Drinking On Your Next Cryptid Expedition?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 30th, 2006

WV Almas

In November 2006, National Geographic Channel began screening one of their hour-long documentaries in the “Is It Real?” Series. It was on the Almas of Mongolia and the Almasty allegedly populating the Caucasus. They called their program, “Russian Bigfoot.” Craig Woolheater’s post here stimulated some intriguing comments, on both sides of the fence.

There was, of course, much to condemn in the program, from the mixing of two different stories – one on DNA sampling of the western variety of unknown hominids based on second generation finds to the fact that the film crew used a one-day investigation in the field as their major basis of the eastern story.

I had known this expedition was in the works and had hints of what was going to be staged, such as the capture of the Almas (see pre-production photo above). What none of us knew, needless to say, was how it would come out.

Adam Davies Russian Bigfoot

Learning the backstory from Adam Davies (above), the UK man who trekked to Mongolia to investigate the Almas, is very revealing. The documentary film company did not support his travel or fiscal expenses for the trek, and it was because he was financially limited that he could only afford one night in the field searching.

Interestingly, what one found from the point of view of those that wanted to criticize Davies was some nit-picking on his field wisdom. One critic at Cryptomundo commented:

I thought it was so unprofessional and almost a rude gesture that the cryptozoologist on the stakeout decided to get intoxicated on dutie [sic]. Its [sic] almost as if he wasn’t serious.

I openly discussed this with Adam Davies, and his good-humored field insights are worthy of sharing:

I took some flak on Cryptomundo for drinking during the “stakeout scene,” and I understand it. (If there was product placement then I wasn’t paid for it!) I think though people are applying western values to a Mongolian situation. In other words, if you’re inviting a Mongolian to stay up all night then its simply rude not to offer him a drink.

Other than that, its my time and my money, and my vacation. I’ve spent thousands of pounds on it, looking for cryptids all over the world. Nobody pays me. If people want to do it a different way then they can go do it themselves.

In general, when in Rome, while in the mud, muck, or cold of another culture, searching for cryptids, the cryptozoologists’ rule of thumb should be to do as the Romans do, if it is within your own moral and ethical standards.

Obviously, some of us who do not drink (personally, for example, I don’t drink) might wish to avoid sampling the whiskey under the crystal clear freezing night in Mongolia. But we probably should have available for our colleagues the beverage.

The fault here may be more with how “Is It Real?” framed the scene. As a filmmaker/executive producer myself, I found questions about this whole scene arose for me, like simply, for what reason was this sequence placed in this documentary? Why didn’t this drinking segment end up on the cutting room floor? What was the motivation of the editor/director for keeping this in the documentary?

The possible answers I could imagine were not satisfactory: The producers may have wanted to show Davies and his Mongolian guide drinking overnight to add texture to a rather boring night. Perhaps it was to set up a possible ridicule factor explanation if the seekers saw anything. Maybe they just wanted to fill in the documentary hour. That the drinking was, within context, culturally appropriate was not explained and this gap must be laid to the National Geographic production company’s way of constructing and editing this program.

“The Cryptozoologists’ Guidelines for Field Behavior” perhaps is something we should revisit here in the future. One thing is for certain, we can’t really use reality programs to show us the way, except often by looking behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, as you go into this New Year’s weekend, everyone enjoy yourself, in whatever you do so, but, please, no drinking and driving – no matter what culture you are in. We need every one of you back next week, ready to challenge 2007 and continue the search for cryptids into the new year.

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.

7 Responses to “Drinking On Your Next Cryptid Expedition?”

  1. Darkstream responds:

    Excellent sentiments, Loren. I’ve lost too many loved ones to alcohol or alcohol related accidents to look at drinking and driving as anything other than a serious matter. Please be safe out there this weekend, everyone.

    As for the Mongolian Almas, that whole production felt more like a lark than a serious expedition, but I suppose that was all part of the “Is It Real?” package… We shouldn’t be too disappointed.

  2. daledrinnon responds:

    I know of several high-profile cryptozoologists who go on expeditions openly punctuated with public boozing and carousing, and who feel no shame about it. It does boil down to a public-image thing. Whenever I am representing such a thing as “Cryptozoological field work”, I try not to appear too rowdy or disrespectful. For one thing, it holds the local’s view of you as a serious researcher up better.

    But in my case, I am usually doing it in my state of residence, and with only perhaps the discomfort of sleeping on hard ground over one night without any cover. Long expeditions might well be into the heart of Africa with a month-long stakeout and then into any nearby town for a celebration when it gets over, and I can see that getting out of hand. Such was not the case in the example here.

    I am definitely going to be out toasting New Year’s day with my favorite Scotch, but that will probably be my only public appearance drinking liquor this year. I definitely would not be drinking on stakeout, should such an occasion arise in the coming year. New Year’s day happens to be my birthday and to tell you the truth, nothing is better than good Scotch whiskey.

  3. shovethenos responds:

    I’ve become sceptical of National Geographic recently, especially their efforts to “investigate” cryptozoological phenomena. I think certain groups there have an agenda that involves discrediting cryptozoological phenomena, whether or not that is warranted.

  4. greywolf responds:

    To be honest I like a beer or a glass of wine with dinner but that is it.. If you are the guest in another country be polite.”Do as the Romans do” with caution. I have a problem with TV networks doing this type of production because the science gets dumped on for the thrill factor or the laugh factor. No wonder people who have sightings of BF etc. SAY NOTHING.

  5. jon_downes responds:

    Some years ago I had a high-profile alcohol and drug problem. I am now clean and sober, haven’t taken recreational drugs for a long time, and only drink socially and in moderation. However, for some years, in some quarters the CFZ was synonymous with bad behaviour. But even at the height of our excesses, we always had a strict rule that alcohol was not allowed in the field.

    However, I understand Adam’s position wholly, and would probably not have done any different. From my conversations with him, I am sure that NOT having had a drink with his guides on this occasion would have been as bad as refusing to have a “wee dram” with a Nessie witness in a Drumnadrochit pub! Something that could quite possibly cause offense.

    When Dale Drinnon says “I know of several high-profile cryptozoologists who go on expeditions openly punctuated with public boozing and carousing, and who feel no shame about it”, such behaviour – if true – must be condemned at all costs. Even during the darkest excesses of my drinking days, the worst thing I did was to drink too much and behave badly at various conventions, or on one embarrassing occasion telephone Loren whilst in my cups, and ramble for hours about Bigfoot.

    If Cryptozoology is to be taken seriously as a discipline, then its practitioners should act in an appropriate manner when in the field – something which in my opinion Adam did.

  6. bill green responds:

    hey loren ,great article there is defiently a point this article as well. always be safe when drinking. thanks bill

  7. daledrinnon responds:

    Well, I shall admit to the fact that I was thinking slightly of Jon in his bad days in the back of my mind when I made that statement–but actually I was referring to AMERICAN researchers that I have known personally who also, yes, get into their cups and ramble on about Bigfoot, even claiming sightings in their delirium. Sad to say, I have not heard of them becoming “Clean and Sober”, but neither will I associate with such persons on public projects (such as Bigfoot hunts) of this. Claiming DT Bigfoot sightings helps nobody.

    I imagine Loren must probably know about more than one of these individuals, and I shall name no names. But I did not say anything about BRITISH Cryptozoologists, that is not what I meant.

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