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Cryptozoology Pisses Me Off

by Brian Dunning, May 14 2009

And here’s why.

It pisses me off because it’s the perfect microcosm of what’s wrong with television science reporting. They’re not interested in reporting good science or in educating their viewers; they’re only interested in tabloid stories. And they affix a “science” label to them. Send some horseback kooks into the woods with a megaphone and an infrared camera to look for Bigfoot, show it on the Science Channel, and that’s what passes for science programming in the United States. The obvious result? We have a population who believes that communication with ghosts represents the leading edge of brain research, that multilevel marketing schemes are a way to get rich, and that a mail order gadget (suppressed by the oil companies) will make your car run for free.

I grew up obsessed with cryptozoology. I knew all the Bigfoot stories, I fully believed Nessie was a relic plesiosaur, I was convinced that Neanderthals survive in Russia. Having seen, as a young boy, the skeleton of the Megatherium that died falling into the Grand Canyon Caverns millennia ago, I was thrilled to learn that a “scientist” had discovered that they may still exist in the Amazon, based on local superstitions. I had no doubt. It seemed perfectly plausible and scientific.

That’s because I, at ten years old, had an understanding of the scientific method comparable to that of the cream of today’s cryptozoologists. My reading had taught me that you start with a conclusion (“Bigfoot exists”), support it with a logical fallacy (“Either it’s true or it’s a hoax of impossible proportions”), and you’re automatically right because nobody’s disproven it. This was absolutely convincing to a ten year old boy, and that’s good enough for the TV networks. What an easy sell! If your “science” broadcasting is effective, it must be good.

Cryptozoologists are the perfect marriage for this type of reporting. They sell a seductive message – monsters are real – and they’re not hampered by the need to restrict their comments to what’s supported by facts. They’re free to say the establishment suppresses them. They’re free to draw conclusions from anecdotal evidence. They’re free to turn correlation into causation, and to present the results of confirmation bias as evidence for their monster du jour.

Cryptozoologists are not hampered by the boundaries learned in formal education. You can drop out of school and flip burgers for a living, yet the attachment of “-ologist” to the name of your hobby turns you into exactly the kind of expert the networks want to promote. Someone whose conclusion is easy to understand, exciting, and game changing. Someone who’s absolutely convincing because they’re free to employ every logical fallacy in the book to support their position, to the detriment of a public largely unprepared to recognize poor arguments and bad information.

Cryptozoology is not just a joke that can be laughed off. It’s an active threat to human intellect. But the real culprits are not the ordinary cryptozoologists themselves; they’re just well-meaning guys who grew up reading the same books I did, but who never took the opportunity to learn the scientific method. The real culprits are much bigger and more numerous. They are the networks who promote bad information; the viewers hungry for exciting information indistinguishable from fact; and everyone who works to support that dangerously co-dependent relationship.

No conscientious person should knowingly condone any part of that process.

64 Responses to “Cryptozoology Pisses Me Off”

  1. MadScientist says:

    I don’t condone such processes and that is the primary reason why I hardly watch any TV at all these days; even the news has me screaming because of the lies reporters love to peddle.

  2. SionH says:

    I think that, of all the woo, cryptozoology is my ‘favourite’. I mean, if someone did somehow conclusively prove that ghosts, gods and demons existed, well that would be really scary, but if someone proved that ground sloths, dinosaurs or an unknown species of hominid were around, that would be kinda cool.
    Still, extraordinary claims…

  3. William says:

    I was quite surprised recently to find out that Cryptozoology is a class at my little cousin’s middle school. Apparently it replaced they’re Home-Ec class, which they did away with because of debt….

  4. MadScientist says:

    @William: wow – that’s amazing. Imagine the number of ways to tease someone who takes those classes. Have you learned what bait is best to use? What kind of traps are recommended for catching bigfoot/nessie/Santa Claus? It’s really sad that the stuff is making it into schools as an elective though.

