Bigfoot Encounters

Karl Rose's Book Review:
“Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science”
with comments from Dmitri Bayanov, Moscow, Russia to follow below...

A Book Review: Dr. Jeff Meldrum’s “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science”
October 3, 2006

Before I begin the review of “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science,” I would like to quash any preconceived notions that this disbeliever is going to butcher Dr. Meldrum’s manuscript. In fact it may surprise some of you that I give the book a rating of 5 out of 5. It is professionally written, comprehensively researched and thankfully devoid of pretension and sensationalistic embellishment.

So, did a book I rate so highly convince me that a North American bipedal ape could be real?

No. I’m every bit the disbeliever I was before I so much as read the title. But will everyone remain as unconvinced as I? Probably not; Dr. Meldrum offers persuasive evidence to strongly support all his points. However, though Dr. Meldrum provides apparently convincing evidence for the existence of a large North American ape, he graciously admits that without a type specimen, the evidence nevertheless [presently] remains circumstantial.

Despite Dr. Meldrum’s circuitous admission that he could not categorically state the existence of Bigfoot, he comes across to the reader as something of a Bigfoot apologist. Dr. Meldrum clearly strives to convince the reader that much of the evidence of the creature’s alleged activity is overwhelming, compelling and presumptively real. At no point does he state any doubts about the strong possible—though he would more likely say “probable”—existence of a large, hairy hominid, or North American species of a bipedal ape-like creature.

In the introduction to his book, Dr. Meldrum speaks of his first viewing of Patterson’s Bluff Creek film. As a youthful Jeff Meldrum watched the footage, it “made a lasting impression on a young and adventurous mind”. In other words, he was bitten by the Bigfoot bug. Such a bite often results in a strong, undying bias toward a belief in big hairy hominids. To Dr. Meldrum’s credit, he appears to be open-mindedly scientific in his approach to Bigfoot, and yet his Bigfoot bug bite occasionally betrays an underlying bias.

Early in the book, Dr. Meldrum made an impression on me, though it was not a lasting one, which is good, because the impression was somewhat negative. Dr. Meldrum spoke of an expedition to Six Rivers National Forest where he and a gentleman named Mark Slack separated from the group, and retired to their tents. During the night, a backpack was tampered with by an unknown visitor. The disturbance and some preceding noise caused Jeff and Mark to leave their tents to investigate. They both remained outside for a while, and then retreated from the wet and cold back into their tents. Perhaps neither man had any military background, or perhaps it was simply too wet and cold for them to care, but common sense would dictate that after someone or something disturbs your campsite, you take turns and set up an all night vigil. The result of getting back into their tents was that the intruder returned, and nobody saw it. Such an obvious oversight caused me to wonder about, and even doubt Dr. Meldrum’s methods for proving the possibility of Bigfoot. Fortunately, throughout the remainder of the book, he does not continue make such obvious mistakes. To the contrary, he adeptly avoids incorrectness and clumsiness in his presentations.

On page 44, the author turned the tables and impressed me in a positive way. He did so by exhibiting distaste for any tabloid attachments to Bigfoot. This prepared me to take the book more seriously than I had initially intended. While on the subject, Dr. Meldrum criticizes those who take advantage of the tabloid fabrications to debunk Bigfoot. While I agree that such a practice is unethical, I personally see a need for debunkers, especially when there is an over abundance of bunk. But, I can honestly say that Dr. Meldrum’s book does not create the need for any type of debunking whatsoever; his approach to the subject matter is purely sincere and undeniably honest.

A little further on, Dr. Meldrum mentions “armchair skeptics” in passing, but in such a manner as to show his distaste for them as well. Again, I agree with him, but only as far as they are ostentatious and ill-informed. Some armchair skeptics may not have the science and field research down pat, but they do have a fair share of “common sense”, which, if presented as sincerely and honestly as this book was written, can contribute quite productively to the Bigfoot question.

