Implications of Bigfoot Discovery

Posted by: Nick Redfern on May 23rd, 2012

In a new posting at Mysterious Universe, I begin as follows:

“Someone asked me just recently: what will happen if, one day, we find conclusive evidence that Bigfoot really does exist? Well, the first – and quite natural – assumption that springs to my mind is that those of us who spend so much of our time looking for such monstrous things will finally get vindication that we weren’t wasting our precious time, after all! But, there are bigger issues at stake than that. Actually, they are much bigger, and far more serious than the average cryptozoologist getting congratulated on a job well done…”

As for what – hypothetically, of course – those bigger issues might be, here are my thoughts…

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

13 Responses to “Implications of Bigfoot Discovery”

  1. DWA responds:

    Given the endless human ability to rationalize, I susepect that impacts on recreation and logging won’t be that dramatic. If the idea that there should be places that none of us enters at all, for reasons of protecting the wild within, had any traction at all in a country founded on freedom to go where one wants, I suspect it would have happened by now. If you are actually saying that closures would be to prevent people from being shot accidentally, I think we’ve long believed, and will continue to, that one enters the woods at one’s own risk.

    Now of course I could be wrong. Which is why I totally subscribe to your last sentence.

    Here is the major sea change I would like to see happen:

    The scientific mainstream finally getting the picture, and recognizing that its primary task is to support the expansion of human knowledge, and that that is restricted extremely unhealthily by ANY scientist who scoffs at ANYTHING, except scoffing itself.

  2. mandors responds:

    The Cryptos and the Forteans will be cast aside. They will get no credit. “Science” will get the credit and take over, despite the years of denial. The scientific method will “triumph” again.

  3. Redrose999 responds:

    If Bigfoot was proven to exist, and related to humans it may force us to redefine sentience as well as how to make environmental even cultural decisions. Will Bigfoots get the right to vote? Will we be forced to include non-human humans as people? How will religions see it? It’s an interesting question.

    Great thread.

  4. DWA responds:


    Well, it would be correct that the scientific method – which is as Fortean-friendly and crypto-friendly as anything else – would have triumphed again.

    But scientists? Well, not so much.

    One of the better reasons to read Alley’s book Raincoast Sasquatch is his comment on scientific attention to this topic, and on how that will likely shake out. He says something like you do. It’s happened before, he says. And: “It is all, in retrospect, rather comical.”

  5. Richard888 responds:

    Bigfoot’s transition from the paranormal into science will be a paradigm shifting event. Scientists will say “I told you so”. Former investigators will score points in their minds only since all credit will have been stolen by science. As for the general public? People who are naturally positive will welcome the news. People who are naturally negative will feel threatened and perhaps even traumatized. The greater the intelligence of Bigfoot, the bigger the trauma of the last group.

  6. springheeledjack responds:

    The minute it’s concluded that they’re “real” and exist, I’m guessing we’ll have all kinds of things pop up. Protection as a species will come into the arena (though they seem to be doing pretty well all by themselves). And yes, I agree with RedRose999–there’s gonna be a big hullabaloo about where to place them–apes, human/apes, something else…which will lead to the need to capture one and study it…which again goes back to protection for every Einstone who decides to head out into the woods with a rifle and a six pack to help science along.

    I think ultimately, it will rewrite some of the anthropology and evolution of man or apes as we find out more and more, and where to put Bigfoot in amongst its evolutionary kin…not to mention who they are.

    And I’m guessing all kinds of other interesting things will pop up that we haven’t even thought of yet, to take a stand for or against. All in all, this could be quite an exciting century!

  7. gridbug responds:

    Actually, I’m thinking the greatest thing to come out of Bigfoot being validated as a living, breathing species will be the eyewitnesses finally being vindicated and getting to deliver a dose of “told ya so” to everyone who laughed at them. 🙂

  8. chewbaccalacca responds:

    Very good overview. I would add one or two more: the potential reverberations such a discovery would have on religion–specifically fundamentalism, both East and West. As would surely happen with formal disclosure re UFOs, how would the Bible/Koran thumpers explain (or explain away) a creature like Bigfoot?

    And just as Darwin forced a philosophical reevaluation of our privileged standing in the scheme of things, how would the discovery of a very human-like creature–even closer to us than the great apes–affect our understanding of ourselves, spiritually, intellectually, biologically? Could be earthshaking.

  9. robotnyk responds:


    1) A scientist will “discover” from an ancient manuscript sold on eBay that Bigfoot toenails are a vital ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (see other articles)- we all know what THAT tag does (Sumatran Tiger, Rhino etc).

    RESULT: Because of the interest more photos will be released as the “giggle factor” will no no longer apply, and more shaky recordings of cryptids released on YouTube.

    2) it will then be placed on the WWF “protected” list, therefore be hunted to the edge of extinction by every dollar waving meathead tourist who wants to prove their masculinity (ie giraffe, gorilla, lion, grizzly and polar bear).

    RESULT: Photos on facebook of a dead bigfoot- lying at the feet of a family of grinning Japanese, dressed in coonskins and posing with shotguns. Lots of dislikes.

    3) its habitat will then be invaded by ecotourists (ie Coral Reefs)- desperate to see the legend parties of humans (led by genuine ex-bigfoot researchers) will wander through the environment, getting lost, dropping their junk, causing the occasional state-wide forest fire etc.

    RESULT: Reports in the National Enquirer of Bigfoot preying on children who get lost in the forest, followed by a mass panic and widescale Bigfoot cull (remember Jaws?). Funny pictures of a juvenile bigfoot with a KFC bucket on its head. Accusations of Photoshopping- as a real Bigfoot hasn’t been seen for months.