  5. TonyaK says:

    I’m not surprised that it is making its way into schools as an elective. I recently learned that a textbook company is publishing a children’s book about ghost-hunting…As an educator, this angers me beyond belief. In part, I am so angry because I feel that there isn’t much I can do about it on a large scale.

  6. I Doubt It says:


    That’s awesome you wrote about this Brian. I similarly felt so strongly about this that I included cryptozoology as an example in a paper I wrote for Hist & Phil of Sci called about sham inquiry. I’ll be posting it in parts on my blog but it hits some similar points. I used D. Daegling’s Bigfoot Exposed as a reference because it captures the essence of why it’s not science.

    I see these ‘monster hunters’ similar to how I view the ‘ghost hunters’. They have made an assumption beforehand of what the explanation will be and all evidence will either support that or be discarded. The field is based on speculation alone.

    Cryptozoologists have a classic love-hate relationship with the scientific community. This field has a history of interest from credentialed scientists including anthropologists, zoologists and wildlife biologists who repeatedly attempt to insert their work into conventional scientific journals and conferences. The community is warm and welcoming to professionals that are sympathetic but show blatant disdain for scientists and investigators critical of their claims. Cryptozoology will claim success one day if some unknown creature (even a mundane one), previously described by a culture, is recognized by science. While they truly want to do science and be accepted into that circle, in the final analysis, cryptozoology is essentially about pursuing a belief, being immersed in a mystery, and feeling important.

  7. WoodEngineer says:

    I could not agree more. All of the “science” channels on the television constantly spew this makes me sick.

  8. gfunkusarelius says:

    The thing that annoys me the most about shows like Monster Hunters is that nothing ever happens. It is offensive to me that someone gets to put out a show where they advertise as if there is going to be some startling new discovery, but they rarely even have decent frauds.

    That and the fact that they have interviews from “experts” that have been debunked years ago and often don’t present these explanations, or, when they do, they put way more weight and legitimacy on the “believers.”

  9. Lazy says:

    I don’t get the Science Channel, but I do get the psuedoHistory Channel and the (ghost)Discovery Channel. I was always under the impression they would leave that garbage out of Science C. It’s extremely disheartening to hear they have taken to the fold as well. I figured they were all owned by the same company.
    Anyone remember those awesome nature shows narrated by British guys with hushed voices? The awe in their narrative over the lion prowling her territory in the hunt for survival of its species was great. Now, it’s adult men pissing themselves over bumps in the night. I wished I could have a follow up show that documents me hanging out in the same places. That or the Skeptologists, you know.

    “Here we are in the living room, the Discovery Channel’s natural habitat. Its mating session and this beauty’s in rare form today as she attempts to entice the television audience, but all is not well. Its natural predators: greedy producers and bullshit psuedoscientists are out for her blood. Lets what happens… oh no, cut the camera, stop filming!”

  10. Brian M says:

    Not to be a dick or anything, but perhaps you should keep the “news media are ignorant” type of comments to a minimum. I guarantee you, if they are considering putting “the skeptologists” on TV, they are reading this blog. And if they are reading this blog, they won’t be willing to risk some “anti-establishment nut” (or who they perceive to be anti-establishment nut) being put on the air on their dime. Nothing worse then giving someone a platform that they promptly use you bash you with.

    Not that you are incorrect on the post. I’m just saying…

  11. LovleAnjel says:

    Ya’ll heard that there’s a new Montauk Monster?

    The second headline is priceless.

  12. Mark Edward says:

    Brian M may be right. Sounds like you are getting a little restless like the rest of us Skeptologists, huh Brian? I have been calling for Guerilla Skepticism, Solidarity and doing everything I can to show how pissed off I am too. If we are “anti-establsihment nuts,” then so be it. I still have hope. Many of the situations we face now are far worse than back then.

