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March 15, 2010

What are we doing? by Michael Dean

I have been an observer of the whole Bigfoot phenomenon for several decades now and for the most part of the last decade the internet has played a big role in the progress of the phenomenon. Prior to the internet we were all pretty much in the same position. The most we could do was read articles and books and perhaps attend a presentation if we lived in an area where we could attend. If we did any hiking or camping any looking for tracks was pretty much coupled with those activities. In spite of the many claims that are being made now about someone being a long time researcher there were really only a handful of people who were actively investigating Bigfoot reports forty years ago. Perhaps a person who had a sighting felt more driven to do more research, but many of them saw the ridicule that was brought to bear on that handful who were speaking out about their findings and kept quiet.

Before the internet television made some headway in relaying information about Bigfoot. I, like most others that I communicate with, find it rather unfortunate that Bigfoot was thrown into the category of vampires, witches and Jack the Ripper. However, if the TV show that had Bigfoot in it wasn't using him as some kind of evil monster or mocking the idea of his existence the subject did get at least some respect as a living, breathing, flesh and blood creature. So many of the people that I talk too today had their interest sparked by a TV show.

I turned to the internet, as did many others, in the late '90's to garner more information as well as to keep abreast of the latest reports. For the first time the average person sitting at home could not only gather information but he or she could also contribute. This has turned into both a blessing and a curse. Those of us who are seriously interested in Bigfoot have to sift through a much greater amount of fabricated accounts and outright hoaxes as well as self proclaimed authorities with their extravagant explanations about nearly all things related to Bigfoot. Sorting this information out in order to get to those genuine morsels of information or experience is a job I'm sure we all understand. I myself have long ago quit looking at videos of Bigfoot on YouTube unless it is mentioned in a place where I consider it as being more credible.

It is my opinion that this need for a critical eye has morphed into a hyper criticism that is self destructive in many cases. I will use Dr. Meldrum as an example here since he has certainly stepped up and answered the call of many who want more scientific research into the phenomenon. I have heard him speak on several occasions and have been able to talk to him on a more informal basis.

I have to shake my head and wonder why so many who are seriously interested in Bigfoot are so critical of Dr. Meldrum. What sense does it make to cry about not having scientists who take Bigfoot seriously only to belittle the work of the few who do take a realistic approach to the subject? I'm sure that Dr. Meldrum could have had a successful career as a primate locomotion specialist and kept his interest in Bigfoot quiet even if it was his interest in Bigfoot that caused him to choose his field of work.

I have read quite a few who have been more than a little critical of Dr. Meldrum's ideas on a mid tarsal break but I have to ask, how many primate (non-human) feet have they held in their hand? How many feet of primates have they dissected? How much time have they spent studying how a primate walks on their feet? How many of these lay-person critics spent time studying the different ways a gorilla walks compared to the ways a chimpanzee walks? Are you getting my point? Spare me the snarky comments about Dr. Meldrum's work.

I'm not saying that Dr. Meldrum should get a free pass, so to speak. In fact at every event where I have heard him speak he was more than happy to answer questions. Look at his material and ask all the questions you want and having done so if you disagree with his ideas of a mid tarsal break simply say so. If you are asked why you disagree please have a more well thought out answer than "my foot doesn't do that and I can make tracks like that".

Okay, everyone is able to come to their own conclusions, but if someone makes a statement like that after a modicum of reading or listening do they really think that I am going to give them more thought than a person who has spent a great deal more time looking into the issue before formulating their ideas?

I said that I chose Dr. Meldrum as an example. I also choose to be supportive of his ideas based on his knowledge and training and years of hands on work. Dr. Meldrum is not the only scientist who has an interest in Bigfoot, but he is one of only a few who have had the initiative to step forward with his views.

Wouldn't any reasonable scientist know the risks involved in speaking about Bigfoot in a serious way in relation to the position of science on the subject? Wouldn't they also see that the ridicule is not limited to the field of science but also comes from those who they are trying to help find answers?

I see this hyper-criticism in other areas as well. Do we really want to start pitting researchers against scientists? Or how about researchers against those who have had a sighting? I am not advocating a 'believe what ever you hear' approach on any level.

Ask questions, even the ones that may be uncomfortable, in a non accusative way. It is all right to ask something like "how did you get from your truck to 10 miles from any road into the woods in just one hour of hiking?" if that is what someone is expecting you to believe in their account. It may be that in their excitement they never thought about that discrepancy or it may be that they are spinning a tall tale.

In the end it is up to the one who is asking the questions to make up their own mind. If they are interviewing in order to write up a report for a data base then they have more responsibility to make a determination as to the veracity of the person's story.

This can all be done without tearing one another to pieces. Even Bigfoot seems to practice more respect and self restraint than those who are out to ridicule others who have had a sighting or the scientists who are seeking answers.

Don't adopt another person's ideas or theories without listening carefully, looking at their material and asking questions. You don't have to believe another person's sighting story without asking questions or asking about supporting evidence that could help verify what they are saying. They may or may not have any such evidence. If you are asking respectfully, simply asking does not mean that you are attacking them, and if they are doing their best to answer your questions because they want their sighting to be taken seriously and even looked into they won't come across as defensive. They will want to be as informative as possible.

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3 Comments:

  • At 1:49 AM, Blogger gary said…

    Very, very well stated! Dr.Meldrum is a very smart professional! And all these people who have no life and just bad mouth a highly educated professor such as Meldrum need to just shut up and get the heck out here!
    For once, finally after years of non professional people looking for Bigfoot, we finally, thank God, have a college professor who knows what he is talking about and is willing to get on the History channel, the Discovery channel and back up his claims with real world science!!
    Keep kicking ass Dr.Meldrum!
    They KNOW your right!!!!

     
  • At 7:02 AM, Anonymous BF Reseacher said…

    These are very good observations. I agree with your premise that the Web has improved interest and most of the research about Bigfoot. I really believe the Web will discover this species. When science clashes and debates begin, ironically, that's a good thing. It usually means the research is getting more intense.

    I'd like to repost your comments on www.discoverbigfoot.com

     
  • At 3:51 AM, Blogger bf2006 said…

    Great article. Jeff Meldrum has been one of the best allies we have had in this field of inquiry, but he is not perfect, and he will be the first to tell you that. I have had the pleasure of hearing him give 3 different presentations in person, I have had the pleasure of spending time with him and asking him questions, I have even interviewed him a couple of times, and he has always been willing and generous to answer my questions. His book is the current best scientific tome on the Sasquatch out there, and I highly recommend getting it to get a better idea of the anatomy of the Sasquatch as well as the Sasquatch foot. Meldrum is doing great things in the field of Sasquatch, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. Kudos to Jeff Meldrum.

     

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