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August 15, 2008

Bigfoot's First Press Conference

Posted: 04:18 PM ET

I just watched the coming-out party for Bigfoot at a news conference in Palo Alto, California. Bigfoot did not attend. The participants included a publicist; veteran Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi; and the two alleged discoverers of a Bigfoot carcass in the state of Georgia - prison guard Rick Dyer and police officer Matthew Whitton.

Biscardi showed a photo of the tongue and teeth of Bigfoot (as one blog commenter pointed out, Bigfoot obviously practiced awesome dental hygiene!) and an indiscernible photo of another Bigfoot said to be alive and walking away from the camera. That's it. They released a purported DNA result, although it was uncertain if the DNA info was supposed to be compared to other primates (it certainly couldn't be compared to other Bigfoot - or is it Bigfeet?).

Audio quality for the press conference was poor; there was no explanation of why the announcement would be made thousands of miles away from Bigfoot's location (he's in a freezer, somewhere here in the Atlanta area), but there was an assertion that access to Bigfoot would be very selective.

Biscardi, the professional Bigfoot hunter, did most of the talking. He promised to involve credentialed scientists, and dropped the name of Richard Klein, a Stanford University anthropologist. Dr. Klein was conveniently out of town, even though the press conference was held down the block from Stanford. I've left him a message inquiring if he's really involved with this.

The whole affair had a familiar ring to it:

Nearly six years ago, there was a media frenzy around the reports of the first cloned human. "Eve" was born the day after Christmas, fortuitously appearing during a dependably slow news week. Who unveiled that fantastic development? A cultish group called the Raelians, who believe that space aliens created life on earth, and who said a second cloned baby was on the way. But after a barrage of skeptical questions and a refusal by the Raelians to show us the baby or allow outside inspection (citing respect for privacy - not exactly a logical follow-up step if you've just held multiple press conferences), the Raelians disappeared. So did talk of a second baby, and the first baby hasn't been seen to this day.

The Bigfoot hunters, Biscardi, Dyer, and Whitton, certainly aren't cultists. Whitton and Dyer seemed like nice Georgia boys. But they're following a time-honored tradition of hucksterism, for which there's a voracious public appetite.

Okay, boys. Show us the proof. Let the experts establish the proof, and the stage is yours. Otherwise, put a sock in it, and go hide in the woods. Maybe you'll grow into a legend.

Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: Animals • Hoaxes • myths • sarcasm

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