The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Grover Krantz

This is who I think of when I see the name Grover, but our Grover Krantz wasn't blue.  Grover the Muppet is described as lovable, cute and furry and provides educational context for simple, everyday things.  Maybe they weren't so different overall.

Grover Sanders Krantz (November 5, 1931 – February 14, 2002) was an anthropologist and cryptozoologist.  With over 10 books and 60 academic articles in his portfolio he is also remembered as a prolific writer. His cryptozoological research on Bigfoot was heavily criticized by colleagues, which in turn cost him funding for more research and even his tenure at the university where he taught.  His work was considered "fringe science" and often that attitude carried over to his academic work.  

Krantz is known for his unapologetic belief in the existence of Big Foot.  His articles were rejected by scholarly journals, but he persisted.  He has been described as having been the "only scientist" and "lone professional" to seriously consider Bigfoot in his time, as most bigfoot researchers were amateur naturalists. For the most part, we still are.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1931 hr tried to follow the basic Christian philosophy of behaviour and morality but never really embraced his parents Mormon Church.Krantz served in the Air National Guard as a desert survival instructor in 1951-52 before completing his Bachelor of Science and Master's at University of California, Berkeley in 1958.  His dissertation, The Origins of Man, earned him his Doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1971.  He eventually became a popular professor at Washington State University even though he had a reputation for giving really difficult exams.  He took a personal interest in his students, often having lunch with them and talking about anthropology, current events, and various sciences.  Krantz retired in 1998 and after his death there was a scholarship named after him to "promote interest in the fields of physical/biological anthropology, linguistic archaeology, and/or human demography."

"I've been a teacher all my life, and I think I might as well be a teacher after I'm dead."
Krantz's studies of Bigfoot, which he called "Sasquatch," led him to theorize that sightings were due to small pockets of surviving gigantopithecines, having migrated across the Bering land bridge, which was later used by humans to enter North America. It is thought to have gone extinct 100,000 years ago in eastern Asia. In January 1985 Krantz tried to formally name Bigfoot at the meeting of the International Society of Cryptozoology held in Sussex, England, assigning it the name Gigantopithecus blacki. This was not permitted by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature because G. blacki was an existing name and the creature was lacking a holotype. Krantz argued that his plaster casts were suitable holotypes then later suggesting G. canadensis as a name. He got no support.Krantz was skeptical about the Patterson–Gimlin film. He believed it was a hoax. He then studied the gait of the Sasquatch and came to believe the film was authentic. After years of skepticism, Krantz finally became convinced of Bigfoot's existence after analyzing the "Cripplefoot" plaster casts gathered at Bossburg, Washington. Shortly before his death, Krantz also examined the Skookum cast but did not publicly endorse its authenticity. He said, "I don't know what it is. I'm baffled. Elk. Sasquatch. That's the choice."

Grover Krantz had one brother, Victor Krantz, who worked as a photographer at the Smithsonian Institution. His other brother, Eugene, headed the government affairs office of postage meter giant Pitney Bowes Inc. for 19 years until his retirement in 1982. Grover Krantz was married four times and divorced three times. He also had a stepson, Dural Horton. Krantz was a travel enthusiast. He frequently took road trips, traveling to all 48 continental US states. He did fieldwork in Europe, China, and Java as well as his home state of Washington and other North American locations.

“It has not yet been established that the Sasquatch exists,” To pass laws against harming sasquatches presently makes little more sense than protecting unicorns.”
The remains of Dr. Krantz, per his request, were taken to the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility.  Scientists there conducted many kinds of skeletal research, including studies that are essential in forensic cases for accurately estimating time since death.  In 2003, the remains and three of his dogs were brought to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where their skeletons could be used in teaching.

In the 1970s, Krantz studied the fossil remains of Ramapithecus.  Many anthropologists thought it to be ancestral to humans, but Kranta helped prove this notion false.  He showed differences in phonemic speech, theoretical hunting patterns and anatomical differences between homo erectus and modern humans then wrote an influential paper on humans in prehistoric Europe.  He was the first researcher to explain the mastoid process.

