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Bigfoot: Does It Exist? Or Not?

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Terry

 

Hey where did you find that? That was a different Nakani...someone hacked my account. .um...er..

Oh you got me, at one time... I... thought Bigfoot was real.

I have been meaning to wrap up my Nakani thread, I have concluded that there *could* have been a "lost tribe" living in the Northern mountains at one time, the recent (80's- present) are the result of white trappers snooping around.

Hunters evidently unlike the rest of humanity (according to some) are superb observers. By law we are expected to make split second decisions concerning species, gender, age, and rack width or points allowed. We also know which track leds us to what animal. Or what a scrap, rub or grenading stump means. I've observed two Griz in the Selkirks, and I could tell you size, activity, direction of travel, etc in each of those encounters.

When I encounter something unknown in the forest? I've already went over all possibilities, thats how my brain works. People can lie, absolutely......but what if they are not?

 

 

I really don't buy the "hunters are superb observers".  A huge population of people ride their atv to their tree stand that's located beside a field and sit in it until a deer walks by.  Not really hunting by some standards.  In Ontario where I hunt it's wilderness hunting.  Still, some of my friends who hunt with me, while they don't get lost and are good shots, don't have any interest in flora or fauna.  Some of them, including myself thankfully, always wonder what kiiled that, what left that sign, what bird is that calling...etc, etc.  In my experience though that's a very small minority of so called hunters.  I would use the word naturalist instead of hunter when describing folks who are keen observers in the bush.

 

t.

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Bodhi

 They exist.             You really want a knockdown drag out you need a contender with WOOO written on both gloves : ) . 

Shadowborn , you did'nt mention on what caused the said "split" .

 

I will not create a macro so you will have to come here and reread this line :0  Everyone of the reports cannot be fake,hoax, misidentification.  currently there are 4836 reports on the BFRO and that does not include the ones they keep private. I have read a lot of them and there are more than several that are from what anyone should call reputable people, people that reporting a Sasquatch sighting could possibly have repercussions on their life. Law enforcement officers, wildlife personnell, doctors  phsycologists etc.  The number above is not all the reports, I know of a half dozen just around me that have never been reported and I am sure I am not alone in that on this forum. There are some of the above as, we all know, hoaxes, mis id's,  But for arguments sake sake ( I do not believe no where near this figure) That 99% are fake / mis id's   that means just from the "known" BFRO reports that there are at least 48 Sasquatches running around out there. How can anyone look at the number of people that have came face to face with what that person knows was not a human and tell them that they are mistaken or lying. The math adds up in favor of Sasquatch all day long.

argumentum ad numerum

^^^^ Note about Shadowborn's numbers .. he forgot a zero at the right.   That should say upwards of 46 THOUSAND reports in the BFRO database, not 4600.   Report # 48616 was just published.  

 

http://bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=48616

 

Very likely that number does include both the published and unpublished reports.   If I were setting up a data base (whistling innocently) that's how I'd do it.

 

MIB

argumentum ad numerum

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Guest Crowlogic

What does a rat eating plant have to do with bigfoot?  The modern bigfoot mythology is as ponderously  incredulous as ever.  If the mythology had stayed put up in the very remote PNW at least there could be the gloss of possibility.  It's rare and it's remote.  But no biggie is just too much fun and too easy to climb aboard the train to allow a reasonable possibility.  So every Tim and Tina has to have a piece of the action and biggie became  universal.  Well kids I'd like to know where those reputable scientists were when it showed up in Ohio and New Jersey etc etc.  Why didn't they come forward with their vaunted expertise  and voice some reason into the  idea as it was cartwheeling out of reason?  

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norseman

Hey where did you find that? That was a different Nakani...someone hacked my account. .um...er..

Oh you got me, at one time... I... thought Bigfoot was real.

I have been meaning to wrap up my Nakani thread, I have concluded that there *could* have been a "lost tribe" living in the Northern mountains at one time, the recent (80's- present) are the result of white trappers snooping around.

Hunters evidently unlike the rest of humanity (according to some) are superb observers. By law we are expected to make split second decisions concerning species, gender, age, and rack width or points allowed. We also know which track leds us to what animal. Or what a scrap, rub or grenading stump means. I've observed two Griz in the Selkirks, and I could tell you size, activity, direction of travel, etc in each of those encounters.

When I encounter something unknown in the forest? I've already went over all possibilities, thats how my brain works. People can lie, absolutely......but what if they are not?

 

I really don't buy the "hunters are superb observers".  A huge population of people ride their atv to their tree stand that's located beside a field and sit in it until a deer walks by.  Not really hunting by some standards.  In Ontario where I hunt it's wilderness hunting.  Still, some of my friends who hunt with me, while they don't get lost and are good shots, don't have any interest in flora or fauna.  Some of them, including myself thankfully, always wonder what kiiled that, what left that sign, what bird is that calling...etc, etc.  In my experience though that's a very small minority of so called hunters.  I would use the word naturalist instead of hunter when describing folks who are keen observers in the bush.

