Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bigfoot Critique Part 3

` After reading the last post, I bet some people may be wondering; "But don't you think that some Bigfoot sightings are not hoaxes?" Of course. But that doesn't mean any Bigfeet are involved.

` It should be fairly clear by now that, when people are regularly shooting all kinds of large animals which actually have superior senses to avoid us (in a place swarming here and there with civilization, no less!) , that none of us has shot anything - with a gun or camera - that even undeniably can be identified as a Bigfoot!
` It seems very unlikely to me that if there were any such unusual animals that we don't even have as much as a single bone from one! The skeletons of other large animals which have died a natural death are often found - moose, bears, elk... I myself have found a nearly-intact deer skeleton just lying on the ground by a trail in Ohio. (My psycho Dad, of course, said that the short, thick femur might have belonged to a small child. Sure, Jerry...)
` I've also found a whole raccoon skeleton under a tree by a creek... it was a big raccoon, I might add.
` But anyway, the remains of sizeable dead wildlife are indeed occasionally found. Strangely, anthropologist and bigfooter Dr. Krantz again argues that specifically bear bones are never found, as he's asked a lot of people who spend their lives out in bear country. "Over twenty years of inquiry my grand total of naturally dead bear bones found is zero!" he says.
` Of course, that's only the people whom he's asked at the time - and it's a ridiculous argument. Lots of people find bear skeletons, or at least parts of them! The bones tend to rot away, or become covered by leaves or scattered. But they're there for a while, even if no one sees them.
` I mean, animals die!

` Not only that, but the Native Americans of British Columbia never actually described any apelike creature to begin with! Living at the 'Home of Bigfoot', one would think that they would know about such a thing if it was really there.
` It is the white people who seem to have made the hairy ape creature up! Of course, there are other Native American tales of human-like creatures, but if a fearsome brute covered in stone that shoots lightning from its hands describes a 'Bigfoot', I must be missing something!

` Well, if you're still reading this tirade of sarcasm and critical analysis, I certainly don't want to disappoint you. I know... I've only focused on the 'most popular' stuff, which isn't actually much at all. So what? They don't amount to anything. I've also mentioned that there are actually reams of hoaxes and that they are very common, though I don't know the exact number because I'm lazy.
` But still, there's even more to consider. Things that aren't hoaxes! Sound silly? Not unless you know what I'm actually getting at!

` Now, if 'Bigfoot' existed - clearly not the giant or 'Sasquatch' of the Chehalis - surely people would have seen it? Well, many people say they have. If this is true, then either Bigfoot is a shape-shifter of sorts, there are various different types of Bigfoot, or almost all of the sightings are false.
` Reports propose very different body types, as well as faces which range from very gorilla-like to very human-like, and heights of seven or eight feet, or even twice that! Bigfeet also some in a variety of colors - red, brown, gray, black, blonde, and even white! Then again, so are black bears...
` In fact, many people who actually believe they have seen a Bigfoot may have really been looking at a black bear or grizzly - quite an easy mistake! If anyone says that isn't at all likely, they have obviously not worked around bears in their natural habitat at all!

` Sure, tree stumps don't look like bears, but people who are out in the wilderness all the time mistake them for each other quite often! Even when the 'bear' just seemed to move - nope, they've just been investigating a stump the whole time! Or, once, they've concluded that it really is a stump, it moves all of a sudden, because of course it is a bear.
` Naturally, you would expect such people to also mistake bears for other animals - and they do! It's the type of blunder many people are actually accustomed to! People who don't think they can be fooled don't know any better - it happens a lot!

` But how?

` A lot of nature's optical illusions just have to do with viewing a peculiar-looking shape from a distance where the light and/or dark can play tricks on you. If you're in the middle of the woods all the time, you tend to see those - especially when what you're looking hard at is partly obscured by leaves or mist, broken up by intense sunlight, and so forth.
` Experienced outdoor-types are familiar with the situation, and even they have trouble trying to figure out what the heck the shape is. (It's kind of like drunk-driving - you don't realize how dangerously tricky it is until you've done it - so I don't plan to.)
` Now, I myself haven't done much outdoorsing yet away from civilization in the Northwest, but I have been known to mistake tree branches for deer-antlers, and antlers for branches. Also, I've found that raccoons, opossums, rocks, and geese look surprisingly similar when you don't have a clear view of them.

