Friday, 24 October 2014
Introduction:Investigation And Research Is Not “Debunking”
This introduction was written for my 2009 book, Some More Things Strange & Sinister. Since that time new books on Sasquatch have appeared including Jeff Meldrums excellent -and highly recommended- SASQUATCH: LEGEND MEETS SCIENCE.
Some have suggested that in Some Things Strange And Sinister I took the stance of a “debunker” –someone who takes it upon himself to explain away anything unusual or odd. I suppose that I should not have been in the least bit surprised by that response.
The last thing I would ever want to be is a debunker. Some “Forteans” and “cryptozoologists” were quite annoyed –several very annoyed— by the way I had “casually dismissed” the Canvey Island Dead Aquatic Creatures incidents. Well,I have looked into those events,and others like them,for over thirty years and my conclusions are backed up by full documentation. “Casually” indeed!
Some “ufologists” were a tad upset,too. How dare I dismiss crashed UFO cases! Well,if there was one iota of evidence in just one case I would not. Roswell is a big money earner yet it has been adequately explained as a non-crashed flying saucer for a long time. The 19th Century Aurora,Texas crash –a downright hoax.
Were I more the cribbing and rehashing from other books type I’m quite sure I would be much more like! However,if something is false it needs to be shown and declared as such rather than let it continue to be used in literature and the media and all that entails.
At times I rather feel like that masked magician on TV revealing how all the old tricks are done. Hated by those “within” that circle because he hopes to push the magicians into developing new tricks rather than continue on with the same old stuff. If we can rid cryptozoology,Forteanism and ufology of all the fakes and easily explainable cases then we can concentrate on those that seem genuinely unexplainable.
With UFO landing reports I concentrated a great deal of time on non-humanoid cases since these seemed to hold more promise of finding a genuine,unexplainable case[s]. I was very disappointed when one after another disintegrated into a tissue of hoaxes and lies. But what was really annoying was the fact that those who had published foreign language accounts in English language publications knew of the follow-up articles/reports that proved hoaxes. One ufologist complained to me that he had just published two of the accounts [from Some Things Strange And Sinister] in his book and that I made him look stupid.
Apparently,though,he had carried out no research but merely taken the accounts from existing UFO book sources. My response was “Well,had you even vaguely carried out any type of research you would not be looking stupid now!”
After over thirty-five years of UFO investigation,some of that while running the officially unofficial Anomalous Observational Phenomena Bureau [AOP B],apart from what we termed “UNP” [Uninvestigated [by science] Natural Phenomenon] no evidence was found proving any kind of alien,or extra-terrestrial involvement.
I witnessed a number of UNP –on one occasion within 100 yards of me and though very impressive it was quite obviously not “alien”. I’ve climbed around giant rock conveyer belts in quarries,forests,buildings and much more looking for physical traces left behind following UFO incidents but found nothing. I’ve chased hoaxers over fields and other places. I’ve advanced by myself toward a supposed landed UFO with occupants while three squad cars full of police hung back “this is your speciality” I was told.
Having written that I ought to point out that I was with about forty other “truth-seekers” at Cradle Hill, Warminster,in the late 1970s when a red light moved about the copse there. Myself and Franklyn Davin-Wilson realised there was something “off” about it and we moved forward –to shrieks and calls from the other folk there not to go toward the “UFO”. As I said loudly,”What the hell is the point of trying to find proof of what is going on if you stand like lemons and don’t confront anything head on?” It turned out to be a hoaxer anyway but better the mad dash than add more junk to ufology.
I have never hidden in conversation or writing the fact that I firmly believe that there are probably unknown large species,commonly referred to as “sea monsters” awaiting discovery. That is if we are lucky. The seas and oceans usually take care of dead –rather like jungles and forests can see all remains of a large deer vanish in a little less than a month.
Whether the number of such aquatic unknowns is falling we can only guess as by looking at other large species such as whales,etc.. Depleting fish stocks as well as pollution and destruction of aquatic environments probably mean there are not as many “sea monsters” as there used to be. Unlike in the old days of sail when a ship might look,from below,like a whale or other sea animal,today we have sonar and much more,including very noisey engines,that might scare off unknown creatures –probably why the number of sightings have dropped from the mid-20th century onward.
I would hope that noise pollution at sea was a better explanation than recent extinction. But science will not be happy until it can kill and dissect any such creature. It is the way of science sadly,for that reason,I’d hope –hope— for a dead beasty washed ashore. The nature of these things is that you might kill a good specimen for study but it could be the last breeding male/female of a species just holding on.
I’ve also been told that I seem to sit on the fence regarding hairy hominids such as Bigfoot/Sasquatch,the Yeti and so on. Well,although I used to be in regular contact with hominologists back in the 1970s-1980s,my AOP Bureau work meant I had to restrict some things. Sadly,a number of those early credible investigators are now no longer with us.
The late Ivan T. Sanderson produced what we can call the first real technical field book on the subject . I was shocked to learn that out of 101 people professing to be investigators or researchers into Bigfoot/Sasquatch,only three –three— had read Sanderson’s book! It should be the book read by anyone interested or involved in that field.
