Showing posts with label Sharon Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sharon Hill. Show all posts

Friday, December 28, 2012

The skeptical eye on Bigfootery is where we get our healthy dose of doubt.

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 for the skeptical take on Bigfoot news.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Doubtful News Reacts to Melba Ketchum's Bigfoot DNA

"To make such an extraordinary claim is to put yourself out on such a long, unstable limb! It is not how science is done, it’s how pseudoscience is done." --Sharon Hill of Doubtful News reacting to Melba Ketchum's Press Release

Sharon Hill is the editor of, it would not hurt our feelings one bit, if you jumped directly to her post titled, "Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data".

For the rest of you, let us tell you why Doubtful News is an important blog for bigfooters to follow. Unlike some of the other skeptics, Sharon Hill is extremely consistent in her critical thinking and arguments. Also unlike other skeptics, she does not pick low-hanging fruit to mock Bigfooters. The best reason to read Doubtful News is to get a fresh perspective, we have been challenged by Sharon Hill and feel we have been the better for it.

You can get a taste of her style from the excerpt below lifted from yesterday's (11.25.2012)  post, "Melba Ketchum announces Bigfoot DNA results. Without the data"
To make such an extraordinary claim is to put yourself out on such a long, unstable limb! It is not how science is done, it’s how pseudoscience is done. But, let’s just say that Dr. K has results and is confident in them. She sure is in a pickle now because there is still NO paper and no hint of when or where it will be published. Much is going on behind the scenes that the interested public is not privy to. To be practical, this announcement gets us absolutely NO further to a Bigfoot discovery than yesterday or the day before. It’s still vaporware. No paper, no data, no body, no Bigfoot.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Skeptic Sharon Hill Takes us on a Bigfoot Media Tour

Sharon Hill takes on Bigfoot in the media at
"The group is governed by a set of pillars and is in the process of writing a “Book of Squatch,” with information, research and rules about the search for Sasquatch..." --Mark Kasting, Head Squatchman of Penn State's Searchers of Sasquatch

Sharon Hill is one of our favorite skeptics, we don't always agree, but she is fair and and extremely good at forming her argument. Better yet, she is thorough and a great fact checker, disciplines we think should be innate in any skeptic, but some self-proclaim skeptics just don't have the DNA for it.

She covers a few news articles we have also covered here at BLC. She mention the New York Times: How to Hunt for Bigfoot and the Hunting for Bigfoot in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can read her take on both articles at Serious searchers seeking Sasquatch, or Shenanigans? (nice alliteration by the way).

She also showcases a third article we have not covered here at BLC, the Penn State paper, The Collegian, mentions an unofficial Penn State club titled, "The Penn State University Searchers of Sasquatch". You can read The Collegians full article below.

This is where Sharon's skill at going beyond the article is appreciated. In the article the Club claims 140 likes in it's "club," but in actuality it there are only 4 members. We can add to Sharon's reporting, at least two of the four Facebook members are not Penn State students, but Craig Woolheater of Cryptomundo and Sharon Lee of The Bigfoot Reporter.

At the very least The Collegian article is entertaining. Although it is not made completely clear this is a lampoon. There are some indicators like the, "The Book of Squatch" and the new method of "Bird Squatching". Please read the full article below.

Penn State's club Searchers of Sasquatch search for Bigfoot
By Grace Rambo
Collegian Staff Writer

In the darkest part of the deepest woods surrounding State College, he waits. His footprints dot the peak of Mount Nittany; he hunts in Sunset Park and wanders through the trees of the Arboretum. His existence has been questioned for decades, neither proven nor disproven. He is the Sasquatch.

At least, that’s what some Penn State students believe.

For those who have always known in their heart that Sasquatch exists, for those who believe the ever-elusive creature still roams the woods unseen and even for those who remain skeptical of its existence: the “Searchers of Sasquatch” are here.

Where it all began

It started with a TV show and a couple college friends hanging out and watching the popular show, “Finding Bigfoot.” The Searchers of Sasquatch, although not yet named an official Penn State club, is a group dedicated to searching for the mythical creature known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, said Mark Kasting.

Kasting, better known as “head squatchman” and one of the creators of the group, said he and his friends watched others searching for Bigfoot on television and soon realized that they had a passion for it, too. They decided to form a group the week before spring break, Kasting (junior-astronomy and astrophysics) said.

And so, the Searchers of Sasquatch was born.

Kasting said the group is currently in the process of creating a club constitution and getting an adviser, although Kasting said that such a club requires a “certain type” of adviser.

