, starting with the switchboard operator, would be filled with dubiousness.

    Second, the flip side of fear of ridicule is desire for an understanding reception. Witnesses want an explanation for what they saw, and a sympathetic ear. A Bigfoot organization is the place to go for those. Now that such organizations can be located and contacted online, that’s what many witnesses are doing.

    Radford wrote, “Oh, yeah, the old ‘ridicule’ excuse.” Old? My explanation is new, and it is not “excusing” anything.

    Only earlier invocations of the ridicule factor by Bigfooters could be called excuses. They were attempting to account for the paucity of witness encounters in comparison to the large Bigfoot population a sustainable breeding pool would require. There was good indirect support for their explanation in the fact that typically, whenever a newspaper DID report an encounter, it would receive numerous reports from other witnesses who had been afraid to “break the ice.”

    If there had been a way for witnesses earlier to submit reports to Bigfoot groups most would have done so, for those reasons. Therefore, it’s unlikely that the reason for the recent decline in reports-in-the-media is increasing newsroom caution.

    As for cases of after-the-fact ridicule, here are a couple off the top of my head: Gimlin and his wife have endured plenty from their townsfolk. Sheriff’s deputy Verlin Herrington wasn’t re-hired the next summer. (Apes Among Us, p. 401.) Other Bigfooters could easily cite more.

  18. DWA responds:

    Oh, yeah, the old “what ridicule?” excuse… I recall asking how someone could possibly be so divorced from reality as not to recognize that BF and eyewitnesses being ridiculed go together like snow and winter, and I got lots of evasion and snideness but little else…

    Give it up, or get some evidence to support your claims. I mean, pretty outlandish thesis there, that everyone takes sas sightings seriously and scientists are looking all over but just, man, can’t FIND anything…

  19. Roger Knights responds:

    What I think inhibits the submission of reports to the press (including TV) is less a fear of ridicule (although that fear may also be there) and more a fear of being in the limelight. I recall reading of a psychological study, perhaps partly tongue in cheek, that found that the most fear-inducing prospect for its subjects was their having to go up on stage and make a speech. I think this is something we all can relate to. Even many professional actors and other performers get butterflies in their stomachs before a show.

    In other words, most people do NOT want 15 minutes of fame. Instead, they tend to hang back unless they are pulled or pushed forward, or unless others have preceded them onstage and broken the ice.

    So Radford’s comment has stimulated a deeper understanding of the situation.

  20. Roger Knights responds:

    PS: This shyness also inhibits potential whistleblowers from coming forward. It’s a fear of “rocking the boat” or “making waves” by challenging the social consensus. Implicitly, a Bigfoot report constitutes such a challenge. But most folks have a conformity-gene that cringes at such provocative “speaking out.”

  21. DWA responds:

    “In other words, most people do NOT want 15 minutes of fame. Instead, they tend to hang back unless they are pulled or pushed forward.”

    This to me is the thing most worth remembering about sighting reports.

    The mass media give a picture of a nation thirsting for fame. Our national mentality may lead to there being a lot of such folks. But they tend to be in the substantial minority. And most of those take pretty conventional routes; they aren’t trying to call attention to themselves by postulating stuff on which the ostensible public position is that-doesn’t-exist.

    Many, many encounter reports feature the great unwillingness of the witness to come forward; this person is frequently either pulled by an investigator who happens to know, or pushed by friends and relatives. These people either know the witness’s veracity, i.e. the encounter made believers of them simply by dint of their knowledge of the witness, or they too witnessed the encounter, or were present in the vicinity and saw the witness’s reaction even though they didn’t experience the encounter themselves.

    Thinking about it a bit, ridicule isn’t even important, or particularly relevant. If one doesn’t think one’s report will lead to anything happening, that will combine with the fear of simply “speaking before a crowd” to make one very disinclined to report. Many of us don’t care about what everyone else knows; it’s enough that we do. Why rock our own boat when our own knowledge is enough? Why try to make science care when it clearly doesn’t? Science has to take on that job; witnesses can’t do it for them, and most don’t feel so inclined.

    That might be a significant factor in reports to the media going down (if they in fact are). People might be thinking to themselves, who cares? I know.

    And science continues to labor under the impression that there’s no evidence, when well out of scientists’ sight, the evidence is mounting.

    Unfortunately, until it’s public, not much can be done with it, right?

    That’s the problem facing sasquatch proponents; tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of witnesses, isolated from one another in an unintentional – or maybe circumstantial is the better word – continent-wide conspiracy of silence.

    I don’t know why the media don’t wise up about this. Talk about potential! Go public with an open mind about the sasquatch, and solicit reader/viewer encounter reports. (Outdoor magazines and websites – those directed at everyone from hikers to hunters and fishermen to ATVers to motor travelers to beekeepers – would be a particularly rich vein, if they’d take it on.)

    NOW we might be getting somewhere.

    ‘Til then, it’s sas websites, or nothing, at least not anything much.

  22. Greg(Not that Greg) responds:

    I suggest human greed would overcome any fear of ridicule for most people, who might encounter one of these creatures.

    If they are being reported to organizations online; those groups are well aware of the financial rewards to be reaped by documenting the creature; far beyond the revenues gained by organizing camping trips and snipe hunts.

    Just like Patterson, who never went back to locate the creature he caught on film; those who really know the financial gain to be realized by actually proving this creature exists, are the ones who are also reasonably sure it doesn’t. Otherwise, they would be out there with dogs and nets. (spare me the “dogs won’t track Bigfoot” stories.)

    They have to be content with the modest gains to be made by preying on the hopes of those who really believe there is something out there.

  23. mystery_man responds:

    I agree with Roger Knight’s idea that some people might not be even avoiding ridicule per say, but maybe they just don’t want to be the center of attention. Not everyone wants the spotlight and I think there are a great many people who just want to be left alone and mind their own business.

    Someone may make a good Bigfoot sighting and just think it is not worth the effort or the extra attention they might receive. They just want to lay low and go about their life without being “the guy who saw Bigfoot” or being interviewed on a show, or even just having their name in the paper. Not everyone wants to be famous or have the limelight cast on them, however briefly, and for some anonymity is golden.

    That being said, negative attitudes from coworkers and friends can add up to ridicule in the mind of the witness, which I think could be a deterrent for some. As DWA said, this kind of thing and Bigfoot reports go together like snow and winter. Just run “ridicule” and “Bigfoot” through a search engine and see what happens.

  24. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne writes:

    “How can you have the great American ape strolling around virtually the entire country, seen time and time again, and not have been rendered definitively long ago?”

    Such a question makes presumptions about the competence, omiscience, and interest of mainstream science that are best left out of a truly skeptical inquiry.

    “Sanderson told us a long time ago that the saquatch’s northwest range was vast and secluded, not “teeny”. This was one reason why he argued for its existence. Now we are told it is more plausable for bigfoot to live down the road somewhere.”

    A truly skeptical inquiry doesn’t put all the chips on any single source. I’m sure I’m not the only person who doesn’t necessarily consider Ivan Sanderson the only authority worth listening to on the sasquatch. Besides, as it always does, information changes with time, and theories have to change with it. Ivan’s not been with us for quite some time now. I’d rather go with the evidence than with what a dead cryptozoologist says. Now that having been said: sure the PNW would be adequate range to “hide” an animal that no one will acknowledge, or even look for, other than those who have seen it. Ignorance ‘hides’ the sasquatch, more than wild country does. If encounter reports are to be believed, Bigfoot’s hiding pretty much in plain sight. Nothing new there.

    “Except for a few places that have a “wildman” or “skunk ape” tradition, it seems that the expanding range of bigfoot “sightings” has grown geometrically in concert with the number of locations that posses cable and cable channels that show “documentaries” that present sasquatch as fact.”

    Not true. The nationwide-ness of Bigfoot has been known among those familiar with the data for decades. (Don’t ask me what Ivan did with that.) At first I, like you, thought that was kind of woo-woo. But then I learned stuff about the sasquatch. Know how? [hotkey] READ SIGHTING REPORTS.

    And when you show me anything that presents “sasquatch as fact,” I will show you an animal, confirmed by science.

  25. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: nothing better than ten-second proof!

    “ridicule + bigfoot”: 72,600 hits on Google.

    “ridicule + sasquatch”: 39,100 hits.

    “sasquatch + ridiculous”: 85,300 hits.

    “seeing things + sasquatch”: a very fat and meaty 178,000 hits!

