The Golden Era for this type of activity was right up to the time that the internet as well as Trash TV hit us. In some cases it has taken over 40 years to get to the bottom of some mysteries or to actually find 'lost' sources, photographs and the like. You see, there have always been the fraudsters. The ones who write absolute lies, twist facts and stop at nothing to make them appear to be the experts in the unexplained.
My late colleague, Franklyn Angus Davin-Wilson once defined "expert" to me thusly:
"X" = The Unknown "Spurt" is a drip under pressure.
But lying charlatans are lying charlatans. These are the "Monster hunters"/"Demonologist"/"Paranormal expert" and "Cryptozoologist" or "Fortean Zoologist" or....well, if you see them on all those US paranormal shows you'll notice that they chop and change their title for convenience. The 'facts' they give out on some animals are outrightly ridiculous and in some cases pure fantasy. One I love was that "a puma needs to consume 60-90lbs of meat a day".
You see, these people are not scientific in their investigations and their 'work' is far from neutral -"we go by the facts" is possibly a line worthy of delivery by the tall, fat 'investigator' who never gets off of his arse and takes full credit for everyone elses work but something back-fires and it's "This is a complex subject and we need to rely on our fellow travellers and sometimes they let us down". The whole purpose of this pandering to every false claim about every subject "for TV" and their books is making money. They do not care about facts because factual reporting does not make money or get your egotistical face on TV.
I see formerly credible UFO organisations jumping into the whole Nazi-UFO fad and repeat things over and over as though these are irrefutable facts gathered by them and held in their huge warehouse of evidence rather than it being sensationalist clap-trap that was mentioned in 1950s/1960s European newspapers and proven false.
The secret anti-gravity (or whatever) that the Nazis got from aliens but was later captured, along with top scientists by the US and USSR -hence why everyone started seeing flying saucers. That is what we used to get to the Moon and colonise the planets before heading out beyond the solar system -wait. No. We haven't, have we?
We retro engineered alien craft from crashes of alien craft that never happened to give us....uh...aircraft that still crash? CD players? Microwave cookers? Show me the "alien technology" humans use because if these fakers did their research they would be able to track back every technological breakthrough after another right to way back to when someone said "That was a failure. How can....wait. It might not work for this but we can use it and develop it for that!" NASA space program -non-stick utensils.
Back in the Golden Era there was no You Tube with its constant uploading of faked images and video clips. Quite honestly -there may actually be genuine UFO, sea creature or Sasquatch footage on You Tube that everyone is calling "fake" because 98% of all these clips are fake. You used to have to write, talk on the phone or personally visit witnesses and assess them, their claim and any evidence. Now it's mainly all internet pseudonyms and if a 'witness' will not give you their name in private then they are discarded as potential hoaxers. From 1975-2015 I spoke to many, many witnesses -officially and unofficially. Many times I was contacted by a police force or other official body and asked to investigate. How many of those people have ever been identified unless they were already known or gave written permission for their names to be used? Zero. So please do not try the old "My job and reputation might suffer" routine because that is not a possibility -unless YOU identify yourself.
How many times have I heard or read "I know the true story behind" such-and-such a case? Someone looking for publicity or just a hoaxer. Recently it has been "I know the true story behind the Barking Beast of Bath -contact me" and I posted here, on this blog, a challenge for that person ("unknown") to come forward. Give their account. My email is there. Nothing. Interesting that a certain annual race has a course called "The Beast" (in fact there are three I know of nationally that use that title) and was about to take place.....
In the United States there was the whole paranoia about alien abductions and though one aspect after another has been explained away -just by studying what the actual 'abductees' and their spokespeople and promoters of the craze claim- they still persist if in much smaller numbers. A few years later alien abductions were the subject of TV shows and magazines in the UK. Suddenly I, and many others, were inundated with "I saw that programme and realised I must have been abducted!" There are two UK groups who tell me they receive 30-100 (!) "new abduction cases being reported every month" and they list them on their sites -all written by the same person in "their words" rather than in those of the abductee (to protect them???).
Then it was ghosts and paranormal allover the TV and internet as one faked show after another hit the US screens. Then they hit the UK and suddenly the very same things were reported in exact details. But ghosts and poltergeists were not enough. Every case had to have a dark demonic entity, the Devil, a gateway or porthole to Hell. Honestly, you fell into one every 3 feet. Shadow people everywhere....then they were in the UK. Outright hoaxes and jokes, acknowledge as such, became 'fact'. "This program is for entertainment purposes only" should give the viewer a big hint!
And it has gone on with one craze after another. Now we have never before recorded cases/stories of wild-men and Sasquatch like creatures 8-9 feet or more tall (over 3m). We have record numbers of people living in woodland because they are homeless as well as people practicing bushcraft. These people erect structures, some basic but some more complex for later re-use, often there are signs such as stones or stick/branches placed in a certain pattern -"water supply nearby"/"plenty of berries/mushrooms" or even warnings that foresters or security patrols/police harass those living in the woods. But, no, a cut stick found in woodland is clearly a bigfoot knocking stick for communication. People living rough also use such sticks to alert others to police, etc -it has gone on for centuries. A lean to is "obviously" where wild men or a bigfoot has rested up.. A burnt out fire in woodlands -more 'evidence' because WHY would people living rough or foresters working in woods want a fire? Keep warm? Brew up some tea?
I have spoken to foresters, wardens, poachers and many others over 40 years who tell me of "ghosts" and other strange goings on. I have even known people who have lived and studied "things" in woodland for decades. Not one single person has ever claimed to have seen a Bigfoot creature or signs of the population that would be needed to continue on. Remoter parts of the US/Canada and even Europe, probably. The UK? No. It is a fantasy -one that the fraudulent writers and cryptozoologists want to continue because it makes them money.
