A few weeks back I posted about a James Randi newsletter in which he references (in the wake of the Georgia Bigfoot hoax) the controversial Minnesota Iceman case of the late 1960s and the involvement of his 'former' friend, famed cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson. In the post (and in a later comment), I pointed out that - although there were certainly many elements of the case suggestive of a hoax - Randi seemed to have skipped some of the more intriguing parts of Sanderson's investigation, as related by Loren Coleman in his book Mysterious America.
However, in a new post at Cryptomundo.com, Loren has made clear that the Georgia Bigfoot hoax has made him reassess the level of evidence required for him to take cryptozoological investigations seriously, and as such he has decided to reject the Minnesota Iceman case. Loren's announcement is quite eloquent, using the parable (and of course, the title!) of Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 play The Iceman Cometh to illustrate his point:
If you examine most good analyses of The Iceman Cometh, you will find there is agreement that the play finds universality through the theme that all human beings have a tendency to entertain unachieved or foolish hopes – or, as Hickey and others in the play call them, “pipe dreams.”
...I am guilty of having hope that the Minnesota Iceman would be a key to understanding unknown hominoids around the world, and I have written about those thoughts. I had hopes, fleeting ones, yes, but hopes, nevertheless, that, against all my instincts regarding the unholy three Biscardi-type personalities, an actual body would be revealed during the summer of 2008 too. But that hope lasted for about ten minutes. As I reach nearly three decades of holding out hopes that the Minnesota Iceman might have been real, I must completely reject it now, as a bringer of false promises to enlightenment.
If an alleged cryptid body is sitting in front of you but has not actually even been touched, it cannot, it should not be held aloof as a form of scientific evidence within cryptozoology. We call for others to be open-minded and set their standards with cryptids to a level of fairness without rejection off-handedly. We must set our standards higher than they have been in the past, and only through such an exercise will something of value come out of the horrible Georgia experience.
...The Minnesota Iceman leaves us with nothing but false hopes, deceptive leads, and, yes, pipe dreams.
Check out the whole post, it's an excellent article from Loren which examines a lot of issues we wrestle with daily here on TDG.
...I recalled that in October of 1969, when I was a resident of New Jersey, an exhibit at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown had attracted my attention. It was what appeared to be a hairy human-shaped figure about six feet tall. I say “appeared to be” because the thing was frozen inside a huge cloudy block of ice, visitors viewed it from an overhead scaffolding, and it was poorly lit – perhaps for good reason. All I could have really said about it was that it looked like an old fur coat with legs…
My friend Ivan T. Sanderson, a naturalist who was very interested in Bigfoot matters, having coined the word, “cryptozoology,” lived in New Jersey, north-west of my home, and I contacted him immediately. He arrived the next day, and took a great interest in this exhibit, despite what I found to be very shaky evidence and no validation at all. Much to my dismay, I now discovered that a few years before this, he’d already chosen to accept and endorse the validity of this farce, and had also supported a true “critter” nut, Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans, formerly of the Royal Academy of Sciences in his native Belgium. Up until that point, I’d respected Ivan’s opinions, but we parted company on this. And to think that I’d spent a couple of days at his home in Warren County, where he’d taught me how to handle and fire a .45 automatic…
Pardon me, but did Randi just suggest that Ivan T. Sanderson may have been of unsound mind, or at least unfit to possess a firearm? Okay, Randi didn't exactly say "damn I'm lucky he didn't put a cap in my ass"...but it read that way to me.
Furthermore, Randi's glibness on this story - as always - covers up the more interesting facets of the case (you'll find nine pages on the Minnesota Iceman in Loren Coleman's Mysterious America). The reason that Sanderson (and Heuvelmans) showed "great interest" in the Iceman was because they had studied it up close in 1967. Coleman also cites the opinion of another close-up witness, herpatologist Terry Cullen, as relayed by Mark A. Hall: "Some of the reasons for Cullen's avid interest in the Iceman exhibit were that he could see: plant matter in the teeth, shed skin of ekto-parasites (lice) on the skin, and unique detention showing in the mouth where a lip was curled back."
