Anecdotal evidence… and a thank you

Yesterday, I posed a question and asked all of you for feedback. I got it in spades, and I want to thank each and every one of you for your thought-provoking replies and the time it took to craft them.

The question was this:

Would you still want [information that would help explain the nature of Bigfoot], knowing that I will NOT provide you with anything that will constitute “proof”, because I’m afraid of what would happen if I did? Will you allow me to appease your curiosity while protecting the subject of your interest?

Some of you clearly understood the question. Others did not, for whatever reason – some took it as if I were asking about whether or not proof was a good idea in general. Maybe it was the way I framed the question. If it was unclear, please forgive me. I’m usually blogging with a three year-old at my knee, clamoring for my attention. Today is no different (she’s currently painting my face with a paintbrush while I’m trying to write a coherent thought), so if I’m not as succinct as you’d like, again, please consider the source.

Now… the vast majority of you who wrote in said exactly what I figured you would. I received hundreds of responses. About 90% of you (give or take) said things along these lines:

“Autumn, I would love to hear [the] detailed observations, and I care not for the proof.  I, too, fear that if these magnificent beings were actually ‘proven’ to exist, it would be the beginning of the end for them.”

“I know you to be honest and straight foreword. So I for one would love to hear what you have to share.”

“I do not believe it is your duty or anyones duty to provide proof for the masses.  The masses are not ready.  If we were, this world would not be the environmental and spiritual disaster that it now is.  Autumn, I believe that those of us who have gravitated to Oregon Bigfoot and to hear what you have to say on Sasquatch, for the most part, are ready to hear what you have to say.  Those who aren’t ready will go elsewhere, but to be honest, no one has made any real progress in this field mostly because we have been looking in the wrong directions, thinking without our spirits, researching without our intuition…”

“As a Native person, I have never pursued the research etc. of the Sasquatch/Bigfoot as having to “prove” that it exists . . . I accept that it does and look more for an understanding of how it exists…”

“I recognize your concern at releasing what you have come to know and as a worker on behalf of the government I can understand your great apprehension.  Our government is not to be trusted, that is not to say that it is inherently evil in any way, it is more a commentary on the gigantic buracracy that exists and continues out of singular control.  I have often commented that it is like a giant boulder, it is extremely difficult to move it, but once it is moving it is even more difficult to control or stop and it will roll over and crush anything in its path.  So, concern about government use or misuse of your information is warranted.”

“I’m a research scientist, have been for 25 years.  Currently funded by 3 federal grants.  I’ve also served as a consultant for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation and on the editorial board of several biomedical journals.  From what I’ve seen, you could drag a bigfoot body to the front door of the white house and no one in government would care.  Unless you’re curing or preventing a disease, improving crop yields, reversing global warming, or increasing energy production, there’s not much to catch their eye.  A private party might be interested for personal gain, but the government, no.”

“I would like the information simply because I trust you. I do not expect proof because I am also afraid of what might happen. Walk the fine line! I do not want a head on a stick.”

“…my answer to you is,  YES. absolutely yes. Let the government continue to believe that we’re a bunch of collective crackpots. You and I know better. ;-)”

My opinion is ‘yes’, any information from serious researchers should be published, whether it’s via a book or a blog, or some other way. It can only contribute to our knowledge and understanding of this creature…”

“If you have information that would shed light on this subject then you should by all means tell it. If you tell it and offer no proof then be ready to handle the ridicule. Those that know these creatures from their own studies will be able to tell if what you say makes any sense.”

Ridicule. Yes. And that’s the clincher, isn’t it? For all that we encourage witnesses to come forward with their experiences, there are those in the research community who immediately lambast them if they dare to do so without “proof” of their experiences. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Or you can just take it to the field and try it yourself instead of trying to bully your witness into interacting with a creature in a way that makes them uncomfortable and risking alienating their subject, and alienating your witness in the process. (Hey, what a concept! Want to take a stab at guessing how many witnesses have come to me over the years grumbling about their treatment by other researchers?)

Most of you don’t have a problem with reading about someone’s experiences. In fact, I’d venture to guess that you do it often on sites like OregonBigfoot.com and others’… combing through report after report, looking for patterns, sense, UNDERSTANDING, in all of the data. Most of you who read this blog, who share in the work I do, are not researchers. You’re interested parties. The curious. Some of you are witnesses who desire to understand what it is you saw, to feel validated that someone else claims to have experienced what you did.

There is a small but vocal faction of researchers, however, who don’t seem appreciate the inherent value in anecdotal evidence. Consider these words from one of my readers who is a researcher:

“If you have something you can prove, now that you’ve mentioned something in such a public way- you’re obligated to do so. If you don’t it makes you loose (sic) all credibility. If you didn’t want to ‘show us the money’ you should have never mentioned it.”

“Share it!” they’ll cry. “You’re obligated to do so!”

