January 12, 2007

Ethics, by Kathy Strain

Article by Kathy Strain

Is there ever a time where “trying to do the right thing” for the sake of bigfoot research outweighs behaving ethically?

Bigfooting has never been perfect. We have had our share of researchers committing hoaxes or outright fraud (Ivan Marx, etc.). Recently though, we seem to have had an unusual amount of blatantly unethical behavior that has harmed researchers, Native Americans, and bigfooting as a whole.

Seemingly always in the news, Tom Biscardi (Large Skeleton Unearthed) recently received an email from a guy in Texas who, while looking for arrowheads in a prehistoric Native American site, found a skeleton. The skeleton was somehow linked to bigfoot and Biscardi went to the site, dug through Native American artifacts, measured the disarticulated bones, and declared it to be over nine feet tall. He then took “a few bones,” including the jaw bone and teeth, and subjected them to DNA analysis. Biscardi posted both the DNA sequence from the bones and photographs of the burial on his website.

On the surface, Biscardi did everything correct….bones, DNA samples, careful photographs and measurements, field report, lab report…this is science right?

However, it was very clear from the pictures that the burial was obviously human. The artifacts destroyed while digging were burial gifts. The DNA sequence was an exact match to human DNA.

It goes without saying that had Biscardi had a scientist present or at least consulted one prior to the excavation, a human burial would not have been desecrated. However, even without a scientist present, any reasonable person would have clearly recognized that the skeleton belonged to his own species. Any decent human would have quickly covered the grave, whispered an apology, and walked away. However, for some odd reason, the need to find a bigfoot skeleton or prove bigfoot’s existence outweighed common sense.

I wonder if Biscardi returned the bones he removed to the site or if he just threw them away. Does he care that Native American religious beliefs dictate that all bones be kept together and the mere removal of one bone has a consequences to that owners soul?

I could list countless laws that Biscardi broke in excavating and removing human remains, both Federal and State, but what he did is so wrong, those laws don’t even need to be mentioned. Someone so callous as to desecrate a human burial should be isolated from the rest of us humans, least we be contaminated by him.

Another lapse of judgment was recently committed by M.K. Davis. I've already made my feelings known about ‘digger indians’, digging sticks, and Patty being human, and in the long run, although I don’t feel his hypotheses are well thought out, he has the right to his opinion. Being wrong is not unethical; not seeking the advice from professional scientists is, again, unwise, but forgivable in this case. However, there is another level to this whole incident.

M.K. produced a very interesting .gif file that links individual photos of the Patterson/Gimlin film into a moving but stabilized format. It is very impressive and you are left with the impression that the very clear photos used in the .gif were produced directly from John Green’s copy of the film by a brilliant M.K. But, that isn’t true. The photos used where painstakingly digitized by Rick Noll on behalf of John Green. Rick had the permission of Patricia Patterson to produce the stills in an effort to see if any further details could be found of “Patty.”

So, what happened? Rick did not give the photos to M.K. to use, nor did M.K. ask Rick to use them. We now know that M.K. got them from Chris Murphy. We also know that Chris asked M.K. not to mention him as the source. However, at no time was M.K. told not to give credit to the person who produced them or to give the impression that he had done the work himself.

While M.K. has done some good work in the past and the .gif is certainly cool, that doesn’t outweigh the fact that it is simply unethical to claim work as your own when it isn’t. Would it have been so hard to say, “The photos used in this stabilization were produced by Rick Noll”? The only one who would have questioned how M.K. got the photos would have been Rick and it would have been between them, not the rest of us.

I understand that M.K. felt he was helping the cause, but what he did was wrong, plain and simple. I am sorry that his friends have felt the need to attack those who have publicly condemned the behavior and I’m sorry that M.K. is deeply wounded. However, it didn’t have to happen and it doesn’t have to continue. A public apology is warranted, and the sooner the better.

At the start of this I asked, “is there ever a time where ‘trying to do the right thing’ for the sake of bigfoot research outweighs behaving ethically.” The answer is no, and we’d all do well to have those words engraved on our souls.

