Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Abominable Science! by Loxton and Prothero is a favor to Bigfooters

Abominable Science! is being described as skeptical and empathetic towards cryptozoology
“Scientists are not inherently negative sourpusses who want to rain on everyone else’s parade.” --  Donald R. Prothero; Co-author of Abominable Science

Last month I wrote a post about Abominable Science! with two reviews. One review was concerned  the book was being too soft on cryptozoologists1 and another review by Bill Munns was critical of how little acknowledgement was given to the amount of research done on the Patterson Gimlin film2. Furthermore Daniel Perez, editor/publisher of the newsletter, Bigfoot Times wrote, "Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero, try to present themselves as unbiased and professional, but their bias and obvious omissions is so troublesome it is blinding at times."3

Sharon Hill, who has made previous contributions to Bigfoot Lunch Club and is acknowledged more than once in Abominable Science! shares on Huffington Post that the book is getting positive attention from science outlets and little love from Bigfooters.4

I am grateful for the book and find it sympathetic to cryptozoology. The ideology of Bigfooters is a spectrum that spans from the paranormal to the biological. As someone who falls into the biological camp, I welcome doubt and criticism. When someone disagrees without being disagreeable, it is a favor and a contribution to Bigfoot research. I feel like Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have done us a favor.

It is clear Abominable Science! presents many challenges to flagship Bigfoot encounters, but these challenges, in my opinion, are in good faith and worth accepting as challenges. Did William Roe's encounter change the consensus description of Sasquatches from "giant hairy Indians" to a more ape-like creatures? Is the fact that there is no record of any Bigfoot researcher ever meeting William Roe face-to-face significant? Is the Patterson-Gimlin film really too similar to to the Roe encounter?

There are a few points where I believe transitive logic (If A=B and B=C then A must = C)  is abused. On page 49, "If Roe's report is a hoax, we would be compelled to conclude that the Patterson-Gimlin film is also a hoax." Compelled to conclude? Compelled to question--maybe. On page 70 Loxton writes, "we must grant that Sasquatches are routinely exposed to the same mortal risks as bears." Why? These statements are backed more by assumption than clear arguments. On the balance I applaud Loxton for casting doubt and challenging the encounters I embrace as definitive Bigfoot canon. Loxton deserves credit for framing and hinging modern bigfoot lore on the Roe encounter, it is a novel context that does not outright dismiss Bigfoot but underscores the value of having a type specimen.

As for Prothero? As even Bill Munns agrees the first chapter, Cryptozoology: Real Science or Pseudoscience lays out, "admirably and meticulously what is good science and what is not." For this chapter alone I recommend this book to all bigfooters and aspiring cryptozoologist alike.

Also included in the first chapter is a formula used estimate the home range of mammals based on body mass (Ahr=0.024M1.38). It should be noted there are updated more complex formulas that provide more accurate results5, but the point is this is how we should be thinking if we really care about understanding and protecting Bigfoot. Plus, I would have never found the updated model for determining home range if I was not introduced to the concept by Prothero in the first place. I believe we need more animal biologist and statisticians in the field of Bigfoot research. Abominable Science! gives us a taste of what it is like to think like one.


NOTES:

1. Jacqueline Mansky, Los Angeles Magazine "Decrypting Cryptozoology: The Science & Pseudoscience of Mythical Creatures"(http://www.lamag.com/laculture/culturefilesblog/2013/08/07/decrypting-cryptozoology-the-science-pseudoscience-of-mythical-creatures)
2. Bill Munns, review of Abominable Science! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A28DS5ZA52N59T/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview)
3. Danial Perez, review of Abominable Science!  (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A39JXOF9JEOTXH/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview)
4. Sharon Hill, Huffington Post September 10, 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharon-hill/cryptozoology-gets-respec_b_3886582.html)
5. Shane M. Abeare, " Dry season habitat and patch selection by African buffalo 
herds: test of a new home range estimator" November 2004 (http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/files/norock/products/Abeare_Thesis.pdf)





16 comments:

  1. Thank you Guy! That is a sign of a researcher with integrity. The mud-slinging was pretty awful and makes people look less than credible.

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    Replies
    1. I don't understand the mud-slinging. John Green, Grover Krantz, Rene Dahinden and Loren Coleman are all showcased as critical thinkers at some point in the Bigfoot chapter. Many of the footnotes come with URLs making it effortless to piggy-back on the author's research. The index is extensive, so it easy to jump back in an reread any portion.

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