Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Continued DISCUSSION WITH A SKEPTIC; plus LETTER TO A YOUNG SQUATCHER; News, Comments, and ANTHROPOMORPH ATTACK: 9-11 Mystery Solved!
Image: Speakers at the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up, 2009, with Bob Gimlin. Jeff Meldrum, Kathy Strain, Gimlin, Derek Randles, John Bindernagel, and Chris Murphy (obscured by camera). By Steven Streufert.
I didn’t decide to come out publicly as a "bigfooter" until the 2007 Willow Creek Patterson-Gimlin Film 40th Anniversary Celebration. Before that I was just privately curious, and not too aware of how vast the Bigfoot Community really is. I published my first writing on Bigfoot in an article concerning that conference, in the North Coast Journal, a Humboldt County arts and culture paper. I was pretty involved before that, though, co-founding the humorous Church of Bigfoot, Scientist in 1999 or so, and attending the great International Bigfoot Symposium here in our town in 2003. During the last decade I developed my own personal interest in the cryptid hominoid questions, and have also had a few "strange" moments in the woods that may have been Bigfoot encounters. I live in the forested mountains, so it isn't hard for me to go "Bigfoot hunting." In 2008 something large and heavy, not some bear or deer, walked down by my cabin on a hill above Willow Creek. I can only explain it as a Sasquatch. What else could it have been? I ask myself constantly. There’s no turning back now, I suppose, though I have never actually SEEN the creature with absolute certainty. Currently my blog has garnered almost 23,000 hits in just over a year of publishing it, and it is growing. Recently we have been featured at the top of the list of the “Best Bloggers on Bigfoot Research” on the BFRO web site, the most popular Bigfoot site in the world so far as we know. Who knows what the future may hold? Bigfoot calls me onward.
6) Has researching Sasquatch ever backfired on you (i.e., someone avoided you for researching Bigfoot)?
Well, I’ll tell you, the ladies don’t seem to like it very much. They seem to generally think Bigfoot research is just a little “icky.” You don’t want to talk about Bigfoot when you’re out on the town, or out on a date. A lot of my friends don’t seem to like it, especially as they can’t seem to understand why I have gotten so deeply into it. It seems strange to them, not from the perspective of the Creature being strange so much as they think I am a bit strange. That is OK. I like strange and mysterious things!
Another problem which I regret to have to mention is that of the witnesses. This is a big issue these days. In my store I get dozens of reports a year, and one has to really wonder about some of them. Most are quite ordinary and believable, and the people seem wholly credible and reliable. Other times there are people who seem to have a problem with pathological lying or exaggerated tall tale telling. Sometimes they just want to see if they can trick you into believing them, to see if they can pull your leg. Though the majority of them are believable, often there are people who report things that seem good at first, and then get stranger and more elaborate and unbelievable as they go along telling the story. One has to take a step back and wonder if these people are possibly having drug problems, delusional, confused, irrational, or just dishonestly seeking attention. They are the few, but they often have the most grand and impressive stories. Sometimes one gets involved with them on a personal level, and they begin to regard one as a friend and confidante. This can be dangerous as the researcher then starts to lose objectivity on the one hand, and gets wrapped up in their antic personal or family problems on the other. This has happened to me in several instances, where I really had to back away from a witness I no longer trusted to tell the truth and be psychologically clear.
PART TWO, A More Brief Addendum.
CAN THE MINDS MEET ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE OF EMPIRICISM AND POSSIBILITY? An on-going exploration.
