I recently picked up the Jan./Feb. 2018 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer and found an article on p12 By Joe Nickell. Under the title “The Giant Panda: Discovered in the land of Myth” Dr. Nickell tries to use how the giant panda of China was discovered to demonstrate that the sasquatch can’t exist. As far as the panda goes he’s right, but where Bigfoot is concerned all he really does is demonstrate once again his animosity and distaste for the animal he so despises.
As I understand it, an ad hominin is a statement about a person regarding his character that is irrelevant to his claim. To say that Dr. Nickell hates Bigfoot is not to my mind an ad hominin because his hate of the animal does affect how he approaches the subject and renders his approach untenable. Thanks to his prejudice it really can’t be trusted on the subject.
As the saying goes, a special claim requires special proof. That I agree with. But is the claim that the bigfoot exists really all that special. Does it rank up there with claims of psychic powers?
Not to my mind. Where the sasquatch is concerned all the claim is, is that at sometime in the past a great ape managed somehow to migrate from north-east Asia to north-west North America over the land of Beringia. Something we, horses, and tyrannosaurs did back when.
The claim is that back during the Wisconsin Glaciation we couldn’t get here through Beringia thanks to a thick ice sheet. Yet the web sites I’ve consulted about the subject have pretty much all said that there was no such sheet over the land. Instead Beringia was an arid grassland, a steppe. As long as you can walk you can cross a steppe and that is apparently what we, equids, tyrannosaurs, and bigfoot have done.
But, Mr. Kellogg
I could be wrong, but I see nothing that says primates can’t adapt to a cold climate. The Canadian Inuit have done so, the Neanderthals did so, and we seem to have done so if the layer of fat we seem to grow in a cold clime is any indication. I see nothing in a primate that would keep it from adapting.
Where the sasquatch is concerned keep in mind that the descriptions I’ve read and the pictures I’ve seen are of large animals, and rather solidly built. I suspect that they are insulated by a layer of fat, and the large size is fairly typical of cold clime animals. It’s what you would expect.
But They’re Bipeds!
They’re not alone. We are bipeds. Bipedal apes to be precise. In the past there have also been Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Weberpithecus—my preferred name for what another decided is a species of Homo. Bipedal apes aren’t impossible.
What I see here is the thinking that we are somehow special, and that only we can have such special features as bipedality. Paranthropines and the like get to be bipedal because they’re dead. Extinct that is; and being extinct they can’t hang around reminding us that we’re really not all that special. There is nothing in Heaven or Earth that I can see that would keep another animal from becoming an erect biped under the same conditions as we did.
You get right down to it our becoming bipedal is an example of convergent evolution, us converging with the Bigfoot. They were first, we just copied them.
What it comes down to in my mind is that by denying the possible existence of the Sasquatch is that we are insulting Charles Darwin. In his work he basically said that we as an animal are really nothing special. There is nothing that says that only we can be this human-like. Given the same conditions and the same course of events other animals like us are possible. There can be more than one.
There is the matter of the evidence. Now Dr. Nickell is right on the matter of evidence. As I understand him he has said the circumstantial evidence is no good, not being real evidence at all. Something that would come as a surprise to legal courts around the world.
According to the Wikipedia entry circumstantial evidence is evidence used through inference to support an assertion. Direct evidence on the other hand refers directly to a particular subject. Nickell’s assertion that such as hair and body impressions can only be circumstantial evidence is contradicted by the fact that such as dinosaur footprints have been used as evidence of the onetime existence of a particular animal. I would cut the man some slack, but I suspect his mistake his based more on his need to reject Bigfoot than on most any other reason.
In short, he’s a bigot, and it is that bigotry that leads him to make such outrageous claims. An ad hominin? Not hardly, for it is his bigotry, his prejudice which leads him to make the anti sasquatch claim he does.
The Over Reaction
It comes down to the reaction some parties had when the Patterson/Gimlin film was first released. It would seem that back then some people had never even heard of Beringia, or that a bipedal ape, human or sasquatch, could walk across it. So people claimed that there could be no great ape native to North America. That the only primates there could be in this continent would have to come from South America, and among them there are no apes or anything like apes. And they and their successors have stuck to their guns despite the fact that what they hold are rubber band guns with rotted rubber bands. As far as I can see Professor Joe Nickell has a need for the approval of others, dedicated as he is to denying the existence of a North American ape. Other than us that us, and we’re essentially an import.
So we get parties having what amounts to tizzies over claims that could easily be investigated, because the implications and consequences of what proving the claim could mean. Their claim is, for all intents and purposes, that there can be only us. That, I say, is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary proof.
How do you prove that the Bigfoot doesn’t exist?
You look for the evidence of absence. For all animals have an impact on their environment, and be there no sign of any such impact odds are the animal in question is not to be found there.
My conclusion is, that there is a second species of great ape living in North America—besides us that is, and that there is direct evidence pointing to it.
And further that there are people such as Dr. Joe Nickell who have no idea what they’re talking about, and as far as I can tell haven’t the courage to learn.
Nothing says they can’t exist, it’s about damn time we got over our little snit and got back to doing science.