I have always been a little “iffy” when it comes to the Yeti. A hairy hominid travelling,occasionally,to higher snowy ground..maybe. But when you come to the kingdom of Nepal you have a different situation. Nepal is a land of geographical extremes and these include near sea-level elevations in the southern Terai to the world's highest mountains. And the country contains a variety of eco-systems;from the tree-less sub-alpine pastures and dense fir forests of the high valleys,the oak and rhododendron woods of the middle hills,and the tall sal forests of the south. Along the southern borders of Nepal are preserved much of the lowland jungles and grasslands that once covered this part of the sub-continent and here you can see birds and mammals found nowhere else. It should be noted that, although animal habitat has been somewhat depleted as a result of agriculture,deforestation and other causes,because of Nepal's extensive and effective park and reserve system the country still has more varied flora and fauna than any other area in Asia.
An unknown biped is possible.
The Orang Pendek is a hominid that reportedly inhabits remote,mountainous forests on the island of Sumatra. There is the highly likely possibility that this is some unknown form of primate and research certainly seems to be attracting a lot of people from established science.
There are others,of course. Certain islands covered with jungle and rarely if ever visited could hold a few more surprises in this field.
As for Bigfoot/Sasquatch. John Green  and many others who know what they are doing,have looked at everything from food and habitat to possible migratory routes throughout the year. The food and habitat aspect is the real stuff of any study because if any animal is real it must have a diet –specialised or otherwise. When you look at some of the habitat consisting of dense forest running into thousands of square miles and into which only a few venture you see that any large hominid could exist.
Really,it will take a prolonged investigation of a year or so to draw conclusions or gather evidence and I think that there are certain locations that would be perfect for this,but it takes money!
In the former Soviet Union,research into hominology and the Almas has always been taken seriously and Dmitri Bayanov is a well known and internationally respected researcher. And in the Peoples Republic of China rsearch and investigation into the Yeren is taken just as seriously and there have been officially sanctioned investigations,some yielding interesting results. The United States seems to have lagged behind because until more recent years anyone involved in serious science who even suggested that there might be “something interesting in this Bigfoot business” could see a good career suffer.
So,no,I do not dismiss hominology as a very interesting subject worth delving in to.
When it comes to ghosts –as opposed to poltergeist activity—I have to admit to really wanting to find evidence. I think most of us would like to find proof of life after death. My mother always said that if there was anything after death she would do her best to let me know. Years have passed and nothing. I’ve known others who have said the same thing but still nothing. Franklyn A. Davin-Wilson was a solid believer in ghosts and the paranormal and had a brilliant mind and we both agreed that,whichever one of us “popped off” first,would come back to prove there was life after death. Over twenty-five years later I still wait on the agreed anniversary of death but Franklyn still hasn’t shown up.
I think my views on poltergeist activity were adequately explained in Some Things Strange And Sinister.
With digital technology every particle of dust,pollen or other mundane minute piece of debris became “orbs” –“energy amassing before a ghostly event”. It just shows how ignorant people are of the technology they use and I think the mass of amoebic-like orbs I photographed and reproduced in my last book proves a point:use a digital camera in a dusty [even seemingly dust-free] environment and the flash will reveal “orb central”.
The point is that,some 99 per cent of the things I look into sound incredible and unexplainable but turn out to be wild goose chases. However,I am still holding out for that 1 per cent that will prove that there are genuinely some things strange and,possibly,sinister out there. That one case or,hopefully,several cases,that will show that this is not a seemingly mundane world devoid of things to stimulate the human mind and further research.
While working with the University of Wales Swansea Exotic Cat Group,I delved into more 18th,19th and early century newspapers and publications than I care to think about. However,what these sources revealed were truly astonishing because most modern wrtiters/researchers do not carry out this type of work. Finding something interesting by accident while reading a book or picking items reprinted for the umpteenth time seems to be the norm.
Whether gorillas in captivity prior to scientific discovery –such as “Jenny”— or The Beast of Faudiere,Girt Dog of Ennerdale or Beast of Gevaudan:the facts are all there.
While certain factions of Forteanism,Cryptozoology and Ufology try to keep the cult of personality alive for their own kudos or to become a “character”,the idea of rolling up your shirt sleeves and getting to work in the field or in research takes a backseat. Certain “field investigations” tend to be more reminiscent of adventure holidays than anything serious.
So,I am definitely not a debunker. I am certainly not a “Ufologist”,”Fortean” or “Cryptozoologist”. I am an investigator-researcher and naturalist.
Never be too shy to share your opinion. And if you can add anything new to any of the subjects within this or the previous book I’d very much like to hear from you. If you have seen,filmed or photographed anything unusual I would definitely like to hear from you!
I hope I have a few more years left in me for research and investigation even if my home does appear to be solely decorated with files and folders with some very unusual titles on them.
Here’s to a few more years!
1. Sanderson,Ivan T.,Abominable Snowman:Legend Come To Life,[reprinted]
Adventures Unlimited Press,Illinois,2006
2. Green,John,Encounters With Bigfoot,Hancock House Publishing,1980.