    Now we have this whole “torture pictures” thing to deal with. This new national mess should keep the talking heads frothing for the forseeable future… Never mind Miss California’s fake boobs and on and on and on with everything else except dealing with The Elephant in the Room: DAY TO DAY BULLSHIT. I have been trying to get a rise out of Anderson Cooper about doing something for our cause, but with the neverending whitewash that CNN puts up everyday and Larry King’s softball pablum, it’s all a long shot. But I won’t give up! We have to persevere.

  13. Lauren says:

    It made me very sad to see Expelled advertised on the Science Channel.
    I should just cancel everything except for NatGeo. I’m so tired of all the hooey masquerading as science, whether it supports conspiracy theories or exploits “psychic” kids or poorly documented monsters and ghosts… A lot of it is just fun and interesting, but when it’s presented as actual science, that’s what bothers me.

    • Ben says:

      Yeah, I’ve seen Nat Geo cover some pretty out there stuff (people claiming to be the messiah for example) but at least they don’t call the fringe people “experts” the way that History Channel does.
      I once heard a History Channel documentary say something along the lines of “Were the Mayans an alien race that disappeared because they left?”
      FYI: The Mayans are still around, in spite of all efforts to get rid of them. Some of their descendants even live as “aliens” in the United States.

  14. Jonathan says:

    You know, cryptozoology doesn’t anger me, it just really saddens me. It’s a great opportunity to show scientific discovery in action. You have a bunch of folklore and stories of strange beasts, and then you’ve got a team of rugged adventurers braving hostile forests in search of these animals. While on their search they could inform us about some of the local flora and fauna. They could even show some of the local animals that might have led the locals to believe in whatever strange monster they think exists. It could make fantastic television but it’s been absolutely wasted and ruined by the woo mongers.

    • Cyberist says:

      I think the shows are mostly ruined by the networks. They are trying to entertain the masses.

  15. Stuart S says:

    Stop watching tv. Read a fu&£ book!!!

  16. Michael E says:

    Mythbusters is the only program worth watching on the Discovery Channel.

  17. Richard says:

    If the middle school with the cryptozoology course were smart it would invite some real cryptozoologists (= systematists) to talk to the kids. These biologists spend their lives describing previously unknown species of — you name it — spiders, beetles, lizards, frogs, trees, etc. And their expeditions are likely to be much more productive. Even if they don’t find a new species (which is not necessarily the main objective), they typically get lots of interesting new info about species that are already known.

  18. Pete says:

    Well, I have mentally divided cryptozoology into 3 categories:
    1) the unknown/extinct “normal” animal found – these are the new frogs, beetles, fish, deep-sea squids, Vietnamese jungle cows, etc – all perfectly normal, just heretofor uncataloged

    2) possible, but implausible creatures – Bigfoot, 100-foot long snakes, black panthers in the Midwest USA, etc – something that is not a mystical creature, but probably can’t exist given the population/habitat data

    3) the woo creatures – flying rods, the mothman, the Jersey Devil, etc – sheer folly

    category 1 is barely odd – it’s the natural result of unexplored regions
    category 2 is sometimes reasonable – there may be evidence of an anomalous creature, like jaguars in the US
    category 3 is the one that makes me angry when it’s posed as science

  19. Wow, Vietnamese jungle cows. That’s freaky on so many levels. Are they indigenous to the region or just cattle that got lost in the jungle and adapted?

    I have to say one thing, the “black panther” sightings in Victoria have escalated. I wouldn’t have believed it myself until I saw one reasonably close. From the vantage point and in comparison to the bush it had walked past, I guesstimated it was slightly smaller than my Rottweiler and it had a large, muscular build. Turns out it was just a large feral cat. I’d never seen a feral cat before but the residents of the location we were filming in had seen this animal regularly.

    Do feral cats get that big? I have no idea. I figure these animals have been in remote locations for a long time and adapted. Domestic cats, in my opinion, could evolve over a long period of time due to their environment and diet. The lack of predators would allow them to regain the title of “Kings of the Jungle.”

