The Boston Phoenix: Cryptozoology and Loren Coleman

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43 Responses to “The Boston Phoenix: Cryptozoology and Loren Coleman”

  1. plainsaman says:

    Regarding BFRO, I never said they were con-artists. I merely suggested that they know how to turn a buck. As a matter of fact, I would commend them for constructing a terrific business model, designed to create true believers and keep them coming back again and again. Snagging an eccentric rich guy to help grease the skids was definitely a plus. The BFRO members I have personally spoken with most definitely DO proselytize – constantly. Just like religious converts. Of course, I also know people who won’t shut up about World of Warcraft.

    As for the list of scientists, I guess you could call them the big five, as their names turn up all over the place on enthusiast sites. For the most part all they have done is speak in generalizations about not discounting the possibility of an unknown giant hominid existing. Nothing too revolutionary there.

    As far as I can tell Schaller, Goodall and Mittermeier have done no personal investigating at all. I don’t know how much of a believer Sarmiento is – he does a nice job demonstrating how fake foot castings can be made, though. Swindler (unfortunate name) who is long retired and 84, seems mostly known for his positive assessment of the ridiculously vague Skookum Cast.

    Just as I would ask (repeatedly) of the Intelligent Design crowd, after all these years of investigation, where is the peer-reviewed data???

  2. Ian70 says:

    a) “Cryptids are recession-proof”
    b) Human gullibility and stupidity are also recession-proof.

    Hmmm….. I think I see a pattern here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget about “Ressie” in central Mississippi.

    http://ressiesightings.blogspot.com

    • Antinous says:

      I had assumed that the Boston Phoenix had gone the way of the thylacine. I guess that just because I haven’t seen something for thirty years doesn’t mean that it’s extinct.

  4. ill lich says:

    @SAEHN

    A more rational approach would be to admit that there’s no reliable rational or physical evidence for the creature’s existence, but that there’s enough material to warrant further study, if only as a cultural phenomena.

    Well, that IS almost exactly what I HAVE been saying; read back over my comments and tell me what was irrational about my (previous) statements. In fact in my first post here I said “I suspect they probably exist” but that short of a body there’s no way to convince a skeptic otherwise (and I understand that point of view perfectly). I’m not so much thumbing-my-nose as giving some good-natured ribbing (it’s hard to always know somebody’s tone in print). I’ve had these arguments before and I tire of them: they are essentially all about your opinion of what the “evidence” means (or even if it constitutes evidence at all), and it’s pretty pointless to browbeat each other over opinions: “I say that’s a Sasquatch footprint” versus “I think it’s just the footprint of a really large man.”

    I used to be a complete skeptic with regards to the phenomenon– it was silly hysteria and 1970′s fads, but after reading a lot of the available research I turned a corner. Now I get mocked by some friends on a regular basis. Sure, Bigfoot believers can be zealous, but I think of it more like “gold fever” than religious fervor– they want to be part of what they think will be a huge scientific discovery (and I’m sure we can all agree it would be just that). There are plenty of scientists who have zeal about what they study, that doesn’t mean they are part of a cult, any more than your zeal in telling me I’m wrong makes you part of a cult.

    Occam’s razor shaves in both directions. If you were to see a large bipedal hairy humanoid in a very remote area, when nobody knew you were going to be there, do you assume it’s a hoax? Do you assume “that’s a bear that, unlike all other bears, walks on two feet for long distances”? Or do you assume “there’s more to the world than I previously thought”? We are outside that sphere because none of us has been in that situation. Some of us are calling the witnesses liars or fools, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as long as they seem lucid and rational. I don’t see either point of view as being unreasonable, but it appears some of you think my point of view is just that.

