Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Skeptics and Bigfoot

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 28th, 2006

The Spectrum, the University at Buffalo campus newspaper, reported on a lecture titled "Applying Science to the Paranormal" that Benjamin Radford gave last Friday night there.

The next target for Radford’s objective and critical approach was Bigfoot. He had molds of footprints and lots of popular pictures, such as the Bigfoot who sells Spam, as examples of how the legend exists in the media and in peoples’ minds. Radford then took the time to go through all of the well-known eyewitness testimonials and the few pictures and tangible evidence that exist. 

Many were proved at some point or another to be a hoax, but most are at the very least highly suspect. His biggest point of proof was that there has never been any Bigfoot hair, bones, teeth, blood or bodies found, ever. No Bigfoot has ever been hit by a car, no body found in the woods or a river, and nobody has accidentally shot one either.

"There is no lack of evidence, just a lack of good evidence," Radford said.
There was a here on Cryptomundo titled Answering the Bigfoot Skeptics addressing these issues. Mr. Radford weighed in with his opinions in the comments section of that blog entry.

Ben Radford

The photo that was included with the article shows Mr. Radford and one of the photos used in the lecture. The photo used was one of the Wild Creek Bigfoot photos. This is one of a series of 14 photos supposedly taken by an off-duty forest patrol officer near Mt. Ranier on July 11, 1995. They were purchased by Cliff Crook. They are generally thought to have been made using a small model posed in a watery setting.

Wild Creek Bigfoot

Having not seen Mr. Radford’s presentation yet, I will give him the benefit of the doubt on the evidence he presents. I will agree with his quote "There is no lack of evidence, just a lack of good evidence" if what he is presenting the Wild Creek photos as evidence. The majority of the "Bigfoot believers" have no problem with these photos being presented as bad evidence. What else does he purport is bad evidence?

Is he showing the very worst evidence and most obvious hoaxes and painting the rest of the evidence for Bigfoot with weakest case. Detailed in the information following, we will get a chance to see his arguments and judge their validity.

Last year, Mr. Radford and I exchanged emails concerning the annual Texas Bigfoot Conference that I host. He sent me an email stating:

I saw your notices about the upcoming TBC. I noticed there is a distinct lack of noted Bigfoot skeptics in the speakers and panelists. You have the usual suspects: Jeff, Loren, Rick Noll, etc. But Dave Daegling isn’t there, nor is Mike Dennett, nor myself. This can lead to a case of "preaching to the choir," and a lack of meaningful exchange between the skeptics and the believers. It seems to me that it is exactly these two groups that need more communication between them. 

It appears that the schedule has already been set for this year, but if you are interested, I would be willing to speak at the conference. The Texas Bigfoot Conference could be the first major Bigfoot event to bring skeptical researchers to the table, let the diversity of ideas and positions be heard. I think both the audience and the panelists would find the exchange of ideas instructive and refreshing. I could give a talk such as "The Role of Skeptics in Cryptozoology" or "Bigfoot: The Skeptical Position." (If people assume that they already know the skeptics’ position, I assure you they are wrong.) The addition of a well-known Bigfoot skeptic into the mix would almost certainly increase interest in the event.

I have long pointed out to Bigfoot proponents that they have more in common with us skeptics than most realize. Unlike many in the public, we take Bigfoot seriously; we don’t dismiss Bigfoot as a waste of time. As you may know, I have been involved in cryptozoology for many years, and worked closely with people such as John Kirk to find cryptids.
I had invited Mr. Radford’s colleague, Dr. David Daegling, on March 19, 2005 by email, but had gotten no response from him at the time that Mr. Radford and I corresponded on July 20, 2005. Mr. Radford said that he would try to contact Dr. Daegling to let him know of the invitation. On July 24th, Dr. Daegling contacted me by email to inform that his Fall schedule would not allow him to participate.

While we were not able to accomodate him at the 2005 Texas Bigfoot Conference,Mr. Radford will get his chance twice this year. The Bigfoot in Texas? museum exhibit and lecture series apparently, according to Mr. Radford, will have the honor of being the first major Bigfoot event to bring skeptical researchers to the table, let the diversity of ideas and positions be heard. 

Mr. Radford will be speaking in San Antonio on June 3, 2006 at the Bigfoot in Texas? lecture series. 2 weeks later he will be speaking in Pocatello, ID at the Bigfoot Rendezvous.

In my discussions with Mr. Radford concerning our Bigfoot conference last year, I brought up the fact that the CSICOP events appeared to be just as one-sided as he accused the "believer" events to be. Mr. Radford responded with:

You are only partially correct about the CSICOP events. In fact, we have often hosted well-known and well-regarded speakers on the opposite sides of the coin, and invited them to share their views. A few examples: John Mack (Harvard psychiatrist / alien abductee researcher); Gary Schwartz (psychical researcher who has worked with John Edward, Allison DuBois, and many others), author of The Afterlife Experiments); and near-death researcher Kenneth Ring (author of Life at Death). We’ve also had The X-Files’ Chris Carter and others. So it’s simply not true that "believers" are excluded, though they are not included as much as I would like. 

I personally would like to see far more interaction and "meeting of the minds" of different views at these conferences, but unfortunately I do not choose which speakers are invited. We haven’t really done anything on Bigfoot for years (conference-wise), but the next time we do I will suggest that we get Loren or Jeff or Rick Noll to give a talk. It’s also true that, to my knowledge, very rarely do those on the other side of the issue contact us to express their interest in participating in events (as I have to you). Perhaps they assume (incorrectly) that they would not be welcome, but all of our "believer" speakers have commented that they were pleasantly surprised and felt like they were treated respectfully and allowed to make their case.

So now the ball is in the skeptics court. Will they invite the "believers"?


This post was written by

Craig Woolheater – who has written posts on Cryptomundo.
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad
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