My latest post, regarding the rational vs non-rational response to the new cryptozoology book by Loxton and Prothero, Abominable Science, went live on Huffington Post yesterday.

Cryptozoology Gets Respect While Bigfooters Behave Badly.

When critical thinkers approach the subject of Bigfoot (or cryptozoology in general) with a focus on the evidence, they are met with reproach. We are challenging much more than the claim; we challenge their belief. They will resort to what Biblical literalists will do to evolutionists – they demonize, call us names, misquote, pick at small mistakes, and take words and ideas out of context. They create an extreme position and shoot it down (called a “straw man” argument) because it’s a power play to make them feel superior. (Note that some aggressive “skeptics” will do that and it’s not fair play in that case either.) All the while, they skirt the MAJOR flaws in their own conclusions.

Bigfoot-themed and other cryptozoology blogs and forums are typically hostile to skeptics, even moderate ones like myself. They can’t understand why we even want to participate since we are going to “deny” everything. Gee, sorry for being interested in the topic and in getting a good answer for peoples’ experiences. Questioning is not denying, it’s thinking.

A while back, I challenged cryptozoologists to read the book and make a fair assessment. Some seem to have read it. Three known men gave it ridiculous reviews. They only read the parts that interested them and presumed judgement on the whole book. That is intellectually dishonest and really shallow, not to mention extremely arrogant, behavior. This is why we can’t take self-proclaimed cryptozoological experts seriously. They treat their subject more like a religion, based on faith.

It is quite easy for skeptics to change their mind. All we need is solid DNA studies and evidential arrows that all points to a new animal. Or, obviously, a body or body parts would be pretty definitive.

What would Bill Munns, Daniel Perez, the consistently trollish commentator DWA, and the blogger Glasgow Boy need to convince them to change their views? Nothing will? Then that’s faith, not science.  And, wow, does it show with their reaction to this book.

All the naysayers can do is sputter, nitpick and degrade the authors. What they can’t seem to do is be professional or actually address the serious claims made AGAINST the existence of their monsters.

Their reactions reveal so much and it’s actually understandable, as I note in my Huff Post piece. Their behavior is in complete contrast to that of the science magazine reviewers who read the book with few preconceptions. The comparison is night and day. The one-star reviewers sound EXACTLY like Creationists. They will defend their extraordinary beliefs in the face of really damning scientific evidence. Many bigfooters and cryptid hunters can not be objective, therefore, their opinions mean little to me. It’s just proselytizing and I’m not a fan of that stuff.

I’m not surprised by their rabid response.  It shows that Loxton and Prothero have hit a home run with this book.  I’ll mention once again, if you refuse to seriously consider the problems with your field of research, you can’t consider yourself knowledgeable. Decades of faith in cryptozoology with nothing to show for it? That reeks of desperation.

8 thoughts on “Defending the faith of cryptozoology

  1. Great chapters on the yeti, Nessie, sea serpents & Mokele M’bembe. I’d like to have seen more on the history of bigfoot/wildmen in North America – I think it show that bigfoot is clearly legend & myth rather than real.

  2. You know, in the end, whenever you disagree with someone, you are saying they are mistaken. It’s almost certain, then, they will feel insulted. Their self image is involved.

    We fail to teach science in school. If you ask me, the most important tenet of the scientific method is “criticism is critical”. Accepting criticism thoughtfully, carefully, and objectively is the core of science. At the very least, you can’t abandon commitment to it and have science anymore.

    Unfortunately, in the popular view, accepting criticism thoughtfully and gracefully isn’t even part of science. Quite the reverse, they see scientists as rigid, self-important reductionists, and science as empty formalist rigamarole.

    If people understood math after coming out of school the way they understand science, they would think the equal sign was a placeholder that marked the middle of the numbers.

    At least one side sees this as a social pushing match. And, they are not completely wrong there, although that misses the point, science is about putting aside social status as much as possible.

    This book, let’s be honest, is captious. If some trolls are smoked out of their holes and onto the comment sections, they are one cryptid anyone can say they seriously didn’t expect.