  5. plainsaman says:

    Respected scientists? Like who for instance? I assume you consider Jeff Meldron in this category. From what I understand he is respected by his department colleagues at Idaho State just about as much as Michael Behe is by his colleagues at Lehigh. I’m going to guess that Meldron never said a peep about bigfoot until after he achieved tenure, much as Behe never mentioned intelligent design before his tenure. Correct me if I’m wrong. And as far as I know, neither one has ever offered any actual research on their pet quest to any peer-reviewed journal. Having been a field archaeologist for 22 years, the scientists I’m familiar with who are aware of these gentlemen find their efforts a bit comical, or in Behe’s case comical AND disingenuous.

  6. Pipenta says:

    If cryptid is simply a pop-culture name for a species that hasn’t been noted, described and named by science, then we all have cryptids living in our states. You may well have some living in your own backyard. Granted, it is most likely a beetle or a fly or a tardigrade or something on that scale. Tardigrades are as weird and weirder than Bigfoot and they’re real.

    And lots of real scientists are in dire need of funds.

    The real creatures are NOT recession proof. The more desperate we get, the more ruthlessly and thoughtlessly we rip up habitats in the name of profits or cheap (well, depending on how you define cheap) food.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The more desperate we get, the more ruthlessly and thoughtlessly we rip up habitats in the name of profits or cheap (well, depending on how you define cheap) food.

      Or, more simply, Sasquatch à la King.

  7. ill lich says:

    @BRAINSPORE

    decades of searching have yielded zero verifiable data supporting the existence of a bigfoot.

    So that means we should stop looking?

    Ohhhkayyyyy. . . I think I understand now . . . you and PLAINSMAN are actually true believers, and want people to stop looking lest we destroy their habitat and/or incite millions of hunters to bag a trophy nobody else has.

    I’ll play along; your secret’s safe with me. ;-)

  8. Takuan says:

    anyone who ever spent a night alone in bear inhabited woods knows how easy it is to believe in sasquatches.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      anyone who ever spent a night alone in bear inhabited woods knows how easy it is to believe in sasquatches.

      When I was staying at Tengboche, I was terrified to leave the tent to pee in the middle of the night. They have yeti bits preserved in the monastery there.

  9. ill lich says:

    @PLAINSMAN

    The serious research is being done by people like Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University, who has amassed a huge collection of footprint castings, many of which are far too detailed to be hoaxes as they include evidence of dermal ridges, and in some cases naturally occurring (though rare) foot deformities.

    @BRAINSPORE

    If I were to show you a footprint not made by hoaxers, but by an actual Bigfoot, how would you know? Without the Bigfoot handy to compare prints you would assume it was a hoax, so don’t pretend that a footprint alone (however well defined and detailed) is going to change your mind.

    Hoaxes: to believe that all sightings and footprints are hoaxes you would have to assume there was an army of hoaxers running around in the back country, wearing fur suits in the summer or even during hunting season (!), with very detailed fake feet to make prints good enough to fool a podiatrist. This is the only way to believe that hunters and hikers who get lost and who stumble upon an encounter are being fooled by hoaxers (who would have to sit in wait, somehow knowing that a lost hiker is coming by later). The other alternative is that they themselves are the hoaxers, and gladly trade a lifetime of mockery from friends and neighbors for a few minutes of TV fame. There are far more sightings reported than the ones that make the evening news.

    A question: what do you think of this site?

    http://bfro.net/

    Are they serious and respectable? Deluded? or just scam artists selling t-shirts?

  10. Takuan says:

    how many years have cheap night-vision scopes been publicly available now?

  11. plainsaman says:

    Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the finding of images or sounds in random stimuli. As for matching eye-witness accounts, pattern recognition may be related to plans, goals, and ideology, and may be a matter of group ideology rather than a matter of solitary delusion.

  12. ill lich says:

    My original statement:

    there are several respected scientists (who have no stake in the matter one way or another) who think it’s a reasonable line of inquiry.

    So NO, these people do not necessarily do the research, nor did I claim so, they just point out that the research should not be dismissed.

    I believe the scorn that even the mention of Bigfoot gets among scientists has effectively kept most serious researchers away; look at the scorn you heaped on Meldrum (similarly by some of his fellow professors, if what you say is true). If Meldrum did indeed wait until he was tenured before going public with his Bigfoot theories, well . . . can you blame him?

