I had a discussion with Melba Ketchum today on Twitter regarding her continued claims that Bigfoot will be proven true. Some of it spilled over to Facebook – her favorite communication outlet. I was surprised she responded and it went on for quite a while. For those of you who missed it, good for you. But here it is mostly in its entirety (a few other tweets weren’t worth adding); see what you can glean from this.
For background, note that my site, Doubtful News, has been critical of Melba’s work with good cause (melba ketchum | Doubtful News). I also wrote a chronicle of the history of her project for Skeptical Briefs (which you can see here The Ketchum Project: What to Believe about Bigfoot DNA ‘Science’ – CSI) and in Skeptical Inquirer. I’m not some lone skeptic picking at her claims. She has the entire scientific community against her. She revels in being the maverick, persecuted, pulls the Galileo gambit. I find it distasteful.
This is the first time she responded to me in public. She should totally stop doing that.
[View the story “Melba Ketchum defends herself. Poorly.” on Storify] Or see transcript below.
Don’t flatter yourself (again). Gee, she thinks pretty highly of herself. This is not a battle. It’s supposed to be a discussion. I also don’t think I was unprofessional. She is making some seriously OUTRAGEOUS claims, not me.
There is good reason to attack the “journal” and good reason to criticize this work. She is in denial about that. We come from such different starting points that there was NO chance that we could agree on some premises and progress. Especially on social media. But I hope this was enlightening to at least reveal where she is coming from and where I am coming from.
If you’re interested in my background, click on Bio. I’m not a n00b, Melba.
Melba Ketchum defends herself. Poorly.
My discussion with Dr. K today reveals quite a bit about her mindset, her lack of science literacy (for a so-called scientist) and some terrible logic. Observe.
Melba stated on Facebook (that also went to Twitter) that the additional video footage available of “forest people” is excellent and convincing. But she can’t show it because she doesn’t own it. (Erickson does.) She then deleted that post on Facebook after someone brought up they hoped it wasn’t the Chewbacca-mask footage again. Then, I got involved.
“You people”? Ouch. What am I chopped liver? I only specialize in Science and the Public. And for DN, my audience is the public and some well respected scholars as well.
She could have commented. I would certain have allowed that. But, granted, she would not have had an easy time considering the format in which she typical responds.
Her Facebook posting (and all her other online media posts) have been INCREDIBLY unprofessional – with terrible arguments, spelling and grammar errors and the same nonsense over and over. I’m astounded at her ignorance of how ridiculous she looks by trying to argue her case on Facebook and still expects to be taken seriously. You, ma’am, are no Jane Goodall.
It has been looked at, and it was SO BAD, that it did not pass muster. Competent scientists would have an answer to the criticism instead of lame excuses of baseless persecution. Your data should speak for itself. Sadly, the Ketchum study was poor.
It’s a shame I have to state the obvious that this is another ridiculous false comparison. What a name dropper! Recall that she once said her work was worthy of a Nobel.
Which peer reviewers, the one that “approved” your paper or the ones from Nature who gave you ample opportunity to fix the egregious errors? Nevermind…
Why? You made your case with the paper, press releases, and in public. There was nothing new to ask you. I consulted experts instead to make sure I understood it correctly. That’s the skeptical process.
The case for this should not be made to a blogger. It should be spelled out adequately in a published journal. Your journal did not allow rebuttals or letters, if I recall correctly. How were scientists to respond in line with traditional scientific publishing? This study was unorthodox in its presentation. Red flag.
Red flag number two (a GIANT one). If your results are inconsistent with the main tenet of biology, one of the most established theories on earth, you need to seriously consider that you are totally WRONG.
There’s that “you people” again. Consider me the public, Melba. I have a right to question the extraordinary claim you made and to criticize your responses to those questions. I was also the voice of many who felt the exact same way and had similar concerns. I had been following the project for a long while and did comprehensive research on it. I’m not sure why she thinks I haven’t seen everything that was made public on it.
Doctor Atlantis (Blake Smith of MonsterTalk) chimes in politely.
HOLY COW this is awful. I can’t believe she quoted Fox (Faux) News. She is not aware of false balance.
She does not understand the purpose of Doubtful News. At all. I’ve never said I was a jouralist. Never. Maybe I should send her my bio…
I guess good questions from the skeptical public don’t count. Why only talk to journalists? You got a mountain to climb to convince the scientific community that you aren’t completely bonkers with these ideas. That takes a LOT OF WORK and some THICK SKIN. Stop trying to one-up me on Twitter, or telling me you know how science should work. Go do some sound research instead. Convince the scientists. That will shut me up.
Finally, she reveals more ignorance of evolutionary theory. Mind you, she is a devout Christian and I’m pretty sure has Creationist tendencies. That explains some of this rhetoric.
She bragged about how she was having this nasty discussion with me on Facebook. I responded saying it wasn’t nasty, in my book. But it was pointless. I wish she WOULDN’T respond to me. There is no need. Your science should speak for itself. And my work speaks for itself. I’ve been more than fair with Melba (compared to some real nastiness from others in the Bigfoot community) and my commentary was mostly about her study, not her personally. But her personal beliefs became so entwined with her claims, and her belief biases everything she says, that I can’t take her seriously. Just stop, Melba, you only dig your hole deeper. If she is this committed to protecting the Forest People, she needs to go back to the drawing board and do better next time. They are poorly served by her research and behavior.
