Part IPrevailing Knowledge
Chapter 1 documents the strength and long-standing nature of the sasquatch as a cultural phenomenon, most commonly as an incorporeal being: mythical (in the sense of metaphorical, symbolic or supernatural) or as a hallucination or imaginary being. If corporeal, the sasquatch is most commonly perceived as a misidentified bear or product of a human hoax. The possibility that the sasquatch is an extant or “real” mammal is an alternative view not widely held at this writing in 2010, and appears to challenge prevailing knowledge.
Questioning Prevailing Knowledge
Chapter 2 discusses the scientific mandate to correct existing theories when necessary. Also included are several cautionary statements regarding scientific resistance to challenges of prevailing knowledge or scientific orthodoxy. In particular, some of the difficulties encountered in attracting the attention of scientific colleagues to new ideas are identified.
A particularly articulate and detailed sasquatch eyewitness account which occurred in eastern British Columbia in 1955 gives rise to at least two important questions: (1) Why did an experienced North American hunter consider the large mammal he observed 55 years ago to be a species new to science? (2) Had members of this species not been observed previously?
Chapter 4 addresses the questions raised at the end of chapter 3 by summarizing seven published eyewitness accounts from the period 1851-1904.
Chapter 5 addresses another question raised by the 1955 account: Have members of this species been observed subsequent to that encounter? Four examples of eyewitness accounts from the period 1965-1997 are discussed in detail.
Sasquatch Tracks and Other Physical Evidence
The ability of sasquatch tracks to corroborate the sasquatch as an existing North American mammal is discussed. The anatomical features of sasquatch feet are compared to those of bears, fabricated “sasquatch feet” of hoaxers, and human feet. Other reported forms of sasquatch sign, such as feeding sign and twisted saplings, are illustrated and discussed.
Part IIIScrutinizing and Interpreting the Evidence
The pattern of anatomical features common to the sasquatch and known great apes, especially the gorilla, is discussed and illustrated.
The similarities between sasquatch behavior and the elements of ape display (intimidation) behavior are noted and discussed, and the beyond-human strength and speed of the sasquatch are considered as well.
The Great Ape Hypothesis
The similarity of the anatomical and behavioral characteristics reported for the sasquatch to those of the known great apes has given rise to “the great ape hypothesis,” a hypothesis which proposes that the sasquatch is, in fact, a bipedal North American great ape.
This hypothesis is examined according to recognized criteria such as testability, consistency, predictiveness, fruitfulness, simplicity, and parsimony.
The Importance of Theory
The inhibiting effect of an apparent absence of a theoretical basis for an upright great ape in North America is acknowledged and addressed. Also discussed is the concept of geographical parsimony, a concept which may explain scientific unwillingness to consider the possibility of an ape on a continent outside the currently accepted distribution of ape occurrence.
The Discovery of the Sasquatch
The concept of discovery as a process, rather than as a discrete event, is discussed. It is noted that discoveries which have been neglected or ignored may require rediscovery.
Scientific Resistance to Discovery
Understanding scientific resistance may be important, according to one sociologist, because “by knowing more about acceptance and resistance in scientific discovery, we may be able to reduce the former by a little and thereby reduce the latter in the same measure.” (Bernard Barber, “Resistance by Scientists to Scientific Discovery,” Science, 134 : 596.) Examples of delayed or resisted discoveries are summarized and discussed.
Part VReconsidering Prevailing Knowledge
The Sasquatch as Misidentified Bear
The ability of sasquatch reports to be explained as observations of upright bears is examined. The absence of an illustration of a sasquatch in mammal field guides is discussed with respect to its role in inhibiting consideration of sasquatches as a possible explanation for observations of upright large mammals in North America. Figures 13.1 and 13.2 provide an example of a field guide illustration that would address this situation.
Figure 13.1 Field guide illustration
of an upright black bear
Figure 13.2 Field guide illustration
of a sasquatch
Courtesy of Wendy Dyck
The Sasquatch as Hallucination or Imaginary Being
The perception of the sasquatch as a hallucination, or as an imaginary or paranormal being, is briefly discussed.
The Sasquatch as Myth
The question is raised: Does being mythical preclude the sasquatch from also being an extant (or “real”) mammal. Consideration of whether the anatomical features of the sasquatch as observed by modern eyewitnesses were first recorded in Aboriginal myth is shown here to be fruitful and predictive.
The Sasquatch as Hoax
Hoax claims are examined, particularly with regard to fabricated “sasquatch feet” alleged to have been used as a stamp for sasquatch tracks.
The hoax hypothesis and the great ape hypothesis are compared from the point of view of parsimony.
Part VIDiscovery Forestalled
This section discusses the scientific, social, and philosophical factors which may have inhibited sasquatch research and prolonged acknowledgement of the species' existence.
Pseudoscience and Scientific Taboos
The repercussions of sasquatch research being treated as pseudoscience are discussed. Similarly, the perception of the sasquatch as anomalous and unclassifiable is also discussed.
Unawareness of Evidence
It is suggested that scientific gatekeepers who have rejected papers intended to apprise colleagues of sasquatch evidence may have done so because they were unaware of important, valid evidence, while being very aware of hoaxes and hoax claims. A degree of circularity may have become implicit in this situation.
Conformity and Dissent
This chapter explores why the few scientists studying the sasquatch have experienced difficulty in attracting the attention of colleagues to their research results. One possible reason is the perception of such scientists as dissenters. While skepticism is acknowledged as a normal and essential component of scientific scrutiny, the dangers of excessive or uninformed skepticism are also discussed.
The interdisciplinary nature of previous knowledge regarding the sasquatch is discussed as having possibly prolonged the discovery of the sasquatch.
The readiness of an eyewitness to question his recent sasquatch observations as “defy[ing] any type of scientific evidence” is discussed as a manifestation of the continuing influence of previous knowledge.
Excerpts from the writing of two eminent philosophers of science describe situations such as that experienced by the handful of scientists who treat the sasquatch as an extant mammal in their research.