Jack Bagby and Bruce Etter are two members of the Searchers of Sasquatch who helped create the club alongside Kasting. Bagby (junior-philosophy and Greek) said he focuses on the ethical aspects and issues that come with “squatching,” such as dealing with non-believers and skeptics, while Etter (junior-sociology, psychology and English) focuses on the social aspects, such as keeping up a strong group dynamic when students are out on the hunt.

Kasting, Bagby and Etter said their love of Bigfoot also goes hand-in-hand with the love they have for nature. Kasting and Etter have hiked the Appalachian Trail, while Bagby was a Boy Scout.

And Etter said he’s already discovered some photographic evidence of Bigfoot, citing a footprint he found in State College that he could not explain. Etter described the print as belonging to a “large, five-toed creature,” which was neither human nor bear nor dog.

Kasting said the Searchers of Sasquatch don’t currently have meetings because there is no on-campus classroom large enough to house their members, which reached 140 on Facebook as of press time Thursday.

Ruling the squatch

Searching for Bigfoot is not a free-for-all among believers, but an organized group effort that requires a set of rules for squatchers to uphold and live by.

Bagby said that any student who wants to join in the search for Sasquatch must remember to keep an open mind — an important trait if he or she is willing to join the Seachers of Sasquatch and submit to such a “squatchy existence.”

“We don’t want to make too many projections [about Bigfoot],” Bagby said. “It keeps us more ethically minded.”

The Searchers of Sasquatch are not just students who wander in the woods casually searching for the mythical creature, though. The group is governed by a set of pillars and is in the process of writing a “Book of Squatch,” with information, research and rules about the search for Sasquatch, Kasting said.

Some of the pillars include rules like “Everyone can squatch,” “No area is unsquatchable” and “Squatching is fun.” However, there are also very serious pillars, like the killing of Sasquatch, which is one of the most “unsquatchman-like” things a person can do.

Kasting also said another pillar is the idea that searching for Sasquatch becomes instinctive. The instinct to search for Sasquatch is usually triggered by “squatchy” territory. Kasting said a squatcher will feel in tune with nature and know when he or she enters squatchy territory.

One of the final pillars states, “Squatching is forever.” Etter wondered aloud when the hunt for Bigfoot would ever end, since the search for Bigfoot has gone on so long already.

But Kasting said that the hunt for Sasquatch will never end, even if someone were to find Sasquatch or one of his many offspring.

“We have to learn what they have to teach,” Kasting said, in regards to Sasquatch. “They know how to live what appears to be happy lives.”

Etter echoed these sentiments, saying that squatching is more than an attempt to find Bigfoot — it’s a lesson learned.

“Squatching teaches persistence in the face of adversity,” Etter said. “It’s sticking with what you believe.”

How to squatch

Being successful in the hunt for Bigfoot requires more than walking into the woods and taking a look around. There is a unique technique required if a person wants to have any chance of catching a glimpse of the mythical creature.

Bagby said the best place to search for Bigfoot is in large forests that contain big objects to hide behind, and the “further you get” into the forest, the “squatchier” it gets. He added it appears as though in the State College area, Bigfoots are not sedentary, and instead of settling down, they tend to just pass through the area.

Despite knowing where the Sasquatch prefers to live, it’s still difficult to attract them because they are intelligent creatures, Kasting said.

“Anyone who has ever tried has failed; they may be smart enough to know when we’re looking for them,” Kasting said. “It’s going to require a technique other than sneaking around. It’s going to require attracting the squatch to you through calls or noise-making, or showing the Bigfoot that you’re a decent group of people.”

Etter said that there are some important tips that can help anyone search for Sasquatch. One of the first things to remember, Etter said, is to be respectful.

“You’re a guest,” Etter said referring to sasquatch territory. “You’re walking in their home; you want to be courteous.”

Kasting added that keeping a good attitude is important because sometimes, the search for Sasquatch can be discouraging, especially when there are so many non-believers. However, for those who believe, Kasting said being attentive and observant of the qualities of nature will go a long way.

Despite displaying these qualities, Bagby said utilizing nature is also an important part of discovering Sasquatch. In particular, Bagby said a new type of squatching has developed, known as “bird squatching.”

Bagby said observing the way birds react to their surroundings in the wild can give clues as to where a Bigfoot may be hiding.

“Birds see the squatches that we can’t,” Bagby said. “If we watch their patterns, we are able to predict where the squatches are.”

