Posted: July 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


Where’s the science in the search for Sasquatch?

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012,
BOGUS BIGFOOT.JPGAP file photoPhotographers Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin made this image Oct. 20, 1967, purportedly showing a female Bigfoot, during a horseback search in northern California for Sasquatch or ‘Bigfoot’. In 1999, four magnified frames of the 16 mm footage show tracings of a bell-shaped fastener at Bigfoot’s waist, proving it was a man in a monkey suit.

By Brian Regal

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency recently issued a statement indicating it knew of no evidence of the existence of “aquatic humanoids.”

This remarkable statement was prompted by calls from viewers of Animal Planet’s “Mermaids: the Body Found,” which claimed such creatures exist. A swarm of television programs, listed as “scientific” and “reality based,” perpetuate similar pseudoscientific ideas that are gobbled up by viewers, especially kids.

This incident illustrates a dangerous trend: Viewers’ acceptance of claims made by untrained laypeople as authoritative, and their simultaneous rejection of work done by experts in science, history and politics. This idea argues that egg-headed specialists — with a lifetime of focused academic work, peer-reviewed scholarship and study — are hiding the “truth” from us so that the only way to get answers is from down-home folks with little schooling but good sense. In other words, formal education is bad.

One program that encourages this fallacy is “Finding Bigfoot” (also a product of Animal Planet). It follows members of a group called the Bigfoot Field Research Organization as they search for the elusive creature. The investigators travel to various locations of supposed Bigfoot activity, with the genre staples of night vision cameras and hushed voices. While full of enthusiasm, the BFRO members don’t seem to have any technical training or follow scientific method in their search. They often say, “There are ’squatches here!” but viewers never see the big hairy beasts. And that’s about all. The show imparts no knowledge of environmental science, animal behavior studies, primate anatomy or even the history of monster hunting. Yet with spurious “evidence,” the group makes claims that the creatures are real and just around the corner, and expects us to accept it.

Sasquatch-like creatures may actually exist — they are some of the only mythical monsters to have an evolutionary and biological plausibility — but stumbling around the woods claiming every blip on an infrared scope or twig snap is a “‘squatch” isn’t helping the searchers’ case. There are a number of intelligent, capable, trained individuals who do scientific work searching for cryptozoological creatures, who ought to get more coverage. Unfortunately, good-natured and quirky amateurs, like the guys on “Finding Bigfoot,” are better for ratings, despite the fact they never find anything.

The format for “Finding Bigfoot” is not original. It‘s lifted largely from the earlier and equally problematic “Ghost Hunters.” We also must contend with “Ancient Aliens,” “Destination Truth” and “Long Island Medium.” Especially egregious is “Psychic Kids,” which perpetuates the myth that people can see spirits. And don’t get me started on “American Diggers.”

These programs glorify amateur investigators, who have little knowledge of the fields they “study” while often disparaging the work of professional scholars. Genuine experts — physicists, evolutionary biologists, historians, classicists and others — rarely make it to the screen because they might explain why there are no mermaids, ghosts or sasquatches, that there is no evidence aliens have visited the earth, and why our lives and our history should be valued as more than just junk sold for a couple of bucks to a pawn shop.

Programs such as “Finding Bigfoot” should be getting viewers, especially children, turned on to science and history as the way to understand the world; it should trumpet the value of education and expertise. What it actually does is turn us away from learning, books, science, history and the hard work of the intellect for a view of the world where serious study and intellectual pursuits are suspect or unnecessary.

How to combat this? Tell your kids that smart people are not the enemy; then buy them a microscope or a telescope. Get them a book on biology or zoology or even history from the library and read it with them; fight to make sure they get a good education. We’ll all be better off and, yes, if it is out there, someone might even actually find Bigfoot.

Brian Regal teaches the history of science at Kean University. His latest book, “Searching for Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads and Cryptozoology,” studies clashes between amateurs and professionals at the fringes of science. Join the conversation at njvoices.com.

Dr Regal’s comments are typical of a university professor. They are characteristic of the science person who regards science as omniscient and as, or almost as, a religion.

You’ll notice he considers believing any claims of lay people ‘dangerous.’ This is the usual behind-the-desk pontification of university types. Lay people can be experts. Academics can’t seem to accept this fact. Most astronomical discoveries are made by amateurs.

Let’s all shudder at the idea of university ‘experts’ in politics. The North American and European universities are largely Marxist training grounds. If you study anything in the humanities at these unis, you will be startled to find Karl Marx dragged into the conversation by the instructor whenever possible.

‘Peer-review’ is a form of new uni-speak which has little or no value when your peers are entrenched in disbelieving anything you present. We should dispense with the term ‘peer-review’ immediately so we can all get on with it. It quickly becomes a useless term.

What good would it do for Dr Jeff Meldrum to submit a paper to Dr Eugenie Scott for ‘peer review?’ Scott is absolutely dead-set against anything Meldrum could present. ‘Peer-review’ therefore is riddled with defects, flawed by personal human prejudices and resentments and fears.

Let’s be done with the term ‘peer-review’ at once!

Dr Regal doesn’t have the faintest notion if the ability of ‘people to see spirits’ is a myth or not. He does not know. Dr Regal is not equipped to know this. He is a science man. He does not know if this is true or not, so should not pontificate that it is a ‘myth.’ He does not have that information, nor does he, within science, have the tools to investigate or decide on the truth or untruth of such phenomenon.

Dr Regal claims: ‘ . . . physicists, evolutionary biologists, historians, classicists and others . . . might explain why there are no . . . ghosts.’ This is a huge problem, and typical of the academic. The problem is that science is not equipped to provide information on whether or not ghosts exist. Science is limited. Science is hemmed in by the walls of its limitations at the current point of its development. Since science is often wrong, sometimes those walls contract; when science is right, the walls expand.

Physicists and biologists are the most UNQUALIFIED people of all to offer opinion and decisions on the existence or non-existence of ghosts! This is a mammoth problem! These people have been trained in the hard sciences which scoff at and don’t recognise anything spiritual. This makes them the most inexpert, unskilled people of all to deliver opinion on the topic! They have decided against it, based on their training, from the start. They will not break away from that training and thinking which can create narrow-mindedness in their comments on the spiritual. You are asking someone who has spent a lifetime being brainwashed against such possibilities to be fair and give you the Truth about ghosts! They are already totally invested in ghosts not existing! Forget it. You will never get an expert opinion on ghosts from a physicist or any other kind of scientist.

You are asking the linguist to give expert opinion on geology. It will never work.

Look at it this way: Science examining ghosts is similar to trying to decode hieroglyphs without the Rosetta Stone. Science does not possess the tools to examine ghosts. Ghosts are OUTSIDE science. Science people have to accept there are things outside science, and then we can all be happy and get along. It is absolutely disastrous for all concerned to regard science as encompassing all. With that belief, anything outside science doesn’t exist. That’s quite wrong. Science people have to face that some things are outside the parameters of science. It shows greater intelligence for a scientist to say that ghosts are beyond the purview of science, than to say ghosts don’t exist.

Dr Regal: ‘Tell your kids that smart people are not the enemy’. This is another problem of academics: They assume they are in the position of enlightenment and ‘correctness’, and that they possess the knowledge and are ‘smart people.’ They assume that they are superior, and in the superior position.

Dr Regal says: ‘These programs glorify amateur investigators.’ That’s another problem with academics: the fear that amateurs might outstrip them, be proven correct, will possess the knowledge which has eluded academia. Outstanding, even brilliant amateurs, are the reason why honorary degrees are awarded by universities the world over. The honorary degrees are acknowledgement that the self-taught amateur can be an expert, an authority, on equal and sometimes greater footing than the academic expert.

Dr Regal: ‘ . . . buy them a microscope or a telescope. Get them a book on biology or zoology . . . ‘ You might notice here the avoidance, even shunning, of the arts. It’s great to buy a child those things–I said most astronomical discoveries are made by amateurs–but also offer them guitar, piano, and drum lessons. Make sure they read Romantic Poetry and classic novels and stories. Raise them on the classic fairy stories. Fill them with colour, not shades of grey.

Dr Regal’s position is that science rules all, that science is Truth. For him and many scientists, music is only a combination of frequencies. There is no spiritual element to the sounds, the chords, the melody and harmony. All is reduced to mathematics. People who think this way have metallic personalities, unable to grasp anything larger than the physical, unable to comprehend the spiritual aspect of music or other art. These people seem to be mechanical, devoid of spirit, and so incomplete as human beings.

Anyone moved by great music knows the science people are incorrect, that music is more than a combination of frequencies. There is a deeper dimension. As long as science refuses to acknowledge that the spiritual is outside the walls of science, and science cannot comment on or measure it, science will always lack.

We need to return to the time when science and the arts were two sides of the same coin. What to call the coin but Life? Science and the arts used to get along. In the age of ‘enlightenment’, science broke away, and began its condescension of anything relating to spirit, art, and imagination.

Science does not recognise the inanimate. Thoughts and feelings are inanimate, they are real, therefore science is wrong and cannot explain all.

Science is not the measuring stick for all. Science cannot measure all!

If science could acknowledge that some things are outside the walls of science, science and the arts could come together again as opposite sides of the same coin. If not that, the two could at least get along. Science would have no comment on ghosts, because science is unequipped to comment on such a phenomenon. Science doesn’t possess the tools, the Rosette Stone, the decoder ring, to address and explain ghosts or anything outside the bounds of science.

