Sometimes challenges need to be confronted head-on. I want to address a call from a blogger who says that cryptozoology is a credible discipline needing to “rid itself of the hangers-on” especially visible at other rival cryptozoology sites.
A woman on top of her own self-named “Llewtrah’s Soapbox”, in a blog entitled “Fox With Mange,” has this to say about our favorite subject (cryptozoology, please note, not mange) today, Monday, October 15:
Cryptozoology is the study of “hidden” or “unproven” animals – ones not yet scientifically recognised. The plus side is that new species being discovered, or rather animals long known to native peoples as “good to eat” get classified by sceptical scientists. Unfortunately, too many self-styled cryptozoologists lack the scientific training and the scepticism required for real scientific study. It’s these people who prevent cryptozoology from being taken seriously by the scientific community and being dismissed as yeti-hunting. The problem is, with no need for formal qualifications, anyone unable to identify a creature seems to call him/herself a cryptozoologist.
One of the more laughable forums on the web is at Cryptozoology.Com which appears to be inhabited by kiddies who regard every mange-ridden fox as an out-of-place hyena or a mutant long-tailed bobcat or hitherto unknown species of cat. The contributors confidently identify silhouettes as black pumas (the fact that pumas have never exhibited melanism goes whoosh! over their collective heads) and half-seen large animals as lion-jaguar or puma-leopard hybrids even though they’ve never seen either big cat outside of an I-Spy book. Scientific rigour and scepticism is in short supply on those forums. These identifications are posted by eejits wouldn’t be able to identify a hyena if they fell over one.
In conclusion, after saying a few negative things about British big cat people, she writes:
In the last several years, cryptozoology has gone from being a fringe pseudo-science on a par with paranormal investigators to a respectable discipline of following up reports of animals that have defied identification. Unfortunately, there are too many gullible, self-delusional unscientists bringing the whole study of new species into disrepute. If cryptozoology is be a credible discipline it needs to rid itself of the hangers-on who wouldn’t be able to identify a “panther” (that’s either a puma, leopard or jaguar, depending on which country you live in) if it ambled out of a hedge and they tripped over it.“Llewtrah’s Soapbox”
First of all, at least, Ms. Llewtrah was intelligent enough to not mention Cryptomundo by name, as we make it obvious that open discussions of canids with mange should be straight-forwardly identified as such or mentioned for comedic relief. But we do not put people down for their opinions in this regard. Everyone starts their education somewhere.
I think such broad strokes as are painted here by Ms. Llewtrah about cryptozoology being a credible discipline needing to “rid itself of the hangers-on” misses a big insight into what is taking place within the field today.
Allow me to support the overt manifestations of the developmental stages that occur when a new science is being pushed into popular culture, as is taking place in the 21st century with cryptozoology.
Considering cryptozoology is a relatively new science, having only concretely been formalized with its naming in the 1940s-1950s, not appearing as a word in a book until 1961, why would anyone be surprised that this youthful adventure appears as it does to the world today?
Cryptomundo.com is the most visited and the leading cryptozoology site on the net, and yet there is a purpose and reason for all of the other sites, which I will defend to the death. People do not become cryptozoologists overnight. From my experience, some folks play with the topic, get bored, and move on.
I’ve known several young Bigfooters to be passionate for a few years, until they geographically move, got a job, married, and/or had kids. Is it not better for there to be playgrounds and launching pads for these people on the net, than for them to attempt to do it all in academia. Or even to have several learning outlets?
The highly motivated few, whether they stop by one cryptozoology site or YouTube or here, may some day disappear into their own journey, their individual pursuit of cryptozoology and hominology, via books, schooling, and/or field studies. On the other side, they could reemerge as a fieldworker, scientist, author, or filmmaker who might make far-reaching contributions to cryptozoology, zoology, and natural history studies. Aren’t the critics like Ms. Llewtrah missing this entire process by jumping on one group of individuals, in a certain part of these cryptozoologists-in-training’s development and public revelations?
Yes, we all get tired of realizing that every-Chupacabras-is-really-a-dog end story, or the ultimate fake YouTube video verdict, but those critics who are missing the learning curve here are missing the point.
I would rather have some websites messing around with every-domestic-cat-is-a-puma discussions than to have silent out there. Cryptozoologists-in-training evolve in many forms, and to think that an elitist attitude is the right approach is as wrong-headed as the black and white concepts we are hearing from Ms. Llewtrah.
As opposed to thinking that “too many gullible, self-delusional unscientists [are] bringing the whole study of new species into disrepute,” I tend to experience what is occurring as merely a learning and evolutionary process observable in the broad daylight of the internet. The history of science has not benefited from a sense that one faction should exclude the young Turks, innocent fools, or different opinions, ever.
So while I might empathize with Ms. Llewtrah’s feelings, and perhaps mildly agree with a few of her personal frustrations oozing through her statements, I must disagree with the broader implications of her critique.
Allow cryptozoology to have its growing pains and it will emerge on the other side even stronger than before. Get into elitism, and trouble will be afoot. The big tent works the best in cryptozoology.