In the middle of August 2008 Matt Whitton, Rick Dyer, and "professional Bigfoot hunter" Tom Biscardi claimed to have found what so many had sought after: the body of a real Bigfoot. FOX News picked up the story, DNA tests were performed, and a grand unveiling was planned, but, as ever, it all was a hoax. There was still no definitive proof that Sasquatch, Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape, Skookum, or a long lost "missing link" by any other name ever existed.
Last summer's brief frenzy over Bigfoot was hardly unique. As author Joshua Blu Buhs illustrates in his new book, Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend, there has been a long history of hoaxes and frauds associated with the mythical creature. Buhs book is not so much about debunking Bigfoot, however, as telling the story of enthusiastic Americans who thought they were on the trail of the beast during the 20th century.
As with many legendary creatures, advocates Bigfoot's existence often claim that the creature has been known for hundreds or even thousands of years. How could so many cultures in so many parts of the world have stories about "wild men of the woods" if none actually existed? An entire volume could be devoted to this question alone (for starters, see the chapters on "yeren" in The People's Peking Man), but Buhs shows that arguments made on the authority of "the ancients" ignore the cultural evolution of Bigfoot. Yes, many cultures have stories about something Bigfoot-like, but the true origins of the North American beast are better understood as a case of cultural transmission.
Buhs sets the scene with some clear hoaxes and humbugs from the late 19th century (like the Cardiff Giant and P.T. Barnum's "What-Is-It), but the story really picks up with Eric Shipton's photographs of the "Yeti" prints found on Mount Everest. These photos, as well as high-profile expeditions sent to find the Yeti, catapulted the so-called "Abominable Snowman" into stardom. Eventually this popularity waned, but the wide coverage given to the Yeti in the United States sparked interest in stories about "Sasquatch" in Canada and a similar creature, eventually nicknamed "Bigfoot", in our own backyard.
The popularity of Bigfoot exploded during the 1960's, especially with the aid of trashy men's magazines that printed lurid adventure yarns. Although I am not entirely convinced by all of Buh's cultural conclusions, he does make a compelling case that during this time Bigfoot was something that belonged to the kinds of working-class men who so often claimed to see the beast. Bigfoot was something wild, powerful, and masculine, a symbol that was made all the more relevant by the anxieties of white, working class men over consumerism, civil rites, and the perceived threat of feminization. Bigfoot often represented the elusive vestige of "true" masculinity that could only be found in the wild.
While there once was some scientific interest in Bigfoot, though, whatever "science" there was surrounding the hunt for the beast was increasingly pushed to the fringe. Through the 1970's Bigfoot became increasingly associated with psychic powers, UFOs, and other paranormal hogwash, and Bigfoot hunters grew increasingly irritated with the professional scientific community. This was most forcefully shown during a conference on Bigfoot held at the University of British Columbia. The true-believers came hoping to prove the existence of Bigfoot and courted the media, but the academic conference was more about Bigfoot as a cultural and even psychological phenomenon. The scientists didn't care a whit about whether Bigfoot existed or not: they wanted to know why so many people believed the stories, and why the Bigfoot hunters were so obsessed.
Eventually the "great" Bigfoot hunters of the mid-20th century gave up the hunt, yet Bigfoot remains a familiar part of our culture. This is partly because Bigfoot has been linked to the environmental movement (as a sort of peaceful "Father Earth"), but more importantly because Bigfoot has been subsumed within the consumer culture that the pioneering Bigfoot hunters worried so much about. Bigfoot is no longer a representation of uninhibited white male beliefs and desires, but a desexualized symbol used to purvey goods from beer to beef jerky. The old tensions between working class white males and professional scientists remain, but Bigfoot has mostly settled in as just another way to sell products or attract people to theme parks.
Buhs covers a lot of ground in 254 pages, but there are a few relevant topics I was hoping would be addressed in greater detail. The first is Bigfoot (or Skunk Ape) sightings in the American South. It seems that in recent years there has been a resurgence of Bigfoot sightings in this area, and it would have been interesting to contrast the efforts of southern working-class Bigfoot hunters with their earlier counterparts. Second, from what I understand over the years a number of Russian scientists have taken a great interest in Bigfoot and have often associated the creature with paranormal powers. This is barely touched in Buh's book, and I would love to see a more comprehensive volume on "wild men" as a global cultural phenomenon. Lastly, I was somewhat surprised that more recent developments (like the one I used to open the review) were not included. The book stops at 2002, but an epilogue covering the intervening seven years could have proven useful (even if to just provide a cursory summary).
Like Sean B. Carroll's Remarkable Creatures, Buh's Bigfoot is not so much about the quarry as it is about the hunters. There is sparingly little evidence to suggest Bigfoot is a real animal, much of the alleged positive evidence has turned out to be fraudulent or misinterpreted, but it is real as a cultural phenomenon. There is money to be had by invoking the beast, and even though we appear to be going through a lull right now, the cultural evolution of Bigfoot will likely continue for some time to come.
Hi, I'm Josh, the author of the book in question. Thanks for taking the time to review it and engage with it.
You noted a couple of the weak points. I would have loved to do more with the Russian material, but I was leery of the sources available--mostly American reports of what was going on in Russia with a sprinkling of reports from the Russians themselves, though these were often very self-serving. I suspect there's good material in Russia that would make for a very nice comparative case, but I couldn't get there and don't speak (or read) Russian.
Southern lore about Bigfoot and Bigfoot-like creatures also was slighted. I dug into it some, but, again, didn't feel like the material I found would bear much scrutiny.
And yes, an epilogue catching up to recent events would have been helpful, but the publishing calendar simply made that impossible. The book was being printed as the kerfluffle in Georgia was underway.
Finally, I'd like to hear more about your reservations with my cultural argument.
I came to it quite by accident--that is to say, it was not my intent from the beginning. Rather, I was trying to make sense of the observation that _so_ much of the Bigfoot material appeared in men's magazines of the late 1960s and 190s. Why, I kept asking myself, was Bigfoot here, of all places? And the best answer I could come up with was that there was some kind of symbiotic relationship between the (idea of the) beast, the producers of the magazines (and related movies and tabloids) and the readers.
I would have liked to do more with the readers, but, yet again, the evidence was not as strong as I would have liked, so I had to offer what I thought were plausible interpretations of the stories given their content, their presumed readers, and the concerns of the time.