Krantz was drawn into the Kennewick Man controversy in 1996.  He argued in academia and in court that there was no good evidence of direct lineage to extant human populations.
He stated his view that "this skeleton cannot be racially or culturally associated with any existing American Indian group" and "the Native Repatriation Act [sic] has no more applicability to this skeleton than it would if an early Chinese expedition had left one of its members there."

He attempted to submit the last paper he wrote before his death, titled "Neanderthal Continuity in View of Some Overlooked Data," but it was rejected by the peer-reviewed journal Current Anthropology.  The editor stated it did not make enough reference to the most current research.  Whether consciously or not, his anger over the years of academic abuse was apparent in this article.  He was told that the tone was "jarring and unacademic" and was refused a second time after a rewrite.  He decided his career was indeed over.  Just before his death from pancreatic cancer, his friend and colleague Jon Bodly visited him and attempted to find the "foolproof method of determining a fake track from a real one just by looking at them."  Krantz just smiled and refused to answer, dying the next day with his secret intact.

Krantz’s plan to kill a Bigfoot “was a political hot potato,”  Jeffrey Meldrum. “It divided the Bigfoot community right down the middle with strong feelings on both sides.”  If Krantz were to shoot one, he might be helping to kill off the species for the sake of his own research but  Krantz’s point was that no one would bother to preserve the species until it was recognized by science.  He felt the only way to get that recognition was  to bring in a corpse.

Though Krantz never found a Bigfoot dead or alive, he had what he thought were close calls.  Krantz was also seen as a maverick in his research methods.  Many found him funny and entertaining. One year, Krantz molded a set of heavy brow ridges and strapped them to his head. He let his hair grow out all summer, trying to ascertain the advantage of a hominid’s having such ridges.  According to Meldrum, “He came to the conclusion that it kept the hair out of your eyes."

Although eccentric, he was also a respected scholar who made legitimate contributions to science.  He was a member of both MENSA and INTERTEL, but fell prey to hoaxes.  After graduating, Donald Tyler and another professor made a fake Sasquatch cast and took it to Krantz for analysis. They used their fingers and foreheads to create lines in the bottom of the cast.  Krantz determined, based on specific dermal ridges and lines in the foot, that the cast was without a doubt from the Blue Mountains.  Krantz was undeterred.  Because footprints have been found for so many decades in so many different places in the world, it seemed completely implausible to Krantz that every one of them could have been faked.  I tend to agree.
More Reading:

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Rene Dahinden

Many need a bit of a primer on the history of fortean zoology/cryptozoology.  We'll start with Rene Dahinden.

Dahinden is important for many reasons, not the least of which was bringing us the Patterson-Gimlin film.  Dahinden was the first to show the film of a Bigfoot and he worked hard to see to it that the film got the scientific attention he felt it deserved.   Showings occurred, in Vancouver, Manhattan, The Bronx, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, by the end of 1968, then later in Beaverton, Oregon. Dahinden traveled to Europe in 1971 for showings in England, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia. He hoped to intrigue the scientists to further investigate.

Although he never personally saw Bigfoot, he championed the authenticity of the P-G film. While in Russia, he met with hominologist Dmitri Bayanov.   Bayanov celebrated his 87 birthday in march 2019 and  believes the creatures exist as a rediscovery of Homotroglodytes and Homo Sylvestris.  He was one of the researches who deemed the P-G film authentic.  Bayanov also coined the term "Hominology".    Dahinden's work with Russian scientists provided extremely important developments in bigfoot research.

Dahinden was born in Switzerland in 1930 and moved to Canada in 1953.  Within three years he was actively researching Sasquatch and networking with other researchers.  He traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest and interviewed many witnesses, as well as doing fieldwork and examining evidence collected by others.

Dahinden was friendly and entertaining; his humor helped him connect with witnesses for interviews.  With that spirit, writers William Dear, William E. Martin, and Ezra D Rappaport modeled a rather famous film character after him.  Harry and the Hendersons (1987) had a character played by David Suchet as Jacques Lafleur, the Sasquatch hunter.

