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One More Debunker Exposed -- Comments On David Daegling's Bigfoot Exposed

Thanks to gifts from Bobbie Short and Roger Knights, the International Center of Hominology now has two copies of Bigfoot Exposed -- An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend (AltaMira Press, 2004) by David J. Daegling.

As indicated by the subtitle, the purpose of the book is to assure the public that Bigfoot is only a legend. The educational bottom line is this: Bigfoot "is a human invention, and it is reinvented constantly"(p.248). In this respect, it's a repeat of John Napier's message in his BIGFOOT (1972), and to the question which book is better or worse, I have to repeat Stalin's phrase "both are worse". Still, Napier's has certain merit over Daegling's, for Napier openly avowed the real reason why he "will happily settle for the myth": otherwise anthropologists "shall have to re-write the story of human evolution"(p.204).

Daegling is a spokesman of a Knowledge Monopoly, and has written his book accordingly. (See Henry Bauer's article "Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels", in The Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol.18, # 4). Still, we should be thankful to him and all other monopoly authors, for the more they engage in explaining Bigfoot away the more they expose their prejudice, bringing closer the day of Bigfoot recognition.

Daegling exposes Bigfoot from the position of associate professor at the University of Florida. I am exposing Daegling from the position of science director at the International Center of Hominology in Moscow, Russia. Hominology is a branch of primatology, founded in the middle of the 20th century in science's "no-man's land" between zoology and anthropology. An immediate impulse for its emergence was the Yeti problem, while an underlying historical and scientific reason was the discovery that "wild men" have been known throughout history all over the world. The self-laudatory term Homo sapiens was introduced by Linnaeus in the middle of the 18th century in contrast to what he termed Homo troglodytes and Homo sylvestris.

Hominology is the science of living non-sapiens hominids (homins, for short), so of necessity it could only come into being after the emergence of the theory of evolution and paleoanthropology. Homins were unknown to modern science because there was no modern natural science to know them. Hominology means a scientific revolution in a number of disciplines, first and foremost in the theory of man's origin (anthropogenesis), as Napier rightly feared. Without considering this crucial factor, it is impossible to understand the attitude of mainstream scientists to the subject of Bigfoot or any other relict hominids.(Let us note that gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans are also relict species today). Hominology's evidence comes from natural history, mythology, folklore, ancient and medieval art, eyewitness accounts, footprints, vocalizations, and photography.

Why as yet no living or dead specimen or a part of its body? The shortest answer is that too little time has passed since the birth of hominology. It is a newborn science, devoid of recognition and funding. Even with the greatest funding in the world it takes time to apprehend certain bipeds not wanting to be apprehended, as, for example, Osama bin Laden. There is little doubt that Bigfoot and other homins are not willing to be apprehended and have every capacity to stay at large. The rare cases of their capture are marked in history as special events. On the other hand, the accidental capture of a specimen by apple orchard guards in Russian in 1989 ended in the release of the creature because it threatened to ruin the car in which it was imprisoned. Had the car owner been promised a tiny fraction of the reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden, the situation in hominology would now be different.

In his book The Locals, Thom Powell presents the case of a Bigfoot reportedly captured in 1999 in Nevada during a forest fire. The creature was said to have been taken away by the authorities and disappeared without a trace. I take the story seriously because of its many realistic details and because we have had similar reports in Russia. Now that the name of the wealthy Hollywood owner of the so-called Iceman has been indicated, I am convinced that Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans were not mistaken when they said that what they saw was an object of biology, not fakery. The corpse was both exhibited and withdrawn for religious reasons.

So a more involved answer to the question why definitive biological evidence in hominology is not available is this. The number of people interested in obtaining such evidence is an infinitesimal fraction of those who are indifferent to the task or are against it for one reason or another. Further, the number of those among the interested who may have a chance to find and recognize such evidence is also an infinitesimal fraction. The negative impact of indifference on one side, and hidden or open hostility on the other, leaves the tiny number of hominologists little chance to quickly obtain traditionally acceptable biological proof. For this reason hominology still finds itself in a cryptozoological phase of development.

And yet of all cryptids in the world Bigfoot is the best documented biologically. We have for it eyewitness accounts, footprints, handprints, a body print, hair samples, scat, recorded vocalizations, and a film footage. The progress in obtaining and analyzing so many different kinds of evidence by unfunded volunteers is amazing (see Christopher Murphy, Meet the Sasquatch, 2004 , Hancock House). For hominologists this is more than enough to take Bigfoot for a reality, but it is not yet enough for mainstream scientists, and this is not only because Bigfoot is not an ordinary primate, but because it is the harbinger of a scientific revolution.

