Todd May of Ogden, Utah, holds what he “believes to be a fossilized head of a Bigfoot” on June 18th in Ogden. Photo: Nick Short, Standard-Examiner
I find it extremely disappointing that the media is so bored they would take a rather silly local story from June 22nd, and have it go viral, nationally.
This morning, June 29, 2013, Saturday, I was not pleased to see that a tall tale I’d knew was making the rounds jumped to the level of Associated Press distribution (Portland Press Herald, “Man Claims He Found Fossilized Bigfoot Skull.” and San Francisco Chronicle, “Man Believes He Found Fossilized Bigfoot Head.”)
It is all about a rock that is a rock, but which this Utah man says it “looks” like a Bigfoot head or skull. Come on?
This is bad science at its worst, and why in the world would any newsperson even engage in publishing this?
The Anomalist captured the reality behind this story on June 24th, when they highlighted:
Man Believes He Found Fossilized Bigfoot Head Standard-ExaminerThis story has given us the most amusing quote we’ve heard all week and yes, we realize it’s only Monday. From Kenneth Carpenter, director of paleontology at Utah State University: “I’ll admit that it is the most head-like rock I have seen.” This statement was in response to the claims of a man who approached the Standard-Examiner offices with what he said was the petrified head of Sasquatch. He’d even brought it along to show them and displayed it proudly in the trunk of his car. The guy seems so honestly convinced and earnest (he also reports encountered a real, live Bigfoot) that it seems almost cruel when paleontologists point out that the “head shaped rock” is missing a few “key features” of a normal head, including eyes, nose and teeth. It’s an amazing example of pareidolia for sure, but nothing more than that, and as Charlie Brown famously declared on Halloween: “I got a rock.”
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.
…Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data. Source.
There is even a previous infamous case for this business in the fossil realm:
From the late 1970s through the early 1980s, Japanese researcher Chonosuke Okamura self-published a famous series of reports titled “Original Report of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory” in which he described tiny inclusions in polished limestone from the Silurian period (425 mya) as being preserved fossil remains of tiny humans, gorillas, dogs, dragons, dinosaurs, and other organisms, all of them only millimeters long, leading him to claim “There have been no changes in the bodies of mankind since the Silurian period … except for a growth in stature from 3.5 mm to 1,700 mm.” Okamura’s research earned him a winner of the Ig Nobel Prize (a parody of the Nobel Prizes) in biodiversity. Source.
I’d say Mr. May is on his way to winning the Ig Nobel Prize for 2013 with this “fossilized Bigfoot skull” story.
Of course, within Bigfoot online discussions, the ultimate form of pareidolia is the blobsquatch. See my “The Short History of Blobsquatch,” for more. See example, above.
This “Bigfoot skull” one is almost as awful as the “Bigfoot was photographed on Mars” story (see below).
During the discussions of the “Bluff Creek Bigfoot Massacre,” needless to say, people were, via pareidolia, seeing some things in the woods that surely were not there. One example is shown below:
But it is not just Mr. May’s fault or others who present such material. The media is responsible in this silliness too. Where is the critical thinking tools of responsible journalism anymore? Again, come on!
For cryptozoologists, it is just downright embarrassing that we have to even react to this kind of reportage, as if it is worthy of our time. Let’s get back to serious Sasquatch research, please.