Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Purpose and Equality: Are they lost causes?

Well I guess it's about time for a blog. Yeah I know, I update about as often as HBO. I could say things have been relatively quiet and inactive, thus leaving me with nothing to write about, but I would be lying. While lying is generally practiced in the world of Bigfoot, as a personal choice I try to distance myself from it. The truth of the matter is there has been quite a bit going on. I'm sure most of you have already read about it on other blogs, message boards, and websites. Everyone has an opinion about it, and I believe most people share at least somewhat of a common opinion. I've offered my own take on the matters a few places, but as is the case with anything, I am only one individual with my own independent opinion. Therefore I don't see any reason to offer it here yet again. I will say this much though. I believe some bad choices were made. I believe things could have been handled differently. I also believe a lot of the issues were caused by individuals who were on the sidelines, and not from the actual source of the information. I believe the information was brought to light by certain people, and then the source of the information was left there to defend himself. I also believe that even if I or anyone else doesn't agree with it, that's just the way things are, and that's how things work in this community. Just another fine example of why people keep their opinions and information to themselves. Why people don't go around sharing things openly with one another. And why certain things will never change within this community because of it.

Now onward to other things.

What do any of us get out of researching Bigfoot? What's the pay off? I realize most of us are interested in "solving the mystery." But what if that doesn't happen? Do we try to establish some sort of legacy? Do we try to make a name for ourselves while we're here, so those that follow us in this endeavor know who we are, and what we did? Time stops for no one, and the Bigfoot field is no different. It slowly creeps forward through time, never stopping. Individuals come and go, people pass on, and new people arrive. So for those individuals who were not around when the Patterson film came to existence, the people who were not close colleagues with the founders of what has come to be known as the Bigfoot research community, the ones who don't write books and appear on documentaries, what is it in for you? I know we all share that common thirst for knowledge, but in this field of study, the knowledge that comes is never enough to quench that thirst.

The chances are the mystery will not be solved in this lifetime. Sure there's a chance, but that chance has always been there. You might have a sighting, which trust me, is a life changing experience, but is that experience, or more importantly the chance of that experience, enough to justify the number of hours, dollars, and amount of work you put into it? There is a pay off or a reason behind everything we do as humans. So what is it for you?

We all have the noble answers such as the friendships gained, and the time we enjoy spending out in nature and the great outdoors, but you don't have to be looking for Bigfoot evidence to acquire or experience either of those. Is it something that even needs to be justified? Justification can sometimes compel an individual to embellish the facts. Sometimes our desire to justify ourselves and our actions, lead us to half truths and outright lies. Especially when we find ourselves on the defensive.

At some point in time the community mindset shifted to the point where we feel the need that everything must be justified. We need proof. Someone saying so isn't enough for us, and we refuse to accept it. Most of the time. Then you start finding yourself in those contradicting grey areas. We might know someone, they might be a friend or colleague. Perhaps we just like an individual for some other reason, such as we agree with what they say, or the things they say we find interesting and enlightening. For whatever reason we form a judgement of that person, one of trust and belief.

Example A: I'm no-kill. Bob is no-kill. I agree with Bob. Bob and I talk to one another quite often. Bob is a nice guy. Bob says he saw a Bigfoot and that the Bigfoot spoke to him mentally. That's kind of hard to swallow, but I know Bob, and Bob is honest. Bob has no reason to lie to me, so I believe Bob even though I can't explain what Bob says.

Example B: I'm no-kill. Jim is pro-kill. I disagree with Jim. Jim and I never talk to one another. I don't like the things Jim says. Jim says he saw a Bigfoot and that the Bigfoot spoke to him mentally. Where's Jim's proof that this happened? I demand Jim's proof! If Jim can't prove this to me, then Jim is a liar! Jim shouldn't even be allowed in this community! Anyone who likes or agrees with Jim is wrong!

Now I do agree that if claims are made, and stated as fact, they need to be proven. I believe that when it comes to evidence, it needs to be handled scientifically. Or at least as much so as we are capable of doing. On the same token, those who hold this mindset and belief, should be held to it. Meaning nobody, regardless of friendships or affiliations, should be given the benefit of the doubt. Bob could be lying, Jim could be telling the truth, they both could be lying, they both could be telling the truth. Everyone who makes claims presented as facts should be treated the same way. If you take it a step farther, which some in this community believe in doing, and feel that even theories, or just claims in general need to be supported with facts and evidence, then in the same respect everyone should be treated equally.

True science always takes a neutral approach. It allows for the evidence, observations, and data to determine the conclusion or outcome. Regardless of the source of the information or the claims that are made.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You can't bring sexy back; it was never here.

