Anatomy of a Hoaxer

Posted by: The Discerning Man's Squatch on December 24th, 2013

Anatomy of a Hoaxer and Why they are Fascinated with Us.

Why do some people try to pull the wool over other’s eyes? I think there are many reasons and to name a few, there is to push an agenda, to gain notoriety and to make a buck. Some of course are just for fun as well, so not all hoaxers come from the same mold, but those who deliberately misinform to gain a profit of some kind, we should try and peer inside their heads.

While I have been interested in Cryptozology ever since I was very young, the hoaxer is only a fairly recent phenomenon for me. I certainly was aware of their existence, but I mainly thought of it as innocent fun and a buyer beware sort of thing. I knew money could be made off of a good hoax and we have PT Barnum from Barnum and Bailey to thank for the famous quote “A sucker is born every minute” to know that if you make an outrageous claim, there will be many who will line up to buy what you are selling without so much as a second glance. In that respect you only have yourself to blame if you have fallen for such foolery.

As far as Bigfoot is concerned, hoaxers could be behind the brunt of the evidence pile. I am not making that assertion at this time, but I will contend that Barnum’s suckers have given many with a mind to, a fertile field in which to sow their seeds.

So what hides in the mind of one who would take advantage of a gullible soul? Some I think pull hoaxes as reenactments of something they feel they have experienced, but were not fortunate enough to capture anything proof wise that would substantiate their claims. They were unprepared for their once in a lifetime chance, so go about re-creating proof to back their story. These are not necessarily bad people, but they are not doing us any favors. One of my favorite videos could be one such act. The Freeman films, which I love, could possibly be Paul reenacting something he believed in, but wasn’t fortunate enough to capture on film. On this one I hope I am wrong, because it is one of my all-time favorite videos.

Another type of hoaxer has no love for Bigfoot other than the dollar signs he imagines will line his wallet. He is all about using ignorance to gain his notoriety and money. Of those, there are lazy ones and ones that go to extremes. The best videos and photos we have ever seen are one of two things. They are either a well-made hoax or the real deal. So mostly we know the names of those who are either very lucky or very creative in an unscrupulous way.

I want to talk about two pieces of evidence and describe the difference between the men behind them. The first is the Patterson/Gimlin film and the second is the Tent video by Rick Dyer. One by the way I have no doubt whatsoever is a hoax and the other I consider to be the pinnacle of Sasquatch videos, hoax or not.

With PG film, the vidographers have the benefit of time and the lack of technology back then, to bolster their claim. While it is not up to the audience to prove a hoax was committed for it to be so, with PG the attempt to debunk it has gone on for nearly 50 years. I will even go so far as to say, with time and technology, there has only been a further push to its authenticity. This was not just a lucky, chance encounter which I had believed for a long time, but a two plus week excursion in the California Mountains where at the end they hit gold or at least something just as valuable. So hoax or not, what Patterson and Gimlin did was put forth the idea that a good hoax can make you almost as much money as the real deal.

Rick Dyer’s tent video and claims on the other hand fall flat on the source all by itself. You would seemingly think a hoaxer would not get a pass on a second, third, fourth or even fifth attempt at a failed Bigfoot ploy, but then you would be wrong. Why? Because what Barnum said is very true. It really comes down to two things. A person wanting something so badly that they suspend rational and critical thinking and second, as preposterous as the claims may be, they are made unflinchingly by the person making them.

So as a believer in Dyer, you cannot doubt that you have something invested in his claims that comprise the majority of your proof, because honestly, everything points to this being just another hoax and I mean everything, yet he still has holdouts.
So why can those who believe, take the scant little, and ignore the rest and form a belief that should be just the opposite? Because they need it to be true. If you at this point believe Rick at all, you either have not been paying attention or you have so much invested in his story that you will never see it any other way.

In some ways we can learn a great deal about ourselves when we watch this particular hoax in action. It tells us that there are people that go through life based on faith alone and no critical thinking that if used only in small amounts would steer you clear of this. I agree that some things in life we (the layman)do take on faith, but Bigfoot evidence should not be one of them. We know the hoaxer is alive and well and it is his job to fool you no matter how outlandish his tale.

Hoaxers I am afraid are not a rarity and pop up you could almost say with some certainty if not weekly, monthly. You can say “bad on them” for doing this, but I think a great deal of the blame lies on our shoulders as many in our hobby have such a high willingness to believe, that they call a duck a duck before seeing if it walks or quacks like one. The hoaxer knows we can become enamored with shadows and tufts of blurry fur in the distance, so not only do we encourage them to hoax, but make it easy for them. There aren’t many other hobbies that allow such shoddy evidence to influence their core beliefs on a subject.

