Episode 59: Motorboating orangutans

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Episode 59 of The Bigfoot Show — Motorboating Orangutans — has absconded across the internet like a crafty, red-furred forest person looking to take a skiff out for a joy-ride. On the show this time is the full complement of BFS hosts — Scott Herriot, Sam Rich, Paul Vella, and Brian Brown. Discussed topics include the end of the line for Finding Bigfoot, more on the Ketchum Follies, disputes over the Brown Thermal footage from Florida, further information on the Gray’s Harbor thermal footage, and other exciting and fascinating topics, many of which were suggested by our listeners.

Hotwire the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, etc., or pilfer it from the direct download link.

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Episode 58: Icebergs of madness

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Episode 58 of The Bigfoot Show has slammed into the internet like a lollipop hammer taking out that last stupid jelly square on your final move on the eighty-sixth level of an evil and addictive candy-themed video game. In this episode, Scott, Paul and Brian pick their bigfoot story of 2013, bemoan the state of squatch TV, ponder breaks between the C1 and C2 vertebrae, salivate over bigfoot pornography, and pontificate on various topics suggested by our listeners.

Satisfy your sweet tooth via iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or through the glossy, candy-like direct download link.

Show notes to come…

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Episode 57: Recumbent leprechaun

Howdy, bigfoot!

Episode 57 — Recumbent leprechaun — has been discovered on the internet like mythical gold at the end of the rainbow. In this episode, Sam, Scott, and Brian mix it up over the Grays Harbor thermal video, the Stacy Brown thermal footage, Bill Munns’ RHI papers, Bigfoot Files, and other fascinating things as suggested by our listeners.

Enrich yourself through iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or via the incredibly efficient direct download link.

Show notes after the jump…

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On a kneed to know basis only

One of the common refrains of bigfoot denialists1 is that an animal such as the North American Wood Ape is highly unlikely to exist here since we, as a people2, have been crawling all over the continent for so long and, unfortunately, have not habeased the corpus yet. So to speak.

And one might think, WOW, that is such a good point because we know everything, at least everything having to do with things we’re super familiar with. Right?

From the New York Times:

Last month, knee surgeons from the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium announced that they had found a new knee ligament, one that had not previously been specifically identified despite untold numbers of past knee dissections and scans.

What!? Impossible! The knee is this relatively tiny space. We’ve been cutting into them and scanning them and doing all manner of things to them forever. How is it possible that nobody saw an entire ligament that’s in something like 93% of all humans before?!

Wait. They did see it?

As far back as 1879, a French surgeon named Paul Segond first speculated that, in addition to the four obvious structural knee ligaments known then — the anterior cruciate, medial collateral, posterior cruciate and lateral collateral, which loop around and through the joint — other ligaments must exist in the knee or it would not be stable. He wrote that during dissections he had noticed a “pearly, resistant fibrous band” originating at the outside, front portion of the thighbone and continuing to the shinbone, which, in his estimation, must stabilize the outer part of the knee, preventing it from collapsing inward.

He did not, however, give this pearly band a name and somehow, in the decades that followed, its existence was forgotten or ignored. While some surgeons noted that a ligament seemed to exist there, none named and systematically studied it, and many came to consider it a continuation of other tissues, such as the nearby iliotibial band.

Here’s the thing about people. If you tell them things, they believe them. Especially if you train them to believe. Even if what you tell them is contradicted by their own eyes (i.e., there is no ligament where doctors have been clearly seeing it), they’ll figure out a way to explain what they’re seeing as something else. Because, you know, all these really smart people have already told you again and again what the truth is.

Such as, North America cannot be home to an undiscovered primate. Because every last inch of it has been thoroughly covered and no one has “discovered” one before today. Q.E.D.

Luckily, in the case of the “new” ligament, there was a doctor who wasn’t satisfied with the accepted truth.

But a few years ago, Dr. [Steven] Claes and his colleagues began to suspect otherwise. Their interest had been piqued by a problem that occurred in some patients who had undergone reconstructive surgery for an injured anterior cruciate ligament, or A.C.L. Despite the repaired knees’ appearing afterward to be healthy, the joint would sometimes give way as people moved.

“We thought, something is still not right” in that knee, said Dr. Claes, who wondered whether additional, untended knee injuries might be to blame, and if so, whether they were occurring in uncharted knee parts. “I know it probably sounds crazy to say that we thought there might be this new ligament,” he said.

It is only those people who are willing to sound crazy that discover the unexpected. In this case, it was an orthopedic surgeon. The safest thing in the world is to defend the dominant paradigm. To do so requires no strength of character or remarkable cognitive abilities. But, if you’re willing to ask questions based on non-stantard observations and, most importantly, be willing to think something outside accepted dogma, you might get to make a “surprising announcement” someday.

