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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Melba Ketchum

I got an email from my nephew two days ago asking what I thought about this article about the Sasquatch Genome Project, headed by one Melba Ketchum.

I had read a little about this study, but hadn't followed it all that closely because I'd heard of Melba Ketchum before, and gotten the impression she was a hoaxer. In any case, this latest "study" just confirmed that impression.

There are several suspicious things about this study. Why would NYU say they never received a DNA sample from Ketchum when she says she sent them one? And why would one of the other labs Ketchum cited, the North Louisiana Crime Lab, also deny that they had analyzed a DNA sample?

No serious scientist would lie like that. (And anybody with compelling evidence wouldn't have to lie.)

The group's video (which is embedded in the above-linked article) shows a big hump of "fur" which appears to "breathe" one time. Why wouldn't they videotape it from a different angle, which showed its face, or at least head? And why didn't they get a video of when it woke up, or when its mother came to get it? That would have made for an infinitely more convincing video. Also, if the group was able to take a video of a sleeping juvenile sasquatch, why not attach a tracking collar to it as well?

Ketchum claims that sasquatch is descended from modern human females. But it is hard to believe that a primate so vastly different from humans is fully human.

Note that Ketchum says others don't want to believe her because of what she terms "the Galileo Effect." Evidently, she sees herself as another Galileo. (Sorry, honey.)

Also, her moral posturing is troubling. She says that the fact that others don't believe her is "perhaps for the better," given that others might be tempted to hunt them if convinced of their existence. But if she really feels that way, why is she going to such an effort to prove their existence?

Verdict: a hoaxer. (And probably a sociopath, given her dishonesty and moral posturing.)

Perhaps Ketchum thinks the whole sasquatch phenomenon is a sham and just wants some attention. Or perhaps she believes in its existence and wants credit -- falsely -- for being a pioneer in the field. Either way, she is a hoaxer.

But there have always been hoaxers, and their existence doesn't change my belief in the existence of the creature.

My guess is that my nephew saw through Ketchum, and was merely curious as to how much of a "true believer" I am.

I am a believer, but my belief is based on the ample evidence for its existence, not on wishful thinking.


Remnant said...

The evidence suggesting their existence is compelling. But it seems like some sort of Satanic conspiracy that even the best evidence still tends to have a wiff of hoax around it.

For example, when you look at the story behind the Patterson-Gimlin footage, which is about as good as the evidence has been, it still reeks of intended fraud: Patterson initially told people in his prospective film crew that he was going to be making a _fictional_ movie about bigfoot. And obviously, there has been controversy based on the fact that RObert Heironimous's claim to have been the one to wear the costume. Someone else, Ed Morris, claimed to have constructed the costume, etc.

I'm not saying these people aren't lying or that I believe them, just that even the "good" evidence tends to be tinged by controversy and mystery.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
I hadn't head that about Patterson; that's interesting. But it seems to me that there are too many things about that film that just couldn't have been faked. They interviewed the best costume designers at Disney at the time, and they said that there was no way they could have created a costume that good, where the muscles actually moved underneath the skin. And it had a subtly distinctive gait that no human could replicate. And the arm bent at a place where a human elbow wouldn't be (since the creature's arms were longer). And the size of its feet were huge, yet it was able to walk relatively gracefully with them. (A human wearing those clodhoppers would never have been able to move like that.) And what faker would think to hang a pair of breasts on King Kong? And keep in mind, this was all shot in 1967 with 8 millimeter film, long before the advent of computer animation or anything like that.

Plus all those footprints, including the ones with the dermal ridges visible.....

bluffcreek1967 said...

Good post John! I too have had my problems with Melba Ketchum and The Erickson Project. The entire Bigfoot community has been divided over her DNA results and the lack of peer review controversy connected to it. It's much too complicated to get into now but, at this point, I'm just waiting for the final results that Oxford scholar, Bryan Sykes, is planned to deliver later this month regarding his Sasquatch DNA results.

He is a much respected DNA expert and, supposedly, his results are thought to confirm the creature's existence (or at least the Yeti's existence). It is believed by some that Ketchum and the Erickson Project came out last week in their findings in an effort to the be first to declare what the DNA results show - namely, that Sasquatch is a hybrid creature of both human and an unknown primate origins.

As with most things connected to Bigfoot, there's a whirlwind of rumor, back-biting, division, troubling personalities, and legitimate scientific types all rolled up into one big mess. So, for me, I'll just have a wait-and-see attitude about it all.

bluffcreek1967 said...