    I’m waiting for the package with this book in it from Amazon, it should arrive today or tomorrow. Looking forward to it, I hope the fouke monster doesn’t steal it. Actually, I hope he brings it while I am in so I can ask for his threetoed footograph.

  3. I read three chapters of the book before I reviewed the chapter on the Loch Ness Monster. I still do not see why I need to read about Bigfoot to inform me about Nessie. Nevertheless, I will finish the book in due course.

    My 22-point rebuttal of what Mr. Loxton said was not intended to be a proof for the Loch Ness Monster, it was a critique of the logic of his own argument – not mine. As a critical thinker, you will know that the disproof of one is not logically the proof of the other.

    But since you decided to call my words a “rabid response”, I will just pick up on one point of rebuttal aimed at showing that Mr. Loxton was not thorough in his research. In Scottish folklore, he says there is no water horse “indigenous to Loch Ness” but then quotes a story from 1852 which mentions the water horses of Loch Ness.

    Can you explain this contradiction?

    What would it take to disprove my so called “faith” in the cryptid theory of the Loch Ness Monster. That’s easy. Just drain the loch and if there’s nothing there, I’ll accept it!

    Glasgow Boy

    1. You do not see why you should read the entire book you are reviewing? How about BECAUSE YOU ARE REVIEWING THE BOOK, not the few parts you feel like picking apart. If you don’t want your review to apply to the whole book, you should not have placed it on Amazon with regards to the entire book. That is profoundly unprofessional behavior.

      I’m not going to try to read the authors’ intent on the one contradiction you mention but I note that the people who dislike the book intensely do not respond to the significant problems with the idea that there is or once was a real “Loch Ness Monster”. That concept is problematic anyway because there are certainly multiple explanations for Nessie reports, not just a single cause.

      Therefore, draining the lake is not a valid test since it does not answer for the historic sightings. And, it’s absurd. You need to take the evidence as it applies to the claim. And if the claim is there is some unknown monster in the lake, the evidence and reasoning we can apply right now and for past reports gives us the most sound answer. False.

      1. I am not qualified to judge whether the authors have correctly stated their case concering the other cryptids. Simples.

        I did not expect you answer my single point for the same reason I would not critique the other chapters … “I am not going to try”.

        I did actually respond to the problems of a cryptid in Loch Ness, which suggests you did not read my review. Sigh!

        I admit the problems, it’s a pity the sceptics do not admit the problems with their own theories.

        And, of course, a lake drain would address the historical sightings … you look for the historical bones in the mud if there is no live critter thrashing about! It may sound absurd to you but it’s been tried before in other cryptid lakes!

      2. There is no reason why you need to be “qualified” to review a book. You can read it and say it was/wasn’t interesting/well written/well referenced/full of typos/etc. I read books to learn, not just read what I already know about in order to pick at it, which is the interpretation I got from the three reviewers I mentioned. But, that said, RW, your response to my assertions was appropriate. I can’t say the other two – Perez and Munns – were. In fact, Perez’ personal emails were so vile, I’ll accept nothing less than an apology.

  4. Excellent observations on the similarity of thinking between Creationists and cryptozoologists. In both cases, faith has to be employed to believe in that which cannot be proven real; and likewise, logic is ignored and allowances are made for gaps in reasoning.

  5. Hi Sharon. On your recommendation I have ordered, recieved and just finished reading this book.
    I loved it! I have also ordered Hunting Monsters by Darren Naish so while I wait for its arrival I can ammuse myself with some other reading (not sure what subject yet).
    Abominable Science was oft-referenced in a number of pieces cryptozoological within The Skeptics Dictionary and I knew I would enjoy it.
    One thing I enjoyed most was the details of origin of particular cryptids, common or less known, the events and reports and characters involved is interesting and can be so telling. Naturally all occurring under the backdrop of media and blind belief and starry-eyed woo-mongers.
    I still enjoy so much to get my ocassional fix of a great skeptical book (crytids, UFOs, Religions, Ghosts, bad Science, bad History, whatever.)
    As always, thanks for giving your voice to the cause.

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