 

t.

So what your saying is that your buddies that sit in a tree stand during Deer season are just as likely to shoot a Moose because they cannot discern the difference between the two?

I would think that the Province would be revoking their rights to be hunters, absolutely. But luckily I think this type of crime is limited, as most hunters can follow game laws.

FWIW, my state has three different species of deer and ranges overlap.

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HOLDMYBEER

........  For example a Law enforcement officer has to worry about his credibility as a witness in court if it were proven that he falsifies any kind of report Sasquatch or otherwise, does that not lend a little more credence to him/her coming forward about an experience.

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=13653

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=25260

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=9555

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=24967

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=25364

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=38309

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=42999

 

I will put up my end of the discussion to support what I have suggested.       

The last one happened here in NC.  Norseman I think you might find it interesting, The officer (not on duty)  Was hunting and had a 30-06 rifle in his hands at the time of the sighting.

DavidNC, My fault for not reading the thread closely and seeing your post. When you posted about officers 'going public' about sightings I misunderstood you to mean they had written police reports  concerning their observations. I know of only two such reports and both are more than thirty years old. I don't think there has been anything since, again a possible indicator of the decline of the species.

 

As you point out above, the strength of credibility extended to police officers is derived from the fact they are personally identified, they are required to testify in court where they are open to cross examination and where all statements are made a matter of record. A signed police report is considered a sworn document and testimony of the officer who wrote it. They are expected to stand by their statements under penalty of law.  Like it or not, the BFRO reports are just anecdotes written by persons who claim to be law enforcement officers. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't. Missing are the factors that generate credibility in the eyes of the public and the court... the individual identification, the requirement to appear for examination and the first-person confirmation of the facts.  

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BigTreeWalker

Actually it's four Norse. If we count the Columbia whitetail (a protected species). But you are right because I know you are inferring that a hunter better know the difference and be able to count antler points or you're in trouble.

The problem is that each one of us filter what we see through our personal experiences. If all we ever see are pictures of footprints or blobsquatches or chewed bones and have never experienced such ourselves; then because of our perceptions it is right to conclude that BF can't possibly exist. But if you have had a personal encounter or found track ways or found and done research on those chewed bones then your perceptions change. I have never seen one. Yet I do know, because of my experiences, that something is out there. Sasquatch is the best fit for the evidence I have found without coming up with something else that doesn't fit the evidence anyway. All the forum discussions in the world aren't going to change my experiences. And I know it is the same for others. I would hope that those in the non-existent crowd will someday get the confirmation they require to change their minds. One problem I see with this hope on my part is this huge problem of being able to trust others. This is also one of my perceptions that there are many here that trust no one.

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Guest DWA

Well, there is another way to change one's perceptions:  to maintain close touch with the evidence whether or not one has had a personal experience.  This requires something many here do not have:  an inherent interest in this and the topics related to it (hint:  "monsters" is not one of those topics and neither is "hoaxes.")

 

Both footprints and encounter reports are extremely compelling strains of evidence which, to the perceptive and diligent, could not be more neatly tied together than they are by the Patterson film.  (Which should not in any way be happening were the source not an unlisted animal resembling the one in the film.)  A solid read of this evidence shows how naive is the proposition that all of this is being somehow faked, or even less likely, that a whole bunch of lies mistakes hallucinations and hoaxes is yielding something this consistent.

 

From what I read here, I seem to be more convinced that the animal is real than a lot of people that have actually seen one!  That is what interest, and attention to evidence, and knowing that no trust is required here except trust in one's own nose, in one's own life experience with people, with animals, and with the woods, and in the evidence, will do for one.

Edited by DWA

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David NC

 

This isn't going how I envisioned it would...

It never does... :)

 

 

 

 They exist.             You really want a knockdown drag out you need a contender with WOOO written on both gloves : ) . 

Shadowborn , you did'nt mention on what caused the said "split" .

 

I will not create a macro so you will have to come here and reread this line :0  Everyone of the reports cannot be fake,hoax, misidentification.  currently there are 4836 reports on the BFRO and that does not include the ones they keep private. I have read a lot of them and there are more than several that are from what anyone should call reputable people, people that reporting a Sasquatch sighting could possibly have repercussions on their life. Law enforcement officers, wildlife personnell, doctors  phsycologists etc.  The number above is not all the reports, I know of a half dozen just around me that have never been reported and I am sure I am not alone in that on this forum. There are some of the above as, we all know, hoaxes, mis id's,  But for arguments sake sake ( I do not believe no where near this figure) That 99% are fake / mis id's   that means just from the "known" BFRO reports that there are at least 48 Sasquatches running around out there. How can anyone look at the number of people that have came face to face with what that person knows was not a human and tell them that they are mistaken or lying. The math adds up in favor of Sasquatch all day long.

argumentum ad numerum

^^^^ Note about Shadowborn's numbers .. he forgot a zero at the right.   That should say upwards of 46 THOUSAND reports in the BFRO database, not 4600.   Report # 48616 was just published.  