We both spent our whole lives chasing after that beast and we both had to stare at ourselves in the mirror every morning and keep repeating, "I am not a fool. I am not a fool."  (Jacques Lafleur, Harry and the Hendersons)
Kokanee Beer even featured him in an ad for their product.

In Loren Coleman's obituary for Rene Dahinden he praised him for his encyclopedic knowledge of the field.  That is no small complement.  Research into hominids can involve many different sciences, and Dahindren was able to pull information simply from memory on occasion.  

His only book, Sasquatch/Bigfoot: The Search for North America's Incredible Creature, was co-written with Don Hunter and is still available for purchase.

"Something is making those goddamn footprints, and I'm going to find out what it is, " Dahindren once said. 

Sadly,  Rene Dahinden  died in British Columbia on 18 April 2001.


Friday, 5 July 2019

The Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery

That's quite the title for four relatively unknown guys in this business.   According to Loren Coleman, a major Bigfoot researcher in his own right, it was Peter von Puttkamer’s classic 1999 documentary, Sasquatch Odyssey: The Hunt for Bigfoot  that brought the phrase into broad use. The first published reference to "Bigfoot" was 60 years ago; "Giant Footprints Puzzle Residents"  an old headline from The Humboldt Times, from Northern California. 

“The Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery” are John Green, Rene Dahinden, Grover Krantz and Peter Byrne.  Of the four, the majority, three – Dahinden, Green, and Bryne – had been members of the 1960 Pacific Northwest Bigfoot expedition , bankrolled by Texas millionaire Tom Slick.  Bigfoot research was in its infancy.  These four men approached the research with skepticism, science, and lots of enthusiasm, and paved the way for the rest of us who would join "the hunt" so many decades later.

John Willison Green was born in 1927, in Vancouver, BC.  That was then, and still is, the heart of Sasquatch country. At age 20 he earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York.  He began researching bigfoot in 1957, after meeting Rene Dahinden.  They collaborated often, and Green was a frequent keynote speaker on the topic.  He died May 28, 2016 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, at the age 89.

Grover Sanders Krantz was born in 1931 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Krantz authored more than 60 academic articles and 10 books on human evolution, and conducted field research in Europe, China and Java.  He didn't hesitate to say he was a bigfoot believer, and this caused his colleagues to chastise him about "pseudo-science".  Krantz obtained his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Minnesota in 1971, having earned undergraduate degrees at University of California at Berkeley.   He died in 2002 in his Port Angeles, Washington home from pancreatic cancer.  

Rene Dahinden was born in Switzerland in 1930 and moved to Canada about 20 years later.  Within three years was conducting serious research on the hairy primates,The French Canadian Bigfoot-hunting character in the 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons is based on Dahinden.  He also acted as spokesman for Kokanee beer, and appeared in commercials in Canada for a short time. Dahinden died of prostate cancer in 2001, near Richmond, BC.

Peter C. Byrne was born in Ireland in 1925 and lived for a time in India before finally settling in Oregon.  In the 1950s, his colleagues advocated killing a Bigfoot to prove its existence, but Byrne opposed that.  He advocated electronic surveillance to locate the hominid, and taking photos and tissue samples for proof.  His goal was to find a Bigfoot and establish communication.  For decades  his fieldwork has taken him from the Himalayas to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.  

Of the Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery, only Peter Byrne remains.

A clip from "Sasquatch Odyssey- The Hunt for Bigfoot" is here: full, award-winning documentary is available on Amazon.   Sasquatch Odyssey explores the lives of these "four horsemen of Sasquatchery" and their need to find proof of the legendary hairy ape-man.

More Reading:

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The FBI File

We were all caught off guard when the headline read, "FBI Releases Bigfoot File".  Most had no idea that any "official" government investigation had ever been done.  We all agreed that the FBI was the least likely, in our minds, to have taken on this task.

It should be no surprise, however.  All reports that come into the police or ranger stations are documented.  If they are current sightings, someone is dispatched to the location to check it out.  That's the way law enforcement works.  Even if they think you are nuts, they still have to follow up. Following up leaves a file.

Back to the FBI.

