Bigfoot study getting skeptical attention

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My Bigfoot pieces on Doubtful News have been getting some attention. That makes me think that a (balanced) skeptical view is welcome on this topic. For one, it just SCREAMS “skepticism needed,” with even the Bigfoot researchers disgusted at the quality of Bigfoot evidence coming out and the seemingly daily parade of hoaxes.

Ketchum Bigfoot DNA paper released: Problems with questionable publication (Updated) | Doubtful News.

The up to date news is that the Melba Ketchum study is looking worse every day. The promised high-definition video from the associated Erickson project has yet to appear except for the short clip of what looks like (just saying) a carpet breathing a bit TOO deliberately. And perhaps the face looks a little too like Chewbacca? Hmm.

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Ketchum’s Galileo Gambit

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One of my essential reading blogs, Respectful Insolence, has resurrected an older post on The Galileo Gambit. It was timely. It was in reference mainly to the day to day parade of quackery that passes by in the media. Orac coined the term “Galileo gambit” to describe a very common ploy used by quacks – they compare their persecution and non-acceptance to that of Galileo.

At least, I think I was the first to coin this term. I haven’t been able to find a reference to the “Galileo Gambit” dating before I wrote the original version of this post way back in 2005.”

Immediately, I thought of Dr. Melba Ketchum who recently pulled the Galileo Gambit when she announced the publication of her Sasquatch DNA paper.

We encountered the worst scientific bias in the peer review process in recent history.  I am calling it the “Galileo Effect”.  Several journals wouldn’t even read our manuscript when we sent them a pre-submission inquiry.  Another one leaked our peer reviews.  We were even mocked by one reviewer in his peer review.

Sorry, a lame excuse. It’s special pleading for why she had such trouble with her paper.

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Half-baked dragons and truthery

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Last night on Virtual Skeptics… of course we had robots. Now they are attacking animals and making rats really depressed. Best quote came from an audience member who said the best way to make a rat depressed is to send him to grad school. Win.

Bob talked about the defacing of the Delacroix painting by a 9/11 truther.

Eve told us the story about historic dragons and the latest dragon debunking.

I talked about the shiny thing on Mars. I was not satisfied with the official explanation, mind you.

Tim told us about the push to license naturopaths, the great things about Lanyrd, and other skeptical online stuff.

Then we dove a little into the Bigfoot news of the day. You can see the show notes here and the show is embedded below. There are many visuals in this one include cute things and a Bigfoot sighting (watch for the cheezy Bigfoot appearance at the very end). Continue reading

The TRUTH about Spike TV’s $10 million bigfoot hunt

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I’m proud (certainly not quite the right word) to call Tim Holmes a friend (and sometimes admirer). He’s a nice guy with an unconventional outlook on the world. In HIS world, Bigfoot is out there and UFOs visit regularly.

I wrote about Tim and the Who Forted gang after I attended the premier of the film The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching. (Tim IS the Bigfoot Hunter)

Tim (at right) and the Who Forted crew at the premier of The Bigfoot Hunter

Tim (at right) and the Who Forted crew at the premier of The Bigfoot Hunter

Tim was recruited to try out for Spike TVs new Bigfoot hunter show. I talk about the news of this show, offering a $10 million dollar prize here:  Finding Bigfoot just got REALLY serious! (UPDATED: Prize money) | Doubtful News.

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Facts? You keep using that word, Bigfoot hunters.

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You are Not Entitled to Your Own Bigfoot Facts” is my latest piece up on Sounds Sciencey. It’s a continuation on this piece which still gets a lot of hits on the site.

In this one, I take to task some self-styled Bigfooters who consider speculation as “fact”. It gets pretty silly…

Self-styled Bigfoot researchers make claims that suggest they know more about Bigfoot than Bigfoot might know about himself. They can tell me what Bigfoot likes and doesn’t like, where he sleeps at night, how he avoids detection, and how he communicates. They tell the public that Bigfoot makes those sounds they hear at night. They find locations where a Bigfoot passed through or slept or built a shelter. These researchers even know about Bigfoots’ “culture”—what they do with their dead relatives, how they can fool humans. But apparently they don’t know enough to catch one.

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Why I give up on Bigfoot sites and forums

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I’m going to have a bit of a rant. This post is mostly opinion. However, it is based on actual situations that can be documented.

It’s about cryptozoology forums and how they don’t work.

I’ve posted before about how I stopped visiting Cryptomundo because my comments were not posted as they were critical of the views of the original post. Or, other commentators were allowed to have free say but I was ostracized as a skeptic. Those who know me know that I am not a ranter. I try to be civil in discourse. Worse, some of my comments were edited on Cryptomundo to bias my viewpoint (an evil skeptic). See this post.