And it all comes crashing down. The only question remaining is whether Biscardi was truly hoaxed by the Georgian 'Bigfoot trackers', or whether he has simply hung the other two out to dry, in order to save his own skin...
Interesting little aside in this ABC News story about the Biscardi Bigfoot:
Biscardi said he plans to keep the body at an undisclosed location while scientists, including two Russian hominid specialists, study the creature. Biscardi said the entire process will be filmed and then released as a documentary.
That exploding sound you can hear is my bullsh*t detector, unable to cope with it all any longer. Nothing to see here, move along...
A quick excursion into high strangeness territory: Ufology pundit Regan Lee has a new UFO Digest article posted titled, "Beeping Creatures", which touches on many of the same areas as my Darklore Volume 1 article "Her Sweet Murmur" (which you can download as a free sample PDF). Our good friend Emps, from Cabinet of Wonders, also noted these sounds in his Darklore article "The Unbelievable Strangeness of Bigfoot" (only available by buying the book). Although I disagree with Regan somewhat in terms of the 'mind control' aspect, it's certainly an area which deserves more serious research. There are other aspects as well - the smells, the fogs etc. - "recurrent regularities" which offer an avenue of scientific investigation into these strange phenomena.
Things have been far too normal around here lately, so today I give you weirdness on a supreme scale: "The Mormon Bigfoot Genesis Theory". Is the giant Sasquatch monster really Cain, the murderous second son of Adam and Eve?
But if you think I'm just throwing out crackpot stories for the sake of it, check out Loren Coleman's recent posting on Mormon involvement in Bigfoot research. I quite like the idea of a 'Bigfoot Mormon Mafia' Loren...just as long as they don't come knocking on my door.
Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman has posted an all-too-cool YouTube video of the Japanese promotion of the movie Water Horse. Through the use of a waterscreen, witnesses were able to watch the cryptobeast arise from the water (god help anyone that was bent in the vicinity). Now, if J.J. Abrams could just have done this for the Cloverfield monster...
"It is very, very similar," Josh Gates, an archaeologist who serves as the host of the weekly travel adventure series, told Reuters in Katmandu after returning from the mountain. "I don't believe it to be a bear. It is something of a mystery for us."
...Gates said the footprints on lumps of sandy soil, which would be sent to experts in the United States for analysis, were "relatively fresh, left some 24 hours before we found them."
"This print is so pristine, so good, that I am very intrigued by this," said Gates, flanked by his team members.
Josh Gates also sent an update to Loren Coleman exclusively for Cryptomundo readers, in which he provided more detail about the finds and his own thoughts about it all. And Loren's co-author on The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates, Patrick Huyghe (our good friend from The Anomalist), appeared on Fox News Channel and spoke intelligently about the news, and the topic in general.
You know it never takes too long for the 'skeptics' to turn up, and CSI(COP)'s Benjamin Radford was soon debunking the whole affair in his column on LiveScience. Radford's comments didn't impress Loren Coleman though, who - while having his own questions about the new find - was extremely critical of the poor arguments put forward by the cryptozoology skeptic. The saga continues, so stay tuned...
As mentioned in the news briefs earlier this week, Loren Coleman has posted "The Top Ten Cryptozoology Stories for 2007" over at Cryptomundo. Loren has his finger on the pulse with his daily updates over there (although it would be fair to say he's had his finger on the pulse for a few decades now!), so it's a good roundup of the most prominent stories in his field over the past year. Might be worth looking at for a few other TDG topics as well, pulling out the most important stories of the year that we've posted - who's up for checking through the 3000 to 4000 news briefs we've posted this year to pick out the best?
Our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Loren Coleman has been featured on this week's episode of Boing Boing TV. Loren takes BBtv on a tour of his fascinating International Cryptozoology Museum, which is jam-packed full of weird creatures and whacky memorabilia. If you've always wondered how to pronounce ceolecanth and mokele-mbembe, or just wanted to see Loren walk like Bigfoot, make sure you check it out.