    Like most cases, I didn’t have a camera on me at the time and it was just unexpected. My girlfriend was with me and she thought it was a little cat until I pointed out the bush it was walking by. Perspective could have played a role in mistaking it’s size.

    Funny thing is, when she realised how big it was, she started to call out for it like she would our little domestic cat. I was like “Dude, what are you gonna do? Throw a ball of string at it? That mofo was HUGE!”

    I guess this is where a lot of the cryptozoologists make their mistake. They’re so eager to believe that they won’t allow themselves to explain what they’ve seen logically. They start with a conclusion and work their way from there. The “black panther” could potentially be a feral cat. We probably don’t see the Tabby Tigers due to their ability to blend into the environment.

    Tabby Tiger? I’m going to look into the rights for that one. I assume we’ll be seeing those on crypto sites soon.

  20. MadScientist says:

    @Pete: what’s anomalous about jaguars in the USA? You’ll find hordes of them in Montana (and many other states) – except they’re called ‘cougars'; elsewhere they’re known as ‘mountain lions’ and there are probably numerous other names for them – they’re all the same family of cat.

  21. A few times recently someone has come across my blog by typing in “flying trilobite hoax”. I noted it in this post.

    It’s like, ‘kay, yeah my blog is called ‘The Flying Trilobite’ but it’s not like I’m perpetuating a crop circle hoax or something. Another person noted in a forum that I painted “cryptids”. *sigh*

    When you call everything dirt it’s easy to dig.

  22. Pete says:

    @Jose – it was some largish ungulate antelope, not a feral domestic cow. Also, w/r/t to the Anomalous Black Cats, I loved MonsterQuest’s one batch of video with accurate scale had the cat at 24 inches long from nose to tuckus “larger than a housecat” – I looked at my housecat, and found a tape measure, and he was 22 inches.

    @MadScientist – by jaguar, I mean Panthera onca, as opposed to the cougar, Puma concolor. The jaguar is not currently considered native to the USA, but recent photos have been taken of a few in the SouthWest USA.

  23. Noadi says:

    That reminds me of the “cougar” sightings in Maine. The Northeast US doesn’t have them, maybe they once lived here but like wolves but not anymore. Biggest wild cat we have now are lynxes and even those are very rare. Lots of misidentified feral kitties and there are some big ones that have interbred with bobcats but no cougars which is too bad.

    I have a soft spot for cryptozoology. Unlike a lot of psuedo-science it’s mostly harmless and fun. The fact it’s shown uncritically on the Science Channel is very sad.

    • MadScientist says:

      I’d put “no cougars” on the “good things” list. If you’re walking in kitty country having those huge cats around is not a good thing.

  24. Dedalus1953 says:

    So, why were there no cougar sightings when I was young enough to learn a thing or two from them?

  25. Jim Shaver says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Brian. The frustrating thing is: It’s not as if these networks can’t find good shows to buy. For example, I still see some very respectable documentaries on the History Channel about science, astronomy, history, and technology. But then, more and more predominantly, it seems, there’s the trash that you and others mentioned, and more.

    Got to get The Skeptologists on the air (/cable/satellite) now!

  26. Hypatia's Daughter says:

    Interesting that your were a believer in “woo” when you were younger. So was I (UFO’s) and so was Michael Shermer (health woo).
    It would be interesting to find out how many skeptics started out as woo believers and why and what changed their minds.
    I was impressed with the credibility of many of the witnesses, especially pilots and policemen, until I realized that pilots are not necessarily experienced at astronomical observation; and policemen (especially in the US, and outside the big cities) are often the local “good ol’ boy” with a just a high school education. I had assumed that all policemen had the critical skills and training of a TV detective….

    • I’m guilty of being a “woo” believer whilst growing up. Always had an interest in the “paranormal” scene and only really started looking into it seriously in my mid 20’s. Didn’t take long for me to realise the scene was populated by people who shared the same interest but lacked the same skepticism. I prefer to call the scene “parabnormal” and “psience” for anything that is labelled scientific.