A brief interaction with “Skeptic” from our previous blog entry, DISCUSSION WITH A SKEPTIC ON BIGFOOT (click linked text to read it), began after he saw the recent National Geographic documentary, American Paranormal: Bigfoot. This is a minimal update to our previous post. As we were on our iPhone and hence limited in our typing patience, we mainly just let him do the talking. It is interesting, as one may see how he is ALMOST convinced by the Patterson-Gimlin Film, and even admits the possibility of a real Bigfoot to some degree. He sent in the following:
SKEPTIC: Actually, I saw a show on BF last night on Nat Geo. It heavily features Bill Munns' digitization and analysis of PGF. It was definitely biased in that they didn't talk to a lot of experts, but they did show some interesting stuff. The musculature of the PGF creature may be the convincing thing, at least in the way it was presented. The "compliant gait" could be faked, longer arms could be added as part of the suit, but the way the fur clings to the body and muscle contraction seems visible. That is hard to fake even now, but particularly with ape suits available at that time. So maybe it is real. I just don't know. I wish a panel of totally disinterested anatomists and kinesiologists could really be brought together to look at the film. The film is ultimately the closest "proof" there is.
"Skeptic," again, followed up when he had proposed that perhaps the PG Film was real, but that the Bigfoot had gone extinct since then, and when we replied that there are more sighting reports now than ever:
SKEPTIC: The fact there are more sightings WITHOUT film or other evidence makes it less probable that it is real, you know. So the fact that there are more sightings now, yet still without evidence, argues against the existence of Bigfoot, and more that there are more people now there, more delusions, wishful thinking, mis-sightings (brown bears, whose habitat is similar to that of many BF sightings), weird feelings in the woods, more hoaxes, etc. The more the encounters, the greater the chance of real documentation, if the creature is real and alive.
Then, on Mar 13, 2010, at 12:36 AM, Steven Streufert, Bigfoot Books wrote, and started it up again:
BIGFOOT BOOKS: “Bigfoot?” Check this out:
Watch it until the midpoint, at least.
(This is the video of a three-legged bear waking bipedally upright, looking a lot like a Bigfoot when it moves through the woods, obscured partially by branches.)
SKEPTIC: I think a lot of bigfoot "sightings" are probably black bears. Their habitat and the locations of bigfoot sightings overlap very nicely. Others are just hallucinations or "spooked feelings" onto which people project some image in their brains, like a lot of ghost "sightings." On another note, it's amazing that the bear survived after presumably losing one of its front legs/arms in a bear trap. It defied the odds in surviving bleeding or infection. It then later survived the odds by surviving with this very real handicap. It may have been aided in its survival by scavenging on thrown-away human food in garbage cans and dumps.
Bigfoot is either fiction or has died out due to its own lack of adaptability and loss of habitat (or isolation of once continuous roaming areas by human development). Other hominid species and non-hominid primates have existed until fairly recently, and bones really do decay or become buried under leaves and soil fast in forests. So it is possible that there was a human-like animal in N. America until recently. I don't think it exists anymore, if it did. With more humans, more cameras (virtually every cell phone now), there'd be more PGF-type footages at the least.
Bigfoot fulfills the human desire for transcendency and escapism from the nudging and gnawing sense that we are animals, born for no reason, dying for no reason, just here to eat, shit and reproduce. Everyone feels this. We need mystery to survive psychologically. Without mystery, we have to face the banality and triviality of our own lives and deaths.
It is ironic that we seek both certainty and mystery. Certainty, because it alleviates our own questions about our positions in the world and our own decisions. Mystery, because so long as there is mystery, there is a chance of there being something more than random material cause and effect, which is a kind of certainty, but not the kind we crave, as it is dehumanizing and mechanical. We need both, and in some way they reinforce each other, even though they are diametrically opposed.
We want fascistic certainty about our own importance, yet we want unknowables that point to other worlds to which we may one day ascend. Related but distinct, and again irreconcilable with strict logic. But reconcilable when considering human psychology.
SKEPTIC: There was also a belief that the world was created by spiders or other creatures in N.A. cultures. And, again, when I go outside at night, I can sometimes "feel" weird creatures in the woods, and it frightens and thrills me. We all want that. We want to know there is more than just what we see out there, even as we want to know there are rules.
It is easy to project our desire for "others" (which beyond maintaining the mystery we need also alleviates the loneliness we feel) onto human-like creatures that may be out there. We have had language longer than the last date of extinction of other hominids, e.g. Neanderthals and probably others. So there is also an oral tradition of man-like creatures, which once did exist alongside of us, that may have been passed down to many cultures.