Science is ignorant of ghosts. Science is unable to comment. Yet science keeps commenting, doesn’t it? You’ve noticed that? That’s very unscientific of the science people to do so!

The sooner scientists realise this, the better.

It’s rather low-down to consider all the people who have experienced ghostly phenomenon liars, or even mistaken. Science doesn’t have one clue about these people’s experiences. It’s like science trying to translate Spanish with a Greek dictionary. It will never work. Science doesn’t possess the translator to even approach ghosts, much less decide on them.

If a uni professor has an experience which shows him or her that ghosts exist, that humans each posses a spirit which animates our bodies, the professor will likely not admit the experience, for fear of ridicule, and/or for fear of having been wrong. He or she will likely suppress it. They will deny it ever occurred, because it is outside science, therefore in their limited thinking it could not have happened. This is wrong-headed thinking: It not fitting within science DOES NOT mean it didn’t happen; it means, if it occurred, it happened outside the rules of science. Is that so difficult for everyone? Let’s all accept this and move on.

Just accept that and we can all go home happily.

Look at this: Does the expert on 19th century Italian literature make claims about what does or doesn’t exist within science? Then why do science people butt in in every other field and claim what does or does not exist for everyone else? Science and science people are not the ones to decide for everyone else!

How many scientists are willing to spend nights alone in ancient crypts? If they are so certain about the non-existence of spirits, let’s see them sleeping the night in the bowels of St Paul’s Cathedral, and in other crypts around the world. They can set up cots and lie down next to the coffins and see how it goes. With their views, they should be fearless in such situations, right? But when was the last time you heard of a scientist doing such a thing? If they talk the talk, why don’t they walk the walk?

Dr Regal assumes and perhaps assures that your child will get ‘a good education’ at any big university. Oh really? Why don’t you ask some of us who have slaved away in their classrooms but who aren’t academics about what goes on in those rooms, about what politics and attempts at brainwashing occur there?

Dr Regal is an academic. The university is to him correct. Science is correct. These things represent to him correct thinking and correct living. If non-academics knew some of the goings-on in universities, they wouldn’t be impressed; they’d be horrified. They’d be disgusted at the swill being spoon-fed to our youth.

When you look at how many times mainstream medicine has been wrong, at how many dietary and other studies conflict with each other and are wrong; when you see the possible side effects of the latest blood pressure medicine include ‘death’, when you realise that one day chemotherapy will be viewed as the equivalent of bleeding with leeches, you will see how short science can fall. And it regularly does. It’s all around you. Science is failing and failing you regularly.

Every single synthetic drug in the world is toxic; no exceptions. This is a colossal failing, a massive failure of imagination and intelligence.

Most synthetic drugs have negative side effects. This is a massive and embarrassing failure of mainstream medicine.

Most herbal treatments are non-toxic, and have a myriad of BENEFICIAL side-effects.

Mainstream medicine teaches doctors to match symptoms with drugs. This is a gargantuan flunking failure and shows doctors in the service of and at the mercy of corrupt pharmaceutical corporations. Instead of teaching doctors to match symptoms with drugs, they should teach doctors to make people better, to heal them. Mainstream doctors don’t heal; they treat symptoms. Since the aim is to get better, mainstream medicine is incorrect and needs to turn to healing, not masking symptoms with toxic pharmaceuticals. Masking symptoms with drugs is an excuse to stay in business and make money. It’s not healing people.

Mainstream medicine is science.

Lastly, the caption to the Patterson footage-still is false. The claim that some suggestion of a ‘fastener at Bigfoot’s waist, proving it was a man in a monkey suit’ is laughable. Monkey suit? Is this the work of Dr Regal or nj.com? It’s the most misinformed joke of a claim I have seen in years about the PGF. Whoever wrote this caption needs education on the topic.

There is no evidence the individual in the film is in any kind of suit, much less a ‘monkey suit.’ There is no evidence, or proof, that the film is faked.

There is SOME evidence that the individual in the film is genuine.

Therefore the weight of the evidence at this stage (and how it has always been since 1967) is in favour of the individual being genuine. We can’t know for certain, but so far the conclusion that it is genuine has the advantage.

Here we go with science: Since science isn’t a jury, and can only determine according to certainties, and not on a preponderance of evidence (which the PGF demonstrates), then science must have NO OPINION of the PGF. But what have we all noticed? Science simply can’t keep its mouth shut about the PGF or sasquatch. Science can’t contain itself about the footage. Science can’t stop giving OPINIONS on the film.

That’s very unscientific! It’s very un-science-like, that behaviour!

Science is having its cake and eating it too. Without conclusive evidence–no, ANY evidence–science has pontificated that the subject in the film is a guy ‘in a monkey suit.’

It’s another case where science needs to be quiet about things it doesn’t have all the evidence on, and withhold comment on things which might exist and operate outside of science’s CURRENT state of evolution and development.



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