Main Entry:
1sex + -ism (as in racism)
1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Has anyone in the Bigfoot community noticed the word "sexism" being thrown about recently? Yeah, me too.
So, as of late, I've felt compelled to address the issue of sexism in the Bigfoot community.
Ready? Here it comes....


Sexism is not an issue in this community, it is a claim to cause a distraction. Show me one instance where a person was treated unfairly, not because of their own actions, but based solely on their gender. The claim of "sexism" is being used as an excuse and a distraction from the root of the matter. It is an incredible slap in the face to women who have been victims of sexism, abuse, and sexual harassment. To use the term so randomly as a means to paint yourself in a light that is untrue, as to draw in sympathy from people who quite frankly have no clue as to what is going on, is just deplorable. It's like a woman who wears revealing clothes to the office, and flirts with her fellow co-workers, and then claims sexism if one of those co-workers gets into an argument with her and calls her on it. Would the same woman claim sexual harassment if her tactics did not result in a promotion? Probably so, and it's disgusting. Does that opinion make me a sexist? If a person of a racial minority is fired from the work place for stealing on the job, and then uses racism as an explanation as to why they were fired, does their community support that claim? Or are they appalled by the fact that one of their own would use this as a means to feign innocence, after all the racial atrocities that have been committed throughout history against them as a whole?

I have made some close and personal friends since entering this community. People I consider family. I met those people through research, both in the field and out. I have learned from all of them, and they have learned from me as well. No one person is held in higher regard than the other, nor is one person considered more knowledgeable than the next. Out of those 16 people, 7 of them are men, and 9 of them are women. While that number is very close to 50/50 if you start adding on random people I have researched with and talked with at length, the women start to take a fairly broad lead of margin. At times I've even been teased as being the "in the hen house with the rest of the hens." I've never heard any of them speak of acts against them based on gender, nor have I ever witnessed anything without their knowing that I would perceive as such. I've certainly never been accused of it.

Women are a common place in this community. Some of the most well known and respected individuals are in fact women. They did not reach that status because they are women, nor were they hindered from reaching that status because of it. Their actions, hard work, and dedication got them to where they are, just as it did for every other person in this field. If someone feels slighted in their position or how they are treated within this community, whether it be by the majority or minority, perhaps they should look inwardly before outwardly. Perhaps they should be honest with not only themselves, but others as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bigfoot and Bigfoot Researchers: Where do the tracks lead us?

The creature we commonly refer to as “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” has eluded us for many generations. Other than one brief piece of film footage, we really don’t have much of anything to offer up in the form of proof. Even that single piece of film has been debated endlessly since it’s release to the world, and still to this day remains as much of a mystery as the creature it supposedly captured. The evidence we have collected since then has been theoretical and inconclusive. Muddied by hoaxers and wackos seeking a glimmer of fame.

We have no particular system, or set guidelines to follow during the collection, cataloguing, and presenting of evidence that we do randomly come across. We mostly fly by the seat of our pants from one individual to the next. Some of us like to put on our “serious hat” and play field scientist, but that becomes difficult when you’re standing out in the middle of the dark surrounding woods being screamed at by what you are sure is just shy of King Kong hiding behind a bush just beyond your range of sight. I doubt any of the members of CSI:Miami would be as effective in those conditions, regardless of writer strike.

You and your team of what you consider top notch researchers happen to come across a track.

“Holy crap look at this! See it’s toes right there? Someone get the plaster ready. Oh, well go get it out of the truck. Anybody got any water? Take some photos of it. How long is it, does anybody have a tape measure? No, I forgot mine too. Well lay a stick next to it. Yeah that’s good, now take a picture of that. Now put your shoe next to it. Careful! There we go. Oh, the plaster is ready, ok let’s just gently pour it in there. Hey it’s a little thick, add some more water to it. Anybody see any other tracks? Here’s a partial, and then another something that could be a track. I don’t see any toes though. Go ahead and take a couple pictures of it. Ok, a couple of us are going to stay with the cast until it dries, the rest of us should go check out that area down by the creek we saw on the way in here. We’ll meet back at base camp.”

Did you keep track of the number of mistakes that were made in the above exercise? Now granted, I realize not everyone would handle the situation in this manner, and I also feel that a lot of researchers have become more aware of the mistakes that are commonly made. People are trying to change to a scientific system of doing things. However, I would still say this above example illustrates the common researcher quite effectively. I can also say that if you were in this situation, you would probably think you handled it quite well at the time. The problems I see are not just in the scientific methods, but in the common sense areas as well. The things that should be applied while in the field before you ever start worrying about your scientific practices. Let’s break down the above example, and look at the major mistakes that took place.