The FBI began collecting information for the file in 1976.  Earlier this year (2019) they released 22 pages from this file.  Peter Byrne, director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition of Oregon back then, convinced the agency to help in an investigation of “15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin”.  This was the most compelling evidence at that time.  

Involving the FBI, and their agreement to be involved, is a really big deal.  Unlike local enforcement agencies, this organization has resources worldwide and its conclusions are often a huge part of new policies of all kinds.

In one of his letters, Byrne entreated the agency, “Please understand that our research here is serious. That this is a serious question that needs answering.”

We can imagine the grins of these seasoned investigators when this was initially proposed.  While I admire Byrne for initiating and following up on this project, I would love to meet the agent who took him seriously.  How brave this guy must be to stand up to the ridicule and fight for acceptance of this bigfoot challenge.

The FBI has a "scientific and technical services division" and at the time Jay Cochran Jr. was the assistant director. “The FBI Laboratory conducts investigations primarily of physical evidence for law enforcement agencies in connection with criminal investigations,” he wrote. “Occasionally, on a case-by-case basis, in the interest of research and scientific inquiry, we make exceptions to this policy. With this understanding, we will examine the hairs and tissue mentioned in your letter.”  This is an amazing victory for all of us who work in unusual research fields.

Unfortunately, the lab testing didn't help our cause.  The 15 hairs were tested in the FBI lab and found to be from a deer.  The results, and hair samples, were returned to Byrne in 1977.  Read the 22 page FBI file here.

Many have never heard of Peter C. Byrne, but to real Sasquatch researchers his story is well known.  Born in Ireland, his fascination with the big guy began with stories of the Yeti in the Himalayas that his father often told him.  Over the course of his life he has trekked those mountains, the Rockies, and the west coast of the US.  Peter designed and led the Nepal Himalaya project financed by everyone's hero Tom Slick in 1957 through 1959.   Findings he was part of include two sets of Yeti footprints and the paradoxical Yeti scalp and the mysterious Yeti hand in a temple at the village of Pangboche.

Near the end of the project, Mr. Slick brought Mr.Byrne to Texas to discuss investigating the north american west coast.  He set up a base of operations in northern California in early 1960, and the search continued for two and a half years.  In October, 1962 Tom Slick died in the crash of a small airplane. Funding stopped, so Byrne returned to Nepal where he continued to research until 1994.

New backer David Ransburg, from Peoria, Illinois, convinced Byrne to come back to the Pacific Northwest.  Bigfoot Research Project 111 lasted five years but none of the creatures were found.  Nevertheless the experience convinced Peter of the high probability of a small group of the mysterious primates living and surviving in the Pacific Northwest.  His service to the study is just as heroic as his service with the RAF in World War Two.

Peter Byrne is, thankfully, still with us well into his 90's.  Whe the FBI files were released June 5, 2019, Byrne claimed it is the first time he saw the results of the FBI testing.  When the results came in decades previously, Byrne was in the field and a colleague was supposed to forward the results to him.  I find it highly unlikely that at some point in those ensuing forty-plus years Byrne forgot and never asked about them.  The popular theory is that he just figured the FBI was ignoring the request.  

 In the mid-1970s, an erroneous entry in an Army Corps of Engineers atlas sparked rumors that the FBI had previously analyzed "alleged sasquatch hair samples" and found that "no such hair exists on any human or presently-known animal for which such data are available." Cochrane also noted that  since the Washington Environmental Atlas was published in 1975, more requests to the FBI for bigfoot evidence spiked.  Interestingly, in the letter from The Academy of Applied Science in Boston, Massachusetts, the FBI Special Agent's name is redacted.

Peter C. Byrne is the last remaining person of the "Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery".  Now 93, he lives in rural Oregon and continues to research.

More reading:

Thursday, 20 June 2019

First Nations Canadian Sighting

In March 2014 some aboriginal people had a bit of a surprise.