If I was president of this club (sarcasm) I would change the laws that govern our proof meters and once and for all state that if it is a blobsquatch, you might as well call it a shadow of something known and not…. a possible unknown. It’s fun to speculate, but it should never hold any weight lest we give hoaxers the very ammunition they use against us in their pranks.

I know I will never be able to convince all of you, but if we were to begin a trend of higher standards, we could find ourselves with a much more fulfilling interest and begin to discourage some of the would be hoaxers. There is a reason why wildlife magazines do not employ photographers who snap blurry pictures of any other animal and that is because that publication would quickly loose tenability and as a result, subscribers. In some way, that is why we are a minority, because we have some pretty crappy photographers, but still keep them on the payroll so to speak. I say that our hoax to evidence ratio is a direct result of our willingness to pay them any attention with crap that wouldn’t see the light of day in any other medium.

This article does reflect some of my frustrations as of late, but should not be misconstrued as I am giving up on this subject, because I truly do love it and I am fond of many, many in the community. This page was originally given birth by the very same thought process and I only want to help give us all something tangible to sink our teeth into and not something that others will scoff at. If Bigfoot exists, we should not fear better evidence, nor should we tolerate those who sully it at our expense.

You all have heard of the game three card Monty. You should know you have no chance of winning at that game, at least in the long run because you are being cheated by sleight of hand and not because you are a poor gambler. So why do we even walk up to the table when we know we can never win when it comes to evidence of the blurry and shadowy kind? Let’s not play a game that we can never win and call a spade a spade or a shadow just that, and no longer give a hoaxer a fertile field in which to ply his wares. Scrutiny is “OUR” prerogative and if it is not utilized we only invite more obscurity and those who use it against us.

So do you as a Bigfoot fan think we should continue to debate the blurry and shadowy? Do you agree that by having our standards low we invite more hoaxing or do you think it is just being open minded to debate it all? My point is, if you can’t tell if what you are looking at is a rock, a log, a bird or a Bigfoot, then really all that evidence is good for is knowing where to put your camera next time so that you can show us something more conclusive. It is ok to sit on your evidence if you are out in the field until you get something that adds up to something we can really discuss intelligently. I crave that new standard for all of us and believe me, while it will slow down a little bit in our blogosphere, there will still be evidence we can all get behind.

Ready, set… Bigfoot!

The Discerning Man's Squatch About The Discerning Man's Squatch
Gordon Ambrose from Golden, Colorado is an enthusiast of things that go bump in the night. The strange, the unexplained and the manufactured imaginings of the human species. Believing that the human monster can be the scariest of them all, Gordon likes to tackle these questions with a philosophical slant that digs deep into the human psyche. “There are reasons we tell tales of the creepy kind Gordon believes, and they come from not only the darkness under our beds, but in the recesses of our minds, especially when the sun goes down and we are left with only our unprotected, naked selves.” Specifically for Gordon, Bigfoot is a fascinating and profound subject, and has the distinct possibility of being one of many real boogeymen that we have been warned about in myth and legend. “That is why it has captured almost everyone’s imagination, he says, both believer and skeptic.” Gordon considers himself a skeptic, but warns that does not mean he doubts anything for doubts sake. Both sides have blinders on Gordon thinks, as skeptics can use the same faulty logic to come to conclusions as those who see our planet teeming with Bigfoots, UFOs, Sea Monsters and Ghosts. Critical thinking is our friend and the best tool in our tool box and always our justly prerogative. One question Gordon gets asked a lot is, “Do you think Bigfoot exists”? His answer is not a straight forward one, because he, like most of us, has not had a personal encounter. He believes it is a possibility and even a likely one though. “Unfortunately we sometimes share this hobby, with those who use very little critical thinking and I am not a fan of that, he says. We have made leaps and bounds since the Dark Ages and I for one don’t feel the need to go back there in my search for an answer. The truth is out there and it resides in the real world. The place I like to hang my hat”. Gordon has a Facebook fan page named “The Discerning Man’s Squatch” where he first began to ponder and speculate not only the existence of Sasquatch, but what it means to us and how it relates, to our understanding of ourselves. “These are the questions that many don’t ask and I feel compelled to ask them” he says. Majoring in both History and Philosophy, he has a unique perspective that those subjects have brought to him and likes to remind himself of the phrases “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it” and” I think therefore I am”. “We do have an inherent need for a boogeyman” he states. The need arises from our persistence to survive and keeps us from being careless when there are real dangers out there. Colorful stories keep those things close to our breast and help us to remind future generations to look before you leap, because there are real things out there with sharp teeth.” “That being said, he reminds us, that does not mean the colorful stories do not represent the real deal on occasions and in the case of Bigfoot, the deal has gotten a little more real for me, by doing some deep exploring into the topic.” “I am lucky to live in the mountains of Colorado. An area where I can look out my window and see miles of thick trees that cover the hills. There have been sightings not far from my home and I absolutely love that! There is almost nothing more exciting to me, to think that the big guy with big feet could be lurking in my very own backyard. However it also has the secondary consequence of making me a little more jittery when I go camping solo with just my dog.”