Again, thanks,a nd I'd love hearing more of your thoughts.
Hello Josh. Thank you for responding, and responding so quickly! I enjoyed the book quite a bit and I appreciate you clarifying some of my criticisms. I think you did quite well with the material, and there will always be things left out, so I appreciate you explaining why some of the southern lore, etc. were not included in more detail. Hopefully someone will follow in your footsteps.
My reservations about the cultural conclusions mainly stem from my own background. While I think your view is very insightful I have not read the sources you mentioned and am not as familiar with the sociology of cultural phenomena. Perhaps I should have explained myself better, but what I meant was that I would want to dig into the literature on the subject a little more and not just nod my head in agreement because it sounded plausible. Generally speaking, though, I think the cultural argument could have been reinforced with more biographical information or quotes from Bigfoot hunters about the concerns which you mention (I know you did include some, but if there was more direct from their mouths, it would have helped. I know that this material might not exist, though, so I cannot fault you for that!) I will go back through the book again tonight and see if there was anything in particular that I was unsure of.
Again, my relatively minor criticisms aside, I think you put together a very good book. It really helps illustrate the cultural evolution of Bigfoot, and hopefully someone will tie what you have found in with other tales of wild men in a book with a wider perspective.
One of the things I love about blogs is how quickly you get and return feedback--it's much different now than it was even five years ago, when I published my first book. (Admittedly, that topic wouldn't have generated as much interest.)
I think that your criticisms are fair, and the argument probably could have been strengthened by more quotes and biography. I tacked back and forth between wanting to give lots of information, and wanting to make the book readable to a large audience. And so not everything's balanced as perfectly as possible.
But that's what makes reading and writing so fun, trying to find that balance, trying to get the argument right, or as right as possible.
Over on Evolving Thoughts Snowflake has a post on honest discussion. He quite rightly points out that it is incumbent upon the person presenting an argument to back up what he says with solid proof. At the very least, to point the other party to such evidence. Those such as Biscardi make it very hard -sometimes impossible- to discuss the matter of Bigfoot, for their fraud leads some to see the subject as unsupportable ipso facto. When proof is faked then legitimate proof tends to be rejected out of hand.
Now add the belief that such things as Bigfoot just cannot be. Even before the supernatural was introduced the strong belief that apes could not make it to North America presented a huge road block. The fact that Beringia was dry at times other than the ice ages was not known. Also note that North-East Asia is not as well known as we'd like to think. Neither is North-West North America, for we have a tendency to exaggerate what we do know.
Between fraud and obstinacy the subject has become an extremely emotional one for many people; nigh akin to the ardent animosity to evolution exhibited by creationists. Every footprint has to be fake. Every call recorded or pile of dug collected that of some ursine or bovine. There are those among sasquatch skeptics who have staked their emotional health on Bigfoot being false, and who would suffer serious emotional damage if they so much as admitted the animal might exist.
Thus any evidence presented has to be rejected, for to allow that it might be valid threatens the self-worth of a number of people. Much as the evidence supporting the proposition that the Autism Spectrum Disorders arise from changes in the development of the fetal brain has to be rejected by the anti-vaccine community. Too much is personally invested in denial.
When one party presents proof in support of his argument it is incumbent upon the other party to consider that proof honestly. So long as said proof does not violate what we know of how reality works, it has to be taken seriously. Extraterrestrial sophonts drifting through walls violates reality most outrageously. Apparent sasquatch footprints do not. (Though it should be noted that very large human feet also leave prints showing the apparent presence of a mid-arch joint. So it's very likely that sasquatch prints show evident signs of such a joint not because they have one, but because their feet or so damn big.)
I will now take this opportunity to make this prognostication; that at least one response to this comment -possibly more- will be virulently hostile, accuse your author of being part of the conspiracy behind all the Bigfoot fakes, and exhibit the level of maturity behind the arguments made by creationists and Holocaust deniers. Indeed, a few responses may appear that can easily be turned into a rant against the fact of the Holocaust by the simple expedient of replacing every mention of Bigfoot, footprints, etc. in one form or another with a corresponding mention of Jews, gas chambers, etc.
Knowledge is not advanced by rejecting that which contradicts what we believe, but by the honest and open consideration of such things. Establishing what it is and is not, and accepting what our studies have shown us. Especially when it tells us what we hate to hear.
Although I'm not going to be suckered into buying and reading a book that is so completely misleading, I think it is time to recommend that Joshua to better "research" before he makes such unfounded, speculative conclusions. Like others writers who clearly approached this topic with a rather shallow conclusion in mind, anyone who thinks this subject is perpetuate by social needs, rather than persistent direct sightings and encounters with these animals, is a fool. Although Joshua, on one side, claims his book is not about whether bigfoots do or do not exist, this is clearly what it is about. It is presented as an explanation of why the subject holds such great interest in certain parts of the world. People are interested in this subject because many people have legitimate sightings ... because these animals do indeed exist.
It is unfathomable to a smug author who has little to no outdoor experience in North America that animals like this could persist here. Ignorant people like Joshua persistently also mislead the public regarding the quality of the evidence, and the level of interest by the scientific community.
Americans and Canadians reports sightings of these animals more than anywhere else because our communication infrastructure is better than any other part of the world where sightings occur. The sightings do not occur in Europe ... at all ... so therefore somehow European while males have none of characteristics that Joshua alleges are the driving force behind sightings in Canada and America. His whole cultural argument is patently absurd, and Joshua didn't do very much research. Those who actually do research this subject deeply know what a sham his "research" was. Did he ever visit the labs of the main scientists who have evidence. Apparently he wasn't aware that there is more money being put into this subject now than ever happened in the past. Joshua wasn't aware of that. Joshua never visited any of the people who research this subject in the field. He never went to any of the places where sightings occur. If he did then he would have met park rangers and law enforcement officers who will quietly admit that they have seen these animals and/or found legit tracks in the back country, or know other staff members who have. Are those people driven by some emotional/cultural needs. No, they are not. Joshua didn't do his homework, but I'm not going to buy his frivolous, misleading book to debunk it point by point. He is wrong. His assertions are ridiculous. And thousands of credible modern eyewitnesses simply have more weight, collectively, than he ever will, and their mere existence is the ultimate rebuke to these idiotic cultural explanations for this phenomena. People are seeing real animals, yet Joshua will try to play it both ways. On the one hand he'll say he's not claiming they didn't see what they described, but out the other side of his mouth, and in his misleading book, he apparently says just the opposite. There is a serious credibility problem with him.
