Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Buhs vs. Moneymaker Comment War, Dr. Jeff Meldrum Replies, plus My Meeting with Mr. Matt


Further investigation and conversation with author Joshua Blu Buhs (go to his own blog in this and the next colored text link) over his book, BIGFOOT: The Life and Times of a Legend (see our previous POST for a massive and I hope incisive 20-page interview) has unearthed a COMMENTS WAR between he and the founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), Matt Moneymaker.

For those of you in the bigfooting world who might think I went too easily on Mr. Buhs in my article (hey, I did want to keep him talking, and besides, he seems to be a truly good guy) might want to check out these two book review pages. BE SURE to look down to the comments field below the main text, and read the big one until the end. It's a full-on battle! And Moneymaker really takes him to task, even perhaps somewhat too far at the end, as the site moderator eventually shut down the comments thread. Buhs, though, does hold his own in the fray, and a few other interesting characters join in the debate along the way.

[Image above, a display projection from Dr. John Bindernagel's presentation at the 2009 Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up]

Here is the major one (click the LINKED colored text, folks; but DO come on back here): the review on the Laelaps blog, after a review by one Brian Switek. Moneymaker's comments start down at # 5 and finish at #44, and you'll find Buhs and others entering the fray all along the way.

Another review was previously published at the Washington Post web site, with a brief comments flap, too.

[Image, Matt Moneymaker speaks up defending the Skookum Cast at the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up]

Some excerpts? OK, I give in. Here, I quote from the WaPo site:
MONEYMAKER: "Joshua Blu Bahs [editor: sic, sp., intentional?] is the type of author who embarks on a project like this with a marketing angle in mind, rather than a sincere desire to uncover the truth. Joshua knew what his conclusion was going to be long before he did any "research". Once he dreamed up an angle of argumentation, then his only "research" were his efforts in collecting material that would support his argument. The simple fact that he claims, among many other patently false statements, that "no tracks have ever been authenticated" and "no footage has ever stood up to scrutiny" basically reveals that Joshua Blu Bahs is a fraud. His angle was to write a book crafted to appeal to uninformed people [who] would tend to be skeptical. He assumed (just like another demonstrable fraud named David Daegling) that the skeptical audience is a larger audience than the "believer" audience. The fact is, the vast majority of people who tend to be skeptical about the existence of these animals... do not really care either way. Furthermore, anyone, even an ardent scientist-skeptic, who HONESTLY and FULLY investigates this subject, comes to the tentative conclusion that they do exist, just as Robert Michael Pyle did, after he had a legit Class B encounter while doing *honest* research and investigation for his book. The type of authors who honestly want to know the truth spend at least a *little* time in field. Whereas Joshua only did his selective research over the Internet. His research is dishonest, and his book is a marketing scam ... and I could prove all of that in court if I ever needed to."

To that Buhs had a reply.
BUHS: "I would like to state for the record that I did not embark on this book for marketing books. Second, I did not do my research "over the internet." As the reviewer astutely notes, 'Buhs's real mission is to track not the creature itself but rather its shadow in the popular imagination.' Which means I have little or nothing to say about those who have seen Bigfoot. My point, instead, is to look at the various meanings attached to the beast. In the course of six-years research I came to certain conclusions about the existence of the beast. Others come to different conclusions. We can debate the evidence, but that is not the point of the book at all. The exact same methods could have been used to analyze a creature of undoubted existence. Indeed, my first book did that. It was called The Fire Ant Wars and used the same analytical tools to understand how and why people have thought about Solenopsis invicta, the red imported fire ant. Before accusing someone of bad faith, it is always worthwhile at least reading the book."

And hey, that is just the START of the battle, which commenced May 5th of this year 2009. The thing really exploded on the Laelaps science blog starting on June 9th. You'll have to follow that one to the end by going there. I won't even try to cover it here.
[Images, the "hyper-cool" Buhs author-dude from the book's DJ flap, and the laid back California dad Buhs from his blog.]

To be totally fair and balanced, since I talked about Buhs a bunch in my last post, I should mention that we at Bigfoot Books had the honor of a Moneymaker sighting last month on our very own front porch. Contrary to all the crazy myths and legends about him spread by a few angry BFRO defectors and apostates, despite the competitive bigfooting jealousies that some feel about the BFRO, the man himself is a very open, friendly and savvy conversationalist, and quite intelligent. We talked for over three hours, and he answered all my questions without taking offense, even the controversial ones. Asked about the notion some spread that the BFRO is some kind of a cult, and he is the leader, Matt said, "There is no cult or cult of personality. If there is a cult it is about Bigfoot [not the BFRO or me]." I was very favorably impressed. I'd say anyone who doubts Moneymaker's sincerity and critical abilities is simply a fool, or misled. When I told him the story of my own possible bigfoot encounter he eyed me skeptically the whole time, like some Hercule Poirot-type investigator, but he grew excited when certain aspects of the story rang true and consistent with other bigfoot encounters and behaviors with which he is quite familiar. Contrary to some popular beliefs, there were no blood oaths nor satanic vows, nor pentagrams and infant sacrifice, no attempted CIA or MK-ULTRA mind control either--he just signed me up, without my even asking, to access the BFRO private database and reporting features. Does that make me a BFRO member? I guess so, and hey, my mind is still working freely! Matt's cool in my (bigfoot) book.