Tofino, British Columbia sits on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Although it has just over 1900 residents, it is a popular tourist destination.   Surfers, hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers, campers, and whale watchers flock to the area every summer.  Because of its temperate climate, festivals of all sorts are held all year long.  Tofino was a filming location for the movie "Going the Distance" in 2004 and for "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" in 2009.  Geographically, it is just south of the Ahousaht First Nations reserve.  The reserve is taxed with patrolling the waters in the area to enforce legal fishing practices by both natives and civilians.

Ahousaht Fisheries Manager Luke Swan, Jr. and his father returned to the site and claim to have seen tracks measured at 16 inches long and seven to nine inches wide.  They also photographed the Cedar trees that had been stripped of bark about eight feet off the ground. They believe they have found evidence of the legendary biped that has purportedly been spotted in the Pacific Northwest for over a hundred years.

“Something really big stood up, probably between eight or nine feet,” he said. “The first thing I had in my mind was to get off the beach. I pushed off as fast as I could and got to deep water.”

Bigfoot Encounters website says one of the earliest Sasquatch sightings took place in B.C.’s Toba Inlet. Prospector Albert Ostman claimed he was held hostage by one of the creatures for several days in 1924.

The Ahousaht Fisheries website gives this mission statement:

The primary goal for Ahousaht's Fisheries department is to provide safe, reliable and sustainable fisheries in our seas and rivers for today and future generations.

 The Ahousaht First Nation is the largest Nuu-chah-nulth Nation.  Ahousaht means people (aht) of Ahous, a small bay on the west side of Vargas Island. All Ahousaht reserves are accessible only by boat or floatplane.  The area is also home to Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Why is this sighting important?  Aside from all sightings being important, this one has some additional credibility.  First, the sighting was by a Fisheries Officer, who would have deep familiarity with the flora and fauna of the area.  Second, this sighting comes from a member of First Nations, which has a long history of verbal teaching about Sasquatch, including petroglyphs, carvings, and sacred significance of the creature.  Finally, the area is one of the best for the ability to sustain bigfoot populations.  The Biosphere provides everything necessary, including vast remote areas where colonies could live.

More reading:

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Need for Fieldwork

I often hear it said that one is not a "real" cryptozoologist unless they go out into the field.  I'm here to tell you that is simply not true.

The nature of Cryptozoology is to find, understand, identify, protect, document and protect species that are, as yet, unidentified.  To do this, a researcher has to be familiar with many different sciences-most importantly biology, linguistics, and ecology.  To be a successful, respected researcher this requires a great deal of work.  There are thousands of "semi-discovered" species;  beasts that have been seen but not yet identified.  To understand each of them would take a lifetime.  A good researcher must choose his favorite and fully do the work.  It's not enough to just be interested.

Bigfoot researchers, the good ones, can tell you the pros and cons
of the Patterson-Gimlin film, for instance.  They have learned about cinematography, climate, zoology, and many more disciplines.  To make a legitimate claim of being a "Bigfoot Researcher" one doesn't have to go camping at all.  If the researchers choose to do fieldwork, it should only be undertaken after become very well versed in the area.  In addition to all of the reports, s/he would have to know the terrain, the dangers, and the patterns of the sightings. S/he should understand primates, of course, but also a bit about the psychology of the witness.

Too many people drag a tent and a trailcam into some cool woods to "research".  All too often this means taking some friends, building a fire and downing a few beers.  That sounds like a great time!  But it's not research.  In fact, it almost guarantees you won't experience anything cryptozoological at all.  It certainly does not fit the definition of  "research".

Another example is Mothman.  No good hypothesis has ever been brought forth for this strange beast.  In the interest of "research", thousands flock to the West Virginia Mothman Festival in the hope of meeting reality TV personalities involved in "the research".  Here's a tip; reality TV has very little reality.  Virtually everything is "reenacted", scripted, and edited.  The next tier of "researchers"go to the Mothman Museum, see a couple of documentaries, then "investigate" the TNT area where mothman was sighted in the 1960's.  While slightly better, they really are not researchers, but rather "enthusiasts".  Most don't even know that Mothman has been seen worldwide for centuries, and continues to be seen pretty much everywhere EXCEPT Point Pleasant, WV.  The better group of researchers will probably be found in the local library, the state archives, the farm museum, or Chicago.  This group will be trying to understand the psychology of a witness, the physical limitations of the proposed beast, and so much more.  None of them will be hanging out getting autographs from Josh Gates.