Many hominologists agree with me that it is impermissible for moral reasons to seek the solution of the problem by means of a rifle. We pin hopes on the method proposed by our teacher, the founder of hominology, Boris Porshnev, who wrote:
"If proceeding most cautiously we succeed in conditioning the creature to come and take food in a definite place, that would be a real scientific victory. There is a basis for such prospects, namely, the above-mentioned cases in different geographical areas of local people habituating and even befriending relict hominoids. Scientific work could be launched in such a case even without direct contact of researchers with the specimen, for modern zoology boasts of an excellent means of taking color films with a telephoto lens at a great distance. A relict hominoid would then appear on the screen showing its usual movements and habits against a background of its natural environment. So step by step relict hominoids on earth could find themselves under man's protection and permanent scientific surveillance. At a certain moment it would be possible, of course, to observe the death of this creature. Then the anatomist would get a corpse for autopsy. Thus the perspective of studying Homo troglodytes looks as the reverse of zoology's canon: not from dissection to biology but from biology to dissection" (Porshnev 1963, in Dmitri Bayanov, Bigfoot: To Kill or To Film? The Problem of Proof, 2001, pp.13,14)

. Thanks in part to the Internet, the secrets of habituation are beginning to open up, turning Boris Porshnev's vision into a reality, as indicated by the book 50 Years with Bigfoot: Tennessee Chronicles of Co-Existence, 2002, by Mary Green and Janice Carter Coy, and by Igor Bourtsev's article "Russian Hominologist in Tennessee" (Bigfoot Co-op, December 2004).

Finally, why is hominology scientific rather than pseudoscientific, as alleged by some critics? According to Henry Bauer's Science or Pseudoscience, 2001, the main criterion of a scientific pursuit is "connectedness", i.e. "crucial links with the mainstream"(p.158). "All natural scientists accept and draw on the same laws, facts, and methods"(p.11). I understand this as follows. The unknown can only be studied and understood by proceeding from and connecting with the known. Magnetism has been known to sience since antiquity, while electricity was much of an unknown two centuries ago. Faraday and Maxwell connected electric phenomena with magnetism and thus ushered in the era of electricity. So their work was very scientific.
By this criterion, UFOlogy is not yet a science because so far specific UFO observation reports cannot be connected with or explained by the existing scientific knowledge. Hominology, on the contrary, by the criterion of connectedness seems to be the most scientific of sciences for it provides "crucial links" with and between the theory of evolution, paleoanthropology, mythology, demonology, folkloristics, the history of religion, and the history of art.
In addition, hominology gives a natural answer to the natural question why apes are still with us while brainier apemen or pre-sapiens hominids died out. The answer is they didn't. Their wholesale extinction is the illusion of paleoanthropologists who are as adequate experts on relict hominids as paleontologists were on living coelacanths. Relict hominids are hidden in natural forests and mountains, but above all they are hidden in "the forests of the mind". The task of hominology is to drive them out of those "forests" into the open vistas of science.

Such is the necessary prelude to taking Dr. Daegling on in earnest. Someone declaring nowadays that stones falling from heaven are nothing but a myth would have to refute the science of meteoritics. Similarly, anyone publishing a book declaring that Bigfoot is a myth has to take on the science of hominology in its theoretical, historical and geographical aspects. As this task proved Herculean for Dr.Daegling, he opted for the simple job of declaring all the sightings mistaken, all the footprints faked, and the Bigfoot documentary hoaxed.

The whole tome of 276 pages consists of nothing but endlessly repeated naysayings. John Green has already challenged Daegling's expertise on Bigfoot tracks:
"People who have never seen any tracks but claim to know more about them than those who did see them are not a rare breed, their number is legion, but for someone to join their ranks waving the flag of "scientific verification" is bald-faced hypocrisy. What the tracks were like may be "anecdotal" to Dr. Daegling, but it is first-hand knowledge to those of us who studied them, photographed them and cast them, and because of our efforts there is plenty of solid evidence available to any scientist who will take the trouble to see if it can be verified or not. Dr. Daegling is not among those who have been prepared to take that trouble. Instead he stayed home and wrote a book"(John Green's email Bigfoot Exposed, Jan.3, 2005).

As for eyewitness accounts, they, according to Daegling, cannot be trusted for the following reason: "Unfortunately, we have been asking the wrong question through the years. "What did you see? we ask the eyewitness. If we take the answer at face value, we miss the meaning of the phenomenon. It may be more important to ask the one question the eyewitness may be in no position to answer: "Why did you see it?"(p.259). What a useful piece of advice, especially for detectives seeking information from witnesses, or for zoologists interviewing eyewitnesses with the aim of determining habitats of rare animals, or for physicists collecting sightings of ball lightning.

The major part of the author's naysayings are devotes to the Patterson-Gimlin film. This part of the book is of special concern to me and my Russian colleagues because the film was for the first time systematically studied and validated to our own satisfaction in Moscow back in the 1970s. So let us see what the author says about the Russian research and researchers.

