Monday, November 7, 2016
November 8th, 2016
Here's Part One, Two, and Three of a long, written interview with the CryptoBlast blog.
This was 22 pages in WORD when all was said and done, so each segment is 6-7 pages long.
The non-illustrated text-only version is included here, below.
"Who is Steven Streufert? You might have seen him on a Bigfoot documentary on Destination America, or in the movie Willow Creek, or even on Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot. He is the owner of the infamous Bigfoot Books bookstore in Willow Creek and an online blogger who is affiliated with the Bluff Creek trail cam project. We sat down with Steven and asked him a series of questions on the topic of Bigfoot. What is he? is he a skeptic? A researcher? A hater? Let's dive into the complex mind of a man that Rictor Riolo from Bigfoot Bounty calls a walking Bigfoot encyclopedia!"
"Last week we began our 3-part interview with Steven Streufert of Bigfoot Books. This Monday Steven talks about the pros and cons of having the most crucial Facebook group for the study of Sasquatch, social media's influences, his involvement with TV/movies, and what gives him the biggest headache when it comes to being one of the most hated and admired personalities in the world of Sasquatch."
"Two weeks ago we began our 3-part interview with Steven Streufert of Bigfoot Books. Today Steven brings the interview to a controversial and brutally honest conclusion by talking about the "woo" factor in Bigfoot and the loss of “scientific” pursuit in discovering this creature. After decades of research it's not looking too good for Bigfoot."
TEXT ONLY VERSION, in full...
CRYPTOBLAST: Steven Streufert, what first got your interest in Bigfoot?
STEVEN STREUFERT: I was interested in Bigfoot when I first heard of it, at the age of nine or ten, when my family went to a triple-feature of monster movies at the drive-in. I saw what I think was the Patterson-DeAtley documentary of Bigfoot and the PGF. I recall Bigfoot on a very large screen, walking across the view from our car, larger than life of course, and very life-like. That image enchanted me, and I never really stopped imagining what those primeval forests might be like, where such mysterious creatures could live, as I was growing up and over the decades since. Of course, as you know, I eventually found myself living in the area where that film was shot, and where a lot of the strange origins and history of “Bigfoot” can be found.
CRYPTOBLAST: Tell us about how you settled in Willow Creek and created Bigfoot Books? Also tell us about some of the famous faces you have seen over the years.
STEVEN STREUFERT: I came to Humboldt County for graduate school (Literature and English), essentially following the redwoods up the coast. I started at an elementary school in Santa Barbara where a small plantation of redwoods grew down by the creek in back, and then ended up in Santa Cruz for college. Humboldt seemed a good next step, as I was drawn more to forests and mountains than big cities. I lived in Berkeley for a while, but decided against that. After I finished my degrees in the late 90s, I let my mind wander a bit, and one day I found myself considering a copy of Rene Dahinden’s book at one of the used book shops where I worked. All of those old enchantments and memories of reading the whole rack of Bigfoot books in the public library in the early to mid seventies came flooding back.
I was living at the time up in the mountains above Blue Lake, a ways inland from the coast, on 350 acres of redwood forest surrounded by countless more acres of logging company land. Living in such woods, one naturally starts to feel that the woods are watching, and are full of life. We had all sorts of animals around us up there. The fascination grew as I moved to Willow Creek, not to “find Bigfoot” there, but because it was sunny, a nice small town, and the houses were affordable. We had a baby on the way, so it seemed a good move. Of course, it wasn’t long before I began to realize how full of “Bigfoot” the town was, especially with the classic Jim McClarin Bigfoot sculpture from 1967 that I recalled from all the old books sitting right there on the corner in the middle of town. I was surprised to find that locals still reported Bigfoot sightings, and that many of the old-timers from the late fifties heyday were still alive and living in town.
I sold used and rare books online from our home there for a number of years, but rapidly filled up that house with far too many books. With a toddler crawling and then running around the place, something had to change. Seven-foot stacks of boxes and books wouldn’t do. So, it was decided (mainly by my ex) that the books should find another home. Opening a public shop seemed a good idea, not so much for the money it would make, but as an office for the online business, and as a public lure for the Bigfoot topic. I was curious what I might find, especially after the 2003 International Bigfoot Symposium was held right here in our town. By then I was fairly well persuaded that Bigfoot might actually be real. In 2005 I opened the shop, and found myself eventually filling the role once handled by old-timer Al Hodgson--that of the one sitting in one of the few go-to places around the “Bigfoot Mecca,” where one could actually talk about Bigfoot. There was the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum over in downtown, but they weren’t really personally immersed in the topic. By 2005 I certainly was, and I began to realize there was a whole community of people worldwide who looked for this creature, or who were just enthusiasts for the culture of it. Since then, I’ve seen a huge variety of people from the Bigfooting world here, just about everyone, it seems. I’ve never really had to go out and “find” Bigfoot (though I have gone out looking, of course). It just came to me through the front door of my shop. Before I knew it, the thing was taking up most of my work day, especially after I started going public, writing and publishing on the topic, in 2007.
CRYPTOBLAST: Can you tell us what a customer will find when they first walk into your bookstore?
STEVEN STREUFERT: Well, I have some 16 years of accumulation of oddball Bigfoot stuff, all over the walls and here and there. I don’t really collect it like a museum, though, I sell it, so, the best things are eventually sold. Bobo (James Fay, from the “Finding Bigfoot” show) buys a good deal of the rare stuff I get. In fact, he gets a bit offended if I don’t offer things to him first. He’s easily my best customer in here, challenged only by a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He says he puts what he buys in his safe and locks it up, expecting a huge return on his investment after Bigfoot is proven to be real. I know the truth, though, which is that Bobo gives most of it away.
What people will see here, however, isn’t really some kind of a Bigfoot shop. I have a whole building full of books in ALL topics, seven rooms of general interest and only three or four shelves of books on Sasquatch-Bigfoot-Yeti. I laugh at those online troll-fools who try to suggest I am exploiting Bigfoot for profit. Having to talk about Bigfoot every day, sometimes for hours, actually costs me money. Going on trips to Bluff Creek costs me money, and days from work. The sales of books or whatever related to Bigfoot make a pale effort to make up for that lost work time, and in the good parts of the year maybe will pay for the rent and beer. A three-hour conversation about the Patterson-Gimlin film with a customer who buys one $20 book is not profit. I might make $8 on that book. See how that works out?
What people will here see are massive piles of books everywhere, shelves overflowing with them, rooms full of them in a building that looks like a house, perhaps around 60,000 of them, including Romance, Horror, History, Science, Poetry, Literature, Philosophy, or whatever else. Still, the Bigfooters and Bigfoot fans keep coming. I can’t really explain it, but I think it is mainly to talk with me, not to buy a book. That’s OK. It’s usually fun.
CRYPTOBLAST: What do you call yourself? A researcher? A skeptic? An arm chair warrior? A champion of the woo?
STEVEN STREUFERT: In regard to Bigfoot, I’m just someone who is curious. It started out here as an aspect of local history, of my community, where I found it was a big part of its conscious history, layered on top of the background in Native culture, frontier mining, logging, fishing (and of late, pot growing). Bigfoot began to intrigue me as a cultural element, one in which I also had a background as a child of the Seventies, a fan of “In Search Of…”, and just about anything strange and unusual.
When I lived in Mount Shasta City I studied the odd culture UFOs and the strange legends of Lemurians and a subterranean race of Ascended Masters. But see, I’ve been a skeptical, critical thinker since I renounced “Woo” in the late 1980s. I study these things as interesting sociological and psychological issues. I used to be a big “believer” in these things, growing up as a Christian and a sort of natural mystic, but ran into a big wall of disillusionment with all of it eventually. So, in a way, I was debunking parts of myself, of my own belief habits, these tendencies to accept the unproven that lurk in our culture. I began to demand solid evidence for things believed and found it was enjoyable and liberating to debunk myths and urban legends. One HAS to do this if one has ever been in any kind of cultic belief, as I was, in the 80s, when I studied Theosophy and the Occult.
