Showing posts with label Abominable Science!. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abominable Science!. Show all posts

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.


1. Jacqueline Mansky, Los Angeles Magazine "Decrypting Cryptozoology: The Science & Pseudoscience of Mythical Creatures"(
2. Bill Munns, review of Abominable Science! (
3. Danial Perez, review of Abominable Science!  (
4. Sharon Hill, Huffington Post September 10, 2013 (
5. Shane M. Abeare, " Dry season habitat and patch selection by African buffalo 
herds: test of a new home range estimator" November 2004 (

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Abominable Science! A Skeptical and Slightly Sympathic Approach to Cryptzoology

Abominible 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

The book is self-described by the publishers as:
Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.
You can read an excerpt from a LosAngeles Magazine review below:

Both researchers approach the book from a skeptic’s point of view but they’re not quick to dismiss claims that these creatures could exist. Both have been hooked on the topic since childhood and as Prothero writes, “Scientists are not inherently negative sourpusses who want to rain on everyone else’s parade.” Though the book sometimes gets bogged down in details, the authors retain a childlike enthusiasm toward the topic. Here are the origin stories for three of the legendary beasts in the book:

Bigfoot: Most people imagine an ape-like creature that stands on two legs, but the original story of Bigfoot describes the creature quite differently. The first “sightings” of Bigfoot in North America occurred in the 1920s. A man named John W. Burns gathered reports from people of their encounters with a creature called Sasquatch, described as hairy giants who looked like giant Native Americans. They had clothes, fire, and weapons and lived in villages. And their hair? According to the stories it was not all over their bodies but worn very long.

The Yetti: Also referred to as the Abominable Snowman, the creature got its name from a team of explorers scouting a route for an attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1921. The team saw tracks that looked like a human foot. Though Lieutenant Colonel Charles Howard-Bury, the leader of the expedition, surmised that the footprints were caused by a large grey wolf, his Sherpa guides said that it was the tracks of a wild man whose kind were found in remote mountains. The first recorded sighting of a beast that fit the description of a Yetti happened more than 180 years ago when Brian Hodgson, an English explorer living in Nepal named, wrote that his shooters were alarmed by a wild man. However in the paper, which was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, he also wrote that he doubted their accuracy.

While we haven't read it, you can bet the Skeptics like it. Some reviewers felt, "The authors treat figures in the field of cryptozoology with perhaps more empathy and respect than they deserve, and there is generally a studied avoidance of the (understandable) temptation to intellectually skewer some of these folks."

Really? The authors were too soft on Cryptozoologist? Bill Munns left a review on We were able to confirm it is, indeed, Bill Munns, the creature FX expert and author of the Munns Report chronicling his extensive research of the Patterson/Gimlin film. In his review he felt there was a clear bias and, "[Daniel Loxton] humiliates the scientific process and journalistic professionalism alike."

Read a portion of his review below:
This book entitled "Abominable Science" achieves a level of scientific and journalistic hypocrisy that warrants the publisher recalling the book. The reason is that one of the co-authors, Daniel Loxton, has written a fairly substantial portion of this book practicing the very "abominable science" the book proportedly sets out to expose. In other words, he has demonstrated a journalistic or scientific hypocrisy that is either grossly negligent, grossly incompetent, or so blatantly biased that he humiliates the scientific process and journalistic professionalism alike.

In Chapter One, Co-Author Donald Prothero describes very admirably and meticulously what is good science and what is not. Sadly, in Chapter Two, Co-Author Loxton proceeds to evaluate the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin "Bigfoot" film from page 44-50 and Mr. Loxton does nearly everything that his co-author has just explained to us that we cannot rely upon. Co-Author Loxton is discussing a topic in which there is a wealth of fine empirical data and a equally voluminous heap of poor anecdotal evidence and the author totally dismisses the fine empirical data with absolutely no justifiable explanation, and wallows in the poor anecdotal evidence instead as if it were splendidly scientific. The author also looks to material nine or more years outdated, and demonstrates virtually no awareness of new research, data, developments, or shifts of the landscape of the controversy more recently than 9 years ago, when there has been tremendous new material and analysis work worthy of his evaluation. This is intolerable and unconscionable in a work proportedly to be educating the public about good science.

While my criticism focuses on Mr. Loxton's segment of the book focused on the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Film, we must wonder if that travesty of hypocritical fodder is an isolated moment of scientific dementia or is it the tip of a much larger iceberg of unscientific and heavily biased writing throughout his half of the book's authorship. When a write "cooks" a story with disregard for facts and academic responsibility or journalistic fairness and accuracy, that incident generally casts a profound suspicion over the entire body of the writer's work. Thus, while I focus this concern on one section, the concern may put a serious cloud over the book in general.

Read Bill Munns full review

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