I just purchased the book yesterday, but I haven't read it. After reading the comments here tonight I am going to have to move it to the top of the pile. I skimmed through it before buying it and did note to my disappointment that the book ended in 2002.
More reasons why this book is a product of bogus or non-existent research. Joshua never actually spoke with any of the eyewitnesses, over whom he seems to assert such vast intellectual superiority.
Joshua leads people to believe that more sightings happened in the 1960's and 1970's than afterward. The truth is that many more sighting have occurred since then. More local newspaper articles were written about local sightings in those decades, but that is no measure of how many sightings occurred in a given time frame.
The BFRO has been collecting reports and speaking with witnesses for over ten years. We have, by far, the largest repository of information, and conduct frequent field trips to places where encounters occur. Joshua never contacted us, or anyone we know that seriously researches the subject, including the prominent scientists involved. Wouldn't those people help provide some insights into why the subject persists on the cultural landscape. He didn't speak with Jane Goodall or George Schaller either, to find out which repressed, resentful emotional/cultural needs they are expressing when they say the evidence suggests these animals do exist.
There is soooo much more to this subject than what Joshua addresses -- someone who didn't do much meaningful research. Apparently he asserts that all, or most witnesses, are just poor white country bumpkins who are just trying to perpetuate a legend, as an expression of some emotional needs ... rather simply reporting what they observed at one time. To smug urban authors like Joshua, people who live in the country are not credible, by definition, and should not be taken seriously if they report something unusual ... even if there's thousands of them ... they can't be trusted. It's so ironic because Joshua is the deceptive element in this equation, not the many, many eyewitnesses. How is Joshua so very sure that they are all lying??
There are, of course, people who claim to have seen these animals when they have not seen one. And there are also some fake tracks, etc., and occasional hucksters, but an honest researcher would not focus on those things. Pranks and fakes are going to occur inevitably, but that doesn't mean all the witnesses are lying. An honest author would look to the best evidence, rather than falsely claim that there is none.
Some real research would have revealed that more money is being put into this research than ever before. Has Joshua ever seen the evidence collection in Dr. Meldrum's lab in Idaho? Does he know how much funding Meldrum has now, or does Meldrum not qualify as credible under Joshua's rubric because Meldrum seems to be a "believer"??
Some eyewitnesses are soooo much smarter and more educated than Joshua. The TOP psychologist at USC, the Department CHAIR, is a close-range DAYLIGHT eyewitness of a sasquatch (near the Ventana Wilderness, California in the 1990's.) A full grown sasquatch walked within 100 feet of Dr. David Walsh while he was hunting for pigs up there. Did Joshua know about that? Most people who study the subject closely do know that. How did Joshua miss that?? And how does that fit in his "researched" explanation of the witnesses? Is Dr. Walsh a poor white redneck from the 1970's?
Joshua's whole characterization of the bigfoot scene and phenomena is corrupt and flat out misleading. Joshua did not do any meaningful research. He wanted to write and publish a book that would pander to certain types of people. That's exactly what this is all about.
I personally know more than one non-redneck sheriff who has seen these animals cross a road at night in front of their vehicles. But Joshua will immediately and disgustingly, classify observers like these as "believers" rather than an "eyewitnesses". Joshua will squirm for any explanation other than the obvious. Those people actually saw what they describe, and they are far more credible than Joshua will ever be.
I have read Josh's book, and also wish he had touched on the "psychology" of belief a bit more. Overall, he did a very good job and introduced me to a few points I had never considered prior to reading his book. I found his research to be a great deal more substantial and supported than all the criticisms I have read against his book so far, including the one posted above.
I had intended to write a review of Josh's book at cryptozoology.com, but this one is so much better than anything I would have posted, and has already been linked to at that site, so I felt praising Mr. Buhs book and your review here, instead, would be sufficient.
David J. Daegling's book, "Bigfoot Exposed", remains my favorite "skeptically oriented" book on Bigfoot, but I enjoyed "Bigfoot - The Life and Times of a Legend" very much, and highly recommend the book to everyone, most especially those who are "sitting on the fence". Contrary to criticisms against the book, it is impeccably researched, and well thought out. The way Mr. Buhs brings the ever colorful Rene Dahinden to life is worth the reading alone.
I give the book 4 and half out of five stars.
Hey Karl ...
Did Joshua ever talk to even one (1) eyewitness, during his "impeccable" research? After all, he is presenting himself as an expert about these eyewitnesses, and why they've made these claims. Or is his book not about them?
He wrote a book claiming to understand their motivations for why they claimed to see what they saw. How did he "research" those claims??
Is his book just about old newspaper articles on the subject, and his own speculation based on those articles ... or is it about the people who the articles focus on primarily -- the witnesses.
Did he ever find articles pre-dating the Shipton track photos of the late 1950's? We found plenty, some dating back the mid 1800's. Some of the oldest articles about sightings were printed in the New York Times, as a matter of fact. Did Joshua's "impeccable research" uncover those articles?
Did he ever go to where any sightings occurred? Did he ever stay out overnight in those areas to see what would happen? Did he interview any of the scientists who research the subject, and who know vastly more than he does about it? Did he ever talk to any of those people? Speaking with them would seem pretty relevant for his "research" ... don't ya' think, Karl?
What exactly do you call his "research"?? Joshua claimed that he just read some books and articles, before writing his book. Is that what you're calling research, Karl? That's a joke, considering the breadth of primary data out there, to which he carefully did not avail himself. It's like saying you did impeccable research on a book about dolphins, without ever having seen a dolphin in person, and without ever speaking to any real dolphin experts or dolphin scientists. It's ludicrous.
Joshua did no more research than a college kid writing a term paper. So, did he have a nice bibliography and perfect footnotes? Come on .. He NEVER spoke with anyone who actually researches this subject. It's a farce.
And how did you get his book so fast, Karl ... and also coincidentally find out about this review discussion? Are you claiming that you have no connection or contact with this author whatsoever, Karl?
An honest author would look to the best evidence, rather than falsely claim that there is none.
What is the best evidence? The more I learn, the worse the evidence for Bigfoot seems. What am I missing?