      It took me a few years of observation to gradually turn from a keen interest to a performer in a circus of bunk. The final straw was a 13 part TV series that aired in Australia where I was thrown into the paranormal mix as a “tech manager”. I’ve turned down several related opportunities since then. That experience was by far the most frustrating.

      I never really had any interest in cryptozoology. UFO’s had very little interest as well.

      Luckily my years amongst the psychics and paranormal “researchers” has been put to good use as a character study for the new project we’re working on. A comedy of course. What else?

    • Carl says:

      Shermer also believed in religious woo. I myself believed PSYCHIC DISCOVERIES BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN (or whatever the exact title was), from sheer gullibility. That it could be simply lies was just not in my mental universe for an embarassingly long time.

  27. Tom says:

    My only problem is that you’re talking about “reporting” here, and I think that’s a misnomer. The Science Channel should be a place that features interesting TV documentaries, covering a wide range of topics. It’s not really their job to “report,” since they are in no way a news organization. I doubt they could afford to do real science reporting, it’s quite expensive. Plus, people take these cable series with a grain of salt.

    What we should be discouraging is when a story like this gets picked up by a local news affiliate or, even worse, cable news. Folks trust everything they see on those stations, and it is there that “science reporting” gets bastardized by our national love affair with cryptozoology.

  28. I Doubt It says:

    Brian touched a nerve with cryptozoologists with this post (good). A response was featured at the Blogsquatcher:
    Be sure to read the comments including one from Loren Coleman who was condescending, as usual. It is interesting since the main popular blog of CZ, Cryptomundo, has lost many readers because it features ridiculous stories and speculation. The WORST thing about Cryptomundo is that it excludes skeptical commentators. Even if you are polite, but disagree, your comments won’t appear. Science doesn’t exclude criticism. Criticism is a _necessary_ part of peer review. That’s a huge red pseudoscience flag for CZ.

    I think you’ll find many skeptics are fans of monsters and WISH these critters were real but we don’t exist in a fantasy world. They just aren’t there.

    • Frank says:

      And I suppose this Skepticblog isn’t condescending? Just the title… ‘Cryptozoology Pisses Me Off,” is, a priori, condescending, is it not?

      Certain statements made in this blog post, such as “and they’re not hampered by the need to restrict their comments to what’s supported by facts,” is very sweeping, generalising, and inaccurate. Take a rather famous example: Bigfoot. Tracks exist. Tracks that have been examined by educated, recognized experts in their field (Jeff Meldrum for one, and Jimmy Chilcutt, a COURT recgonized EXPERT on fingerprints, footprints, and Primate prints. You don’t get to be more expert in a field than Chilcutt. People go to prison for LIFE or worse because of his testimony). Chilcutt’s credentials are unimpeachable, folks. He examined alleged Bigfoot castings with the intent to debunk them, and came away with a changed opinon that Bigfoot (whatever it is) exists. You can’t see he didn’t use good science in his investigation.

  29. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    It is hard to study what isn’t there. Talk about special pleading!

    Loved your recent podcast on this.

    • Frank says:

      “It’s hard to study what isn’t there.”

      Isn’t this the same kind of fallacy that the blogger is railing against?

      “My reading had taught me that you start with a conclusion (”Bigfoot exists”), support it with a logical fallacy (”Either it’s true or it’s a hoax of impossible proportions”), and you’re automatically right because nobody’s disproven it.”

      Turn this around in the other direction: ‘Monsters’ (your term, not mine) aren’t real (starting with the conclusion), support it with sweeping generalization (only those with the ‘scientific understanding of a 10 year old’ believe in monsters), and you’re automatically right because no rational thinking adult believes in ‘monsters.’ And, in the process, you’ve made fun of those who do search for these animals, and attacked the person rather than the position (another fallacy).

      This, my friend, is what is known as hypocrisy.

