Big Hairy Anecdotal Evidence

Sasquatches are hairy. Each and every bigfoot book – including those by highly-regarded scientists who’ve entered the fray – tells us  so. There is, however, currently not one shred of falsifiable, scientific proof that it is so. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest such, but no proof.

Anecdotal evidence is been defined as “non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts, usually made by observers who are not scientifically trained”.

We accept the “fact” that Sasquatches are hairy, despite the fact that it is not, in fact, a fact based on any scientific evidence but rather anecdotal evidence.

Why is it so difficult, then, for researchers to accept other anecdotal evidence from witnesses, particularly long-term witnesses? Particularly when that anecdotal evidence is recounted by multiple witnesses who don’t know one another and have never been exposed to the other’s case studies? After all, the bulk of information that we have about the hairy folks is anecdotal. If we simply stick to the “science” and only the science, how much can we possibly learn? Our field techniques – the way we interact with the phenomenon in order to attempt to further understand it – have to be based upon something. That’s the “may assist research efforts” part of the above scientific definition of anecdotal evidence… and the reason it is so important.

Basing field research techniques on that which is empirically proven doesn’t leave much room to move… because little, if anything, in regards to Sasquatch has been proven. And that logic is completely at odds with the scientific process to begin with. The idea behind the scientific method is to look at the evidence, form a hypothesis and test it. Then see if it’s repeatable. If, when forming our hypothesis, we eschew certain evidence because it doesn’t fit some preconceived notion we have about the subject or it hasn’t been “proven”, how is that scientific? At that point, we’re basing our hypothesis on a biased culling of data… we’re not out to prove a hypothesis based upon the data itself, but upon a limited data set that we’ve decided we’re comfortable with.

That’s not science. That’s religion. That’s belief.

The root of the word ignorance is to ignore.

Evidence is not proof. But it sure can point us in the right direction to understanding the big picture of a phenomenon if we’re not so hung up on science that we’re limiting our ability to use anecdotal evidence to establish our own testable hypothesis.

While science is supposed to be about discovering answers, the conservative nature of the scientific method leaves us dead in the water in regards to Sasquatch. That’s obvious by the last 50 years of bigfoot research accomplishing little but the pat, safe “answer” that science is comfortable with: Sasquatch is thought to be a hairy, upright, bipedal primate…

Thought to be. That’s where science has left us.

For all the noise made about how important science is – or should be – in bigfoot research, it doesn’t appear to have been a very effective tool in solving this mystery, does it? Meanwhile, long-term witnesses supply us with ample anecdotal evidence about the behavior and nature of the Sasquatch – when they feel comfortable enough to talk about it. They don’t often supply physical evidence that stands up to “scientific” scrutiny as proof. Because – I’ll say it again – evidence is NOT proof, though it is held up to that standard because of a DESIRE for proof by the research community… and both sides become equally and understandably frustrated with the outcome.

I contend that science alone is, by its very nature, ineffective at solving the Sasquatch mystery that is, by ITS very nature, primarily conducive to experience at a personal level.

In other words, the very nature of the Sasquatch is not conducive to scientific inquiry. That is not what researchers want to hear. But I have come to firmly suspect it is the case.

While bigfoot research has spent the better part of 50 years trying to prove THAT Sasquatches are, I’ve been quietly working with long-term witnesses for 20+ of those years trying to understand WHAT they are. I know I say this often, but it is an important distinction; I’ve often felt frustrated in discussions with those who focus on proof, science and semantics because the questions we’re asking are completely different.

I’ve come to some tentative conclusions about the nature of the Sasquatch through the focus of my work and those conclusions don’t have much to do with the common perception of Sasquatch. One of those conclusions is so imperative that I find it necessary to repeat it:

Science alone is, by its very nature, ineffective at solving the Sasquatch mystery that is, by ITS very nature, primarily conducive to experience at a personal level.

In other words, the Sasquatch phenomenon is highly conducive to personal experience when approached correctly. But an elusive population of highly intelligent beings who deliberately avoid us is NOT conducive to collecting indisputable physical evidence by means of traditional empirical study. “But,” you might say, “this DNA study is about to come out. How can you contend that science isn’t effective in solving the Sasquatch mystery?” I’ll get to that in a minute. :)

But first, think about this if you will…

How do you think the focus is going to shift if this DNA study manages to scientifically prove that they are? What is the question researchers will be asking next? Will they finally begin focusing on what they are?

Who can they ask? Who would be in a position to know? Certainly not the incidental witness, who watched a Sasquatch walk across a road, whose story is generally accepted with little need for “proof”, while long-term witnesses are ridiculed for their claims of insider information because they don’t or won’t provide “proof” of their encounters to a broad audience.