    Ben: your turn. YOU come up with something. One thing proponents (and skeptics) are really good at: evidence.

  26. DWA responds:

    “stupid + sasquatch”: 286,000.

    “idiotic + sasquatch”: 15,700 (whoa. almost none!)

    “idiotic + bigfoot”: 51,800.

    And our grand prize winner!

    “stupid + bigfoot”: 595,000 big ones!

    Yet another scoftical shibboleth, tossed aflame on the scrap heap of history.

    But someday they will come up with evidence, I’m sure.

    For something. No telling what.

  27. things-in-the-woods responds:

    Morning all- would just like to say I’ve enjoyed Roger’s posts here- I think he has brought a new aspect to what was quite a tired and stale debate-

    (‘Fear of ridicule discourages reports’.
    ‘No it doesn’t, show me where’.
    ‘Well, here.., and here..’.
    ‘That’s not ridicule, I’ve got a dictionary- that’s teasing, or being ignored…’
    ‘Argghh..’)

    In particularly I think he may be on to something with regards to the ‘desire to conform’ angle-

    If only we had someone with, say, a psychology degree who could tell us whether that is a real phenomenon. Can anyone think of anybody? I’m stumped. If only people weren’t so reticent about telling us about their qualifications. ;)

  28. sschaper responds:

    It could be that West Nile or some other new disease has hurt them badly.

    Or that the Mt. St. Helen’s explosion decimated the breeding population, and the now older population is dying off.

    On the other hand, the series of sightings in South Dakota shouldn’t be forgotten. That sounds more significant that the occasional unrelated sighting. And that one may be on-going.

  29. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Don’t forget Bigfoot plus ridicule. 74,400 big ones.

  30. DWA responds:

    And of course there’s the normal stuff, like this from John Bindernagel:

    “[The]media’s treatment of sasquatch reports may provide part of the answer. A sasquatch sighting, when reported, normally takes the form of a lighthearted news item, often recounted with a knowing grin and the suggestion that the eyewitness was on the way home from a pub. While a healthy skepticism regarding the existence of an ape-like animal in B.C. is justified, such cynicism and ridicule tend to inhibit other witnesses, such as the West Kootenay man, from coming forward publicly.

    John Green of Harrison Hot Springs published The Sasquatch File in 1973, summarizing 110 reported sightings in B.C. He concluded then that animals answering the description of sasquatch are seen far more often than we realize. To date, Green has collected almost 350 B.C. sightings of sasquatches or their tracks — but witnesses remain as reluctant, as fearful of ridicule, as they were 27 years ago.”

    And that’s a real bigfoot researcher, doing real bigfoot research – much of which is dealing with the reluctance of witnesses to come forward.

    Really, now, proponents – and clear-eyed skeptics – have too much to do to waste time on this line of inquiry.

    (Particularly when they can just Google it away. ;-) )

  31. DWA responds:

    Greg (ntg) says: “I suggest human greed would overcome any fear of ridicule for most people, who might encounter one of these creatures.”

    Um, in a word, no.

    1) First: how can there can be tons of money in proving something exists, that, well, doesn’t? I really want to be enlightened.

    2) Many people who report sightings really don’t want to, because they know one thing they won’t be getting is money. How can you get a penny from reporting a sighting? Have you seen anyone else get one? One thing skeptics tend to forget is that people tend to be, well, smarter than skeptics give them credit for.

    3) “those who really know the financial gain to be realized by actually proving this creature exists, are the ones who are also reasonably sure it doesn’t.” Um, er, huh? An English translation of that is: There is little to no money in proving this creature exists. As you yourself point out: if it really is a big moneymaking proposition, the big moneymakers are out there making big money. How many cases can you turn up of the discoverer of a new species getting rich off it? Doesn’t happen. The big moneymakers noticed that decades and decades ago; if it were otherwise, Scientific Discoveries, Ltd. would be #1 on the Fortune 500. (And they’d have confirmed Bigfoot in 1967 – OK, really 1958 – when they should have.)

    4) “They have to be content with the modest gains to be made by preying on the hopes of those who really believe there is something out there.” And these gains are coming from, um, what? From people who are PAYING to get their sightings online? Please don’t confuse Biscardi with sasquatch research.

    Sasquatch websites are being paid for by the real jobs of the people who create them. Period.

    But I’m sure a further explanation of that puzzling post is coming. I really do want to know.

    But I’d suggest one other thing to you: [hotkey] READ SIGHTING REPORTS. They’d set you straight on a lot of stuff – including the number of SasTrumps out there. (That would be, zero.)

    I find it interesting indeed, not to say amusing, that only skeptics seem to spend any time talking about Bigfoot as Gold Mine. The proponents, trust me, know, and that’s why they don’t.

    Unless I’m, um, wrong.

  32. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    I find it interesting indeed, not to say amusing, that only skeptics seem to spend any time talking about Bigfoot as Gold Mine.

    Gold mine? No, I don’t think so, not for ordinary, sincere sasquatch witnesses. (Mind you, I guarantee I could retire on my profits if I had a genuine, fresh sasquatch body in my garage to sell to the TV networks.)

    But let’s not forget that many individuals have tried to make big bucks off their Bigfoot “evidence.” Let’s also keep in mind that “big bucks” is totally relative. Some people have made a significant return on their blobsquatch and sasquatch films (including Patterson). Bigfoot history also includes cases in which evidence (sometimes fake) was used to generate a steady trickle of income, such as retainers or funding for investigations. Finally, if it’s funny enough, a case of beer (or less) can be ample payoff for a hoax. That’s not controversial — we know for a fact that Bigfoot hoaxers have faked evidence at substantial out-of-pocket financial loss, simply for the fun of it.

    That said, no, most run-of-the-mill sasquatch encounter claimants have little hope of making any money off their tale. My sense is that most such people are sincerely mistaken about what they saw, and that some wait years because it takes time for their uncertain memory of the “sasquatch” encounter to solidify into a narrative completely persuasive to themselves.

    Is fear of ridicule also a factor? Probably. I’d be surprised if sincere sasquatch witnesses weren’t a bit worried about appearing nuts — I know I’d be leery in their shoes.

  33. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    Going with everything you’ve said, I don’t think the returns we’re talking about explain what people have been seeing, which is really my point. They sure do explain what’s on Youtube.

    And we probably have to agree to disagree on the subject of people honestly misidentifying known phenomena as sasquatch. I don’t think that happens. I believe an observer has to have a sasquatch rubbed in his face to say so; many eyewitnesses sound as if they only wish they were lying. The biggest animal I’ve ever seen that I was utterly unable to identify comes down to three possibilities: melanistic whitetail deer; wild boar; bear. Period. It was not an unclassified animal. And I can’t even put an ID behind that conclusion.

    I think most people think like me when it comes to stuff like this. It’s just that the ones who have seen a sasquatch have had a sasquatch rubbed in their faces.

  34. jerrywayne responds:

    A reply to DWA.

    1. Sanderson certainly ascribed to “monster reports” in other regions (he was nothing if not easily persuaded), but he sold the notion of “America’s Abominable Snowman” by appealing to the alleged vast and isolated Great North West where anything could be hiding. Now, we are told, it is even more plausible that our friend Bigfoot is living amongst us, everywhere and anywhere it seems. I suggest this is just ad hoc theorizing to cover the proliferation of “monster stories” that have increased over the last few decades.

    2. I never made a “presumption” about “mainstream science” at all. I was suggesting this: over the last few decades, Bigfoot advocates have accepted a range of Bigfoot habitat that is truly staggering (virtually every state on the continent). So, you have this paradox: Apes as big as grizzly bears have a habitat as large as the common opossum, are seen walking down roads, standing in bean fields, peeping into trailer homes, searching through dumpsters, visiting streams and other waterways, terrorizing Lovers Lane smoochers, etc., etc. And, all the while, there are amateur cryptozoologists, and professional ones, looking for said great apes, joined in by occasional law enforcement, trackers, hunters, interested and assorted lay folk, game wardens, “monster hunters”, more people with camcorders and video phones, and, even a scientist or two. Now remember, it is your contention that Giant Apes live in the wild throughout the land, and you base this primarily on “sighting lists”. So, we have hundreds of sightings, all over the place, but no definitive evidence whatsoever of a real animal causing these sightings. This may be no problem for you, but give me the “dark northwest”, any day. There, as Sanderson once charmed us, anything could be living undetected.

