Anyone who’s listened to the show for more than a couple episodes knows how I try to keep the conversation off the Patterson-Gimlin Film. And yet, here we are inching closer and closer to what may be the ultimate PGF smack-down episode with special guest Bill Munns. What gives?
My co-host Scott Herriott is often going on about how those in pursuit of the truth about bigfoot should be scientific. And, of course, he’s right. But I feel a little like Inigo Montoya when I hear the word “scientific” bandied about (and to be fair, not only by Scott).
Here’s what Wikipedia says about the scientific method:
To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
And I, a veteran of the endless PGF forum wars, can say with some authority that a significant portion of what’s said about the film is anything but scientific. In that, it’s often about the people involved. The truthfulness of Bob Gimlin or the odd contradictions of Bob Heironimus or Roger Patterson maybe not being such a great guy (or his ability to make such cunning little stage coach models). It’s always been supremely frustrating to me that the last thing most of those who are suspicious of the film want to talk about is what the film shows and the physical evidence collected by Patterson, Gimlin, Lyle Laverty, and Bob Titmus (among others). In short, the “empirical and measurable” stuff over the circumstantial and speculative.
So, I made the decision that any and all discussion of the PGF would be pointless mental masturbation, absent new and interesting facts or analysis. It was also my opinion that everything we could possibly know about this film was known. We had all seen it thousands of times. It was all out there. You either bought it or you didn’t.
And then I saw Bill Munns’ presentation at the 2013 Texas Bigfoot Conference in Fort Worth, TX. And I was blown away.
Bill Munns is not some anonymous internet blowhard blathering on in thousand word incendiary bombs meant to stoke the rage of others like him. He has nearly 40 years’ experience in the fields of costume design and manufacture, make-up effects, museum model construction, theme park robotics, and the visualization of prehistoric wildlife. In short, he knows his shit. And, no matter your opinion of the PGF, you have to admit he’s remarkably qualified to analyze the film.
And he has. What I saw in Texas was a point by point dissection of the figure on the film and how it is more like a real living thing than a suit. This is based on what appears to be hundreds of hours of work studying and documenting the movement of real bodies and suit technology from the period and comparing it to the PGF subject. Comparisons of what the film shows and how that does or does not conform to what’s physically possible when trying to put a bigfoot shape around a human figure. This is not opinion. This is observation. This is the application of professional expertise. This is empirical. This is freakin’ science.
Bill has been slammed as being unscientific by some for being so absolute in how he refers to the film subject as a hominid. It’s not “probably a hominid” or “the purported hominid.” To Bill, it’s an animal, not a person. Period. Bill presumably started out with a question: Can this be a costume? His hypothesis though initial observation was that it could not be. Through his work, he has shown that there are significant elements of the figure that essentially rule out a costumed actor. To him and many others, he’s proven his hypothesis. I think scientists of all kinds assume certainty of theories that cannot be ultimately shown to be true one way or another. Since we cannot go back in time and throw a net over the PGF subject, we can never know with absolute certainty what it was, but a reasonable, open-minded person would have to admit, after taking the time to review Bill’s evidence, that a living creature is the most likely explanation.
The public response to Bill’s presentation has so far been pretty positive. The negative response, such as it is, is more of the same circumstantial conspiracy stuff (But what about the suit Al DeAtley supposedly has?) to the pointless and vacuous. My question: Where is the science from the other side? Where are the qualified refutations to what Bill has worked to show? Not off the cuff declarations by other Hollywood suit makers or the bloviating of internet nabobs, real empirical data. It’s just not there.
So, I’ve tipped my hand for the upcoming show. I want to discuss the data. Not the rumor. Not the innuendo. Not personalities. I want to discuss facts. I feel it would be a waste of our time, our listener’s time, and Bill’s time to do anything else.
Let’s be what everyone says they want everyone else to be. Let’s be “scientific.”