August 15, 2008
Posted: 10:05 AM ET
On Friday at 3pm ET, a press conference in Palo Alto, California will announce the discovery of the body of Bigfoot.
I got the press release, and quickly checked eBay to see if the Brooklyn Bridge was for sale again.
But let's play along for a minute, and drive a bit of web traffic to the Searching for Bigfoot website. Bigfoot was discovered in north Georgia (the U.S. state, not the besieged former Soviet Republic). He stood seven feet, seven inches tall, weighed over 500 pounds, and yes, he was a he.
The Searching for Bigfoot site belongs to Tom Biscardi, a veteran bigfoot tracker. But it was two relative newcomers - a local cop on longterm leave, and a former prison guard, who found Bigfoot right here in Georgia. They have a website too, and you can not only learn more about Bigfoot, but you can buy a Bigfoot T-shirt, a Bigfoot coffee mug, or, for up to $5,000, a guided expedition to the place where Bigfoot was found.
Unlike the intrepid Bigfoot hunters, who have been on the job for years, I'm new to the facts and specifics of all this. So as a journalist, it would be unseemly for me to spout off an opinion on what I think of all this. For that, you'll just have to read my mind.
Of course this is far from the first cottage industry to spring from shady sightings of mystical, mythical beasts. There's a dinosaur that's been hanging out in a lake (a loch, actually) in Scotland. Hanging out for over a hundred years in a relatively small, intensely well-watched and photographed loch. But Nessie, with its presumably walnut-sized brain, has been smart enough to snatch tourist dollars and escape undetected for a long, long time. Click on this link if you want to make travel reservations and grab a Scottish bed & breakfast.
Then there's Sasquatch. It's normally presumed to hang out in the Pacific Northwest, although there was a Sasquatch sighting in Ontario last month. This big fella also has a web following, with Sasquatch merchandise a part of the overall plan.
Nepal's more enduring version of Bigfoot is the Yeti. There's a site that even has a page of Yeti humor for your Yeti-related speaking engagements. Be advised that most of the jokes are Abominable.
Mexico can offer the Chupacabra (translation: "Goat Sucker"). It's a hairless, dog-sized night prowler blamed for mysterious livestock killings. A chupacabra head was recovered in Texas last year. Upon further review, it turned out to be a coyote with a bad case of mange.
In my native New Jersey we had the Jersey Devil, a mystical creature that prowled the Pine Barrens. We named our pro hockey team after them.
All this exists (or not) in the animal kingdom, but let's not forget that years after their alleged deaths, Elvis and Tupac Shakur are also still routinely sighted.
What the moral of this blog? There's a slightly charming, mostly sad tendency for people to abandon science and reason while they fall for romantic or scary mythology, and there's a vibrant business existing to separate those people from their money. Many politicians, Professional Wrestling promoters, faith healers, and Nigerian email scammers have made a handsome living off this.
Anyway, they're presenting "DNA Evidence" at Bigfoot's coming out party. If any of this convinces any credible scientist anywhere, I'd be happy to eat a big plate of crow. Or chupacabra.
Let us know what you think about all this. Thanks!
Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science and Tech
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