I’d argue that ALL of us are raised in this manner of thinking, of just accepting things on faith, or because we want an escape from prosaic reality and the physical facts of decay and death. We want transcendence, and will believe what makes us feel better about existence, or what offers a seeming liberation from facts. I chose to confront these tendencies, and to forge ahead as a curious skeptic. It’s not the easiest path to take in life, but if I believe in anything it is truth and radical honesty. I’m not going to accept any myths as mere comfort in life. I’m going to try to discover the raw reality of things, even if that means a universe of cold space, and incomprehensibly distant but wondrous stars and galaxies. In this pursuit, I would say that the best assurance of knowledge becoming equivalent to reality is the use of logic, science, and critical thinking, applied to just about everything. Obviously, you can’t apply these to *everything* in life, but they are the best guides.
With the culture of Bigfooting, after a decade and a half of involvement with the often loony culture of it, I’ve chosen to draw a very firm line. I simply will not accept ANY of this Woo-woo stuff, unless it can substantiate itself as real. I also won’t accept just any old supposed piece of “flesh-and-blood” physical evidence or a mere story, just because it is part of the “accepted” canon of Bigfoot history. Much of the stuff claimed as supporting Bigfoot’s existence just doesn’t hold water, certainly not to a real scientific or even an historical standard. Much of it is the product of hoaxing, of fantasy, and often just plain delusion. Much of what happened in Bluff Creek was essentially a joke played by locals on outsiders. This is an obvious fact if you live here and investigate it honestly, despite the protestations of the “true believers.” The wheat must be sorted from the chaff, if one values the truth. So, I’m largely a cultural critic, a student of the history of the field, but also a practitioner of outdoors exploration and observation.
Yes, we studied the Patterson-Gimlin film and Bluff Creek history seriously for some three years before we were able to confirm the rediscovered film site itself, and I feel confident that we (Bluff Creek Project) have largely sorted fact from fiction in many related areas of this history. One thing we haven’t been able to do, though, is figure with any finality if that film subject is actually a real creature. The film remains anomalous, just ambiguous enough for it to rest in between fact and fiction, with its veracity or the possibility it was a hoax really an unsettled question. In the course of all of that time in Bluff Creek since 2007, actually out on the site and in the area around it, camping and hiking and driving, we did manage to do a lot of what so many in Bigfooting culture like to call “Field Research.” We are not professional scientists, or surveyors, but we have applied the principles of logic and science to everything we’ve done. We decided to set up Bluff Creek Project going forward as a wildlife survey using trail cameras strategically implemented in some of the most historical and biologically rich zones of the Bluff Creek basin. This is an ongoing study, which has produced great results in many areas, but has yet to find a single piece of convincing Bigfoot evidence. Our standards for what is “convincing,” though, are very high. Plus, we are honest about it. We won’t just claim any blurry brown thing in a photo is a Bigfoot. The null hypothesis seems to be the right conclusion at this point, that Bigfoot just isn’t there; but we will continue to look, hoping to get to the bottom of this thing somehow or other.
Could it be that Bigfoot just isn’t real? I have already acknowledged this as a distinct possibility, in fact a probability. I’d rather it were otherwise, but the case for Bigfoot just isn’t looking strong to me these days. Bigfoot seems to be a modern urban legend, based upon old mythologies, a living legend, so to speak, in the minds of people. Perhaps it's not, but that seems rather unlikely given the decades of fruitless searching, and all the truly bad evidence so far acquired. So, the question may in fact be one about the nature of belief, epistemology, rather than existence, or ontology. If Bigfoot does not exist, why do people believe things? Why is there a whole large subculture concerned with holding this belief and reinforcing it against skepticism and scrutiny? How can people think they’ve seen these creatures if they are not even real? How does this case relate to the other cases of belief among humans? Hence, the issue becomes sociological, and psychological, rather than zoological or anthropological. I find the conundrum fascinating. I will listen to all the stories people tell, and consider the meaning of their narratives along with the motives for such. If it proves true that there is a creature at the bottom of all of this, so much the better. I certainly don’t rule it out, and the claims of witnesses are the most interesting thing about it. Unfortunately, given the failures over the years of hundreds involved in actively trying to prove this thing real, I simply have to doubt it.
CRYPTOBLAST: You met Dr. Matthew Johnson, a clinical psychologist from Washington and Oregon who is polar opposite of everything you stand for. It is obvious he is now taking shape as a cult leader. He wants followers, people to believe his word and not question his authority, etc. His wild claims that Bigfoot can heal you and speak to you through mindspeak (telepathy), can transform into Orbs (flying balls of energy), travel through interdimensional portals, says Bigfoot has him teach their Bigfoot young, claims they can cloak (turn invisible), are shaping him to be the new Erik Beckjord. What are your thoughts on this delusional man? Is he a liar? A hoxer? A con artist? Or an attention whore?
STEVEN STREUFERT: Ha ha! Well, All of the above, eh? You kind of said it all already. I don’t really want to speak poorly of the man, really, but his claims are another thing. One can hardly address the claims without addressing the man, unfortunately, as they so obviously come *from* the man, and not from objective reality. Some of it is simple misinterpretation, with an overactive imagination obviously run rampant. He makes very obvious barred owl calls into “900 pound owls,” meaning, he thinks they are Sasquatch imitating owls. He records them for hours on end, and I will tell you right now, those are just owls. He also records himself mumbling and farting in his sleep, and then claims it is Bigfoot watching over him in the night as he sleeps out on his cot. Once, one of his “Bigfoot” even said “Fuck” in the middle of the night. Come on now, seriously? Many of the tracks he’s cast or identified, and many of his photos of “Bigfoot” are clearly just his own tracks and the snags and tree trunks of that area. We in fact identified many of these he’d claimed were Bigfoot when we went up there to “SOHA” to investigate. We found there innumerable Matthew Johnson tracks in the snow, but not a single one that could be said to be from a Bigfoot; and this is after he’d just been there the day before, and claimed “activity” all around camp all the several days he’d stayed there.
What we saw there was not a magical wonderland with a family or clan of Bigfoot living there, a mystical portal to another dimension, or anything like that at all, including anything like viable habitat up there on that ridge. It is an old logging road, and he camped right in the middle of the old road when he was going up there. The trail through the slightly older and fire-damaged woods past his camp was just the overgrown logging road, right along the BLM property borderline marked with tree sign tags. All around there were various stages of clearcuts of the woods, and down below where the creek flowed there was a row of houses. Nearby, on Google Earth, several marijuana grows and other buildings could be seen. This place was literally surrounded by people and what I’d consider “tree farm” forest, though it was a hilltop up in the woods. The ridgeline itself was perhaps a good way to travel for animals like bears and deer, but not a place really to stay. We found virtually no food sources up there (one small, sparse berry plant), and only a seeping mud puddle for water. This mud puddle, in fact, was the “Portal,” or so it seemed. The road in to the place came through a tunnel of young trees growing up over it, and could easily have created the illusion of a “portal” going through it if there were the right light and mist in the air. There seemed to us to be reasonable explanations for everything claimed, most of it coming from Johnson’s heightened imagination and expectancy, and the sense of anticipation of a foregone thing that he foisted upon everyone he took up there. It clearly was sheer confirmation bias, and maybe even some hoaxing. I would say that Adam Davies and John Carlson just got really spooked by Johnson’s “campfire tales,” as it were, and became absorbed into the very same waking dream that Johnson was living in. We would have done a more formal, extended “peer review” up there, but we began to get death and violence threats from Johnson’s followers, so it really didn’t seem worth it, especially when he picked up camp and ran away to a new location.