    Yes, there is no 100% verifiable physical evidence, and that is troubling (you deride the Skookum cast, and I can’t say I blame you– it looks like a big lump of nothing to me, however, what the hell do either of us really know about primate physiology?), but I also think that does not mean people should stop looking. Man’s quest for heavier-than-air flight took a long time and a lot of death and injury and spectacular failures before any successes were recorded. I would not be surprised if more than a century ago plenty of reputable scientists insisted that it was impossible, and yet a couple amateurs working methodically in a bike shop figured it out. So I take umbrage with your derision of amateurs earlier in this debate; if someone is meticulous and methodical and following the scientific method then they are a “scientist” even if they are a 10-year-old with a chemistry set.

    So, “where is the peer-reviewed data”, well, you’re right, there isn’t very much. Perhaps you should consider Bigfoot research still just in the theoretical stage, and the problem here is that (according to the theories) physical evidence of Bigfoot is hard to find because of the nature of the beast (a tough catch-22 to overcome). I don’t think it’s that huge a leap to accept there may be a creature that is probably nocturnal, lives in very small populations in remote areas, evolved a strong fear of humans and the intelligence needed to avoid them. I’m sure this sounds all too perfect to the skeptic, but the theory grew out of an accumulation of similarities in eyewitness accounts: reports of Bigfoot “eye shine” (tapetum lucidum) in low light, they are most often seen only in very rural areas singularly or in groups of no more than three, and they always flee when humans make their presence known. In other words the theory was not created as an excuse, it was based on the available data, which may or may not have inconsistencies (like any data). It’s just a very difficult theory to prove, and the history of science is littered with those, some proven some abandoned. Perhaps Bigfoot research will be abandoned at some point too.

    I understand the comparison with Creationism (proponents want it called “Intelligent Design”– I’m not playing along), but there is a big difference here: they spend the vast amount of their “research” trying to find fault with evolutionary theory and carbon dating rather than doing experiments. They are not interested in science, they are interested in finding a sneaky way to change public policy. There is nothing political or theological about Bigfoot, and Bigfoot researchers absolutely accept evolution and carbon dating. Creationists also work backwards from the assumption (or perhaps “law”) that “the Earth can’t be older than 5000 years” which is absolutely unscientific. As I noted earlier, the theories around Bigfoot came from comparisons of many eyewitness accounts– it’s not the best data in the world but it’s a start, and I think it’s reasonable. I understand you disagree. Fair enough.

    (I’m sorry if I was overly sarcastic earlier in this debate. I actually didn’t really want to get involved in this– the goddamn internet sucks up so much valuable time, and once I get on a tear it’s hard to stop. My snarky “your secret’s safe with me, wink wink” comments were an attempt to extricate myself from the debate with some humor, but also to burn any bridge back so that I wasn’t pondering and typing away until all hours of the night. . . which I now seem to have done).

  13. Brainspore says:

    @ ILL LICH:

    I doubt that I personally would be able to tell a real footprint from a fake, but I bet there are forensic anthropologists who might be able to. Or maybe I’m wrong and a footprint is a bad example. How about a high-resolution photograph or two? Preferably one that’s in focus.

    Frankly I don’t think it really matters if BFRO and similar efforts are made up of honest professionals, con artists or the self-deluded. Whichever the case may be, the results are the same: decades of searching have yielded zero verifiable data supporting the existence of a bigfoot.

  14. Takuan says:

    there is a hunger for cryptids. Advances in genetics will one day bring us the ability to supply that hunger. Is it ethical to build a yeti using large primate/human genes?

  15. ill lich says:

    Respected scientists? Like who for instance?

    OK, you don’t consider Meldrum “respectable”? fair enough. How about these?:

    George Schaller

    Jane Goodall

    Russell Mittermeier

    Daris Swindler

    Esteban Sarmiento

    You know. . . I’m not trying to force anyone to believe exactly what I believe, just to relent on one point– it’s not completely without merit. I have already (several times) admitted that there is no proof, and that skeptics have every right to be skeptical. It seems you guys are far more concerned with converting me to your side than I am in the opposite.