*Join the Discussion at*


  • At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey melissa this definetly a very informative article about ethics. hey kathy you did wonderful job with this article it should teach all researchers etc. just my honest opinion. thanks bill

  • At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good Job Melissa, well written and to the point. It seems the Bigfoot community is sometimes it's own worst enemy. No wonder science hates to get into it. Pete Wilson

  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    Thank you both :)

    As much as I would love to say I wrote this specific article, I can not do that. This specific article is the fine work of Kathy Strain, who contributes to this blog.

  • At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great article Kathy. It amazes me how some would cross the ethical lines and trounce their own integrity. IMO, desecration of a burial ground also cross the ethical lines into the grounds of moral turpitude. Crossing ethical lines for the benifit of sasquatchery? I say no, maybe for the benifit of one\'s personal gain. Maybe....more like a tell/tale sign of one\'s lack of principles, standards and character


  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting perspective however it does not go without saying that had Mr B had a scientist with him or had consulted one, that it would not have led to a desecration. It could have because a desecration is a cultural interpretation and scientists in the past (even those taking utmost care) have been harshly criticized by ancestors connected with the remains who've in essence said that no matter what was done to disturb 'em, the remains had been desecrated in the eyes of the supposed descendents. Likewise, since native North Americans had many different languages and cultural perspective it would be wrong to universally declare every investigation of ancient North American human remains to be desecration to North American natives(eg:Kennewick Man). I applaud appropriate measures being taken in order to recognize and address the sensitivities of those who believe, and can lend some evidence, to the idea that the remains are actually the remains of their ancestors, however I'm uncomfortable with sweeping statements whether by scientist or by the supposed ancestors regarding what is or isn't allowable when the remains being investigated are ambiguous in their relationship to the living traditions of those with whom we share the world, but communication implies a back-and-forth process and that each side will benefit from the objective truth's ultimate revelation. In the mean time, a little respect and the occasional expression of regret would go a long way towards the goal of enlightening us all.

  • At 2:46 PM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    Response by Kathy Strain:

    Good thoughts, but I think you missed the point. While a tribe may very well be supportive of a scientific excavation of a burial, I know of no Native American that would consider it ok to plow through a human burial in search of Bigfoot evidence (not to mention removing remains and then not returning them). I would suspect highly that most people would feel the same way if Biscardi had been digging in the local cemetery.

  • At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello Miss Hovey and Ms. Strain,

    I have been involved, by accident, with this Bigfoot phenomenon for about two years now and I must admit that I know little or nothing about the true nature of the beast. However, after a long, revealing career as a freelance photographer, I can say with impunity that I know something about human nature and culpability. In a recent, widely circulated email from Chris Murphy he takes all of the responsibility for having provided the images to M.K. Davis upon himself. That, however, doesn't absolve Murphy, Noll or Davis from compicity in this very convoluted disorder of events. There was a potential theory plus a wealth of other information locked away in the images that was brought to light by Davis, after it had been on the shelf for nearly four decades. That is not to say that, in the course of using these images to extract evidence of this theory, M.K. Davis was without the responsibility to acknowledge the source of his work. Richard Noll, in my opinion, was very wise in using photo-microscopy to document the information on those tiny 16mm film frames. This was done on the premise that this process would provide a high resolution permanent, renewable image base from which to work. Beyond that I make no claim to know anything of the film format used to duplicate these (although I suspect it was 35mm), how these images were stored or scanned or duplicated and where they are now.
    However, many people are only focused on the chain of events, paying just a passing (and negative) notice to the volume of work accomplished by M.K. Davis. Again, I am not saying he escapes responsibility for not acknowledging his sources, I am saying that his work has been phenomenal is his efforts to analyze the footage. More on that later.

