Bigfoot press conference barely rates as a disappointment

Okay, come on, really now… who’s actually suprised at how this whole We Done Caughted Us um Bigfoot press conference has played out? Believer, skeptic, undecided or uninterested, at the end of the day there’s only so much stock you can put in a press conference announced on a website with a masthead enshrouded in gif animation flames:

(image reproduced sans flame effect, as is displays in masthead of www.searchingforbigfoot.com, apparently due to WordPress cheese-supression filters)

Coverage of the event plastered across the ‘Net just about everywhere except, peculiarly enough, searchingforbigfoot.com:

From the New York Times (reproduced in full):

Results from tests on genetic material from alleged remains of Bigfoot, made public at a news conference in Palo Alto held after the claimed discovery swept the Internet, failed to prove the existence of the mythical half-ape and half-human creature. The story was fueled by a photograph of a hairy heap, bearing a close resemblance to a shaggy full-body gorilla costume, stuffed into a container resembling a refrigerator. One of the two samples of DNA said to prove the existence of the Bigfoot came from a human and the other was 96 percent from an opossum, said Curt Nelson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota who performed the analysis.

From the Sydney Moring Herald:

Of three samples in a preliminary DNA test, one came back inconclusive, one contained traces of human DNA and one had traces of opossum DNA, probably from something the creature ate, they claimed.

They didn’t produce a Bigfoot corpse; that is in a hidden location, they said, after being moved from a freezer that broke down a couple of times. They will not say exactly where they found the creature and claim they saw a band of other Bigfoots watching them. Neither will they allow anyone other than their own hand-picked scientists to examine the body of the dead animal.

In honor of Terry Hulk Hogan’s immortal words proclaiming that professional wrestling is “as real as your imagination”, I leave the Scientific Method Slo Motion Replay to the likes of David, who’s already gotten started back here in the comments on Wednesday’s post. Honestly? What I find most shocking about event is the brilliance with which it’s nestled itself between instantly-dismissible poppycock and headline news. Yes, yes, I know that that’s the exact zone that local news teams and the purveyors of the Fox Pop-Sci Flavor of the Week live, but this one was covered by the New York Times.

Let’s review some facts:

  • The conference didn’t include actual bigfoot remains. Which, given the vigilance of airport security personnel, is hardly surprising (and also a swell indication that we’re all still safe from freedom-hating haters of freedom — go TSA!). While in legal proceedings neglecting to bring evidence actually works against your ability to make a case, in situations like this, they actually work against your critics. Because, hey, who are you going to believe: an actual eye witness, or some so-called ‘scientist’ who hasn’t even looked at real actual evidence?
  • The DNA analysis revealed traces of human DNA as well as traces of opossum DNA. Come on, admit it: when you heard opossum, your first reaction was something along the lines of WTF? And thats the brilliance of it: anything more reasonable (say, a new species of hominid) would have quickly disolved into boring, scientific analysis; anything less (say, a part human, part extraterrestrial hybrid) would have rung the bell of anyone that likes their toast toasted on both sides. But a part human part marsupial? That just gives you pause. Pause long enough to think through a couple of impossible scenarios. Pause long enough to make a couple of previously impossible-sounding scenarios seem even a little bit less impossible. Only as real as your imagination, folks.
  • The remains have not shown up on Ebay or been purchased by goldenpalace.com. Yet.

What does all of this mean? I don’t claim to know. I suspect this will ultimately turn out to be a seemingly well meant but honest mistake, that some money will exchange hands, that a few more fifteen-minute intervals of fame will make the rounds, and that the mystery will continue. And have no doubt that that last part is a good thing. Why? Becuase as long as there’s enough of the planet left unpaved for there to be even the possibility of an undiscovered species of 7’6″, 1,000lb wookies to be roaming around, there’s a chance this whole imagination thing will be a skill we take with us when we skip along to a new rock.

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10 Responses to “Bigfoot press conference barely rates as a disappointment”

  1. I’m looking forward when the details of the DNA analysis will be made public. Considering that the DNA between human and chimpanzee is 96% identical, it is possible that the similary between human and bigfoot DNA will be even higher. Depending what kind of analysis was done, it is not impossible that DNA from bigfoot may look like human DNA. IMO whatever little info has been released about the DNA analysis, it does not disprove that the remains are a real bigfoot.

  2. Hi, Dr. Prochazka, and thanks for stopping by. I’m 100% in agreement with you that what little info released thus far doesn’t disprove that the remains are a real bigfoot. But — and this is a big but — the fact that so little evidence has been released is certainly grounds for bracing oneself for disappointment. In the word of this fellow Charlie I stumbled across trying to find a transcript of the press conference, “At this point, the only reason to believe the owners of Bigfoot Global LLC have a real Bigfoot body is because they said so. The so-called ‘evidence’ is non-existent, at this point.”

  3. Thanks Eric S. for putting this in perspective. Although solid evidence of a large mammal in rural Georgia would be amazing, the route by which this “discovery” is being brought to light certainly leaves a lot to be desired. What I find much more interesting is this spike in interest in cryptozoology, and what that might be saying about society in general. Lets review for a moment: since early July, we’ve had the Montauk monster washed up on Long Island, a nice video of an unknown canine-like animal in Texas, and now possibly a physical specimen of a Bigfoot. And these are just the crank stories. Elsewhere in the more reputable media, we’ve recently had a novel shrew in Tanzania, a lemur-like mammal in Borneo, and the continued near-sightings of the Oh My God! bird by ornithologists in the SE United States for several years now.

    I’m not sure what this all means either, except that perhaps we don’t know quite as much as we think we do about the world around us. So even if the Montauk Monster turns out to be a pit bull terrier that spent a few weeks too long floating over from Connecticut, and Corporal Reidel’s chubracabra is just another coyote with mange, this doesn’t change the fact that the diversity of life is likely more complex than we can imagine. I think this is a wonderful thing. The occasional discoveries of a never-before seen shrew should be a source of delight for us that perhaps we haven’t completely mucked things up around here.

  4. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that; there has been a lot of strange creature news lately, hasn’t there? The sixty-four dollar question is, has there actually been an increase in cryptozoological phenomena, or simply an increase in press coverage? Media does have a tendency to bounce from meme to meme, so it could be we’re in the midst of a Flavor of the Month starting to scratch cardboard at the bottom of the carton. But if there’s been an actual increase in the number of new species being discovered, and if I were either a conspiracy theorist or a science fiction writer, I’d swear this was just Phase II or a plan whose Phase I was the Pope’s acknowledgement that life may exist elsewhere in the cosmos this past May. Conspiracy theorists and/or science fiction authors wishing to use this premise may do so if their either a) name the theory or b) a supporting character after me.

  5. i’m still trying to figure out if “Sasquatch” is Bigfoot’s name, or if that’s the name of his species

  6. That’s a mold-breaker. Great tihnikng!

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