    3. I beg to differ with you concerning how far back Bigfoot accounts go. Suffice it to say, as a child, I heard of no “America’s abominable snowman” stories (and I lived in the country at times). I first heard of such stories by way of Sanderson’s articles (written not for science journals, but for men’s adventure magazines!) and they centered on the great northwest. Over time, when Bigfoot became a household term, promoted by “monster” and mystery mongering TV shows, more and more people began seeing, or hearing of “sightings”, seemingly everywhere. And today, even in good old Texas, we have our own “sightings” from time to time. I simply suggest that such phenomena may have an explanation that has nothing tangent to do with Giant Apes loose in the land.

  35. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    And we probably have to agree to disagree on the subject of people honestly misidentifying known phenomena as sasquatch. I don’t think that happens.

    I don’t wish to take this thread too far off topic, but I must say my personal experience differs from this position.

    As I’ve mentioned on other threads, I was a shepherd in the Northern British Columbia wilderness for 10 years. In that time, of course, I and my colleagues had no end of wildlife encounters (not to mention thousands of domestic sheep sightings per minute). Some of those sightings generated misidentification errors.

    For example, several times I observed grizzly bears, only to have them morph into sheep before my eyes. The opposite was also true: several times the object I initially identified as a sheep or group of sheep turned out to be a grizzly or black bear. Likewise, we fairly commonly mistook stumps for bears, and also bears for stumps. In one memorable instance, an apprentice of mine saw a dog harassing the sheep. Not stopping to wonder what a domestic dog would even be doing out there, she charged through the bushes toward it, yelling and waving a stick. She promptly ran into three grizzlies (a mother and two grown cubs), who stood up around her in surprise.

    Further, we had multiple sasquatch sightings. In one especially compelling instance, my apprentices watched a sasquatch standing quietly in the open at a medium distance, observing them. Staring at it for several minutes, it was not possible to resolve it into anything but a sasquatch. They even saw it move. But it wasn’t, and it didn’t — it was a tall stump, as we were later able to confirm. (Had we not had the opportunity or inclination to investigate, this anecdote might have a very different flavor.)

    It’s not that we were poor observers. In fact, we were professional observers. A shepherd’s job, first and foremost, is to see everything: if one sheep out of 1500 has a sore foot, or is about to jump over a dangerous log, or whatever else, it’s the shepherd’s job to notice it. We were highly experienced in that terrain, highly familiar with local wildlife, and very used to the observing conditions. (By the end of my shepherding career, I’d logged far more than 10,000 hours of walking around observing.)

    But we still made misidentification errors. As long as humans are fallible to even a tiny degree, this is just a numbers game (as I’ve mentioned on other threads): a high level of accuracy multiplied by a very large number of observations necessarily means a significant number observation errors will accumulate over sufficient time.

    Multiply that fact of life over the total number of wildlife observations made annually by the total human population of North America, and that becomes a serious problem for the Bigfoot database.

  36. DWA responds:

    jerrywayne:

    1. I answered. But anyway. Sightings are where they are. You can’t discount them on that alone. And folks who think that a nationwide sasquatch is implausible may want to do some reading up on animals and on the outdoors in general. Anything “hiding” in the vastness of the PNW of the US is a sitting duck. Anything using the entire vastness of the continent is REALLY tough to pin down. Particularly if it’s smarter than the many species who already do that. Why wouldn’t the sas be as widely distributed as the opossum, probably a much dumber critter which has a much more restricted diet by comparison? Ad hoc theorizing is the wrong phrase. People seeing an animal is the right one. And I’m still waiting for that explanation of how all those sightings are all wet.

    2. Bigfoot advocates are accepting what the animal throws at them. We could have just discounted the coelacanth instead of “accepting a range of habitat” that was 65 million years out of date. (Proper range: zero. It’s extinct. How dare it.)

    3. Bigfoot accounts go back farther than the USA goes back. Period. It’s in the books. And I’m not just talking the Indians (although why we constantly put them down as childlike fantasizers I won’t ever understand). David Thompson, the Lewis and Clark of Canada, found Bigfoot tracks in Alberta. And he’s only one. Facts, I won’t argue. When YOU first heard of it is irrelevant.

    What it comes down to is this. You can poopoo all you want. Until the plausible it’s-all-fake scenario is presented, you’re not really arguing from anything. The universe is pretty damned implausible. But there it is.

  37. DWA responds:

    Daniel:

    The misidentification errors you note all had one thing in common: you fixed them. They were momentary errors. Shoot, I’ve made thousands of those. It’s almost impossible to conclusively identify what something is the instant you see it. Sometimes it takes more time. Minutes even.

    But I’m not seeing anybody going so far as to postulate a detailed report of what they witnessed unless they are ABSOLUTELY certain. Not just hey that’s a…nope “certain.” I’ve never told anyone I had ever seen anything that I had not conclusively identified as such, as in, seeing the distinctive earmarks of that very thing, with a clarity I would stake my sanity on. In each case you cite, the initial impression was certainly not conclusive, as the sighter himself revised it on further observation.

    I would think few, if any, people would risk the ridicule (hey, at least I don’t have to argue that with you) coming with a sasquatch report unless there was absolutely no question in their minds what they had seen.

  38. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    The misidentification errors you note all had one thing in common: you fixed them.

    Well, of course we detected the errors we know about — that’s true by definition. For our purposes here, the important things to recognize are that A) such errors are common, and B) it’s unrealistic to suppose that all such errors are detected and corrected.

    But I’m not seeing anybody going so far as to postulate a detailed report of what they witnessed unless they are ABSOLUTELY certain.

    This isn’t altogether the case. It’s not at all uncommon for sasquatch reports to express uncertainty, such as “I don’t know what it was, but” or “I don’t think it could have been a bear.”

    What is common is for sasquatch encounters to be reported years (frequently decades) after the fact. This should worry us. Psychologists have extensively studied the impact of time on memories, including so-called flashbulb memories, and the experimental results are clear: time severely degrades and distorts the accuracy of memory, while increasing certainty.

  39. mystery_man responds:

    I tend to agree with the idea that the possibility of misidentifications does exist and I think that there are very well eyewitness accounts based on these sorts of mistakes. Daniel Loxton, I think you’re correct when you say that even professional observers can make mistakes. But what I think is often overlooked in that argument is the fact that people can also make very good observations. For every grizzly mistaken for a dog, I am sure there were many, many instances where your observations were accurate. One problem I see with skeptics trying to dismiss the sightings database based on the argument of witness fallibility is the assumption that all Bigfoot witnesses must be misrepresenting what they see. While that may very well be the case sometimes, I think that is a pretty big assumption considering people can and do make good observations as well. Both scenarios have to be considered with these sightings, I feel.

    I see what DWA is saying as well. I would expect a person to try to fit what they saw into a known explanation before coming out and saying they saw Bigfoot. Of course, we can take this argument back to witness expectation, but I don’t want to get too off topic here. I just think that it is possible that people who see strange things will often try to rationalize it rather than risk exposing themselves to any sort of ridicule by declaring it to be a sasquatch of all things. I’ve had an experience of a UFO sighting and to this day, I am convinced it was caused by some sort of mundane occurrence. There are others like that too, who are thorough enough to think about what it is they could have seen, even if the conclusion they come to is wrong. I find it funny that while people may be mistaking a bear for Bigfoot, there could be people out there who think they saw a bear but in fact it was Bigfoot! Interesting to think about.

    I personally see the witness database as a tool rather than any sort of proof and as such, I try to include all of these factors in reports I read. Misidentification, hoax, suit, figment of imagination, I entertain them all, but I entertain the notion that it could be a real animal as well. I think that while the database has bad reports, there is a possibility that some of the sightings are spot on and could present clues on avenues of research. Hopefully, some of the sightings are genuine enough to lead to some kind of definitive evidence, but in the meantime, wading through the inaccurate reports and hoaxes is just going to come with the territory, I think.

  40. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Mystery_man writes,

    …what I think is often overlooked in that argument is the fact that people can also make very good observations. For every grizzly mistaken for a dog, I am sure there were many, many instances where your observations were accurate.

    Absolutely. My argument is actually that most wildlife observations are sufficiently accurate for our purposes here (accurate enough to to tell a bear from a dog from a sasquatch, for example). I think we can say with confidence that most grizzlies sighted are correctly identified, both because people are bright and because the number of reported sasquatch sightings is extremely low relative to the number of grizzly sightings.

    I’m assuming observers have, by and large, quite a high level of accuracy. My argument is that even a very low probability of error will generate a ton of mistakes if you roll the dice enough times.