I have to admit that the idea that cryptozoology is basically a hobby of disenfranchised working class white males fails to convince me. Since Cuvier's dictum that all animals are already known, hundreds of new species have been described, many of them charismatic megafauna. I guess most of this creatures were discovered in colonial or post-colonial areas where there were very few working class whites in the first place, the only white people present in this locations being scientists, engineers, missionaries, physicians, goverment officials and military officers. While I am no expert on the intricacies of the British class system, I can't imagine that a name like Blashford-Snell, especially in connection with a commission as a field officer, sounds very working class to British ears.
Matthew; For all your complaints, you haven't even read the book. What can you expect to contribute here if you haven't even looked at the material being discussed? Your paranoia over how Karl got the book "so fast" is also misplaced. The book has been out since May and a number of people received uncorrected proofs/review copies, as is standard practice with a new book. I don't know Karl's story, but starting to strain at conspiracies does not help your case.
Johannes; The book isn't about cryptozoology as a whole as much as Bigfoot in particular. The Yeti, for instance, attracted the interest of explorers and scientists, but by the 1960's Bigfoot had moved more to the fringe. There may be other patterns for other monsters. As Joshua shows, Bigfoot has appealed more to white working class American males than to other groups, and people from among this group were the primary Bigfoot explorers of the 20th century in America.
Admittedly the definition of what cryptozoology is can be problematic. For me the discovery and description of new species is simply zoology, but cryptozoology carries more paranormal baggage with it, particularly given the interests and beliefs of the people who organized the concept (which is mentioned in the book).
Matthew and Jose both illustrate my point, they refuse to listen to each other. Both appeal to authority, though each appeals to different authorities. So long as the subject remains substantially unexamined any appeal to authority is counterproductive.
Hey Matt ...
You seem to know a great deal about a book you claim not to have read; where's your research? You are committing the very same crime for which you are condemning Josh.
Many of the people he writes about are dead, making it a tad hard to have talked to them. Nevertheless, dead or alive, there are things they said or did that is a matter of record, and the author provides the source for that record wherever it is used, which is something I rarely see when it comes to Bigfoot testimonials.
I ordered the book over the internet along with Michael McLeod's "Anatomy of a Beast", which I am now reading. Mr. Mcleod, by the way, did speak with some of the advocates in Mr. Buhs book, and yet his views remain just as skeptical.
I have never communicated with Joshua Blu Buhs personally, and this review was linked to by a member of cryptozoology.com, as I stated above. Still, if you insist on believing otherwise, knock yourself out.
As for Mr. Buhs research being a joke, that's your opinion, and one with which I disagree. In my opinion, a real joke is posting pictures of bears, and claiming they are images of Bigfoot.
For all those who have not figured it out, Karl Rose is a federal undercover security employee whose mission statement is to sew seeds of doubt in the public forum about certain harmless top secret subjects, one of which is Bigfoot. I noticed one night while I was on hold for Coast to Coast, that Karl had access to illegal phone wire tap information that was privy to my initial conversation with Coast to Coast's secretary. While I was on hold, he boldly typed a message on crytozoology.com, that he predicted that I would call in to that show and ask a question to Mr. Michio Kaku. Nuff said about Karl Rose and his motivation.
I accept that you have no connection with him (sometimes log rolling happens, you know), and I appreciate you answering more questions about his book. Please continue to describe what the book is about. That helps. I am not going to buy it. That's ultimately what he wants, and I do think it's a literary scam underneath it all.
Let me shed light on a curious mystery here. His "research" stops at 2002 for a very calculated reason -- so he can avoid interacting with the modern figures and scientists now involved, and he can avoid admitting the primary cultural influences after that point -- scientists, television documentaries, and very informed science journalists, etc. Those things arose around 2002 and thereafter, and they make irrelevant everything Joshua focuses on before that point.
The people and things that occurred after 2002 took the subject back from the tabloid/entertainment realm and began informing the masses about the scientific evidence and research. It became the topic of multiple documentaries, and those documentaries became the primary window onto the subject for the public -- not articles in cheesy magazine, or commercial/entertainment exploitations. The science became the driving force for the public's fascination with the subject after that point.
If you only had a very shallow, twisted understanding of the subject, based on what you remember from the 1970's, and you set out to write a book to explore your own twisted memories and understanding ... of what you assumed was nothing more than a bizarre fad of the era ... then you'd end up with a book like this, which attempts to bring some perspective to the topic as nothing more than a bizarre fad of that era ...
Stopping his research in 2002 also provided the excuse to say ... "but all those people are dead now, so I can't interview anyone ...". It allowed him to avoid mentioning the influence of Jane Goodall and George Schaller, for example, and the Discovery Channel. Those things would have thrown too much of a wrench in his "analysis" of the "cultural evolution" of public interest in the topic. The TV documentaries alone had vastly more influence than all of the obscure magazine articles combined. Does he mention those documentaries in his book, Karl? If not, then don't you think that's kinda curious ... if the book is about the "cultural evolution" of the "legend"?
Why would a book need to be written to explain why people would be interested in this topic? We're talking about giant nocturnal apes in North American forests. How is that not inherently interesting if you live in North America?
Would Joshua have to dig up old newspaper articles and research the cultural milieu of the 1970's to understand why people are so fascinated by big sharks?? How 'bout the obvious? ... How 'bout: big sharks are inherently interesting, and so are black holes, and so are unidentified flying objects, and so are bigfoots. All those things can be interesting to lots of people without being the product of emotional/social factors, or evidence of some intellectual naivete or cultural inferiority.
Whatever ways the subject was exploited in the early years is simply irrelevant now. If the subject had somehow not been exploited in the 1970's at all ... it still would have returned in the 1990's, because more pieces of footage were bound to happen, and more witnesses were bound to come forward, and more scientists and science journalists were bound to become interested. Interest did not arise from interest. Interest ultimately arose because witnesses continued to be insistent about what they observed, encountered, recorded and videotaped.
Contrast this subject with the Mothman of West Virginia. That was indeed a legend of its era, and nothing more. Very unlike the bigfoot subject, there were no witnesses before or after the handful of alleged sightings in the late 1960's. No scientists ever got interested in the subject, and no evidence was ever even argued about. It came and went, and was purely the product of re-told tales which naturally became sensationalized over time.