` Of course, it should be fairly easy to see a large animal such as a bear and think for however many reasons that it looks like Bigfoot to some degree. People see bears every day, all the time. Being that the public knows about the 'ape-men', it would be surprising to me if someone didn't report seeing a Bigfoot
at least every week - especially if they weren't even experienced in identifying bears in the field!
` And even if they are, if they are drunk or even just sleepy, the right sighting could fool anyone into thinking that one animal or plant or object is something entirely different.

` So sightings of Bigfoot don't even have to be hoaxes - it is extremely easy to mistake other animals or other things for them! Tracks from other animals such as bears - or even humans! - if distorted enough, sometimes look much like Bigfoot prints. So footprints can occasionally have mistaken identities of the Bigfootian kind!

` Short of that, most everything else seems fairly suspicious of humans, if it isn't known to be. Of course, the Bigfooters are sure that there is more out there that simply can't be a hoax on the grounds that they cannot see how this case or that could even be a hoax. This is called 'Personal Incredulity' - it is very much not in-tune with critical thinking and in-general being a skeptic.

` Dr. Krantz, an anthropologist whom I've mentioned before, has often warned how much wishful thinking can be dangerous, and has explained that amazing evidence can look extremely convincing until you realize how it is done.
` For example, in the case of huge tracks going up a steep hill by leaps and bounds, Krantz wrote: "I had to admit that no person could have run up that slope with eight-foot steps, fake feet or not. It was later found that a high school athlete had made the tracks; he wore fake feet that were put on backwards and he ran down the slope. Whenever a new account is recorded of incredible feats of footwork, I try to remember this case and wonder how the new one might have been faked."

` Remember the 'Cripple Foot' tracks? It seems very likely that Ivan Marx was behind them - being that he was the closest to them and all. But Dr. Krantz on the other hand says that any hoaxer would have had to be "a real genius, an expert at anatomy, very inventive, an original thinker. He had to outclass me in those areas, and I don't think anyone outclasses me in those areas, at least not since Leonardo da Vinci. So I say such a person is impossible, therefore the tracks are real."
` And that is just the kind of talk that will come back to bite you in the ass! Hey, Doc, isn't that what you've been saying?
` Yeah, I know, the center of gravity and the structure, so on-so forth, in the tracks looks as if they was left by just the type of humanoid built for supporting a lot of weight. So what? It could easily be a coincidence, or perhaps someone like Marx, another Bigfooter, might already have known what Krantz knows about the tracks.

` Why on earth would any Bigfooter hoax tracks? Perhaps it is because they themselves believe in the existence of Bigfoot, yet are afraid that others will lose interest - or hope. So they do the best they can to spark inspiration in others to help keep it alive. This type of thing actually does happen in many types of hoaxes throughout the world - the person's honest belief seems to justify their committing a falsity in order to bring more attention to something they believe is an amazing truth.

` Of course, it may also be that some shady person who knows where a Bigfoot hunter lives will actually devote their time to deceiving them by leaving footprints on their property. Someone who had been following them. A very deceptive person, like Joe Metlow was.
` In other words, Ivan - though he faked Bigfoot movies - may not have been behind the Cripple Foot tracks, but rather, someone who knew what he was after could have been playing with him!

` Well maybe not, but who knows? The vicious cycle has many complexities.

` As I was saying, it is very unscientific to suppose that just because you can't imagine something to be true doesn't mean that it is. Quite often, it does wind up biting people in the ass, and it's quite painful when it does!
` For example, in 1977, four people perpetrated one of the more involved hoaxes. It look them three weeks to prepare: They fabricated a $200 Bigfoot costume and made a fake foot to create plaster casts based on Bigfooters Don Hunter and Rene Dahinden's work - which wound up as footprints at the prank site! What they did with them... ooh! I wish I had thought of this! (Actually, I have figured out something even more hilarious, but I'll keep that to myself.)