5 Responses to “Anatomy of a Hoaxer”

  1. DWA responds:

    Thoughtful. I’m just hoping that all who read it think about it the right way.

    Hoaxers don’t indeed seem rare; one only needs to come here, and go to YouTube if one isn’t yet convinced. My problem is with the mindset that that’s what all, or even most, of this evidence is. We seem to have accepted as a society – proponent and skeptic alike – that this thing is just so unlikely that “most of it must be fake.” There is nothing particularly unlikely about it; the more fossils we find and the more we learn the more plausible it becomes; and incredulity at something like this going unconfirmed – which does not mean “undetected” or “unseen” – into the second decade of the 21st century needs to be leavened by considering the unlikelihood of thousands of random people pulling biologically-correct pranks, jokes, lies and hallucinations.

    Nothing like this has happened in human history. The smart way to bet is that it ain’t happening now. The real animal is simply the smart bet.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    First off, I’ve been known to pull. my share of pranks from time to time…just ask my cousin about a fake beer of the month club he got one Christmas. I think people hoax this stuff for all kinds of motivations, but I think some of it IS because there is a faction within the crypto community that does indeed just “buy” in every time a blobsquatch shows up.

    The hoaxers have a ready and willing audience. 😉 I also think hoaxers come from a high school to 20’s-30’s age range primarily. It’s a creative outlet in a way, and as someone who’s sat around a fire with friends and a couple of beers…it doesn’t take long to hatch “good ideas” for pure entertainment.

    Personally, I’ve realized that with my long history of pranking friends and family that if I ever do get some kind of footage of a cryptid I’ll be immediately cast as a hoaxer regardless. Eh, goes with the territory, and it won’t stop me looking or trying.

    To answer the second topic raised…I think cryptomundo is doing exactly that: trying to create critical thinkers who don’t just accept a shadowy silhouette as a proof positive of the big guy or my favorite swimming cryptid. Most of the posters on this site are actually weighing data and talking through the pros and con’s of “evidence.”. So thanks to Craig, and the rest of the Crypto-crew for encouraging us to look hard and question everything.

    We here at Cryptomundo are not content with blobsquatches and rogue waves. We want the hard evidence.

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    Also good points, DWA. I think part of the problem is the “gospels” certain people use to try to prove a point. For example, the fossil record. ‘Well there’s nothing in the fossil record to support the idea of a cryptid.’ What is left out is how incomplete the fossil record actually is.

    Or assumptions about space, food availability, and so on.

    However, I do like the sentiments that everyone needs to be looking with a critical eye. By the same token, just because it ends up on youtube does not automatically negate it. And I think that’s the point–looking at photos, videos, descriptions and accounts with common sense and critical thinking to weed out the hoaxers from legitimate encounters.

    If the Bigfoot community could actually put the politics aside and work together (hah!), we’d get a lot further, but everyone’s so concerned with crap like who did the first knocking and arguing about what species BF is before we even have the DNA to back it up, that it’s prime for hoaxers. If I wasn’t interested in BF and looking for answers, I’d be tempted to hoax the BF community just to mess with them. Just saying.

  4. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    You’re right about one thing- no matter how ridiculous the claim, no matter how impossible the story, there is always someone who posts they’re “on the fence about this one.” They question the validity of biology, ecology, psychology, even physics and the beautiful infallibility of mathematics, but take any anonymous report on the internet as gospel. Confounding behavior to a man of science and logic.

  5. DWA responds:

    SHJ: Whoops, buddy you picked the wrong avocation lol! Better let other people handle this. You could have an authentic sasquatch in your living room. “C’mon, Uncle Springheel, this is your friend Joe, isn’t it?” [pulls on facial hair] [ no more living room]

    But “gospel” for sure ain’t just church. The more science has gotten about funding, in fact, the more it’s gotten about gospel. The canon of knowledge is looked upon the same way the Vatican looks on the Bible. Instead of scrambling at every opportunity to broaden it, scientists leap to protect it from expansion (except along the very narrow veins they are working, dictated by what’s proven and paint within the lines, please). There is, unfortunately, something naturally human about this. We don’t like to see our worlds shaken; and for scientists, that means they don’t want things they’ve been saying for decades to be proven wrong on them. The only thing that would have to happen to thoroughly blow this up – and for the better – would be for each scientist to start adopting, for anything he doesn’t actually know, the phrase that is the unerring mark of the true expert: ‘we don’t know’.

    PoeticsOfBigfoot: No argument that the fringes of this discussion, proponent and ‘skeptic’ alike, prevent most people from even detecting the real evidence, and getting read up to address the topic intelligently.

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