Friday, August 15, 2008

Stuff Believers Like: #6 and #7 Bigfoot and Circumventing Peer Review.....

Bigfoot must be slipping, perhaps distracted by Michael Phelps' attempt to claim 8 gold medals in Beijing. He and others like him, Bigfoot not Phelps although he does wear a size 14, have managed to elude capture, and to avoid leaving any real evidence of their existence for the thousands of so-called cryptozoologists to find, for hundreds of years. But according to a CNN article released today, "Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, a pair of Bigfoot-hunting hobbyists from north Georgia, say they found the creature's [dead] body in a wooded area and spotted several similar creatures that were still alive."

They have stored the 7 feet, 7 inch tall 500 pound sasquatch/Halloween costume in their freezer and claim that extensive scientific testing is underway. They believe that they have the evidence to prove the existence of a new species of half-ape, half-man and that the only man to be trusted with handling the situation is Tom Biscardi, a well-known bigfoot hunter. All of this was announced to the world a few weeks ago on an internet radio program, and a follow-up press conference is to be held today.

Unfortunately for the bigfoot enthusiasts out there, this will almost certainly be a hoax. I will of course withhold judgement until all of the evidence is on the table but there are some major red flags. First and foremost is the fact that these gentleman, like the infamous Pons and Fleischmann before them, are using channels that circumvent peer review. They are going straight to the press and making big promises instead of working through reputable researchers to publish their findings in a scientific journal. Any other way of doing things in the world of biology is suspect. It doesn't mean it's bogus, but it don't look good.

And neither does the fact that Biscardi has been involved in a hoax oddly similar to this in the past, as described by Ben Radford in an August 13th LiveScience article. Also suspicious is the announcement by Biscardi that he will be saving the best evidence for his upcoming documentary, which I doubt will be freely distributed to the world. I'm skeptical to say the least, but who knows. The kid in me would love knowing that there are large undiscovered creatures still lurking out there, but I'm not holding my breath.

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