Analyzing an Encounter

The history of Bigfoot is writhe with tall tales and terrifying encounters.

Almost every state in the U.S., along with many other countries, has dozens upon dozens of Sasquatch encounter stories.

Witnesses include everything from law enforcement to clergy, hunters to travelers, prominent citizens to highly respected politicians, and everything in-between.

Part of my fascination with Sasquatch is wrapped up in the stories.

Sure, I love the scientific side of studying this rare (if real) bipedal creature roaming the forests of the world. I find it infinitely interesting.

However, the thing that provides me the most satisfaction, on a personal level, is a good encounter story.

In fact, I would say that a well told encounter story from a credible witness does more for my “faith” in the existence of the creature than does a track, hair, or whatever other tangible piece of evidence (sans a body, of course) you could show me.

It’s hard to track down actual data relating to the total number of Bigfoot sightings in the U.S. but this graphic gives you an idea.

SasquatchSightings_Small1

*Graph from http://www.joshuastevens.net/visualization/squatch-watch-92-years-of-bigfoot-sightings-in-us-and-canada/

The total number of encounters from 1921-2013 were just over 3,300.

Now, I can’t speak to the credibility of many (if not all) of these encounters. Nor can I speak to the credibility of the man who gathered this data or for the source from which it was gathered (I understand it to be mainly of BFRO origins) but that’s not the point.

In 92 years there were more than 3k reported Sasquatch sightings in the U.S. alone. Remember, those are reported sightings. There is no way to accurately estimate the number of unreported encounters during that same 92 year time frame.

For arguments sake, let’s say that there are another 2k sightings over that time that went unreported (again…this is just a guess…)

That brings our total number to somewhere around 5000 encounters.

My point(s) being…

  1. There are A LOT of Sasquatch encounters in the U.S.
  2. There are inevitably more than are reported
  3. Most of those encounters are likely mistaken identity or plain old fabrication
  4. One genuine encounter is all it takes for everything else to become irrelevant. If only one encounter story is genuinely true…Bigfoot exists…

Most of you know (or maybe you don’t) that I’m hardly a “believer”.

Certainly not a knower..

I’m a gosh I hope they’re real but I’m not going to let my hopes get in the way of scientific fact…er….

Even with my very healthy level of skepticism, it’s hard to ignore the sheer number of encounters. Especially those from credible sources.

That brings us to the next question;

How do we determine a credible encounter from one that is, in all likelihood, a fabrication?

We need to establish a system to analyze encounters that, at the very least, points us in the right direction when it comes to the authenticity of a particular story.

I’m not saying that this method is 100% accurate. In any and all scientific measurements, even on the most accurate of levels, you’ll see a margin of error. Our margin (assuming that any single Sasquatch encounter story is true) would be those stories that fall outside of normal (that’s a relative term, eh?) or what could be expected given the techniques and/or parameters we choose when analyzing a witness story.

Let me preface this next section by saying that if you’re Bigfoot vernacular includes the following words;

Cloak(ed, ing, s)

inter-dimensional

alien

forest people

telekinetic

psychic

or mind-speak…

Then we are likely coming from two, very different, directions and my standards for analyzing an encounter will likely upset you.

In which case, I’d like you to summon your BFF Bigfoot from the 5th dimension (preferably using mindspeak) and have him/her whisk you away to their giant forest mansion on their gumdrop and tootsie roll powered pet unicorn, Trixie.  You’ll be happier there. I promise.

sasquatchunicorn

Breaking down a Bigfoot Encounter

Bigfoot eyewitness stories are as frustrating as they are fascinating, especially when you want to approach the tale from an unbiased perspective.

It’s all too easy to give way to personal beliefs and bias in the realm of cryptids of any sort. I want Bigfoot to be real. I want to believe every encounter story I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, that kind of thinking doesn’t have a place in the scientific community and will often lead to the subject being taken less seriously by actual anthropologists and other scientists.

Encounter stories need to be tested and scrutinized against a rational set of beliefs to determine the probability and/or likelihood  that a given encounter actually happened in the manner the witness(es) describe. 

To make this “test” easier, I like to break encounters down to their very basic tenants. These are as follows;

  1. The Witness
    1. Credibility
      1. History of sightings/encounters
    2. Potential gain from sighting?
  2. The Encounter
    1. Possible/Unlikely/Impossible
      1. Location
      2. Creature traits and detail
  3. Story Recollection
    1. Consistency
    2. Detail

As I said previously, this “breakdown” is not all inclusive but I’ve found gives us a good outline to sift through even the most tedious of encounter stories.

Looking at each step individually, we can break it down further.

Witness-

In my opinion, an encounter is only as good as the witness.

The most believable encounter story with a witness who lacks credibility means nothing.

If a witness has a history of hoaxing, lying, or anything inbetween, the story should not even be considered possibly true.

In a field where very few are willing to take a hard stand this “one strike and you’re out” mentality may be hard to swallow.

Oh well…

Does the witness claim multiple sightings over multiple years..