  16. ill lich says:

    @BRAINSPORE

    I think you and I agree on one point– that those who have decided that Bigfoot is not real will not be swayed by anything other than an actual verifiable body, living or dead (which was really the point of my original post). You/they have valid reasons for not believing it’s possible for a previously unknown primate to exist in North America; I understand that, in fact I was among that camp for a long time too.

    But you also seem to have a problem with any serious scientific inquiry into the phenomena:

    I don’t think the existence of bigfoot is “impossible” or “non-debatable.” I just haven’t seen any evidence that an extant non-human hominid is remotely likely, or worthy of serious debate.

    Please explain “serious debate”– you seem to be contradicting yourself here, or at least saying it’s only open to “non-serious debate”, which I guess means joking around about Bigfoot after we’ve had a few beers, a la the drunks on The Simpsons debating whether “Muhammad Ali in his prime was way better than anti-lock brakes.” To me this is the same as “non-debatable.”

    Sure, “vague eyewitness accounts” are in no way “extraordinary”, but I’m not claiming they are any kind of proof, just a logical reason to give the idea serious scientific inquiry. Schliemann used they mythological accounts of Troy as a basis for investigating and unearthing ancient cities in Asia Minor that may very well be the basis of the Troy mythos; I’m sure a lot of people thought he was wasting his time too. The fact that you haven’t seen any evidence makes me ask two questions: 1. how much have you really studied the phenomenon? and 2. what constitutes “evidence that an extant non-human hominid is … worthy of serious debate.”? (I think that hundreds of people claiming to have seen the exact same thing is worthy of investigation, even if it only gives us new insight into the nature of hysteria. It is by no means solid “evidence” but it points the way towards serious inquiry.)

    You also seem to have some bone to pick with cryptozoologist. Coleman’s credentials appear pretty solid to me; he’s not making claims about Sasquatch traveling across dimensions or being part of an Illuminati/CIA plot. I know there are Bigfoot fanatics out there that make those kinds of claims, but that doesn’t mean anyone who seriously studies Bigfoot is a crackpot (any more than a infomercial huckster who claims to have a cure for cancer from common household ingredients means that cancer research in general is a waste of time.) The number of people who can reasonably define themselves as professional crytozoologists is pretty small, so the fact that you don’t know of a cryptozoologist discovering a new species is simply the nature of the odds in play here.

  17. ill lich says:

    @BRAINSPORE

    Like I said, there’s nothing I can say.

    “Remotely likely, or worthy of serious debate”

    In the article Coleman himself says he’s not a true-believer in Bigfoot, he’s a believer in undocumented species, which we can all agree do exist (every year scientists document previously unknown creatures); Bigfoot naysayers don’t spend a lot of time trying to debunk a villagers tale of a previously undocumented small mountain finch, for some reason.

    So I guess it’s a matter of opinion what constitutes “worthy of serious debate.” You don’t think Bigfoot merits that, well OK then: we have nothing to discuss. I think the simple fact that Native American tales involving Sasquatch (which are remarkably similar across many tribes) match up so closely with hundreds of current eye-witness accounts (which are also very similar, and from reasonable people who have nothing to gain from their tales– ignoring known hoaxers) makes it “worthy of serious debate” even if Bigfoot doesn’t exist. I am not aware of hundreds of eyewitness accounts of unicorns, please correct me if I’m wrong. I also don’t think you know the true extent of the research; we’re not discussing unicorns or perpetual motion or vampires or the Holy Grail.

  18. plainsaman says:

    OK, I’ll get BFRO out of the way first. From what I can see, BFRO is primarily interested in separating enthusiasts from several hundred dollars at a time for 3-4 day “expeditions” into various bigfoot “hotbeds”.