It is untrue that "the Moscow Academy of Sciences boasted its own Institute of Hominology"(p.111). The Institute is even today nothing more than a dream of mine.

It is untrue that Porshnev's first name is Victor (p.111). It is Boris.

It is untrue that Dmitri Bayanov is schooled in biomechanics(.p111).

It is untrue that Donskoy's "report ... is thoroughly subjective and devoid of any particulars of argument"(p.111)
.

It is untrue that "Up unitl 1992, (...) there had been no scientific efforts directed at the film that took up the issue from a purely quantitative (and ostensibly objective) standpoint"(p.119). Daegling's References include our paper, published in 1984, "Analysis of Patterson-Gimlin Film: Why We Find It Authentic". It is based both on quantitative and qualitative analysis and presents quantitative findings.

It is untrue that the film speed "is unknown"(p.128). Igor Bourtsev did find it in 1973. His method and result stand in black and white in the above mentioned paper, listed in Daegling's References

. It is untrue that Perez "threw down the gauntlet" (to the mainstream) in the matter of the Bigfoot film(p.119). This was done by Russian hominologists in their report presented in 1978 at the Vancouver Sasquatch conference.

It is untrue that "The gait of the film subject (...) is easily duplicated by human beings"(p.147). Mimicked, yes, but not duplicated. Human beings can mimic the walk of different animals, such as bears, camels, elephants, as well as of the film subject. But they cannot imitate it in a natural, uncontrived manner characterizing Bigfoot's gait.

It is untrue that "Skeptical inquiry into the film has made significant strides since 1967"(p.205). Actually, it hasn't moved an inch. On the contrary, all aspiring debunkers of the film over the past decades have been exposed and defeated, and not a single proof or argument put forward by us for the film's authenticity has been refuted.

Dr. Daegling claims to have found "a glaring anomaly" in the film subject, namely, "the Achilles tendon appears to attach far forward on the heel, where the adaptive advantage of having an elongated heel in the first place is completely lost. (...) A prosthesis explains what is seen in the film; evolution, by contrast, cannot make sense of it"(p.144). In our paper published 20 years before Daegling's book and listed in his References, the matter of Bigfoot's elongated heel and Achilles tendon is dealt with as follows:

"The heel is actually seen to be sticking out in an inhuman way in some frames, suggesting an unusually large heel bone (calcaneus) as has been predicted by Grover Krantz using theoretical considerations and the evidence of the footprints.That the heel of the filmed subject is really unusual is testified to by the fact that this feature was independently discovered in Moscow and Ottawa. In Moscow it was seen by Bayanov and Bourtsev as "an omen of the creature's reality". (...) It is worth pointing out also that this peculiarity has never been reported by eyewitnesses because it appears only for a fleeting moment when the Achilles tendon is not tight in a certain phase of the stride" (The Sasquatch and other Unknown Hominoids, edited by Vladimir Markotic and Grover Krantz, 1984, p.226).

The film records in some of its frames these fleeting moments. In other words, there is no anomaly with attachment of the Achilles tendon. It is attached in the usual place at the end of the heel, and the impression that it is attached in a wrong place appears only when the tendon is slackened, not tightened. Dr. Daegling hides this fact from the reader by hiding our analysis of the film, described by Dr.Roderick Sprague as "by far the best and most thorough discussion of this classic film" (CRYPTOZOOLOGY, Vol.5,1986,p.105).

On p.211, Daegling quotes Dahinden's phrase "lying by omission". Dr. Daegling's biggest lie by omission is his total silence about my book America's Bigfoot: Fact, Not Fiction. U.S. Evidence Verified in Russia, 1997, devoted to our validation of the Patterson-Gimlin film, which is not even listed in his references. A possible reason for the omission is the strength of the case it makes, as indicated by this appraisal by Dr. Henry Bauer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science Studies:
"Glimpses of the Patterson film in various television shows had left me incredulous that the creature shown in it could be real. This book has made me almost equally incredulous that the film could have been faked, and thus I have become open to the staggering possibility that relict hominids may still be with us in sufficient numbers that we have the chance to learn something about them. I recommend this book heartily as a highly interesting reading adventure"(Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol.18, Number 3, 2004, p.533)

. On p.211, we read Dr.Daegling's conclusion that "Poor scholarship is one tell-tale sign of a pseudoscientific approach". This remark applies in full measure to the author. What's more, his book, by its intent and quality, is simply anti-scientific. Its contents do nothing but delude the reader. Fortunately, with the wide means of exposure provided by the Internet, Dr.Daegling's book, unlike that of Dr.Napier, is not destined to delay the search for Bigfoot. The process of undeceiving the public is gathering speed.

Dmitri Bayanov
International Center of Hominology
Moscow, Russia


John Green

Thomas Steenburg

Chris Murphy

Dr. John Bindernagel

Hancock House

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