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Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Special Bonus

Of course I wouldn't leave you all hanging on a holiday weekend! Or would I?

Here is a special bonus from the author Thom Cantrall on "Counterfeit Cryptids".

Counterfeit Cryptids
and
How to Recognize Them

By
Thom Cantrall

It is a sign of our times that anything good will be counterfeited and offered to the public at a reduced price or for reduced credibility. For some reason it has become camp to be a naysayer and to belittle the efforts and experiences of others. I suppose there are myriad reasons for this to happen but among the uppermost are profit and notoriety.
It seems that virtually any time someone comes on the scene with “irrefutable proof” of Sasquatch that “proof” comes with a price tag attached to it. Only recently we had a case of two men in Georgia, at least one of whom was a former deputy sheriff, who had a “body” in an ice chest. This body was for sale to the highest bidder with no takers. Just prior to that was a “must see” video coming out of Canada… for the highest bidder… In both cases, it was nothing more than a hoax and why those involved were not prosecuted for fraud is beyond me.
Another form of hoax that I know personally of being perpetrated was done repeatedly by one of the major timber companies in the Pacific Northwest. To understand why this company would perpetrate hoaxes on its own land, one must look at the actions of our government in the face of controversy as pertains to timberlands and private entities. One only has to look as far as the Spotted Owl fiasco and what is happening in the Central Valley of California with a tiny fish, the Delta Smelt, that has a major portion of the irrigated farmland lying dry and fallow.
The last thing this timber company wanted was an obscure species being discovered in the middle of their prime timber so they went to the trouble to fake tracks and sightings for no purpose other than to create doubt in the minds of the public. After, all, if one case is proven a hoax, doesn’t that prove that all reported sightings are also hoaxes? I know the logic is faulty, but nobody ever went broke overestimating the gullibility of people.
In light of the fact that we know hoaxes exist and are often reported as the real thing, I feel it is important to investigate some of those ruses used and arm ourselves with a set of benchmarks by which we might measure for ourselves the probability of a sighting, still photo, video or track in the soft earth being actual. There are certain things that many valid researchers use as criteria for determining the validity of the various claims that come before us.
The first thing I look for in a photograph is an overall view of the creature. If it is very far removed from the appearance of Patty, the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film, I’m immediately suspicious. The sightings I have had are as near in overall appearance to Patty as one crow is to another. Perhaps I do disservice to creatures from other areas of the country, but until some better similitude comes along, I’ll maintain my bias and test all visual images against the one I know best.
A careful perusal of the image shown in Fig. 1 above shows too many anomalies for me to be comfortable with its authenticity. First, there appears to be wrinkles or folds on the “creature’s” back. The shoulders are just too square. The stature, though wide, does not appear tall and lastly, the arms are much too short. Without knowing more that this, I would label this to be a fake.
In this day of PhotoShop and other great photo manipulation software pieces, almost anything is possible. A good technician can work wonders with photographs to create many illusions. Compare the two individuals in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3. At first look, the creature in Fig. 2 would appear to be a new, unseen photo of a Sasquatch in a forested/brush biome. The first look at the animal meets all the criteria I presented above… until you look at the view of Patty in Fig. 3… It would appear to me that someone has borrowed this image of Patty and placed it into a new background create a new scenario for one reason or another. One can even see the same reflected light patterns on each photo as well as the muscle ripple on the upper leg, just below the buttocks. The same “shiny nose” syndrome is evident in both instances.
Tracks:
We are blessed with many pictures of purported Bigfoot tracks. Many are, obviously, very proper in appearance and what we would expect to find in a Cryptid footprint. Others really tax our imagination. Some things I look for in any picture of a purported track include the regularity of the prints. Where was the print found? How are the individual prints arranged on the trail?
I recently found a photograph of a supposed trail in the snow. This photo is shown here as Fig. 4. Look closely at the individual “tracks”… they are absolutely identical. They are identical in shape, in form and in placement. There is no slippage and each of the four (?) toe prints are unique and separate. The line of prints shows a definite left and right foot orientation. This is so wrong on so many levels that I hesitate to even lend credence to this by denying its existence. Fig 5 and Fig 6 show how a real Sasquatch walks… one foot inline with the other. There are imperfections in the prints. When we walk, we do not do so without making smear marks and slip marks. If one should doubt this, I would advise him to take his shoes off and walk down a wet sandy beach then examine the resultant prints. There are variations. Not all steps are exactly as the previous ones. Prints in the snow are relatively simple to forge, as it takes no great amount of weight to sink to the bottom of two inches of wet snow. This is not the case, however when walking in more solid soil, or even in mud.
Recently, i.e. within the past few years, I watched a program on Discovery Channel, I believe, wherein Autumn Williams, noted researcher and blog manager, escorted a group of TV types into a place in Oregon where Sasquatch was known to frequent. One of these people was the designated naysayer. He was the “skeptic from New York” who was certain he could don a costume and leave tracks that would fool anyone. As part of the program, he attempted to do just that… and failed miserably. First, once he had the suit on, he could not maneuver. He had difficulty even walking, let alone traversing rough terrain. But, the ultimate failure was that his prints did not show well in the soil. He simply was not heavy enough to sink far enough to leave a viable print.