 

http://bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=48616

 

Very likely that number does include both the published and unpublished reports.   If I were setting up a data base (whistling innocently) that's how I'd do it.

 

MIB

argumentum ad numerum

 

 

 

Looks like we have another one line wonder. Nothing to support their view but one line quips, very original and thought provoking. :mole:             I can write in that language to and my comment to you would be Ad Nauseam.

Edited by David NC
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Terry

 

So what your saying is that your buddies that sit in a tree stand during Deer season are just as likely to shoot a Moose because they cannot discern the difference between the two?

I would think that the Province would be revoking their rights to be hunters, absolutely. But luckily I think this type of crime is limited, as most hunters can follow game laws.

FWIW, my state has three different species of deer and ranges overlap.

 

 

No, what I was trying to say, and not very well I guess, is most hunters can't be relied on to know their flora and fauna even though we are told they do.

 

t,

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Cotter

 

 

I really don't buy the "hunters are superb observers".  

 

So next time the argument goes to "If BF was real, a hunter would have shot one by now", you'll step in and point out the error in that thinking?

No, what I was trying to say, and not very well I guess, is most hunters can't be relied on to know their flora and fauna even though we are told they do.

 

t,

 

 

So, next time the argument goes to "If BF was real, a hunter would have shot one by now", you'll step in and point out the error in that thinking?

Edited by Cotter

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norseman

So what your saying is that your buddies that sit in a tree stand during Deer season are just as likely to shoot a Moose because they cannot discern the difference between the two?

I would think that the Province would be revoking their rights to be hunters, absolutely. But luckily I think this type of crime is limited, as most hunters can follow game laws.

FWIW, my state has three different species of deer and ranges overlap.

 

No, what I was trying to say, and not very well I guess, is most hunters can't be relied on to know their flora and fauna even though we are told they do.

 

t,

Flora? Probably not? Fauna? They better......... If they cannot discern game species they have no business being out there.

If I'm expected by law to know the difference between a cinnamon phase black bear and a grizzly bear? I dang sure should be able to tell the difference between a bear and a bipedal ape man.

I dont see this skeptical viewpoint to be valid in many cases

post-735-0-15137900-1441054205_thumb.jpg

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Cotter

Additionally, if we are to assume that most hunters don't pay attention to the flaura and fauna, can we also lump in hikers, backpackers, and campers?
 

Completely destroys the notion of people seeing them if they're out there.  Maybe only the most astute are even capable of seeing one?

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Guest DWA

*People,* in general, are pretty astute observers.  Keep in mind that they aren't being asked to do taxonomy; they are being asked to *describe the thing they saw.*  They aren't just saying "big hairy ape man."  They are providing detailed descriptions that jibe with what primate specialists consider characteristics of higher primates.  Can't see them doing that with bears.

 

Anyone who thinks that people are hallucinating or making mistakes is just not reading the reports.  Um, no they're not.

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Terry

 

 

So what your saying is that your buddies that sit in a tree stand during Deer season are just as likely to shoot a Moose because they cannot discern the difference between the two?

I would think that the Province would be revoking their rights to be hunters, absolutely. But luckily I think this type of crime is limited, as most hunters can follow game laws.

FWIW, my state has three different species of deer and ranges overlap.

 

No, what I was trying to say, and not very well I guess, is most hunters can't be relied on to know their flora and fauna even though we are told they do.

 

t,

Flora? Probably not? Fauna? They better......... If they cannot discern game species they have no business being out there.

If I'm expected by law to know the difference between a cinnamon phase black bear and a grizzly bear? I dang sure should be able to tell the difference between a bear and a bipedal ape man.

I dont see this skeptical viewpoint to be valid in many cases

 

As we all know, game species are easy to identify.  Sign, how they make a living, science of the species, etc. is different and beyond the interest of most folks.  Many if most hunters wouldn't know a martin track from a squirrel.

 

t.

Additionally, if we are to assume that most hunters don't pay attention to the flaura and fauna, can we also lump in hikers, backpackers, and campers?

 

Completely destroys the notion of people seeing them if they're out there.  Maybe only the most astute are even capable of seeing one?

 

I'd say so Cotter.  It takes a special interest to go above and beyond what most folks see in the wilderness.  Like in most things.  I can drive a car but I can't identify most of the intricate motor parts.

 

t.

 

t.

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Guest Crowlogic
This article has a lot to say about the perrenial lack of progress in the search.  Although it's well over a decade old it is totally relevant.  