    As to the larger question at hand, bigfoot “researchers” readily admit that many sightings are misidentifications of normal animals, while others are downright hoaxes. Diane Stock, a curator for BFRO, concedes that about 70% of sightings turn out to be hoaxes or mistakes. Loren Coleman puts the figure even higher, at at least 80%. The remaining sightings, that small portion of reports that can’t be explained away, keep the pursuit active. Does the dictum hold that, given the mountains of claims and evidence, there MUST be some validity to the claims? 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 is simply not enough evidence to prove something one way or the other. 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 or arguing from ignorance: we don’t know what left the tracks or what the witnesses saw, therefore it must be have been bigfoot. Many sightings report “something big, dark and hairy”, but bigfoot is not the only (alleged) creature that matches that vague description.

    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 are studying. If the bigfoot creatures across the U.S. 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 thousands must wander onto a freeway and get killed by a car, or get killed by a hunter, or die of natural causes and be discovered by a hiker. Each passing week 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 them searching – some provided by hoaxers, others by honest mistakes, all liberally basted with wishful thinking. More expedition money for BFROs’ pockets.

  19. Brainspore says:

    I think Bigfoot legends are fun, but most of his true believers could use a shave with Occam’s Razor.

    To date I’ve never heard of any new species confirmed and documented by a self-proclaimed “cryptozoologist.” Which is not to say that strange creatures aren’t out there to be discovered- just that the people who do so tend to be the regular kind of zoologist.

  20. plainsaman says:

    This argument (or apologetic) for giving the benefit of the doubt to amateurs, while admirably democratic, still avoids the glaring lack of anything but hearsay evidence. (Heinrich Schliemann, a cowboy scientifically (and a damn lucky one) as well as a treasure smuggler seems a somewhat curious choice for admiration).

    There is a large body of hominid evidence available in paleontology. Some bigfoot believers point to gigantopithicus blacki as a possible genetic origin, mostly due to the very large size of this ape (although this large size is interpolated from jaw fragments only). The problem here is the youngest known remains are 100,000 years old and in southern Asia. Explaining how ANY giant ape/hominid could have gotten to North America AND never left any remains of any kind that have yet been found in the history of paleontology is no small question.

    And just what is a “professional cryptozoologist” anyway? I guess I missed those courses in my college class catalog.

  21. ill lich says:

    Yup. You’re absolutely right, Bigfoot does not exist. (Wink wink).

  22. saehn says:

    Is that campy response the best that you can do, Ill Lich? Plainsaman took the time and energy to type out a well thought out reply, summarizing some of the basic concepts of a rational approach to this subject, and you thumb your nose at him?

    Sounds like you just want to believe that Bigfoot is real. A more rational approach would be to admit that there’s no reliable rational or physical evidence for the creature’s existence, but that there’s enough material to warrant further study, if only as a cultural phenomena.

    If you want to convince a rational skeptic of something, just provide evidence that can withstand rigorous critical analysis. For us, belief isn’t a matter of choice so much as inescapability.

  23. ill lich says:

    “Cryptids are recession proof” is like saying “poverty is recession proof”– nobody is making a fortune hunting Bigfoot, and very few can make a living at it.

    We spent a day wandering around part of the Hockamock Swamp a few years ago, and all I found was a tick on my side. That said, I still suspect Bigfoot/Yeti probably exists (somewhere), but there’s nothing I can say to a non-believer that would convince them that it’s reasonable to even believe in the possibility (to them it’s not even debatable).

  24. Brainspore says:

    …there’s nothing I can say to a non-believer that would convince them that it’s reasonable to even believe in the possibility (to them it’s not even debatable).

    You can always say “here’s some actual evidence for bigfoot” and then present it for scientific review.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes I think the rarest cryptid, the missing link, is whoever it is that designs Colemans site. I find it damn near unavigable.

    Oh, it really isn;t that bad. It is just that it isn’t good. It is hard to find info there, even when Boing Boing links directly to it.

