Bigfoot Research: Demonizing Long Term Witnesses

At Cyrptomundo, Loren Coleman’s bias towards UFOs, aliens, and the stranger side of Sasquatch — which includes long term interactions with Bigoot, regardless of any other high strangeness events or not — and witnesses reporting such is made clear:

“They really believe they are having these experiences,” Coleman said. “I don’t know if it’s hallucination or a psychological state.” ~ Coleman,Meldrum Question Contactee Claims.

Given that one quote, it seems that anyone who sees something strange in context of a Bigfoot sighting is, in Coleman’s worldview, either hallucinating or suffering from some kind of mental illness.

The Cryptomundo article addresses skeptic Eric Niller’s New Bigfoot Sightings: Proof Still Lacking, which quotes Coleman’s research on “Bigfoot contactees.” (I prefer, like Autumn Williams and others, to use the term “long term witness” or  LTW.)

Niller’s article looks at the story of LTW Robin Lynn Pfeifer of Michigan, who says she has an on-going relationship with several Bigfoot.

Dr. Jeff Meldrum has no patience with such stories either:

“There’s no substance to any of her claims,” said Meldrum, who is an expert in the evolution of early hominid gait. “If there were 10 to 12 around her home, she should be opening up a museum with all the artifacts.”

Meldrum’s thoughts are based on assumptions and ignore what the anecdotal evidence is telling us. According to Pfeifer, the Bigfoot are not open to being photographed:

…too shy and too clever for her to get a photograph.

Pfeifer said she’s tried to snap their picture, but she has not been successful. When she set up automatic cameras in the trees near her home, the creatures turned them upside down.

Pfeifer may be lying or disturbed, but we don’t know that. The assumption — the belief — that she is, based solely on one’s opinion of LTW, UFOs, aliens, etc. can not be considered valid research.

Bigfoot research is notorious for its snobbery regarding anything “weird” outside of Bigfoot-as-animal. There’s always been a subculture of Bigfoot research that is decidedly on the weird side, that includes UFOs, “aliens,” telepathic communications, dematerializing Bigfoot, and all kinds of high strangeness episodes. The two sides rarely get together to consider things seriously in a mutual effort to explore witness accounts that veer from the straight ahead Bigfoot is a big hairy ape theory. The two sides, with the first leading the way, the latter dismissed and vilified, remain on very different sides of the Bigfoot question.

We all have buffers and biases; but when it comes to research we have to acknowledge those as hindrances and get past them. Instead, those biases are often used as proud justifications to reject what doesn’t sit well with ones ideas about things in fringe research. One person’s fringe is another person’s lunacy.

There are too many witness accounts involving truly bizarre events during Bigfoot encounters, as there are many accounts of long term interactions (sans anything “weird”) with Bigfoot. The belittling term “Bigfoot contactee” a term coined by Loren Coleman, semantically puts witness stories firmly in the trivial camp.

“…I’ve been collecting their stories and classifying them as “Bigfoot contactees.”  ~ Bigfoot Contactees

The issue isn’t whether or not there haven’t been fragile individuals who’ve reported UFO, Bigfoot or other odd encounters that weren’t real. Of course there have been. But it’s disingenuous to reject all stories simply because the individual researcher had decided long ago that such things aren’t real.

In the case of “Bigfoot contactees,” Coleman’s bias is really pushed forward in another article he wrote, where he cites two witnesses with creepy and criminal histories:

In my 2003 book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, I even wrote about two sinister and really atypical Bigfoot contactees named Charles Starkweather and Cary Anthony Stayner. Beside seeing Bigfoot routinely, both Starkweather, in the 1950s, and Stayner, in the 1990s, additionally, were serial killers. (The later murderer, the so-called Yosemite Killer, even wrote me from prison in 2006, and sent along his drawings of Bigfoot, which I included in the Bates College / Kansas City Artspace cryptozoology exhibition.)

Who is on your short list of Bigfoot contactee serial killers? ~ Bigfoot Contactees

(Besides the general dismissive attitude towards UFOs, aliens, and “Bigfoot contactees” is the sub-text of sexism, for many of the witnesses and some researchers, are female. It’s always difficult for me to cite sexism because it’s both so old school lame/lazy a call to make, and it gets everyone riled up, male and female alike. But a tinge of sexism — which is as often covert and silent a worldview; it isn’t always a blantant objectification — is present in some of the dismissals of “Bigfoot contactees. In the above mentioned article on “bigfoot contactees” Coleman says this of Bigfoot researcher Autumn Williams, of her consideration of long term witnesses and anomalous events:

2010 note: Needless to say, Autumn Williams now has added this collection of stories by talking of “Mike” in her book, Enoch.)

“Needless” to say? Also see Coleman’s and others on LTW Mary Green, etc.)

Debunkery and Pelicanism, pathological skepticism; those that reject such claims simply because that’s what those groups do — to be expected. They insist on purposely confusing evidence with proof and proof with evidence, and often throw in theory and speculation into the mix. They are not the same thing, and they are all valid, despite what the skeptoids say. The same confusion of terms sometimes comes from researchers of the fringe.

There isn’t proof from witnesses who say they’re have unusual Bigfoot encounters involving, say, UFOs, or from the LTW (long term witnesses). There often isn’t any evidence either, unless one counts anecdotal evidence as evidence, which of course it is, or it wouldn’t be called “evidence.” Proof it’s not; evidence — data — it is.

Some prefer to wait and amass plaster casts and scat samples and pour over video, film and photo images to proof the existence of Bigfoot. Anything else is often rejected.  I always get back to the following point concerning research. If a witness account of a Bigfoot sighting corresponds with a plaster cast of, say, a footprint, but includes a UFO or worse, “alien” encounter, or involves a history of interactions with Bigfoot, is that witness account thrown out? If so, is the footprint cast kept? Does the researcher include only what the witness had to say about the Bigfoot itself, while the rest (telepathy between witness and Bigfoot, UFO in the area, etc.) is excluded? And if so, how is that honest?

It isn’t. We’re in a loop fed by the scrambling to be accepted and the need to be treated with respectability. Armed with plaster casts and matter of fact sighting reports, the hope the infrastructure will open its doors remains high. Never going to happen. Dishonesty and embarrassment among researchers isn’t going to change that.

In fact, I predict that if Bigfoot (or UFOs, aliens, ghosts, chupacabras, etc.) is ever proven to exist by science, science will hijack the discovery for its own. The fringe scholars, researchers and witnesses will be forever on the edges, forever outside those looming doors. New standards will be applied, the strange will continue to hover and be ignored, and witnesses will continue to have unusual experiences that continue to embarrass and offend some researchers.

Meanwhile, there are LTW, strange and surreal tales, and no proof. No proof that Bigfoot exists, no matter how many casts are cataloged. It’s all evidence.

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