Showing posts with label doubtful news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label doubtful news. 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.

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dr. Jeff Meldrum's Presentation at the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Conference

Dr. Meldrum presenting at the Russian conference

Skeptic blogger Sharon Hill attended the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Conference and wrote a detailed article on Dr. Meldrum's somewhat impromptu presentation.

Below is a teaser of the article:

...His presentation, entitled “The Russian Connection”, was not the listed topic on the schedule. He noted that he changed his topic upon advice from the conference organizers after the media storm that ensued regarding the announcement that “scientists were 95% convinced” that the Russian Yeti exists. Along with American scientist John Bindernagle, and researcher Ron Morehead, Meldrum was part of the team invited to Kemerovo region of Siberia to discuss the formation of a scientific commission to study the yeti. Led to believe there was significant scientific interest by the academic institutions in the area, Meldrum expressed his dismay when the press coverage was greater than the public and academic interactions.

In his talk, Meldrum described the players involved in the conference that began in Moscow and ended in Kemerovo. Specifically, he named Igor Burtsev, director of the International Centre of Hominology in Tashtagol, Kemerovo region. Burtsev already holds the belief that yetis exist in the area and are a Neanderthal relic population.

Meldrum showed photographs and described how the local Russian contingent greeted and treated the invitees with much pomp and ceremony but little scientific protocol.

As in scientific conferences, the attendees were taken on a field trip to a cave in the municipality of Tashtagol. Meldrum said he began to get concerned about the event when twisted and broken trees were rather conveniently located near the sites they visited. Reservations about what he had gotten himself into grew when he noticed saw cuts in the trees. The guides pointed to every bent and broken tree as marks of the yeti. From what Meldrum observed, the cave was not remote but apparently visited rather frequently with the trail maintained by the local municipality. The group was told the cave was a probable yeti habitation. Inside the cave, Meldrum notes that “right on cue”, isolated footprints and a “nest” were pointed out by their hosts...

Meldrum at the Yeti nest (click to enlarge)

Read the Rest at DoubtfulNews

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