    My life experience has taught me that no good deed goes unpunished, a phrase I deem appropriate in far too many instances. In this case I think that, under the prompting by certain so called researchers, far too many people found far too many things wrong with the work of an honest individual. Yes, HONEST. Blameless, unaccountable, no, not hardly, but honest none the less. In my opinion, he did what he did with a true desire to get at the truth and did so without without malice.

    As to me, I am a filmmaker. I retired a few years ago at the tender age of 54 to persue my desire to make documentary films. Do to a quirk in the cosmos, a trick of fate, a bad hair day or whatever, I ended up doing my first documentary on independent bigfoot researchers. It has done only well enough to just begin to pay expenses, but I am happy with it as a first time effort. I met tons of great (and some not so great) people in the process and I am forever in their debt for giving me their time and going on tape for me. One of those people was M.K. Davis. I became aware of his work with the film while doing research on line concerning my film's subject matter. And after a location scouting trip in the early summer of 2005, I met him in person at Chester Moore Jr.'s Crypto Conference in Conroe, Texas. The thing that immediately amazed me about Davis was the fact that he had used an inexpensive, off the shelf animation program and graphics editor to hand stabilize and assemble the film into the version we are all now familiar with. He is an unpretentious man who has made little or no money from this despite his appearances on several major made for TV documentaries. He has also been involved in exposing hoaxes and debunking others who were out for the money or fame or both. He, however, not I, will have to fill in the details of those accounts. All in all he is an astoundingly smart and resourcefull individual. And, like all of us, has also has his faults, fears and shortcomings. It is on his shortcomings that all of this shouting has been about. Not his obvious success. That has, unfortunately, been referred to only in passing as, "he has done some good work", or "Davis's work has been good", but then the writers invariable go back to the negative side.

    I have been accused by many as having been the "evil money grabber" behind the idea of a DVD. Yes, it was my idea. However, so was a FREE, secure website to showcase his findings to the world. But that is now out of my hands and the responsibility of another individual, but as of yet I am unaware of the URL for the site. The reason I wanted to do a DVD was PRIMARILY because web images and video just do not cut it when attempting to display fine detail. Also, how do you produce that? Do you set it up so that the slowest dialup can see it clearly? If you do that the broadbanders will give up the capabilities of there equipment. If it is set up for broadband, those with dial up will either crash their machines or take forever to download the information, thus defeating the purpose. A DVD can produce stable, high resolution images and animations to illustrate Davis's findings AND include other features, too varied to mention, to enhance the experience. It would be nice to have a few bucks out of this, but that was NOT my prime motivator. Right now Patricia Patterson is considering a generous offer I made to her for what I believe will be an unprecedented look at the making and analysis of this film.
    So, there it is in a nutshell, OK a BIG nutshell. I hope this clears up any doubt in the reader's mind concerning both M.K. Davis and myself in this effort.

    Thank you Miss Hovey for the forum.

    John L. Johnsen

  • At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for your comments Mr. Johnsen. MK has done some good work, but as I wrote, the ends can not justify the means. If anything goes, why would science take us seriously?

    As an example, people send me videos and sounds they've recorded for my opinion all the time. What prevents me from claiming the best of those as my own work? If I used my position as a scientist to get the video into the media, and that in turn raised the profile of bigfoot, wouldn't that justify my actions? In the end, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. I know what I'm willing to do for bigfoot; and I know what I'm not willing to do as well.

    You are a very good friend to stand by MK through all this turmoil, and I commend you. I also hope that you are encouraging him to come forward and make this right.

    Kathy Strain

  • At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ms. Strain,

    Thanks for the reply. There is, in my opinion, a need to separate the work being done on the film. There was the work done by Noll: the physical copying of the film frames and any and all he may have done towards the analysis of them. He passed them on to Chris Murphy. There was then Murphy's work, whatever that may have been. I do know that Chris Murphy did say to Davis, in so many words, that the film had no more information to give up. Then at last we have M.K. Davis who, regardless of the source of the raw material, spent more time than anyone had spent previously to digitize, stabilize and magnify the images in such a manner that had never been attempted. Now, I have already stated that Noll deserves credit for the initial work he did on this film. If that is true then Davis deserves credit for his work as well. Noll and Murphy BOTH lapsed in their research of the film, Davis picked it up and made huge strides. Holding a grudge will only impede progress and discourage future researchers from using anything even remotely attached to another. If that occurs then research stalled and ignored may never be resumed and seen to its end. If you will never forgive the mistakes of others, then don’t expect to forgiven when your time comes.