At this point in the book, Dr. Meldrum begins to present his evidence. He begins with Native American traditional knowledge, where, among other things, he uses totems to support his points. Dr. Meldrum shows how some totems, masks, and carvings show obvious primate features to prove the possible Native American sightings of Bigfoot. This is where I began to disagree with him. Though I must concede the similarities between the totems and primates, I cannot help but compare them to other totems of known animals that are grotesquely different from what the animal actually looks like. The alleged primate images could be exaggerations of a known animal, or grotesque interpretations of tribal members, or members of other tribes. It is also possible that the Native Americans were introduced to primates that were carried as pets by traders and travelers, and were so enchanted by the novel animals, that they made carvings of them. Dr. Meldrum further supports the totems with accompanying lore, but I have learned to accept such tales cautiously.

Dr. Meldrum moves into the next chapter where he shows how he favors an evolved Gigantopithecus as the most likely candidate for Bigfoot. The evidence he offers here is very sound, and if I were to accept the existence of Bigfoot, I would surely follow along the lines that Dr. Meldrum drew out in this chapter.

Also in this chapter, Dr. Meldrum adds the oft-quoted cliché, “The absence of evidence alone is not the evidence of absence”. While this is certainly true, it must be admitted that the absence of evidence is definitely a step in the direction of evidence of absence.

The next three chapters cover photographics and forensic measurements, focusing almost exclusively on the Patterson film. I fear my personal opinion got strictly in the way of these chapters, and they did little to impress me.

One point I would like to bring up though is that Dr. Meldrum believes according to an examination of the Patterson film, that the film speed was set at 16fps, despite Patterson being unsure whether the setting was at 16 fps or 24 fps. After researching the camera’s functionality, Dr. Meldrum explains that the camera, though set at 16 fps, was probably inaccurately running at closer to 19 fps, which justifies Grover Krantz’s estimation of 18 fps. My thoughts on this were that if it could operate inaccurately at the 16 fps setting, then why not also at the 24 fps setting. As far as I’m concerned, the question remains open.

Dr. Meldrum understandably avoids the sensationalism surrounding Patterson’s life, and in a later chapter, dismisses it. But that doesn’t take away from the knowledgeable and thorough presentation in these chapters. I feel obliged to admit that these three chapters were very compelling, and will surely convince many a reader.

The next chapter talks about behavioral parallels between Bigfoot and apes, and in some ways, humans. Because all knowledge of Bigfoot is based on questionable testimony and unproven evidence, I felt this chapter balanced precariously on the thinnest possibility.

We are then taken into vocalizations, misidentifications, and statistical analyses in the following three chapters. Dr. Meldrum presents a good case for vocalizations, but for me, it was not a convincing one. The same applies to misidentifications. A particular nuance I had with the misidentifications chapter was Dr. Meldrum’s mention on page 204 of a “knowledgeable observer” being unlikely to misidentify an animal, and again on page 210, of a “knowledgeable observer” being a credible witness. This would be fine if everyone who traipsed around in the woods was a “knowledgeable” observer. But they are not. In fact, far from it; many people walking around in the woods are relatively new to the environment, and some have imaginations that cause them to mistake a squirrel running up a tree for a ten-foot hairy ape-man.

I fear I must confess that chapter 12 on statistical analyses went almost entirely over my head. But what I did understand of the hair analysis did nothing to convince me that it isn’t human hair.

The following chapters, 13 and 14 are those in which Dr. Meldrum presses the greatest weight of his evidence. Chapter 13 discusses “footprints”, while chapter 14 covers “dermatoglyphics”, which is headed as “Line Upon Line”, which I read while applying precept upon precept. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it, it has nothing to do with the review.

These two chapters were the most effective in grabbing my attention. If at any point in the book I was to trade my disbelief for doubt, or even acceptance, it would have been in these two chapters. Dr. Meldrum does an exceptional job of making the footprints seem very real. He explains it all very scientifically and thoroughly. The only thing that holds me back is, despite Dr. Meldrum's very convincing point that it would be ridiculous to attach all the footprints to a hoax, I have never allowed myself to underestimate the incredible lengths a hoaxer will go to in order to fool the world. Still, Dr. Meldrum’s presentation was convincing enough that I may have to give the “foot print factor” greater consideration.

