I love the Science Channel. When my television is on, it is usually tuned to the news, the Science Channel or one of its derivatives (Discovery, Bio, TLC, History, etc.). The quality of the programming is usually excellent as is the subject matter and the production quality. Usually. Like any other TV station, there are programming dead zones – time slots that don’t usually have a lot of viewers. When these occur in the wee hours, one can usually find (and avoid) infomercials or, as the cable guide terms them, “paid programming.” But when they occur during the day, I can only assume these slots are filled with what can be kindly referred to as “second tier” programming. And trust me, that is being kind. One such program is currently droning in the background as I putter around my office doing not much of anything today.
Update: This documentary is apparently part of a series, Monster Quest, and this particular theme of Sasquatch is running throughout the entire day. It doesn't change the gist of this column, but in the spirit of editorial accuracy, there it is.
A word of warning: If you have any particular affinity for the notion that there exists a mythical creature known by such names as Sasquatch, Bigfoot and the like, please stop reading now. This will likely be offensive to those beliefs. If, however, you are among the many who profess a belief in this “creature,” but don’t really believe it or perhaps would like to believe it, but really can’t – it’s all just good fun – then read on, this is in the spirit of fun, but it will take place at the afore mentioned believers expense. Sorry, but y’all are funny. Ah, but it is probably too late, I have already offended. Might as well read on then, this could be educational.
There is no Bigfoot. I seriously doubt there ever was. The documentary currently airing on the History Channel is exploring the possibility of a “Bigfoot-like creature” in Ohio. It looks at eyewitness accounts, crude video and other very inconclusive evidence. Although this documentary does go through the counter arguments such as various hoaxes and the like, the fact that this is ostensibly a “serious” investigation that relies on self-proclaimed experts and the experiments these same experts have proposed gives Bigfoot’s very existence a degree of credibility. These experts even have terminology to give the impression that they know what they are talking about. “We have vocalization” is but one example that I can only assume means that this creature made a noise… and they heard it, evaluated it and concluded that this was a Bigfoot “talking.”
What has yet to be produced is any physical evidence of such a creature’s existence. There has never been a carcass (they do die, don’t they?), or waste material or any evidence of a dwelling that cannot be attributed to any other known animal. What we have are numerous, but easily explained sightings and a number of experts who are either seriously deluded or con artists. There are, however, some things that are known about Bigfoot. We know of several hoaxes - with varying degrees of success - that have been perpetrated over many, many years. We know of how the sightings have had lifelong effects on some of the individuals who have seen it. Real effects generated by false sightings are nothing new; the mind is a powerful thing. Also, a bandwagon effect exists such that as more sightings are reported, more sightings will be reported.
The bottom line is that there is probably little danger in this irrational fantasy that Bigfoot is real. Except for those who are maliciously taking money from those who are desperate to be the one who finally discovers this nonexistent creature, it is a rather harmless pursuit – and of course the words of Thomas Tusser come to mind regarding fools and their money… or P.T. Barnum’s more direct adage about how often suckers are born. The History Channel is apparently not above the fray. Perhaps this documentary is not intended to reach a wide viewership, but there is still money to be made. And that is the only thing real about Bigfoot.