Tag Archives: bigfoot

Get this book that I have a chapter in!

Karen Stollznow has edited this book: Would You Believe It?: Mysterious Tales From People You’d Least Expect, and you will find my chapter on page 112.

This is a great idea for a book. Suppose Susan Blackmore told you she had an out of body experience? Or that Don Prothero had an alien abduction story for you? Or that I claimed I had once hunted down and captured a ghost? Would you believe it??? Indeed.

You would probably be skeptical if any of the 30+ established skeptics who authored chapters in this book told you that they had a paranormal, psychic, or otherwise impossible experience. But that is what this book is full of: people who don’t believe in any of these things having these very experiences.

In some cases, the teller of the True Tale of Mystery can explain their experience as a natural phenomenon. In other cases, not, but for some reason, they still believe that what happened to them was not paranormal. Why? Well, read the chapters to find out.

Would You Believe It?: Mysterious Tales From People You’d Least Expect has a forward by James Randi, and a few of the chapters are more theory than observation. There is an afterward by James Alcock.

Has anything mysterious ever happened to you?

Experiences of this kind are more common than you think. And they happen to people you’d least expect, even notable scientists and skeptics.

This collection features personal stories and experiences of the mysterious, as told by Banachek, Susan Blackmore, Joe Nickell, Eugenie Scott, Chris French, Ken Feder, George Hrab, Brian Regal, Steve Cuno, Ray Hyman, and many others, with a foreword by James Randi and an afterword by James Alcock. These are tales about a wide range of extraordinary experiences, including ghost and UFO sightings, alien abduction, Bigfoot encounters, faith healing, séances, superstitions, coincidences, demonic possession, out-of-body-experiences, past lives, episodes of missing time and one case where time stood still. You will read about a poltergeist in a bakery, a genius baby, a haunted concert hall, a stone carving that vanishes and reappears mysteriously, a one-time palm reader, and a former Mormon missionary who once believed he healed a woman of a brain tumor.

Indeed, when Karen asked me to write a chapter for the book, and if I had any stories of this kind, several such experiences came to mind. I didn’t mention to her two UFO observations I had made as a kid (one seemingly bogus even at the time although all the adults bought it as real, the other very realistic and still a bit difficult to explain). I did have a more recent, adult-age, UFO experience that I could easily explain that I put on the initial list to consider. Also, having grown up in an old-world style religious household (not American evangelical Christian, but rather, Midlevel demonic possession poltergeisty Central European and Irish Catholic style household), I had a lot of stories handed on to me from relatives, including one harrowing story having to do with Exorcist style levitation, vomiting of green goo, and all that. And, of course, there are those non drug induced time shifting experiences and the pets that can read your mind and all that. I settled on the story about the ghost because it is the best story for the telling.

How to find a Leprechaun

Nature editor and author Henry Gee has produced his Christmas list in which he describes his three wishes as an editor at a scientific journal; he enumerates the scientific discoveries that sit at the top of his professional “bucket list.”

Henry Gee. Not a Leprechaun.
Henry Gee. Not a Leprechaun.
I started to write a comment on Henry’s blog post, here, but it turned into a blog post of my own, here:

Henry: As you know, I address in a fictional context in “Search for Sungudogo” (now only 99 cents on Amazon) all three of your wishes, the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe, the discovery of intelligent life somewhere, and the documentation of non-human hominids in recent times (including the present) like, but later than, the “Hobbit” at Flores. (Drop me a line for a review copy.) In the revised version of the novella I also explain the origin of Penn and Teller. But I digress.

The chance of the existence of Homo notspaiens at present must be zero, unfortunately. But I do like the idea of proto-historical or historical cases. “Like” as in how a TV detective “likes” a particular suspect for a particular crime. Maybe it is just a hunch. A re-examination of all those cases in the sepia literature of little people or not-quite-humans thought to be imagination, serious confusion, or out and out racism may be necessary.

I’d like to put a finer point on the prediction though. The hominid needs to have existed after some key point in time (which may be hard to identify on the ground but that could be fairly easily defined as an archaeological or historical transition). For example, post first writing or post settled horticulture. Flores already fits the obvious next oldest criterion of post Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Also, and this is not a requirement but it would be way cool, I would like them to have existed at the same time as and in the same region as the Wrangle Island Mammoths because then tiny people-like creatures could have hunted, or ridden, or otherwise lived among, tiny furry elephants.

Also, I’ll offer a prediction of where the hominid would have lived. It is most likely to be in an area where the landscape has two distinct habitats that are long term and well defined. One is a habitat likely to be inhabited long term by regular humans and the other where regular humans are likely to forage or visit only now and then, but where this second, marginal, habitat is livable. Also, it is more likely at the outer edge of post-LGM expansion, and in a region where human population would not have been dense prior to the great Exchange of Horticultural Products that began in the 15th century. (In fact if I were to pick the most likely local date formula for the extinction of Homo notsapiens globally, if there were a bunch of them, it would be the introduction of yams, manioc, maize, taro, or other staple plant brought in from the other side of the planet to grow locally.) This means the Flores hominid may have chipped its last rock when cassava or corn were first planted in the region, which would be very late and easily meet your criteria. I assume people are looking vigorously.

Yes, I just described Flores, but that’s the point. Those are the characteristics that allowed for the Indonesian Leprechaun. We might look at regions covered by the last glacial ice mass, regions far to the east of Africa, dense tropical rain forest, etc.

This also predicts that stories of “the little people” (or “the big people” depending) would be distributed more commonly in a certain region of the world’s map. Like this, maybe (and roughly):

Where to look for lepruchans or big foots.
Where to look for Leprechauns or Bigfoots.

I’ve ruled out the new world simply because. Bad reason, I know. It is entirely possible that the New World was thickly inhabited by Taltos and Leprechauns, the only really solid argument against that being a complete lack of evidence…

Balancing Acts in Science

How do you know when alternative views are real alternatives, and thus should be considered in a “balanced view” vs. when those views are not any longer valid and should be ignored? This sounds like a hard thing to do but it is not as hard as you might think. I suggest two different approaches: “Tipping Points” and “Clues that Something is Wrong Here.”

Continue reading Balancing Acts in Science