` See... one prankster, Don Ticehurst, got on a bus going through Fraser Canyon... okay... and Ken Ticehurst was hiding in the canyon (near Erroch Lake, to be exact) wearing the costume! Don pointed out Ken to the other five passengers early that morning. He said; "I had to act pretty excited. Some people were still asleep." The Busdriver, a policeman named Pat Linquist, slammed on the brakes because everyone on the bus kept shouting; "What is it?"
` He instantly figured that Ken was just some guy in a suit - which he was. He got out of the bus and chased after it, thinking perhaps he would expose the creature as a fake. Noticing that it smelled like rotten meat - something that costumes usually don't do - he became very frightened and got the hell away.

` Now Lindquist was six-foot-two, but Linquist said the creature was seven feet tall and a lot heavier than he - which is funny, because Ken was only 5-foot-11, and 165 pounds! Pat described the creature: "It had flat, flared nostrils like a monkey and large, wide eyes. It didn't make any sound except heavy breathing. It had a broad chest and it was heavy up and down." He even noted that it appeared to have mange, as its skin was kind of white.
` It was soon reported on the radio that mundane ol' humans had faked the whole thing - as well as other sightings in Washington, Oregon, and California. Dahinden's response? "Let them [the station] produce the fur suit and the material used to make the footprints." He could not "see how Lindquist could have mistaken a man in a fur suit for the real thing." (Though he did not get right up to it.) Now that's no reason to discount the possibility of a hoax! "Maybe my view was colored but if there was a hoax, let's see them re-enact the whole thing."
` However, Dahinden had also said; "If they can produce the evidence that this was a hoax, I would like to see it.. The hoax would be more important than a real Sasquatch sighting... it would teach us a lesson to smarten up."

` Surprise! Bitten on the ass by your own work this time, boy?

` In other words, even Bigfoot hunters, though they are careful, have been known to fall for cases we actually know to be trickery! Moreover, while actual evidence of hoaxing is often shown to people, no one can produce any remains of Bigfoot. I mean, come on! Some guy goes out hunting... if he sees a Bigfoot, why doesn't he shoot it?
` Some have claimed to, but what do they have to show for it? If anyone can even produce the tiniest end of a finger - anything! - they are sure to be looked at as heroes of biology, not to mention, probably rich. Even if they didn't want fame and fortune, those can be passed off on people who better deserve it - like scientists studying it or something.

` And what about roadkill? Large animals get hit by vehicles all the time - in Ohio and Washington both, I see dead deer so often I have wondered if cars could someday make them extinct. Some people make the argument that Bigfeet are too smart to be hit by cars. Gee - they must be a lot smarter than us, who even know exactly what to expect from cars! They'll be walking along a road out in the middle of nowhere, and blam!
` The next day I'm reading in the paper... 'Oh, some guy was hit the other day! Damn truck drivers!' But not Bigfeet? You'd think people would hear about such things, especially since a collision with one of those would completely total a car - and possibly the driver with it! Even if the driver wasn't hurt, how and why would they hide a dead Bigfoot before another driver saw?

` Then again, what if they're an endangered species? No one should be allowed to kill one, nor should anyone be expected to run over one! But... sightings from all over the continent are so common! Also, hoaxes from all over the continent are also common!
Hey! I just remembered the first such incident I saw on the local news... this guy was running across a road in Florida one night, dressed as a 'Skunk Ape'... he really scared a lot of people.

Still, endangered or not, you'd think they'd have left behind some kind of expendable body part, such as fur.
` Actually, many people have brought in fur they thought might be from a bigfoot. It usually turns out to be from various animals such as bears, cows, deer, humans, or even funs. That is, fun-fur, which is actually an arts-and-crafts fiber that can be bought at Pat Catan's... Some of them cannot be identified as either synthetic or animal, though they could be simply unusual hairs from usual animals, usual hairs from animals they didn't compare it to, or simply some type of other material that no one had an equivalent of.
` The only way you can tell whether or not a hair is from a Bigfoot is if it has DNA on it. However, so far, no unusual DNA has been found on any of these hairs.

` So nothing has been found, of the Bigfoot, that is. In tomorrow's entry, I will write about a real human-like creature that is part of traditional folklore on an island - remains matching the stories have been found! (Whether or not the two are connected is debateable.)

No comments: