Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Benjamin Radford Writes Predictable Critique on Bigfoot Conferences

Benjamin Radford, Editor of the Skeptical Inquirer
Benjamin Radford has offered a critique of Bigfoot conferences. The kind of critique that would take little effort to write from the perspective of a skeptic. As many of you readers know, we believe skeptics are a healthy part of the Bigfoot conversation. In fact, we often have high praise for Brian Dunning of Skeptoid and Sharon Hill of Doubtful News. So, we appreciate the the amount of rigor and discipline that comes with most skeptic commentary, even if we don't always agree. What we do not appreciate is when the commentary is predictable and lazy, like Radford's post in today's Huffington Post article, "Bigfoot Conference Cites No Hard Evidence...Again"

You only need to read three paragraphs to know how the rest of the article goes.
There's rarely much new in the way of Bigfoot evidence to offer or discuss; after all, it's not as if researchers can give presentations comparing, say, a Bigfoot body found in Oregon in 1984 with a Bigfoot body found last year in British Columbia. Without hard evidence grounding the discussion, conferences are often heavy on personal stories by people who swear they encountered the world's most famous mystery monster, if only indirectly.
Other than the exotic subject matter, Bigfoot conferences are pretty much like any other conferences. There are guest speakers of varying quality, plus lunches and networking opportunities. And, of course, merchandise: Bigfoot is the most commercialized monster in the world, lending its name and likeness to everything from monster trucks to pizzas to beef sticks. Bigfoot-themed sundries include plaster footprint molds allegedly recovered from sightings, DVDs, books, hats and posters, as well as general camping and hunting equipment that might plausibly be used in an amateur Bigfoot hunt.
How do you organize a conference around a subject that has never been proven to exist? Often the answer is by accepting the assumption that the beast exists, and offering theories about it: what Bigfoot monsters eat, where they sleep, their mating and social habits, and so on. Discussions on the details of Bigfoot ecology and morphology often resemble the classic debate among medieval theologians about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It makes for a fun parlor game among interested parties, but it's all opinion, theory and wild speculation until we know they exist.
The gist of the article is we bigfooters accept the assumption that the beast exists, and don't even debate if Bigfoot even exist. Guilty as charged. Yes, our starting  position is that there is an unidentified bipedal primate out there, a relict hominid, if you will. It is Bigfoot conference!

If there is a glimmer of novelty in Radfords's article is his paragraph about how sometimes we feverishly debate opposing views that are "putting the cart before the horse" as Radford says.
Many discussions at conferences and within the Bigfoot community tend to put the cart before the horse, a classic example being the long-running "kill or capture" debate: whether it would be ethical to shoot or kill a Bigfoot if it meant that the creature's existence was finally proven. (Ironically, this would be the first step toward protecting these presumably endangered animals.) This debate is taken very seriously and is highly contentious in some circles, especially since it was recently ruled legal to shoot Bigfoot in Texas.
We wish he would have expanded on this point a bit more and fleshed it out. We think this is an important argument, because some of these heated debates create road blocks towards cooperation. Some of these divisive debates are bridges we haven't even crossed yet.

You can read Benjamin Radford's full article here.

5 comments:

  1. AmethystScorpionJun 13, 2012, 9:20:00 AM

    Well I agree with that point of view if it is assumed that Bigfoot is just an undiscovered animal or great ape.
    I don't believe that they are just animals and I can't prove why I don't. Im just glad to have been shown different.

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  2. Well I think he just doesn't believe anything could possibly be covered in hair.

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  3. Benjamin Radford is a good skeptic, I think we need them. It's especially helpful in a community that's famous for jumping to conclusions. It makes good research all the more important.

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  4. If there are BIGFEET,(scattered everywhere
    )

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