Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on November 6th, 2006

The Trades, a website that apparently reviews all forms of media, has posted a review of Jeff Meldrum’s book. And with all this talk about Jeff Meldrum, I thought it was a good time to post it. The review claims that Meldrum exhibits his bias towards the existence of Bigfoot. Well yeah, that is his contention, that there is evidence that points to this.

Sasquatch Legend Meets Science

Click on the cover image above and buy the book at Amazon.com at a highly discounted price. Retail on the book is $27.95, but Amazon.com is selling the book for only $18.45.

There are few who haven’t heard the stories: tales of an unknown species — perhaps even something intelligent — that lurks out of sight of human eyes. Southern Illinoisans called it Momo. Arkansans called it the monster of Boggy Creek. But most know it by the size of its tracks: Bigfoot.

The thought that there’s an undiscovered species — especially something so big — is a fantastic one. It’s easy to be skeptical, particularly when one considers the pervasiveness of human population from coast to coast. One would think we would have had something more concrete by now, if not, indeed, a creature in captivity.

According to the liner notes, "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science offers you the first chance to examine all the evidence — historical, cultural, anecdotal, and physical — alongside a serious scientist. Rejecting reflexive debunking and credulous belief alike, Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, is willing to stake his reputation on an objective look at the facts in a controversial field mined with hoaxes and sensationalism."

When writing a book about a large primate, an author could do a lot worse than getting a supportive cover blurb from primate specialist, Dr. Jane Goodall. And you will, indeed, find a plethora of information in Meldrum’s book. However, while declaring itself to be an evenhanded, scientific study of the evidence, Meldrum clearly exhibits his bias towards the existence of Bigfoot, lauding the scientists who interpret the evidence toward his conclusion, while almost sneering derisively at those who declare it a hoax. This is most clearly exhibited in his follow-up reactions to quotes from scientists on their reaction to the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film — the only time a somewhat clear image of an alleged sasquatch was caught on camera.

To begin with, Meldrum takes the readers on a bigfoot hunting expedition of his own, near Walla Walla, Washington, and provides photographic evidence of the tracks made near his encampment. That the author so quickly lets the reader in on the fact that he himself has had some sort of encounter makes it clear from the beginning — the laying out of all the facts to follow, are being laid out by a believer, and thus can only come to the inevitable conclusion.

To be fair, Meldrum does educate the uninitiated on the history of cryptozoology, showing some ancient drawings of creatures believed to be fantastic and mythological to the people of the day, but which we now find commonplace at any zoo; the giraffe, the camel, and the crocodile represent just a few of such creatures. And, again to be fair, science is still discovering new species of animals at an astounding rate, including new species of primates. Meldrum even acknowledges that the hunt for a bigfoot has been riddled with hoaxers and hucksters.

Sort of.

Take Ray Wallace, for instance. Ray’s the fellow who was at the center of the craze that took Bigfoot from being an old tribal legend into being a pop-culture paranormal phenomenon, when workers at his construction company began to see monstrously large footprints around their worksite. The reports set off a media storm and lit the fires of imaginations across the country. But today, Ray’s family claims that Ray had actually pulled off a stunt, not uncommon for the practical joker, and that the prints were man-made with carved wooden feet. However, this admission doesn’t quite fly with Meldrum:

It is ironic that Wallace probably had only one succesful hoax. He posthumously hoaxed virtually the entire media into believing that he was solely responsible for Bigfoot. He wasn’t successful at hoaxing Bigfoot researchers and thus left his family with a lot of worthless artifacts — silly films, hokey casts, and some crude wooden feet. Perhaps the only way his family could get some value from the stuff was by attaching a big story to it. But, if that was the aim, it could only have been realized if the media could be convinced of it, without checking too closely into the basic facts and evidence. Allowing experts to closely examine and document the carved feet or the alleged method of planting the tracks would potentially compromise the story and the story provides the armchair skeptic with a simplistic explanation for a complex and vexing phenomenon. How is it that the word of a well-known spinner of yarns, if not outright liar, is accepted as gospel, and the accounts of hundreds of credible eyewitnesses who have seen such a primate are dismissed, even when their testimonies are corroborated by footprints, hair, and scat? When it comes to the media’s gullibility, it seems that Wallace had the last laugh.