    I just think that it is possible that people who see strange things will often try to rationalize it rather than risk exposing themselves to any sort of ridicule by declaring it to be a sasquatch of all things.

    I’m sure you’re right about that. Let’s assume it’s quite rare for a particular sighting of a known animal to be misinterpreted as possibly a sasquatch sighting. I think we can add that only a smallish subset of those people who see possible sasquatches will ever become confident that their sasquatch-like sighting was an actual sasquatch encounter. All the same, if you start with a large enough number of opportunities for error — all the individual wildlife sightings in North America in a year, say — we are still left with a large number of confident misinterpretations at the end of the day.

    I find it funny that while people may be mistaking a bear for Bigfoot, there could be people out there who think they saw a bear but in fact it was Bigfoot!

    If Bigfoot exists, then I think this is inevitable. Actual sasquatch observers would have the same small probability of mistaking the species they observe for some other species. (In fact, I’d guess that actual sasquatch sightings might generate a higher percentage of misinterpretation errors than do actual sightings of bears, because of the expectant attention issue we’ve discussed on other threads.)

    However, if sasquatches exist, they must be far, far less numerous than are bears — by at least two or three orders of magnitude. We would expect the total number of bears mistaken for sasquatches to be hundreds or thousands of times smaller than the total number of sasquatches mistaken for bears. More sightings equals more opportunity for rare errors.

  41. mystery_man responds:

    Daniel Loxton- I agree about the tendency for errors to accrue, but we also seem to agree that witnesses can be very accurate. So even as misidentifications accrue, surely there must be accurate sightings adding up as well. If people are by and large making good observations, then it stands to reason those observations are accumulating at a faster rate than the rarer mistaken observations. If witnesses are making accurate assessments in a portion of sightings, there must be numerous good reports. I feel that if you look on both sides of the coin, there is every likelihood that a lot of reports are quite accurate and not open to being written off as misidentifications.

    So what to make of sightings? We have a database of observations made by people who we have said by and large make good assessments and tend to think things through before reporting a sasquatch. That tells me that there are many who have seen exactly what they say they saw. Sure, statistically, error will add in bad reports and misidentifications. I feel that this is absolutely true, but the accumulation of possible good reports is there as well and in my opinion should not be ignored.

  42. mystery_man responds:

    I know what I am saying leans towards the assumption that there is a Bigfoot out there, so I must say that I am not saying I think Bigfoot definately exists. I am quite a skeptic, actually. I just think these sightings are curious and should be given weight when warranted.

  43. DWA responds:

    mystery_man/Daniel: Good argument and good points made on both sides.

    Needless to say, I guess, if I were one of you in that exchange, I’d be mystery_man.

    If one presumes that observers tend to have their heads on straight – and I just can’t find it in me to believe that nuttiness or poor perception are clustered among sasquatch observers differentially – one would have to believe that sasquatch sightings operate the same way sightings of bears do. I might add that the sasquatch has features and habits far enough out of what we see as the nonhuman mammalian norm for them to have the effect of riveting the observer’s attention just a bit more than, say, a bear might, particularly if the observer had had a lot of prior experience with bears.

    How long were you in the shepherd biz, Daniel? Ten years? In BC? (Look at the BFRO database for BC.) Man, just one incident on one day could have made this a whole different conversation. :-D

  44. mystery_man responds:

    One thing I can see in Daniel’s argument is that even if sasquatch exist, they are certainly rarer than bears, which would point to fewer sightings of actual sasquatch and more of mundane wildlife (although I hesitate to describe any animals as “mundane”). Other wildlife are out there in relative abundance, so statistically speaking, there are that many more chances for people to see something that is not a sasquatch and of all those sightings, the possible errors and misidentifications of these animals are going to slip through and add up compared to actual sightings of the rarer sasquatch. This undoubtedly contributes to sasquatch being reported in every state of the Union and even in improbable locations. (Hawaii anyone?) I just cannot accept that these large creatures are that prolific, so Daniel’s argument could help shed light on that. I feel there are fewer actual sightings than are reported just because of the creature’s probable rarity.

    I don’t doubt that this is the case with some reports and I do think that the idea that of this being a sort of numbers game is a good point to a degree. But that still doesn’t explain all reports to me as surely if Bigfoot is out there, there are accurate sightings and reports made that are adding up as well. We have said that people can be accurate, so I feel there are people who can realize what they are seeing is not mundane and make a good observation who must be contributing to the database. There are many reports made by quite experienced people made and I hesitate to assume they must all be wrong, or lying, or seeing things. I don’t feel we can dismiss all reports as the cases of human error filtering down and some cases such as clusters of repeat incidents (think Pine Ridge) don’t neatly fit into this hypothesis. I won’t dispute that some reports might be hoaxes, or misidentifications, but I suspect there are those that are possibly genuine and if we can narrow these down, we may be onto something.

  45. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: you and I disagree rarely. But just so everybody is certain we aren’t the same person, it’s healthy to do so occasionally. ;-)

    You say “I feel there are fewer actual sightings than are reported just because of the creature’s probable rarity.”

    Not me.

    For one thing, not so sure about the rarity (something I used to be certain about). John Green and John Bindernagel, among others, disagree that the sas is rare or endangered; Green considers it almost a risible notion, while Bindernagel at the very least believes that far more people are seeing these animals than we realize. While I’m not exactly in the Green boat, I most certainly tend to agree with Bindernagel. For the very reasons we’ve been talking about, that add up to people’s reluctance to come forward, I think that actual sasquatch sightings are several times the number of reports, at an absolute bare minimum. (I resisted saying “bear minimum” there. Congratulate me.) How many times more people see them than report them, I have no way of telling. But with an animal for which reporting a sighting is such a loaded issue, I’d have no problems with ten times the number of actual sightings to reports. A factor of a hundred wouldn’t raise an eyebrow; a thousand I could easily go with. Remember, many sightings have multiple simultaneous witnesses; and if you [hotkey] READ SIGHTING REPORTS, you know that almost invariably only one or two of the witnesses report the encounter. It’s almost to be expected that the passage of a single animal on a single day could be seen by numerous people sequentially, only one or two of which would even know what to do with the encounter, and almost all of the remainder either getting a long-distance view, thinking “person,” and turning away without another thought (yet another source of error, and a more likely one, than mistaking sas for bears or bears for sas), or else having a damn good idea of what they intended to do with it – bury it, forever and all, in the vaults of memory.

    I have said more than once here that with science’s current attitude, a much bigger and dumber animal than the sas could exist in North America, in all likelihood in greater numbers. I repeat that, with emphasis, here. Most people don’t grasp how much wilder and less peopled, on the whole, the North American continent is than, say, Africa. And if sightings by reputable witnesses are any clue, the sas has the run of almost all of it.

    P.S. I saw a black bear today on a hike. It most definitely wasn’t a sasquatch. But it had my hopes up for like a second, until I saw it.

  46. mystery_man responds:

    I feel another thing to think about is how some sightings have occurred in areas where there are no bears known to be present. If misidentification of wildlife is a main culprit of sasquatch sightings, then I wouldn’t expect sightings in areas where there are no wildlife larger than deer, yet the sightings are there. Sure, there are still tree trunks, but some reports rule that possibility out since the subject is quite mobile. These sightings could be hoaxes, but it is still curious.
    There are also areas that do include this wildlife, have many visitors, yet the density of sightings differs from place to place.

    I also think about something DWA has said many times on this site, and that is the remarkable similarities throughout sightings. A lot of people report similar physical attributes or behaviors, such as the description of a sagittal crest even though they may not even be aware of what a sagittal crest is. In my opinion, even slight differences between sightings, such as size and hair color, could easily be explained by individual differences between sasquatch in many cases. The occurrence of specific physical traits and behaviors throughout reports is compelling to me, because I would expect wildly differing appearances to be reported by those merely misrepresenting a mundane animal, or at least a lesser extent of uniformity throughout the reports. Sure, there are teleporting sasquatch and orb emitting sasquatch reported, but a great many reports seem to me to point to the same kind of creature.

    Of course, the skeptic side of me says the descriptions could be forming into the generic appearance of a Bigfoot within the witness’ mind. Most people have an image of what sasquatch are supposed to look like and people may just be fitting what they saw into this basic description. They see something strange and then their mind fills in the details. This was once the argument I used as a debunker, but this doesn’t completely satisfy me as an answer anymore. There are certain strange details that work their way into reports that make me suspect some accounts were genuine. DWA always says READ SIGHTING REPORTS, and I have. Some behaviors and descriptions detailed in these reports are not what I would expect from someone misidentifying or making the story up. I could be wrong, but there are reports that I find quite compelling.