Near the end of Dr. Meldrum’s book, on page 272, he writes, “Because he believes that ‘If such creatures survived in the hinterlands of North America and Asia, surely by now one would have turned up.’ After rehearsing this tired cliché…”

It may be a tired cliché, but it is also an extremely viable point, and the main reason I remain a disbeliever.

For every witness of Bigfoot, how many more in the same area witnessed nothing out of the ordinary?

For every ranger or worker in the woods that accept evidence of Bigfoot’s existence, how many more do not? Why?

For every scientist that sees reality in the physical evidence, how many more do not? Why? Are the majority all ignorant?

Surely competition for a mate of a creature that size would draw a great deal of attention, but it doesn’t. Why?

If Bigfoot is territorial, and according to all its behavioral parallels, it should be, then why is it so hard to close in on? Why aren’t territorial battles more obvious? If by some off chance it’s nomadic, then why isn’t there a great deal more evidence of its movements?

A creature of that size would require vast amounts of food to sustain it. Why isn’t foraging more obvious? Why isn’t the scat a great deal more prolific?

Are the young always carried? Why are there not many smaller footprints beside the larger ones?

Why are there almost as many starkly different descriptions for Bigfoot as there are witnesses?

And the questions go on, and in my opinion, far outweigh the possibilities.

Nevertheless, Dr. Meldrum does an incredible job of presenting his points. This is the first book about Bigfoot I’ve read in over 15 years, and I was neither sorry nor disappointed. I highly recommend this book to everyone. If you’re a believer, it will reinforce your belief. If you’re a fence sitter, be prepared to fall off. If you’re a skeptic, be prepared to change your mind.

If you have questions about Bigfoot, Jeff Meldrum is the man to ask.
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Uploaded with permission from the author…. October 2006
Also published on Cisco Serret’s Cryptozoology dot com
Send your review of this book to Bobbie Short at yahoo dot com

About the author:

My name is Karl Rose, and I live in an area in the northeastern tip of Utah, where I'm surrounded by beautiful mountains, which I enjoy as much as possible.

Born in '57, I've been around the block a few times. I spent the first 44 years of my life on or near the coast of California, save for six months in Texas, two years in England, two years in North Dakota, and two years in Mexico.

I was once an avid believer in most cryptids, and often fought with people who disbelieved in Nessie. Over the years, with reading, research, and looking, that belief has totally faded, and I now completely disbelieve in the most popular cryptids, and most of the not-so-popular cryptids as well. However, I'm aware, and admit that my disbelief is a human quality, and just as subject to error as any other human quality.

I have great admiration for many members of this site, including, and sometimes especially, those with whom I disagree. However, I have little to no tolerance for trolls and outlandish, unsupported claims.

There are still many areas of cryptozoology that fascinate me, but mine is a down-to-earth interest. I credit all alleged cryptids with the same abilities and restrictions that are possessed by any of the known animals.

When time and desire permit, I love a good debate. Sadly, time and desire haven't permitted as of late. But I'm working on it.

I’ve had many occupations, the longest being a federal correctional officer at a maximum security penitentiary with a minimum security satellite camp for ten years. Lots of fun stories there. I presently work as a processor of parts for medical instruments. Such is the penalty for not being able to finish college.