The fact that there were only a few people claiming sightings, during a limited window of time, means that the potential reality of the Mothman can be safely dismissed ... because we can logically expect that there would be many more sightings, and there would be a historical pattern of prior observations, and a pattern of similar incidents would continue into this era, at least a little bit ... but it's not there. It's a whole different thing than the bigfoot topic ... and that's not because a figure like a Mothman would fail to engender the same degree of fear or fascination ... or whatever ... among poor middle-class white males in the 1970's ...
When the Bigfoot believers actually produce REAL evidence, say, a body, then they can get the respect they claim to deserve. Till that time, bigfoot remains an issue of culture and sociology. Not biology. And all the so called footprints, hair samples, fuzzy photos, eye-witness accounts, and hand waving won't change that.
It's great to see so much discussion.
Let me clarify a few points that I think may have gotten lost.
My book is not about eyewitnesses, the evidence for Bigfoot, or the evidence against Bigfoot. I state my skepticism about Bigfoot's existence at the beginning of the book because that seemed like good form.
But the question I ask is, Why all the fuss?
At one point above, Moneymaker suggests that the repeated eyewitness accounts are sufficient to explain interest in Bigfoot.
People see moose all the time. Moose don't have Bigfoot's Q rating.
Perhaps, then, it is because, as Moneymaker says later, that the subject is inherently interesting--a giant, nocturnal ape. Who wouldn't be interested?
Except that there are many legendary creatures which don't get nearly as much attention--sea serpents, for example, haven't captured the American public's attention. There are plenty of reports of them in Lake Champlain, Ogopogo, and elsewhere. They are inherently interesting--gigantic creatures living in our midst--and yet they haven't generated a lot of buzz since the late nineteenth century.
[Note: I am using "legend" in a technical sense, to mean a proposition for belief, not something that is fake. Legends can be true or false.]
So, we need some other explanation. And that's what I try to provide by outlining the cultural machinery that took Bigfoot from a small-time legend to a mass media phenomenon.
The book is primarily a history--my doctorate's in the history and sociology of science--which accounts for the timeline. The machinery that I am interested in took shape after World War II and continued into the 1990s, after which things began to change.
That is why I ended in 2002, not to avoid some unpleasant evidence. (It may interest you, Mr. Moneymaker, to note that George Schaller's interest predates 2002 by a considerable margin, and I mention him, Goodall and Meldrum in the book.) One subtitle for the final chapter was not _the_ end, but _an_ end. Interest in Bigfoot continues, but the driving forces have changed, and dramatically enough that I didn't think it worthwhile to continue the story.
I haven't read the book and it isn't high on my list due to the content.
I like laws of probablility and statistics. The modern physical and anecdotal evidence to support a North American great ape is more compelling than can be attributed to the authors hunch that bigfoot is a cultural phenomena propagated by working class menâs magazines and tabloids of the 60's and 70's.
The interdimensional and quite intelligent Bigfoot allows everyone to cling onto their own perceived reality. Albeit quite often by only a few fingernails. For the skeptics, naysayers, psychological nutcases, fragile females, effeminant males, opinionated know-it-alls and non-camping public, Bigfoot stays invisible most of the time in the higher dimensions and generally resists the attainment of proof by the general public. He does this so at the end of the day, that group can shut their eyes and get a good nights sleep.
For the gung ho camoed out mystery solvers, the diehard researchers, and the intellectually fascinated, Bigfoot allows just enough visual sightings, discovery of footprints and perceived night howls, in order to keep that group in the hunt.
So the interdimensional Bigfoot has something under the christmas tree for everybody. Which is also why there is so much disagreement as to exactly what Bigfoot is.
I have to admit, I did buy into this stuff as a child, buying all the books on the subject I could find, and part of me still wishes it were so. A book on Bigfoot as a cultural phenomenon should make for an interesting read. BTW, I once believed that the prevalence of Bigfoot or similiar creatures in many different cultures around the world was evidence of their reality, but legends of dragons and vampires are found around the world too, and I don't think very many people believe those creatures actually exist, or ever did.
"That is why I ended in 2002, not to avoid some unpleasant evidence. (It may interest you, Mr. Moneymaker, to note that George Schaller's interest predates 2002 by a considerable margin, and I mention him, Goodall and Meldrum in the book.) One subtitle for the final chapter was not _the_ end, but _an_ end. Interest in Bigfoot continues, but the driving forces have changed, and dramatically enough that I didn't think it worthwhile to continue the story."
So your scholarly work is more or less a chronology of the pre-2002 kitsch media around the subject? And then some cultural sweeps and analysis that feed upon the kitsch? Are you suggesting the popularity and kitsch, in itself, is the cause of the interest, as opposed to the residue of the interest? What is your thesis, Joshua?
Lake Monsters do not garner as much interest because they are not seen as often, not even close. And they are only seen in very limited places. Without people seeing them frequently, in many different places, on land, the buzz on the street about them will naturally fade. This is a no-brainer.
Hello Neal (silvereagle), it's good to see you haven't lost your entertainment value.
Mr. Buhs already addressed the main points of the post you directed to me, but I would like to cover a few other things.
Jane Goodall, in her NPR interview, stated that she didn't believe Bigfoot exists so much as she wanted to believe it exists, and clearly stated that maybe it doesn't exist. Even if she had not made that statement, despite being one of the world's leading primatologists, her opinion is not infallible, nor are the opinions of any of the other names you have mentioned. And without a body, opinion is all they have a right to claim. Even Dr. Meldrum, in his book "Sasquatch - Legend Meets Science" (which I have also read), alludes to the harsh truth that without a body, Bigfoot cannot be a scientific fact.
As for all the 21st century documentaries; what have they proven? Technically all they've proven is that people searching for Bigfoot can find just about anything except Bigfoot. And the little they have found is anything but irrefutable.
Bigfoot being a creature that is seen everywhere but found nowhere gives a great deal of strength to Mr. Buhs point that the legend is a cultural phenomenon. And Bigfoot isn't the first cultural phenomenon to be more popular than other like phenomenons, a fact that is, again, supported by Mr. Buhs book.
Matthew and Jose both illustrate my point, they refuse to listen to each other.
Your point was ridiculous, and your assertion that I illustrate your point is too. No, I don't think Bigfoot exists, but I'm willing to listen and objectively hear new evidence. And like most Bigfoot skeptics, I'd be thrilled if Bigfoot exists. The fact that I don't find any existing evidence for Bigfoot remotely convincing, is because it's not convincing. If you think there is convincing evidence I'm ignoring, tell me what it is. Don't sit on the sidelines preaching BS about how both sides won't listen to each other.
