Doubt and About – Challenge to cryptozoologists

Since I got back from July jaunts, I’ve taken a little break. I’m not doing Virtual Skeptics for August. So, in my spare time I managed to learn some accounting software (ALWAYS TRY TO LEARN NEW THINGS!).

Speaking of learning new things, the main point of this post is a challenge for people who follow one of my favorite fields of research to try something new.

I’ve been gushing over this book, Abominable Science by Loxton and Prothero, since I got it.
It takes a lot for me to really love a book. I might not read a five-star worthy book in a whole year. But this one is very special. I’m glad to have played a small part in its content. That’s not the reason why I love it. I love it because it reflects some of my own serious thinking about the field and reveals some really important issues that desperately need to be considered. It illuminates a huge problem in cryptozoology – possible the main problem – BAD SCHOLARSHIP. Today’s cryptid researchers forego diligence in examining claims in exchange for bolstering a beloved belief. (For example, authors like Nick Redfern, books series like “Monsters of [U.S. state]”, websites like Bigfoot Evidence and radio shows like Coast to Coast AM). Those are  more fiction than nonfiction, fun and not serious (though some people take them very seriously).

It’s assumed that the skeptical view is not desirable. Wrong. People who want answers should logically seek them, not ignore a worthwhile contribution to the discussion.

I am asking any self-styled cryptozoologists to examine this book and tell me what you think. A common trope is that skeptics are not open-minded. Well, practice what you preach. Take a look at this book, which is fully referenced so you can make your own call on the evidence if you are so inclined. I have suspected that it might be ignored by those who prefer to monger mysteries instead of digging into the truth behind them. That’s cowardly. Don’t be like that. Expand your thinking. Question your assumptions.

So that’s the challenge. Read it and let me know what you think. I will happily share your comments with the authors as well because they value critique and feedback, unlike many in the paranormal field who seem to just want praise and a spot on a TV show.

Also, in the interest of respect for your subject area, you also should listen to the podcast Monster Talk. They bring on actual experts to discuss the science behind monsters. Boring? Not in the least. It’s so witty and smart. Yes, it’s a big change from Bigfoot audiocasts that just wax speculatively about the latest rumors and online evidence. But, again, give it a try. Check out the skeptical scholarship. If you want to understand the topic, you must be open to all angles.

OK, that’s that. Here’s more.

I wrote a new piece for Huffington Post and a new Sounds Sciencey. Check them out. I’d love to hear your feedback. They go to two very different audiences and it’s a challenge to do each one, but in very different ways.

Looney Mooney Ideas About the Full Moon and Sleep | Sharon Hill.

Over-reliance on Science – CSI.

Finally, Doubtful News is hopping. It’s your one-stop shop to see all the weird news worth wondering about. We cast a sharp-eyed view on questionable claims. Come visit everyday or subscribe to the posts!

12 thoughts on “Doubt and About – Challenge to cryptozoologists

  1. I’ve long since given up on the idea that things like Bigfoot or Loch Ness are real, but even I was shocked at well Abominable Science demolishes almost everything those cryptids are based on. It’s quite a tour de force.

  2. In fringe science, “open minded” means accepting reports at face value without consideration of scientific processes or findings.

    Alien abduction proponents complain about scientists not looking at abduction evidence, yet the proponents do not cite — and seem completely unaware of — any of the tens of thousands of studies and books scientists have written about memory, amnesia, hypnosis, etc.

  3. My name is Jeff Stewart. I host a podcast called The Crypto Zoo. We have had the biggest names and hottest topics on our program. If any auther wants an honest review we give it. I pull no punches. I am one of the top wildlife experts in the country according to Texas Fish and Game. I also believe skeptics are closed minded and have their minds made up no matter what. Men have been sent to the electric chair on less evidence than we have on most cryptids. If you want a no holds barred conversation on cryptids and cryptozoologists and an honest one at that hit me up. I’m on facebook The Cryptozoological Society of East Texas. Listen in on The Crypto Zoo on

  4. Top wildlife expert? It doesn’t matter if you are a Nobel prize winner!

    Objectivity is hard and if you are heavily invested in a topic (cryptozoology), you will seek the “evidence” that supports your view and reject that which does not. It’s human nature.

    What we are seeing with the CZ reaction to this book is a blatant defense of dogmatic faith.

    BTW, if people were convicted to death on circumstantial weak evidence and eyewitness testimony, that is giant travesty and one of the reasons I’m against the death penalty. It has ZERO to do with establishing the existence of a new species.