Now we have the equivalent of the "dog-man" or werewolf suddenly popping up in numbers all over the UK after all the sensationalist trash from US TV. The trends are there and easily checked by anyone.
There is this false idea amongst the newcomers -inspired by the internet and TV- that before said internet and TV, we oldies had no idea what was going on. In fact, the opposite is true. And better still, certain reports have helped me, as a naturalist, keep a track on certain "non native" animals I lost track of -but to these newcomers the blatant signs/descriptions mean nothing other than a "new wild-man case" or a "new behaviour" pattern. We "oldies" got out there. We spoke to people. We looked at evidence and talked to others who had studied the strange and weird. We studied books -as my over-bulging shelves show. We did not listen to fakers on TV to learn about fakery -other than to see all the tricks. "I've been doing this for six/three/five years so I know what I'm talking about!" I've been doing this over 40 years so wake up.
And one of the most cringeworthy, though at times quite funny, faked "bigfoot" programmes on TV is Mountain Monsters. They find pictographs and various artefacts made by "bigfoots", new tracks and video/photo evidence every week but some of the cast are on IMDB as actors. There is no secret made that it is a fun "entertainment" show but people are seriously -they are -just check the internet- asking "Is Mountain Monsters fake?" YES. What is more worrying, if telling, is that certain faked aspects of the show are turning up in US and UK "Bigfoot" reports.
It is a fad. A craze.
Here is an example. I know three people who started out as "Ufologists" in the 1970s. They jumped onto the paranormal band wagon when there was interest in the 1980s and they were "paranormalists" or "Paranormal investigators". Suddenly in the late 1990s it was all about the "British Big Cat" (in fact, there is only one member of the Big cat family in the UK -proven via DNA, etc) and oh boy did the 'experts' start popping out of the woodwork. I was getting 4, 5 and at one time 10 phone calls from people who had "been investigating big cats in the UK" for 2-3 years. Then they jumped back to aliens, UFOs and abductions, the paranormal, demonology, mystery creatures and now werewolves and British bigfoot .
Why, you might ask, were these drips under pressure contacting me? Well, firstly to find out all they could about "big cats", sightings in their area (after all their 'years of experience' they had no such cases on file!) and everything they needed to sound good to the press and media. A lot of what these people came out with that was their 'own' years of research was taken from my Exotic Animals Register (EAR) Bulletins. I even had police officers and journalists ask me if I knew these people were repeating verbatim what I'd written as their own? So we had fun. I told these people the most ridiculous things as 'facts' including that a lynx would need to eat up to 100 lbs of meat per day to survive -and they repeated that taking full credit for all the research they had done.
"Uh, did you tell (name deleted) that leopards eat a lot of wild berries so if you find droppings with berries in that was a dead give-away?" asked the police wildlife officer. "Odd question -why?" I asked innocently. It turned out that the 'experienced big cat hunter' had pointed to a large dropping by trees after a large cat was reported by a member of the public. "Look" he told the police officer "you can see berries in this!" He broke up the scat and sniffed it. "That is a leopard dropping!" he said authoritively. When the police officer spoke to the PWLO he explained all of this and the PWLO looked at the photos taken. Which is why he telephoned me. We both knew it was fox but the 'expert' I'd spoken to was told it was a sure sign of leopard scat. He even told a reporter this.
Most -well, all- of these 'experts' always have their names in print. It's the whole ego thing. With me, unless a reporter had spoken to me or a police officer mentioned me by name, I was always "a police expert"
Now these people are "hunting" UK bigfoot type creatures.
There are some out there with genuine mental health problems -to them I am the "arch debunker". A "government stooge" and even a "Spook" working for Special Branch, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force -I've been everything from an RN Commander, Army Captain and even two RAF ranks- Captain/Squadron Leader (is it too late to ask for back-pay?). I've been flown to the Falklands to look into UFO sightings and even been in charge of a British investigation of UFO sightings in Germany in the 1980s. Fantasy but even denying these statements and furnishing evidence to counter them has 'proven' the accusations true.
I have even been told on four separate occasions: "But you are a well known naturalist so you are going to be totally against any evidence given!"
You see, I go by the evidence. If you have evidence I look at it and if it actually proves something really weird or strange was seen they I will say so. A skeptic is not, or should not be someone who is, when presented with a crashed alien space craft and dead aliens, going to say "No. Does not exist" A skeptic should roll up his/her sleeves and dive straight in -photograph, catalogue, measure, examine and only then give a verdict.
But the more outlandish or strange the claim the better the evidence has to be or else we really are just saying "Well, Buck on Mountain Monsters said he saw that so it must be a fact!" Or even "Well, Clarice says she is a 'sensitive' and there is definitely a dark, demonic force here -look, the candle flickered!" or even the most debunked trick of them all "Look -the torch went off then came back on again -spirit communication!" And those are 'facts.
The fakers, hoaxers and other fraudsters, whatever names they want to use from one day to another, they are there to make money out of gullibility and the sensation caused by TV or the internet. Twenty sightings of werewolves in Cannock Chase (apparently the Bigfoot creatures there have moved on). Here is a fact and I have the email to prove it -a spate of Cannock Chase werewolf stories were faked by the investigation involved as a "joke"....anyone revealed that publicly before? Sightings of werewolves in Hull. Why do newspapers and TV not do what they used to do and pay for an expert to investigate -good story for them either way? Because they know it's all faked.
TV fantasy has merged in many peoples mind with reality. "I saw it on a TV show so it must be real!" We see it every day.
I've 40+ years of experience and I'm a naturalist so my bags are packed and ready. I've packed lightly because I know no one is paying me to go anywhere to investigate any such claims.