I understand that you don't want to buy the book--no biggie. I also don't buy books I think I will get nothing from. (Liberal Fascism, anyone?)
However, you can at least look at the table of contents on the University of Chicago's Press's website to see that my interest extends beyond kitsch. (BTW, the history of the term kitsch is deeply tied to anti-working-class opinions). In addition to popular representations of the beast, I also look at the work of Ivan Sanderson, John Napier, and Grover Krantz, among others, only one of whom could be accused of producing so-caled kitsch.
As for my thesis, I'm not sure what to say, exactly, since I have tried to explain the book here, at the WaPo site, and in personal correspondence, and yet you continue to mis-represent what I say, attribute opinions to me I do not hold, and accuse me of actions which I have not done. But I will try once more.
From page 2 of the book (the quote is also available through the New York Times Sunday Book Review section, so again you need not buy the book to get the gist of the book:
That is the main contention of this book. Maybe there is no Bigfoot walking the forests of the American Pacific Northwest, but the creature is still real â it is part of the American cultural landscape, something about which people can, and do, talk, something that most everyone recognizes and knows. Understanding the monster helps to explain some of twentieth-century America. Tracing the creature's fortunes as it passed through America in the second half of the twentieth century sheds light on how knowledge moves through society, on the intersection of class, technology, science, and belief. It is a worthy reason to write a biography of a legend, a way of showing that what seems trivial and ridiculous is not.
Karl, I will defer to the great Stanton Friedman for exposing your mistruths and mind games. Stantan's 4 rules of Debunkers are:
1. "What the public doesn't know, I won't tell them." For you Karl, as a federal security employee with real time access to Bush era illegal phone wire taps, have full knowledge that Bigfoot have long been known to be absolutely real, but are not interested in informing the public of that little detail.
2. "Do not bother me with the facts, because my mind is made up." Of course you and I both know what you know, and there is no amount of facts, that will cause you to come clean and "spill your guts".
3. "If you can't attack the data, then attack the messenger, it's easier". Today, you seem to have moderated your mud slinging attacks on me that you used to save for a forum where you also get to provide input on who goes and who gets to stay, and therefore who can expose you for a high profile bigfoot research mole. I could name a handfull of other names in bigfoot research as well, who all quietly went over to the dark side, as you did.
4. "Do your research by proclamation, because investigation is too much trouble". Karl, this is your forte', your modus operandi. Everything you put in print is pure bunk. You pull your proclamations out of thin air, and declare them to be fact. But then again, that is the job that you get paid quite hansomely for, isn't it.
On the other hand, you may claim that you are not important enough to have a sufficient security clearance, to know the truth. Then I would send my sympathy, except I would not believe that claim for one moment either.
Actually Karl ... you are twisting things now. That is not what she said in that interview ... "didn't believe Bigfoot exists so much as she wanted to believe it exists ... " Huh?? Show me the quote Karl. Find it for me.
Jane Goodall allowed my group to tape a brief interview with her a year later after that NPR interview. It was recorded as the keynote address to the 2003 Willow Creek Conference -- a Bigfoot Conference. She unequivocally states, on camera, that she believes they exist, and she goes into detail about what led her to that conclusion.
But then Karl writes ...
"Even if she had not made that statement, despite being one of the world's leading primatologists, her opinion is not infallible, nor are the opinions of any of the other names you have mentioned. And without a body, opinion is all they have a right to claim. Even Dr. Meldrum, in his book "Sasquatch - Legend Meets Science" (which I have also read), alludes to the harsh truth that without a body, Bigfoot cannot be a scientific fact."
Folks like Karl start off saying "there's no scientific evidence". And then when confronted with a mound of scientific evidence, including much physical evidence ... they scamper back to the further trench: "Well ... you can't show me a body, can you?".
Karl goes on to take a statement from Meldrum out of context -- a statement merely implying that acceptance in every hall of the scientific community won't happen without a body. Yes, that can be twisted to suggest that Meldrum believes bigfoots don't really exist in the physical sense.
Apparently in Karl's universe, things do not exist until they have been carefully studied and documented. By that logic bigfoots won't exist, at all, until the moment a body is brought forward, to scientists.
At least you provide for the possibility that a body could "come forward," at which point, thankfully ... they would begin to exist.
Both appeal to authority, though each appeals to different authorities. So long as the subject remains substantially unexamined any appeal to authority is counterproductive.
Just to clarify, I made no appeal to authority, and I'm not interested in hearing someone like you who knows nothing about me call me close-minded for the millionth time. Matthew Moneymaker speaks as if anyone who's done their homework would be a Bigfoot believer. Well, I believe I've done my homework, and I don't see any mildly convincing evidence that Bigfoot exist. Is it crazy for me to ask that he state plainly what he thinks the convincing evidence is? Is it just the same old âWe have tons of credible eyewitness testimonyâ argument? Is there something specific in Jeffrey Meldrum's collection I've overlooked? That's what I want to know. If he's just going to make blind assertions that people who don't believe in Bigfoot haven't done the work, then he's just wasting everyones time.
Folks like Karl start off saying "there's no scientific evidence". And then when confronted with a mound of scientific evidence, including much physical evidence ...including much physical evidence ... they scamper back to the further trench
There may be a mound of scientific evidence that's been amassed on Bigfoot, but none of it that I'm aware of convincingly supports the existence of Bigfoot. If such evidence does exist, then by all means confront us with it. I promise that we won't scamper into any trenches.
I twisted nothing Matt. I did not suggest that Jeff Meldrum does not believe in Bigfoot; he states very clearly in his book that he does. I pointed out his realization that Bigfoot is rejected by mainstream science, while making my own allusion that it is with good reason.
As for Jane's quote:
While she initially states that she believes they exist, she then goes on to say, "Well, I'm a romantic, so I always wanted them to exist."
Then later states:
"...and maybe they don't exist, but I want them to."
You do not have a mound of scientific evidence, Matt; you have a mound of completely rejected evidence.
In my universe, dragons and unicorns do not exist, but by your logic, I should believe in them simply because people present what they call "evidence" and "testimony", insisting all the while that they exist. Should leprechauns and fairies also be taken seriously? They have quite the following as well.
It would be nice if a body of Bigfoot came forward, but I have seen absolutely nothing to give me such hope.