Following is an excerpt from the Essay I wrote about an encounter I had in the Dickey River country of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. After the creature left, I made careful measurements of all aspects of his being… this illustrates why that doubter could not duplicate real tracks…
The last measurement I wanted was the depth of his footprint in the soft ground as it compared to my own. I knew that my shorter, narrower foot should penetrate deeper than his long, broad feet. To test my hypothesis, I removed my boots and socks and walked as he did over the same ground, just being careful not to obliterate his tracks. I was amazed that my foot did not sink deeper nor, interestingly enough, did his sink deeper than my own. In fact, we made very similar tracks separated only by size. Both showed the balls of our feet, five distinct toes, a marked arch and a round heel. The only real difference was in the fact that he seemed to place his foot more evenly on the ground than did I, not rolling from heel to toe as I did in my paces.
As I sat and replaced my boots, it struck me to measure my foot and compare that to that of my non-existent visitor. When I did so, I made what was, to me, a startling discovery. I computed my foot to have covered approximately thirty square inches. And, since I weighed two-hundred-twenty-five pounds fully dressed at that time, I was exerting approximately seven point five pounds per square inch of pressure on the ground. When I measured my imaginary guest’s footprint, I judged it to be approximately eighty square inches and, while I did not know exactly what he weighed, as he didn’t seem prone to staying around while I found a set of scales, but I could estimate the weight of cattle quite accurately and I felt I could be just as accurate with this myth. When I divided my estimated weight of six-hundred pounds by the eighty square inches of his foot print, I came up with an identical seven point five pounds per square inch! No wonder we sank so nearly the same in the ground, we were exerting virtually the same pressure per square inch on it as we walked.
Notice, please, in Fig 7 that there are natural perturbations in the appearance of the print. It is not even and perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but shows the vagaries of a track in a muddy bottom. Compare this with Fig. 8 and notice that the person standing next to the purported track does not even leave a mark on the soil whereas the animal print is sunk well into the soft ground.
Another part of the tracking of this animal that is difficult to counterfeit is the stride on the animal. He is huge by our standards and his stride is commensurate with his leg length. I have, on three occasions, had the opportunity to compare my stride to Sasquatch.
In my capacity as a professional Forest Engineer developed my stride to the point that I could cover long distances using nothing but my stride length to measure that distance. My former partner used to be amazed at my accuracy. One particular such trek involved setting the boundary between a piece of property we were buying and Olympic National Park. In order to do this, I had to lay out a line from one section corner to the next, a distance of one mile. Normally there are posts set every half mile, but they were seldom found in this heavily forested ground and did not show on the survey maps from which we were working. In that traverse, when I had paced out what I felt was a mile, I told him that we should be very close now. He uttered an incredulous laugh and pointed to an iron stake about thirty-five feet from where I stood. I say this only to let all know that I understand strides and pacing. I have developed mine so that one full pace, left foot and right is exactly five feet. Every twenty paces equal one-hundred feet.
In all three instances to which I referred, the creature’s pace exceeded eight feet and one was nearly ten feet. No mere man is going to make that kind of stride without leaving some kind of marking. To do so would require leaping from one foot placement to the next and, in softer materials, would be readily apparent. Consequently, I am very skeptical of any mention of stride in a photo where no means of measurement are provided for comparison.
Fig. 9 illustrates all that is right in a good representation of tracks in the snow. The tracks are in one line, they are not uniform in appearance and one could determine the stride by measuring the individual print and computing a ratio of that figure to the distance from one left foot to the next.
Limb Length
In 1998 the BBC in England aired a show to refute the veracity of the Patterson-Gimlin film. Their hypothesis was, simply put, that it was possible today to produce a suit that would be so life-like that it could not differentiated from a real animal. Certainly, they postulated, Hollywood could create such a costume that would exactly simulate life itself. After all, these were the people who had given us Wookies, Jabba the Hutt and the Apes on their planet. Just to look at what Hollywood could create would convince the world how easy it would be to fake such a creature.
Many thousands of dollars were spent on this pursuit and the result was, as expected, stunning. Just to look at the results would be enough to amaze even the most ardent witness of the Sasquatch phenomenon. A mere glance at Fig. 10 would tend to convince anyone that, indeed, it would not be difficult to simulate a Sasquatch in the wild… until one compares it with the real thing.
Fig. 11 below is the same picture of the suit produced by the BBC program in 1998 alongside one from of the Patterson-Gimlin film with Patty in a similar pose as the fake. This photo appeared on the website BFRO.net and is used with permission. The differences are obvious. Just look at the length of the arms as compared to the body length and the length of the legs.