14 thoughts on “No, you are not the new Jane Goodall: My Twitter exchange with Melba Ketchum”
You made good points. I gave her the benefit of the doubt for the length of time it took her study to come out but in the end there was too much shadiness. The whole issue of journal origin is a conflict of interest which she appears to refuse to come to terms with and address. At the end of the day her study is spoiled and if she has good science in it, it has been marred at various levels. If there is good science there as she asserts then get back to the drawing board and do it right. I’ll wait…
Perhaps I err, but in my experience, saying “Darwinism” is a sign of Young Earth Creationism. That would explain a lot about her motivation. Could it be true?
poor Melba does not realize that the very audience that should be supportive, the Bigfoot community, laughs at her. There are real scientists and cryptozoologists doing good work. Fair work. They are committed to finding the truth, Ketchum seems committed to her paper. Doubtful News has been very supportive of those Bigfoot “hunters” that are really trying to follow the scientific method. Ketchum seems to suffer from a lack of experience, lack of input from fellow scientists, and bad PR. Our Bigfoot group uses her as an example of what NOT to do, and we’re happy there are people like Bryan Sykes out there. Ketchum would do well to study how he does things if she wants real respect.
Yes. A dead giveaway of her ideology.
I don’t think she has a clue how bad she makes herself look. She can crow and whine all day long that she has the data, but there is no proof she does. Yet, she seems to think that everyone else is stupid enough to believe her.
” She revels in being the maverick, persecuted, pulls the Galileo gambit. I find it distasteful.”
Personally, I find the blanket dismissal of the Ketchum study without any real effort at a proper counter-analysis distasteful.
If it were so easy to disprove her results, why hasn’t someone actually done that? Put together a team, get the data (and access to the remaining control samples) and show she is wrong.
Instead there’s nattering about the BBB rating (which had NOTHING to do with the actual quality of her lab work, only her business office), pusedo-scientific denials of the significance of DNA as it’s own proof (DNA is in and of itself diagnostic proof of the existence of the critter it sourced from, no further evidence is needed), and spurious claims that her lab was incapable of properly preventing “contamination” issues. (And, I assume that also applies to the other labs that did blind analyses that CONFIRMED her finding?).
In the end, it ended pretty much as I predicted: no matter what she proved, it wasn’t going to be accepted if it fought the orthodoxy, and the study would be rubbished without any honest attempt at proper analysis by the nay-sayers.
I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment at all. It was not good enough to MAKE IT INTO the sphere. It was rejected! Her study was poorly done, the samples can not be retested as far as I know or those that have been have come up with differing results.
She has been shown wrong. Geneticists have read her study and commented on how bad it was. They aren’t going to waste their time on worthless stuff.
The BBB rating was one straw in the pile. There were many others.
You are totally off base and misinformed on the reality here. She had ample opportunities to collaborate with real experts who would have LOVED to help with these results. It is more than telling how this played out. She is a terrible scientist and her work reflects it, sorry to say. But, she is free to try again. I do suggest she pair up with someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to publishing scientific works, though.
I follow @doubtfulnews on Twitter and saw some of this train wreck. It’s amazing how much ignorance one can expose about oneself in just a few tweets (and Facebook posts that I haven’t bothered to read other than here). I favorited the “All good scientists are skeptical” tweet, and you said you RT’ed it – that was a Good Takeaway from this exchange.
Perhaps she thinks skeptical has the meaning used by “climate skeptics” who are actually deniers and won’t change their minds regardless of evidence or anything.
I’m pretty well versed in Bigfoot stuff and sought info from experts in genetics. She certainly did not do her part. She didn’t know what Doubtful News was, what my credentials were, and yet she says I was bashing her personally. Extremely odd.
Is it possible to obtain a copy of your Master’s thesis?
One of the disturbing aspects of this Melba thing is that she has some (not many) devout followers who continue to buy into her crap, posting FB messages about how horrible the world has been to poor, sweet, truth-seeking Melba. Encouraging her just feeds into the delusional fantasy she has constructed for herself.
What, all those tweets from Melba yet no new glamor shots? She’s slipping.
I don’t mind a person’s own personal views on anything. But I do just get POed when they take resources away from much needed areas. If “wood ape” believer really wanted to learn and find if what they believe is real, then send money and volunteer to help out your state department of natural resources. Every state has slashed their DNR hard! Instead of funding balloon drones with IR to find those ultra smart primates that walk bipedal and are nocturnal, why not talk to your state legislator and offer help to fund and support a bill to get more DNR personal in the field. I am sure there is an actual specie that needs help to be brought off the endangered list!
Wow that was quite a marathon. You did well to keep making the obvious point about serious science but she, along with so many others, just doesn’t seem to understand what (good) science really is. What annoys me most is the arrogance of people who don’t want to do the disciplined, rigorous sometimes painstaking work, they just want to go straight for the headlines and glory…it’s a bit like xfactor science….the “you people” says everything we need to know about her and so many like her. Well done, love what you’re doing 🙂
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