BigfootWhy dedicate so much effort to mapping reports of a creature that remains unrecognized by mainstream science?
I had planned to include only maps and mapping information on this web
page. After all there are many other comprehensive web sites devoted to
the study of the bigfoot phenomenon. Those sites already provide
arguments supporting (and contesting) the likelihood these creatures
exist - arguments that are often more complete than the one I am about
to make. But since those arguments are elsewhere, my point here is to
encourage anyone who happens upon this project to not dismiss out of
hand the possibility these creatures exist, but rather to keep an open
mind and to learn more about this subject before forming an opinion.
Let me also say that the
response to this effort has been overwhelmingly positive. However, after the
Google Earth version became more widely available, I also received a few
disdainful, and frankly ignorant, comments along the lines of, “You’ve got to
be kidding! Is there something wrong with you?” It appears that the authors of
these clever jibes owe the entirety of their "knowledge” of the bigfoot
phenomenon to supermarket tabloid headlines. Google didn’t help in this
regard, having moved my GE Community topic from the Nature and
Geography category to Huge and Unique, and then, after inviting
me to submit the project to the Google Earth Gallery, choosing to ignore the
factual description I submitted and instead referring to the bigfoot question
as a “conspiracy theory”.
So I believe it is
worthwhile explaining why I feel this topic deserves more respect.
First, there is the long
history of reports going back to pre-colonial times, including the tradition
among Native American / First Nations peoples that such creatures exist. There
are thousands of reports over hundreds of years describing large
hair-covered bipedal creatures roaming North America. A significant portion of
these reports are from responsible, credible individuals -
including trained observers such as law enforcement and military
personnel. Testimony from witnesses of this character is typically sufficient
to convict criminals in a court of law. So, one would think, it should
also be sufficient to at least suggest that we need to treat these reports
seriously. Obviously the possibility exists for mistaken observation,
hallucination, or fabrication, so some reports should be
discounted, but by no means, I believe, all of them.
At the root of the
question there are only two possibilities. The first is that all of
the thousands of reports are mistaken or fabricated. The second is that some of
the reports are indeed accurate. My assessment is that the second
possibility is the more likely.
I believe this not
simply due to the credibility of many witnesses alleging sightings, but
also because of the associated track (foot and hand print) evidence. While
there are some acknowledged hoaxes in this area, there are also many documented
cases that would appear to defy the possibility of hoaxing.
There is also the famous
1967 bigfoot film taken by Roger Patterson. With shaky camera work,
and the technical limitations of its 16mm format, this film may never
convince a dedicated skeptic, i.e., someone unwilling to look at it with an
open mind. But after many attempts to analyze it by qualified individuals, no
one has been able to prove the film to be a hoax. On the contrary, more details
have been uncovered that support the conclusion that it is authentic.
Finally there is the
history of scientific discovery. Time after time new species have been
“discovered” only after previously having been dismissed as legendary or
imaginary. New species are still being identified by scientists nearly every
month. For some reason this history of discovery is ignored by skeptics.
Instead there is a rather arrogant presumption that we already know
nearly everything there is to know about nature. The corollary of
this presumption being that there is no possibility that one or more
large unrecognized species exist in North America.
I believe there is still
a great deal more to be learned about nearly everything, including
After all the creatures
we are familiar with are those whose behavior lends itself to
being observable by human beings. But that certainly is no reason to ignore the
possibility that there are also
creatures who behave in a manner that makes them extremely difficult for us to
observe. These would be rare elusive animals that frequent places people
do not, at times we do not.
In the case of bigfoot the
history of reported sightings suggests that there is just enough overlap
between our behavior and bigfoot behavior for a few fortunate people to
encounter them, but not enough for us to definitively “discover” them, so
Revised 12 December 2012