Not so long ago, in a paper I read with great interest, Professor Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID addressed this issue. In his essay Dr. Meldrum introduced to me the concept of the Intermembral Index or IM Index. This Index is the ratio of the arm length (Humerus plus the Radius) to the leg length (Femur plus the Tibia) times one hundred. Typically in humans this yields an IM Index of Seventy-two (72). It should be noted here that this index remains constant when persons of various heights are tested. The fact that this ratio is height independent makes it a valid determinant of interspecies parameters. It also makes it possible to take measurements off a photograph to make the calculations so long as these measurements are done on a portion of the photo where the limbs are flat to the plane of the camera to reduce the effect of foreshortening of the limbs.
Professor Meldrum indicated further that the Index for a chimpanzee is one hundred six (106) and for a gorilla a whopping one hundred seventeen (117)! Fig 12 shows Patty in a retreating mode. This is included because it is a pose where the limbs are vertical and therefore in a flat plane with the camera. This would yield a situation where foreshortening is eliminated and accurate measurements can be made. After careful examination and measurement of this rendering I ascertained an IM Index of eighty-four (84). This places our large friend directly between humans and apes on the scale.
Quite recently I was watching a report wherein the IM Index was dismissed by two Hollywood movie costumers as being quite immaterial as all they would have to do to gain the required length would be to add arm extensions. Yes, they are correct that this action would increase the overall arm length but it would introduce a further anomaly that they chose to ignore. If one watches the Patterson-Gimlin closely they would see that the arm articulates normally. There is a wrist, an elbow and a shoulder that all move, bend and flex independently and as needed. I am six feet four inches tall (6’4”) and to achieve the IM Index that Patty displays, I would have to add approximately eleven (11) inches to the length of my arm. Any arm extender that I could use to achieve this would mean that my Humerus would remain the length it now is and my Radius would be increased by ten (10) inches. My arm would now measure approximately twelve (12) inches from the point of my shoulder to my elbow and another twenty-three (23) inches from my elbow to my wrist. Since my humerus and my radius are now approximately equal, I would then be a bit disproportionate. That is, unless they can also install an new elbow about five (5) inches below where my elbow now resides!
Fig 13 and Fig 14, left and right here demonstrate graphically the concept. I performed the aforementioned exercise on both of these photos and came up with IM Indices of seventy-one (71) and seventy-three (73), respectively. It does not take a lot of imagination to figure out what these two pictures portray.
It is my fervent wish that no one would ever perpetrate a hoax such as that pair in Georgia did along with a known researcher. It gives every person involved in this research a black eye and sets us back in our efforts. Even though prominent people stepped forth quickly to refute their claims, damage was done to all our reputations in the view of the press and the public. Autumn Williams was one of the very first to deny the veracity of their claims, but I still saw her name in print in a negative tone from people who should know better but were too lazy to do their own research.
With this group of people, the thought of personal gain overshadowed integrity and, as such, the field was soiled. I trust that by invoking some of the techniques I have passed on here, this can be minimized in the future.
I have been asked often why I would continue to speak out when I knew how strong and intransigent the opposition really is. Let me relate something I learned many years ago and told of in my book, “Ghosts of Ruby Ridge”.
When I was much younger, I lived on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the town of Sequim (pronounced skwim). Being located on the Straits leading from Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean, seafood was a major part of my diet. One of my favorites was Dungeness Crab. On a minus tide, when the water fell below the mean low tide level, I would walk the tidal flats inside Dungeness Spit and pick up the crabs from the eelgrass that grew there in profusion. It was but a matter of an hour to capture a limit of ten crabs. As I was wading in the water, I used a wash tub floating on the water to contain my catch. I’d simply pick up the crab with my catch pole and drop him into the tub. I tethered the tub to my belt so it simply floated along and was no impediment to me in any way. The only problem with this arrangement was after catching the first crab. That first critter had to be watched closely or he would crawl out of the tub and escape back to the water. Believe me; I lost several in this manner. The solution was very simple… catch another crab and put it in the tub. As soon as there were two or more crabs in the tub, none could ever escape because as one would begin to climb above the others, they would immediately pull him back down to their level. They would never allow one to rise above the rest.
So it is with people. As long as no one attempts to stand above the others, peace is maintained, but let one person try to get ahead and the masses will do all they can to pull him back down to their level. That is what we see in this field as well. There is a huge segment of the population that does not believe, therefore, NO ONE is allowed to believe and they will scoff and deny facts forever while doing all they can to pull that person back to their own level. For over twenty-five years, I never mentioned what I knew… what I had learned. I kept strictly to myself the encounters I had had with these wonderful creatures when, one day, it dawned on me. I KNOW what I know. I don’t even care if another person knows that or not. If they do not know then they can either learn or keep their mouth shut. It is no concern to me which. If they choose to do neither and, instead, become a naysayer or impediment, they are to be pitied. That in no way changes what I know is true or the experiences I have had.
I associate now with others who also know what I know… not to PROVE the existence of these creatures, but to share our common bond and to revel in the joy of our own knowledge. It is my fervent prayer that each and every reader can reach this point in his own pursuits, be they what they are. Have the courage to know that what others scoff at, they do not understand. Pity them… offer them help… and if they refuse… ignore them for, after all, though the dogs bark, the caravan continues to roll.

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