Though sightings of the North American Bigfoot date back to the 1830s (Bord 1982), interest in Bigfoot grew rapidly during the second half of the twentieth century. This was spurred on by many magazine articles of the time, most seminally a December 1959 True magazine article describing the discovery of large, mysterious footprints the year before in Bluff Creek, California.

A half century later, the question of Bigfoot’s existence remains open. Bigfoot is still sought, the pursuit kept alive by a steady stream of sightings, occasional photos or footprint finds, and sporadic media coverage. But what evidence has been gathered over the course of fifty years? And what conclusions can we draw from that evidence?

Most Bigfoot investigators favor one theory of Bigfoot’s origin or existence and stake their reputations on it, sniping at others who don't share their views. Many times, what one investigator sees as clear evidence of Bigfoot another will dismiss out of hand. In July 2000, curious tracks were found on the Lower Hoh Indian Reservation in Washington state. Bigfoot tracker Cliff Crook claimed that the footprints were “for sure a Bigfoot,†though Jeffrey Meldrum, an associate professor of biological sciences at Idaho State University (and member of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization, BFRO) decided that there was not enough evidence to pursue the matter (Big Disagreement Afoot 2000). A set of tracks found in Oregon’s Blue Mountains have also been the source of controversy within the community. Grover Krantz maintains that they constitute among the best evidence for Bigfoot, yet longtime researcher Rene Dahinden claimed that “any village idiot can see [they] are fake, one hundred percent fake†(Dennett 1994).

And while many Bigfoot researchers stand by the famous 16 mm Patterson film (showing a large manlike creature crossing a clearing) as genuine (including Dahinden, who shared the film’s copyright), others including Crook join skeptics in calling it a hoax. In 1999, Crook found what he claims is evidence in the film of a bell-shaped fastener on the hip of the alleged Bigfoot, evidence that he suggests may be holding the ape costume in place (Dahinden claimed the object is matted feces) (Hubbell 1999).

Regardless of which theories researchers subscribe to, the question of Bigfoot’s existence comes down to evidence- and there is plenty of it. Indeed, there are reams of documents about Bigfoot-filing cabinets overflowing with thousands of sighting reports, analyses, and theories. Photographs have been taken of everything from the alleged creature to odd tracks left in snow to twisted branches. Collections exist of dozens or hundreds of footprint casts from all over North America. There is indeed no shortage of evidence.

The important criterion, however, is not the quantity of the evidence, but the quality of it. Lots of poor quality evidence does not add up to strong evidence, just as many cups of weak coffee cannot be combined into a strong cup of coffee.

Bigfoot evidence can be broken down into four general types: eyewitness sightings, footprints, recordings, and somatic samples (hair, blood, etc.). Some researchers (notably Loren Coleman 1999) also place substantial emphasis on folklore and indigenous legends. The theories and controversies within each category are too complex and detailed to go into here. I present merely a brief overview and short discussion of each; anyone interested in the details is encouraged to look further.

1. Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitness accounts and anecdotes comprise the bulk of Bigfoot evidence. This sort of evidence is also the weakest. Lawyers, judges, and psychologists are well aware that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. As Ben Roesch, editor of The Cryptozoological Review, noted in an article in Fortean Times, “Cryptozoology is based largely on anecdotal evidence. . . . [W]hile physical phenomena can be tested and systematically evaluated by science, anecdotes cannot, as they are neither physical nor regulated in content or form. Because of this, anecdotes are not reproducible, and are thus untestable; since they cannot be tested, they are not falsifiable and are not part of the scientific process. . . . Also, reports usually take place in uncontrolled settings and are made by untrained, varied observers. People are generally poor eyewitnesses, and can mistake known animals for supposed cryptids [unknown animals] or poorly recall details of their sighting. . . . Simply put, eyewitness testimony is poor evidence†(Roesch 2001).

Bigfoot investigators acknowledge that lay eyewitnesses can be mistaken, but counter that expert testimony should be given much more weight. Consider Coleman’s (1999) passage reflecting on expert eyewitness testimony: “[E]ven those scientists who have seen the creatures with their own eyes have been reluctant to come to terms with their observations in a scientific manner.†As an example he gives the account of “mycologist Gary Samuels†and his brief sighting of a large primate in the forest of Guyana. The implication is that this exacting man of science accurately observed, recalled, and reported his experience. And he may have. But Samuels is a scientific expert on tiny fungi that grow on wood. His expertise is botany, not identifying large primates in poor conditions. Anyone, degreed or not, can be mistaken.

2. Footprints

Bigfoot tracks are the most recognizable evidence; of course, the animal’s very name came from the size of the footprints it leaves behind. Unlike sightings, they are physical evidence: something (known animal, Bigfoot, or man) left the tracks. The real question is what the tracks are evidence of. In many cases, the answer is clear: they are evidence of hoaxing.

