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Ah, well. We are at the end of another year of Bigfootery. Guy did a great job of recapping the top stories of the year here and here. It's been a big one - full of drama, promises, rumors, waiting, poop slinging and dead things. It's not been pretty, to say the least.
Guy has graciously let me guest post to give you a little different perspective that might help in understanding the "skeptical" view - that which relies on scientific evidence.
I lurk on the fringes of the forums. I occasionally hear some inside news I can't divulge. And I take everything I see about the latest Bigfoot findings with extreme caution. Here is why you should adopt that cautious approach as well. People have been actively seeking Bigfoot for over 50 years. During that time, they have treaded deep into the wilderness, we have extensive new technology, we can remotely photograph animals that are rare and nearly extinct, we can map genomes. It's truly incredible. The researcher can no longer say they need an expensive project or technology to make a conclusive finding, they have that. And, yet, we have no Bigfoot.
It's disappointing, isn't it? I agree. I'm disappointed myself. Every year that goes by without better evidence (than eyewitness accounts, blurry videos and questionable photos), the conclusion that the creatures exist only in our fantastic imaginations looms ever present as the explanation we've been seeking all along.
Sorry to be a downer. But I'm not one for mystery mongering. Facing up to reality is inevitable. Why don't we have a Bigfoot? Answers range from they are like "special forces" - with animal instincts and human intelligence, trained to avoid humans - all the way to the supernatural realm - they are creatures that can disappear at will into another dimension. All the excuses along the way that pull Bigfoot from our grasp are collectively called "special pleading". Special pleading allows us to give qualities to the creature that are only necessary because we can't nab him. No other animal has the ability to evade scientific documentation for all these years on purpose while simultaneously living under our noses, in our backyards, whooping in the woods and poking around our camps.
Put yourself in my shoes. I've never had an experience that I would define as paranormal or attributable to a mystery creature. I suppose many of you are frustrated because you HAVE had experiences or you see the evidence in a different light than I do. That's OK. I don't call you crazy or claim you were drinking. I'd like to know what exactly happened to create such belief. But it's not my belief. Not yet. The rest of the knowledge about our world tells us Bigfoot isn't real. So there I am - on the non-belief side of the fence. But as you can see, I often peer inquisitively to the other side. Maybe there is something to it. I'll have a look.
I've spent the last month digging into the Ketchum chronology for a piece to be published in print. I hope I was fair to her because I believe she thinks she has something mighty important. When the paper comes out, I might have an opinion but I have no expertise. I can make no claim to interpret her data, I rely on knowledgable people for that. Since she is claiming a genetic basis, I will hear with interest what others with that background have to say. But I WON'T put stock in what the amateur Bigfooters say (or those who even call themselves "professionals"). They are just as uninformed about that interpretation as anyone else. What they have in spades is an emotional need to accept or deny what is presented. It's part of who they are, how they have defined themselves.
Things are messy. The answer is likely more complicated than it appears. I'm willing to concede that things are perplexing; people are complex. I ask that Bigfoot proponents also concede that accepting Bigfoot as real is also complicated in the other direction. For those of us who have stringent standards of evidence, and who know that EVERYONE can be wrong about something, we demand an extraordinary claim meet a very high bar. If we denied everything we would not progress. If we believe everything without solid standards, we are fools.
Follow me on Twitter @idoubtit and visit Doubtfulnews.com for the skeptical take on Bigfoot news.