For those who are curious, a larger version of my pic is in my profile. When all else fails, I can always claim that I am "clearly misunderstood".
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Comment on Karl Rose's Review of Jeff Meldrum's book "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science"

I haven't read the book yet, so can't judge the review in detail but overall find the reviewer a very reasonable and open-minded skeptic. What prompted this comment is his general approach to the subject, which is that of a layman, far removed from the problems of hominology. Hence he confuses the question of bigfoot's existence with questions of the creatures' behavior,  the behavior of humans and the general status and condition of bigfoot research.
From the viewpoint of professional, i.e., hominological, approach to the subject, the question of Bigfoot's existence has long been  solved. Bigfoot is real because the Patterson-Gimlin film is real. Period. If that is not sufficient for someone, here's another definitive statement: Bigfoot is real because some bigfoot footprints are real. Anyone who wants to refute these statements has to prove that the film is fake and all footprints are fake. Any skeptical talk without doing this is nothing but senseless babbling.That's the ironclad logic of science. As for the critics, they think the theme is grotesque and don't care for logic.
Concluding his review, Karl Rose puts some questions for which he has no answers and which he thinks justify his disbelief. Here they are and my discussion of them (in bold print):
For every witness of Bigfoot, how many more in the same area witnessed nothing out of the ordinary?
Yes, many more witnessed nothing out of the ordinary, and this situation is typical for any cryptid. At the same time, a cardinal conclusion of hominology is that bigfoots, like all other pre-sapiens hominids, behave and avoid detection on quite a different qualitative level from all other wilderness denizens.
For every ranger or worker in the woods that accept evidence of Bigfoot's existence, how many more do not? Why?  
Among rangers and workers in the woods that know of Bigfoot's existence only a minority go public with their knowledge. Why? The answer is given by wildlife biologist Dr. John Bindernagel in his book "North American Great Ape: the Sasquatch"(1998): "In my own case I used to be very concerned about how my interest in the sasquatch, if made public, would affect my reputation as a wildlife biologist and hence my employability. When, after almost twenty-five years of research, I had reviewed enough evidence to be certain about the existence of the sasquatch, I finally came 'out of the closet' with my interest in this species" (p.20).
For every scientist that sees reality in the physical evidence, how many more do not? Why? Are the majority all ignorant?
The majority are either not interested or not competent in the matter or afraid to admit their interest, as shown
Surely competition for a mate of a creature that size would draw a great deal of attention, but it doesn't. Why?
Would draw a great deal of WHOSE attention? Of wildlife's in the woods? As a matter of fact, bigfoots are not generally under human surveillance, so competition for a mate goes generally unnoticed. One exception is the Carter Farm case, presented in the book "50 Years with Bigfoot" (2002), by  Mary Green and Janice Carter Coy. An impressive instance of competition for a mate (pp.144-5, "Fight Over Sheba") is described there very vividly.
If Bigfoot is territorial, and according to all its behavioral parallels, it should be, then why is it so hard to close in on? Why aren't territorial battles more obvious? If by some off chance it's nomadic, then why isn't there a great deal more evidence of its movements?
A creature of that size would require vast amounts of food to sustain it. Why isn't foraging more obvious? Why isn't the scat a great deal more prolific?
Are the young always carried? Why are there not many smaller footprints beside the larger ones?
"So hard to close in on" by WHOM? I'm sure there are many more bigfoots in the woods than researchers seeking encounters with them and actually capable of achieving encounters. So generally bigfoot life goes on unobserved by humans. There are exceptions though. These wood denizens choose themselves the humans they can trust and encounter. I mean the people in the U.S., known to me, who have been regularly observing on their wooded properties visiting bigfoots for years. These people observe and some fix in writing and photos bigfoot foraging, prolific scat, smaller footprints beside the larger ones, horse manes braided by bigfoots, etc., etc. Again, why all this is not yet in possession of science, nor even of bigfoot researchers, is not a biological, but sociological question.
Why are there almost as many starkly different descriptions for Bigfoot as there are witnesses?
Here I totally disagree with Karl Rose. On the whole, descriptions for Bigfoot by witnesses hang together very well.
So all questions posed by the reviewer as reasons for his disbelief in Bigfoot's existence have nothing to do with the proper question of Bigfoot's existence.
Dmitri Bayanov
International Center of Hominology
Moscow, Russia

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