Contrary to many Bigfoot enthusiasts’ claims, Bigfoot tracks are not particularly consistent and show a wide range of variation (Dennett 1996). Some tracks have toes that are aligned, others show splayed toes. Most alleged Bigfoot tracks have five toes, but some casts show creatures with two, three, four, or even six toes (see figure 1). Surely all these tracks can't come from the same unknown creature, or even species of creatures.

Not all prints found are footprints, though. In September 2000, a team of investigators from the Bigfoot Field Research Organization led an expedition near Mt. Adams in Washington state, finding the first Bigfoot “body print,†which-if authentic-is arguably the most significant find in the past two decades. The Bigfoot, according to the team, apparently made the impression when it laid on its side at the edge of a muddy bank and reached over to grab some bait. This of course raises the question as to why the animal would make such an odd approach to the food, instead of simply walking over to it and taking it. As the log of the expedition reads, “One explanation is immediately apparent-the animal did not want to leave tracks. . . .†(BFRO 2000). This explanation fails on its own logic: If the Bigfoot (or whatever it was) was so concerned about not leaving traces of its presence, why did it then leave a huge fifteen-square-foot imprint in the mud for the team to find? (1)

3. Recordings
bigfoot2.jpg

Figure 2. A frame from the film shot by Roger Patterson in Bluff Creek, California in 1967. The subject is said to be a female Bigfoot.

The most famous recording of an alleged Bigfoot is the short 16 mm film taken in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. Shot in Bluff Creek, California, it shows a Bigfoot striding through a clearing (see figure 2). In many ways the veracity of the Patterson film is crucial, because the casts made from those tracks are as close to a gold standard as one finds in cryptozoology. Many in the Bigfoot community are adamant that the film is not-and, more important-cannot be a hoax. The question of whether the film is in fact a hoax or not is still open, but the claim that the film could not have been faked is demonstrably false.

Grover Krantz, for example, admits that the size of the creature in the film is well within human limits, but argues that the chest width is impossibly large to be human. “I can confidently state that no man of that stature is built that broadly,†he claims (Krantz 1992, 118). This assertion was examined by two anthropologists, David Daegling and Daniel Schmitt (1999), who cite anthropometric literature showing the “impossibly wide†chest is in fact within normal human variation. They also disprove claims that the Patterson creature walks in a manner impossible for a person to duplicate.

The film is suspect for a number of reasons. First, Patterson told people he was going out with the express purpose of capturing a Bigfoot on camera. In the intervening thirty-five years (and despite dramatic advances in technology and wide distribution of handheld camcorders), thousands of people have gone in search of Bigfoot and come back empty-handed (or with little but fuzzy photos). Second, a known Bigfoot track hoaxer claimed to have told Patterson exactly where to go to see the Bigfoot on that day (Dennett 1996). Third, Patterson made quite a profit from the film, including publicity for a book he had written on the subject and an organization he had started.

bigfoot3.jpg

Figure 3. Bigfoot allegedly photographed on July 11, 1995 by forest patrol officer at Wild Creek in Mount Ranier foothills, WA State.

In his book Bigfoot, John Napier, an anatomist and anthropologist who served as the Smithsonian Institution’s director of primate biology, devotes several pages to close analysis of the Patterson film (pp. 89-96; 215-220). He finds many problems with the film, including that the walk and size is consistent with a man’s; the center of gravity seen in the subject is essentially that of a human; and the step length is inconsistent with the tracks allegedly taken from the site. Don Grieve, an anatomist specializing in human gait, came to the conclusion that the walk was essentially human in type and could be made by a modern man. Napier writes that “there is little doubt that the scientific evidence taken collectively points to a hoax of some kind.â€

Other films and photos of creatures supposed to be Bigfoot have appeared, perhaps best-known among them the Wild Creek photos allegedly purchased by Cliff Crook of Bigfoot Central from an anonymous park ranger (see figure 3).

Bigfoot Voices

One of the more interesting bits of “evidence†offered for the existence of Bigfoot is sound recordings of vocalizations. One company, Sierra Sounds, markets a CD called “The Bigfoot Recordings: The Edge of Discovery.†Narrated by Jonathan Frakes (an actor who also narrated a special on the infamous “Alien Autopsy†hoax), the recording claims to have captured vocalizations among a Bigfoot family. The sounds are a series of guttural grunts, howls, and growls.