The fascination with squatch

In 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin announced the first report of a Sasquatch sighting in the U.S. The pair claimed they captured video of a Bigfoot on film. While many sightings have been proven false, this sighting still stands as the sole evidence of Bigfoot’s existence.

Nearly 45 years later, the search for Bigfoot is alive and well, especially on Penn State’s campus.

Kasting said he thinks the biggest reason people still search for Sasquatch is for the pursuit of something unattainable.

“People like the search for something that hasn’t been proven,” Kasting said. “People search for meaning in their lives.”

Etter echoed similar sentiments, saying that everyone has their own “squatch” they are constantly searching for.

Aside from the philosophical search for meaning through squatching, Bagby said another reason people find such fascination in Bigfoot is the fact that Bigfoot is a creature more relatable to humans than any other creature.

“We could relate to this animal,” Bagby said. “A dog is a domesticated thing, but a Sasquatch lives on its own just like we do.”

But anyone, even those who don’t believe in Sasquatch, can join the group.

Kasting said believers and skeptics alike are welcomed to join the Searchers of Sasquatch. The main idea, Kasting said, is that people are coming together.

“Not everybody will see it the same way,” Kasting said. “The important thing is that everyone is out there doing it together.”

Etter said that he personally is unsure of the existence of Bigfoot. Despite his doubts, he said it’s crucial for all people who look for Sasquatch to have fun and keep searching.

“We’re just trying to get our feet wet and not take a question mark for an answer,” Etter said. “I believe in the possibility of the unbelievable.”
SRC: The Collegian

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sharon Hill: You are Not Entitled to Your Own Bigfoot Facts

Joe Friday from Dragnet insisted on the "Just the Facts"
Our favorite skeptic continues to keep us Bigfooters on our toes. In an article posted on Sharon Hill, who runs the Doubtful News website, questions the use of the word fact in our community. Sure, her article mostly focuses around Matt Moneymaker, who is an easy target for bold claims of Bigfoot behavior.

The only argument we have is not all claims of Bigfoot behavior (including the examples she uses) are presented as facts. True, they don't have the disclaimer of being speculation, but that's because everything about Bigfoot is, by default, speculation. Isn't it? Aren't we all guessing in the end?  

So, while we agree presenting Bigfoot behavior as facts is a little much, we would defend the practice of tossing out the modifiers that indicate we are speculating when describing possible Bigfoot behavior. It's Bigfoot, its all going to be speculation by default. When we claim, "Bigfoot prefers to be at a higher elevation overlooking game trails," we don't think it will be accepted as a fact but speculation by default. 

Below is a excerpt from Sharon Hill's article which we encourage you all to read and give your opinion. 
Self-styled Bigfoot researchers make claims that suggest they know more about Bigfoot than Bigfoot might know about himself. They can tell me what Bigfoot likes and doesn’t like, where he sleeps at night, how he avoids detection, and how he communicates. They tell the public that Bigfoot makes those sounds they hear at night. They find locations where a Bigfoot passed through or slept or built a shelter. These researchers even know about Bigfoots’ “culture”—what they do with their dead relatives, how they can fool humans. But apparently they don't know enough to catch one.
Fact? You Keep Using that Word But I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means
Perhaps there is confusion over what exactly is meant by “fact.” That word doesn't have a hard and fast definition, but rather one that is based on how the statement is verified—from universal on the left end to personal verification on the right. A scientific fact is at the extreme left end. It is incontrovertible, verifiable to anyone who wants to check it. Facts are the building blocks of theories that describe how nature works.
A more everyday usage of the term “fact” is in the middle: a statement that can be confirmed to the point where the consensus will be that it is true, it really occurred, or it is certainly the case. That infers that there was some process undertaken to establish some basis for what is stated. We accept a lot of things as facts not because we have personally verified them but because others probably have and/or because it is reasonable to accept those facts as true.
On the extreme right side is a fact based on personal verification. “Fact” is used as a label for a statement that a person very much wants to believe or believes to be true. It's a fact in that person’s mind because he or she has accepted it completely: “I know this is true. I’ve seen it.” You probably won't be able to sway that person’s belief with any counter facts of your own. Religious facts are in this category.
Read the rest of the article titled You are Not Entitled to Your Own Bigfoot Facts where Sharon Hill makes an example of Matt Moneymaker. But we will still stand by our position; some of us Bigfooters talk about Bigfoot behavior without acknowledging is is mere speculation, because speculation is inherent to all Bigfoot discussion.

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