However, if bigfoot did exist in N. America for some time, migrating like H. sapiens over the ice bridge (since one thing is certain, apes, including the hominid group of apes, all evolved in Africa), it is almost certainly extinct now. If it did exist, it may have gone extinct long ago (in which case PGF would be a hoax) or very recently. But with so many people and so many devices for recording encounters, it defies all logic that it could still exist now.
BIGFOOT BOOKS: Some things are metaphoric, some aren't. Spiders = “web of stars,” for instance. Indonesia area still has "hobbit" reports. Orang Pendak… Google it.
SKEPTIC: I know, but there was controversy about whether the fossils were properly identified. I don't give much credence to recent reports. Some things are metaphoric, yes, and so BF might be too. It's the wildman myth.
BIGFOOT BOOKS: "The mythology has to come from somewhere. It doesn't just come out of a Kellogg's corn flake box!" --Rene Dahinden
There is something one learns when taking an ecology class. Large animals require truly huge areas. Shy and retiring large animals require even more. And while the total amount of undisturbed area may still be great, it is broken up. And, again, one learns in ecology classes that it is not sheer area that matters, but connectivity. One huge area of 100,000 acres, say, means more biodiversity, especially for larger animals, than 100,000 acres broken up by roads and human settlements into 10 x 10,000 acres.
Images: Homo floresiensis skulls, and one from H. sapiens for comparison. Sourced on Wikipedia Commons.
So, even when the "virgin" areas may seem large in sum, if they are broken, even just by small roads, into parcels (and for a big animal even 50 sq. miles - a huge "parcel" by our standards - may not be enough), it just doesn't work for certain animals.
BIGFOOT BOOKS: You have never walked on the GROUND in these areas. It is incredibly sparse, and humans may log or plow dirt roads, but they soon leave. It is incredibly dense and inaccessible in most places. Google Earth is deceptive. Go to Orleans CA there, go west a little ways, you will be in the Bluff Creek country. Then go north, into the Klamath-Siskiyou Wilderness. You won't see Bigfoot on Google Earth, but you would get a whole different impression trying to walk around in there.
Image: Thank you Google Earth. You helped me greatly in studying the P-G film site zone before venturing forth! Click to enlarge to see the location of the site.
SKEPTIC: Walk and take a camera. Send me a pic of BF!
BIGFOOT BOOKS: I've tried. I think there was one in my yard, a forest actually, but a photo was impossible. I didn't actually see it. But it behaved and sounded like no other animal I know.
SKEPTIC: I've heard weird sounds in my yard too. Doesn't mean it was BF. Maybe it was a chick stalking you.
BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yes, hard-packed dirt, but there were depressions in the understory plants. Hadn't been there before.
SKEPTIC: But 500-lb depressions?
In this sense, a bona fide mystery can serve the very same role as a mythological one. In fact, they blend with each other in the human psyche. But aren't the "real" things just as mysterious, especially at early points of discovery? Aren't there always mysteries, and isn't this what drives Science and exploratory quests and hypotheses?
In the great Age of Exploration, and the Colonial period that followed, Europeans spread out and sought to discover, know and conquer. Strange things were encountered, including heretofore unknown beasts and monsters of mythic proportions and forms. At first these were monstrous, but were gradually understood. Hence, the gorilla becomes just another quite interesting creature of known habits and taxonomy, rather that a savage giant that rips humans to shreds and eats them, or abducts human women for breeding. Even the great sea monsters are now known to be squid, whales, manatees or sharks. Could not Bigfoot be just the last hold-out in this process, now still a monster to some, and yet to others experienced and understood as simply another living creature?
Perhaps this is part of the appeal of Bigfoot: that it is a creature that is man-like, but not confined by mankind's narrow society and civilization. It is a creature that embodies at once the power of the natural world and a potential unknown form of consciousness and existence utterly strange to us, but strangely and deeply familiar. It appeals to our deeply known evolutionary and wild past, but also, perhaps, to our future.
[ANSWER PROMISED BUT STILL PENDING. Check back here soon for the final update, coming soon to this blog entry!]