And, yeah, he still lives in that dream, over at his new “SOIA” location… only things have gotten much, much worse in the Woo-woo area. He promises a “Big Revelation” at his conference next year, but I’d bet it’s nothing we haven’t already seen from Kewaunee Lapseritis, you know, something about higher dimensions of reality, Bigfoot being on a higher vibration level, with alien or spiritual entities, and likely some UFOs thrown in for good flavor. I have to say, this is a farce, but even more farcical is the way he ran away from his old SOHA once we discovered it (using his own Google Earth image and other photos he posted, by the way, not due to some “Judas” as he claims). Now he denies the importance of collecting any evidence at all. He says, in such an easy way out, that it is now about “interaction,” and not to prove anything or to habituate any being. It’s all about “teachings” and “healings” now, with claims of magical superpowers. This is the usual deus ex machina, or metaphysical escape hatch, that has been used by charlatans since the beginning of all human superstitions. If you don’t have a real explanation for something and can’t prove it is real, just say it came from an even greater mystery, one that recedes into the mists only you can see. And yeah, then, convince your followers of such things, and feed on their adulation and donations. I do think he has become some sort of a cult leader in this way, as many follow him in his methods and thinking. It’s spreading like a virus, now representing the clear majority in the Bigfooting community, now burgeoning with newbies drawn in by less-than-scientific TV shows.
Meeting him, one gets the impression of sincerity; but one also feels pressured and manipulated. He has that air of the true believer, or rather, the fanatic. It seems like he really believes what he’s telling you, and he’ll even get teary eyed in emotion about it. Some call him a hoaxer and a liar, but I still am largely of the opinion that he really believes these things, and of that in which he doesn’t quite believe he manages to convince himself. The desire to confirm belief biases all interpretation, and can even lead to a partially-conscious manipulation of the evidence or stories. It’s truly bizarre, but even that wife of his seems to believe that there are Sasquatch thought-form orbs flying around in their bedroom in the Washington suburbs. He believes in religious things, supernatural things, already, so I suppose it isn’t that strange for him to just continue to believe *more* of these things beyond God and Jesus, Cain walking the Earth, prehistoric Giants, or whatever. Just add a little Bigfoot to your picture, stir in some pseudoscience Deepak Chopra “quantum” physics, and voila, it’s a magical realm of fantasy that becomes true the more he believes and practices it.
Here is the thing: many suggest that he is a psychologist, and he knows how to control and manipulate people. I would say, sure, he is talented in that area, but he has first convinced and manipulated himself. It is the nature of the true believer to try to bend reality to their wishes, rather than to recognize reality as it is based upon objective evidence. I don’t know if this is due to his claimed PTSD from his “encounter” with Bigfoot while shitting in the woods by Oregon Caves some 16 years ago, or if it is from his more recent (publicly admitted) traumatic brain injury, but he seems to have a desperate need for Bigfoot to be real. And it’s not just an ordinary Bigfoot, but one that ascends into the heavens and spiritual dimensions, one that ultimately meets with his “God.” He wants an explanation for everything, and he’s convinced he’s on the right path. He’s the model of the con-man fool, the charlatan who convinces others of his own delusion. I’m not sure if he consciously lies or hoaxes, but “for the Cause,” I don’t think he’d even recognize the difference. So deeply has he blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, I don’t think he even knows there IS a difference. Reality is what he wants it to be; a fine thing if one is in the safety of an institution, in a monastic order, or if one is writing a Science-Fiction novel, but not a good way to be in the objective world associating with other human beings. Part of the social contract is that we share a communicable, confirmable reality, based on verifiable facts. Jon-Erik Beckjord at least had his feet on the ground. I don’t know about this Johnson and where he’s taking this, but it sure looks like he’s waiting for the next comet, to me.
CRYPTOBLAST: Your Facebook group, Coalition for Critical Thinking in Bigfoot Reasearch (https://www.facebook.com/groups/smartbigfoot/) is very popular with science-based people following this mystery. Yet it has created you online enemies who harass and troll you on a daily basis. Why is that?
STEVEN STREUFERT: Well, you know, the Coalition is a critical thinking group. Skepticism is essential to critical or scientific thinking. We try to practice logic, within the melee of the debates on these crazy issues. We seek out the crazy stuff to discuss. There are many people involved in this Bigfooting thing who are practicing the craziness, believing in metaphysical things first, where it used to be about trying to be rational, trying to achieve credibility before the outside world, endeavoring to practice amateur “citizen science” in pursuit of an explanation to a mystery. OF COURSE, as those practicing skeptical agnosticism (generally, in the group) we piss off the true believers. We are doing the exact opposite thing as they are, even though both are involved with Bigfoot. We’d like to see proof of this thing, for sure, but we don’t try to mold reality to fit that desire. We are, and I am I guess especially, ruthless in the pursuit of the truth, and in applying logic and criticism to the claims, whatever they are. We won’t accept a “flesh and blood” footprint track any more readily than we will a gleaming Portal to Sirius or Lemuria.
Beyond the true believers, many of whom really just are afraid of us, there are rivals in the supposedly rational side of this thing, too. Mainly, they’re people we didn’t get along with in the Coalition group, those who maybe are used to being regarded as really smart in their private world of friends, but I suppose people who felt insulted at being questioned just like all the rest. I will say right here, I’m not into Bigfooting to make friends or to agree with a clique or faction, or whatever. I’m into it, as I said above, for the truth. If the truth is that Bigfoot simply does not exist, SO BE IT. Yes, then, they get angry, too. I think anyone who is trying to foist something on others which is unproven and potentially wrong or even fictional will always get hot under the collar when confronted. Even an otherwise rational person can have sacred cows. Most of them do, really, as they were drawn to this thing originally due to some need or other, perhaps because they think they have seen a Bigfoot, or because they have a deep inner attachment to paranormalist explanations of things, or even because they are already religious believers and have added the Bigfoot mystery to their bag of magical tricks. Many are just trying to feed their egos, or to feel “special” within a small subculture. Others are only out to make money or garner fame.
I don’t have an easy answer to this, but I’ve found that Bigfooters can be the best of people, very smart and original in their approach to reality, or they can be the stupidest, most bullheaded, illogical dunderheads with terribly fragile egos. In fact, consider this: since none of any of this thing has been established as fact, with scientific and objective basis, it really IS an edifice that stands on ego and belief assertion alone, along with the other side of it that stands on mere fantasy without a physical-world correlative at all. This is, I think, why it is so hard for some to accept questioning, and why they will hate, make death or violence threats, obsessively troll for months or even years on end… because something deep at the core of them, some weakness that drew them into the “paranormal” world to begin with, has been wounded and threatened. Instead of dealing with these feelings rationally, or through a sensible debate, they instead form alliances and troll their enemies, often spreading the most vile and false slander and libel. It’s sad that they can’t just stick to the issues and the claimed evidence, as that is where I am and where Coalition tries to stay. Yeah, of course we often cross certain lines in the group, but that’s to be expected with a group of over 3,000 people, with new and often adversarial (trolling) members added daily.
As I said before about Johnson, you really can’t separate the claims and the process from the people involved, because the people seem to be the real source of the supposed evidence and stories. It’s not like studying something like the Humboldt marten, where you can actually find reliable data on a very rare subspecies. I do often wonder what the good old days of Bigfooting were like, before the internet. I can remember back to 2003, when I first got involved with the “Community,” and it was certainly different then. You had to meet people, know your shit, and earn any regard that you got. Nowadays, it seems it’s just a bunch of entitled brats and outright liars or fools, who expect to be loved with their first story or theory. You know what? Reality just doesn’t work that way. Maybe Romper Room did, but not out here where things have to be tested, verified, and dumped if they are faulty. The trolls can be the worst thing of it all, as it all goes back to “butthurt,” and they lose all accountability to the facts. All that matters to them is self-defense and propaganda. It’s a sad thing to see people so lose touch with reality that all that matters to them is vengeance over things that never really mattered in the first place.