As a believer and a professional I try to read all the imformation and books that are out there. I found the book to be interesting, but a slow read. I thought that it was interesting that Joshua stopped the book in 2002. It's his book so he gets to stop when he wants. If he went on to include the last 10 years it could have been a book of equal size. Quite frankly for those of us who follow it closely the amount of research and field work that is out there is amazing. Although there is no "body" since 2002 I believe it to be disengenuous to not believe that recent developments shape the field.
Exploring a myth does not destroy the underlying reality. Schliemann's discovery of the ruins of ancient Troy did not damage the Iliad. It did verify the oral history underlying the myth which led to the literary masterpiece. Matthew Moneymaker's own BFRO site contains sections recounting Indian and pioneer descriptions of sasquatch, as well as many descriptions of recent encounters. The old legends are not damaged by the research that explores films and footprints. Our knowledge of reality is not damaged by the analysis of the myth.
Joshua Ruhs's take on twentieth century beliefs is interesting. The people most likely to encounter bigfoot are, after all, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and deep woods campers, as well as motorists on dark and lonely roads. These were likely to be men. But women and children certainly are not immune, and several of Christopher Neal's habituators are women. Native American women instruct their children to leave the giants in the forest alone. Their legends make sasquatch a more dangerous beast than it now appears to be.
I would like to know why Joshua Ruhs believes that everything changed after 2002. Is it because people like me have been alerted to the widespread evidence of bigfoot, and now I am suddenly aware of the stick structures associated with the creature which surround my seasonal retreat? Is it because some scientists and media people are taking this research more seriously?
I am a woman who lived over half of the twentieth century thinking that bigfoot was a possible creature of the mountains of the northwest. My knowledge has been considerable expanded in the last few years. Is this what is different?
Editoral note: Discussion and debate are fine, self-promotional advertisements for "paranormal investigators" are not. I will not allow shameless plugs made by ghost chasers, UFO hunters, etc.
In Post #30, Karl Rose states: "You (MM) do not have a mound of scientific evidence, Matt; you have a mound of completely rejected evidence."
This is a perfect example of Stanton Friedman's No. 4 Rule for Debunkers, "Do your research by proclamation, because investigation is too much trouble".
There was a time in the 60's, when our nation's top scientists did in fact study the Bigfoot themselves. Furthermore, in 1968, my high school geometry teachers did in fact start teaching their students about Bigfoot and their existence in the higher dimensions. But someone in the government decided to bring a halt to that movement. Even still, I had chemistry, physics and engineering teachers and Professors teaching me about Bigfoot and their seemingly supernatural abilities, throughout my high school and college years. Even in the mid 70's, it seemed like everyone in the East Bay of San Francisco knew about the primarily invisible Bigfoot because the Bigfoot had been held in captivity and studied by our nations top scientists at neighboring Lawrence Livermore National Lab in the 60's. So for Karl Rose, an apparent federal disinformation artist, to make this public proclamation that scientific evidence about Bigfoot is completely rejected presumably by scientists, it is completely absurd for me to accept his proclamation as having any legitimate scientific basis whatsoever. Notice that he fails to quote his source that speaks for all scientists as well.
Furthermore, in summer of 1968, the Smithsonian did in fact have the Patterson-Gimlin film on display for a short time. But it was removed by order of the government because the Bigfoot were supposed to be top secret at that time. The cornerstone of all Bigfoot evidence being on display in the Smithsonian, does not sound like scientific rejection to me. Oh yes. I know that it was on display there because I was there and saw it with my own eyes.
I am aware of Bigfoot being of interest to the Smithsonian in 1968--this was when John Napier was there. I am also aware that some scientists of the time looked into the matter. And, finally, I know that the East Bay was well-represented in Sasquatchiana through the Bay Area Bigfoot Group, with Archie Buckley, George Haas, and Warren Thompson.
But, I would be interested to know why you think the nation's top scientists were studying Bigfoot. I've seen no evidence of that fact.
Or, why you think the government put the clamp down on interest in Bigfoot. The documents I have reviewed suggest that Napier was the driving force at the Smithsonian and became convinced that the material that the so-called Bozo corpse was a fake, and so he mostly dropped the matter for the time being.
And why would the government wait until the late 1960s? After all, Bigfoot-mania first swept through the country a decade before.
Finally, was there really discussion of Bigfoot being invisible in the late 1960s? I would be interested to know your documentation. I am aware at the time that there was much talk that they might be related to UFOs. Or might have telepathic powers. But I didn't think the talk of invisible Bigfoots didn't really take off until the mid to late 1970s.
If Brian is tired of hosting this discussion, feel free to answer the questions over at my website.
Mr Moneymaker, You claim to have photos of a juvenile sasquatch on your website correct? I saw a post on your forums where you insisted Dr Meldrums opinion on it was wrong, and you basically bashed him for speaking it.
I'm refering to the "jacobs photos" of course. Those photos depict a mangey juvenile black bear (as noted by Dr Meldrum, and other PhD experts in animals)
If this is like any of the sasquatch you claim are out there, then good luck with that. You're theories are flawed because you insist that these animals exist with using photos like this as some "proof".
Mr Moneymaker, You claim to have photos of a juvenile sasquatch on your website correct? I saw a post on your forums where you insisted Dr Meldrums opinion on it was wrong, and you basically bashed him for speaking it.
I'm refering to the "jacobs photos" of course. Those photos depict a mangey juvenile black bear (as noted by Dr Meldrum, and other PhD experts in animals)
If this is like any of the sasquatch you claim are out there, then good luck with that. You're theories are flawed because you insist that these animals exist with using photos like this as some "proof".
Maybe this is why you hesitate to speak about your own sighting publically. Being the CEO of the BFRO and choosing not to add your own sighting to the database, or discussing it leave me questioning authenticity. Did the sasquatch you saw look like the jacobs photos?
Perhaps you should be less outspoken on the subject until you are willing to face down your own demons.
Joshua; I thought about pulling the plug at one point, but while I do not agree with the views of Moneymaker, silvereagle, et al they are welcome to speak their minds as long as the thread does not degenerate into childish name calling, personal attacks, or trolling of other threads. Participants in this thread are welcome to go elsewhere if they like, but are welcome to stay as long as they like as long as the discussion remains civil.
