There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it. ~ old sherpa saying

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pinning Down

But what about the people?! . . .

I always want to pin down the chronic skeptics and others who flat out don't “believe in” Bigfoot.

I understand the genuine skeptical perspective of wanting evidence. But it’s also here we get into trouble. For plaster casts of footprints, reports and recordings of tree knocking and screams, grainy, fuzzy video and photos, and tantalizing but inconclusive results from hair samples are debatable, they are evidence. Not proof, but evidence. And as open to debate as they are, (for crying out loud, just take a look at the three or four Bigfoot threads on the uber faux skeptic forum JREF) those things are evidence.

There’s one kind of evidence that isn’t accepted, and that’s anecdotal evidence. The refusal to accept anecdotal evidence as valid has seeped from the infrastructure of scientism (you can’t prove anything with an oral report of an encounter from a witness in a lab) to the rest of the culture. Skeptics of all varieties, and even some who should know better, accept the idea that anecdotal evidence is really not evidence at all. It's not valid.

This stubbornly smug stance forgets that, without anecdotal evidence to begin with, there’d be nothing to go out and investigate in the first place. Observation is a much a part of science as anything else, and yet, the observers and their reports are rejected.

Even that’s beside the point. The point is, I want those who reject the idea Bigfoot exist to address the fact of witness stories.

What do they think of the people with stories to tell? Not just one or two cases, but several dozen, at least. Story after story of Bigfoot encounters. And yet the faux skeptic plods on with condescending explanations of how humans get scared in the woods, how under stress we mistake an elk or bear for a Sasquatch, how we’re influenced by other tales of Bigfoot and that’s what our belief systems make us think, etc.

How can anyone genuinely keep this up in the light of hundreds of witnesses? Allowing for the usual disclaimer of hoaxers, liars and the mentally ill (that last a very small percentage I’m sure) we still have a huge amount of data in the way of witness reports.

I always wonder what one of these skeptic types would do if their spouse, child or close relative or friend said they saw a Sasquatch. Believe me, if I saw a Sasquatch, and my husband insisted, with persistent smugness, that I was misidentifying a known animal, or I was fearful of the big dark woods, etc. I’d leave him. (And, in fact, I know personally someone who did divorce over not being believed in regards to UFOs )

After awhile, the insistence we "make things up," to quote skeptic Michael Shermer, really shows itself to be the flimsy excuse it is for not paying attention.

When faced with the reality of people’s -- fellow human beings -- experiences, I think it would be difficult to keep up the “you just mistook a bear you were scared you’re a liar were you drinking?” routine. That would be a real test, to step outside of the walls of scientism and really listen for a time. What do you hear in these stories, what do you see when the person you're sitting across from is telling you their story?

Observation. Listening. Hearing. For some, that's as scary as encountering a Bigfoot.

1 comment:

The Blogsquatcher said...

I've got to agree with you. There may be no "scientific" way of accounting for personal testimony, but that doesn't mean one can just wave it off as if it never happened. After all, how many times are we going to go through this same (real life) circumstance:

Flores islanders tell scientists that there is a little form of humanoid that lives on the island with them. No one has seen them recently, but the stories have been passed down from elder to younger, and the islanders are certain this is good knowledge. Scientists scoff and ignore the stories. Until the little bodies are found.

If you think that's the only time such a thing has happened, you'd be wrong! The history of science is littered with stories like that. How often do scientists have to look like fools before we recognize that foolishness is built into science (or, more properly, the human condition?)

When we lose that arrogance that we know everything that can be, we'll maybe get closer to wisdom.