Are you unhappy with your current profession? Do you perhaps feel your job is getting to be a bit mundane? In general, are you tired of the same old routines replaying themselves day after day to the point where you crave a badly needed injection of action, adventure, and intrigue? If your answer to that question is yes, perhaps you should give the world of Cryptozoology a try. I am sure many of you are asking yourself, “What is Robbins going on about this week? Movie reviews and those sorts of thing are fine, but science, that’s not his forte.” My response to you would be to let you know that you’re right: not just a little bit, but 100%. I normally would be blogging about some facet of the entertainment world or an occasional literary review… but not this week. This week, I thought it would be interesting to explore, albeit briefly, a pseudoscience that deals with creatures that are either directly used, or partially used, to form composite sketches of entities in horror, science-fiction, and super natural books, films, and television shows.
Before I go any further, I feel it is necessary to point out several pieces of important information. Firstly, there are no degree programs of higher education for people to become cryptozoologists. I am sure if you take the plunge down the electric rabbit hole known as the internet looking for a school that offers courses in the discipline, you will stumble across a fly by night operation that will gladly take your money – but whatever certificate or degree they give you will be worthless. Secondly, if you do decide to get involved in the field, let me say that based upon what I learned about it, I strongly urge you NOT TO QUIT your day job, especially in this economy. Last but not least, the reason I am being emphatic about my second point is that if a person holds him or herself out as a cryptozoologist in essence that person is really saying: `I’m a glorified monster hunter.’ Cryptozoology is the study of animals that have not yet been deemed, by the scientific community, to be afforded the status of a valid, recognized species. Animals that are under investigation by Cryptozoologists are called cryptids. A cryptozoologist looks for creatures such as Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, and the Loch Ness Monster, to list a few of what members of their ilk consider hidden animals or creatures yet to be brought out into the light of day for the world at large to see.
The origins of Cryptozoology can be traced back to French Zoologist Dr. Bernard Heuvelman, who first coined the phrase in the 1950s in letters he wrote to colleagues while he was on an exploratory expedition. Dr. Heuvelman would later go on to pen what is considered by many in the field to be the most highly regarded text on the study of Cryptozoology, his 1955 book, “On the Track of Unknown Animals.” Dr. Heuvelman wrote the book in an attempt to give the discipline some legitimacy, and separate it from earlier writing by others, which would usually include folktales and myths mixed in with real science. One of the main attack points made by legitimate scientists against Cryptozoologists is that many of them do not follow the scientific method when they conduct their research.
The six steps of the scientific method, which some of you might remember all or a part of from your science classes, are as follows: Step One: State a problem or ask a question. Step Two: Gather information. Step Three: Form a hypothesis. Step Four: Design and conduct an experiment. Step Five: Draw a conclusion. Step Six: Report the results. A cryptozoologist primarily depends upon testimony from eye witness encounters, as well as anecdotal information. As far as legitimate scientists are concerned, neither of these methods validate a cryptozoologist’s work. Legitimate scientists take issue with the fact that usually no hard scientific data has been collected, especially since the vast majority of animals or creatures that cryptozoologists seek to find are considered fictional. Cryptozoologists counter the arguments of main stream scientists by pointing to concrete discoveries. For example: large marine life continues to be catalogued, such as “The Giant Squid,” which was thought to be the stuff of legend, but proved to be real; and large land animals, such as “The Mountain Gorilla,” also exist, but were initially thought to be fictitious. Cryptozoologists argue if those animals went undetected for such long periods of time, why can’t there be the possibility – – not the fact, but the possibility – – that creatures such as Sasquatch are truly out there waiting for someone to discover them. One of the theories suggested by main stream scientists is that if Sasquatch truly exists, it is really an ape…namely, Gigantopithecus, which was thought to have died out hundreds of thousands of years ago. The best known evidence to validate the existence of Sasquatch is the infamous Roger Patterson home made movie which was filmed on October 20, 1967. For years, it has come under harsh criticism by scientists, who claim it is just a tall man in an ape suit, and adding fuel to the metaphoric speculative fire is Bob Heironimus. The retired Pepsi bottler from Yakima, Washington, claims that when he was 26 years old, he was asked by Patterson if he would put on a gorilla costume and be in the supposed home movie. To quote Heironimus:
“It’s time people knew it was a hoax…It’s time to let this thing go…Somebody’s making lots of money off this, except for me. But that’s not the issue — the issue is that it’s time to finally let people know the truth.”
For what I would guess would be the paltry few of you out there who are reading this and would like to actually get involved in the field, the book “Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature,” by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark, might be a good place for you to start. The authors offer helpful advice to would-be cryptozoologists, and actually detail some legitimate paths for a person to take into the field of mainstream science, which could later on be used to explore the pseudoscience of Cryptozoology as a side endeavor. For starters, they let their readers of high school age know, that if interested in the field, moving forward, they should try and take classes in the following established sciences: Anatomy, Anthropology, Aquatic Studies, Biology, Criminal Investigations, Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Zoology. In addition, the authors point out the importance of being effective communicators and recommend taking writing courses. The authors realize that not every school district offers their students such a wide array of scientific courses to choose from; but they also make no qualms about the fact that once a student reaches the college level, not to expect a new world of opportunity to open up when it comes to the field of cryptozoology. There are virtually no colleges or universities which offers classes that deal with cryptozoology. The authors convey that once in a while, a professor interested in the subject will perhaps offer an elective, but that’s about as far as it goes. The main thing Coleman and Clark tell would be cryptozoologists to focus on are scientific disciplines that deal with the cryptid that they’re interested in…for example, if a person is interested in Big Foot, focus on biology; if interested in the Loch Ness Monster, aquatic studies would be the better course to take. In addition, to those suggestions, they also recommend volunteer work at aquariums, farms, nature centers, wild life preserves, your local vet’s office, or zoos to get hands on experience working with animals or marine life.
If anyone out there already has an interest in this science, or, after reading this, develops an interest in it, please let this blogger know if you find anything.