      I am not saying you or the blogger are necesarily wrong, but you need to do better than this.

  30. Frank says:

    A rebuttal from another website, if you practice what you preach, read it over and please respond. Thanks!

  31. rowanth says:

    Just on a topical note, Cartoon Network are advertising a new Cartoon called “The Secret Saturdays” which is about the “Cryptids” or the “Creatures that regular science doesn’t believe in” according to the ads. Harmless enough really but made me laugh all the same.

  32. gratedrake1 says:

    what i realy hate is when your trying to take a picture of something and some gay bastard jumps in front of your camera saying dont ya love me over and over as tell them git the hell out of my way and you half to punch them in the face to make them back off so you can take a picture but all you get then is a back picture heading into the woods you had time to get 3 maybe 4 sidw pics but ass hole had to get in the way and later your one good piture gets stolen worst i had a hole roll of good cripted pictures stolen by walmart plant city fla. cant trust these bastards with a desposible camera

  33. Frank says:

    “yet the attachment of “-ologist” to the name of your hobby turns you into exactly the kind of expert the networks want to promote.”

    You mean, for example, Skept”-ologist”?

  34. ralph says:

    if you want a perfect example please go the site Cryptomundo, and look for the article, “bigfoot has language.” (!!!) yes, the “scientist” who is vetted by publishing his c.v. at the beginning of the article clearly states that his research proves these creatures have language.
    i don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to prove sasquatch exists, but first they HAVE TO PROVE IT EXISTS.
    Cryptomundo is an exercise in begging for donations by the “noted” Loren Coleman, who despite having published countless books on the subject and being the obligatory expert on every crypto tv show seems to constantly be on the verge of bankruptcy. “if i don’t receive x number of dollars by friday i will have to quit blogging! i mean it this time!” he even used the death of a family member to shill for money. shameless.
    the bfro is the self styled “only scientific bigfoot research organization,” but appears to have at the core an interest in selling tickets to bigfoot expeditions. a situation like this makes hoaxing almost a necessity. lists many sightings but states clearly her “beliefs” that bigfoot is a biological entity much like a bear. she knows this….
    most other “researchers” are good old boys in camo gear, sound blasting and doing “night ops.” of course they are armed, and not hesitant to shoot into the darkness.
    the psychological implications are varied and many, from simple mercenary ones to possibly complex control and domination ones (motivations at the core of hunting.)
    i could go on, but you get my drift. yes, cryptozoologists piss me off too. they do bad science, but present it as actual research. it’s all a lot of hooey, and makes any real research more difficult.

  35. ralph says:

    p.s. skepticism is a healthy approach to the world. it helps you to assess the validity of whatever it is that crosses your path. it is not the same a “professional debunking” (a la smirking shermer) which is another profession that also pisses me off.

  36. ralphieBOY says:

    please take note that and the have both removed the links they posted earlier to this site. i’ll have to to check to see if it s still up on blogsquatcher or cryptomundo.

  37. ralphieBOY says:

    to gratedrake 1: funny!…are you wearing camo?

    • gratedrake1 says:

      i you dont think the governments going to have people going around telling the truth there would be panic from college kids every were the ones they send after these things cant find there but to wipe it if they sent someone with common seance they mint know how to shoot it then disect it right there on film to show its no hoax them they would have a good show lol

  38. gratedrake1 says:

    funny no not camo not in a wile i was in the military in 1980to1984 only got to shoot one sniper in 1982 never had the sarge told me dont kill him just shoot him down i asked do i half to leave him happy sarge told me no so i put 6 cal.308 rounds through his crouch funny lots of nuts volintears for death missions but know body volintears to be shoot there lol so you never saw a animal you did not see in school books

  39. gratedrake1 says:

    ralphieBOY your not from perfection valley navada are you lol

  40. Jeshua says:

    Please stop, gratedrake1, my sides can’t take any more! You are putting us on, right?