Fieldwork should be one of the last methods a crypto researcher should take on.  Before taking off to the woods, ask yourself these things:

  1.  Is this the time of year when sightings have occurred?
  2.  What kinds of animals are in this area?
  3.  Has fieldwork been done at this site already?
  4.  Do you have permission to be on this land?
  5.  What will you do if you DO have a sighting?

Additionally, be safe.  No fieldwork is useful if you get injured.  Be sure to have at least one other person with you (but probably not more than four on site) and reliable communication.  If there is no cell service, take a radio.

Good research in the field requires good equipment as well.  Don't waste your money on a FLIR.  Instead, pack your kit with a good camera (not your phone camera).  Make sure you have sound recording equipment.  Skip the trailcam, that's for when you are NOT in the field.

Take a pen and paper.  Make lots of notes.  Take gloves, both disposable and heavy duty.  Take some ziplock bags for living specimens and excrement and some paper ones for tree branch clippings.  Take photos of what you are collecting BEFORE you collect them.  Be sure you have plenty of water and something to drink it out of.  A first aid kit is a must, including treatment for insect, animal, and snake bites.  Take plaster (and something to mix it in and with) for molds of footprints et al.  Use sunscreen, preferably odorless.  Packaged wipes, lip balm, and toilet paper will also make your trip a little more pleasant.  Take a trash bag and leave the area just as you found it.

Too many throw a backpack of food and water in the car and take off to the woods.  These are not researchers.  These are enthusiasts, or maybe even investigators.  There is no problem with that, not at all, as most good reports come from enthusiasts.  Words matter, however.  Don't call yourself a "researcher" unless you research.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook

Something a little different today; a "book" review of sorts.  It's been pretty quiet in the Great White North lately, so finding something to write about is a challenge.  

Oak Ridges Moraine is in Ontario.  It's a protected green space just north of Toronto.  It's 1,900 square kilometres (730 sq mi)  and runs from Caledon to Rice Lake.  Parts of it are under consideration to become developed, but that's not what this is about.  It has lakes and streams and many species which are listed as endangered.  Relics of historical significance relative to native peoples are found regularly.  Formed by glacial movement, the moraine is a supplier of water for many communities.

The Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook was published by the Oak Ridges Trail Association.  Edition 7 is the most recent, released Spring 2019, and costs about $50.  My copy is a second edition that I found at a yard sale.  That doesn't mean it isn't worth $50, especially if you are an avid hiker, it just means that for Cryptozoological purposes and older edition will also work.  Some local libraries in Ontario also have copies.

Fieldwork in this field requires more than just pitching a tent and buying a trailcam. If you are heading into a location that is largely uninhabited, you are definitely going to need a trail guide.  This one offers a good overview of what the Oak Ridges Moraine is, trail information, and addresses for local museums.

The gem of this is its several hiking maps.  Complete with topographical elevation lines, this is a must have for entering the Moraine on foot.  My copy has seven maps.  One is a "key map" that shows the whole moraine, and the other six are very easy to read maps of different areas.  Good caveats are also included; don't go alone, it's wet in spring, stay on the trails so you don't get charged with trespassing.

Already-discovered species who live here include the red tail hawk, red shouldered hawk, brook trout and bluebirds.  Other, less well documented species are also known to live there.  While not numerous, sasquatch sightings are ongoing, and what's called the Markham Monster" has been seen at least twice.  Both are upright, larger than human, and probably living off the bounty of the natural environment.  Reports of a hooved being on a native reserve were also happening here.

The moraine is basically surrounded by residences.    This makes fieldwork a little difficult.  First, you're not allowed to camp on the moraine, so you'll have to find something nearby or ask a resident if you can stay overnight in their back yard. Second, humans mean garbage, so it may be tempting for these creatures to forage in that source.  This makes those a little more strongly influenced by humanity and therefore may change behavior significantly.  Finally, it is a popular place.  You are likely to come across many hikers, or they you, which can make fieldwork challenging.