But when I do? “Now prove it!” they’ll cry. “You’re obligated to do so!”

Therin lies the dilemma. Do I really want to deal with the particular sh*t storm that will go along with releasing detailed anecdotal evidence? Or should I shut my mouth now, sit on this, and never offer it to those who I feel might benefit from it?

The trouble is, I never mentioned having “the money”. In fact, I specifically remember mentioning a LACK of proof. I mentioned having anecdotal evidence. An unprecedented amount of it. Anecdotal evidence is defined, scientifically, as “non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts“.

What researchers fail to realize, time and time again, is that witnesses are NOT scientists. THEY. AREN’T. RESEARCHERS. They. Are. Witnesses. (Ever stop to consider that maybe that’s why they have success, while the researchers… um… don’t? *grin*) They aren’t out there conducting scientific experiments. They’re simply observing, from a layperson’s perspective. But a good witness – one who offers observation and keeps the interpretation to a minimum – can offer a lot of information that can be successfully used in understanding and FURTHER RESEARCHING a subject.

Take it to the field. TRY IT. (In fact… maybe approach it as a witness would, rather than a researcher with an agenda of gathering “proof”. That’s the best advice I can give and I’ve given it often – but it’s rarely heeded.)

These same researchers also fail to realize why the witness came to me and not them. By recognizing the value of anecdotal evidence and allowing the witness to speak freely, I have a tendency to be approached by those who usually are reluctant to share. As it was in this case. By not pressuring and bullying the witness to provide proof, regardless of the cost to the witness’ relationship with the creature or their own personal safety, I am offered the trust of the witness. That trust is imperative to what I do and is not something that I take lightly. I am a sounding board for their experiences, when they often have none. In return, I am allowed access where others are not. And trust me… these witnesses recognize the value of trust. How else do you think they are able to build a rapport with these creatures?

You get that… right?

But some never will.

Another reader referred to me as a “half-assed hippy” because I feel it’s important to approach this subject from a place of ethics and responsibility to that which I study rather than as coldly scientific, consequences to Bigfoot be damned. I was accused of posting yesterday’s missive as an attempt to “create heightened interest in Part II of the DVD” (which by the way, has been put on hold indefinitely while I deal with this), “exaggerating”, or “out & out lying”.

No… actually, I was testing the waters – to see if the number of people who desire this information and could benefit from it will justify putting myself in the line of fire for presenting it.

So here is the conundrum, in a nutshell: I have a witness who has extensive observations of these creatures. Intimate, long-term, ongoing interactions. The witness was reluctant as hell to share them with me, much less anyone else. However, the witness has developed enough trust  in me that if I choose to share those experiences, the witness knows that I will do so responsibly, for the purpose of attempting to educate and inform while keeping MY ethics intact and doing everything I can to maintain the safety of the witness and the creatures.

Meanwhile, I know that I will be presenting all of this information with no “proof”, other than my own feeling that the witness and his experiences are credible.

So I stand to receive a barrage of bullsh*t from those who will cry for blood or proof. Those asshats, ironically, are the same people who stand to gain the most education from paying attention to this witness’ encounters.

asshatDo I want to deal with the asshats? Not particularly. Do I really want to listen to a volley of criticisms from a peanut gallery full of  “researchers” who started looking for bigfoot 3 years ago and suddenly consider themselves “experts” because all of their cronies harbor the same mistaken beliefs about the nature of these creatures and what “works”? Nah. Not especially. *grin*

Do I think this information is potentially beneficial enough that sharing it is worth the risk to my perceived credibility – at least to those aforementioned asshats?

Yeah. I think so.

Many of you wisely recommended that I “follow my heart”.

Thank you for the reminder. I needed that. I’d rather be a mistaken for a “half-assed hippy” than a full-on asshat anyday. ;)

My heart tells me this:  My goal, my only agenda IS and HAS ALWAYS BEEN to educate the public, to support witnesses, and to protect these creatures. I will approach this situation no differently. As one of my readers said: “I think education IS a form of protection, ever so more than bureaucratic ‘protection’.” [Couldn’t have said it better myself, Bill! :)]

There are always detractors in this field. Some of them are aggressive, mean and their behavior is downright ugly. One researcher I know says, “You can’t be in this game without getting your jersey dirty”. After all this time, mine is filthy. I’ve been dogpiled on before, and I anticipate experiencing it again. But I’m still in the game. For now.

I will be preparing the material for release in the near future. I appreciate all of the support and kind words from those of you who get it.

Those who don’t can keep on keepin’ on and disregard anything I say from here on out. I mean, heck… what’s forty or so more years of  unsuccessfully chasing something that is apparently very misunderstood? *grin*

I’ll be getting back to the regular blog for now… news, commentary, etc. Please be patient with me; I anticipate having my work on this project completed in the near future, and will post an announcement when it’s ready.

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