A good portion of the book looks at the aforementioned Patterson-Gimlin film, perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence for the existence of a sasquatch — at least, for some. More recently, this has also been claimed to have been a hoax by a man who says he was the one inside the ape costume. Whether this is true or not, the amateur film is subjected to some pretty interesting dissection by Meldrum, including photos of the site with humans standing in the same location to provide a size comparison of the original subject.

If you’re a believer in the existence of sasquatch, this book will become your new Bible. If you’re convinced the big guy only exists in the minds of kooks, you’ll probably get worked into a lather over the author’s bias toward the subject. And if you’re looking for a crash course in anthropology, you’d do well to study the chapters enclosed. If you’re a lay person, however, with a passing interest, you’ll find much of the work dry and academic, and perhaps spend most of your time looking at the more interesting pictures and reading the eyewitness accounts, while skipping the sections about how metatarsals are jointed and how hominids move and how big they can be and the precise way of measuring a thorax.

Meldrum doesn’t like the attitude espoused by some that they’ll believe in Bigfoot when they can be shown a Bigfoot. Unfortunately, however, that’s what it’s going to take for just about everybody. But there are a lot of people out in the woods, banging on rocks, whistling, and laying out bait. If something’s out there… it will be found. But if it’s not, you can rest assured the legend will still live on. Until then, all the evidence — historical, cultural, anecdotal, and physical — can all be lumped into a single category.

Circumstantial.

And another thing, how do you "almost sneer derisively?"

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


9 Responses to “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science”

  1. Ole Bub responds:

    Much Obliged Craig…

    All the more reason to buy Jeff’s book…and see for one’s self….JMHO

    seeing is believing…No Bucks…No bigfoot…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  2. mystery_man responds:

    Sounds a bit like this reviewer is a little biased as well, biased against the existence of Bigfoot. I don’t see how Dr. Meldrum’s own encounter makes him “a believer”. This just seems to have such a negative connotation, like he fabricated it or something. I rather see it as someone who has observed an unknown animal in the field and has committed himself to researching and finding out just what in the world it was he saw. I haven’t read the book yet, so at the risk of making uninformed comments, I’ll defer, but everything I’ve heard about Dr. Meldrum leads me to believe he is doing legitimate research.

  3. Sergio responds:

    Grrr. Here we go again.

    This reviewer was more than just a little biased. He admitted as much when he mentioned that “if you’re convinced the big guy only exists in the minds of kooks, you’ll probably get worked into a lather over the author’s bias toward the subject.” Isn’t that what 80% of the guy’s review was about?

    The reviewer made sure to mention that Meldrum’s analysis of the subject is skewed because of the experience that Meldrum had early on. So Meldrum and others are not supposed to consider any evidence that supports the existence of an unknown species? Shouldn’t such experiences play a part in the overall experiment to determine its existence? Or, are Meldrum and others merely to discard all affirmative experiences for non-affirming ones?

    Why is it such a pervasive attitude among skeptics that once someone claims to have seen a bigfoot or something related to it that all their work and everything they say from that point on is to be pushed aside as not objective or just outright dismissed?

    It’s as if they suddenly crossed over to the “dark side.”

    God, am I so sick of people like this reviewer; people like Hackworth at ISU; people like Ben Radford; people like David Daegling; people who have been self-appointed with all the secrets and knowledge of the universe.

    It sounds as if we should all begin praying to these people. They are the saviors who will save us from our own ignorance.