  26. ill lich says:

    OK, I’ll get BFRO out of the way first. From what I can see, BFRO is primarily interested in separating enthusiasts from several hundred dollars at a time for 3-4 day “expeditions” into various bigfoot “hotbeds”.

    From the BFRO site:

    “The BFRO is a volunteer organization and thus never relied much on the expedition fees to keep the effort going. Furthermore the BFRO existed for nearly ten years before its field efforts were open to public participation in exchange for a fee. The expeditions themselves were never intended as a profit-making operation, but rather a realization of the original goal of the group — to conduct organized field research on bigfoots (hence the name “Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization”).

    “Due to the expenses involved, the expeditions lost money for the first two years until they attracted support from multi-millionaire Wally Hersom, a long-time follower of the BFRO web site. He attended a few expeditions in 2006 and thereafter concluded that the BFRO was the best bet for proving the existence of these animals to the skeptical public.”

    I can verify this at least partially: when I first came upon the BFRO site about 9 years ago, they offered expeditions only on a very irregular basis (they would plan for months in advance, and from what I recall perhaps a handful of people would come), so I think it’s unfair to assume their primary goal was to trick enthusiasts out of a few hundred dollars. Now, if you come to their site with the preconceived notion that Bigfoot research is hokum promoted by hucksters, and give it only a cursory reading, naturally you will assume they are making a mint off gullible believers. To be completely fair, I do not know anybody at BFRO, they could indeed be a bunch of con-artists, but I have checked out their site for 9 years, roughly a couple times a year (I find their sighting reports fascinating reads, even if I don’t believe all of them), and they they haven’t changed much: they seem very methodical and skeptical themselves, and (credit where it’s due) they saw through last years Georgia Bigfoot Hoax long before it made headlines.

  27. ill lich says:

    @PLAINSMAN

    Define “amateur.” If someone makes a living at it, by definition aren’t they then a “professional”? Is a professor of zoology at a state university who seriously studies the Bigfoot phenomenon an “amateur?” Sure, the field is choked with amateurs, so is computer science and astronomy.

    Schliemann: I agree, hardly a serious scientist, lucky, and not exactly admirable. My point was that sometimes even evidence that looks suspect and gets no scientific respect can point the way to important discoveries; Schliemann’s baggage in no way compromises that idea.

    Explaining how ANY giant ape/hominid could have gotten to North America AND never left any remains of any kind that have yet been found in the history of paleontology is no small question.

    This argument (the “lack of fossil evidence” portion) sounds dangerously close to creationist theories about “lack of fossilized transitional forms” as some kind of evidence that evolution is bunk. Sure, fossil evidence of gigantopithecus blacki is scarce, but there are very few fossils of some probable human ancestors too (there are only a few partial skeltons for australopithecus afarensis); not everything that dies becomes a fossil. Gigantopithecus blacki is one possible explanation, and not a particularly radical explanation either.

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m not pointing to hearsay accounts and screaming “PROOF”, I’m pointing to hundreds of documented accounts, North American mythology, detailed footprint castings, some scant audio recordings, and possible film footage, and saying “this merits serious investigation, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.”

  28. Brainspore says:

    …just as a clarification to Ill Lich, I don’t think the existence of bigfoot is “impossible” or “non-debatable.” I just haven’t seen any evidence that an extant non-human hominid is remotely likely, or worthy of serious debate. I have a similar attitude toward Unicorns.

  29. plainsaman says:

    True believers could also use a quick course in self-diagnosing apophenia and pareidolia.

  30. plainsaman says:

    The genuine lack of ANY physical evidence for a giant North American (or any hemisphere) hominid, whether bones, scat, or anything else is hardly equivalent to the IDiot/Creationist arguements which are demonstrably incorrect. The problem with bigfoot proponents is that not unlike ID proponents, their arguments are based on bluster rather than actual RESEARCH. Where is the peer-reviewed research from the bigfoot hunters? Where is the “serious” investigation?

    And by the way, at Hadar alone at least 250 specimens from approximately 35 A. afarensis individuals have been recovered. I’ve heard current estimates for hominid fossils at around the 10,000 mark.