How long will it take researchers to catch up and accept that the information that long-term witnesses are providing might be the biggest part of the puzzle that’s been missing? Will researchers and witnesses continue to remain at an impasse because researchers want to put the proverbial cart before the horse and apply the scientific method to a question that they fail to ask properly in light of all of the anecdotal data?

Let’s look again at the question… Is science alone effective in solving the Sasquatch mystery?

Long-term witnesses – not researchers – are the top providers of sample material for scientific analysis. When and if it is proven scientifically that Sasquatches not only exist but actually are hairy, long-term witnesses will have played a key role in making that happen. But HOW that material is obtained has little to do with “studying a specimen” and a whole lot to do with building trust and rapport with individuals who live in the woods. That doesn’t happen by acting like a researcher. It happens by acting like a witness.

Discuss. :)

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23 Comments

  1. bipedalist onthebff
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Well for me personally, I have been a witness/researcher and had the good fortune of a good two year Sasquatch drive-by that habituated me, allowing me to collect my personal proof as a sighting of multiples, photographic evidence of elaborate, geometric stick layouts, mimicked sound files recorded (with regional verification) and the ubiquitous interactions that nobody would believe because you don’t catch them in the act. So for me, you become almost a part of an iatrogenic manifestation of sorts which can either be elicited, caused or as a response of your actions and reactions. The more you play researcher the less potent the manifestation. At some point you or they come to an impasse and I found that you have to let go. I view it as almost a reaction you have to not love something so much that it interferes with a day to day functioning for both parties. You don’t want to catch the same butterfly repeatedly, wear and tear results which can not be healthy. Each individual has their own formula, this worked for me. Regards, biped.

  2. Ravenmadd
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    cool

  3. Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Very good analysis, Autumn and it is correct on many levels. I am always amazed at how “science” treats anecdotal evidence and eyewitness reports… i.e. if the report agrees with their hypothesis, it is accepted immediately… if it flies in the face of their null hypothesis, then it is rejected out of hand as being merely anecdotal and therefore suspect and untrustworthy.

    A second point to ponder here is the simple fact that it is very easy to remain skeptical and to denigrate the experiences of others until that person has his first experience. I don’t mean a fleeting glimpse in the trees, etc, but a face to face, undeniable meeting with the gentle giant. I guarantee you that all thoughts of ape, Gigantopithecus blackii and the scientific method FLEE in a storm of “OH MY HEAVENLY GAWD!”

    My stock answer to the one sitting and decrying the lack of “proof” is simple… get off your butt and get out there and have your OWN experience… then come tell me about the need for scientific aloofness and peer review… to say nothing of the validity of Anecdotal evidence and eye witness accounts…
    T

  4. Len
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Maybe if long term witnesses do “provide proof of there encounters to the general audience” once it is proven scientifically, more people will take them seriously. We live in a very dishonest world and we can’t trust anyone that hasn’t proven they can be trusted.

  5. Tom
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    The only thing 50 years of “sasquatch research” has proven is that it doesn’t work. The methodologies presume the subject of the search is an instinct-driven upright ape which can be trapped by sufficient trickery or technology, it does not account for the possibility of (a) thinking, reasoning beings (b) consciously motivated to study us by their desire to survive (c) operating on their home turf where the researcher is unfamiliar.

    Contrast that to the LTW who is likely to be familiar with the area, has no preconceived notion about the beings they are interacting with, and are frankly too busy taking care of their own concerns to bother the “neighbors.”

    If you come right down to it, this is not very far from what you blogged about earlier, only rather than wildlife biology vs cultural anthropology, it is lab science vs cultural anthropology.

    You’d think after 50 years of failure, researchers would take a step back, compare what they’re doing unsuccessfully to what the LTWs are doing successfully if somewhat accidentally, and at least try something similar to the things that work rather than trying to refine their failures. Seems to be some dogma at work. Bigfoot research is religion, not the science it presumes to be.

  6. Al Thound
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Excellent comment. Reminds me of scientists who would not consider the Missoula Flood possibility when J. Harlan Bretz was suggesting it back in the ’30s, and in that case the evidence was there, lying on the side of the hills around Missoula and in the scablands of Eastern Washington. When I took geology Dry Falls was just another cliff near the Columbia River. With sasquatch, the various sasquatch families seem to be well trained in the habits of those little puny versions of themselves–that would be us, and they seem to caution their offspring about hunters and telescopic sights and cameras. So science is really not a player in this quest. The scientists do not matter until they come around, just as they did with Bretz.
    Thanks, Autumn.