  47. mystery_man responds:

    Daniel Loxton- I must also say that you truly are one of the most clear headed and thoughtful skeptics I know of. Thank you as always for the stimulating discussion.

  48. grafikman responds:

    What I find interesting is this: Knowing that bears exist in any given area that sasquatch reports come out of, wouldn’t the obvious situation be that people would mistake sasquatches for *them*, and not the other way around? Even being the squatch supporter that I am the first thing I’d think of, living here in Colorado 10 minutes from the Rocky Mountains, if I saw some huge furry thing moving through the trees (and I did, a few yrs ago) is – “Hey look, it’s big, it’s hairy, must be a bear”(and it was).

    Even not counting the “I won’t expose myself to ridicule by admitting it was something else” sightings I think most people would answer the same way. *Unless* the differences were so clear that there would be no mistaking them.

    Also, I’m not exactly a genius on bear behavior, but if a bear that stood 7 to 10 frikkin’ feet tall was that close to you, watching you, and it hadn’t already run off long before you got there which is what I understand most wildlife does, I’d wager it wouldn’t lope off without taking a bite out of you or dragging you along for its next snack, just like what happened to that poor 10 yr old kid in Utah last week. I mean, 10 foot tall is one huge bruin. If it’s still hangin’ around, it’s not a good sign. Either it’s hungry, or rabid, or lost it’s fear of humans through illegal feeding. No matter what, if the bear isn’t leaving, you’re in trouble.

    Unless it’s not a bear at all….

  49. Daniel Loxton responds:

    Grafikman writes,

    “…if a bear that stood 7 to 10 frikkin’ feet tall was that close to you, watching you, and it hadn’t already run off long before you got there which is what I understand most wildlife does, I’d wager it wouldn’t lope off without taking a bite out of you…”

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Most close encounters with bears are peaceful enough. People don’t always appreciate that bears are, among other things, very curious animals (as is suiting for an opportunistic omnivore).

    An anecdote from my shepherding career comes to mind. I once stood on a little rise watching the flock graze toward me out of a dark corner of the cutblock we were working. As they reached the little skid trail just below me, which we were planning to get them home on that evening, I was surprised to see a large black bear walking up the trail toward the sheep. All the lead sheep came up to the trail and found themselves nose to nose with the bear. I held my breath.

    The bear looked at the sheep. The sheep looked at the bear. And then the bear (I imagine him shrugging) just turned aside and very casually walked away up the other fork of the skid trail. That’s pretty typical of bear encounters — we’re full of adrenaline, they’re full of nonchalance.

    The punch-line of the story is that the sheep promptly followed the bear up the wrong fork.

  50. Daniel Loxton responds:

    (Don’t get me wrong. Bears are dangerous. I’ve had many peaceful bear encounters, but also one or two terrifying close calls. That’s a numbers game too: most bears are pretty mellow most of the time, but a small minority of encounters involve some sort of confrontation.)

  51. DWA responds:

    grafikman: you say “What I find interesting is this: Knowing that bears exist in any given area that sasquatch reports come out of, wouldn’t the obvious situation be that people would mistake sasquatches for *them*, and not the other way around?”

    I’ve actually mentioned that a number of times here, and I would expect it to be the case. On more than one occasion, I’ve heard something that I figure was a bear. Could it have been a sasquatch? Sure. Didn’t see it. How would I know? Doesn’t mean I thought that; because as you point out, people tend to go with the known critters first. In the most recent case, it turned out to be a party on horseback. Trust me, there was no way I was filing an encounter report off the sound alone. But again, I don’t think most people who file reports do so unless they’re certain to the bone of what they saw.

    A bear that stands seven feet tall on its hind legs is enormous. One that stands ten feet tall is off the charts.

    Mystery_man: way to follow instructions! :-D But as you say, when you RSR, the things you see strike you more as individual differences than people not agreeing on what they’re seeing. And as you also say, behaviors crop up, repeatedly, in those reports which aren’t in line with “Most people[‘s] image of what sasquatch are supposed to look like.” Or behave like.

    And Daniel: I’d like to thank you too. It’s possible, see folks? to disagree with a skeptic with each respecting the other’s point of view.

  52. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Well, I can see your point about the number of sasquatch sightings. But actual numbers of the creatures are speculative though, aren’t they? We have no way of knowing how many there are, but I suspect they are fewer in number than bears. I have spent time in the outdoors and seen bears, deer, but never seen a sasquatch. Am I a minority and everyone else is seeing these remarkably common creatures?

    I’ll tell you why I think so. The amount of actual creatures you suggest makes it seem as if they are overrunning their habitat and this isn’t very common at all for a creature this size to do. Animals typically reach a kind of equilibrium with their environment based on how much it can adequately support them and if they go over the threshold, they damage the environment or die off. A creature this size would require prodigious amounts of energy and a lot of space to roam and I agree that their supposed habitat has both of these, however large animals such as these will only increase in number to the extent their habitat can handle.

    For example, even without poachers, gorillas would not likely overrun their habitat because it would possibly wipe them out. We would not have a situation where the rainforest would be crawling with them. Imagine that many large apes out there eating the same food sources and you can imagine how they would eat themselves out of house and home. Even if sasquatch roam, that is sure a lot of roaming, very large, resource hungry creatures. The resources of the ecosystem keep numbers in check.

    It does not make biological sense for 8 foot tall bipeds to reach the incredible numbers suggested by the amount of genuine sightings you propose, an amount over and above bears, which I might remind you are not overrunning the ecosystem for the same reasons. Even if sasquatch did reach these numbers, I would think if that were the case there would be much more sign of their impact on the habitat than we have seen thus far. I am not ready to assume there is a species of large 8 foot tall hominid with a high population density, that leaves few signs of their effect on the environment and still remains undiscovered, without more weight to this argument. To me personally, it seems a bit far fetched, and so I remain fairly convinced the sasquatch is a rare creature.

  53. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: remember, I’m not postulating population figures at all, just sightings.

    They could be rare, for all I know. But they might not be. I don’t think they’re abundant by any stretch. (I freely admit that the only thing I can say to justify that is that I just can’t see it.) But as it’s my opinion that most people are leery of reporting an encounter at all, I’m forced to consider that justification – my sole justification, I’ll admit – for my opinion that actual encounters are a multiple of reported ones.

    They’re big. When they move, I think they’re gonna get seen, sooner or later. (Their apparent curiosity about us seems to mitigate numbers as a factor in encounters.) Their reported behavior in encounters seems to indicate that they’re better at staying out of sight than most critters – but not that much better. And whatever their numbers, I can’t budge, given nothing else but what I have, from my opinion on sightings.

    But I think it should be interpreted more as “many people are gonna see one on the move” than as “many people are gonna each see a different one, hence a stratospheric population.”

    I think (with Bindernagel) that the known apes give us analogues for intelligently speculating on uncatalogued ones. The known ones (present company excluded, of course :-D) are tropical, living, we can assume, in much richer ecosystems than the sasquatch appears to. (And present company has to import much of the food it eats from better places to grow it.)

    It would be hard indeed for me to say that sas live in greater pop densities than known apes – even with what appears to be a much more flexible diet, including the ability to take much more advantage of meat and fish.

    But in the end, all I can say is that I don’t know, other than being willing to bet, with Bindernagel, that far more people are seeing these animals than we think.

  54. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Thanks as always for your ideas on this. Interesting points and of course worth considering. But I have a degree in biology and zoology, so… :)

    Of course no one knows about what the sas population is at this time, I just tend to go with what is known about other animals and apply that to the sas. Remember, like sasquatch, bears also take advantage of meat and fish as well and yet still are low enough in numbers to be a no show even in areas where they are known to be plentiful. If sasquatch are seen in such numbers, it suggests to me a greater population than I feel is feasible. Also, if they are so good at hiding, yet are still seen in such numbers, that also points to a higher population than I think is possible. You do have a good point on sasquatch on the move though. Anyway, I am still under the impression that not all sightings, even the unreported ones, are genuine sasquatch sightings, though. If all of them are, then it certainly does point to a larger population than I predict. Those sightings sure are curious.