Just as a heads up, Neal (silvereagle) is not accostomed to giving straight answers to any kind of question. He has been known to protect and defend his "information" and "experiences" quite viciously. One never knows, you too might be a "federal undercover security employee whose mission statement is to sew seeds of doubt in the public forum about certain harmless top secret subjects, one of which is Bigfoot."
If he responds, the response is very likely to be "colofully imaginative", and not necessarily sensible.
If I have intruded on your post, I apologize; I just felt a little FYI would be helpful, should Neal's response be a bit "unexpected".
Joshua, You information sources are extremely limited in scope. How would you get evidence that our nations top scientists were involved in a top secret DOD Bigfoot study at LLNL? Since it was top secret, you can't. Why would you think that you could possibly get information about a top secret study?
The common knowledge about the invisible Bigfoot amongst east bay residents, did not require membership in any alleged bigfoot group. Everyone knew about it and had learned about it by word of mouth. They also thought everyone else in the world, knew what they new. But obviously they didn't.
Parents of high school buddies, were sent down to LLNL to participate in the observation of the Bigfoot in their containment room. Those parents were scientists. Why would they invite anyone else but scientists? A physicist parent of a college acquaintance continued to study the Bigfoot 10 years later. Stephen Hawking studied the top secret report during the fall term of 1974, while on sabatical at UC Santa Barbara but he was in fact at Berkeley during the weekdays. He qualifies as a scientist as well.
I know that the government put the clamps down on Bigfoot because that is what I heard over and over again. Is Bigfoot taught in the school system today? Not really. It is very difficult to find anybody that teaches kids about them. No current Bigfoot education means the clamps were applied.
Bigfoot did not sweep through the country and then was gone. Bigfoot interest has always been present in varying levels of interest, since the early 60's.
Invisibility was one of the conclusions that came out of the LLNL study. I notice invisibility of Bigfoot, every single weekend that I go out because they are that easy to find. For centuries, the Indians have long described them as spirits. Now what do you suppose spirit means? Invisibility is nothing new in regard to all of the interdimensional people that inhabit this planet. Obviously you have never been camping and brought along some Bigfoot calls that you could bring those Bigfoot in with. And then ask them a few questions, while they were standing in front of your face, but still remaining invisible. Try it sometime. The Locals, The Psychic Sasquatch, In Spirit of Seatco and Backyard Bigfoot all serve to document Bigfoot invisibility. Four books is adequate testimony.
Why are you changing the subject of the Smithsonian discussion to a bozo corpse? I referred to the actual P-G film being on display and referred to no corpse of any kind.
The old history books, newspapers and magazines have been stripped clean of all things related to Bigfoot being studied by real scientists. That was done by cleaning crews that are associated with persons like Karl Rose. I am surprised you were able to find anything at all. Bigfoot have three phases and an infinite number of dimensions that they can exist in. They have the hominid phase, the orb phase and the cloud phase. They can easily stand right next to you in the woods or in your house, and you would never know that they were there. Which is a good thing.
All I can say is WOW. I'm out of here guys, too strange for me. Bigfoot is an animal.
Here is some great news or bad news, depending upon where you placed your bet. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife has apparently come clean on Bigfoot, and now has a retraining program for their employees. Which means that Karl will may soon be reassigned to waterboarding the Taliban in Afghanistan 24/7. And of course, the original literary subject matter of this thread, is out of date before it hit the street.
Silver; A public lecture given by an invited speaker is not the FWS "coming clean" about anything. I can't imagine how you can misconstrue an invited speaker talking about Bigfoot to the public as being the FWS training its employees about the mythical beast. And as for the subject of the original post, I suggest you read Joshua's comments and pick up the book at your nearest library (or at least ask for it through inter-library loan).
Having now read more excerpts from his books, I think I recognize Joshua's strain of prissy superficiality. I remember it from college. It explains a lot to me, especially why he and I would approach this subject so differently.
I may be wrong about this, but I don't think so ...
Two guys of roughly the same age, who don't know each other, start off looking at the same subject from the same outsider perspective. They see the same phenomenon of public interest, and they both want to know more.
Explorer "A" realizes that the human players are mostly still alive, and live in America and Canada, and are mostly accessible by phone, and are *contemporaries*, rather than distant historical figures.
So Explorer "A" is motivated and comfortable to "go among them," and interact with them. He sees it as necessary to understanding their intense interest, and the enduring popularity of the subject in the larger world.
An investigative reporter would find this approach necessary as well.
Explorer "B" is different. He is not comfortable to go among them, or even talk to them on the phone, because of something about himself that is quite obvious to those who meet him, something that he cannot change, and something he fears will get a bad reaction from people (particularly rural people). Therefore he CANNOT operate as an investigative reporter, but he CAN still operate as a historian.
Explorer "B" prefers to go to the library. He prefers his quiet, clean lifestyle as an academic historian whom cannot be judged by those he writes about. Approaching a contemporary "social phenomena" as if it occurred in a distant historical era ... allows Explorer "B" to deal with that world from afar.
This aspect of Explorer B's character would normally be completely irrelevant, but this is one of those situations where it becomes relevant, to explain some differences in perspective between two different explorers. It helps to explain why Explorer B would avoid doing the obvious, and why he would avoid trying to explore this phenomenon directly, and also why his intended audience appears to be the very urban/academic fellows in the marketing/advertising biz.
Others with the same basic characteristics as Explorer "B" have no hesitation stepping into a rural man's world, and are not afraid of how they will be treated, because their strong positive force of personality simply overwhelms any negative reactions they might get at first ... Some of our best expedition organizers fall into that category. They are not held back from the world.
Al right, last comment from me.
I don't know why all the personal antipathy towards me. Did we meet in a past life?
Unfortunately, your theory gets ahead of the facts. You might want to see my first book, for example, in which I did interview a number of people from rural backgrounds. (By the way, my background is suburban, not urban.) So this would undermine your distant diagnosis of my supposed personality defect.
I didn't do interviews with many of the people involved because I was asking a set of questions that would not have been answered well by interviews.
My advice, read more of the book. Even if you have to borrow it from a library. Then, maybe, go ahead an continue calling me al kinds of names. It's a free country.
Matt; Against my inclinations, I have provided you with a free platform to talk about whatever Bigfoot "science" you wanted. All I expected was that things would be civil. Now that you are questioning the sexuality of the author, though, you've crossed the line. Any further comments you make here will be deleted. I am closing this thread.