I love when skeptics try to debunk phenomena by putting forth equally ridiculous explanations for said phenomena. I blogged a while back about how Benjamin Radford stated that he believed the chupacabra mystery sprang entirely from the movie Species. I am not one to even believe in the chupacabra, but even I felt like that explanation was a little too neat and tidy, and a stretch at best. Mr. Radford is once again trying to disprove the existence of a cryptozoological creature, this time Bigfoot.
More than a quarter of Americans believe in Bigfoot, a recent poll found. They claim this legendary bipedal ape, a “long lost relative” of humans, evades detection in remote woodland areas. Although it may seem strange to think a 7-foot-tall land mammal could go unnoticed for so long, the notion is actually widespread.
Along with that sizeable minority of Americans, an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll found that 21 percent of Canadians also believe in an undiscovered hairy humanoid, which they prefer to call Sasquatch. In Russia, belief in a similar creature, called the Yeti, is so common that local branches of the Russian government have funded Yeti expeditions, and the country has even considered founding an entire institute devoted to the study of Yetis.
The Yeti is also said to roam the Himalayas, sometimes going by the name of Meh-Teh, or the “Abominable Snowman.” Not to be outdone, Australia has the Yowie, and South America, a mythical beast called Mapinguari. Malaysians, meanwhile, fear the orang minyak, or “oily man” monster.
Why do so many disparate cultures have their own version of a “wild man”?
Although no one knows for certain how the various legends got started, they appear to have arisen independently in each culture rather than being spread by travelers or through trade, said Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and author of three books on myths and mysteries, including “Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries” (Rhombus, 2010). [The Best Bigfoot Hunting Expeditions]
Most of the myths trace back much further than the 1950s, when the explorer Eric Shipton photographed what he took to be “Abominable Snowman” footprints on Mount Everest. “While the famous Abominable Snowman snow track photographs … led to worldwide interest in the creature, they didn’t create the beast but instead for the first time offered tantalizing, tangible evidence of a regional legend,” Radford told Life’s Little Mysteries.
But the existence of so many separate “wild man” myths don’t necessarily count as mounting evidence that we really do have feral cousins out there in the woods. Instead, the myths may all stem from the same aspect of the human psyche: the desire for and fascination with an “other.”
Radford said, “The idea of a wild, man-like ‘other’ creature co-existing with us but just beyond our understanding is heavily rooted in mythology.”
So the evidence shows that all of these primitive, independent cultures all had a version of Bigfoot, without spreading the legend by word of mouth, and that is somehow evidence that the creature doesn’t exist? And let’s say for a moment that I buy into this concept of the psyche called the “other.” How do you explain people actually seeing these creatures for hundreds if not thousands of years? There are photographs, video, footprints, and excellent eyewitness testimony. And despite what the media would have us believe, many witnesses are extremely credible. Seasoned hunters, police officers, doctors, lawyers, have all been Bigfoot witnesses. It’s usually not some hillbilly, as skeptics would have you believe. Dragons were deep rooted in mythology, yet nobody claims to see them in the woods. I’m not saying Bigfoot exists. But I feel like there is more evidence supporting the possible existence of Bigfoot than this vague concept of the “other.” Myths don’t leave footprints.