    We don’t see completely eye to eye on this, but I see what you are saying and I hope you see what I mean as well. Well, at least people know we aren’t the same person. ;)

  55. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I suppose you are also right about the reported curiosity shown by them. I suppose one roaming around could cause quite a few sightings, which to me makes it doubly important that any unique traits be gleaned from reports in the hopes of pinning down certain individuals. This has happened before in some sightings, so this kind of thing could give an idea of possible movements and populations.

  56. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- By the way, I wasn’t dismissing you with the mention of my degrees. It was a joke in that it reminded me of how a certain BR might respond to you. I hope you didn’t take it the wrong way. I’ve said many times before, degrees don’t give anyone the right to play any sort of expert card in this field and I am no more qualified to be right about this undiscovered animal than anyone else. I respect everyone’s opinions here regardless of their background. That statement was said in jest and was no slight on your ideas.

  57. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: no problem. I wasn’t interpreting it that way.

    I was interpreting it: “And of course as I’m a degreed scientist I have to take the opportunity to blatt on and on about this, as we are known to do. [big self-deprecating smiley face implied, actually, as I look up there, it was included]”

    One of the big potential problems with a degree is that it can be a blinder, a delimiter rather than an expander. Scientists, if they’re going to continue with the open-minded exploration of the universe that we tend to take for granted from them, actually have to overcome their degrees sometimes to do that. I think there were at least two good reasons Leakey looked for women like Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas to sponsor for field examinations of the great apes; they (1) weren’t men, who can wear their degrees somewhat like antlers – present company excepted of course, as my experience with you has demonstrated to me; and (2) they weren’t entrenched, becrusted scientists. (Jane wasn’t a degreed scientist at all at the time she left for Tanzania; can’t speak for the other two off the top of my head.) He wanted people who would observe and gather data unblnkered by what their degrees would tell them to see. George Schaller is an excellent example of a scientist who hasn’t let his sheepskin serve as a crutch. It’s no coincidence that he feels the evidence for the sasquatch to merit serious examination.

    I’ve come to think that this may be the best way to go with the sasquatch, if it comes to it. A woman, in the field for a long time, resupplied periodically. If she [sigh] has to have a relevant degree, OK. But it’s more important that she be articulate, observant, committed, as competent with a notepad as with a laptop, and not bothered excessively by bloodsucking insects or large apes visiting in the middle of the night.

    It’s more fun to think like a scientist than to study to be one, I’ll bet. You obviously need scientists. But they need to constantly remind themselves that their degrees represent nothing more than the state of knowledge on the day they got them – unless they keep learning.

  58. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Can’t argue with anything you said. There is certainly a lot of entrenched thinking within science and I’ve spent a long time trying to get past that. Personally, I studied, did what my minders wanted, and now I am free to pursue what I think is worth pursuing. I think my obvious interest in cryptozoology already makes me someone in the field of science who is thinking outside of the box to some extent, and i think we need more like that in cryptozoology.

    I think that you are right that in many ways, degrees can put the blinders on and sometimes dictate what a scientist thinks. Sometimes, a fresh infusion of new ideas and thinking is needed and that is where scientifically minded people who have not been indoctrinated into all of the dogma are desperately needed. These people can approach things from an angle that some scientists might not have considered and in doing so, open up new possible avenues of research. I am all for shedding light on the way the world works, that is why I studied science to begin with, and unfortunately, I also feel this is not always being done effectively within mainstream science. I try to keep my blinders off, my skepticals on, and my mind open. This is what science is to me.

    Zen mind. I’ve said it before and I stand by it. I think science should be used as a tool to help with our understanding of the world, and should not taint our ability to view new things with fresh, unbiased eyes. I think that was probably the idea behind Leakey choosing those extraordinary women and the world is better for it. Good examples.

    In my opinion, science and knowledge are tools and can be used for good or ill. A degree can provide knowledge and be a good thing as long as it does not narrow a person’s view or become rigid dogma and as long as you don’t have those wearing degrees like “antlers”, as you amusingly put it. I also agree that science is always changing and things we thought we knew are constantly being revised, so it really is a matter of a degree reflecting what is known on the day it is received, isn’t it? Good observation.

    To me, the quest for knowledge is a never ending journey and a degree is certainly not the end at all. The wonderful thing about knowledge is that anyone can go out and gain it, and they do not need a university to tell them how to go about it or at what point they have reached a certain limit. I respect knowledge for its own sake, on its own merit. My degrees have merely given me certain knowledge and tools. I have said before, I am not an expert, but rather a lifelong student. But then again, aren’t we all?

  59. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: more scientists should write things like you’ve written above, and mean them.

    One thing I’ve noted about one skeptical take on cryptids is that any study of the evidence constitutes, according to this take, “bad science.” Meldrum and Fahrenbach come under particular fire from this faction, which appears to operate under what I call the fourth-grade-science-fair model of science. You know it, everyone who’s ever been a kid, a science teacher, or a parent knows it: take this known, you mix it with that known, and you get Known 3. OK. What if you don’t have knowns? Well, you just waiit for a body to show up on your porch, or for a Bigfoot who knows ASL to strike up a conversation witcha. Because basically, homo sapiens hallucinates constantly, and every track was likely faked.

    Meldrum and Fahrenbach have done exactly, I think, what we’re talking about. Let’s take this evidence, they say, and show, by practicing rigorous science on it, that people are seeing individuals in a species, not hallucinations, or some quaint Indian legend, or something they got off a TV show, or flying-saucer nonsense. You look at their work, and bell curves show up with a regularity that should scare the crap out of you. If your mind operates logically, and you don’t think this animal exists.

    THAT is science, opening new frontiers. Which, if science doesn’t do that, why do we bother, again? If your brain isn’t falling out, an open mind is not only useful to good science, it’s pretty freaking essential.

    It’s not like there are “no sasquatch sightings.” The newspapers may not be publishing them hand over fist; but the sightings keep happening, and so do the bell curves. A scientist worthy of the name, whether he has the time funding and plane tickets to look at it right this minute or not, would at least want to know what was up with that.

  60. jerrywayne responds:

    A reply to DWA,

    1. Your view is this (sans verbiage): the more the sasquatch is seen around the country and the greater its range, the less chance it has of being found, captured, killed, or definitively videotaped. This is scarcely credible.

    2. A point of mine: “Bigfoot culture” did not exist, nationally, 50 years ago. By that, I mean that if we transported you back to, say, 1955, you would find practically no one that had any concept of a giant, bipedal American ape running around in the wild in virtually every lower 48 state. That notion would have been deemed absolutely absurd. Yet, today, that same notion is not only plausible to you, but an (apparently) incontestable fact. Now, what has changed over 50 years? Did you see Bigfoot down the road? Is Bigfoot at your local zoo? Is there an article in FIELD and STREAM: “How I shot Bigfoot!” with pictures? Has science cataloged sasquatch, placing it above African great apes?

    If you say: “More sightings”, then we are back to number 1 above.

    3. Let us all be candid here. Bigfoot true believers and advocates place an absolute premium on “sightings”. If someone comes back from a field trip and says “A 12 foot tall, bipedal ape with huge breasts and arms that almost reached the ground, screamed at me”, the advocate considers it plausible on its face (because it is a “sighting” or testimony). The skeptic does not. The skeptic knows that there are other explanations available, on a sliding scale of plausibility. Given what we know about nature and human nature, the literalist view concerning “sightings” are, most of the time, the least plausible explanation on that sliding scale. This is why “sightings” are not the be all and end all that the believer believes.

    You have gotten it wrong if you think the skeptic has to explain all the sightings away (especially to your satisfaction). The burden of proof is on you. You believe there are bipedal apes unknown to science, running wild throughout the United States. Go get one.

    I once had a naive view as to what constituted evidence for Bigfoot and I too put a premium on “sightings”. But, then I ran into a fellow who said he saw a faceless ghost peering into his next door neighbor’s house! Then, once, I talked to a woman who told me with sure conviction, that she had seen a living gargoyle, a dog like animal with large wings, once on a lonely road! Another fellow told me he was absolutely sure he had seen an animal, half-man, half-horse, walking down the path at a city park! Then I remember my great uncle, who fought in WWI, and he used to swear to the fact that he had seen a mermaid, replete with long golden hair! Sorry, but there is nothing absolutist about “sightings”.

