in this paper the view of scientists and non-scientists. He reproaches
the former for refusing to be interested in the Sasquatch phenomenon,
while at the same time he argues against the latter, and true believers
for not examining the stories and data with a more rigorous method.
There are many people
who believe there is a species of giant, hairy hominid living wild in
the forested mountains of western North America. There are also many who
are equally convinced that no such animal exists except in some people's
imaginations. I am here going to alienate almost everybody by attacking
both positions. With only a few exceptions, those who hold a firm opinion
on this matter, either for or against the existence of this animal, are
doing so without adequate knowledge.
The scientific establishment is overwhelmingly on record as denying any
reality to the Sasquatch. This is not surprising. Science is generally
not in the business of investigating the unknown, but rather it is working
out minor details of principles that are already accepted. The Sasquatch,
if proven, would certainly be something new and previously "unknown." Science has a vested interest in its own infallibility. So, to find out
it has completely missed something as big and potentially important, as
the Sasquatch would be to admit a certain degree of failure. It is easier
to deny the existence of such creatures than to look for them. Having
denied their existence, science then becomes obligated to refuse to look
for them and can no longer avoid the issue by claiming it didn't know
about the situation.
The scientific establishment is made up of scientists, their accumulated
knowledge, and their institutional traditions. The individual scientists
often have open minds, but many have as much faith in their discipline
as religious people have in theirs. To suggest that their discipline is
guilty of a major oversight, compounded by a deliberate effort to ignore
the matter, is to threaten the foundations of their scientific faith.
Small wonder many scientists actively oppose the Sasquatch investigation.
Its successful conclusion would leave many of them without their infallible
rock of faith to hang onto. Few scientists have enough self-confidence
to stand against the accepted doctrines of their discipline.
Many major scientific breakthroughs are made by amateurs or by those who
are only marginally involved in the field in question.
These new ideas are
first regarded as heresy by the establishment, but eventually many of
them become accepted when more authorities look at them with open minds,
or a generation passes. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that
the vast majority of new ideas do not turn out to be true. We read about
those few new ideas, which worked, but our history books say little about
the 99% that were, and still are, foolishness. One of the tasks of the
scientific establishment is to weed out these incorrect ideas and to accept
only those few, which are true. The trouble is that after debunking 99
silly ideas it's easy to get into the habit and then to miss the next
one that may be right.
The more unlikely a new thing may seem to be, the more proof is required
for its acceptance by science. This is only reasonable. The Sasquatch
is certainly more unexpected, hence presumably more unlikely, than a new
species of chipmunk, for instance. The proof required in this case is
an actual specimen, nothing less will suffice. The scientific establishment
rightly demands that this proof be produced before it can be taken seriously.
But the establishment also refuses to look for this specimen and even
goes so far as to actively discourage those who would look for it. Research
funds are given to projects, which are certain to produce usable results.
Unfortunately, Sasquatch hunting works against extreme odds, and here
negative results are of no value.
There is a large amount of real and imaginary evidence presently available
which supports the existence of the Sasquatch. Unfortunately much of it
is not reproducible because it is in the mind of the observers. For example,
I have examined two sets of tracks and interviewed 31 people who claim
to have seen Sasquatches. Any scientist could have gathered the evidence
I have, but every scientist could not. After 50 or 100 people have looked
over a set of footprints they are destroyed in the shuffle of human feet
and fingers. Photographs and plaster casts can record these footprints,
but they are then one more step removed from the original, and their authenticity
can and should be questioned. Eyewitnesses to the Sasquatch can be interviewed,
cross-examined and their motives studied by only a handful of curious
scientists before they decide to shut up or else to change their stories.
After that, all accounts are again one more step away from reality. A
taped interview is not good evidence because it could easily exclude the
parts where the participants were laughing over their hoax.
Few scientists have
been willing even to look at or listen to the available information. Of
those who are willing, only small fractions have had the opportunity to
see the footprints or talk to witnesses. Mostly this is because they fear
their scientific reputations would be damaged if it became known that
they were even interested in such things, let alone investigating them.
This is a reasonable fear, as could be illustrated from my own personal
experience. Upon questioning, most of the established authorities will
assert they have never seen any evidence that even remotely supports the
existence of Sasquatch. Obviously, those scientists who know nothing about
the matter ought to honestly admit that, and not present an uninformed
opinion as though it had some validity. Expertise in one field does not
make one an authority across the board.
The true believers are also generally as uninformed as the skeptics. Reading
a few books and articles presenting a favorable view hardly qualifies
one as being knowledgeable on the subject. Sasquatch enthusiasts are notorious
for the way they accept and repeat stories without any attempt at verification.
I know one investigator who insists on two accounts of each sighting,
but is satisfied if both of them heard about it from the same source!