CRYPTOBLAST: Has social media ruined the mystery of Bigfoot? It seems to attract either the best or worst in people. Why is that?
STEVEN STREUFERT: You know, it certainly has made it more complex and bizarre, what with all of the trolling that goes on. You’d think the real quest were for a troll creature, not a so-called “Bigfoot.” I do recall the time before 2010 when the Facebook thing essentially took over the Bigfooting world, and it was different. People talked on the Forums sites, or through email lists. A lot of it was done anonymously, and there usually was a certain standard of mutual respect on these moderated venues. There were wars, mostly between the skeptics and the believers, but now the main war is within the believer camps, Bigfooting at war with itself. And now it is personal, as you can see all about someone on their personal pages. I’ve said it before, but short of some real, solid evidence, like a body that can be dissected, Bigfooter will dissect and tear apart each other.
Facebook in particular is almost too personal for this thing, because if your profile is open the trolls and enemies can really dig into one’s personal life. It can get rather disgusting, with slanderous accusations, bullying, harassment, stalking, Photoshop image manipulation, and just about everything else one can imagine happening. I think I’ve seen it all by now, including death and violence threats, someone shooting out a window in my bookstore, and whole troll alliances, with group names and pages, formed just to spread lies or harass. Back in the old days there was a focus on the *evidence* and *ideas*, but now it is all about the person. The substance of the thing tends to fall apart the more it is examined, too, especially with the claims made so often these days of things that cannot really be substantiated at all, or which are supported by the worst kinds of evidence. The blobsquatchers and mindspeakers tend to take any critical questioning incredibly personally, to the degree that all one can do in some of these groups is to agree with them and say “nice picture.”
Back in the older days of Bigfooting one could wait a pretty long time before something new came up, and those who were doing the work really had to earn their position of respect. Their claims and evidence had to be seemingly solid and at least somewhat convincing. Nowadays there are instant experts, and shoddy “evidence” presented daily. I think this thing tends to attract a lot of newbies whose lives have hit dead ends, those seeking some great new “Mystery” in their middle-lives, and those also who have some sort or other of untreated mental disorder. It’s really a sad thing to watch. People get so personally invested, when it really should be about the truth, about finding objectively real things in the world, in nature, and learning how to think and investigate. Social media has turned it into a circus.
The group, Coalition for Critical Thinking in Bigfoot Research, was formed in 2011 as a means to combat this, to confront the Woo-woos claiming unverifiable metaphysical things, but also the nuts on the “flesh and blood” side of the picture. Both sides should be accountable to factual reality, to present something that can actually be useful in learning about the real world; but, they aren’t. It’s become an anything-goes fantasy pursuit, and for me, the more I see of these claims the less I can believe them. Bigfooters have done a great job of convincing many that Bigfoot is NOT real, frankly. Bigfoot is receding into a haze of belief and faith, rather than into the clear light of real scientific and rational knowledge. The field of study, if it can be called such, has not progressed in the last two decades since the advent of the internet and the BFRO; it has gone backwards, now moving into the realm of a primitive, regressive, New Age nature religion, full of imaginary experiences and superstitions. Just like on the show, “Ancient Aliens,” people aren’t practicing science and reason. They are rejecting that. They are asserting willfully a belief system that has no real foundation whatsoever. And Facebook is there to unify their cults and cliques, at once connecting people across regions and even nations, but also giving them the closed and secret hiding places they require to cultivate their mental viruses and indoctrinate new members. These little groups are becoming the basis of a larger cult, one that is amalgamating various weird beliefs from the larger culture into itself.
It’s sad that people in the Bigfooting thing can’t just be forthright and honest, honest with themselves, and accountable to some kind of objective set of facts and the unassailable rules of logic. When charlatans can persist and prosper without questioning there will only be more snake oil and hocus pocus coming from this pursuit. To paraphrase Voltaire, If Bigfoot did not exist, we would have to invent him. (This was in fact confirmed after I wrote this by Christopher Noel, who made a desperate video addressed to Sasquatch itself, pleading for communion, where he used that very quotation.) That seems to be happening, to both sides of the camps, and it’s expressed by the endless formation now of warring Facebook groups. Not enough people are studying the history of this thing, reading the books and documents that would put all of this into context. Instead, it becomes a matter of instant gratification, where they need their dose of Bigfoot every day. Every time they go out into the woods they see sign of Bigfoot there. This thing, if it is real, cannot be so common and omnipresent. It has to be rare, uncommon, hard to find, and elusive, or we’d have them in zoos and museums by now. Bigfooting as a culture also cannot possibly be enough to fill a life with meaning, considering the seeming impossibility of even proving that it exists in the first place. So, what takes the place of any real substance is the social aspect, the bonding with fellow True Believers, or the angry trolling wars with those who differ in their beliefs or methods. Often enemies are mad over the simplest words, such as “ape,” “animal,” or “evolution.”
There are stalkers and trolls out there, either coming from the believer side, or the skeptic side, and a position of agnosticism really seems to annoy them. They get really angry when their claims of “special” encounters or extraordinary “evidence” are criticized. For instance, it’s a popular troll thing to do lately to criticize me for being on FINDING BIGFOOT on TV. This stilly trolling effort was taken up by Michael Merchant, Kelly Shaw, Jeffery Kelley, and several others whose names are of even less consequence. Seemingly these people are so jealous of Bluff Creek Project, or so intimidated by my intellectual stance on the issues, that they have to lie and slander just to try to get revenge and reassure themselves that they are great. So, I appeared on this television show where some of my friends (real life) are the stars or on the production team. I didn’t change a word or aspect of my usual behavior, and I just talked with them as I normally do with people in my shop (like you saw me doing in that film, WILLOW CREEK). But lo, the trollers think I “lied” to get on TV. And they go around the internet saying this everywhere, that I lied. Really? Do you always believe what you see on TV? That segment they showed of me was highly edited. Also, it was recorded over five years ago, and my general approach and attitude have changed much since then. I told of things exactly as they happened, never claiming it was caused by a Bigfoot. They just removed all the parts where I said, "I didn't actually see it," and "I don't know what it was," and put an image of a Bigfoot coming down the hill in their place, with funny "awestruck" clips of the cast inserted as well. I don't know if what was in my yard that night was a Bigfoot, or not. It was an odd experience, and that is really all.
They lie in the very same way about Bluff Creek Project, saying we steal money from the donations or whatever. Really? That money is for batteries and trail cameras, which remain the property of those contributing a full camera setup, if they’d like. I don’t make a penny from those donation drives, and Jamie handles all the money, which is accounted for and spent on the needed hardware. We’ve published the small amounts of money needed and that given by donors. Saying we steal it is really slander, and frankly illegal, with real damages that can be accounted for, though the real damage to the project isn’t financial but rather to objective research efforts. Such trolling is incredibly anti-intellectual and opposed to scientific pursuit of the question of Bigfoot. Real science is funded by grants and institutional allocations for the most part, and that is all we’re doing. It’s a public research project owned by the donors and available free to all, with full data transparency. Who could complain about that? Idiots, that’s who, or people who are among the biggest jerks in the world. As far as the attacks against me personally, or against my bookstore, well, that’s just low, and it should stop if these people have any dignity at all.
CRYPTOBLAST: You have been interviewed numerous times on TV, and have been seen on a Bigfoot movie. Can you tell us about it?
