Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meldrum is Interviewed by NPR and is criticized by Wired Magazine


(Photo: Rachel Anne Seymour)


"...discrediting the study of creatures whose existence is unproven countermands the scientific commitment to explore the unknown" Dr. Jeff Meldrum

Radio-west-interview-jeff-meldrum by BigfootLunchClub

Above is an hour long interview with Dr. Jeff Meldrum conducted by Radio West. Radio West is broadcast on KUER public radio, a charter member of National Public Radio (NPR). Below is the critique of the interview by Wired blogger and science writer Brian Switek.

The Squid and the Ape (excerpt)
By Brian Switek December 10, 2011 | 6:14 pm |
For the November 11th show, RadioWest producer Doug Fabrizio interviewed Idaho State University anthropologist and Sasquatch devotee Jeff Meldrum. The stated point of the interview was to see how Meldrum applied scientific reasoning to the search for a creature that, at best, exists on the fringes of scientific investigation. That’s not what actually transpired.

Even though Fabrizio kept qualifying statements about the ever-elusive Bigfoot with “if”s, he was clearly sympathetic to Meldrum’s efforts to give the mythical North American forest ape an air of respectability. The show was more about how Meldrum became attracted to the cryptozoological celebrity and his feelings as someone trying to prove the existence of a creature that, as far as I am concerned, probably doesn’t exist and has been a persistent focus of interest due to cultural phenomena rather than actual evidence. (As I wrote in a story for WIRED Science, there comes a time in searches for missing or presumably extinct mammal species that returns rapidly diminish and that species is more likely absent than simply elusive. So many have searched for Bigfoot for so long without finding any unambiguous evidence that I don’t see any reason to think such an animal exists.)

Almost all of Fabrizio’s questions were uncritical. Some, such as when Fabrizio asked when the search for Sasquatch supposedly became academically taboo, were even sympathetic to Meldrum’s exceptional claims. When Meldrum retells the story of how he saw tracks that convinced him that Bigfoot was real, Fabrizio doesn’t ask about how Meldrum could tell that the tracks were from a real animal and could not have been hoaxed. When Meldrum goes off about how he has brought Bigfoot into the scientific mainstream through papers, talks at conferences, and the like, Fabrizio doesn’t ask “Well, which journals and conferences? What did you say? How was your work received by your colleagues?” Likewise, Fabrizio lets Meldrum state that there is a lot of photo evidence – albeit poor quality – of Bigfoot as well as hair and scat without digging into the details of those assertions and why those lines of evidence have not done more to confirm the supposed ape’s existence. I didn’t want Fabrizio to be actively hostile to Meldrum’s ideas, but the radio host did not seem prepared to challenge his guest on any point.

The interview was mostly about feelings. What Meldrum felt about this or that aspect of Bigfoot arcana was more important than the veracity of what he was actually saying. I don’t take issue with RadioWest having cryptozoologists or other people who make exceptional claims on the show, but, for FSM’s sake, hold them to account and push them to explain why they believe what they do. If someone keeps saying there’s really good evidence for Bigfoot, Triassic Krakens, ancient aliens, or whatever, we shouldn’t be afraid of pressing them on how good that evidence actually is. To say that evidence is good is one thing. To demonstrate the same is not as easy.


EXTERNAL LINKS
SRC of Radio West Interview
Wired Science Blog

8 comments:

  1. It is always an interesting experience to hear what a real researcher like Dr. Meldrum has to say about the subject of Bigfoot. Too often we are inundated by sensationalists like the "Finding Bigfoot" crew.

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  2. Brian Switek displays the rather typical attitude of those who have made no effort to look into the subject, to read, to communicate with those who've had personal experiences and who have first-hand knowledge. That's what it takes to learn. Easier, I guess, to throw rocks from atop his straw house.

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  3. Mmm..far too many very detailed witness accounts from highly credible observers to blow the phenomenon off as imaginary. Cops, military, firefighters, naturalists and numerous forest workers have reported seeing a bipedal creature, often of enormous dimensions, and though it may not leave a business card behind, it's not surprising for an inhabitant of the deep woods.

    By comparison, how many very good clear pieces of photographic evidence have we seen the Albino Bear, a species we know exists through some scant documentation, but one which does not make itself readily available for personal interviews?

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  4. @eunoterpsiac Love the Albino Bear reference!

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  5. Switek comes across like an ignorant, pompous douchebag. Meldrum is as straight-laced and credible as they come. If you can't put aside your preconceived ideas, Switek, then you suck as a writer.

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  6. I have discussed with Jeff Meldrum some of the DNA findings and conclusions I reached early on in the "Ketchum" study (as it is now called).

    I did not hear the interview, but I think he is extremely intrigued about the progress that other scientists have made in the discovery process, now in terms of complete DNA genomic sequencing.

    While neither Meldrum nor I am in possession of irrefutable proof that "sasquatch exists" as a new hominid or subspecies of an existing or past hominid, we do have compelling evidence that this is so -- far beyond the footprints, Double-pleaked normal Distribution of footprint lengths and widths, dermal ridges, and questionable video and film footage.

    The latter is at least possible to hoax; but not DNA.

    Richard Stubstad

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  7. Switek has a point. Dr. Meldrum could very easily have relayed the information that Switek feels was lacking in the interview. But, that goes to the interviewer, not the interviewee. Dr. Meldrum could have easily explained similar characteristics from 200 casts taken at diferent times spanning years and different locations. Characteristics of casts defining a flexible foot not a block of wood. Toenail and dermal ridge impressions, etc. But, then again let's not forget that the "eye rolling" attitude of media types are partially to blame for the popular and academic stance on Sasquatch as a worthless if not crazy endeavor of study.

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  8. Same song and dance. From a skeptic. If I've said it once,,,,,,blah. Anyone of normal intelligence can take a long hard look(not a glance) of all the pieces gathered throughout the years. I find it hard to believe that a person of higher intelligence than myself could not want or HAVE to know if there are these awesome beings living around us. Instead of giving us reasons they do not,,could not,,would not exist,,,,,,,,,,,,show us that they do. Were doing our part. If you can can make an effort instead of unresearched comments and show me that these beings do not exsist and prove literally hundreds of people,,,more like thousands world wide and through history,,,,wrong,,,,then ill shake your hand,,,congratulate you on a job well done,,,,,and walk away from this field and community that is so dear to me. Good luck Mr scientist. Your goin to need it.

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