    I urge you and others to relent in this tug of war. A good man made some mistakes, but in the process may have enlightened the world concerning a great mystery. Have it you heart to forgive him, and tell him so.

    Thank you,

    John Johnsen

  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    Posted by John Johnsen

    "He passed them on to Chris Murphy."

    I am assuming you are discussing Rick Noll. Rick Noll never passed his work to Chris Murphy. Rick also asked MK to not post those images on the internet - he did so anyway. Rick also never stopped working on this film - MK jumped in half way through the work Rick Noll was attempting to complete with the Master of the film.

    Also, forgive him - for what? MK hasn't apologized for this specific incident.

    I don't think you read the articles on this issue.

  • At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm very sure the bigfoot community would be willing to forgive MK if he admits his error and asks for forgiveness. I again encourage you, Mr. Johnsen, as a friend to provide him with good counsel. He needs to "step up to the plate" if you will, and soon, or else hardened hearts may be unwilling to give him a second chance.

  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    Excellent advice and comments Kathy :)

  • At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I guess it would be helpful to sign my posts, huh!

    Kathy Strain

  • At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Miss Hovey,

    I must challenge you on this. I had an hour long conversation via telephone with Chris Murphy the night before last during which he told me point blank that the chain of handling of the images from the film is exactly as I stated in my prior post. Also, here is a short excerpt from the email I referred to concerning Murphy's desire to take the blame for all of this:

    "With all of the material I gave Davis, I told him not to state where he got it from. I have a reason for this but I don't want to get into it. At some point after I reviewed all the frames Rick Noll had assembled, I decided to provide a copy to Davis, again telling him not to reveal the source. I latter learned that Rick was not happy with me providing a copy to Davis and I sorted this out with Rick personally."

    I have already stated that Davis was remiss in not naming Noll as the originator of the captured frames. In my opinion continuing to call for an apology is fruitless and will gain nothing in this controversy. If it will settle you both somewhat, I will talk to M.K. and see how he feels thanking Noll for his work. However, it is Davis’s work we are seeing in the animations, not Noll’s. It is made from images supplied by Noll, through Murphy.

    Again I implore you and Ms. Strain to let it drop.

    Thank you,

    John Johnsen

  • At 11:34 PM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    Well thats not what Chris Murphy said to me in an email where he discusses his role in this. It is also not what Rick Noll said. Rick Noll states he specifically handed his work over to John Green - Chris Murphy said he received the images from John Green. Rick did not hand anything over to Chris Murphy or MK Davis. I think you misunderstood someone - as Chris Murphy's direct comments to me on this issue are absolutely the opposite of what you are saying now.

    So, which story should I now believe, yours or Mr. Murphys?

  • At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Miss Hovey,

    Your implication is that I am lying and I don't care much for that. I am telling you the truth. Perhaps you were not privy to the mass mailing of the email I quoted from, perhaps you were and misread it. You seem absolutely bent on discrediting Davis and me in this ongoing war of words and it seems nothing will deter you. I cannot see your motivation for doing so. I only hope that when it is your turn in the fire you will understand how it feels.

    I have said all I will about this. As always, thanks for providing this forum and for the help in locating my revue on the ABS blog.

    Thank you,

    John l. Johnsen

  • At 11:47 PM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    My bad - direct quote from Chris Murphy:

    "Rick nor John gave me a copy directly".

    Which proves my point, Nothing was handed to Chris Murphy via Rick Noll.