STEVEN STREUFERT: I don’t have much to say about all of that. It’s just a part of my ordinary life living here in the Bigfoot Mecca of the world. For whatever reason, the media from television, magazines, newspapers, and independents of all sorts constantly show up at my bookstore door. I just talk with them about the subject like I do with anyone else. What you see of me in the Bobcat Goldthwait “Willow Creek” movie is me, talking with the actor, both of us just improvising the conversation. The same thing happened when “Finding Bigfoot” came here, though those guys edited my segment to take out the skeptical parts, replacing the “I don’t know what it was” kind of statements with an image of a Bigfoot coming down the hill. It’s fun being in these things, though they will often misquote or poorly edit things, which can lead to misconceptions. They usually incorrectly spell my last name, say I was born in Boston, or that my store is in Salyer and not in Willow Creek, whatever it might be. Newspaper reporters usually take sketch notes, and then reconstruct what they thought they heard. Needless to say, this is exasperating, and costs me much time in explaining things.
TV production companies are the worst editing offenders. In one Canadian show (“Boogymen”) that was played on the Destination America channel I was shown saying, “I am the one who knows the most about Bigfoot.” The real statement, unedited, was something like, “It is likely that those curious about the topic come here to my shop because I am the one who knows the most about Bigfoot out here on the main drag in town, and I’m active on the internet and in the community of Bigfooting.” See how that alters things? One old-timer out here saw me on TV and actually got angry because she thought I was saying I was the world’s greatest Bigfoot expert. What I really meant was far from that, but one ends up having to constantly explain things to all the people who’ve seen the shows… and there are millions of them. Even worse, trolls watch these, and then try to attack one over things that were altered by media people. All I can say is, Don’t always believe what you read, or see, or hear is silly gossip.
I don’t get too impressed with any of this anymore. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first to be pushed reluctantly into these public appearances of various types when I’m really a private kind of person. But once I’d been on Coast to Coast AM live, talking before some 3.5 million people, well, I learned to get over being nervous, and to just let my thoughts roll. I’ve been on dozens of these online radio shows and podcasts, webcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, or whatever. It really doesn’t motivate me much, but yeah, it’s kind of fun. I’m more interested in basic truth and learning, you know, like facts, things I can learn about in the nerdy old books here in my shop. I’m always happy to meet people who can have good, long, rational and philosophical conversations. It’s also great to meet the old-timers, guys who worked in Bluff Creek back in the beginning of the local Bigfoot legend, the Natives who can speak of their culture, and the witnesses who claim they’ve really seen Bigfoot creatures around here. Those are the kind of visitors I most enjoy, and not the exploiters out looking for soundbytes and sensationalism. I wish that kind of stuff could get out there more, onto TV and into the other media on Bigfoot. I think that thinking about something like Bigfoot, whether or not it is real, can be a good way to consider the nature of human belief and the acquisition of knowledge. By learning how to question the concept of Bigfoot from all angles, we can learn how to question all manner of things, and learn to discern shit from Shinola, or snake oil from a real cure.
CRYPTOBLAST: You have quite a reputation as a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Sasquatch. What has been the biggest headache for you? The Woo?
STEVEN STREUFERT: Well, I have read most of the books on the topic, the decent ones anyway, and everything of quality I could find on the internet. I study everything related, too. This includes the generally related material, in Cryptozoology, Anthropology and Zoology, Mythology and Folklore, a lot of the Paranormal stuff like UFOs, Critical Theory and Philosophy, Cultural Criticism, History, World Religions, Psychology, Science in general, and the field of Skepticism in particular. You name it. As a bookseller and intellectual, I have to be eclectic and curious about everything. I tend to ignore the self-published Woo tall tale books, as I get enough of that already online, and on Facebook. At the bookstore I have to know a little bit at least about just about anything out there. It’s a habit I have, and I am endlessly curious. Those in the Woo-woo camp like to talk about skeptics (and intellectuals or scientists) being “closed-minded.” To hell with that, I say. I have read circles around all of them, and in the most wide-ranging topics. I’ve studied widely in the Parnormal stuff they believe in, but I do so critically, searching for the real answers. I respect scientists, and try to keep myself aware of the various fields of it, though I am not a practicing scientist myself.
With the Bigfoot topic I really started with local history, and worked my way outwards. As a youth I was very curious about the creature itself, but as an adult I have sought to understand the legend, as it plays out in human understanding and beliefs. Our pursuit in the Bluff Creek Film Site Project, which I founded with Ian C. and then Robert Leiterman in 2009, was more of historical facts than of the “Bigfoot” itself. We did look around trying various methods, and we do engage in field practice, but that wasn’t our primary pursuit. We’ve spent plenty of time out there camping in the most historical area of Bigfoot reports, yet we have never once seen one, or clear evidence of their existence. We didn’t just assume that Bigfoot was real, and then try to prove it. Rather, we looked for facts, for the truth, whatever it was. We still do this, with our current camera observation effort (now called simply, Bluff Creek Project), up there around the PGF site. When information and facts become a requirement, like they were for us in actually finding that film site again, and then in documenting it with our site survey, one learns to be accountable to them and to seek them out like diamonds buried in the muck of belief.
What really bothers me is not so much the Woo-woo by itself, but rather people who claim things to feed their feelings and their egos rather than to discover actual reality. I value truth and honesty over magic and sensationalism. The latter may be more “fun” or “spiritually inspiring,” but it is objective, real reality we should seek to know. One can spend one’s whole life pursuing something, but if one starts with the wrong assumptions and methods, and never questions or corrects them, then one is going to find oneself lost in the woods. I find every bit of actual knowledge and context of value, whatever the field of study. All parts of a scenario have value, so I advocate constant learning about real things, things that can be verified as real and found reliably in nature or the larger universe. I say there is only the natural world, including quarks and quasars, and there is no “supernatural” world separate from these things. Quantum physics, for instance, quite often referred to by Bigfooters of the Woo persuasion, is a set of ideas about the natural world, not an excuse for every metaphysical dream under the sun. No human being has ever gathered a single bit of real, solid evidence that there is such a thing as the supernatural. Everything we have ever discovered, known, and understood has been part of the natural world. “Paranormal” is another useless word. It only means that there are things that are not “normal” to us in our usual, ordinary lives. Well, this doesn’t mean that every banal human idea of things that seem strange and unusual is true. The universe as it is is far beyond what we can see with our senses or incorporate currently in our minds. That is reason to “keep an open mind,” but it is not an excuse just to believe anything, any whackadoodle idea someone presents as a “theory.”
What the rational person keeps an open mind about is all of the things that really can be discovered, known, and understood. The Woo method is the very opposite of this, fleeing from the difficulties of learning and the requirements of science and logic into easy answers and “feel-good” kinds of experience. Speculation and imagination have their places, but they cannot be relied upon as true guides in discovery. Learning is hard, and it requires honesty, and it will often show one things that are the opposite of what is desired. We dream of immortality, yet we are mortal biological organisms. Beliefs don’t make reality; reality exists independently of us, and indifferently to us. Much of human history has been dominated by false belief and fearful superstitions. In fact, despite the rise of modern science and civilization, the tendency to retreat into the dreamy world of the Dark Ages or the ancient past is very strong. Things have become too complex for any one person to really master it all, and this creates in many a desire for the simplicity of mere belief, a dream of magic, which is really an escape from reality rather than a discovery of it. Many seek to join belief-centered groups, which can become their own form of a cult, even in something so seemingly simple as the quest for an undocumented creature said to exist. Much of the current Bigfooting world is heading in that dreamy Woo direction. In part, Bigfooting culture was always like that, an old archetype from humanity’s earliest days, a symbol of a world we have lost to modern mankind, where a mysterious being unknown to science can roam freely, and may do whatever it likes. Many in this thing of Bigfooting secretly or subconsciously want to go back to that state, or at least to be closer to it, as they have rejected reason and objectivity and modernity for what pleases them more. I’d like to say that the easy way is not always the right way, and usually not the true one, either.
CRYPTOBLAST: We noticed that in B. Ann Slate's and Alan Berry's 1976 book "Bigfoot" the woo concept was already being explored with UFOs and energy/psychic explanations for Sasquatch. What is the origination of the woo? (and can you expand on how it has evolved into the circus it is now?)
