I’ve spent my evening curled up with a wracking cough and nasty pains in places I didn’t know I could hurt — I think I sprained my diaphragm — and while stumbling dumbly through the web, I belatedly found the story of the recent Georgia bigfoot. I know, it’s last week’s news, but I’m feeling a little addled.
Anyway, it brought back old memories. Way back when I was a teenager, I used to build balsa wood model airplanes in my grandparents’ attic. It was a good deal: my family didn’t have to deal with the smell, I didn’t have to worry about my brothers and sisters stomping on a delicate wing, and Grandma would bring me cookies and milk. There was also a stack of my grandfather’s manly men magazines to browse while I was waiting for that last coat of dope to dry. I don’t know if the genre is still around today, but in the 60s and 70s, at least, there were these magazines like Argosy and Saga that were full of manly stories of manly fellows braving dangers and hunting and exploring, with the occasional woman in a bikini lolling on the beach as the manly frogmen fought vicious sharks, and such like. One of the stories I recall most vividly was the Minnesota Iceman, which the article claimed was the most amazing evidence for the existence of bigfoot ever. There were several accompanying photographs of the poor guy in full color, frozen in a defensive pose, one arm thrown up over his head, with a bright splash of red over one eye, where he had been purportedly shot.
It made an impression. I recall reading up on cryptozoology quite a bit after that, trying to figure out whether it was real or not. I regretfully came to the conclusion eventually that it was a complete fraud, largely because I couldn’t find any legitimate scientific sources that had anything to say about it, and even in my teens I knew that Argosy was not a credible source of scientific information. Curiously, I now learn that creationists haven’t figured that out; Answers in Genesis uses the Minnesota Iceman as an example of scientific fakery ala Piltdown Man, accusing “experienced zoologists and scientific journals” of going out on a limb for a bogus missing link. At least now I can place their scientific expertise as somewhere significantly below mine…at the age of 15.
The Minnesota Iceman was a fake by a disreputable carnie. What about the Georgia Bigfoot? The lesson learned there is that people have gotten stupider since the 1960s. This bigfoot corpse was a graceless fake that was exposed within hours by the clever dicks at the JREF, and was concocted and promoted by a pair of blustering oafs named Rick Dyer and Matt Whitton, who have taken the unfortunate Southern redneck stereotype and amplified it into an embarrassment. It’s a rubber suit stuffed with dead animal parts. If I’d seen the photos of this thing at an impressionable age, I would not have been at all impressed — they were pathetic. The most thorough (if rather rambling) account is at a bigfoot site, and it’s damning. The creators weren’t just con-artists, they were stupid, incompetent con-artists…and people still fell for it. That’s the most depressing part of this story. The frauds don’t even have to try anymore, and the suckers line up to give them their money.