    4) following the ecotourists, then come ecodevelopers. After all the disturbance to the environment can only be reduced by building ecofriendly hotels in the forests (such as the hotels in the African savannah)- supplied by ecofriendly roads, ecofriendly shops and ecofriendly shopping malls. Scandalous. Occasionally a Bigfoot rumour will go around and used to sell tickets for “Smokey Bear Mountain”- the most ecofriendly theme park in the World. However when interviewed, few people can safely even say what a Bigfoot looks like- after all no one has seen any around for years and its possible that they never even existed here…besides, no one is interested since all the bears disappeared.

    5) A researcher on patrol comes across a disheveled corpse in a distant part of the mountains- it’s missing its toenails, is emaciated and scabby- since the Eco-city went out of business all the wildlife has suffered from the lack of waste food. He assumes it is just a dead diseased bear- after all no one has seen a Bigfoot (other than the occasional student in a monkey suit) for many decades. Like the Tasmanian Tiger, all that’s left of those are a few pictures and a few questionable samples of hair. He sighs, gets in his jeep, and drives over to the lake, where hunters are reported to have been taking potshots at something in the water…

  10. deadfoot responds:

    This story in one sense will be the same as the Panda. After the first Panda was caught, the second one was not found until 30 years later. During that 30 year span, it was moved back into the myth category. Finding one living hominoid will initially be treated as an anomaly. We have the ability to fully sequence its DNA, but even after the results are verified it will still be thrown into question. I suspect the DNA results will be just as much of a shock as the discovery itself.

    In another sense it will be totally different than the Panda. There will blowback as Darwinian and creation dogmas are thrown into question. There is no question they will. Unless communities of hominoids are revealed, you will see every shenanigan in the book before science and religion move to an acceptance phase. Probably years.

    I used to want “proof” but have had a change of heart. I don’t want to see any kind of capture/test/zoo scenario, because that’s when the exploitation starts. We already pushed them out of the niche they use to occupy. Just leave them alone so they can live in peace.

    When the first one is found and accepted, it may be a vindication, but it will be a sad day. Beginning of the end for them, unless, by some miracle, we grow up and treat them with the respect they deserve. Not likely given our track record. Look what we do to our own kind.

  11. Desertdweller responds:

    If Bigfoot is real (and I think it is), it will be just a matter of time until someone kills one or finds a dead one to present to the “experts”.

    We don’t need to worry about the thing being declared “sentient”, or a form of human or close human relative. What is “human” depends on what the “experts” pronounce it to be. Unless there is a law in effect specifically making it illegal to kill a Bigfoot, there is no chance a hunter would ever be prosecuted for killing it. How could anyone have to answer for killing something that officially doesn’t exist?

    There is no point in using the argument that a Bigfoot may be a close human relative or is sentient. Cats are both close human relatives (genetically) and are sentient. These facts do not protect any cats that are not already humans’ pets.

    On the other hand, great apes can use tools, communicate with humans in sign language, and even plan interaction with humans.

    They are still just big apes that bear a superficial resemblance to human beings. If these tricks do not elevate apes to human status, I don’t think Bigfoot stands much of a chance.

    I think when Bigfoot is confirmed, it will turn out to be just another big smelly ape.

  12. flame821 responds:

    I think you are all overlooking how corporate marketing would play into this. Taking the Panda as an example – it literally has a PR machine behind it, it is the official mascot of China (at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned) Breeding programs, top money to zoos who ‘host’ them. etc.
    Now imagine all of this with the power of Apple or Nike or any other multinational conglomerate behind them. They could ‘buy’ or ‘copyright’ the ‘idea’ of Bigfoot as their mascot rather quickly giving them free reign to do as they like with the image (not the actual creature, one would hope) of Bigfoot. What they do with that image will sway public opinion more than anything else. Imagine the 5 year old who sees Bigfoot only as a marketing tool for sodas, computers or fast food.

    Now for the adults amongst us, depending on what the DNA analysis shows it could upend how we think about a lot of things. There are many people within the sciences who do honestly think that many primates and citations fit the definition of intelligent life and the term ‘Human’ should be changed to something more encompassing. I don’t see this happening in my lifetime however, as a species we still can’t get along with each other, letting things like religion, skin tone and politics cause brutality and death among us so I just don’t see there being enough people willing to accept that something that looks so different could be on the same level as them. You would have the fundamentalist of religion claiming the god of their religion has set humans, particularly those humans that adhere to ‘their’ religion apart from everything else on the planet. You would have power-hungry politicians claiming that allowing Bigfoot ‘rights’ would open up the flood gates to government handouts and even less jobs available for you to support your family. Then there are the dyed in the wool bigots who can’t get past something as simple as how deep a person’s skin tone can go.

    Poor things, Bigfoot would be safer staying as far away from most humans as they possible can. We can’t get our own affairs in order, we have no right to be mucking up anyone else’s. And history (indigenous people, wars, etc) tells us we will do exactly that.

  13. DWA responds:

    I hate agreeing with flame821, deadfoot, robotnyk, and others on the most pessimistic pronouncements, but I’m afraid I do.

    Worrying about what “human” or close-to designation will do is a silly exercise when we’re talking about a species that holds world wars regularly (we are a bit overdue for one, but seem to be taking care of that nicely in a piecemeal fashion) and kills its own kind every day, with the utmost contemplation and malice aforethought.

    I keep pushing science to get involved in this. And I keep wondering why I do. I’ve decided it’s selfish: I want to know. I want to see one, and I’m wondering whether I will unless science shows me one.

    I’ve made optimistic pronouncements about what the discovery might do at several places here. Wish I truly believed them.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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