1. As soon as the track was spotted, everyone should have been told to freeze, and examine their surroundings in detail. At that time documentation should have started in the form of video or audio recording. This allows you to not only show your procedures, but to review them later on for mistakes that could have been avoided.

2. Do not point the details out to the other researchers. Even if they are obvious, it holds more weight if they find those details on their own examination.

3. You should already have the materials you need on hand. At least enough to do one casting of a track. This includes the material you will be using to cast the track, water, a container to mix it in, as well as things such as a tape measure, and anything else you might use in a “track” situation. Having someone “run back to the truck” is asking for a mistake to be made. When people are rushed, they make mistakes. Not only that, but no one should be leaving the area. The area has officially become an investigation scene.

4. Sticks, shoes, pocket knives, etc. do not make good measurement devices. I understand you have to adapt to whatever you have available. A tape measure should always be in your bag, but in the event that it’s not, find something that you can take exact measurements with, such as a boot lace, or some other straight, markable item. When measuring the track, taking photos, or doing anything, always keep a “clear zone” around the track so it does not become damaged in any way.

5. Plaster is ready, time to pour! Not so fast. Did you check for dermals? Did you take ALL the photos you could ever want? Did you take those photos from every angle imaginable? If using a digital, did you go back and review those photos to make sure you have what you want. Any and all details you wish to record of that track need to be done before you ever get the plaster near it. Once that plaster hits the ground, the track is being destroyed forever. You also want to make sure your plaster is the right consistency for the given situation. If there is a lot of detail, such as dermal patterns, you want to start out with a thinner layer of plaster, and then add a thicker layer to that to strengthen the cast. Once again, this should all be decided before the first drop is poured.

6. Cast is poured. Other immediate tracks have been examined. Data has been recorded. Photos and measurements have been taken. Now what? Well, assuming it was a Bigfoot, what was it doing? Walking, running, skipping, jumping? Which direction was it headed? Bipedal or on all fours? What did the rest of it’s body touch? Is there other evidence in the environment besides the tracks? How old were the tracks? All of this can be determined from just looking at the tracks. A person with proper tracking knowledge and practice can tell even more information. I would determine as much information as I could, and then follow the tracks. Even if they disappear, you know the general direction that last one was pointed towards. I’d say that’s a better place to look for Bigfoot evidence than any other place in an area.

Keep in mind this was just an example scenario. I’m not saying it’s the 100% best way to handle that particular situation, nor am I claiming to be an expert on the matter. My point is to show you how common sense plays a vital role in what we do as researchers, and how the lack or ignorance of that common sense can lead us to making very simple mistakes. Common sense and good woods knowledge is as important to me as following scientific methods when collecting evidence and data. Even more so at times. As an example, you and your team came across that same set of tracks. Only one of you had some intermediate tracking knowledge, and realized the tracks were extremely fresh. Perhaps it’s better to send them and a couple others along to try and follow the trail, or even capture the Bigfoot on video, while the rest of you stay behind and work on the track casting. I would assume the chance sighting or video recording of one of these creatures would heavily outweigh the importance of casting yet another track. If you haven’t taken the time to educate yourself on these practices, you are putting yourself in the position of not even having the option. Shutting the door on your own research advancement.

Hello, and welcome.

Welcome to my blog. Who am I you ask? Some know me as "OklahomaSquatch" while others might recognize me as "Matt K." To my friends and family, I'm just simply "Matt." The name you know me by, or if you even know me at all, is not what's important. What's important about this particular blog is not the creator, but hopefully the content. I'd prefer if someone remembered something I said, or if something I talked about had an impact on a reader. Rather than someone just remembering my name because they have seen it so many times, or recognized a nickname I happen to use as a log in ID on a Bigfoot forum.

"Squatchin From The Hip" is obviously a play on words, making reference to the term "shooting from the hip," which means to take immediate action with disregard to the possible effects of your actions. Depending on the given situation, this could be taken as a good thing, or a huge character flaw. How can you blindly act with total disregard to the possible reactions one might receive as a direct result? Well, that's exactly what I intend to do. I intend to get people to think. To open their eyes a bit wider. I'm not all that worried about the consequences. I feel a person is defined by their actions, so how can one be defined if they never in fact act? Does this mean I act impulsively? Not at all. I let the course of a given situation dictate the direction I go. I just don't mind voicing things that others tend to just think about. Even if someone is outraged by the things I say, or is in total disagreement, at least I got them to stop and think for a moment. Perhaps I got them to question something they normally wouldn't have, or to see a question in a whole new light. Some of the greatest thinkers, philosophers, and teachers in history were met with extreme hostility and anger. They were not seeking popularity. Their motives were true and genuine, regardless of what people thought of them. The truth is what matters, not how popular or unpopular it makes you.