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Bigfoot Research Should Stick to Basics
by Brian Gaugler

Redfern is absolutely correct: we should examine all of the data, whether or not it fits comfortably into our belief systems. Ignoring evidence to suit our strictly held viewpoints is not only intellectually dishonest, but limits our knowledge and prevents us from making important discoveries and getting the answers that we all seek. However, with that said, I do not believe that turning to paranormal explanations to solve the Bigfoot mystery is a good approach, mainly being because we should not yet give up on the theory that the Sasquatch is a physical, flesh and blood creature. Cryptozoology at its core is a physical science, and as such relies upon physical evidence to support its claims and move one step closer to undeniable proof. Field expeditions and the acquiring of physical evidence are the backbone of cryptozoology and it has been that way for centuries, just as it has always been with all of the different physical sciences. The paranormal, however, has been and will always be largely intangible, due to its nonphysical and ethereal nature. It sometimes seems frustratingly out of reach, while cryptozoology remains more down to earth and confined to the physical plane.

One argument that those who advance a paranormal explanation use to argue against the acquiring of physical evidence is that if Bigfoot was indeed a flesh and blood animal, the body of one would have been found by now. At the risk of offending those who follow this line of thinking, it almost seems like giving up, like shrugging one's shoulders and saying "whats the use?" If we look in the history of cryptozoology, we can see that many of its big discoveries took decades to uncover and be accepted into the annals of zoology. It took almost fifty years before evidence proving the existence of the mountain gorilla was brought back to Europe in 1902, before which time the animal had been dismissed as just an element of superstitious African folklore. The Chinese giant panda, first discovered by Westerners in 1869, didn't wind up in a zoo until 1937, sixty-eight years after its initial discovery. It was less than two years in September of 2005 that the giant squid was captured on film for the first time, finally providing concrete proof that the centuries-old legend of the Kraken was based on more than just misidentifications and drunken sailor stories. Although the modern Bigfoot era is now almost fifty years old, it seems premature to give up on discovering physical evidence at this stage of the search without completely exhausting every possible option. Scientists don't give up when they find it difficult to acquire evidence supporting their theories, but instead try alternate approaches and look at the problem from a different angle, only revising their original hypothesis if the evidence clearly contradicts their original theory.

With that said, and having cited a few examples of paranormally-tinged cases involving Bigfoot, it may be asked if the Bigfoot field as a whole should completely revise the idea of Bigfoot being a physical animal and instead focus on the idea of it being a paranormal entity. However, as I said earlier, I do not believe this should be the case, not only because we should continue the effort for physical proof as explained above but also because the number of cases in Bigfoot appears to be nothing more than a flesh and blood species completely outweigh the ones with a more paranormal bent. All of the major Bigfoot cases that are commonly cited in the literature, such as the Albert Ostman case and the Ape Canyon siege, both from 1924, contain no traces of any paranormal elements, but instead portray the Bigfoot as behaving more like regular animals. In addition, many of the paranormal Bigfoot cases don't hold up well to scrutiny, failing to provide any empirical evidence and appearing to be more likely hoaxes or just simple coincidences or misidentifications. The overwhelming picture that is painted when all of the documented Bigfoot sightings are carefully examined is that of a flesh and blood species that clearly interact with their environment and that tries their best to limit their encounters with human beings. The paranormal angle is an interesting one, but the majority of evidence points to a physical reality for Bigfoot, and that is the approach that cryptozoologists should focus in order to find the evidence that is so desperately sought after in the field. We should go back to the basics like it was in the early days of the field and how researchers like Dr. Meldrum continue to do, spending the time to do field work and gathering evidence, ultimately letting it speak for itself.

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