Bigfoot Encounters… to rate or classify?

Posted by: Rick Noll on January 17th, 2006

Giving an observation/find a letter designation like A, B, or C implies to me its importance or validity. Both are subjective interpretations of an event and probably do more harm then good. Some may even wear these letters as Boy Scout like merit badges. How many Class A Bigfoot encounters have you had?

What exactly is a Class A Bigfoot encounter anyway? It seems to shift in meaning to suit a purpose other than science. Can one really claim to have seen clearly enough that an unknown, upright, hairy man-like creature walking between trees in the blackness of night wasn’t just something more common, like your partner? Do we miss out when an encounter, a sighting have you, is classified as an “A”? Does the fact that tracks were also found along with the sighting get lost in the narrative? Yes it probably does… that is important because if you were trying to quantify all track finds it would get missed… “A” reports would not get counted for “B” encounters. Is the Patterson/Gimlin encounter just a sighting, a class “A”? What would you call it**?

I know that there are a few Bigfoot research groups who have attempted to rate the information coming into their possession but for what purpose still eludes me other than to help in simple, inaccurate data queries. So…I would like to propose that all amateur research organizations and those individuals not associated with an organization, looking into the Bigfoot phenomena adopt something similar to the following for classifying Bigfoot encounters:

S – Single sighting or observation, one Bigfoot seen
SM – Observation of multiple Bigfoot
H – Hair
T – Single Bigfoot track
TM – Multiple Bigfoot tracks, but not from the same individual
TT – Multiple Bigfoot tracks of the same individual, a track way
P – Photograph, Manned or UnManned, Still or MoTion, Film or Dgital
A – Audio recording of a Bigfoot
O – Detected odor
V – Vegetation disturbance, such as browsing, tree twists, etc.
N – Nest or beds
F – Fecal matter
L – Lore, indigenous oral traditions, historical references

1 – Single observer, no collected evidence*
2 – Single observer, collected evidence
3 – Multiple observers, no collected evidence
4 – Multiple observers, collected evidence

As an example if a group, say XBO, has three of its members find three different sets of Bigfoot tracks, photographs them and casts them on 1-12-06 in Bend Oregon, you could designate the observation as TM4-XBO-1-12-2006-Bend-Or. This would be better than trying to describe the event with the sentence above. All multiple track finds could be searched with the later designation.

Science cannot attack such a proposal but to give arbitrary ratings to such is just inviting them to try and destroy the information bit by bit, calling into question the very foundation of the attempt. Having a strong foundation, one that could eventually be used in a relatable database and uses only scientifically acceptable observation techniques, methods and conclusions is a big step in the right direction. Science is about identification and description. Its ultimate purpose is to provide a definitive description of something that will aide others in positive identification of like phenomena.

The power needed to adopt something like this and make it universal resides in each of us. Collectively, the standard could become universal.

When John Green began collecting his information there wasn’t anyone there to mentor him in what to collect or what not to collect, how to organize it for recall or analysis. More recent attempts in gathering Bigfoot data have identified this problem and tried to correct it… but there isn’t one system for all yet… producing confusion even amongst the researchers on well known events.

It might be nice to have a steering committee (meeting on line or in person at predetermined times) to normalize or add to these types of terms. They could even go on to other topics of concern. I guess I believe that the main purpose of an organization is to organize a group of like-minded individuals, geographically. Getting along with other groups is a must. The Bigfoot research group’s purpose should be spelled out as an attainable goal, leaving competition behind, for when this animal is finally recognized by science, science will look to them for information… not folklore (just look at how the gorilla discovery was treated and the over dramatized depictions of the animals had to be weeded out by scientists later on).

Someone will finally be the one who makes that all important discovery of the animal, bringing out irrefutable evidence of the beast. Most likely this will happen by chance or accident. So why not be ahead of the game and concentrate on what is needed after that discovery? 

*By collected evidence I mean it could be a sound file, track cast, picture of the animal, hair sample, fecal matter, etc… all of which could also figure in the classification designation.

**S4-TT4-PMTF4-O4-10-20-1967 Bluff Creek-CA maybe?

Rick Noll About Rick Noll
Rick Noll has been actively searching for the Sasquatch since 1969 and continues his pursuit with extended field trips into the Pacific Northwest's most remote regions. Rick has worked with Peter Byrne, René Dahinden, Grover Krantz, John Green, Jeff Meldrum and the BFRO during all this. He helped with many documentaries on the subject including Animal X: The Skookum Expedition and Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.

2 Responses to “Bigfoot Encounters… to rate or classify?”

  1. squatchworks responds:

    I like the idea of uniform reporting, data logging and evidence collecting but each group thinks they have the best way of doing so, that is the problem with groups, each has their own egos to deal with. Now on the other hand if a group like NAAP were to adopt this method being it is headed up by Prof Meldrum and its members are serious researchers with hours of field time, others might be more willing to follow suit. sm3-naap-5-96-wallawalla-wa

  2. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    Standardisation of a reporting format and terminology would be excellent.

    As noted the standards each group have tend to adjust themselves over time. What was once a clear easy to see and describe class A seems to blend into an A- or B+.

    I think there is going to be an ego problem if groups try to implement a system. I can almost bet you MM and the BFRO would go ape if he thought for a minute something he could copyright was going to be used without him getting a piece of the action.

    It isn’t just him i am sure as big as the egos seem to be in this field this wont ever happen.

    It is sad if this were to turn out to be the case. This field is big enough and growing fast enough that we should start national data bases and reporting formats.

    So many private investigators have books of reports. These contain gems of info that will most likely die with those people.

    If we did have a national database of reports that was instantly accessible to others it would be a huge tool to fill knowledge gaps and stop the certain duplication of research.

    This would also be a great way to disseminate information and start a peer review that is so lacking in our area of interest.

    To do this we have to get past egos and the secret squirrel crap that goes on. Too many people think the info they have generated would be wasted if some one else finds out.

    We also have to get past some the territorial crap that goes on when one group feels another is infringing on a research area. There have been stories about certain large groups trying to intimidate other people or groups into not going into areas they think are their private research preserve.

    We also have to get past certain Pacific north west based groups talking down about and to groups from other parts of the country.

    Once all these hurdles are cleared we can then start bringing people together to discuss the implementation of a standardised reporting format and database of sighting reports and research reports.

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