The Web site and liner notes offer testimonials by “expert†Nancy Logan. Logan, their “linguist,†apparently has little or no actual training (or degree) in linguistics. Her self-described credentials include playing the flute, speaking several languages, and having “a Russian friend [who] thinks I'm Russian.†Logan confidently asserts that the tapes are not faked, and that the vocal range is too broad to be made by a human. She suggests that the Bigfoot language shows signs of complexity, possibly including profanities: “On one spot of the tape, an airplane goes by and they seem to get very excited and not very happy about it. Maybe those are Sasquatch swear words.â€

Here’s what Krantz writes about Bigfoot recordings: “One... tape was analyzed by some university sound specialists who determined that a human voice could not have made them; they required a much longer vocal tract. A sasquatch investigator later asked one of these experts if a human could imitate the sound characteristics by simply cupping his hands around his mouth. The answer was yes†(Krantz 1992, 134). As for other such recordings, Krantz has “listened to at least ten such tapes and find no compelling reason to believe that any of them are what the recorders claimed them to be†(133).

4. Somatic Samples

Hair and blood samples have been recovered from alleged Bigfoot encounters. As with all the other evidence, the results are remarkable for their inconclusiveness. When a definite conclusion has been reached, the samples have invariably turned out to have prosaic sources-"Bigfoot hair†turns out to be elk, bear, or cow hair, for example, or suspected “Bigfoot blood†is revealed to be transmission fluid. Even advances in genetic technology have proven fruitless. Contrary to popular belief, DNA cannot be derived from hair samples alone; the root (or some blood) must be available.

In his book Big Footprints, Grover Krantz (1992) discusses evidence for Bigfoot other than footprints, including hair, feces, skin scrapings, and blood: “The usual fate of these items is that they either receive no scientific study, or else the documentation of that study is either lost or unobtainable. In most cases where competent analyses have been made, the material turned out to be bogus or else no determination could be made†(125). He continues, “A large amount of what looks like hair has been recovered from several places in the Blue Mountains since 1987. Samples of this were examined by many supposed experts ranging from the FBI to barbers. Most of these called it human, the Redkin Company found significant differences from human hair, but the Japan Hair Medical Science Lab declared it a synthetic fiber. A scientist at [Washington State] University first called it synthetic, then looked more closely and decided it was real hair of an unknown type. . . . Final confirmation came when E.B. Winn, a pharmaceutical businessman from Switzerland, had a sample tested in Europe. The fiber was positively identified as artificial and its exact composition was determined: it is a prod- uct known commercially as Dynel, which is often used as imitation hair.†In his analysis, Winn (1991) noted that another alleged Bigfoot sign found at the site, tree splintering, had also been faked.

Hoaxes, the Gold Standard, and the Problem of Experts

Such hoaxes have permanently and irreparably contaminated Bigfoot research. Skeptics have long pointed this out, and many Bigfoot researchers freely admit that their field is rife with fraud. This highlights a basic problem underlying all Bigfoot research: the lack of a standard measure. For example, we know what a bear track looks like; if we find a track that we suspect was left by a bear, we can compare it to one we know was left by a bear. But there are no undisputed Bigfoot specimens by which to compare new evidence. New Bigfoot tracks that don't look like older samples are generally not taken as proof that one (or both) sets are fakes, but instead that the new tracks are simply from a different Bigfoot, or from a different species or family. This unscientific lack of falsifiability plagues other areas of Bigfoot research as well.

Bigfoot print hoaxing is a time-honored cottage industry. Dozens of people have admitted making Bigfoot prints. One man, Rant Mullens, revealed in 1982 that he and friends had carved giant Bigfoot tracks and used them to fake footprints as far back as 1930 (Dennett 1996). In modern times it is easier to get Bigfoot tracks. With the advent of the World Wide Web and online auctions, anyone in the world can buy a cast of an alleged Bigfoot print and presumably make tracks that would very closely match tracks accepted by some as authentic.

What we have, then, are new tracks, hairs, and other evidence being compared toknown hoaxed tracks, hairs, etc. as well as possibly hoaxed tracks, hairs, etc. With sparse hard evidence to go on and no good standard by which to judge new evidence, it is little wonder that the field is in disarray and has trouble proving its theories. In one case, Krantz claimed as one of the gold standards of Bigfoot tracks a print that “passed all my criteria, published and private, that distinguishes sasquatch tracks from human tracks and from fakes†(Krantz 1992). He further agreed that it had all the signs of a living foot, and that no human foot could have made the imprint. Michael R. Dennett, investigating for the Skeptical Inquirer, tracked down the anonymous construction worker who supplied the Bigfoot print. The man admitted faking the tracks himself to see if Krantz could really detect a fake (Dennett 1994).

Krantz certainly isn't alone in his mistaken identifications. One of the biggest names in cryptozoology, Ivan Sanderson, was badly fooled by tracks he confidently proclaimed would be impossible to fake. In 1948 (and for a decade afterward), giant three-toed footprints were found along the beach in Clearwater, Florida. Sanderson, described as a man who “was extremely knowledgeable on many subjects, and had done more fieldwork than most zoologists do today†(Greenwell 1988), spent two weeks at the site of the tracks investigating, analyzing the tracks, and consulting other experts. He concluded that the tracks were made by a fifteen-foot-tall penguin.

