Why do people believe in Bigfoot?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on August 25th, 2017

In pitch-black darkness atop a mountain near Walla Walla, Cliff Barackman let loose the biggest howl I’ve ever heard.

It echoed through the surrounding valley for several moments. Then, silence. Barackman, a “Finding Bigfoot” co-host, Colin Mulvany, a Spokesman-Review photographer, and I held our breath in anticipation.

Nothing howled back, though I admit, I half-expected it to.

A few minutes earlier, we’d been walking along an old Forest Service road in the Blue Mountains when Barackman stopped to bang on some trees with a special bat. The attempt, he said, was to imitate the sound Bigfoot creatures are said to make to communicate with one another.

It could have been anything – maybe another animal, a couple rocks falling or maybe I imagined it. No one else heard anything. But, in my mind, I’m sure. I heard something clap back, ever so faintly.

It wasn’t enough to turn me into a Bigfoot believer, but it made me want to believe. It also made me wonder: Why do people believe in Bigfoot? What reports have surfaced about the elusive skunk ape around Spokane? And if Bigfoot creatures were real, what would that say about us?

Throughout the night, I scanned the forest, looking through the fancy night vision scope I borrowed from Barackman, hoping to see something. A couple of times, I looked up at the stars with it and thought of just how mysterious the universe was.

The most basic question he gets asked is why he thinks they’re real. It all comes down to the evidence, he said. He has read numerous anthropological accounts and analyzed many footprint casts. He’s found footprints on his own in remote areas. And though he can’t confirm it, he thinks he may have seen a Bigfoot, through thermal goggles, walking up a mountain in North Carolina while shooting “Finding Bigfoot.”

He’s also gone on field expeditions with Jeff Meldrum, an Idaho State University anthropology professor and Bigfoot aficionado. Meldrum specializes in foot morphology and primate locomotion, and he has more than 300 Bigfoot footprint casts and has written papers on the potential existence of Bigfoots, which he referred to as “relict hominoids.” He thinks they are a more ancient species that never died out.

He dislikes when people use the word “believe” in asking what he thinks about Bigfoot. Belief connotes faith, Meldrum said, and he’s not going off faith. He insists the evidence convinced him that Bigfoot creatures exist.

Meldrum spent his grade-school years in Spokane, where he first saw the Patterson-Gimlin film screened. He spent a lot of time analyzing the film since then, and he’s convinced it’s legitimate.

Meldrum and Barackman both said the main reason people don’t believe in Bigfoot is because they have never considered the evidence.

Why Bigfoot matters

While most Bigfoot sightings turn out to be black bears, elaborate hoaxes or, more recently, wandering shamans covered in animal fur, the question of why people believe in Bigfoot isn’t as important as why Bigfoot matters.

There’s a reason there are so many Bigfoot television shows, books and paraphernalia. It captures the public’s imagination, Meldrum said. It’s the same reason why people like to go to zoos to see monkeys. That familiarity strikes a chord. It’s like seeing a funhouse mirror version of ourselves, he said.

Bigfoots teach us what it means to be human, Barackman said.

Barackman sees Bigfoots as creatures that could dethrone humans, in a way, by bringing us down from the special evolutionary pedestal on which we’ve placed ourselves. The discovery of a Bigfoot might mean characteristics that we thought were specific to humans, like bipedalism or the ability to create and use tools, might not be exclusively demonstrated within our species, he said.

“I think it’s our precarious position on this heap that’s got us in trouble,” he said.

He hopes that if Bigfoot is discovered and people can see how their actions affect a living creature so similar to them, it will encourage people to show more compassion toward one another and the environment.

“They might be the ones that save us,” he said.

Read the entire article here: How I almost became a believer: Exploring the Bigfoot phenomenon in Eastern Washington

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.

One Response to “Why do people believe in Bigfoot?”

  1. Becho responds:

    It’s sad that these gentlemen can’t even get close to them. I had first contact six and a half years ago and have seen them seven times. I have interactions, almost, on a weekly basis. Maybe Cliff should stop banging on trees and screaming at them. They don’t like that and if they don’t like it then it’s not going to be conducive to building a relationship with them. Just go out there and open up your heart. If they like what they see then they will initiate contact.

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