    I don’t do “no holds barred” conversation because, like creationists, the believers can just make up stuff. I won’t do that which puts scientists at a disadvantage. I like verifiable evidence. And won’t use rhetoric and just-so legendary stories to convince the audience.

  5. @Jeff

    > skeptics are closed minded and have their minds made up no matter what

    Citing the dastardly attitude of some skeptics is not positive evidence of the existence of cryptids, right? Do you agree to this statement?

    > Men have been sent to the electric chair on less evidence than we have on most cryptids.

    In Texas, maybe.

    Jeff, if you have soooo much evidence, why all the off-the-shelf fringe-fanatic hyperbole? Just show us the body! Or a Bigfoot fossil. Or even a genome sequence.

    No one discovered a new species by merely whining.

  6. The same can be said for skeptics as well. If you already have it in your mind that these animals do not exist then no amount of evidence short of a dead body will convince you. The Mountain Gorilla was a myth and legend until one was shot and killed and its carcus dragged out for the world to see…The Giant Squid and Giant Octopus also. The Ceolocanth as well. The Okapi and dozens of other specimens have been discovered or proven in recent history. I’m not saying I believe in flying homonids. Quite the oposite. My aproach to Cryptozoology is to use my expertise in animal science to prove sightings are of known species. If I can’t then that’s when we investigate it as unknown. Unwillingness to discuss Cryptozoology openly and candidly in a “no holds barred” setting just proves ones closed mindedness.

  7. Wrong on many counts here. Skeptics don’t “have it in [their] mind that these animals do not exist”. Skeptics require extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims. The mountain gorilla was a legend, sure, long ago. It isn’t now. We are talking about the same size (or larger) ape in accessible areas of North America. I’m sure you notice the difference there. The evidence is NOT strong, it’s not even moderate, for Bigfoot and many cryptids.

    Since you pull out the red herrings of large sea creatures and coelacanth, they also are NOT comparable to Bigfoot or many other cryptids. NO one says that unknown animals don’t exist. We know that’s likely. But the ocean is still unexplored. Yet, things in the woods are supposedly seen by humans, building structures, visiting human dwelling, harassing humans with stones and communicated across distances. Where is it? It’s everywhere and nowhere. It’s an extraordinary claim to say this can be “explained” by Bigfoot. The evidence for it? Poor quality. We would predict (because that’s what science does) that certain observations would be documented (remains, fossil evidence, body, better visual documentation, scat, etc). We have NONE of that.

    You’re rather insulting with your presumptions that I don’t know what I’m talking about and will buy into tired “reasoning”. I can claim experience in animal science and field work identifying species (insects). I’m fairly well versed on scientific inquiry and I have researched amateur paranormal investigation groups and produced an entire thesis on “being sciencey”. My speciality area is people pretending to do good inquiry but doing sham inquiry instead.

    You are confused about open mindedness. If you are interested I have written about proper skepticism and about open mindedness.

  8. People have been convicted of crimes and even killed with far less evidence in every state in this country. If you don’t know this as truth then you are not very bright. I don’t claim any evidence which will astound modern science. Never have. I do however know that multiple species are found every year. Some large some small. Do not judge all who attempt to prove the existance of unknown animals by those who claim every breaking twig is a 10 foot tall 1000pound monster..I for one do not and have went to great lengths to prove that it is ecologically impossible for such a large creature or group there of to exist in North America. I work to prove the existence of large black cats in North America and I work on establishing the Texas Blue Dogs as what they are and how they came to be. I do not believe in flying humanoid creatures and have went to great length to show why it is impossible for a creature of the reported size to achieve lift from wings of the size reported as well..

  9. @Jeff

    > My meaning was not that the ceolocanth was a myth but undiscovered just as the Mountain Gorilla.

    Another correction for you: the ceolocanth was not “undiscovered,” it was known from fossils.

  10. Undiscovered things turn up fairly often. However what you don’t see is a pattern of reports over a long period followed by a discovery. You see either the discovery comes out of the blue, the extant Coelocanth Latimeria for example. A fisherman caught a weird fish and took it to a scientist. There was no previous knowledge of the thing and no suspicion that it existed. Other cases involved a creature such as the Saola only known to the locals living in its very restricted range. The locals could provide specimens when requested, in the case of the Saola three skulls. The 1992 discovery was out of the blue, the locals knew about this extremely rare and elusive bovid, what they didn’t know is that it was unknown to science. Once reports of its existence were available definitive proof that it existed, three skulls collected some time before, was available more or less immediately. Other cases involved cryptospecies where they are seen regularly but it isn’t realised that they are actually different species, e.g. the three species of bottlenose dolphin or the two species of African elephant.

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