  31. ill lich says:

    @PLAINSAMAN

    the same unswerving faith and proselytizing as a religious cult.

    I imagine you are implying this is me, and I don’t think that’s really fair. Unlike someone who believes the rapture is imminent, I am not willing to bet everything I own that Bigfoot exists (are you willing to bet everything you own that Bigfoot does not exist?), I just think there is a higher probability of its existence than you are comfortable with. Unlike a religious acolyte I make jokes about Bigfoot all the time; when someone asks me if I have ever seen one I sometimes reply “YES, I seen two o’ them Bigfoot-creatures in a men’s room on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1983. . . they mighta been professional wrestlers though.”

    Do I want to believe in Bigfoot? Of course. I think even hardcore skeptics will admit it would be pretty cool IF somebody actually finds a corpse or captures one live. The desire for an incredible scientific discovery hasn’t made me into some kind of crackpot. A lot of scientists want to believe in a grand unified theory, it drives their research, does that make them crackpots? Or at the very least, does that mean we should discount all their research because they aren’t being skeptical enough?

    And it’s not as if Bigfoot research is only considered valid by lonely weirdos, hucksters and crackpots; there are several respected scientists (who have no stake in the matter one way or another) who think it’s a reasonable line of inquiry.

  32. ron___b says:

    Anybody have a source for (or confirmation of) the quote about the 300:1 ratio of human-trod to untrod land?

  33. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    “Venture out into the waters and woodlands of New England, and there’s a chance you’ll bump into “Champ,” America’s own Loch Ness Monster, who allegedly plies the muddy ripples of Lake Champlain.”

    Let’s not forget about the Wildman of 95th street, on New York’s upper West Side.

  34. randomcat says:

    “Cryptids are recession-proof,” Loren says. The online version of Mike Miliard’s article includes a delightful slideshow from the incredible International Cryptozoology Museum which is in dire need of donations.

    Huh? Is he saying they’re unaffected by the recession because they’re always in dire need of donations?

  35. Brainspore says:

    Bigfoot naysayers don’t spend a lot of time trying to debunk a villagers tale of a previously undocumented small mountain finch, for some reason.

    Perhaps that’s because finding a new species of bird is hardly without precedent. By contrast, finding an extant species of non-human hominid (in North America, of all places!) would overturn everything we thought we knew about the evolution and migration of apes.

    In other words, discovering a bigfoot-like creature would be far more extraordinary than finding, say, a new species of giant squid or a previously undocumented bird. Extraordinary claims warrant extraordinary evidence, and I don’t consider vague eyewitness accounts “extraordinary.”

    I wish Coleman and his fellow cryptid-hunters well, but if a self-proclaimed “cryptozoologist” ever does discover a new species I suspect it will be along the lines of a bird or a squid rather than a yeti.

  36. plainsaman says:

    The interesting (and disturbing) element of actually talking to a bigfoot/BFRO acolyte is the reverence and zeal of their conversation – the same unswerving faith and proselytizing as a religious cult.

  37. Brainspore says:

    @ ILL LICH:

    Like Plainsaman, I would be willing to reevaluate my stance on the likelihood of a bigfoot if I was presented with ANY tangible evidence. A body (living or dead) would be ideal, but I’d accept blood, scat, hair, a fossil, or even a decent footprint that wasn’t created by hoaxers.

    When I say bigfoot isn’t “worthy of serious debate” what I mean is that thus far there hasn’t been any evidence to make us naysayers seriously reconsider our opinion that there is no such thing as a sasquatch, so any debate on the subject (such as this one) is purely academic.

    As for my stance on “cryptozoologists” it’s not so much that I have a bone to pick with them as that I find it hard to take their field very seriously until it makes some tangible contribution to the world of science. Thus far, I’ve never heard of any self-identified cryptozoologist making a discovery that withstood the peer review process. If that ever changes I’ll be as excited as anyone.

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