  • At 12:12 AM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…


    No one called you a liar, do not be so dramatic. I said you must have misunderstood, and judging by the quote from Mr. Murphys email, that would be a proper assessment, unless Mr. Murphy has changed his story?

    You of course mean this mass email sent out by Mr. Murphy - read it again, I am sure you will see I am not making anything up. I am not attempting to discredit you, I am simply not allowing misinformation, which is well within my rights - and the readers of this blog expect that.

    "My turn in the fire" is that a threat of some kind? I will not be intimidated by you or anyone else. You may publish anything you wish (as it is your right) on your blog, but it is my right to keep the content factual on this blog.

    I agree with Kathy - there is an issue that must be addressed in this field of research, and no one is simply pointing a finger at MK alone... We must all consider our own thoughts and motivations. Ethics is an important issue for any field of research, I am sorry you do not seem to think so, but I can not do anything about that.

    Sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow. You ask us to make concessions for things we did not do. Yes, an error on MK's part was pointed out, and he needs to do what is right, but that is up to him, and your insistence that he has done nothing wrong is laughable.

    You are a good friend to MK, that is undeniable, but Kathy is right, you should counsel MK to do the right thing and make an apology and give proper credit where it is due.

  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi john johnston good evening well once you get all your new bigfoot documentarys available on dvds what do you think the media or bigfoot commuity reactions & opinions will be in general. thanks bill :)

  • At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello Bill,

    I expect the usual mixed bag of responses to my work. And I will use those responses to make the next ones better and better. Thanks for your comment, Bill.


  • At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey john johnston thanks for the great return above reply to me. you still have a interesting website. thanks bill

  • At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting how this is working out. I don't doubt that MK believes he is only trying to find the truth and do good work. regardless of how he got the pictures or what he did with them it has became clear that some things were done wrong. Now wouldn't it be the best thing for MK to try and make thing right. He can talk to Mr. Green, Mr. Noll just as easy as any one else. I believe his apparent refusal to do so is what much of this is about. I do have a question about MK's work however. I have heard several people talk about his good work in the past. I would like to know what their opinion is on the claims he has made in the past. I listened to MK talk in Oregon several years ago where he claimed to see numerous bullet holes in Patty as well as multiple nipples on each breast. Personally I think MK has good intentions but an over active imagination.

  • At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To add my two cents, I agree, the admission of wrong doing should be made as should an apology by M.K. Davis. What's so hard about that? The extent and quality of the work doesn't matter if it was obtained through wrongdoing.

    Just accept even though the work done might be groundbreaking, how you obtained it was wrong Mr. Davis, and let's move on. The proverbial cat is out of the bag. Damage control in this instance is better than denial.


  • At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read Chris Bateman’s article about Stanislaus National Forest's archaeologist Kathy Strain’s search for Sasquatch with much interest. We Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute people have many stories of Giants and Big Foots who roamed the area. We heard there was a giant female mummy found in Yosemite before 1890. We Paiutes called them Pahetzo’o or Numu’Tukutta, the people eater. Our creation stories also include many tales of Giants who trekked along the Sierra Nevada. One Giant carried a large Wono basket and would snatch up people to eat later on. In one story right before the white man entered the west we Paiutes had killed several red headed Giants who had been kidnapping our children and eating them. We had blocked their cave and burned them inside. We Paiutes believed that the Sierra Nevada were actual giants who had lain down. Many times our men would have to watch out for Giants and Big Foots while the women would grind acorns, an act we call “Pota”. Many of those same “Pota” holes are found through out the Tuolumne and Yosemite area. One of our Paiute bands was the Pota people, the same people who roamed Hetch Hetchy Valley, Piute Creek and Piute Mountain. Different bands of Paiutes lived from further down by Bakersfield all the way up to Southeastern Oregon along the Sierra Nevada and we saw many mysteries things. We Paiutes called long sticks "Podo" for digging and we used them to carry things.

