Evidence. NOUN: something that furnishes proof; TESTIMONY, specifically, something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter.
What is evidence when it pertains to cryptozoology, particularly in Bigfoot investigation? Certainly, this question has been asked a thousand times. I have been interested in and have investigated the Bigfoot phenomenon nearly all my life. Now, at fifty-five, and after years of both self- and college-education in anthropology, I have discovered one thing: evidence is in the eye of the beholder. Among the scientific community, however, there are rules.
Scientific Method. NOUN: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
In my simple mind that basically says Come up with a theory and then try to prove it wrong. Then, when you can’t prove it wrong, your peers must run your test and determine that the test and your results are accurate. So, where does that leave the science of cryptozoology? And yes, I just called cryptozoology a science.
Wikipedia’s definition is: Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience and subculture that aims to prove the existence of entities from the folklore record, such as Bigfoot, the chupacabra, or Mokele-mbembe. Cryptozoologists refer to these entities as cryptids, a term coined by the subculture. Because it does not follow the scientific method, cryptozoology is considered a pseudoscience by the academic world: it is neither a branch of zoology nor folkloristics.
This definition interests me by its usage of the word, “pseudoscience” and the statement “does not follow the scientific method”. Is that the case? Or is this why, in college, we were not allowed to use Wikipedia? On this occasion I don’t agree with the wiki. If this science is “pseudoscience”, then isn’t all science “pseudoscience”? Science, by definition, is discovery: discovery of new life, explanations of processes once thought to be magic, creating new processes to answer greater questions, and the pursuit of absolute truth. By engaging in the pursuit of truth and seeking the discovery of an undiscovered species “cryptozoology” is, indeed, science. And as for the phrase “it does not follow the scientific method”, I have found that many do follow strict scientific protocol. I have a hunch this wiki entry was edited by an academic. Not that I have any resentment or disdain for academics, in fact, I respect them very much. Heck, I even married one!
However, I feel that sometimes the feeling is, sadly, not reciprocated. I believe I know why: evidence. Evidence? I know, I know, “Lucy! You have some ‘splaining to do.” By the by, that phrase was never said...but we all think it was! The “Mandela Effect” is the public-at-large’s ability to create fact from legend. If you hear something enough, it will, over time, embed itself as fact in your consciousness and in that of society. One of my favorite movie quotes is from a famous John Wayne movie, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence: “When the legend becomes fact, print, the legend.”
That very effect is responsible for the spurious quote from “I Love Lucy” (see above). And that is the very reason why “cryptozoology” implies “pseudoscience”.
So, in the case of Bigfoot, what are the actual facts?
Fact one: Footprints
The Grover Krantz dermal ridge cast. This was made from the print found on June 10, 1982, by U.S. Forest Service patrolman Paul Freeman as he was surveying elk in the Umatilla National Forest, on the border between Washington and Oregon.
On November 24, 1969, large human-like tracks with a crippled-looking right foot were found near the Bossburg town dump (Washington State).
Many of the prints found around the world contain a certain morphology that preclude a hoax. That morphology matches that of the Patterson print (in fact, we even have video footage of the Bigfoot making the prints).
Fact two: Gait
The Patterson Film has demonstrated some unique gait patterns by the Bigfoot. (If you have questions about the authenticity of the film read “When Roger met Patty” by William Munns.
The Freeman film also demonstrates the same patterns.
All other specimens that we have, i.e., hair samples, possible DNA, tree structures, sound recordings, even most, if not all, photos, can not be verified, tested, analyzed and peer reviewed because we don’t yet have a verified Bigfoot sample. Therefore, they are not considered evidence. Dr. Krantz himself was convinced that we would need at least part of a Bigfoot body to serve as a verified sample.
So where does that put us as Bigfoot cryptozoologists? We are where we have been for many years: searching for that verifiable piece of conclusive evidence. Until we have that we can not fill in the chart.
Which brings me back to my question: Why is this considered pseudoscience? Because we are putting the cart before the horse. There are as many theories of what Bigfoot is as there are Bigfoot in the world. The problem is that theories that can’t be tested without a specimen to study. We must start at the base of the matter.
Is Bigfoot an alien, forest spirit, an homo- species, ape species, an inter-dimensional being…who knows? Bigfoot might be any one of those; I can’t say one way or the other. Therefore, I don’t. I enter the realm of pseudoscience when I argue a theory for which I can’t produce verifiable evidence. For example, if I see a Bigfoot step off of a spaceship, that still doesn’t help with our credibility. However, I can prove that Bigfoot has non-terrestrial DNA if I have a properly documented blood sample. I believe this is one of many reasons we cannot get the mainstream scientific community to take this area of study seriously. Also, in my humble opinion, this is what keeps some witnesses from coming forward. Another reason is the falsification of evidence – HOAXING - but that is a whole other discussion.
So, to save a lot of discussion, let’s just argue things we can produce hard evidence for. We can use the peripheral evidence as a guide to lead us to that next step, that next piece of hard evidence that will lead us to the next answer. I have gotten a lot closer to the goal by collecting stories and reports from people who have confidence in me that I will use their experiences to further scientific study.
In conclusion, I don’t believe in Bigfoot. The hard, verifiable evidence I mentioned above, has convinced me that, in fact that this species does exist. I have studied Native American legends which is what taught me what to look for, which led me to finding my own footprints. I’ve collected thousands of reports from people claiming to have encountered Bigfoot; some of those reports have netted more prints, more casts, more evidence. Now I just need to collect the sample. It has taken me 20 years to get close, and it may take 20 years more, but the journey alone is worth the effort.