My own experience suggests that the probability of truth of each account
is cut in half for every human it passes through. What a direct eyewitness
tells me is only 50% probable; if I hear it from an intermediary its likelihood
drops to 25%, third person accounts are wrong seven times out of eight,
and so on. Many believers pay no attention to this problem of lowering
probability of truth.
Some people have gathered stories about bipedal, hairy monsters from almost
all parts of the world, evidently under the mistaken impression that this
strengthens the argument for their existence. Actually it does just the
opposite--the more widespread a land animal is claimed to be, the less
likely it is to be real. A truly worldwide distribution occurs only for
man, his parasites, and his domesticates. This does not prove a worldwide
Sasquatch does not exist, but it makes one wonder. Some reputable scientists
would study a possible primate in North America and parts of Eurasia,
but when you throw in South America, Africa, and Australia just for good
measure they will back off. The possibility of multiple species of such
animals might avoid this problem, but it only serves to raise another.
For science to have missed one large species of unknown primate is difficult
enough to swallow. To claim there are still more of them only strains
to the breaking point whatever credibility there may have been.
Much potential support from individual scientists is lost when the enthusiasts
bring in irrelevancies or downright impossibilities. I am reminded of
an otherwise excellent newspaper article on the evidence for Sasquatch
that was utterly destroyed by the writer's reference to a large "petrified
heart" he had examined. Many hair samples have been collected and
some could not be identified, but this just means they could be from some
part of the pelt of a known animal that has not been analyzed. Fecal samples
can also be studied, but these can never prove a new animal exists. I
have been shown many photographs, purporting to be of Sasquatches, which
are in fact just chance combinations of light and shadow in vegetation.
If even half of these pictures were real, the Sasquatch must be a very
common wild animal in North America. An enlargement of the Patterson movie
(which I accept) supposedly shows teeth, but the specks seen are actually
grains in the film and are also beyond the resolving power of the lens
of that camera. Faked footprints need no further comment. In my opinion,
people who push for acceptance of the above kinds of "data" have lost their credibility and one might well be suspicious of any kind
of information they have.
Certain conservationists have taken up the cause of protecting the Sasquatch
and speak in favor of extending the various laws that prohibit shooting
one. These local laws are intended mainly to protect innocent bystanders
including farmers, cows, and lawmen, rather than the Sasquatch itself.
If and when a specimen is taken, and the existence of the species is proven,
then serious legislation might be considered.
Some have argued that we are dealing with an endangered species, and that
killing just one specimen might lead to their extinction. If they become
extinct without ever becoming known, what difference would it make? If
that sounds crass, the reader ought to think about it for a moment. In
any case there is no reason to think Sasquatch numbers are declining and
there is some evidence to suggest they are increasing. If there is some
ecological danger from human activities at present, proving the Sasquatch's
existence by killing one specimen might lead to investigations, which
would eventually save the species. General public acceptance at this time
without an actual specimen is not realistic; you may recall that Medieval
Europeans believed in unicorns. By this reasoning we should also protect
gremlins, werewolves, leprechauns, fairies, goblins, trolls, etc. Public
officials will not presently act on behalf of the Sasquatch and it is
unreasonable to expect them to do so.
Many Sasquatch investigators have started their intentions to provide
sufficient proof without killing a specimen. These people are in keen
competition with each other for this success. The scientific establishment
will simply take over (assuring us they knew all along the creatures were
real), and will exclude all amateurs from further investigations. Anyone
who seriously thinks a Sasquatch should not be taken does not really want
their existence to be proven.
At this point the burden of proof is still on the believers. Until a specimen
is produced the skeptics will continue to hold the field. It is possible
to prove something exists by producing it. The reverse is not possible--one
does not prove a nonexistence with positive evidence. The failure to produce
a specimen continues to be strong evidence against the Sasquatch.
The skeptics deny the existence of the Sasquatch because they see no evidence
for it. The fact that they refuse to look at what evidence there is available,
and try to discourage the gathering of more data, seems not to bother
them at all. The believers act as though the case has already been proven
and the Sasquatch should be accepted and protected right now. It is interesting
that many of them also oppose bringing a definitive proof in the form
of a body. It is almost as though the sides are drawn and neither one
really wants the issue settled--they would rather fight than find out.
Both sides are getting a lot of mileage out of the existence of the opposing
side. Each side has a group of people it can criticize and make fun of.
A concerted effort might prove one side wrong-perhaps neither side wants
to risk that.
Unfortunately both sides argue strongly from what they want to be true
rather than by what they know. Wanting something to be true may be a good
reason to investigate it. But wanting something to be true does not constitute
any evidence that it is true. That works only in children's games and
religion. As it stands now, most of the people on one side of this argument,
and all (in my judgment) of those on the other side, have not thoroughly
investigated both sides of the issue. They would be a lot more reasonable
if they would just honestly admit they don't know for sure. But who expects
reason in a subject like this?
© Dr. Grover
S. Krantz, Ph.D.
I could find no date on this paper, but I believe early 1980's is about
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