Scott has spent her life campaigning for creationism to be removed from school curiculum, and is on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Skeptics
Society. Audience members who were hoping to see a loony tossing about
poorly rendered plaster casts of Bigfoot tracks would be sorely
Scott deftly plowed through a laundry list of reasons it
is unlikely the Sasquatch exists. It's been sighted in too many
locations, there isn't enough for a creature that large to eat, it
conveniently covers its tracks, disposes of its dead, and hides
really, really well. And while she allowed that some accounts of
Bigfoot sightings were genuinely unexplained, this didn't mean that one
should rush to the conclusion that the creature existed. The
appropriate answer, she insisted, was a scholarly, "We don't know."
man stood and proclaimed, in an ominous nod to conservationism and
cryptozoology, "We're gonna change the earth so much -- it's gonna have
no where to hide."
Scott seemed understandably unsure how to respond to this statement.
A second man asked Scott "what percentage" she thought Bigfoot existed. To drive the point home he repeated, with meaning, "Percentage-wise."
"Less then five percent," Scott returned, and then added, "But that's because I'm an optimist."
Yet another man, who identified himself as as Bigfoot Field Researcher with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization,
wanted to know if the anthropologist thought that everyone who had ever
spotted a Bigfoot was participating in a mass delusion.
The answer, again, was "No, but that doesn't mean the Bigfoot exists."
By the time Scott had clicked through a series of slides, including UFOs, Marvin the Martian, this very funny chart
illustrating exactly what Bigfoot might be taller than, cast doubt upon
the Patterson Video (the Zapruder Film of Bigfoot believers) and
gathered up her papers for the evening, any budding Mulders in the
audience should have felt a bit deflated.
Brandon Kiel, the man
who had identified himself as a Bigfoot Field Researcher, however,
remained convinced of the animal's existence.
He said that he liked Scott's presentation, but that "...some of her facts were not factual."
"To say that people spot 12-foot-tall things running around is dismissive," He said "We've never had anybody say
they were 12-feet-tall. We know that females are in the range of
six feet, eight feet tall and that males maybe top out at nine-feet-tall."
grew up listening to stories of his relatives spotting strange
creatures in rural Oklahoma and professes to have seen Bigfoot on two
different occasions, once during the day and once with infrared
technology. He also said he had worked with famous primatologist, Jane
"She came to my college in Oklahoma to help students put together the
primatology habitat. I worked with her on that. Very vaguely. I was
the one that shuttled her around campus and around town."
were undoubtedly audience members who, in spite of themselves, wanted
to believe in Bigfoot just like Kiel. Isn't a world with a Bigfoot in
it more exciting than one without it? In the end, Scott made the better
case. But should another team of flim-flam artists stuff a bear suit in
a hollow tree and proclaim it to be the definitive evidence
that the creature exists, a lot of very smart people will push aside
their understanding of the scientific method just so they can maybe,
sort of believe in it, just for a few days or hours. And word to the wise: Keep the height at a believable nine feet, please.