STEVEN STREUFERT: Well, you know, the so-called “Woo” goes back to the old Native American lore, and that is the truth of it. The current fascination in the Woo camp with MindSpeak, psychic stuff, other dimensions, or whatever, is nothing new at all. All of that stuff was present in the UFO contactee movement of the 1950s, and in general occultism going way back through Spiritualism and the “Ascended Masters” of Theosophy, and far back into more ancient lines of culture. At times nowadays it is hard to tell these “paranormal” fields apart. Finding Bigfoot seems very close to ghost hunting to me. One legendary story serves as the basis for another, and no one seems these days to need there to be a solid basis to any of it.
The Slate/Berry book is one of the early ones in Bigfooting to really include the Woo stuff, but it also had the Sierra Sounds, which really are even more weird. Look into it deeply and you’ll find some really odd stuff, like in the Fred Beck book about Ape Canyon. That has all manner of weirdness, including higher dimensions, underground civilizations, and a ton of Theosophy-influenced whackadoodle thinking. The world of Bigfooting can be traced right back to H.P. Blavatsky’s ideas about a prior race of apelike and hairy yet “more spiritual” Lemurians. Every society or civilization of humans really does have its roots in the mythic and magical, as one has to consider that the ancient times of our species were spent without science, and without real rationalism, subsumed in superstition and belief. Consider the Native American or ancient European world views. They didn’t have science as we know it now, but they had to have a very practical understanding of the world around them in order to survive. Without modern tools and technologies, they simply were not able to understand or even conceive of the kinds of things we have discovered in modern times. Where their practical abilities and senses ended, belief and the religious or mythic dimensions began.
We do this, too, with the various gods most of us still follow or seek. We now have deep space telescopes and microscopes, but for the old cultures, the cosmos was a vast mystery to be explained by whatever means, whether mystical or imaginative. The mythic traditions tried to make sense of existence, but with limited means of doing so. For them, the “spirit world” was all around them, but we might just talk about galaxies and sub-atomic particles. In the state of living where the sense of spirits and the inexplicable are so close, and so pervasive, there isn’t much of a separation of the rational from the magical, or the subjective from the objective. Also, they did not have the modern concepts of Psychology, where the psyche is understood through more objective measures rather than just subjective experiences. Out of this, beings like the Sasquatch can emerge, from the liminal margins of the conscious and subconscious realms. It really is hard to tell how much of things described by the ancient or still-immersed traditional cultures were actually meant to be of the “objectively real” world. They didn’t really have the deep distinction (or schism) we have now, this separation of the subjective from the objective. Much of that is the consequence of modern Psychology and Philosophy, systems of thought which have allowed us to objectify and understand our own inner workings, rather than just being part of them.
Many great advances have been made, but surely this isn’t the only way to understand the world and ourselves. In many ways a spiritual approach is necessary, at some level, and is fully understandable. There will always be things we do not yet know or understand. We feel a need to have faith in… something, a set of beliefs that can try to make existence comprehensible or meaningful. However, I would say this is no reason to reject reason, science, and modern understanding as many do, as many increasingly seem to do these days, as the world and its knowledge grow incredibly complex. No one person can be a master of all of these disciplines. There are simply too much information and too many areas of esoteric knowledge. There is no escape back into the past, or into a magical future either. We all have to live in the present.
So, in the world of Bigfooting, what we are seeing is the failure of the flesh-and-blood or rational and “scientific” pursuit of the thing to find anything like solid proof. Ketchum and Sykes failed to find anything in the DNA studies. Decades of searching and gathering ostensible evidence have not coalesced into a solid body of knowledge. The thing recedes farther from being proven, seemingly, with each passing year. The Woo mysticism has become ascendant, offering subjective and imaginative pseudo-explanations to fill the gaps. People have despaired of reason, and have grasped into the shadowy dark for other explanations. Few seem capable of admitting that the null hypothesis is staring them right in the face. Bigfoot simply may not exist. No measure of dreaming and believing really hard in it will suddenly make it so, if it is not.
Perhaps Bigfoot does exist, but forming a religion or cult around it will not advance the cause of real, actual knowledge. That only makes of Bigfoot an article of faith, and then dogma, all based upon supposition, speculation, and worse, pure imagination. These explanations may simply be discarded, using Hitchens’ Razor, "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." The burden of proof remains upon the claimants of extraordinary things. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That, of course, does not give one a license to just make up whatever shite one wants to believe and call it evidence, now, does it? A delusional man like Matthew Johnson could then simply say “I don’t lie, I don’t hoax, so what I say happened did happen.” No, it didn’t, not if he can’t demonstrate that his subjective “experiences,” dreams, hallucinations, and odd beliefs have some kind of objective correlative. Convincing a few gullible cult followers does not constitute confirmation, either.
CRYPTOBLAST: You are part of the Bluff Creek Project where multiple trail cams are hidden all over the Bluff Creek valley where Roger Patterson filmed the alleged bigfoot in 1967. How did that come to be and what has been some of your results? We heard you captured on camera a once thought extinct marsupial.
STEVEN STREUFERT: Let include here parts of something I wrote today for the ISF (International Skeptical Forum) guys. I’ll adapt it some to answer your question. Really, to explain Bluff Creek Project a whole long story should be told. I’ll get to your question about the Humboldt marten at the end of all of this. What follows is partly about me, and the founding of the Bluff Creek Film Site Project, and its eventual evolution into the Bluff Creek Project camera study effort.
The question raised was about a blog post I had written six and a half years ago. In it I had said, “Perhaps the most convincing thing to me that tends to prove Bigfoot exists is hearing Bob Gimlin, a guy who obviously would not lie to you, say that he saw what he saw on that sandbar back on October 20th, 1967.” Back then, I was indeed more of a "believer" in the possibility of Bigfoot being an actual creature than I am now. I never fully "believed," I suppose, as I really do not believe in "belief." My attitude is generally one of agnosticism, of curious skepticism, using critical thinking. At first I was pretty impressed with all of the witnesses, and the arguments made by smart guys like Krantz and Meldrum, and by the apparently smart ones among the current "researchers" of Bigfoot. With time, as I was exposed to the community of believers, as I studied and then restudied the claims, the credibility of much of it began to wear thinly. I began to see the sacred cows die, the old icons fall. I began to see that much of the Bluff Creek history did have to do with hoaxing; perhaps not all of it, but a good part of it certainly was the product of humorous human fakery.
How did this happen? We decided in 2009 to investigate the history of the thing, with focus on Bluff Creek and the finding again of the apparently “lost” P-G film site. Over the course of that investigation we learned many things. Once we were reasonably assured in our own minds that we had indeed found matches for the original trees, stumps, and old log piles from the big 1964 flood, we determined to map the whole site using a grid map. We chose the point that Gimlin had identified (privately, to Bobo Fay) as the approximate spot where he thought they had first seen the subject, and with a compass we drew a line directly north. Along the way we marked ten foot segments. From the center we drew the line east and west, planting flags at each grid corner. Then we covered the entire site on foot, drawing in everything we found that was obviously old, removing from our mapping any trees and objects that were obviously too young to have been there in 1967/8 or 1971/2 when images of the site were shot. We checked the entire mapping which was on graph paper, and then Robert Leiterman drew the final first version map which we’ve published.
We compared this map with the aerial photo from Rene Dahinden and found so many matches it was clearly beyond coincidence, and this had to be the site. Fortuitously, we met an independent geologist, and he did the trigonometry to compare the two images, correcting for viewing angles. The match was perfect with a very small margin of error. The next year we brought Bill Munns (and many others) up there. He confirmed it was the site using his own methods, and did analyses based on the film itself and the best early site photos. There is no doubt that it's the site, and our map is accurate within mere inches, though not quite good enough for exact photogrammetry (according to Munns). We found in fact that our measurements were better than those done by John Green and Dahinden, back in the day. We had managed to prove *something* within the world of Bigfooting, if not the existence of the Bigfoot species itself. It was our hope that the pursuit of this knowledge in an objective way might help to demonstrate objective rationalism to others pursuing various forms of research in Bigfooting, as some kind of positive example.