  41. gratedrake1 says:

    i have killed 3 cripted animals and have seen a few more ever hear of a gray hound passenger droping off the tunge of a unknown cripted at a bus stop in california during the driver strike

  42. gratedrake1 says:

    i would have taken the head of it but the bus company said i could carry it under or on the bus it was 4 feet across

  43. gratedrake1 says:

    they it was to big and it did smell realy bad

  44. gratedrake1 says:

    watch this one college kid get ate by a cripted moron told me to ignore it and it would so i told him stand here ill get a camera i ran to my car got in and looked back to see his feet hanging out its mouth i drove away fast it went back in the woods in fla. near bush gardens never did think to take a picture that time

  45. gratedrake1 says:

    after spending 3 weeks on a gray hound bus durring the driver strike i was thinking about making a gripted map of the usa

  46. gratedrake1 says:

    ps if you want to find a cripted go to topilo mississippi go to the Kmart ask the ladys there for a map to were to find the mississippi night lady they come out at night in the black water swamp if you go to the lake your in the wrong place theres a boat ramp no gators just a small swamp entrence lost of trees in the water you know your to close to one when your flash light starts to go dead because of raidation if the night lady comes toward you run like hell because they do eat people throwing a flash light will slow it down but not much there fast eaters

  47. gratedrake1 says:

    ps if you want to find a cripted go to topilo mississippi go to the Kmart ask the ladys there for a map to were to find the mississippi night lady they come out at night in the black water swamp if you go to the lake your in the wrong place theres a boat ramp no gators just a small swamp entrence lost of trees in the water you know your to close to one when your flash light starts to go dead because of raidation if the night lady comes toward you run like hell because they do eat people throwing a flash light will slow it down but not much there fast eaters ps wear a heavy jacket to throw it could save your life

  48. gratedrake1 says:

    Three brothers found dead Monday morning near Lake Houston probably drowned, according to homicide investigators. The brothers were last seen fishing from the shore near Dwight D. Eisenhower Park. things that make you wonder 3 brothers you would they would have helped each other unless ?

  49. gratedrake1 says:


  50. MrPete says:

    I’ve seen a few of those cryptodocos. The story is always much the same: a remote area is visited, where a few of the locals have flimsy eyewitness and/or hearsay tales which are followed up with great zeal by the investigator. Scientific equipment is set up, and all manner of tests prepared. And then nothing happens.

    The ‘mysterious’ strands of hair turn out to be those of a yak or vervet monkey. The old guy who saw the monster 50 years ago now says it was wearing clothes and might have been a man… and so on.

    The entire field of cryptozoology appears to be fueled by little more than the fibs of mischievous local folks.

  51. Trish says:

    I agree that current coverage of cryptozoology, ghosts, and other “unproveable” phenomena is currently really lame. But, as was noted above, many currently skeptical adults went thru a junior-high-school woo phase. I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea, or a bad show, to cover these topics in a skeptical way. Instead of letting the woos run the show & interview each other, or having a clueless host allowing them to show off their fakeable photos & t shirt shops, have actual scientists explain why 70 years of blurry b&w pix of Nessie are no match for the fossil record of actual dinosaurs. If done with an edgy spirit, like the Penn & Teller show BS, and not being on a premium channel [the better to reach kids who don't have premium cable packages], such a show could be a force for enlightenment.

    As an aside, I have to complain heartily about History Channel & Nat Geo’s treating the Bible as a historical source. Even though we’ve known for more than 10 years that native-born Egyptian artisans built the pyramids and Zahi Hawass has done documentaries about it on these very channels, there are programs made since the discovery of the artizan village & cemetery that refer to Jewish slaves who built the pyramids. Besides the fact that the construction showed remarkable technological skill one would be surprised to find in an enslaved & illiterate population, would one really trust captives with important tasks? The pyramids were the pharoah’s means to get to the afterlife. One disgruntled slave carving @#%& Amun in an out-of-the-way corner could have left pharoah’s ka soul wandering the desert for eternity.