This is one that I look for immediately.

Common sense tells us that the odds of such an elusive creature being spotted multiple times over multiple years by the same person are astronomically low.

Impossible? No.

Unlikely? You betcha.

Of course, this is a bit of a sliding scale as well.

The more encounters claimed by a single person the less credible/believable it becomes.

The odds of two sightings are incredibly low (Especially over multiple years and locations)

Three sightings? Just about impossible.

More than three sightings over multiple years by the same person?

Now you’re just insulting my intelligence.

I’m not making up the near impossibility of this, either.

Just do the math…

Using the reporting numbers from earlier (3000 sightings from 1921-2013) means that, if someone claimed 10 sasquatch sightings…

They, a single person, accounted for 0.33% of ALL reported sightings in the past 92 years.

While that number may seem small, it’s not.

Statistically speaking, that’s a VERY large percentage considering it is coming from a single individual.

Pair that number with this;

That leaves roughly 300 million (approximation of US population) that will never…ever…see a single blurry track much less the creature itself.

And one person sees a creature multiple times?

The odds aren’t good.

In fact, they’re almost impossible.

Does the witness have anything to gain by sighting a sasquatch?

You can’t ignore this step.

You must always look for hidden agendas.

Cynical? Maybe.

Necessary? Yes.

Does the witness have any ties to a bigfoot research organization?

Is this witness looking for “funding” for further research?

Is the witness pitching a TV show?

You cannot ignore potential “gains” an individual might find if they somehow encounter a sasquatch.

These gains, in some cases, can be so extreme and valuable to the individual that they may (gasp) fabricate a sighting.

The Encounter

Of course, we can’t ignore the encounter tale itself.

This is where things can get a bit blurry depending on what side of the animal versus paranormal spectrum you tend to fall.

If you believe (as I do) that the creature is merely a large, intelligent, undiscovered primate then you can easily distinguish between things that are possible versus impossible in any given encounter story.

If you believe that bigfoot is some multi-dimensional, time traveling, psychic being…

A) You’ll believe darn near everything and everyone

B) You will attempt to justify every part of an encounter, no matter how bizarre, by using the “it’s paranormal” line of bull..I mean..thought

C) I’ve got some ocean front property in Kentucky I’d like you to take a look at.

Seriously. It’s a good deal.

Anyways…

If you’re of the former opinion regarding Sasquatch, you can easily make a a few columns to analyze an encounter.

I set up my columns like this (With some examples under each)

Possible                                    Unlikely                                   Impossible

Smelled terrible           Covered 200 yds in 5 seconds       Spoke English

Vocalized                         Picked up my camper                     Rode a Unicorn

Rock Throwing               Uprooted a large tree               Vanished into thin air

When you end up with lots of impossibles and few possibles, you can fairly safely surmise that a large part, if not all of the encounter, is fabricated.

Of course, the opposite is true. Lot’s of possibles? Very few unlikely’s and impossibles? A good chance that the story isn’t fabricated or simply that the storyteller knows how to lie.

The “unlikely” category is difficult. The things here are not technically impossible, just HIGHLY improbable.

The unlikely category is going to have a lot of personal opinion as to what is, in fact, unlikely.

Story Recollection

You’ll catch a fabricated story here more times than not.

Recounting a story that truly happened will always be more accurate than one which was purely born from imagination.

Something as dramatic, and often traumatic, as a sasquatch encounter undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression.

Specific details regarding date, time, moon phase (can’t let that one go), weather, creature size, location of sighting, etc. don’t just fall from memory, even decades after an encounter.

Check out this small snapshot that was published Sciencedaily.com in 2008 regarding memories and traumatic events as studied by University of Queensland’s Dr. Louise Faber; (full article can be found here; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028103111.htm)

“In a scientific paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience, QBI’s Dr Louise Faber and her colleagues have demonstrated how noradrenaline, the brain’s equivalent of adrenaline, affects the amygdala by controlling chemical and electrical pathways in the brain responsible for memory formation.

“This is a new way of understanding how neurons form long term memories in the amygdala,” Dr Faber said.

Our strongest and most vivid human memories are usually associated with strong emotional events such as those associated with extreme fear, love and rage.”

For many of us, our deepest memories are mental snapshots taken during times of high emotional impact or involvement,” she said.

In other words, the more traumatic and/or dramatic the event, the more solidified the details should be.

Notice that “extreme fear” is also found to be a trigger for detailed memory/recollection of an event.

TLDR; Remembering an event should NEVER be an issue for someone who had a legitimate Sasquatch encounter.

The Wrap Up

In order to analyze a witness’ encounter, one must be prepared to dissect different aspects of the encounter using a repeatable method that focuses on key indicators relating to the credibility of the witness and their sighting/encounter.

2 thoughts on “Analyzing an Encounter

  1. I like the way you use fabricate instead of lie. Very PC. I too hope these things exist, but am unwilling to swallow every story just because I wish it were true. If that were so I would still be leaving cookies out for Santa Claus.

    Like

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