Proving Bigfoot to exist is a whole different matter, and seemingly impossible. Since early 2010 when I wrote that blog entry I've had to re-evaluate all of the claims and the claimed evidence, usually dispelling the myths and poor logic that had been associated with them by the avid believers. We were trying to find the film site, and to find whatever the accurate history of Bluff Creek may have been, but much of what was claimed did not really hold any water. Instead of anything like real history in this field, we found instead oral tales, things passed down from supposed “expert” to the next supposed expert, with little initial foundation. In many cases, the sacred cows of Bigfooting fell apart upon close examination, including events like the 1967 Onion and Blue Creek Mountain track finds. Other things remained as questions to an agnostic inquiry, but a well-informed one. This is called... learning. There was indeed much hoaxing going on up in Bluff Creek. I met and interviewed some of the old-timers who were in on it, or were privy to the plans, who recalled holding the wooded foot track stompers. Some of this is obvious, like the Wallace tracks. Some of it, like the PGF, is a bit more ambiguous, and not so easily dismissed.
I do not claim that the film is of a real creature. Nor do I declare it false. My position is agnostic, and I think the film is ambiguous and anomalous. It certainly remains intriguing, and has not been finally debunked by anyone, despite all the claims. That doesn't mean I am trying to make it be real despite all the weight against the possibility of Bigfoot actually existing. If Bigfoot isn't real, so be it. I am interested in discovering the truth. This film is a continuing mystery, sitting in the middle of the debates like a big, unanswerable question mark.
I do find Gimlin to be a congenial and honest type of fellow, a seemingly very convincing witness; but that does not mean that I AM convinced. It doesn't seem to me that he is lying when I hear him talk, or when I have spoken with him. But, that is not proof that the film is of a real creature known as Bigfoot. Perhaps he was in on a hoax, or was the one first fooled by one? Even he has admitted this possibility. I said that about Gimlin to indicate one of the real puzzles of the whole PGF controversy, and one that applies to all of Bigfooting witness accounts: How can seemingly honest and sane, ordinary people think they have seen this creature, if it does not exist? If it does not exist, why are they claiming to have seen it? Why would they lie about it, especially as all they usually get for the claim is a real misery of questioning? Is it all hoaxing or delusion, or mistakes of perception? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. This is the aspect of the "phenomenon" that I find most fascinating.
Why? Because to me at this point it seems that it is most likely that Bigfoot does NOT exist. The evidence is poor, and has not passed scientific scrutiny in any way. The claims of researchers to this day are highly questionable, and with the internet we are exposed to more and even more outrageous stupidities every single day. I am talking about all the blobsquatches, and the outrageous claims of habituation (without evidence that should be easy to obtain under the claimed circumstances), and metaphysical superpowers, and the presumptuous claims of stick structures, linguistic “glyphs,” and very poor track finds, or DNA claims that never pan out under real scientific scrutiny. After all this time, it seems increasingly likely that some kind of urban legend is at play, rather than an elusive species of primate, spirit being, or extraterrestrial entity. In 2010 I was among friends in the Bigfooting community, and that in part swayed me a little toward the believing side, but by the end of that year I'd hit a wall of serious questions that could not be denied. I saw how the "community" was indeed in denial of these questions, and... I started asking them. It’s a funny thing, but the JREF-ISF scoftics assume me to be some kind of "Gimlin Guard" believer, but within the community of Bigfooter believers I have been known as a notorious skeptic since 2011. Some of them even call me "Evil." Ha ha. Well, I’d argue, there is nothing wrong with critical questioning, and certainly nothing wrong with an agnostic attitude toward things that are not absolutely established as facts.
You might see me at times question what I call the "hoax theories," such as the poor Bluff Creek geography of Bob Heironimus. I do this because I apply the same kind of skepticism to his claims as I do to those of the believers. I'm not biasing my thought or our investigation to favor the film or its supporters. I am questioning ALL of it. It's just a fact that much of what Bob Gimlin has said over the years has proven to be true, on the ground, as we spent time in Bluff Creek analyzing all of it. Much of what I find in Greg Long's book, THE MAKING OF BIGFOOT, and in the Bob Heironimus statements does not prove to be congruent with facts on the ground up there. So, I do acknowledge that Bob H. was somehow involved, such as with his horse being there with P & G, or in the earlier Yakima “docudrama” footage; but I don't see anything really convincing to me that he was really there in Bluff Creek. In our studies we had to throw out many of the statements made about the PGF site by Peter Byrne, MK Davis, Christopher Murphy, Daniel Perez, et al. Many did not seem to have a good enough memory to get us to the actual site, including John Green, Al Hodgson, and the USFS. By rejecting them all, throwing away the false and insufficient, we eventually found that Rene Dahinden had indeed marked the map correctly, and Bob Gimlin had a good enough recollection after all tentatively to identify it in 2003 and 2011. He was right on the spot, within about 20 feet or so, even though the ground itself in that spot had been washed away by the erosion in the creekbed. So, really, I apply the same kinds of scrutiny to Bob Heironimus or whatever other claim. It's a fact that Heironimus' description of the route in to the film site comes nowhere near the actual site, and sounds nothing at all like the real trip there. His statements are full of self-contradictions, and therefore are all questionable.
Since we found and documented the site in 2011, proving it beyond dispute to be the site, we moved on to another kind of investigation. We always wondered how it could be that we spent more time than anyone else up in Bluff Creek, and yet never saw any sign of Bigfoot. Others claimed "action" all the time, but we only found bear tracks, heard owls or pine cones falling, and saw deer in the thermals and night vision devices. We decided to test the hypothesis, with our geologist friend Jamie Wayne S. joining the team, asking "Does Bigfoot Exist?" We started deploying an array of trail cameras that monitored the PGF site, the area around it on the hillsides and up and down the creekbed, and around adjacent lakes in the Bluff Creek basin. These cameras ran 24-7, 365 days a year, and are still doing so, up to 20 of them at a time. We implemented them strategically, such that they observed each other, or viewed the same basic areas from different angles. After five full years coming up soon, with no sign of Bigfoot yet (though lots of other great, real wildlife), we are all recognizing that the null hypothesis seems the most likely conclusion. Of course, one can make all kinds of excuses and special pleading, such as that Bigfoot avoid trail cameras, or can know about them psychically, or whatever magical sensibility; but we don't do that. We are a skeptical and rational group of investigators. What we're doing is amateur science, I think, a valid form of observation and investigation of a real question that could use some answering. It’s just a fact that it would be really inconvenient for any creature living in that area to avoid our cameras, placed as they are in the prime areas for food, water, and shelter, along the best travel routes. Climbing up a steep, rocky slope every day just to go around a camera is a violation of biological economy, and besides, how would then know what a camera is there to do? We get images and video of all the other animals known to live up there, but why no Bigfoot? It’s a good question.
The Humboldt marten is one of the many interesting real animals that we have documented up there in Bluff Creek with our trail cameras. It was once thought to be extinct, but not too long ago, in 1996, a photo of one was captured, proving that they were actually still alive. It was not quite as shocking as the rediscovery of the coelacanth, but it was indeed significant. This is a distinct subspecies of marten, the coastal marten, and from the distinct and very small California subgroup. There are small numbers of them as well in Southern Oregon.
