November 11, 2011

Viet Nam Nguoi Rung Letter Hoax Revealed

You have seen the report before. Today, November 11, 2011, we must reveal this case as a hoax. The full story in a moment, but first a reminder of the alleged missive. (Please note, this is the opinion of Tony Gerard, and not necessarily the opinion of this blogger, Cryptomundo, or any administrators here.)

In 2006, Stan Courtney noted an interesting letter from a Viet Nam veteran on his website. Click on the link to read the letter in its entirety.

Here is a portion of its contents:

It was 1969; I was on patrol one evening, just before dark in the North Two Corp in North Vietnam. We were returning to the hill, when we encountered hostile fire, the squad was caught off guard so we used what cover was available. The fight had been going on for only a few minutes when movement caught my eye. Through the thick vegetation I saw what I thought was a large man breaking cover from behind my left side. As the thing ran past me I realized it wasn’t a man, and was not really sure of what I was seeing. The thing was about 7 feet tall and had an enormous build, though not completely covered with hair, the thing had reddish brown hair covering a good portion of its body. It had covered about 30 yards very quickly passing within just yards of my position, when it got hit in the crossfire. The thing stumbled once or twice but never fell.

The following investigative report is from Tony Gerard (above), who was a consultant on MonsterQuest. Gerard is a full time Biology instructor at Shawnee Community College in Illinois. He feels this is a cautionary tale that is useful for understanding what pitfalls exist in cryptozoological examinations:

“Nguoi Rung, a letter from Viet Nam” was published in 2007 on Stan Courtney’s website and referenced more recently on Cryptomundo.  I know the author well, he was one of my former high school students and remains a good friend to this day. The letter is a hoax. The story behind it could serve as a lesson to other investigators.

 Dave (not his real name) is a life- long outdoorsman.  He is an avid hunter, a top notch predator caller and coyote hunter. It has been his passion for years. He lives in central Illinois not that far from Stan Courtney. He is a vet, but was way too young for Vietnam.

At some point he and Stan had a series of conversations about some of the recordings on Stan’s website. Dave had written Stan about recordings; Stan later looked up his number and called Dave. Dave was convinced many of the recordings on Stan’s site were coyotes- it’s something he’s made a study of for years. Stan wouldn’t even consider it- they were Bigfoots and that was that!

Dave had mentioned all this to another buddy at work- Steve (his real name).  Steve began to tease Dave about it. Steve really was a Vietnam vet, and Dave knew many of the details of his experiences in Vietnam.  Steve had never mentioned Rock apes as part of his experience, but Dave knew enough Bigfoot lore to have heard of them. He conceived what he felt was a clever practical joke to one-up Steve for the teasing he was getting at work.

He wrote the letter, using location and work details from Steve’s actual Vietnam experiences, and sent it to Stan Courtney from a bogus Email address. He exchanged several Emails with Stan as he posed as Steve from the bogus account. He peppered the Emails with clues as to Steve’s real identity without actually telling it. He told Stan he did not want to talk in person, predicting that Stan would follow the clues, look up the actual Steve and call him. That’s just what happened. Steve of course denied any knowledge of the letter, but Stan didn’t believe him and didn’t take” no” for an answer easily.  Later Dave and Steve had a good laugh together about it.

Dave told me about this a couple of years ago when he found out I was working on the series “Monsterquest”.  When I sent him the link to his story on Cryptomundo,  he felt  like the joke had gone too far- it could interfere with actual serious research- and he asked me to set the record straight. He never intended for the letter to be published, and did not even know it had been till I sent him the link.

There’s a bigger point here that just dispelling a hoax.  People who are not Bigfoot investigators look at things from a non-bigfoot perspective, and very often have valuable insights not clouded by a pre conceived notion. The Bigfoot community is often critical of mainstream science for being so dogmatic about the lack of Bigfoot evidence, but that door swings both ways. Some Bigfoot researchers are so dogmatic about the actual existence of Bigfoot that they see Bigfoot evidence everywhere- and refuse to accept a more mundane explanation for what they consider Bigfoot evidence.

Not to beat a dead horse here but a couple of other examples-

A well know Illinois bigfoot researcher once posted pictures of a large round hay bale with a very large depression in the top. He theorized it was from a Bigfoot sleeping on top of the bale. A friend told me that the hay bales in his horse pasture look exactly the same.  It’s from his dogs sleeping on it. “They like to lay up there in the sun” he said. “After a couple weeks the depression gets wallowed out pretty wide and deep”. “Did you let him know that?” I asked. “Yeah” he said, “But he wouldn’t believe me. He knew it was Bigfoot.”.

A Tennessee researcher once posted pics on the web of what looked like miniature stick formations. Some were teepee types while others were green sticks bent in an arch. They were found in isolated openings in a National forest. She noted that each had a small area of disturbed dirt beneath it, but that she had found nothing in the dirt when she dug around there. She theorized that these were play stick formations made by juvenile Bigfoots, although she didn’t know why the dirt was disturbed beneath each.

I’m from rural Kentucky and I think I have the explanation. People often illegally plant marijuana in National forest lands. A small area of disturbed earth in an otherwise undisturbed area will often be utilized by birds to taken a dust bath. How do you keep birds and other animals from disturbing your planted seeds? Put some sticks over the spot. I contacted her about my explanation, but she knew I was wrong. It was obviously the work of juvenile Bigfoots.

So I’ve probably belabored this point too long. What are the take home lessons here?

We should always remember the principle of Occam’s razor- when selecting from a number  of competing hypotheses the simplest one is probably correct. Is it more likely that dogs or Bigfoots are sleeping in your horse pasture?

Non- Bigfoot people look at things not expecting to find Bigfoot evidence, and they are often correct. It’s dangerous , and a poor investigative policy, to become too convinced by your own conclusions.

Everyone, even people we disagree with, should be treated with courtesy and respect, especially regarding their privacy. If  an investigator contacts an alleged witness who has not come forward of their own accord, and they claim to know nothing about what is being investigated,  it may be because they really don’t know anything about what  is being investigated. In the case of the Vietnam letter, the investigator just assumed that the fellow denied knowledge because he did not want to talk about it. As a result a hoax was passed on, has now found its way onto the internet, and could have potentially made its way into the annals of lore as a legitimate account .

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.

Filed under Breaking News, Cryptomundo Exclusive, CryptoZoo News, Hoaxes