  4. khat responds:

    I lived in Pocatello ID for awhile, attended ISU and know first hand that Meldrum is up against a brick wall. People are not going to believe until they PERSONALLY see, touch or smell a living bigfoot. When I lived there, the people in that town/state are very closed minded. I was studying ancient writing/Runic symbols that they have there, and was very dismayed to find that the local sheriff refused to keep vandals from spray painting and defacing them. The whole attitude about any subject they don’t believe in or understand, was to make fun and belittle honest research so as to drive out the so called “thorn” in their sides.

  5. elsanto responds:

    Well, it won’t make me popular, but all told, I’d say it’s a pretty fair review.

    We read “bias” as having a negative connotation — but that is a relatively recent association. I respect Dr. Meldrum and his work, but he does have, as I myself do, a bias from which he writes. Note that the reviewer never questions, or implies question of, Dr. Meldrum’s methods or integrity.

    Not having yet read the book, I cannot speak to the comment about Dr. Meldrum lauding researchers whose findings support his bias (used in the original sense of the word), nor can I speak to its converse about Dr. Meldrum sneering derisively at those who declare it to be a hoax.

    The reviewer has also done a good job of considering the various audiences that might encounter this book and has also correctly anticipated their responses to it.

    The reviewer’s sole mistake is in the desire to be glib and clever at the end. Those last two sentences actually sabotage his/her objectivity, which is unfortunate. Of course, logically (somehow this has been the mot du jour), physical evidence cannot be circumstantial (in the cases we’re referring to, anyway), so the whole thing falls apart there. And that’s unfortunate. And yes, I know many will respond saying that it is those two final lines that will have great impact on the reader, but an intelligent reader will be able to read between the lines. Plus, the reviewer him/her-self does not suggest that the evidence ITSELF is circumstantial, but that it CAN be lumped into that category — as many skeptics and naysayers most certainly will do. He/she JUST saves his/her case.

    Just my two cents.

  6. a_welch90 responds:

    Man, It must be the rage about now to bash Jeff Meldrum. I’ve read the book, and I think that it’s excellent. It’s not just a bunch of purposeless writing going on and on about Sasquatch existing. It’s full of scientific analysis to actually back up what so many people have seen. Jeff Meldrum is really taking a beating, and I don’t think he deserves a bit of it. I hope Professor Meldrum knows that people are still behind him and not ridiculing him.

  7. Bob Michaels responds:

    I think that Dr. Meldrum’s book is a must have for individuals interested in cryptozoology and Bigfoot in particular. It wasn’t too long ago that the Mountain Gorilla was considered a myth.

  8. BigfootBeliever71 responds:

    I never read the book, but I did purchase the video a few months back. Although it is interesting and gives scientific credence to the probable existence of Bigfoot, or a great Northern Ape as they call it, I was disappointed in the lack of background on the “Freeman Footage” (which lasts for approx 5-7 seconds) as well as the lack of investigation on the last few seconds of “The Memorial Day Footage” when this creature seems to grow another foot or so. Are these cases examined further in the book?

    Is the book better than the vid? Is it the same old scenario that the book is always better than the movie?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  9. DWA responds:

    Old thread; but just having read the book, I thought I would visit a couple of old threads.

    The review is what is biased; it is clearly delivered by someone who doesn’t understand how science operates. Meldrum has been led to where he is by evidence. The evidence is bolstered by sound, intelligent speculation. The reviewer expects the scoffers to be given something like equal time. Why? They have delivered not a scrap of evidence to back their position; and when you are countered by a scientist, presenting evidence, you must do the same. It reflects badly on mainstream science that Ray Wallace even gets a mention in this book; it is only the public’s ignorance – including what seems like the vast majority of scientists – that allows guys like Wallace the time of day in this discussion.

    To call a scientist biased when he has been led to an unpopular position by his review of the evidence is ignorance, pure and simple. Meldrum wrote this book not because he wants to get rich or find out about insane asylums firsthand. He wrote this book because he did what any responsible scientist should do before pronouncing an opinion: his homework. And here is his opinion.

    Ignorant people bring an insurmountable bias. And this review was written by one. That’s not intended to be nasty, or bitter. It’s just the truth, based, as the truth must be, on evidence.




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