  61. dogu4 responds:

    jerrywayne: 50 years ago, you are correct, there wasn’t anything like the cryptozoological culture of today with our instantaneous messaging with tantalizing images…but one hundred years ago, even on the outskirts of major cities people still thought of “wild indians” lurking…and “mountain devils”. We don’t have those anymore and I would suggest that were we able to interview those who reported “mountain devils” or “wild indians” or “returned to the wild runnaway slaves”, we might find that the people who encountered them knew that were “devils” and “wild” because they were scarey with all that size, evil smell, and hair. I also think they were shot on sight and generated only temporary interest (don’t want to incite the general public to this un-wholesome aspect of life as it will scare the little ones and women-folk). And even if they did bring in a corpse…who’d they call? Why keep freakish examples that disrupt the calm and order of the life on the “frontier” while it marched in lock-step towards the inevitable evolution of “civilization” and the millenium.

  62. mystery_man responds:

    Jerrywayne- I always appreciate skeptical input here, but let’s remember that the gorilla was only known through sightings as well until it was documented. A lot of animals that were known through just sightings have been found and seen to look exactly how they had been described, so although I am a skeptic, I am reluctant to dismiss sightings based on an assumption that Bigfoot is not out there.

    In science, you take the circumstantial evidence and propose a hypothesis and you test against this hypothesis. In the case of Bigoot, we have a situation where the hypothesis is that there is a large bipedal ape wandering around and yet this hypothesis has not been concretely proven in a definitive manner. This still does not mean that the hypothesis is invalid, however and we shouldn’t dismiss what is there (sightings) when it has been proven that animals are discovered that were only known through sightings before. A lot of what is widely embraced in science is still basically conjecture supported by loose (where there’s smoke there’s fire) type evidence. Higgs Boson particles, anyone? They have never even been so much as glimpsed.

    We should be careful with sightings, certainly, but are we really ready to say they are all bogus? I don’t feel we are. The habitats where these things are said to exist are feasibly capable of harboring these creatures and circumstantial evidence remains fairly strong in my opinion, so I am still open to the idea of Bigfoot. I still think there is enough there to warrant further investigation. I agree that a lot of sightings are probably quite explainable, but some are not and I don’t feel that dismissing them is necessarily a responsible way to handle them. I am open to other explanations, but Bigfoot is still a possibility in my own opinion.

    Let’s remember that these are not isolated incidents of “ghosts peering through windows” or “horse men”, but rather a recurring phenomena of many diverse people in far flung places, seeing basically the same thing. Granted, Bigfoot sightings can be kooky too, but there are enough interesting ones to make me wonder. Even if Bigfoot is not real, it makes for an intriguing phenomena.

  63. DWA responds:

    A response to jerrywayne, keyed to his last post.

    1. My position, stated succinctly, is: Science has not adequately addressed the proposition of the sasquatch’s existence. There is much evidence – as mystery_man points out, more than there is for many things science accepts – that has been met with utter silence, and is most eminently testable and provable. (Some concepts of physics that are commonly accepted are darn near paranormal by comparison, as m_m also points out.)

    2. As dogu4 says well: when there is no Bigfoot culture, people have no template into which to pigeonhole their experiences. So they shovel, and shut up. [hotkey] RSR! Especially those from the ’20s through the early ’60s, before Bigfoot was a nationwide byword. They flushed what they saw – because they had no explanation, and thought they were either nuts or likely to be seen that way – until, one day, they saw in the newspaper, or on TV, what they had seen, long before there was TV. [hotkey] RSR! Your sasquatch education is otherwise not ready for prime time. PERIOD.

    3. “Given what we know about nature and human nature, the literalist view concerning “sightings” are, most of the time, the least plausible explanation on that sliding scale. This is why “sightings” are not the be all and end all that the believer believes.” Wrong. And wrongheaded. That someone saw what they saw is one of the foundation principles of human social existence. If it weren’t for eyewitnesses there would be no criminal justice system. There’d be almost no knowledge. It is the skeptic’s great blinker that “what we know about human nature” is always conveniently shelved by the skeptic when the sas is under discussion. (“Believers” are not under discussion, and not to be “believed.” This club runs on one thing: evidence. There is way more than an abundance of that for this animal.)

    “You have gotten it wrong if you think the skeptic has to explain all the sightings away (especially to your satisfaction). The burden of proof is on you. You believe there are bipedal apes unknown to science, running wild throughout the United States. Go get one.”

    Wrong, and wrongheaded. No one has to prove anything. Science has wallowed in its ignorance before, and always will. Science is perfect, until scientists step into the picture. What they do is up to them. That the skeptic has no case – and in the case of the sasquatch, never has – is irrelevant to the animal’s existence, one way or the other. Either it does or it doesn’t, and all the evidence says it does.

    Yes, your last paragraph reflects a truly naive view. We can wait until you get over it. If you want to equate those things to a simple critter for which tons of testable evidence exists, your problem, not ours.

  64. DWA responds:

    I should add this: skeptics aren’t going to get properly educated on the sasquatch – or on cryptids as a whole – until they get over GIT.

    One notes in the ‘skeptical’ commentary that, in the absence of a case for their proposition – for which they are most certainly responsible, if they want to be taken seriously by proponents, or by true skeptics – they simply say “that animal is implausible.” Riiiiiiiiiiiight. The coelacanth and the gorilla too, dude. And don’t get me started on worms feeding away in 600-plus-degree sea water. The General Implausibility Theorem (GIT) isn’t an argument. It isn’t a case. It is a BELIEF. Like Catholicism, Wicca or child sacrifice. In the interest of GITworship, ‘skeptics’ simply turn human nature on its head. You never hallucinate, none of you. Unless you saw a sasquatch, all of you. Now none of you are credible. Voila! GIT at work.

    If you want to be taken seriously on this board, GIT to work to overcome the blinkers of GIT. RSR! It most certainly is evidence. And it is most certainly your job to explain what these people are seeing and why everyone else needs to just look away, nothing here, citizens, nothing here.

    If, that is, you want to be taken seriously, here.

  65. DWA responds:

    “Without the facts, your opinion is of no value.” -Rene Dahinden

    Sightings – and who made them, and when, and how they jibe with other sightings elsewhere – are FACTS.

    If you can’t trouble yourself with them, no need for me to trouble myself with what you dimly suspect is an argument, but ain’t.

  66. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    One notes in the ’skeptical’ commentary that, in the absence of a case for their proposition…they simply say “that animal is implausible.”

    Of course this is an exaggeration: the skeptical case is, sadly, all too strong.

    Be that as it may, we all in fact agree that assessing a priori plausibility is an important part of how one must approach claims. Yes, evidence is the final arbiter, but humans make billions of claims a day — they cannot all be probed in detail. Like skeptics, cryptozoologists themselves systematically assess cryptid claims in terms of a priori plausibility. That is why giant ape stories from the Pacific Northwest are granted greater weight than tales of paranormal Hawaiian sasquatches. In most cases, the evidence is the same in both categories (and the wide range of categories between) — someone said it.

    Paranormalists can and do sneer at the close-mindedness of cryptozoologists who reject eyewitness testimony on the grounds that shape-shifting telepathic sasquatches are implausible…

  67. DWA responds:

    Daniel: Well, let’s review the skeptical case.

    1. No body. (We don’t know that.)

    2. No one’s hit one with a car. (We don’t know that.)

    3. No one’s shot one. (If reports can be believed: wrong several times over.)

    4. Hardly anyone sees them. (Many do; and no reasonable person could toss, out of hand, even a twentieth of the ones I’ve read. The random liars whose stuff never even gets before the public? Of course they don’t count; and how would you count them? The animal exists, or not, them or no.)

    5. Of all the evidence how much of it was hoaxed? One percent? Not even. Proving the trackways alone to be hoaxed would be to reveal the greatest hoax of all time, virtually inconceivable to pull off. A man in an ape suit, once again, could not be considered a reasonable explanation of most of the reports I’ve read. RSR; and you will know how very, very, very strong that evidence is. Again: you’re not educated on the evidence if you haven’t. To focus only on stuff you can hold in your hands is to commit the Fourth-Grade Science Fair Error.

    It comes down to, far as I can see: GIT.

    A case has to rest on solid debunking of keystone evidence, such that the remainder is exposed as shaky to extremely unlikely. There is precious little such debunking. Actually, there is none. (And all of it that’s been done has been done by proponents! Which makes sense. They know.) All the crown jewels of sasquatch evidence remain intact, most of them after decades. Every proven hoax has been, putting it mildly, a joke that doesn’t cast a shadow on the toenails of the remainder. Skeptics have had 40 years with the Patterson film alone; and online polls (the latest one taken on AOL yesterday) show a majority of respondents to think the animal is, or might be, real. I frequently hear skeptics discount those – and then use public opinion as part of the “case” against the sasquatch. The polls simply show the poverty of the skeptical argument, and the persistence of the mounting evidence.