In 1988, prankster Tony Signorini admitted he and a friend had made the tracks with a pair of cast iron feet attached to high-top black sneakers. J. Richard Greenwell, discussing the case in The ISC Newsletter (Winter 1988), summed the case up this way: “The lesson to be learned within cryptozoology is, of course, fundamental. Despite careful, detailed analyses by zoologists and engineers, which provided detailed and sophisticated mechanical and anatomical conclusions supporting the hypothesis of a real animal, we now see that, not only was the entire episode a hoax, but that it was perpetrated by relatively amateur, good-natured pranksters, not knowledgeable experts attempting, through their expertise, to fool zoological authorities.â€

The experts, however are only partly to blame for their repeated and premature proclamations of the authenticity of Bigfoot evidence. After all, other areas of science are not fraught with such deception and hoaxing; in physics and biology, light waves and protozoa aren't trying to trick their observers.

Even when there is no intentional hoaxing, “experts†have been fooled. In March 1986, Anthony Wooldridge, an experienced hiker in the Himalayas, saw what he thought was a Yeti (Himalayan Bigfoot) standing in the snow near a ridge about 500 feet away. He described the figure as having a head that was “large and squarish,†and the body “seemed to be covered with dark hair.†It didn't move or make noise, but Wooldridge saw odd tracks in the snow that seemed to lead toward the figure. He took two photos of the creature, which were later analyzed and shown to be genuine and undoctored. Many in the Bigfoot community seized upon the Wooldridge photos as clear evidence of a Yeti, including John Napier. Many suggested that because of his hiking experience it was unlikely Wooldridge made a mistake. The next year researchers returned to the spot and found that Wooldridge had simply seen a rock outcropping that looked vertical from his position. Wooldridge admitted his misidentification (Wooldridge 1987).

Smoke and Fire

Bigfoot researchers readily admit that many sightings are misidentifications of normal animals, while others are downright hoaxes. Diane Stocking, a curator for the BFRO, concedes that about 70 percent of sightings turn out to be hoaxes or mistakes (Jasper 2000); Loren Coleman puts the figure even higher, at at least 80 percent (Klosterman 1999). The remaining sightings, that small portion of reports that can't be explained away, intrigue researchers and keep the pursuit active. The issue is then essentially turned into the claim that “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.â€

But is that really true? Does the dictum genuinely hold that, given the mountains of claims and evidence, there must be some validity to the claims? I propose not; the evidence suggests that there are enough sources of error (bad data, flawed methodological assumptions, mistaken identifications, poor memory recall, hoaxing, etc.) that there does not have to be (nor is likely to be) a hidden creature lurking amid the unsubstantiated cases.

The claim also has several inherent assumptions, including the notion that the unsolved claims (or sightings) are qualitatively different from the solved ones. But paranormal research and cryptozoology are littered with cases that were deemed irrefutable evidence of the paranormal, only to fall apart upon further investigation or hoaxer confessions. There will always be cases in which there simply is not enough evidence to prove something one way or the other. To use an analogy borrowed from investigator Joe Nickell, just because a small percentage of homicides remain unsolved doesn't mean that we invoke a “homicide gremlin"-appearing out of thin air to take victims’ lives-to explain the unsolved crimes. It is not that such cases are unexplainable using known science, just that not enough (naturalistic) information is available to make a final determination.

A lack of information (or negative evidence) cannot be used as positive evidence for a claim. To do so is to engage in the logical fallacy of arguing from ignorance: We don't know what left the tracks or what the witnesses saw, therefore it must have been Bigfoot. Many Bigfoot sightings report “something big, dark, and hairy.†But Bigfoot is not the only (alleged) creature that matches that vague description.

The Future for Bigfoot

Ultimately, the biggest problem with the argument for the existence of Bigfoot is that no bones or bodies have been discovered. This is really the 800-pound Bigfoot on the researchers’ backs, and no matter how they explain away the lack of other types of evidence, the simple fact remains that, unlike nearly every other serious “scientific†pursuit, they can't point to a live or dead sample of what they're studying. If the Bigfoot creatures across the United States are really out there, then each passing day should be one day closer to their discovery. The story we're being asked to believe is that thousands of giant, hairy, mysterious creatures are constantly eluding capture and discovery and have for a century or more. At some point, a Bigfoot’s luck must run out: one out of the thousands must wander onto a freeway and get killed by a car, or get shot by a hunter, or die of natural causes and be discovered by a hiker. Each passing week and month and year and decade that go by without definite proof of the existence of Bigfoot make its existence less and less likely.

