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Dec 02 2012

The ‘Science’ of Bigfoot, Done by Press Release

Here’s another perfect example of pseudoscience by press release, making breathless claims about the DNA of Bigfoot being sequenced and found to be a new species of hominid that is a hybrid of Homo sapiens and some other species. Ben Radford of the Committee for Scientific Inquiry explains:

The release and alleged study by Melba S. Ketchum also suggests such cryptids had sex with modern human females that resulted in hairy hominin hybrids, but the scientific community is dubious about her claim.

“A team of scientists can verify that their five-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called ‘Bigfoot’ or ‘Sasquatch,’ living in North America,” the release reads. “Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago.”

For her study, Ketchum obtained three “whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species.” (Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is the DNA that resides in the cell’s energy-producing structures, and is typically passed down from mothers, while nuclear DNA, nuDNA, resides in the cells’ nuclei and is passed down from both parents to offspring.)

“Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens,” the statement reads.

But here’s a big clue that you’re dealing with a fraud: She won’t give anyone else access to this alleged evidence.

So where’s the evidence? Well, there is none. Not yet, anyway: Ketchum’s research has not appeared in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, and there’s no indication when that might happen. If the data are good and the science is sound, any reputable science journal would jump at the chance to be the first to publish this groundbreaking information. Until then, Ketchum has refused to let anyone else see her evidence.

Imagine that. And here’s the punchline:

Ketchum also issued a statement requesting that the U.S. government immediately recognize Bigfoot as “an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them.”

Yeah. We’ll get right on that, as soon as you show the evidence and it holds up. Until then, we’re just going to assume that you’re a fraud.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    MikeMa

    I’m assuming this hoax is an effort to capitalize on the many books and teevee shows about the mythical beast. I’m guessing her evidence will be lost in a fire or theft before any analysis occurs to disprove her claims.

    Her attempt to support the many loons pushing bigfoot stories will make her the Andy Wakefield of the community. Adored and funded for many years without a shred of proof and a strong whiff of fraud. The future of American science. Not, I hope.

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    She won’t give anyone else access to this alleged evidence.

    ‘Cuz that’s how scienceamology is done!

  3. 3
    thisisaturingtest

    One of the other folks here on FTB (sorry, don’t remember who) dealt with this a couple of days ago, and, as I recall, explained just why she won’t “let anyone else see her evidence.”
    As it turns out, the DNA samples came from a blueberry bagel left out in the backyard of some nut in Michigan who claims regular visits by a local tribe of ten Bigfoots (Bigfeet?).
    Ah, here it is.
    This may also be a clue to, if not outright fraud, at least a really ridiculous pretense to science.

  4. 4
    Kengi

    It’s been a big week in science for several mythical creatures including unicorns, chupacabras, and ghost vampires:

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/12/scientists-uncover-global-league-of-mythical-creatures/

  5. 5
    Michael Heath

    She’s a veterinarian for those who care to know.

  6. 6
    Sastra

    A veterinarian? Well, then.

    I bet Bigfoot stole the evidence. Because taking it outside the tribe was disrespectful to the values of the Bigfoot community. We need to be sensitive to this, and no longer demand that it be provided.

  7. 7
    tommykey

    When I was a kid growing up in the mid-70′s watching that show In Search Of narrated by Leonard Nimoy, I thought the idea of Bigfoot creatures in the forests of the American Northwest was fascinating. More than 3 decades later, it should be settled science that no primate creatures live in the woods and never did.

    Seriously, in order for them to exist, there would have to be hundreds of them at least in order to maintain a breeding level population. With such numbers, they would have to roam over a certain geographic area, eat certain kinds of foods. Even in the absence of live specimens, there would have to be bodies or even skeletal remains.

  8. 8
    Ichthyic

    “Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples,”

    LolWut?

    this is meaningless.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/scientist-claims-sequenced-bigfoot-dna-190947582.html

    so full of crap. Credit to yahoonews for putting it in the “sideshow” arena, at least.

  9. 9
    Ichthyic

    Jane Goodall appeared open to the concept, saying, “Maybe they don’t exist, but I want them to.”