Unfortunately, a vast number of those who call themselves skeptics are nothing more than vociferous defenders of the status quo. The acceptors of “common knowledge” (i.e., there are bears all over North America, bear territory overlaps quite a bit with reported bigfoot encounters, therefore all encounters are misidentified bears seen by the mentally impressionable).

Of course, this isn’t to say all crazy claims are worthy of study (just as not all claims of bigfoot encounters should be taken seriously). But, in cases where there is — at minimum — circumstantial evidence of a specific phenomenon, to not investigate is to reject the very thing that’s allowed human accomplishments to advance as far as they have.

Earth revolve around the sun!? Heresy! People fly? Crazy! Undiscovered primate in North America? Working on it…

  1. In deference to the truly skeptical, yet open-minded (such as myself), I’m going to refrain from calling people who won’t accept any evidence of the existence of bigfoot “skeptics” and, from now on, call them “denialists” since, you know, that’s what they’re doing. 
  2. That is, people of a European descent since the natives can’t be trusted to relate their experiences here before we came along to set them straight.
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In search of…a real search

LennyFriend of the show and recent focus of our attention Sharon Hill (we’re not stalking, I swear) likes the Channel 4 “Bigfoot Files” episode on the Yeti:

You should have seen me smiling when the show began with EXACTLY the right tone: Dr. Bryan Sykes, geneticist who is heading the DNA analysis portion of the project through Oxford University, is not looking for evidence for the Yeti. He is looking for ANSWERS.

Her full review is here. Even if you haven’t yet seen the show (full disclosure, I have not yet watched it), you should give it a read.

The point with which I’d take some exception is embedded within this paragraph:

Three samples of supposed Yeti hairs were analyzed by Sykes. He has taken on the most ambitious Bigfoot DNA project ever simply because, he says, he is curious. Sykes chastises cryptozoologists slightly by saying science does not reject this field. “Show me the evidence and I’ll examine it.” As of late, there are several big budget searches for Sasquatch. Therefore, there should be far fewer rants about how money, attention and science has been withheld from cryptid studies. Cryptozoologists must stop making excuses and put forth what they have. If it does not show a primate as Bigfoot is described, then this is solid reasoning to conclude that such an animal does NOT exists.

Kudos to Sykes, indeed, for his approach. He is demonstrating a truly scientific attitude towards the subject of relic hominids. While I’m still waiting to find out what, if anything, he found from the small connection I have with his study (maybe we’ll find out on TV like everyone else), I think his approach is the one to take regardless of where you stand on the issue of bigfoot, Yeti, or whatever.

The thing that made me raise my eyebrow was the “several big budget searches” part of her statement. Here are the “searches” I can think of after spending some time pondering…

  • Sykes’ study. It’s a “search” in that he’s looking into the sources of hair samples submitted to him but it’s not the kind of field study I’d like to see with real trained biologists with a knowledge of primate behavior on the ground in the right kind of habitat.
  • Ketchum’s, uh, study. “Scientific” in that she sent samples to scientists and “big budget” in that it couldn’t have been cheap (and we know Melba didn’t pay for it), but that’s about where it ends. Discussions of lemur people and angel DNA put a full stop to any further discussion of her or her work. Not the sort of attention that does anyone any good at all.
  • SyFy’s Finding Bigfoot…? In no way scientific and not that big of a budget. Any “searches” done for a cable TV audience are the furthest thing from science and are meaningless. Same goes for Joe Rogan, Josh Gates, and any other well intentioned TV personality.
  • The Falcon Project. No offense to Dr. Meldrum, but this is the equivalent of vaporware at the moment. A concept in search of funding. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t, but either way, this is really just another endeavor from someone already in the world of cryptozoology to bring forward more evidence he hopes a larger scientific audience will pay attention to (hint: they probably won’t).

And that’s all I got. One actually scientific new and interesting look at evidence already collected by the same essentially ignored crew of citizen naturalists spending their own resources and time looking for an animal hardly anyone in the academic or scientific world will give the time of day along with a bunch of nutty distractions.

Skeptics gleefully criticize the evidence that’s out there but, thus far, none are apparently willing to do more than highlight the lunatic fringes for entertainment purposes and/or make sweeping pronouncements regarding the results of tests made to the relative paucity of hard physical remains that have been preserved. Surely, we have made some progress in the past ten years or so with regard to legitimacy, but we have a very long way to go until a fair judge could say the subject of relic hominids is being given anything like the kind of attention the circumstantial evidence suggests it deserves.

