Yesterday I had a piece in the Sunday New York Post about how I fell away from my belief in Bigfoot. The Post’s web version doesn’t include all the hyperlinks I gathered that lead to more discussion of Sasquatch, however, so I thought I’d reproduce my original draft here on the site:
Bigfoot exists, and we’ve got his DNA. At least, that was the claim of a group of researchers led by a vet from Texas, Dr. Melba Ketchum, at a press conference on Oct. 1. She says analysis of DNA samples proves that Bigfoot is the product of interbreeding between humans and some other, unknown primate species. (Yes, that means someone would literally be able to say, “I had Bigfoot’s baby.”)
When I was 13, I would have been overjoyed at this news. I would have taken it as the long-needed proof that a hairy ape-man actually does leave giant footprints all over the United States.
I grew up in Idaho, supposedly prime Bigfoot country, and I was a hard-core Sasquatch believer. It didn’t matter to me that actual, lifelong outdoorsmen like my grandfather thought it was utter crap, or that all I ever saw on my Boy Scout camp-outs were rain clouds and partially raw hot dogs. Bigfoot was proof that there was more to my home state than limited horizons and abundant potatoes. I would argue — passionately, with many people who did not care — that there was too much evidence for these mystery creatures to ignore.
That made me a lifetime ticket-holder to the cryptozoo, the shadowy realm where Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Mothman lurk. My library is still filled with Charles Fort and John A. Keel and Loren Coleman.
My public evangelism for Bigfoot cooled when I started dating, but even a few years ago, I would have said I held out hope for Sasquatch to be revealed.
Today, there are more people than ever who agree. The Olympia Brewing Company has a standing offer of $1 million dollar for anyone who can capture Bigfoot. (You are not allowed to shoot, stab, or even net the creature. You can, however, lure him into your car with cookies.) Olympia is also helping to fund The Falcon Project, which will use a flying drone to search for Bigfoot from the skies. This is in addition to the thousands of plaster casts of footprints. And the dozens — possibly hundreds — of murky photos and video and film clips. There’s alleged Bigfoot hair and poop. There are multiple TV shows that trek into the backwoods with ‘Squatch hunters who yodel out Bigfoot calls in the night.
Sadly, I’m not on the team anymore. Despite all these people looking for him, none of the evidence has improved much since I was in junior high.
Abominable Science! Origins of The Yeti, Nessie, And Other Famous Cryptids, a recently released book by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero, sums up all the reasons to be skeptical of Bigfoot better than I ever could. It goes back to the foundations of the Bigfoot legend, and dismantles it brick-by-brick.
Loxton and Prothero reveal that many footprints and plaster casts of Bigfoot are admitted or proven fakes — and that there’s no way to tell which ones are “real” and which are not, even by the self-proclaimed experts. Bigfoot poop and hair? From other, known animals.
Most important, no one has ever produced a corpse of a dead Bigfoot. Or even a single fossil, not even of a toe bone, which, the authors point out, should be present if the creatures have lived in North America as long as humans. In 2008, two guys claimed to have a dead Bigfoot in a freezer. It turned out to be a rubber suit filled with roadkill.
As for Ketchum and her group, other scientists say they are misreading contaminated DNA samples that are actually from a possum. Ketchum maintains that she’s seen the Sasquatches in the wild several times. And yet, she has not produced a video of them that doesn’t look like a shag rug attached to a Halloween Chewbacca mask.
It’s telling that the best evidence for Bigfoot is still a grainy, 10-second snippet of home-movie footage shot on October 20, 1967 — 46 years ago — by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, which supposedly shows a female Sasquatch walking near Bluff Creek in California.
For some reason, this film has never been equaled, despite the fact that nearly everyone now carries a camera around all the time, everywhere they go, in their pocket. Even the professional TV crews on shows like “Finding Bigfoot” always manage to point their lenses in the wrong direction.
Unfortunately for believers, when the Patterson film is stabilized to remove the handheld jitters, it does look a lot like a man in a suit.
But let’s imagine, for a moment, that Bigfoot is real. That we do find him, and bring him out into the light for everyone to see.
Would that really be better? History is filled with wonders we’ve ignored after the initial thrill of discovery. In the real world, Bigfoot would become one more pain-in-the-ass endangered species for loggers and environmentalists to argue over, or just another animal kept in some vaguely depressing exhibit in a zoo.
Bigfoot is probably better off in the realm of folklore. As long as he’s there, his followers can keep believing in rubber suits and possum DNA, and ignoring anything that might cast a shadow of doubt.
That’s not a search for truth. That’s a religion.
So until someone produces a body, I’m a Bigfoot atheist.
That’s the rational, grown-up answer, anyway. If I went back and told my 13-year-old self, it would break his heart.
He really wanted to live in a world where we can have adventures with ape-men and living dinosaurs, a world that was wild enough and big enough to contain giants.
I know better now. But a big part of me still wishes that world was real, too.
And here’s the page proof in PDF for those not lucky enough to live where you can get a hard copy of the Post: SASQUASHED
I am a terrible salesman. I bombed out of telemarketing jobs in high school, could not move a single chocolate bar for band fundraisers, and always had a huge pile of unsold Scout-O-Rama tickets every year. Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross would probably have me taken out back and shot.