    Now, why doesn’t that surprise me?

    http://www.templeton.org/purpose/essay_Goodall.html

  10. 10
    Ichthyic

    She’s a veterinarian for those who care to know.

    shocker.

    still, ANYONE can do good science, given a bit of guidance and a lot of perseverance.

    …but one of the aspects of doing science is that, well, you actually HAVE DONE SOME and the rest of us can see what you did, so we can attempt to repeat your experiments.

    I’m siding with Sastra on the prediction front. Somehow, we will never get access to this amazing sequencing data because it would “offend the sasquatch” or very similar nonsense.

  11. 11
    stubby

    “Everybody accepts that there are hundreds if not thousands of unknown species out there that we have not discovered yet. The ones that are scary and look like they could hurt us or go against the bible, are the ones that we deny. Stop being so closed minded, you are keeping humans from evolving.”

    That is from the comments section. My brain hurts.

  12. 12
    Ichthyic

    My brain hurts.

    ibuprofen probably not strong enough. You might have to become a heroine addict just to balance out the brain damage.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    er, heroin, even.

  14. 14
    Nibi

    Ketchum also issued a statement requesting that the U.S. government immediately recognize Bigfoot as “an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them.”

    I’m okay with this as long it’s not ex post facto and I get to keep the nice sasquatch rug in front of my fireplace.

    On second thought, it is kind of smelly.

  15. 15
    timpayne

    If they were prevalent in the Maine woods, our Maine Guides would bait them so that visiting sportsmen could execute them with high powered rifles, like they do with bears. Imagine, having a good use for day old blueberry bagels, as well as day old jelly donuts.

  16. 16
    Ichthyic

    On second thought, it is kind of smelly.

    well, you could always turn it in for DNA analysis.

  17. 17
    Ichthyic

    Imagine, having a good use for day old blueberry bagels, as well as day old jelly donuts.

    *looks at just purchased box of day old donuts*

    uh, yeah, a good use for them…

    How about I just use that as a good excuse for buying them in the first place?

  18. 18
    caseloweraz

    This quote — “whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples” — actually come from Melba S. Ketchum. I have to wonder: if they are “purported” Sasquatch samples, why is she even working with them? She should verify whether they are or aren’t; if they aren’t, she should fuggedabowdit. (Not that there’s any chance that they are.)

    Ben Radford writes: “The release and alleged study by Melba S. Ketchum also suggests such cryptids had sex with modern human females that resulted in hairy hominin hybrids, but the scientific community is dubious about her claim.”

    Actually, I imagine, the press release described them as “huge hairy hominin hybrids.”

    Perhaps they started a 4H Club.

    Ooh… I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen. This story swamped my silliness suppressors.

  19. 19
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    The things is, those truly in the know would be referring to the animal by it’s hip handle: ‘Squatch. They think they sequenced ‘squatch DNA.

    Once more for the road: ‘Squatch.

  20. 20
    Ichthyic

    save me a tooth!

  21. 21
    Ichthyic

    from the website:

    We will be in the Daniel Boone National
    Forest and firearms ARE permitted. If
    you plan on bringing firearms, make
    sure to have your Carry Permit with
    you.

    what could possibly go wrong?

    is it BYOB too, or is alcohol provided on the hunt?

  22. 22
    Ichthyic

    …uh, Dick Cheney won’t be going on this hunt, will he?

  23. 23
    katenrala

    I wonder if the discovery channel is going to nail us with a bunch of big foot stuff now, again, like they did with the bible code, the golden ratio, nazi ufos, crap.

    I used to like that channel, then they betrayed me with pseudoscience, same with tlc, same with the science channel, same with animal planet.

  24. 24
    Ichthyic

    I used to like that channel, then they betrayed me with pseudoscience, same with tlc, same with the science channel, same with animal planet.

    don’t forget National Geographic.

    they’ve ALL decided to play to the lowest common denominator.

    The golden age of nature documentary is over, right when it really was needed most.

    *sigh*

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