Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wylie's Personal Inquiry into the Bigfoot Phenomenon

In order to keep a steady head while I do my Sasquatch research, I read Kenneth Wylie's Bigfoot: A Personal Inquiry into a Phenomenon. Unlike other Sasquatch researchers I have been reading (Grover Krantz, Jeff Meldrum) who claim it is very likely an unknown, upright walking ape is leaving the endless number of large human-like footprints around the world, Wylie does not find the evidence of footprints compelling in the least. Instead, he claims "the evidence in favor of pranks and hoaxes, mistaken identity aside, is far more convincing in the long run." Instead of seeing the significant abundance of these supposed Sasquatch tracks as supportive evidence, he states the large quantity of reported tracks is "cause for greater suspicion." He questions how such a presumably rare creature could leave such abundant tracks. He assumes that if these tracks are real, the creatures would have to be too populous to have been able to maintain this elusiveness. And then, basing the whole argument on the statement that "bear tracks are not commonly found," he assumes that the Sasquatch prints would have to come from a creature that might even be more populous than bears, and if this was so there would be more substantial evidence, and Bigfoot would be included in all the field guides.
My previous research leaves me thinking there might be a few things Kenneth Wylie is not considering. Besides the fact that he did not bother to include an estimated number of bear footprints spotted over the years (so we had something to compare), he did not address the fact that most bear prints that have been seen would most likely go unreported, due to the fact that people know bears exist. Without any kind of standard equation that can determine the approximate population of a species relative to the number of footprints found, there is no way to conclude that the number of purported Sasquatch tracks is unusual at all. And it may be true, due to the massive size of the foot and the incredible weight of these creatures, that Sasquatch tracks are more easy to notice than those of a bear. When examining a continuous string of over 100 tracks measuring over 18 inches long, Grover Krantz estimated the creatures weight to be 800 pounds. With large male black bears only weighing up to around 500 pounds, as well as distributing their weight over at least two legs at a time, their feet would leave much less of an indent in the earth. And with Grizzlies extinct in California, Oregon, and most of Washington, it would make sense that Sasquatch tracks are more commonly found in these areas. When explaining how it is more likely that these tracks are made from hoaxer's, he cites only one incident where a man named Ray Pickens admits to making false Bigfoot prints. For me, this is not enough to make me assume all prints are fakes. Even 99 out of 100 reported tracks are fake or misidentified, the creatures are still real.
While most of Wylie's book is very engaging and informational, with stories of encounters and physical evidence discoveries, he is not convinced in the end. Based on his research, he concluded that the "continued failure to find physical evidence is far more compelling than the so-called evidence supporting the idea that the creature exists." Although it would be nice to see the current evidence taken seriously and for some sophisticated field research strategies to be developed, it is understandable that some may be put off by the fact that we have never obtained a body of this creature for scientific analysis.

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