  • At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In regard to K.S. comments in regard to Biscardi, Biscardi is publicly explaining that the skeleton was fully exposed in a pit dug by others, prior to his arrival. There were no artifacts other than the bones. The apparent fact that the skeleton was laid out similar to how humans may bury their dead, does not make the skeleton human. A 9 foot tall skeleton also does not imply a human skeleton by any stretch of the imagination. The DNA analysis was hushed up by others who got to the LAB performing the analysis, and was never actually revealed to Biscardi. The U.S. Government has now apparently taken control of the site and the skeleton, and denies that it exists, according to Biscardi. So K.S. may have been receiving some incomplete information, prior to including Biscardi in her ethic discertation. This does not defend Biscardi's prior claims at other locations, to have captured a Bigfoot when none were ever produced. Nor does this defend Biscardi's apparently hoaxed photos of a black valour clad hominid, with loose pant leg type folds in the material below the knees.

  • At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for the above comment! Is there a way I can talk further with you? My email is


  • At 5:06 AM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    "Anonymous" In regard to K.S. comments in regard to Biscardi, Biscardi is publicly explaining that the skeleton was fully exposed in a pit dug by others, prior to his arrival. There were no artifacts other than the bones. The apparent fact that the skeleton was laid out similar to how humans may bury their dead, does not make the skeleton human.

    "Melissa" It also doesn't make it a Bigfoot.

    "Anonymous" A 9 foot tall skeleton also does not imply a human skeleton by any stretch of the imagination. The DNA analysis was hushed up by others who got to the LAB performing the analysis, and was never actually revealed to Biscardi. The U.S. Government has now apparently taken control of the site and the skeleton, and denies that it exists, according to Biscardi. So K.S. may have been receiving some incomplete information, prior to including Biscardi in her ethic discertation. This does not defend Biscardi's prior claims at other locations, to have captured a Bigfoot when none were ever produced. Nor does this defend Biscardi's apparently hoaxed photos of a black valour clad hominid, with loose pant leg type folds in the material below the knees.

    "Melissa" I'm starting to see a trend here. Whenever things go wrong for Biscardi - its always someone else's fault. The 2 Captured Bigfoot in Nevada (what a story that was) as an example. That hoax wasn't Toms fault - noooo, he just helped perpetuate it and tried to cash in on this story.. But, it wasn't his fault. I also tire of the conspiracy theories. Do you have proof this DNA lab ever received any samples from Biscardi? If so, would you share your information? How do you know the Government has now taken over? From the sounds of it, the land this skeleton was found on was always Government land - maybe enough people complained about him possibly digging up a human burial site that the authorities had no choice but to step in? Could it be that rational?

    Nothing personal, but I need more than your "word" before I jump on this bandwagon, as Biscardi tried to play the DNA game not that long ago - and was busted by Cryptomundo. Kathy's article was right on the money in my opinion - but you are entitled to yours.

  • At 11:24 PM, Blogger Kathy Strain said…

    Please note that my request to talk to the anonymous writer was to the Native American person speaking about the Yosemite Paiute.

    For the other anonymous comments about Biscardi not digging up the burial, I think you should read the link to the BFF thread for more information.

    As for the 9 ft. skeleton, you cannot measure a disarticulated skeleton for have to use a measurements of the femur and a calculation from a table. The ruler next to the bones can be easily read and CLEARLY falls within the human range.

    I address the DNA claims in another blog.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger p.freeman said…

    Ethics,smethics! If indead this is a 9 foot set of bones, this would imply the gaint stories are are correct! It is time to pass legislation stating any bones,human or otherwise, over 300 years old be subject to scientific scrutiny.

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger Melissa Hovey said…

    I can understand what your saying, but would you feel that way if it was a ancestor of yours?

    I really dont think the excavation of this site was the issue, it was it way in which it was carried out and handled.

    One thing that frankly surprises me, is I live not far from this area, and I have heard nothing about this find on the news, radio or print.. You would think a 9 foot skeleton would make news.. I have not heard one word.

    I wonder why that is? Did the media forget who biscardi is?


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