Fake Bigfoot was a hoax – no kidding

Remember the fake Bigfoot DNA a few weeks ago?  The story was updated a week later but I missed it because I was washing my hair or something.  The corpse surfaced and turned out to be a frozen Halloween costume.  That takes guts.  I wonder why they thought that freezing it was necessary.  I also wonder how self-styled “Sasquatch detective” Steve Kulls needed two hours to realize it was a totally lame fake. 

People see what they want to see, I guess.  At least Kulls eventually figured it out.

No Lemmys.

2 Moon myth debunked by religious person

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of talking to people about science in ways they can understand.  This writer’s focus is on Islam, not science, but he or she perfectly debunks a myth that has been going around the internet for five years: the myth that “this” August 27th, Mars will appear as large as the moon in the sky. 

In addition to explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, the blog addresses a misunderstanding people may have of the Quran.  The post ends with a reminder that

It is a sin to spread news and rumors without verifying it first!

See what I mean?  Talk to the peeps in a way that works for them.

I will bypass the Lemmy rating system because I’m not sure this blogger would appreciate the association with a heavy metal musician.  Let’s just call it a great post and leave it at that.

Bigfoot DNA? You’ve got to be kidding

They seem to be serious, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be taken seriously.

Every year at Camp Sangamon For Boys (“The camp with the pioneer spirit”), there would be a kid who would make outlandish claims that couldn’t be proven or disproven.  “My dad is a millionaire…my uncle beat up Bruce Lee…I got a ride in a UFO…I saw Billy kiss the camp nurse…”  Those kids all grew up to be to be Bigfoot hoaxers.  If you don’t believe me, find those kids and show me I’m wrong. 

Of course, that’s a ridiculous thing to say.  It is my responsibility to find those kids and prove to you what they are doing now.  The point is that if you make an extraordinary claim, you better have extraordinary evidence to back it up.  Bear that in mind as we discuss this week’s Bigfoot news.

The other day, two Bigfoot hunters said that they had found a real Bigfoot corpse.  They posted a crummy photo on the internet and announced a press conference for yesterday, at which they would release–not the actual body or other physical evidence–not good photos–not even testimony from respected scientists–Bigfoot DNA.  Well, not actual DNA.   They would announce the results from a DNA test.  (Not that anybody has real Bigfoot DNA to compare it to.)

These guys sell Bigfoot merchandise and the annoucement was made by a guy even Bigfoot enthusiasts don’t believe named Tom Biscardi, so we ought to be skeptical.  (Note: this link may break.  Some time between Thursday and today they made the forum password-protected.  I linked to Google’s cached version of the conversation.) 

This thing stinks more than a dead 7 foot tall mammal stored in a broken freezer.  Why am I bothering?  Because it’s such a great example of bad science.  They probably have no real evidence, so they offered some garbage that sounds high tech.  What surprised me, though, was that they were unable to fake the DNA test results.

No Lemmys.

Warning to bogus psychics: avoid Swarthmore!

If you’re young, you are not very rock and roll if you don’t realize older people hold some pretty bogus ideas.  Maybe we forget that as we age.  If you have forgotten that, you might be happier here.[1]   

The July/August 2008 issue of Skeptical Inquirer (these folks are even skeptical about updating their web page) contains a great story about a college student who duped a bunch of psychics. 

Katharine Merow told the psychics that she wanted to know about a sibling who died because her parents wouldn’t talk about it.  The psychics gave her varying details about her sibling, but none of them discerned the truth: there was no sibling! 

You might think she proved what we already know: psychics are frauds.  Nope!  Ms. Merow showed that these five psychics were full of it, but she was careful to point out that her sample size was too small for statistical analysis. The reader realizes that we cannot draw any conclusions from her study.

The remainder of her article addresses deception in psychological research.  It’s one thing to dupe people who are out to dupe you, but it’s another thing altogether to deceive people who trust that you are an honorable researcher.  Social scientists’ problem is that sometimes they can’t study whatever it is they want to study if the subjects know what the study is about.  Merow’s survey of this is as good as my memory of my social psych textbook way back when. 

This article is not available online, so you will have to check your library or independent book store.

We are going to give Katharine Merow four Lemmys (out of five).  She would have gotten five, but she didn’t out the fake psychics.  She had a good reason, but sometimes you have to do something for the wrong reason to truly rock. 


[1] I am The King of the Cheap Shot