In reply to Remanant, a couple of things need to be clarified: (1) Even without the Patterson-Gimlim film of 1967, the evidence for Sasquatch is still pretty compelling in light of solid footprints (with dermal ridges), credible eyewitness testimony, the presence of Bigfoot-type creatures worldwide, and the tribal traditions of Natives who spoke of the creature as real and not as fake. (2) Patterson didn't have a "film crew" per se. He had Bob Gimlin and certain other people whom he tried to get to invest in his film. But it was pretty much Roger and Bob alone. Roger did say he wanted to make a documentary about Bigfoot and he had hoped to catch some evidence of it in the form of prints, but he had no idea he would actually run into the creature on Oct. 20th, 1967. (3) Bob Heronimus (spell?) is less than credible, and he has contradicted himself at least twice on what the 'suit' was made of and how he obtained it. Moreoever, when Bob reenacts the creatures arm movements, he tries to follow what he saw on a poor version of the Patterson film by cupping his right hand. In the better versions, the creature never does this. But Bob didn't know this because he wasn't actually there! (4) Ed Morris had nothing to do with constructing the 'suit.' Bob Munns, a well-known Hollywood costume maker, has shown conclusively (in my opinion) that the creature in the film is NOT in any way wearing a suit.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
Thank you. I hadn't realized that the community was waiting to hear from Brian Sykes. I dug a little further into Melba Sykes since I wrote that post and she definitely strikes me as a sociopath; I'm going to put up another post about her soon.

And i agree with the rest of the evidence you cite; I was just too lazy to list it all. Some of it is circumstantial, and some of it is not, but even the circumstantial evidence is so pervasive it's convincing. Personally, I'm convinced that the werewolf myths from the Middle ages in Europe were based on local sasquatches which existed there during a time when Europe was less crowded with humans. The prevalence of that myth (in over 38 countries) and the closeness of the descriptions of the creatures (big, hairy men covered in hair which moved incredibly fast and let out unearthly howls and which only came out at night) to sasquatch has me convinced.

Remnant said...

John Craig and bluffcreek:

Thanks for your responses. To follow up and clarify, as I said in my initial comment, I am not claiming the Patterson-Gimlin footage is a hoax (in fact, I tend to accept that it is real); merely that even the best evidence has been surrounded by controversy and had a difficult time establishing itself.

Frequently upon the discovery of new species, there is evidence that no one can refute: a live specimen, a corpse, bones, DNA, evidence, etc. In the case of Bigfoot, that sort of evidence has not been forthcoming, and until it is, those who believe Bigfoot exists will always be subject to scrutiny and controvery.

Maybe all of Morris, Hieronemous, etc. are lying. But until there is specimen-type evidence, the critics will never be silenced.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
All true.

And you even understated the situation when you said that "those who believe Bigfoot exists will be subject to scrutiny and controversy." I would add "and mockery" to that; the creature is basically regarded as a joke by most at this point.

(I realize you were just being polite when you phrased it as you did.)

Remnant said...

Re: mockery. That is also why it would be great if the actual hoaxers would get out of the business: they tend to crowd out and scare away real scientists who might be willing to investigate the issue impartially and disinterestedly. But such scientists basically determine that it is not worth the inevitable damage to their reputations that would ensue. There no doubt are such people out there who stay by the sidelines rather than pursue a true scientific inquiry.

Also, it is worth noting that there are some very high IQ people who believe that the weight of the evidence militates in favor of the existence of Bigfoot. I would include Robert Lindsay and John Craig in this category. These are not stupid, credulous or unthoughtful people.

There is some interesting discussion here about the possibility of Patterson-Gimlin being a hoax. The focus is on the apparent timing and location of the pictures (i.e. looks to be earlier than the famous footage), lack of whiskers on Patterson et al, issues with the footprints "ending" all of a sudden, etc.

Maybe bluffcreek can address it. Again, I am presenting this stuff sincerely. I still tend to think the footage is real.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
Thanks, that's an interesting site. It makes a good point, but I would guess that Patterson felt obliged to reenact the scene later on. Also, the fact that the tracks do not continue is hardly damning; sometimes ground which is slightly higher in elevation is less moist and has already hardened, rendering it impervious to footprints. Plus the fact that Patterson had originally intended to film a semi-fictionalized documentary does not detract from the hard evidence in his film of the actual creature. Had he made his fictionalized film, he never would have been able to come up with a creature as convincing as the creature he filmed at Bluff Creek on October 20th, 1967.

As for the high IQ comment, thank you. (But I feel compelled to point out that at various points in my life I have been not only stupid and credulous, but unthoughtful to boot; however, I don't think I'm being any of these things when it comes to sasquatch.)

Remnant said...

John Craig,

Robert Lindsay has recently posted on his believe that Rick Dyer has a real bigfoot body. Lindsay is going all in on this. I tend to smell a rat and think Lindsay will get burned.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
Thank you for that. I just took a look at that post, don't know what to think. But given that Dyer is a known hoaxer I'd tend to automatically dismiss anything he says. I suppose the fact that one has hoaxed in the past wouldn't prevent you from shooting a real creature, but my guess is, you're right: this isn't real.