  7. Posted December 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey Autumn!!
    I think its good to get people thinking about this kind of stuff, soon we will have to make those decisions about how to proceed once the big fellas are accepted as reality!
    Love your brain lady!!

  8. Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Excellent Article. I love the last paragraph.
    Your documented experiences (private or public) with long term witnesses is playing a huge part in the whole picture of bigfoot research.
    I thank you for what you are doing.

  9. Michael Rynes
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    YEAH, baby!! Um… sorry; I went a little too far with ‘baby’, there… but anyway, I happen to agree with you: Sasquatch is a subject that can’t really BE studied scientifically, at least not in the strictist sense of the word. For a great many years now I’ve wondered what they are, not that they are. I simply accepted that they are and asked myself what I thought was the next logical question: what are they? A lot of witnesses -most of them, probably- have often spoken of the human-like quality of the creatures… “I had my rifle but couldn’t shoot because it would have felt like murder”, “He looked at me with a human-like curiosity”, statements like this abound. And I, too, think that they should be given just as much -if not more- credence than the obvious statement: “Well, it was covered with hair…” Yeah, that much is pretty well-established. Now, why are so many other aspects of this creature so hard to accept? Are we that afraid of learning that a species might actually be more ‘human’ than we are? Are we that insecure? I’ve said it before and I’m sayin’ it again: I really believe that when it comes to respect for the natural world around us and the other creatures living therein, we could learn a lot from the Big Folk… I just hope we learn it sooner rather than later.

  10. Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I have found some of your comments quite interesting. You are certainly correct that science is not going to “solve” the Bigfoot mystery. The reason is simply this: The Bigfoot appearances over long periods of time to many different peoples in different places indicates a non-localized phenomena. Mix that with the always extreme elusiveness of this phenomena and one has to expand perspectives to hope to grasp this. Many native North American Indian Tribes were quite familiar with Bigfoot and they also came to recognize that his/hers nature was like that of a “shape-shifter”, i.e. a spiritual and trans-dimensional being. A being that could be manifested in a standard physical way sometimes—-but could also “slip” into another dimension that is non-physical to us when desired.

    Most of the Bigfoot community is aggressively opposed to this “shape-shifter” concept and will not consider it. I certainly do not expect you to post these very “out of step” comments. This is just a reminder that Bigfoot is a spiritual/physical, and outside the box phenomena.

  11. Bing
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Very well said and right on the mark. I totallly agree!

    My experience with researchers in general goes back to college and listening to Dr. Science lectures on ecology and environmental science subjects. Profesors do have a strong tendency for intelligence and a joy to listen to, but also can be linear boxheads, rigid, adhered to the scientific method, dissecting, ask more and more questions and never coming to conclusions or being satisfied with the evidence presented. But I too have been trained in the method and have applied it to find evidence of the toxic effects of chemicals on the environment-time consuming…….

    Proof of Sasquatch by the scientific method will take forever. I honestly don’t believe that the DNA study will be totally conclusive and will prove to be incomplete-at least under the skeptical view of science. DNA results will only be a a small micro step forward within the process of the method. Being a LTW I don’t need to find proof of BF but is sure fun to watch the researchers and scientists debate about it. HaHa!

    Its ironic, but over the past week I have been composing a piece on this very same subject of proof but with real examples to make relevant. Hope to post it on the OBFF.

  12. Joyce Backus
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Your article came at a most interesting time. I had breakfast recently with an intelligent, articulate woman who has a responsible position with one of the federal agencies that watch over our land and wildlife. I asked if she had ever seen a Bigfoot since she has logged in many hours in the forest. She replied that she had not but that one of her fellow workers had an up close encounter with one. She went on to say that she had the most respect for this individual and was certain that what he saw and claimed to be a Bigfoot was true, especially given his professional background and observation. However, as a scientist she couldn’t say that she believed in them until she had seen one personally.
    I guess this kind of thinking whether it is grounded in fear for a reputation or indoctrination at the base level of education seems to reflect some of the problem that you were addressing, Autumn.

  13. Scott
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Grover Krantz, PhD said “Many major scientific breakthroughs are made by amateurs or by those who are only marginally involved in the field in question.” I believe this to be so true in this endeavor we call Bigfoot Research. I agree that we need to move from proving to studying. The cameras, FLIRs, and all the other hi-tech gadgets need to be put away and replaced with interaction. The only way to study the Bigfoot is through personal interaction or as we like to call it habitation. Developing a relationship with them through trust and respect. This is a difficult concept for many who consider them to be a bipedal gorilla. They are a PEOPLE and we must treat them with the common courtesy and respect we would treat any person. Learn their ways and customs then act accordingly. Success is measured in inches not miles when this is done. There will be no instant gratification. Grunts, fleeting glances, gifts of feathers, faint foot prints, that is how success is measured. Once trust is built then we may get to see them in full view, but for most that will be earned with time and patience. The question is who out there is willing?

