Bigfoot Encounters

Book Review by F.G.Wood, Marine Biologist
Sasquatch Apparitions: A Critique on the Pacific Northwest Hominoids
By the late Barbara Wasson

Published by the author, Bend, Oregon, 1979. 173 pp

According to the author's preface, this book "is more for the Sasquatch reader than for the novice. '

"I have been critical, with those in Sasquatch endeavors. I have done this to thrust the into more critical thinking and finer discriminations .... If the other Sasquatch seekers consider this unfair, perhaps it is. I feel it necessary to get the public's attention for their own analysis, as well as to upgrade criteria in investigation."

Since I am a novice when it comes to the esoterica of Bigfoot investigations (I am a marine biologist), I can view Sasquatch Apparitions only from the limitations of my ignorance; this might, however, permit a more objective assessment than any made by Wasson's fellow Sasquatch seekers.

From this book, as well as other sources, I gather that the Bigfoot scene is characterized by much bickering, feuding, and backbiting. Unfortunately, the cool detachment with which I approached my task was quickly eroded. The inconsistency in the author's prefatory statements--her book is "more for the sophisticated Sasquatch reader," but "I feel it is necessary to get the public's attention"--is only the first indication of many exasperations to come.

In the first chapter, titled "The Oregon Coast Range," Wasson relates, with a plethora of largely irrelevant information, how she came to view some purported Sasquatch tracks on the grounds of a shingle mill at Reston, Oregon. "They measured, from heel to furthest toe, eighteen inches and the
plaster cast measured up to 19 inches .... My companion sneaked in a plaster cast while I was interviewing and the plaster was quite thick." There are some obvious problems here. Why was the cast an inch longer than the footprint? Was the "sneaked-in" plaster cast the one she has just alluded to? What is the implication of its being "quite thick?"

This is followed, apparently in the spirit of scientific thoroughness, with almost two pages of excruciatingly detailed information on the region in which Reston is located--the topographic and manmade features, the geology, the temperature and rainfall, and the flora and fauna (including the
names of 37 kinds of trees and shrubs). The chapter ends with two accounts of reported Sasquatch sightings in this area.

In the second chapter, Wasson discusses some of the "classic reports." Here one begins to understand what she meant when she said that this book is for the sophisticated Sasquatch reader. People and events are alluded to, but for the most part the people are not introduced (that comes in the next chapter), and the events are not described. For example: "I suspect Bob
Titmus's expertise from his field qualifies him better than the layman, but I do not know Titmus, If I believe Bob Gimlin, I believe it all. I have to. There is the man, the film, and others who saw the tracks at the site." To understand what this is all about, the novice must consult one of the books
listed among the references at the end of the chapter.

In the longest chapter, Wasson describes the investigators--Major, Minor, and Other. Although she puts three individuals in the Major category, there is, she says, really only one, Rene Dahinden, a man for whom she clearly has unbounded admiration. Much of the section on Dahinden is devoted to
his physical features, dress, walk, personal magnetism, emotions, endurance and persistence, and life history. The rest consists largely of obscure (to the novice) allusions to Dahinden's relationships with other investigators, his legal battles, and his frustrations.

Wasson's rambling accounts of other Sasquatch devotees also include physical descriptions. Of one, "His features are coarse and pronounced, and he is not especially good looking." Of another, "Roger: slim, dark, moderately handsome, short, lively, a muscular man" (though, earlier: "I never met him"). And still another, "He is a handsome man, soft spoken, with a casual posture and well dressed."

Whatever the looks of her subjects, however, Wasson's opinion's of many of them are not favorable. In her section on John Green, the author of several books on Sasquatch, Wasson takes him to task with reproachful remarks, usually in parentheses: "(Yes, John, you do.)"; "(Sorry, John, I had to say that.)"; "Honestly, Mr. Green, honestly!"

This reader's exasperation threshold was further lowered by such statements as: "Unfortunately, I cannot recollect all the essential details"; "There were further exciting details I did not write down"; "I enjoyed it [a discussion] very much. I was not taking notes, however."

The book includes a chapter on the 1978 Sasquatch conference sponsored by the University of British Columbia, which Wasson attended. One chapter consists of the paper she presented, and in another, titled "Physical Evidence,'' she gets in some more licks at other investigators: "(Oh, Napier!)." At the end are three appendices. The first is a "Study of Police Officers' Opinions of Witnesses" (results inconclusive), the second contains the abstracts from the Sasquatch conference, and the third is a "Statistical Analysis of Sasquatch Reports."

This book tells more about its author--a clinical psychologist--than it does about Sasquatch investigations. Whether it will persuade some of Wasson's fellow investigators of the error of their ways, whether it will upgrade criteria in investigation, and whether it will get the public's attention, all seem doubtful.

Biosciences Department
Naval Ocean Systems Center
U.S. Department of the Navy
San Diego, California 92152, U.S.A.

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