I picked up this book on a whim, and I am glad I did.  I recommend anyone doing fieldwork find a trail guide for the area.  You will learn more than just where the trails are.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Cashing in on Bigfoot

There seems to be an ever-increasing stream of "products" in relation to Sasquatch.  The many "reality" TV shows are just the tip of the iceberg.  Although I am particularly fond of "merch" and "bling" I am disheartened by how it is presented and used.
Now, if I had an extra $45 (USD) just lying around, I'd buy this.  And I'd wear it.  It's a quality item.  But to have that extra means I would have already funded my top-notch field kit, paid off the books I've purchased, explored several continents in the field and invested in good insurance.
One of the issues that cause us to not be able to really define what beings like this are, is the misdirection of funds.  If you are lucky enough to have money, and you are really interested in research, this shirt isn't going to further your work.  It won't get dna testing done.  It won't  teach you anything about  zoology, etc.  It won't give you better respect (and thereby get you possible outside funding and exposure).  It will only make you look good.

Hypothetically, let's say you have $100 for your research right now.   This cash would be much better spent on gloves or evidence collection items.  It might pay for a weekend camping space or permit to go into the field.  It might buy you an online course in linguistics so you can qualitatively decipher what folks are saying are Sasquatch communications.  Every single one of those items helps further your study, and possibly bring the breakthrough we are all hoping for.

With the reality TV like "Finding Bigfoot" or "Mountain Monsters" getting income from advertising and often their own merchandise, they could be doing more.  They could be highlighting really good fieldwork.  They could be funding tests for all researchers.  They could be incorporating the process of learning how to do this sort of research.  Instead, they are simply entertaining and sucking the less experienced right in to a false sense of how research works.

That false sense is not only not helpful but also potentially damaging.  Where are the segments on how they got permission to be where they are?  Where is the full disclosure of everything they found, even if it was not helpful?  Where is the discussion on how to use the equipment normal people can afford instead of a fancy FLIR?

I have worked on these sorts of shows, both in front of the camera and as a consultant.  I can honestly say they are some of the most offensive people to work with.  I've also worked extensively with ghost research shows and movies and I find them to be much more honest.  In some cases, they even donate their equipment to a "real" researcher when they are done filming.  Wouldn't it be great if  Crypto shows would support actual research?  Wouldn't it be great if the "stars" actually knew what they were doing?

I acknowledge that the shows have put paranormal research of all kinds in the spotlight, and that is probably a good thing.  Those of us from the original "Unsolved Mysteries" generation are aging and the fresh faces and brains are much needed.  How do you vet them though?  Do you choose someone who can tell you all about Matt Moneymaker and nothing about the Yeti? Or do you choose the university student majoring in Anthropology?  That student may have absolutely no experience and will already be more knowledgeable  than the TV people.

I recently was invited to join a group online of people who do serious research on cryptids of various kinds.  The person who invited me was a new online friend and seemed to be very realistically interested in the study.  I was still cautious though, because I don't want to be part of groups that are fans rather than researchers.  There's nothing wrong with being a fan, so long as you make it clear that you are not a researcher.  I just don't have the time to be their source of answers to the most basic things.  I also no longer have the patience to listen to one more skeptic whine about how we've found no bodies.  

MeterTo HT-18 Handheld Digital 3.2 inch Color Screen Thermographic Camera Infrared Thermal Imager Imaging Camera with Resolution 220x160-20 to 300°CFortunately, this new group is truly professional.  I don't always agree with their opinions and methodology, but I do respect them.  They are at least making a real effort.  One member is saving for a FLIR camera.  A FLIR E53-24 Advanced Thermal Camera with 240 x 180 IR Resolution, Meterlink Ready, MSX Image Enhancement and 24 Degree Lens kit runs about $6500 Canadian dollars. It's a grand toy, but is not necessary.  A perfectly good infrared handheld camera can be found for $600, and a very basic model can be purchased for use with your smart phone for about $250.  There is no reason to over commit financially on a study of something you can't even prove exists.  Plus, that hoodie may keep you warm in your fieldwork, but these will help you a whole lot more.

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