17 May 2007

Bigfoot on Discovery

I just watched a surprisingly well-done program on "Bigfoot." Surprising in that it was not a bunch of wannabes parading around denouncing mainstream science, with a token five seconds from said mainstream science. Most of the program, in fact, focused on the problems with the evidence. By the by, the primary representative of the pro-bigfoot side is one Dr. Meldrum of Idaho State University.

Summary below the fold.

Two complaints here. The first is that they only presented footprints associated with the 1960's supposed video footage. These displayed "conflicting characteristics." Humanlike toes with an apelike break in the foot. This would have been a good place to simulate some flexible feet and see how they moved, see what kind of motion such a foot would require. Since they were mainly focusing on the video footage, they could then have compared it to the video. Instead, both sides just argued that such a foot supported its own viewpoint. Also, a comparison of footprints found at other sites would have been nice. Do all bigfoot prints have the same ape/human characteristics? What about known fakes? (Yes, it's possible that all of them are faked, but some are known for certain to be fake) *

Quite frankly, eyewitness accounts are not worth much, and the show said as much. People are usually startled and/or frightened during the encounter. It's usually dark. It is so, so easy to project characteristics in those circumstances. That could also account for the "consistency" between sightings. Find me someone who's never heard the bigfoot legend who has an encounter and I might be more impressed.

The coolest thing they did, and the reason I kept watching, was to try and recreate the motion seen in the video footage using a human in a suit. And they succeeded, though the human had to exert a great deal of effort to move that way. Not conclusive, but very suggestive. Then they talked to a Hollywood special effects guy, who pronounced the video fake and poorly done to boot. He thought he could have done a much more convincing job. :^) Again, suggestive, but not conclusive.

First off, most scientists will not be convinced until they have some plain physical evidence. A body. Some bones. A hair sample that does not turn out to be buffalo. And I think that is the correct attitude, overall. I also admire Dr. Meldrum for continuing to pursue his inquiries despite overall negativity from his colleagues. He is doing honest research, though I think he could use a bit more skepticism in his approach. As for me? I consider Bigfoot's existence to be possible, but very very unlikely.

I do have to wonder, though. Supposing that all the footprints are faked... First up, "WHY???". Second up, "How much time and effort would that have taken? And how many different people were faking them?" As far as the footprint evidence is concerned, I'm not convinced that "all fake" is any simpler an explanation.

*I just found a page of Bigfoot footprints put together by Dr. Meldrum. I have to comment on this statement: "The dynamic signature of the footprints concurs with numerous eyewitness accounts noting the smoothness of the gait exhibited by the Sasquatch. For example, one witness stated, "...it seemed to glide or float as it moved." Absent is the vertical oscillation of the typical stiff-legged human gait. The compliant gait not only reduces peak ground reaction forces, but also avoids concentration of weight over the heel and ball, as well as increases the period of double support." The "stiff-legged human gait" is an artifact of our habit of making paved surfaces. Perfectly flat. If you routinely walk on rough or uneven ground, you'll find this method of walking is, well, idiotic. The taiji/stalker/ninja/who-knows-what-else walk is to keep the legs bent, and to get stable on one foot before picking up the other. You do not bob up and down this way. You might be said to "glide" if you're really good at it.

And while I'm adding things, here is a link discussing how not to disprove the existence of Bigfoot. (So, yes, this was an old show, but I'd never seen it.)


kate said...

I consider Bigfoot's existence to be possible, but unlikely. Not "very, very unlikely," but unlikely nonetheless. (:

Despite several programs I've seen attempting to disprove its existance, I'm more prone to believe in the likelihood of the Loch Ness Monster.

kate said...

Ahem. *blushes* That would be existence with an E.

Qalmlea said...

Actually, I'd consider Bigfoot more likely than Nessie. *shrugs* Both are certainly possible (based on my limited understanding), but the really big question/problem in both cases is the lack of physical evidence.

JonErikBeckjord said...

What Dr Jeff and you both ignore is that Bigfoot may be a space-=time being, that appears real
but then can vanish as I and others have witnessed.

See http://www.bigfoot.org

Jon-Erik Beckjord
National Cryptozological Society

JonErikBeckjord said...

And the same goes for Nessie, which I ahve filmed in 1983


Fibonacci said...

My understanding about hair samples is that some of them have failed to be identified as anything, but no one has ever thought to take a blood sample, even when they said there was blood with the hair.

Qalmlea said...

Not necessarily:

"When a definite conclusion has been reached, the samples have invariably turned out to have prosaic sources— “Bigfoot hair” turns out to be elk or bear or cow hair, for example, or “Bigfoot blood” is revealed to be transmission fluid"

With regard to hair samples, "unknown" means it didn't match anything they compared it to. Could be Bigfoot; could be anything else they didn't test. When there's been usable DNA, it's always turned out to be something known. Unknown DNA with similarities to known primates would definitely get scientists interested. (Oh, and you don't need blood to get DNA, but it helps)