Abominable Science! Prompts Bigfooters to Begin Homework They Should Have Done More Than 50 Years Ago
Bigfoot Times newsletter editor Daniel Perez has embraced Abominable Science!, my cryptozoology book with Don Prothero, as a welcome corrective—a useful opportunity for the community of interested scholars to critically reevaluate the conceptual underpinnings, methodological challenges, and case studies of the cryptozoological field, and to make the improvements to cryptozoology’s rigor and responsibility needed to bring it closer to its scientific aspirations.
No, just kidding. Perez hates, hates, hates Abominable Science!, commenting at Amazon.com, “my review was one star…. Had there been an option for NO stars, Loxton and Prothero would have surely gotten nothing for stars.” (See his full review here, and my response here.)
Perez is especially unhappy with my discussion of a pivotal early Sasquatch sighting reported in 1957 by a man named William Roe, which is described in the book as the “first fully modern Sasquatch sighting.”1 Abominable Science! expresses my surprise that virtually nothing is known in the Bigfoot literature about Roe or the circumstances surrounding his story. “In fact,” concludes the Abominable Science! discussion, “we do not even know what William Roe looked like.”2
I’m pleased to say that Abominable Science! makes some relatively novel contributions to the specific discussion of individual cryptids and cryptid cases, but it is intended as a critical overview of the state of cryptozoology in general. As part of that broad critical discussion, we identified some areas in which cryptozoologists could usefully pursue further research in their own domain—but we can’t do everyone’s homework for them.
One of these outstanding projects that we discussed was the Roe case—a cold case to be sure, but a celebrated, important case that Bigfooters barely bothered to open in the first place. For half a century, the case has been showcased by essentially all Bigfoot books without cryptozoologists doing any significant work on the case—apparently without even noticing that there was a need to do such work at all. I suggested that they probably should, and then reiterated and amplified this call for further research here at Skepticblog:
So, was Roe’s alleged sighting a hoax? I don’t know. Probably no one knows. But if Bigfooters want to advance the scholarship of their field, I submit that this is question that should be of interest to them. … This is an opportunity to do further cryptozoological research. “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Bigfooter] René [Dahinden] did meet Roe and conducted a reel-to-reel tape recording of what he claimed in his sighting,” Perez writes. He adds, “Never mind the fact that Mr. [John] Green heard Roe in a ‘…taped radio interview…’ which may still survive somewhere.” Great! Terrific news. Go find ‘em! The Roe case received only the most cursory investigative attention during its first half-century of prominence in the Bigfoot literature, and it deserves a lot. If new evidence can be uncovered, or if lost evidence can be recovered from history, I will be delighted to see it.
Well, I now am delighted to say that Daniel Perez has begun that long-overdue work on cryptozoology’s behalf—late, yes, but better than never. In a Bigfoot Times article also published as a new post at the cryptozoology website Cryptomundo, Perez announces that he was recently able, with the help of some cryptozoological colleagues, to make contact with surviving members of William Roe’s family and to interview them regarding their understanding of the case. With the family’s permission, Perez even publishes—for the first time—a photograph of the alleged eyewitness himself.
Take a good hard look at the picture above of the late William Roe. Never once did his picture appear in a book or newsletter alongside his now classic story of having seen a female Sasquatch in October 1955 on Mica Mountain, British Columbia.
So this is really the first time ever the Bigfoot community has laid eyes on a life-long outdoorsman and hunter…..3
Indeed, this small step forward is the first time that cryptozoology has made any progress at all on this case, since long before I was born. This strikes me as splendid in two respects. One, as a Bigfoot enthusiast myself, I think it’s just dandy that we now finally know what William Roe looked like! Perez (along with his colleagues who assisted his search, Loren Coleman, Todd Prescott and Craig Woolheater) is to be applauded for his legwork and his success in locating Roe’s relations—a trail that has long been considered by Bigfooters (Perez included4) to be completely cold. But I am also pleased (perversely or not) that this modest breakthrough happened now, in response to Abominable Science!—basically, I think, out of spite. “Not so fast, Daniel!” Perez addresses me directly in his reveal. But advancing Bigfoot knowledge—finding Bigfoot—is what Bigfooters are supposed to be working on. If in this instance, remarkably enough, something actually happened to move things forward, no one could be happier to see it than I am.
Forward motion is exactly what I hoped for when writing Abominable Science! To that end, I’ve called upon cryptozoologists “to respond to the book in a substantial, fair-minded way… take stock, acknowledge a few of cryptozoology’s challenges and shortcomings, and consider how to further refine cryptozoology as a practice.” That sort of collegial professionalism is seemingly in short supply, but if seething dislike for the book leads to a few of the same improvements…?
Well that, my friends, is criticism doing its job.
- Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero. Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.) p. 37
- Ibid. 40
- Daniel Perez. “Daniel Perez on William Roe.” Cryptomundo. October 28th, 2013. http://www.cryptomundo.com/bigfoot-report/daniel-perez-on-william-roe/ (Accessed October 28th, 2013.)
- “First, without the help of Loren Coleman, Todd Prescott and Craig Woolheater, I never would have found family members…. I was told that Todd Prescott and others looked high and low for the family with no success.” Ibid.
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