There is a lawsuit now being waged to protect this subspecies.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sued over Humboldt Marten Status:
Don’t listen to certain jealous fools in the Bigfooting community about this, as they ARE endangered. A politically-motivated decision not to list them was made by the federal government, but that is being challenged by a lawsuit that is certain to win. The government went against their own scientists to do this. There are only an estimated 100 individuals left in California, and if that isn’t endangered I don’t know what is. This is not the common pine marten. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of biology knows of the importance of regional subspecies, and the need for their protection. Michael Merchant and Kelly Shaw, or Brent Dill, have no clue what they are talking about, or else they are just simply liars, out babbling about this because they are jealous of the attention that Bluff Creek Project gets. Our work is objective, and not based upon egotism, nor is it all done for YouTube hits and cash like these other fellows do. Our photos of the marten were accidental at first, so there really is no issue of ego in this thing. Now we train our cameras to capture more images and video of them, and our work has shown that they are prospering in small numbers in this small area of Bluff Creek. These images give hope to all concerned with the work of preserving this wonderful subspecies from extinction. We’ve been recognized by advocacy groups and scientists, so there is no question that we are on the right track with this.
The USFS knows about what we've been doing, and approves. In fact, we took them and some of their scientists up there and showed them the P-G film site, where most of our cameras are deployed, because even they didn't know where the site really was. They were all convinced by the work we'd done and agreed that we'd found the site. They like the fact that our trail cameras are out there helping to document the wildlife that live within the area of their managerial jurisdiction. They don't mind that we have removed dead branches and stuff to make the site more accessible for our studies. In fact, they want us to make an informally-marked trail with an explanatory message board there, so that all of those going in there don't just get lost or endanger themselves in a rather rugged environment. We are happy to be learning about one of our favorite places on Earth, whether or not there ever was a Bigfoot, or if there is a Bigfoot up in there still.
CRYPTOBLAST: A common question your critics say is, if Bigfoot is real, how come you guys haven't caught one by one of your many, many trail cams?
STEVEN STREUFERT: Maybe Bigfoot ISN’T real, eh? I’ve answered much of this question above already. One has to consider the null hypothesis. We keep testing the hypothesis of “Bigfoot Exists,” but after decades it’s not looking good. Five years of camera study should have shown at least one sign of this creature, if it is real, utilizing the most prime area of the local habitat, which it would need for food, water, and easy transit through those steep canyons. Either that, or it’s moved off into more deep and remote areas, where people rarely go.
I continue onward as an agnostic about the thing, though I’ve definitely become more and more skeptical with the years. One *has* to be skeptical, or one is lost. Skepticism should be a curious inquiry, looking into things, especially all the mysterious claims out there; but it cannot believe without good evidence. Why should anyone do so? If you really think you have seen a Bigfoot, that’s great! If you think you may have “encountered” one, be careful not to assume things without considering all of the common options. Don’t trick yourself just because you want this thing to be real so badly. I always advise that people be willing to live with mysterious things, without putting banal human solutions onto complex realities and questions, and without leaping into the paranormal and metaphysical to explain things. A claim of a mystery cannot be explained by yet another, deeper mystery. That is an infinite regress into mystification, without a single possible answer coming from it. Everything else that we’ve ever known and proven has been within the natural world, and not magical just because it at first seemed strange. Go forth and see that the world we already know is infinitely complex and wondrous. Look into the eyes of a dragonfly and answer me, Do we really need extraterrestrials, the Illuminati, and Bigfoot walking through interdimensional portals?
For me it's a fascinating piece of local history in my area, and I'd like to see some kind of resolution to it all. I'm sitting here in the Bigfoot Mecca, and also ensconced in my own way within the "Bigfoot Community," and the lunacy of it all never ceases to amaze me. I've been living here in Willow Creek since 2001 (and in Humboldt since 1993), and never once have I seen anything that would convince me absolutely that the thing is a real creature. Yet, all the time I hear about "encounters" and "sightings," either here locally or (mostly) through the online venues. Of course people lie, sometimes to others, and often to themselves. There are both con men and fools involved. Both are fun to identify and debunk. It's great practice in applying the tools of skepticism and logic, and for learning about the scientific method. However, I do think there is another category, that of the person who is honest and sane, and yet still feels and thinks deeply that they have indeed seen or “encountered” Bigfoot. Often, they have no motivation to think this, nothing to gain, and nothing to prove. Some of them are rather convincing, and it's hard to know what to say to them as they tell me of their experiences here in my bookshop. They aren't apparent liars, or delusional believers. Maybe they are mistaken in their interpretations, but really, they DO believe it. What are we to make of this?
I'm curious as to why some appear so sincerely to believe they have encountered or seen a Bigfoot. There are many types of claimed witnesses. Some obviously have tongue in cheek, and there's usually a punch line at the end like, "It was my big, hairy uncle Joe who made that stench." Some just don't seem credible, either because their claims are outrageous, or they seem delusional, or they don't seem trustworthy. The other sort are really just ordinary people saying they saw or experienced something odd and anomalous. They don't seem to be exaggerating, and the details are there and quite normal or prosaic, and they are usually people who have nothing to gain and perhaps much to lose (I know, you've heard this one before) by telling such a story. Everyone's motives are different, as are their perceptions.
Perhaps they were wrong about seeing a Bigfoot. Perhaps they are not fools, crazy or disingenuous, and really believe it. Often the claimed experience is life-alerting or at least disturbing, shocking, or surprising to them, or so they act. This is, anyway, how they seem, and I've spoken with dozens and dozens, more like hundreds, of such people. I'll always take everything that people say with a large amount of grains of salt, but I'm also not so inclined to call *everyone* a liar or an idiot. Witness claimants should not just be dismissed with a scoffing sneer, in my opinion. Their claims can and should be considered as at least somewhat possible. If you can’t trust anyone to tell the truth at least as they see it about supposed Bigfoot sighting, whom do you trust in life? There has to be some kind of human social accountability, surely, and I just can’t call *all* of them liars, or all of them fools. Perhaps some of them are right and their tales are true, after all? It’s a big question that still remains.
I maintain an interest in the history of it here locally, and as a general cultural element. I try to keep up the agnostic viewpoint mainly to allow people to tell their experiences, and to ponder what it could be that is causing these people to think they've run across a Bigfoot. To me, that is the real mystery now. However, we do keep on looking up in Bluff Creek, on foot, by truck, with drones, with our five senses, and with our trail cameras. Heck, maybe Bigfoot is out there somewhere hiding, after all, but these days I kind of doubt it.
I would like for Bigfoot to exist. I would "like" to believe in such things that are unconfirmed in objective reality. But, I do not believe in belief. I keep my mind open, in an agnostic and skeptical way, to the possibilities. I don't rule it out absolutely, as logically that is technically impossible. “You can’t really prove a negative,” they say. There may be something to it all, all the claims of claimed actual witnesses, beyond the silly ambiguous "encounter" assumption and stories. I've had some of those latter kinds of experiences myself, but they do not add up to certainty. Even if I saw one in front of me with my own eyes, I'd have to question the entire experience, so long as they are not objectively confirmed and verified for all human beings with actual science. It is conceivable that I could think I've seen one, due to some strange glitch of the mind and circumstances, such as we are ALL subject to having. Perception and interpretation of experience are never absolutely accurate. Do I *think* that Bigfoot exists? Well, right now, I have to say that, weighing all the supposed evidence and the history of this field of study, it is unlikely that they do. I’d be happy to be proven wrong in that tentative assumption.
Thanks for doing this interview.
Anyone who wants to see the kind of skeptical application I do within Bigfooting in general is welcome to come over and join our Facebook discussion group, which tries to apply skeptical methodology to the various crazy claims. Coalition for Critical Thinking in Bigfoot Research,
My blog addresses are, for BIGFOOT’S bLOG,
and for The Bigfoot News and Review,
Bluff Creek Project can be found here:
THANKS TO THE CRYPTOBLAST BLOG FOR DOING THIS INTERVIEW...
On YouTube they may be found here: