I’ll admit it. We like just about all things Bigfoot. Amy and Laura are huge fans of the show Finding Bigfoot, and we like stuff with the imagery of Sasquatch and tales of sitings. So, when we saw that David George Gordon was going to give a talk entitled “Sasquatch: Man-Ape or Myth?” at the Mount Vernon library, we knew we had to attend.
A bit of background first…
Count me as a skeptic. This week also marks the 50th anniversary of the Patterson film. This is the one that cemented the iconic Sasquatch pose.
To me the video just looks like a fat dude in a gorilla suit but I know there are some True Believers™. It’s that pose mid-way that catches everyone’s attention, frame 352.
That pose has become famous and shows up just about everywhere. Here’s a multitool that Bennie Waddell gave me and that I keep on my PFD.
I like the imagery, much as I like the images of Kokopelli, I’itoi’s Maze, or dozens of other cultural icons. A good icon can be very compelling.
Laura and Amy like Bigfoot for the entertainment. Both of them are so heavily into their research that cryptids, UFOs, and ghost hunting are a break from serious science. They can laugh at the leaps of logic and shoddy research techniques employed by shows like Finding Bigfoot and Ghost Hunters.
Of course here in the Pacific Northwest Bigfoot is a big deal. I was able to find this little nugget for Laura’s birthday, to help with her sabbatical research.
However, as much as she likes Bigfoot, when I suggested that we attend this lecture at the Mount Vernon library Laura was hesitant. She said that she likes to keep her crazies safely at arms length, preferably on the other side of a television screen. Eventually I was able to convince her that this might be fun.
This was our first visit to Mount Vernon Library. It seemed smaller than the Burlington Library that we had visited a week or so ago, but there was lots of activity not associated with the lecture. That was good to see.
The lecture itself was in the reference section of the library. Even though we got there a bit early, there was already a crowd and we had a hard time finding seats. There was a display with Gordon’s other books, as well as other Sasquatch material from the library.
As we were getting settled an older gentleman and his wife sat beside us. The man began to tell me about his encounter with a Bigfoot. It was an intriguing story. We would hear more about it as the evening progressed.
One of the first things David Gordon said was that he was “on the fence” about Bigfoot. He had never seen one nor had he found any evidence himself – footprints, etc. As it turns out, he is primarily a naturalist and has written many books on various topics, including The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, Revised: 40 Ways to Cook Crickets, Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes, and Their Kin. His latest book is The Sasquatch Seeker’s Field Manual: Using Citizen Science to Uncover North America’s Most Elusive Creature.
Gordon’s approach in his book and during the lecture was that if you’re going to go out looking for Bigfoot, the least you can do is use accepted observation techniques. He described the methods used by naturalists in the fields and how these could be applied to the study of Bigfoot (or any other cryptid, for that matter.)
Gordon started with a history of Bigfoot, including the source of the terms “Sasquatch” and “Bigfoot.” He then reviewed some significant observations, such as the Patterson-Gimlin film. He was sympathetic to the True Believers™, but stated that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. You can’t just say “I seen it!” and have it taken as proof.
Regarding the Patterson film, Gordon said that he had some problems with it. He said that it was missing a frame rate so that we don’t know the true gait of the individual observed. He also said that the outtakes from the film were missing. However, I’ve been able to find a copy online that supposedly shows even more of the film, including some of the outtakes – the explorers riding the trail, etc.
I’m sure there were some True Believers™ present who were disappointed in the lecture. He didn’t present any new findings nor any additional “proof” of Bigfoot. He just provided a way to make field observations.
Yes, there were quite a few True Believers™ there. Laura and I felt a bit like atheists at a Pentecostal convention. At the end of the lecture Gordon asked if anyone thought they had seen a Bigfoot. One younger man related a tale of camping up at Lake McMurray, but it seemed mind-altering substances might also have been involved. The older guy sitting next to me stood up to tell his story – and it was very different from what he had told me earlier. It seems that he and his wife had driven all the way down from Alaska looking for Sasquatch. They were about to give up when they saw the very thing they sought just as they were leaving.
For me this guy’s tale has the same problem as the Patterson-Gimlin experience. Both parties were actively seeking Bigfoot and found the thing they so desperately wanted to see. I tend to give more credence to chance encounters. It’s easier to think that these searcher encounters were manufactured, whether by the parties doing the observation or by other pranksters. Who knows?
Regardless, it was an interesting evening and I’m glad we went. I liked David Gordon’s approach to the topic. He was respectful while promoting rationalism and critical thinking. Sadly, that doesn’t make for good reality TV, so we’ll still see the BFRO on “Finding Bigfoot” acting like idiots and jumping to wild conclusions, even though they have never actually “found” Bigfoot.
2 thoughts on “Sasquatch: Ape-Man or Myth?”
Some mysteries will never be answered yet it sure adds flavor to someone’s life. When I camped and hiked in Olympic NP, the abundance of moss gave me the willies, if there is a Big Foot he is in the right place to hide out.
Meanwhile I am an Ancient Alien fan, big time!! Def they are out there. ;o)
I remain open-minded. I’m just not a fan of bad science or jumping to conclusions. Still lots we don’t know.