If you’re reading this site, you’re probably already a fan of the adventures of Cade and Barrows, and you’ve probably already bought RED, WHITE, AND BLOOD – now available in the UK as well. If not, I’m not going to try to convince you. (I think you’d enjoy it. Of course, I would say that.)
But if you’re here, and you are looking for something to read, I can offer you some other suggestions as well. Some of these people are friends of mine. Others I just admire. Either way, I get nothing but warm feelings from these recommendations, so you can be sure I’m not pushing them on you out of any kind of profit motive.
OVERSEAS by my friend Beatriz Chantrill Williams, on sale now. Time travel and romance and Wall Street, with plenty of war for the guys. You should pick this up before the inevitable movie with Brad and Angelina. Then you can say you were ahead of the curve.
THE GONE-AWAY WORLD by Nick Harkaway. It took me a long time to get to this one, and now I’m feeling like an idiot for stalling. It’s a remarkable book. I honestly considered reading it to people on my book tour instead of my own work.
WYNONNA EARP: THE YETI WARS by my pal Beau Smith. If you’ve already read my work, you’ll know why I love this graphic novel. It’s got Bigfoots vs. Yetis, the paranormal crimes division of the Marshals Service, and vampires, all mixed up in a blender of violence and humor.
LIMINAL STATES by Zack Parsons. Another wholly remarkable book, which spans decades and genres as it tells the story of two men in the Old West who discover a way to live forever, and the hate that binds them, and the terrible price they impose on the world for their existence.
THE APOCALYPSE CODEX by Charles Stross. Really, everything by Stross is worth reading. He’s an incredibly smart writer who has the gift of seeing his fictional worlds all the way to the end of the tunnel, no matter what’s coming from the other side. But this is another one of the Laundry Files novels, and as such, I’ve pre-ordered it without so much as a peek inside. Imagine saving the world from the Forces of Darkness were up to a bunch of overworked and underpaid bureaucrats, who are forced to deal with mind-eating terror but also get their expense reports done on time. It’s funny and dark and amazing.
CHEW by John Layman and Rob Guillory. My current favorite comic book out there, in convenient bite-sized package form. I’ve sung the praises of this before, but it just keeps getting better. Briefly, Tony Chu is a cibopath — someone who gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. And he’s also a federal agent thrust into one disgusting, insane, and deadly situation after the next, where often the only answer is to be found by taking a bite of something really awful. Start at the beginning. You won’t regret it.
My interview with Minnesota Public Radio’s Kerri Miller is here on the MPR website. Also, you can now pre-order the paperback of BLOOD OATH, and pre-order the sequel, THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE. And let’s not forget the stylish merchandise you can grab at Zazzle.
OK. That’s it for the message from our sponsors. Now, the news:
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Tea Party Senate candidate has reporter cuffed for asking questions at public event.
Creepier than Cloverfield: Video of mysterious sea creature. (Begins at 1:30.)
If you don’t already know Beau, he’s been writing comics since forever, as well as marketing those books to the wider world out there. He’s the guy who made Guy Gardner — a second-string Green Lantern with a bowl cut — into an actual badass member of the DC Universe, among many other things.
His upcoming book is about Wynonna Earp, a descendant of the famous lawman who handles weird and paranormal crimes for the Black Badge division of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. If I had to use the bad Hollywood math description, I’d say it was “X-Files” meets “Justified.” But that doesn’t really do it justice. Beau was kind enough to forward me the script, and let me sum it up this way: Yetis, explosions, massive ordnance, immortals, vampires, mad scientists, more explosions, hot chicks, cold beer, and a crack squad of Bigfoots. Bigfeet. Whatever.
If that’s not your particular brand of vodka, well, we probably don’t have much else to discuss.
As part of the ongoing launch, Beau has a short introductory piece about each part of the Wynonna Earp universe. Today’s features Smitty, the gunsmith and veteran (read: old) marshal who works with Wynonna. Any resemblance to Beau himself is purely coincidental, I’m sure.
Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars hits stands in December. (The Diamond Comics Distribution Order Number is OCT100439.)
Oh, and it will include an introduction by me, unless someone in power comes to their senses before publication.
Nathan Fillion is already an A-lister to me. (Wow. That looks really creepy when it’s typed out like that.)
Why do “True Blood’s” vamps have their fangs on the laterals, not the cuspids? This is actually something that’s bothered me for a while. Leave it to The Answer B!tch to uncover the truth.
The weirdest moments from Archie Christian Comics. I read all of these as a kid. The weird part is, at the time, none of them struck me as weird.
Gawker Media now has more readers online than any newspaper except the New York Times. To be fair, most newspapers have scandalously few pictures of giant goldfish, so it’s sort of their own fault. (Other news buried in that chart: the LA Times is getting killed by everyone except the Wall Street Journal, which charges its users for some content.)
The first 40 pages of my novel BLOOD OATH, in German. (My high school Deutsch teacher, Herr Luttman, would be so proud.) BLUTIGER SCHWUR hits stands in Germany on September 13. Also, Suspense Radio interviews me with my brilliant publicist Megan Underwood Beatie.