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’?

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


71 Responses to “Why No Sasquatch Sightings?”

  1. 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! 😀 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 😉

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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”.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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…

  17. 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. 😉

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Daniel:

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

  21. DWA responds:

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




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