While I still don’t visit because of the ad content (ubiquitous, which makes the page unsightly and slow to load) and the content being not so great, the situation there has gotten considerably better. I feel I could post a comment there and it would now be published unchanged.

Second, I quit going to Bigfoot Evidence because misogynistic or crude remarks by some commentators (some were disgusting and personal about me [here: comment #8]) were not moderated or removed even after request (we had a small group discussion via twitter). Comments there degenerated into a cesspool at times. The content also became cheap with various “tipsters” posting unsubstantiated stories and guest posters being really off the mark. Comments were moderated for profanity but not for other sad qualities.

And, again with the ads. I get the feeling these Bigfoot sites are about profit, ego and status, not getting to the best answers about what is really going on with the Bigfoot phenomena. Continue reading

Mind the gap: Entering strange new territory on my Bigfoot weekend

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Are you a believer or a skeptic?

Awful categories, aren’t they? No one fits neatly into one or the other all the time. I apologize in advance for using these words as descriptors. I couldn’t think of a good way to express what we mean when applying these as processes, not a broad brush label.

Everyone is skeptical about something. Some of us apply it more evenly or have embraced it more thoroughly (as a process we use to judge claims). Even true believers harbor doubts about aspects of their subject. Sometimes, the doubts win and they drift away from their believing community.

I’m not talking about God, I’m talking about ghosts and Bigfoot.

I want to share some interesting episodes that took place in what I’m calling my Bigfoot weekend of October 21-23. I discovered many people existing in the gap between skepticism and the paranormal. They can tell us a whole lot about these topics we might otherwise miss.

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New cryptozoology: less credulous, more scientific

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There is a stereotype about Bigfoot and Nessie devotees. Typically, they are middle-aged or older men, often with facial hair. They seem obsessed and the public might see them as a bit “off”.  It’s true that there is not that much diversity in the list of monster researchers. But, cryptozoology is changing.

Today’s researchers are examining questions from a new perspective. They can organize and communicate better thanks to the internet. There are new types of books and media. I feel positive about the future of the field of cryptozoology and excited for new things to come. At The Amazing Meeting 9 (TAM 9) in Las Vegas in July, gathered together was a group of people that had everything to do with my positive attitude.

All the people in this photo contribute to moving the subject of cryptozoology away from the stereotypes and the paranormal realm and into the circle of popular cultural and scientific understanding. This group is no less excited by the idea that cryptids are real, unknown animals. It’s just that we are realistic about it. We don’t assume the stories can be taken at face value because we know mistakes are made. We do not come in with a presupposed notion about what a person saw. Our scope is larger; our conclusions are based on what we know is likely true, not what we wish to be true.

From left: S. Hill, B. Smith, B. Radford, D. Prothero, J. Nickell, M. Crowley, K. Stollznow, D. Loxton

Photo by M. Crowley

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Bigfoot “facts” for kids?

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Bigfoot Evidence has posted a link to a website called “Is Bigfoot Real” [refrain from clicking unless absolutely necessary] which contains a page called “Bigfoot Facts for Kids”.

The so called “facts” given are as follows:

  • Where Has Bigfoot Been Seen? Bigfoot has been spotted all over the world. People often see Bigfoot in wooded areas or high in the mountains.
  • What Does Bigfoot Eat? Bigfoot is an omnivore. This means he eats both plants and animals. Researchers say Bigfoot eats nuts, berries, fish and deer.
  • How Does Bigfoot Act? Bigfoot is shy. He likes to live with others of his own kind but doesn’t like being around people. He doesn’t like to have his picture taken so it’s hard to get him on film. Bigfoot talks to each other by making loud calls across long distances.
  • Does Bigfoot Hurt People? No, Bigfoot doesn’t try to hurt people on purpose. Sometimes though, when people accidentally wander into his territory, he’s been known to throw rocks at them to frighten them away. Bigfoot isn’t trying to be mean. He’s just trying to protect his home and family. Continue reading

Your friendly neighborhood mon$ter

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In a recent post on Skeptoid blog, I suggest that paranormal-based tourism, such as ghost tours and monster festivals, which are growing in popularity, border on fraud.

“Even if there are long-standing legends of strange events occurring at some location, to suggest that a place is haunted just to freak people out is contemptible.”

“Ghost tours and monster festivals are fun. But, their apparent frivolity disguise an underlying invitation to buy into an idea just because it’s entertaining while having no basis in reality.”

Commenters remarked that I might be getting too worked up over it. Meanwhile, I found this commentary from a local who thinks his town needs one of them monsters to draw tourists and he is not beyond creating one from scratch. Continue reading