Bigfoot and chupacabra double feature
Wednesday August 13, 2008
posted by Rod Drehe
Woo, it's a great week for cryptozoologists. Not only has a south Texas sheriff's deputy filmed the dreaded chupacabra with his dashboard cam, but a couple of likely suspects in Georgia (Boss Hogg's Georgia, not Saakashvili's) claim to have found a Bigfoot body. You can see the alleged Bigfoot photos here (handsome devil, he is). They say they're having it independently analyzed, and will present the results at a Friday press conference in California. If these boys really are onto something, they'd do well to hire a press agent, because this goofball press release doesn't do much for their credibility. Still, we might know on Friday.
Belief in Bigfoot is not altogether crazy, though skepticism is of course in order. From Michael Shermer in Scientific American:
The reason cryptids merit our attention is that enough successful discoveries have been made by scientists based on local anecdotes and folklore that we cannot dismiss all claims a priori. The most famous examples include the gorilla in 1847 (and the mountain gorilla in 1902), the giant panda in 1869, the okapi (a short-necked relative of the giraffe) in 1901, the Komodo dragon in 1912, the bonobo (or pygmy chimpanzee) in 1929, the megamouth shark in 1976 and the giant gecko in 1984. Cryptozoologists are especially proud of the catch in 1938 of a coelacanth, an archaic-looking species of fish that had been thought to have gone extinct in the Cretaceous.
Although discoveries of previously unrecorded species of bugs and bacteria are routinely published in the annals of biology, these instances are startling because of their recency, size, and similarity to cryptid cousins Bigfoot, Nessie, et al. They also have in common--a body! In order to name a new species, one must have a type specimen--a holotype--from which a detailed description can be made, photographs taken, models cast and a professional scientific analysis prepared.
If such cryptids still survived in the hinterlands of North America and Asia, surely by now one would have turned up. So far all we have are the accounts. Anecdotes are a good place to begin an investigation--which by themselves cannot verify a new species. In fact, in the words of social scientist Frank J. Sulloway of the University of California at Berkeley--words that should be elevated to a maxim: "Anecdotes do not make a science. Ten anecdotes are no better than one, and a hundred anecdotes are no better than ten."
Scientific American also profiled a Bigfoot researcher (not the good ol' boys who claim to have rustled up a Sasquatch carcass).
When I was a kid growing up in the country, I used to scare myself silly reading Bigfoot books. No kidding, I still get chills thinking about it (commercials for the 1972 B-movie "The Legend of Boggy Creek" rocked my first-grade world; a mere description of this scene made me afraid to go to the bathroom after sundown; you can imagine how that worked out). I hope this Bigfoot is real, so we can find them all and kill 'em daid before they git us.