And, by the way, accusations that the Yakima Round-Up was some kind of BFRO stage-managed event are really totally absurd (read about the "controversy" on Cryptomundo HERE and HERE, or go HERE to the JREF Forums to see how people's egos can really get inflamed over basically nothing: and yes, the last link contains the infamously misinterpreted Bobo's "Ass Whoopin' Letter"). I've talked that issue over up and down and all around with Tom Yamarone, James Bobo Fay, even Scott Herriott himself and others, and find it all pretty damn baseless. Whatever affiliations and debates might exist, Bigfooters are an untamed and individualistic lot, and surely will ever remain so. If we want to find Bigfoot, let's keep our eyes on the prize, folks.

Meanwhile, on the home front, we've received some comments from Dr. Jeff Meldrum, of Idaho State University whose review of Buhs' book in The Bigfoot Times got my interview with Buhs rolling in the first place. Here you go...

JEFF MELDRUM: Steve, I enjoyed reading your interview with Joshua. It was very enlightening and helpful in clarifying some of his positions. I had to chuckle at his familiar comment that the reviewer of his ant book /didn't get it/. Apparently, Joshua isn't having much luck making himself understood :-) I do think that had some of the substance of this interview been incorporated into his book, my review would have been quite different. I may not have /gotten/ his intent, but you certainly understood my disagreement with his approach and apparent conclusions. You did an excellent job making your points and drawing out of him, in my opinion, a clearer expression of his objectives at least. Thanks for sharing this! Jeff

[Image, a sun-fried Jeff Meldrum doing his presentation at the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up]

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Hey Jeff, Thanks! I'm glad you liked it, and that you could get through the whole thing (sorry, I tend to be a wordy writer, and so does Mr. Buhs sometimes). Anyway, I found Buhs to be a very decent, accommodating guy. He stuck with that interview for two weeks and never seemed to get his hackles raised. I came to feel that my annoyance was not with him, but really his FIELD of study: Sociology. For instance, right now I'm trying to read a friend's book (his doctoral dissertation, in Soc.), and man, it is fascinating, but it talks all around the issues, spends whole, large chunks of each chapter on explaining its theoretical apparatus, and then could possibly seem to slight the actual events and information that are ostensibly the subject of the book. I think it is this methodological bent, that and the need to adhere to a particular thesis/theory, that prevented Buhs from dealing with the subject in a more hands-on way. As one can see in the interview, he really ISN'T closed-minded.

JEFF MELDRUM: I think you put your finger on it. His approach/methodology did continually clash with my perspectives, and that is likely the reason for the dissonance. Every attempt to illustrate his points with an analogy seemed obtuse and evasive of the what I perceived as the real issue at hand. He seemed unwilling or unable to come to terms, in an empirical sense, with the fundamental question: Is there a biological entity at the root of the legend and all its sociological ramifications?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yes, I noticed the same thing in my graduate school years studying Literature and English. There is so much abstruse (and often ridiculous) theory that one feels at times that the actual text one is supposedly studying is lost in the works. It ends in obfuscation rather than explication. It seems to be obvious that the primary study in the Bigfoot field should start from the ground up, from physical and other evidence, and then only later the study of the "culture" of it. But heck, that ain't Sociology, so go figure. And this: Buhs has a Ph.D., but he is more a historian and sociologist than he is a scientist, I think. So, keep up the good... SCIENCE! BTW, your book, SASQUATCH: Legend Meets Science, is the #1 SELLER of all Bigfoot books in my shop. As a matter of fact, I just now sold another copy. Best, Steve, BF BOOKS.

Coming up SOON! An interview with author David Paulides, regarding NABS' new product, THE TRACK RECORD.

NEWS ALERT!: Don't miss The Bigfoot Times' DANIEL PEREZ on KSGV Radio's THE HERETIC SHOW on Friday, 8:30 Pacific Time. If you miss it, it should definitely be archived for online streaming under October 16th through the show link above.

[Images from Yakima taken and damn well kinda copyright 2009 by Steven Streufert, the rest are commercial product/public images. If you use them--go ahead, but--please notify us and give credit and a link to this blog.]

NOTE: "ANGRY BIGFOOT SPEAKS" will now become a REGULAR FEATURE aspect of this blog, so watch out!