Microbiology Professor asks Melba Ketchum 4 Questions

Posted by: Guy Edwards on February 25th, 2013

Bigfoot Lunch Club

The Melba Ketchum Paper is being reviewed, what do other academics think?

“…if it was me who held solid evidence of a new species and a remarkable pattern of origin, I would be breaking down the doors of any mainstream scientists I thought might be able to verify my data. I would want that Nobel prize far more than another appearance on Coast-to-Coast AM.” — Dr Tyler A. Kokjohn, Professor of Microbiology at Midwestern University

You may remember Dr. Kokjohn from the Bigfoot Lunch Club post, “First Bigfoot DNA “Peer Review” Results are In– But, Not as Expected” Although we felt Melba Ketchum’s paper was an echo of what was already leaked, we wondered if a more academic eye would find points of interest. So we asked our friend Tyler A. Kokjohn, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology at Midwestern University what he thought.

Among multiple insights Dr. Kokjohn did offer these four questions.

  1. What happened to the original founder species?
  2. The Hybrids are abundant, yet the founder species is extinct?
  3. How could a hypothetical species so close to modern humans to interbreed and produce viable, fertile offspring not share homology to the same entities in their extended family?
  4. Where did the sequences not in GenBank originate?

We sent these questions to Dr. Melba Ketchum, but she did not respond. The biggest contention is Dr. Kokjohn’s suggestion, “The authors will have to grant reviewers the ability to view the sequences and run their own analyses at some point.”

You can read Dr. Kokjohn’s full response to Melba Ketchum’s paper at Bigfoot Lunch Club

Guy Edwards About Guy Edwards
Psychology reduces to biology, all biology to chemistry, chemistry to physics, and finally physics to mathematical logic. Guy Edwards is host of the Portland, OR event HopsSquatch.com.

20 Responses to “Microbiology Professor asks Melba Ketchum 4 Questions”

  1. Averagefoot responds:

    All very valid questions. Questions I’ve actually wondered about myself. Unfortunately I don’t think any of them have answers. I wanted to think this whole debacle is legitimate but at this point things don’t look so good.

  2. x3419a responds:

    Those are great questions.

    But, I don’t know why Dr. Ketcuhum is expected to answer them. She reported empirical data. That is what any scientist should do.

    If Dr. Kokjohn doesn’t like the implications of the data, that is irrelevant to the fact that the data exists.


  3. chewbaccalacca responds:

    All good questions, yes–but unless I’m wrong, they may have little or nothing to do with whether Ketchum’s results are essentially valid or not. By analogy, say that archaeologists found hard proof of an early dynasty Chinese artifact in a Native American burial mound. Questions like “How did it get there?” or “Who brought it to America?,” etc. would be important to know, but probably unanswerable initially, and really wouldn’t impact either way the hard fact of that artifact’s presence in the mound, if confirmed. Along those same lines, questions like “What happened to the original founder species?” may be important, but whether Ketchum can answer them or not at this early stage doesn’t really affect her finding’s validity–or lack of. Science rarely has all the answers when it stumbles onto a surprising truth, whether it be in archeology, quantum physics, or astronomy. (Not having read her paper yet myself, I’m not sure whether Dr. Kokjohn’s question “Where did the sequences not in GenBank originate?” is more speculative or refers to something technical she can readily answer; either way, I’ll be interested to see how she responds to these questions.)

  4. DWA responds:

    Well, Dr. Kokjohn, maybe it’s because you’re not a zoology professor, but I’m surprised not to see this question, and I’d put it first on my list:

    1) Will a scientist be able to look at the specimen from which this DNA was derived, and identify it as a species new to science?

  5. odingirl responds:

    Question #3 is especially important, I think. Unfortunately, another distracting question about Dr. Ketchum’s paper should be directed not only to her, but also to the people who did her peer review and apparently did not address the April Fool’s hoax paper she cited in her references (thanks Sharon Hill):

    Milinkovitch, M C, Caccone, A and Amato, G. Molecular phylogenetic analyses indicate extensive morphological convergence between the ‘‘yeti’’ and primates. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31:1–3. (2004)

    “All our analyses clearly indicate that the yeti is nested several nodes within a specific ungulate group (i.e., the perissodactyls, cf. Fig. 1) and, more specifically, forms a subclade with sequences U02581 and X79547 (cf. figure legend). These results demonstrate that extensive morphological convergences have occurred between the yeti and primates. It is quite remarkable that Haddock already identified 44 years ago the correct phylogenetic position of the yeti (despite he had seen only footprints in the snow) when he yelled at it ‘‘You odd-toed ungulate!’’

  6. Dufusyte responds:

    It’s like asking the discoverer of a new dinosaur species, “So, how did the dinosaurs become extinct?”

    Completely irrelevant to the finding – and it makes me think the reviewer is not a clear thinker.

    If there is any justice, Melba will get the Nobel. I suspect the journals who declined her paper realized there was a breakthrough at hand, and they tipped off Sykes (because he is a proper academic) to do a similar project so he could be the first to publish and receive the accolades. Glad Ketchum is on record as having done the research first.

  7. MR JOSHUA responds:

    Its pretty simple. Where are the fathers of this unknown origin? Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. This event happened (accorded to Ketchum only 13,000 years ago). Apples and oranges. Ketchum is telling us that one male species created a whole new species by interbreeding with one human female? There would have to be multiple instances of this occurring and evolution needs a lot more time than 13,000 years to separate DNA as much as she is reporting. What amazes me are the people on this site who still stand by her. Her science does not add up….at all.

  8. MR JOSHUA responds:

    Lets also take into the fact her company does not have a great DNA sequencing history. They have botched things as simple as feline DNA testing. Identical tissue samples that she tested as “pro positive” new species were tested and came back as bear, contaminated with human DNA. She then cowered behind her own published journal via her own purchased website and charged $30 to see the results. The whole thing screams fraud. Hate to be bitter but she is pulling the wool over a lot of people’s eyes on this one.

  9. Fhqwhgads responds:

    “But, I don’t know why Dr. Ketcuhum is expected to answer them. She reported empirical data. That is what any scientist should do.”

    Even assuming that there are no problems with the integrity of her data, she did more than report an observation. She drew conclusions.

    In most cases, there is more than one possible conclusion that could be drawn. To take chewbaccalacca’s example of an early dynasty Chinese artifact in a Native American burial mound, possible conclusions would include (1) it was placed in the burial mound at the time the mound was created, (2) it was deliberately placed in the mound as a hoax, probably by the reporting archaeologist, and (3) it was somehow inadvertently introduced to the mound (for instance, by a pack rat).

    But even if Ketchum is honest with her data and correct in her assumptions, it makes sense to ask questions like this. Such questions allow further conclusions to be drawn and direct future research. So, let’s say that the hybridization event can be shown through genetics to have taken place 25000 years ago. That would imply it probably took place in Asia, which is where the ancestor species should be sought.

    Also, attention might be paid to the specifically human genes. Are they associated with brain development? With speech? What hints might they give about the behavior of the hybrid and why it may have outlasted its parent species?

    “If there is any justice, Melba will get the Nobel.”

    More likely she gets an Ig Nobel. Self-published papers don’t have a good track record.

  10. muircertach responds:

    Ahh science always being so mean to poor Miss Catchem.

  11. Fhqwhgads responds:

    As far as having an impact, the best that can be hoped for would be for someone inside “the establishment” to request samples for an independent re-test.

    Unfortunately, I suspect that
    (1) such a request is unlikely,
    (2) if it did come, we would probably hear about how “the lawyers” were preventing it, and
    (3) if the request were made, the samples provided, and the results mundane, many Cryptomundians would dismiss the mundane results as part of some vast conspiracy.

  12. Dufusyte responds:

    I hope the Ketchum case becomes a shining exposé of the close-mindedness of academia and its related publishing arm, the peer review journals.

    One journal declined publication because the matter “needed to be submitted by a zoologist.” As we can see, these folk are so blinded by the dogmatic structures of academia that they are unable to honestly evaluate research on its own merits.

    Rather, they evaluate data based on its source: does the source have the proper degree, has the source been on TV, is the source seen as an icon in their field…

    Essentially: is the source a Trusted Authority.

    This, my friends, is the clear sign of someone believing on Authority. Small minded folk, unable to evaluate data on its own merits, trust rather in the authority of their trusted authorities. They are believers, rather than thinkers.

    So typical of skeptics, who are likewise feeble minds, unable to evaluate data per se, relying instead on their trusted authorities (“Why hasn’t this been on TV? What degree does this person have? What does the herd think of this?”).

    Skeptics are the greatest believers; they firmly believe their Trusted Authorities, and they are nary incapable of thinking in their own right, and far too timid to defy their trusted authorities and hold to a position which has not yet been duly Authorized.

    And thus, the paper was rejected because the source was not an accredited authority. The great minds behind these journals being unable to weight the research on its own merits, relying rather on the credentials of the one submitting the data…

    Alas, in the Information Age, so many have obtained great expertise without a degree, and anyone can go public without needing a publisher. It’s getting harder to live the skeptic’s life, relying solely on the old academic authorities. There is so much good research coming from outsiders. It’s requiring us to evaluate data on its own merits and do some actual thinking.

    “O bother…” said Pooh.

  13. asecretcountry responds:

    Dufusyte responds: February 25th, 2013 at 10:47 am
    “..and it makes me think the reviewer is not a clear thinker….

    Read what Mr Joshua wrote for clarity.!
    And you then spoilt your own idea by claiming this..

    “If there is any justice, Melba will get the Nobel.

    An “IG” was missing before the Nobel wasnt it.?

    For god sake..its a self published piece of dubious lineage with a video of what looks like a wet dog supporting it..and you still think thats ok.? :).

    If you had any shred of integrity or common sense you and x3419a would just stop proving your 100% clueless how science works.

    DR K can obviously say anything or do anything..and backs to the wall..in denial..you guys will never get it..you have been conned..stay silent..stop shooting yourself and the whole field in the foot each time you struggle on the keyboard.

  14. chewbaccalacca responds:

    I see some major misunderstandings happening here. I’d venture that most of us taking issue with the hardcore skeptics aren’t so much “standing by” Ketchum as questioning any tendency to draw quick conclusions based on only the most superficial familiarity with her work. (How many here have actually read it yet, and have a scientific background?) I think it’s obvious that there are problems with aspects of it, especially in her marketing, but I’ve yet to see any serious criticisms of the DNA research itself. If that comes along and shoots it down, so be it. I can’t help but think back to the amateur Egyptologist and showman Giovanni Belzoni, whose methods were questionable by today’s standards, yet that doesn’t negate the legitimate discoveries he made.

  15. Degnostik responds:

    Dufusyte: exactly and beautifully said.

    Actually, asecretcountry clearly underlines your points in his response, with “your 100% clueless how science works”, explaining the very ‘works’ just seconds before: “…self published piece of dubious lineage with a video of what looks like a wet dog supporting it”.

    So this is how sceince works – problems with a DNA study are:
    “self publishing” – not academia
    “dubious lineage” – not academia
    “video not good enough” -!? – completely irrelevant to the finding

    All your points, see?
    You explained it, he demonstated it. Well, that’s knowledge now.

  16. MR JOSHUA responds:

    That is the exact issue chewbaccalacca! Ketchum is declaring that a new species exists and that it should be Federally protected based on HER own conclusions of HER data. (that is a pretty big deal) The ISSUE is that she ran out and claimed this before ANYBODY peer reviewed her paper or tested her results. Instead of taking the time to pursue a journal or approach enough academics to support her findings she ran out and published it herself and tried to make an instant profit. If she truly spent 5 years on this research and is so sure of her results than why publish it yourself instead of taking the proper protocols of scientific review. This has nothing to do with being close-minded. What it has to do with is people on this site wanting so much for bigfoot to be proven that they abandon common sense.

  17. springheeledjack responds:

    The point here is that Ketchum is making claims of a hybrid species based on data supplied by her that hasn’t been validated by anyone so far that I know of. That is what peer review is all about: someone double checking your math and crossing your “t’s” to make sure you’re not missing anything. That hasn’t happened.

    Not only that but this dubious video is thrown in that doesn’t prove her case at all-it doesn’t even help because it’s so vague (I’m being generous here).

    Bottom line: until her data and research can be verified it’s not worth anything.

  18. odingirl responds:

    The release of Dr. Ketchum’s paper has proven to be a revealing study in psychology and belief. Whatever final conclusions can be drawn from the data, it’s been interesting to watch how the public has responded to it based on any number of things: beliefs and opinions, empirical observation, and the inherent biases and fallacies in our ‘stories’ – those things we tell ourselves vs. those things that have been logically demonstrated to us.

    Speaking only for myself, I’m willing to admit that I depend on the assessment of ‘trusted authorities’ every day. I rely on teachers, physicians, mechanics, emergency response, IT specialists, law enforcement and any number of other ‘authorities’ every time I step foot outside my door. I don’t trust them blindly, but to dismiss them out of hand simply because they’re managed to become an authority would be foolish. Much as I’d like the convenience of consulting the mailman for my upper respiratory infection, I’m probably going to defer to a physician.

    In the case of Dr. Ketchum’s data, it’s been interesting to see the difference in how the opinions of two equitable professionals – one a biochemist and one a microbiologist – have been either embraced or dismissed here depending on whether they appeared to support or doubt the beliefs of the reader.

    If I am lucky enough to witness Sasquatch for myself, am I going to be most comfortable discussing the encounter and the evidence with Meldrum and Coleman, or Erickson and Moneymaker?

    It’s true that there have been many cases of individuals not being given due credit because they weren’t an accepted member of their establishment. It’s tempting to be idealistic and assume that all differences of opinion will be resolved upon further assessment of the data, but we know this is probably untrue…there’s already far too much emotionally invested in the subject. We’re at the point in which seeking to work hand-in-hand with logic – including the ‘common sense’ that tells us something is not quite right here – is being openly maligned to the same degree that Dr. Ketchum is.

  19. SirWilhelm responds:

    1.What happened to the original founder species?
    2.The Hybrids are abundant, yet the founder species is extinct?
    3.How could a hypothetical species so close to modern humans to interbreed and produce viable, fertile offspring not share homology to the same entities in their extended family?

    The answers to all three of those questions, can be found in ancient texts, if they are looked at objectively, instead of with prejudice, as myths, because they do not fit the belief systems of “modern” humans. Those ancient stories tell us that humans are hybrids, genetically engineered by an alien species, with their DNA, and that of a primitive humanoid that lived on Earth. While trying to perfect their hybrid species, they engineered several other hybrids, most of which did not survive. Once the hybrid was perfected, as far as being able to perform the labor it was engineered to do, it was sterile, as all hybrids are. Their own females acted as surrogate mothers, to create the first generations of sterile humans, until their genetic engineers overcame the sterility problem, and humans were able to reproduce themselves. That story has been handed down to us in the familiar Adam and Eve story in the Bible, a condensed and edited version. The “knowledge” in the Bible story was the sexual knowing that involved the ability to reproduce. They engineered humans so well, that they became attracted to them, and began mating with them, adding more of their genes to the pool. There is also evidence that the new humans mated with the primitive humanoids they were engineered from. I believe we must consider that Bigfoot is a primitive humanoid, related to to the primitive humanoids we were engineered from.

    When these ancient texts were unearthed, translated, and read, by the scholars of the times, they were unaware of the technology we have today. Today, we are very close to being able to duplicate the genetic engineering in the ancient stories. If it is within the realm of possibility for us now, why not then? And we are capable of limited space travel now. Why couldn’t there be space travelers that were more capable than us then, who were also more advanced in all other sciences, such as genetics? Are our egos too inflated to allow us to consider the truth? That we were created by beings more advanced than us? And that our ancient relatives may still be around? Both on Earth, and in space?

  20. JE_McKellar responds:

    The questions are more or less outside the scope of Ketchum’s article. What really matters is whether or not the whole genome sequences presented are consistent with an unknown species – i.e a sample that has logical similarities to existing species, and so occupies a reasonable position within the existing taxonomy. If Ketchum’s sample is from a close human relative, either a subspecies of Homo sapiens or a close relative of the Homo genus, then it should share most of its DNA with other humans, fossil humans like Neanderthals and Denisovas, and chimpanzees. A Gigantopithecus relative should share genes with orangutans, and so on.

    That doesn’t seem to be the case. Cryptomundo just posted a video with a New Zealand biologist describing what Ketchum’s data actually looks like, and it seems that Ketchum’s result isn’t from an actual species, but rather an artifact produced by the sequencing technology. Basically, the why the technology works, it copies the little bits of DNA from the sample and then tries to stitch it together, like trying to paste back together a shredded document, by matching up overlapping sequences. To speed this process along, sometimes a template is used, like looking at the picture on a jigsaw puzzle. Ketchum apparently used human chromosome 11 as a template, and the technology forced all the bits and pieces of DNA to fit into that template.

    Ketchum, in her C2C radio interview, said the machines themselves have ways to double check the reliability of the results, but the proof is in the data. The stitched-together DNA has traces from a variety of different species, including dog and bear, along with the reported human component. A real animal just wouldn’t look like that.

    There were supposedly three whole genome sequences completed by Ketchum, so it’s possible that it’s just this one that’s turned up bad (and it may be Smeja’s sample), but Ketchum should have recognized it as bad data, or at least recruited a biologist who could have performed the necessary analysis. It’s not really a case of the sample being contaminated, it’s a case of there being no real sample there at all, it’s all contamination.

    A reviewer must have asked the question somewhere along the line, “how is cognatus related to the other hominins?” But Ketchum didn’t provide an answer, only that the non-human ancestor was a mystery. To me, the problem here is that Ketchum was either unfamiliar with, or wholly unconcerned with, how different species are related to each other; how evolution works.

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