  14. wco
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    That these beings have come this far and have eluded the science of man, ought to tell you something about the nature of Sasquatch itself. Science is not yet equiped to “prove” their existance, mentally or technically.

    -Bill

  15. Bill H.
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    There’s nothing to discuss… fact is fact and the truth is already known by the witness, period. I don’t know how to debate something I already know exists as if it doesn’t. No witness can.

    But well said Autumn.

  16. Kathy Anderson
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Autumn
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Have been enjoying your blog. Keep the good work up.
    K. Anderson

  17. hearer
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    that’s right “wco”. These are ‘megafauna’, that had to deal with other carnivorous megafauna, until just recently. They survived by stealth. Hiding from us cement walkers is just too easy. Keeping ahead of the megafauna cats and bears will hone your skills.

  18. Arla
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Autumn for speaking for the many,many,many Long Term Witnesses who are out there seeing things that they wish to protect.I hear all the time if it was really happening you would take us to see…..That is the farthest thing from the truth of what will happen. They guard their experiences as they would guard their family.
    There is so much disrespect of people who have had interaction with the Bigfoot that why in the world would they even want to share something that is special,just so someone can say they have seen a Bigfoot.People have no idea how many people are out there having interactions and relationships of sorts with the Bigfoot…They should be prepared to find out because more and more people are coming together and saying the same things.
    Research or not more are going to know.If it were up to me,no one would know but then my hands are tied now.It will happen.

  19. Sunny Lindley
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    You are soo sharp… you would of been a kick As* attorney. I loved this!! Thank you as usual for sharing.

  20. Laura
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Great article Autumn and extremely timely.

  21. Linda Thompson
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Hi Autumn….This is exactly why we are where we are at with the Sasquatch phenomenon. I use this term because it evokes an umbrella under which all the evidence and experiences exist. After 50 years, the mainstream has made very slow progress, really. We have some “researchers” chasing them through the woodlands while others are hunting them down to kill them. All of which is unnecessary. They will come to you with proper invitation and respect. And they prove time and again that they live and let live. Is science really science if it can’t see the nose on its face? Thank you, Autumn for a compelling read. Yes Sunny, she IS sharp and presents good arguments. Regards to Arla and Thom.

  22. Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Pretty simple really, any methods that can be used in the court of law should qualify in this instance. We’re not talking about a special chemical reaction in the lab here. This is simply an investigation…a stakeout. We can’t put cameras up in the gang’s hideout but we can certainly listen to them with microphones and gain intelligence. How do they speak? What are their vocal ranges? What is the origin of the language? Do they reply appropriately when spoken to? Hmmm well that tells me something. Why is the audio going fuzzy when they come around? Well that’s interesting. Wow, they came up and probed my microphone then sounded off the warning barred owl call…there’s a motus operandi…oh they did it again (it’s been repeated and that’s scientific, now isn’t it?). I can go on and on and on. What did we learn from that fuzzy pic that was reviewed by BigfootFacebook. Not a damn thing. In fact, we’re subjected to that guy’s perception of what has been captured and it is often a fake anyway.

    The people in this field that don’t utilize audio and/or attempt to log close-up hours with the sasquatch don’t know one damn thing about the subject they seek to understand. Most are incompetent morons that simply demand a body. Most are text book or forum educated and go around criticizing people who know the sas intimately from up close and personal dealings. Most surround themselves with the other incompetent bunch because they figure that there is safety in numbers (call that Bigfoot Government USA). But there’s not. Not when you have a stubborn son of a bitch like me who is going to call out each and everyone of you including the Ph.D’s for what they really are… hacks! Don’t tell me there’s 300 of these rare apes because they really are plentiful and they are a People with capabilities that put all of us to shame. They don’t need your protection but would simply ask that you not shoot at them since that would be called murder. They are not there to be exploited for your benefit in drawing grant money as you selectively craft grants and research data, while misinforming the public. Human’s are an arrogant bunch. But you know what they say…”It’s only arrogance if you’re wrong.” Great article Autumn. Keep it up. Alex Midnight Walker

  23. Irongranny
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Science is not as good as we’re led to believe, after all these scientist work for a paycheck, so that’s pressure to conform. Also the “scientific method” allows for a lot of fudging and re-wording of statements they make. I am just as glad they take the stand they do because I believe our beloved sasquatch would be in grave danger.