    Then there’s all that, yes, evidence, waiting to be explained.

    And that last sentence is a red herring. (Particularly when skeptics know full well how effectively silly stuff like that plays with the public.) We simply can’t prove the paranormal (the nice way of putting it); so why try? The sasquatch simply is in another league, period.

    I’m saying this. And I’m a SKEPTIC.

    So I guess you could say mine is the true skeptical argument. ;-)

  68. Daniel Loxton responds:

    DWA writes,

    Well, let’s review the skeptical case.

    Anyone interested in my full review of the case for and against Bigfoot is encouraged to read my extensive two-part article in Skeptic (Vol. 11, #2 and 3).

    In brief, the main problem with Bigfoot, in my view, is historical: the concept of Bigfoot can be seen to rest on shaky historical foundations, and to have evolved mostly under the influence of cases likely to have been hoaxes. The paranormal sasquatch came first: a heterogeneous mix of talking, metaphysical, human-looking, stone-covered, or otherwise un-Bigfoot-like creatures representing the universal human tendency to imagine ogres and wild-men.

    We can actually watch this mixed tradition evolve into Bigfoot through the historical record. Unfortunately, the star cases which drove this evolution (and which created the culture of expectant attention in which the great mass of sighting reports are embedded, and which got many of us interested in this idea in the first place) are problematic overall. Many influential cases are totally unsubstantiated (Roe, Ostman) while a very strong possibility of hoaxing haunts the remainder (Patterson, Bluff Creek, Cripplefoot, Blue Mountain, Jacko, and so on).

    Against that historical shakiness and the compromised star cases, we have the great mass of sighting reports. Most of these are simply unverifiable assertions. We know for a fact that some sightings are misinterpretation errors, and we know for a fact that some are hoaxes. No one knows if any cases remain once these known factors are ruled out — we can only hope. And, the eyewitness database is therefore useless, in practical terms, as evidence: we have no idea which bell-curves or other patterns may capture information about sasquatch, and which are artifacts of wildlife sightings or intentional mischief.

    1. No body. (We don’t know that.)

    No, we don’t know that in any ultimate sense — ain’t none of us omniscient. (Who knows — perhaps Ray Wallace was telling the truth when he said a boatload of sasquatch carcasses on ice were sold off in Hong Kong? But I doubt it.)

    All we do know is that no information ever offered has ever led to a body. (That’s not for lack of false starts. Several outrageous wild-goose chases has ensued as a result of fraudulent claims of either a live-captured sasquatch or carcass.)

    This might not be a problem, except for all those sighting reports. People apparently see Bigfoot fairly routinely across a tremendous range, so the eyewitness evidence suggests they’re neither that uncommon nor that elusive. People frequently report seeing Bigfoot over a rifle sight or the hood of their car. If we can see them, we can shoot them; if they dodge across highways, some will be hit by cars; if they live, they will leave carcasses. (Numbers game again. Being smart isn’t bulletproof armor. Even humans get shot by hunters and hit by cars.)

    2. No one’s hit one with a car. (We don’t know that.)

    No, but there’s no evidence whatever that this has ever happened. Unfortunately, it is a prediction of the “real animal” hypothesis such mechanisms as automotive collisions should lead the to availability of a carcass. The only response I’ve ever heard that does better than outright special pleading is the notion that the animals are so exceedingly rare that their luck may still hold out for many more years. Unfortunately, this badly undermines the eyewitness database. Either they’re too rare to hit by cars, or they’re so common that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses have encountered them .

    3. No one’s shot one. (If reports can be believed: wrong several times over.)

    But reports can not simply be believed, not without corroborating evidence. “Physical evidence is available” (carcass, DNA-ladened blood spatter) is definitely a prediction of the “shot several times” hypothesis, but so far nothing has come of that.

    We simply can’t prove the paranormal (the nice way of putting it); so why try? The sasquatch simply is in another league, period.

    Paranormal claims can be easily verified, even if the mechanisms are beyond us. Controlled demonstrations of telepathic communication, shape-shifting, or what-have-you with sasquatches in the lab would do the trick. The problem isn’t that paranormal sasquatches are unverifiable, but that they have less prior plausibility — which is why you reject them. Non-paranormal animal sasquatches, in turn, have less prior plausibility than hoaxes and misinterpretations, for the simple reason that some sasquatch cases have proven to be hoaxes and misinterpretations, while no sasquatch cases have thus far proven to involve actual sasquatches.

    That said, evidence is the final arbiter of scientific questions, such as “sasquatches exist” or “sasquatches levitate.” So, we keep looking at those claims, despite the prior plausibility.

  69. DWA responds:

    Daniel: there may be much agree-to-disagree here, but some things do bear comment.

    1. “In brief, the main problem with Bigfoot, in my view, is historical: the concept of Bigfoot can be seen to rest on shaky historical foundations, and to have evolved mostly under the influence of cases likely to have been hoaxes. The paranormal sasquatch came first:…”

    Well, yeah. And so did the gorilla who was said by natives of its territory to kill women by squeezing them. That fell by the wayside as people got to know the real animal. The “historical…concept” is common in the bestiary; classical and medieval texts have all kinds of hair-raisingly wrong presumptions about animals that were known to exist. Why would the sasquatch be different?

    2. “Many influential cases are totally unsubstantiated (Roe, Ostman) while a very strong possibility of hoaxing haunts the remainder (Patterson, Bluff Creek, Cripplefoot, Blue Mountain, Jacko, and so on).”

    Well, no. ALL cases are totally unsubstantiated, if that means that scientists never followed up to derive substance. That’s been the problem; not history, but scientific followup, which is driven by $$$$, which scientists are notably timid about spending speculatively. Which is, OK, not that hard to understand. As for the “strong possibility of hoaxing,” it’s been pretty much determined – 40 years and not a whisker of, well, substantiation – that P/G is almost inconceivable as a hoax, and that Cripplefoot is just too implausible as one. As to the acutal, debunked hoaxes: they are as little grains of sand on a beach of evidence. It’s just too easy to focus on them, and ignore the real animal that folks are obviously seeing. (And of course I ignore what you see on Youtube. That is to the sasquatch as Dumbo is to the real African elephant.)

    3. “we have the great mass of sighting reports. Most of these are simply unverifiable assertions. … And, the eyewitness database is therefore useless, in practical terms,…”

    Well, no. Sighting reports set up an eminently testable proposition: an animal corresponding to the one described in these reports can be found here. It’s just that, other than a few ill-equipped (usually) and totally strapped for time (invariably) amateurs, no one is testing. And what is right there, waiting for scientists to use for the test? The eyewitness database. I can say, with impunity, that I know more about the sas than any scientist who does not believe that the evidence is worth following up. Period. That’s not a presumption; that’s a fact, because every scientist who knows close to what I do is a proponent of further study. (Unless, of course, the scientist doesn’t think it’s worthwhile because he knows the sas exists, but doesn’t care.)

    4. “Either they’re too rare to hit by cars, or they’re so common that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses have encountered them.”

    You forgot the third possibility: the latter, but there are no collisions that have been made public. (And again, there are reports of them in the database. At least one I read was likely fatal.)

    5. “But reports can not simply be believed, not without corroborating evidence.”

    Which scientists just need to go out there and get. Because the data is there to search. Me, I’d prefer it to mouse lemurs. (The sas would probably be easier to find.) You can’t “believe,” i.e., get confirmation, until you look. That’s how the gorilla the okapi the giant panda the orangutan etc. finally got found. There are tens of thousands of species known to exist about which less is known than we know of the sasquatch. All the dinosaurs, for example. We just need to do what preceding generations were pretty good at, and accept knowledge AS knowledge.

    6. “Non-paranormal animal sasquatches, in turn, have less prior plausibility than hoaxes and misinterpretations, …”

    I definitely think the animal has MORE prior plausibility than the actual case that someone who doubts their existence of necessity must be making: that everything out there – all the data – can be chalked up to lie hoax and misinterpretation.

    All of it bad data? No way that happens. Because never in the history of our species has anything like it happened.

    Off for two weeks to New England, starting tomorrow. First week: a solo backpacking trip in Coos County, NH (one report in the BFRO database). I’m walking aware.

  70. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Daniel:

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing. You will just waste your time and annoy the pig.”

  71. DWA responds:

    “And never try to teach a scoftic to read either.”



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