On the other hand, if Bigfoot is instead a self-perpetuating phenomenon with no genuine creature at its core, the stories, sightings, and legends will likely continue unabated for centuries. In this case the believers will have all the evidence they need to keep searching-some of it provided by hoaxers, others perhaps by honest mistakes, all liberally basted with wishful thinking. Either way it’s a fascinating topic. If Bigfoot exist, then the mystery will be solved; if they don't exist, the mystery will endure. So far it has endured for at least half a century.

Notes

  1. The way in which the track was discovered raises questions as well. The expedition log gives an account of how “[Team member Richard] Noll notices an unusual impression in the transition mud at the edge of the wallow and suddenly figures out what caused it. [Team members] Fish and Randles note the shock on Noll’s face and come over to have another look at what he’s examining. The three observe and note the various parts of the impression, and the chunks of chewed apple core nearby. The base camp is alerted. Everyone comes to see the impression. All conclude the animal was laying on its side at the edge of the mud, reaching out over the soft mud to grab the fruit†(BFRO 2000). So what you have is a case where a group of people are looking for evidence of a Bigfoot. One observer believes he sees a pattern fitting what he’s looking for in ambiguous stimuli (shapes in mud). Once the pattern is pointed out to others, they also agree that the pattern could match up to parts of a hominid form in a particular contortion. The rest of the group, who might never have decided on their own that the pattern fits a Bigfoot, then validate the initial observer’s (possibly unwarranted) conclusion. This happens all the time, for example when a person recognizes a face or an image in clouds or stains or tortillas. As psychologists know, observers’ expectations frequently color their interpretations.


References
  • Baird, D. 1989. Sasquatch footprints: A proposed method of fabrication.Cryptozoology 8: 43-46.
  • Betts, J. 1996. Wanted: Dead or alive. Fortean Times 93: 34-35, December.

  • BFRO. 2000. Account of the expedition. Bigfoot Field Research Organization. Available at www.bfro.net.

  • Big Disagreement Afoot. 2000. Associated Press report on ABCnews.com.

  • Bord, J., and Colin Bord. 1982. The Bigfoot Casebook. Harrisburg (Pa.): Stackpole Books.

  • Coleman, L. 1996. Footage furore flares. Fortean Times 91, October.
    • 1998. Suits you, sir! Fortean Times 106, January.


  • Coleman, L., and P. Huyghe. 1999. The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide. New York: Avon Books.

  • Daegling, D., and D. Schmitt. 1999. Bigfoot’s screen test. Skeptical Inquirer 23(3), May/June: 20-25.

  • Dennett, M. 1989. Evidence for Bigfoot? An investigation of the Mill Creek 'Sasquatch Prints.' Skeptical Inquirer 13(3), Spring: 264-272.
    • 1994. Bigfoot evidence: Are these tracks real? Skeptical Inquirer 18(5), Fall: 498-508.
    • 1996. Bigfoot. In Stein, G. (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus.

    • 2001. Personal communication, May 1.


  • Fahrenbach, W.H. 1998. Re: Interim statement on the Blue Mountain / Ohio hair. Available at Bigfoot Field Researcher’s Homepage, www.bfro.net.

  • Freeland, D., and W. Rowe. 1989. Alleged pore structure in Sasquatch (Bigfoot) footprints. Skeptical Inquirer 13(3), Spring: 273-276.

  • Green, J. 1968. On the Track of the Sasquatch. Cheam Publishing Ltd. Agassiz, B.C.
    • 2000. Green says Skookum Cast may be proof. In BFRO press release.


  • Greenwell, J.R. 1988. Florida “Giant Penguin†hoax revealed. The ISC Newsletter. 7(4), Winter.

  • Hubbell. J.M. 1999. Bigfoot enthusiasts discredit film. Associated Press report, January 10.

  • Jasper, D. 2000. Bigfoot strikes again! Weekly Planet October 26-November 1.

  • Klosterman, C. 1999. Believing in Bigfoot. Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), March 24.

  • Krantz, G. 1992. Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry Into the Reality of Sasquatch. Boulder: Johnson Books.

  • Napier, J. 1973. Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co.

  • Roesch, B. 2001. On the nature of cryptozoology and science. Fortean Timesonline, March.

  • Winn, E. 1991. Physical and morphological analysis of samples of fiber purported to be Sasquatch hair. Cryptozoology 10: 55-65.

  • Wooldridge, A.B. 1987. The Yeti: A rock after all? Cryptozoology 6: 135.

  • Zuefle, D. 1999. Tracking Bigfoot on the Internet. Skeptical Inquirer 23(3), May/June: 26-28.



Benjamin Radford
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Benjamin Radford, M.Ed., is a scientific paranormal investigator, a research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, deputy editor of the Skeptical Inquirer, and author, co-author, contributor, or editor of twenty books and over a thousand articles on skepticism, critical thinking, and science literacy. His newest book is Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment. Radford is also a columnist for Discovery News and LiveScience.com.

Edited by Crowlogic

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