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Blast from the past

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Since it’s mentioned on our last episode, it’s probably worth linking to the Bigfoot Information Project Podcast episode I did about the camera trap work the NAWAC was doing in the Big Thicket several years ago. That weekend was probably the toughest outdoors experience I’ve dealt with. It was crazy hot and humid and the foliage was, at times, nearly impassible. The place is a gnarly tangle that, based on the the near total lack of any human evidence, would be a great place for all kinds of large furtive critters to hide out in. 

Here’s the direct download link to the show. It’s also still available on iTunes and on the project’s long-dormant website.

 

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Episode 56: I got your big thicket right here, buddy

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Episode 56 — I got your big thicket right here, buddy — has tangled up with the internet like a bigfoot researcher walking through a banana spider web in the middle of the Big Thicket National Preserve. On this episode, Scott and Brian observe the 46th anniversary of the Patterson-Gimlin Film, talk about Bryan Sykes, what’s skepticism and what’s not, and many more topics suggested by our listeners.

Snag this one on iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or via this here direct download link.

Show notes to come (such as they are) after the jump.

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What would Yosemite Sam do?

fightin-wordsBack on BFS 55, my guest Sharon Hill said a few things that, at the time, I recognized as the kinds of comments one often hears as reasons the incredulous doubt the existence of the North American Wood Ape. My reasons for having Sharon on weren’t to have a public debate about the creature’s reality (neither of us were interested in that), but I knew when we were talking that at some point this post was going to happen. No self-respecting bigfoot blogger/podcaster/right-handed Virgo could let it slide by without some level of response.

To be clear, this isn’t meant to be a shot over her bow or anything. I’m not looking for a fight (Yosemite Sam graphic to the contrary). I’m only giving the proper responses to the issues she brought up as would anyone looking to further a reasoned conversation towards the resolution of a problem.

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Feedback is a gift

Episode 55 guest Sharon Hill has posted to her blog an account of how she ran afoul of the BFRO’s purity police. Turns out, she wrote an article for Doubtful News about Bryan Sykes’ new Yeti book and posted it to the BFRO Facebook group. Innocuous enough. You’d think those interested in Sykes’ work (and there are lots) would be happy to read the information (keep in mind, she’s done a crackerjack job of keeping everyone current on the Ketchum madness).

You can go read the exchange for yourself. You could have read it for yourself, but the admins for the Facebook group have deleted the post. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I’ve said before that there are good people in the BFRO, but, it seems, the closer they get to the inner-circle of leadership, the more extreme and defensive they get.

And you know what? I understand where that comes from. I really do. I’m a “believer” based on my interpretation of the evidence and own personal experiences. No doubt, the BFRO is filled with people like me. And surely, there are those who call themselves skeptics who, every time they write or speak on the topic, make me angry and frustrated. But in the same way I will not accept the skeptical side lumping me into the same crazy stew as Ketchum, we as a community cannot write off all skeptics as skofftics until they’ve demonstrated ample cause.

There’s a saying that goes, “Feedback is a gift” (usually said by me right before I give someone their review at work).  It’s not always pleasant and it’s not always welcome, but if it’s given with constructive intentions and is fair, we should view it as an opportunity for discourse and mutual edification, not immediately cringe and withdraw like a snail from salt. I have always viewed true open-minded skeptics as providers of constructive feedback. As long as their position isn’t “bigfoot cannot be real,” we can have a conversation. And that conversation can make me better and sharper in my actions and thoughts.

Of course, if what you want out of the bigfoot enthusiast community is to have spooky experiences in the dark woods (or read about them from others) and to talk only amongst like-minded people, what I just said may not apply. But that way leads to criss-crossed logic and self-reinforced assumptions of reality. We must make room for alternative points of view, not only in how we approach this subject, but throughout our lives. I have many good friends with whom I see eye to eye on hardly any subjects, but my association with them has enriched my life. If you’d rather not be exposed to opposing or alternate points of view, I’d suggest you’re ultimately part of the problem.

We should not fear fairly-leveled, reasonable, and well-intentioned criticism. We should embrace it.

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Episode 55: I doubt it

BFS 055: I doubt it

Episode 55 of The Bigfoot Show has reproachfully arched its eyebrow at the internet like that woman in a bar who doesn’t buy your best pick-up line. On the show this time, Sharon Hill, editor of the Doubtful News blog and advocate of critical thinking discussing the skeptical take on the world of sasquatchery, including the dual darlings of DNA deducting Melba Ketchum and Bryan Sykes.

Score this one from iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or via the direct download linkage.

Show notes after the jump…

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