This blog has lamented the devolution of bigfootery in previous posts. After all, the qualifications for being a “Bigfoot Researcher” are nonexistent and advancement is based largely upon social standing, time on task and willingness to place oneself in the public’s eye. It is not based upon actual accomplishments or qualifications, truly qualified scientists are rare, while those claiming they operate skeptically using the scientific method are legion.
A pseudoscience is something masquerading as science, while protoscience is a new science trying to establish its legitimacy.
The following questions are adapted from an article by Lee Moeller that appeared in the Rational Equirer, V6,N4, Apr.’94. They include interpretations and adaptations from a number of critical thinkers. The Bigfootery Enquirer adds selected comments following each question. It is illustrative of the poor foundation that bigfootery continues to be built upon.
1. Has the subject shown progress?
Not really. No decent photographic evidence, let alone physical evidence. Perhaps the Bossburg track way.
2. Does the discipline use technical words such as “vibration” or “energy” without clearly defining what they mean?
Dermal ridges, infrasound, migration and territorial markers, yes, I would say it does.
3. Would accepting the tenets of a claim require you to abandon any well established physical laws?
Such as caloric intake, the lack of a fossil record in North America, bones or bodies, the fact that every living creature, including the whilely human, has been struck and killed by a car? Give me a life preserver, bigfootery is abandoning the ship of physical laws.
4. Are popular articles on the subject lacking in references?
Given that most popular articles are websites that have absolute poverty when it comes to scientific references, I would say yes. A few exceptions are out there, your mileage may vary. But even those articles are built upon less than solid science.
5. Is the only evidence offered anecdotal in nature?
Such as the volumes of witness sighting reports and physical evidence attributed to an entity that was not witnessed creating it? Another strong yes.
6. Does the proponent of the subject claim that “air-tight” experiments have been performed that prove the truth of the subject matter, and that cheating would have been impossible?
The claim that famous special effects experts reviewed the P/G film and purported that the level of special effects technology available circa the film makes creation of a hoax film impossible comes to mind when answering this question yes. Legend Meets Science’s discussion of gate comes to mind as well. Questionable super blow ups of the film with software sequencing and smoothing does not count in my book.
7. Are the results of the aforementioned experiments successfully repeated by other researchers?
I have seen some people attempt to recreate the film in other locations relying upon arm length and gait as indicators that they are not humanly recreated. They neglect to consider arm extensions and practice of the gait.
8. Does the proponent of the subject claim to be overly or unfairly criticized?
Nearly a week does not go by where a noted fourth or fifth level “Bigfoot Researcher” goes into a hissy fit when they are questioned over an assertion or experience. They quickly grab on to the excuse the person asking the question is jealous and the troops rally around them noting their lengthy experience, good character and qualifications to say what they have said. The implication is surely the questioner is being unfair and motivated by less than honorable intentions. It is a hallmark of high level bigfootery and the source of much amusement for the correspondents of The Bigfootery Enquirer.
9. Is the subject taught only in non-credit institutions?
Taught? Bigfootery is the largest collection of self professed “Researchers” and experts one can find. The credit course in a real institution is nearly nonexistent, while some do have psychology classes that examine the belief in the paranormal as part of larger courses.
10. Are the best texts on the subject decades old?
The honest answer to this question is a mixed no. One has Krantz’s text, which is a bit old, but Meldrum did pen a huge tome on the subject within the last few years. Best evidence, yep, that is decades old.
11. Does the proponent of the claim use what one writer has called “factuals” – statements that are a largely or wholly true but unrelated to the claim?
This is a tough question. The whole argument about the relatively recent discovery of the gorilla after years of its’ rumored existence might qualify, along with the broad notation of new species discovered. Generally even less sophisticated reasoning is used to bolster the proponents claims.
12. When criticized, do the defenders of the claim attack the critic rather than the criticism?
Oh my, in my opinion this is one of the personifications of the high level “Bigfoot Researcher”. They seem to either attack or storm off in a virtual huff refusing to answer honest questions.
13. Does the proponent make appeals to history (i.e. it has been around a long time, so it must be true)?
Yup, any website or “Bigfoot Researcher” worth their salt can recite historical accounts, it is one of my tips for the newbie “Bigfoot Researcher”.
14. Does the subject display the “shyness effect” (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t)?
Yes again. Most “Bigfoot Researchers” are very comfortable with the shyness effect and will attack those that do not report that effect.
15. Does the proponent use the appeal to ignorance argument (“there are more things under heaven … than are dreamed of in your philosophy …”)?
Yes. If one has not run into that argument then consider yourself a beginning level “Bigfoot Researcher”. Most will also claim secret inside knowledge and expertise to qualify anecdotal information.
16. Does the proponent use alleged expertise in other areas to lend weight to the claim?
If expertise is measured by time on task, absolutely yes. Others claim, and may be, hunters and outdoors-men, as if that expertise is transferable to bigfootery. One correspondent noted, in absolute amusement, that one “Bigfoot Researcher” claimed a high school vocational diploma in natural resources as expertise to make his opinion especially valuable.
Based upon the above it is the opinion of this correspondent of The Bigfootery Enquirer the “Bigfoot Research” is pseudoscience. Will it evolve to the next level? Doubtful. The “Bigfoot Researchers” that claim to be scientific and skeptical are hardly what that claim. Bigfootery has, in my opinion, devolved with the influence of the inter-net and the carney barkers.