Bigfoot Essay Outline

Bigfoot is a phenomenon that has been reported for many years by many people all over North America. This paper will not go into most of the "who?" or "where?" of the sightings, but will examine the "why?". The question is, why did the sightings occur? There only seem to be two overall explanations to this phenomenon. The first answer to "why?" is that the witnesses did not see anything abnormal. This answer can be divided into four subcategories. These subcategories are that all witnesses were tricked by a hoax, perpetrated a hoax, misidentified something else, or were hallucinating. The second explanation, that the witness actually saw something that was not a hallucination or hoax, can be divided into three subcategories. The subcategories are at first glance ridiculous. These are that Bigfoot is a flesh and blood terrestrial animal, Bigfoot is a supernatural/metaphysical "entity", or Bigfoot is an alien. All seven of these subcategories will be the basis for this essay, which will give points and examples for and against each one.

The first subcategory is that the witness was tricked by someone perpetrating a hoax. At first glance, this is a tempting explanation. It is a well known fact that people have successfully perpetrated hoaxes and convinced innocent people that the witness(es) had seen a Bigfoot. The problem is that some sightings have been reported by witnesses that have a knowledge of the anatomy and behavior of animals, and have observed and hunted various large mammals for their entire adult lives. It would be very difficult for a human dressed in an ape suit to trick a person like this into thinking it was a real animal. Also, many descriptions indicate the creatures have a height of 2 to 3 meters. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for someone to construct a motile and natural looking costume of this size suitable for wear through the forest. The possibility of this being the explanation for more than 20% of sightings is slim, in this author's opinion. The chances of this being the explanation for all sightings by those with a knowledge of animals and their characteristics observing in good weather conditions and in the daytime is nonexistent, in this author's opinion.

The second subcategory is that the people reporting the sighting are lying, and only after money or publicity or some other goal. This argument breaks down when the number of witnesses who wish to remain completely confidential is considered. Many witnesses indicate a fear of being made fun of and ridiculed. They do not want publicity, and ask for no money in return for their information. Needless to say some "sightings" are easily identifiable as publicity stunts or hopes to attract large sums of money. These are often blatant, though this is not always the case. Even with this in mind, this subcategory is almost entirely eliminated as a viable explanation for most reported Bigfoot sightings.

The third subcategory, and one that I believe is a viable explanation for many sightings, is misidentification. Misidentification occurs when a person sees something, whether it be a bear or a tree stump or a person, and identifies it as a Bigfoot. This can easily happen at night, when lighting is low, or when a person expects to see a Bigfoot and convinces himself or herself that it was a Bigfoot they saw. This I believe is an explanation in many cases where the conditions were simply unsuitable for accurate observation. The problem with this as an explanation for all sightings is that often observations are made in good conditions, with the witness not even previously considering the possibility of Bigfoot existing. With these things stated, and also accepting that misidentification can and does happen, it is still not an acceptable answer to explain all Bigfoot sightings.

The fourth subcategory is hallucination. This can overlap somewhat with misidentification, in that a person sees something and convinces themselves it was a Bigfoot. I believe that this accounts for a very small percentage of Bigfoot sightings. Hallucinatory witnesses are often identified by the fact that they see a Bigfoot every three days, or some other ridiculously frequent time interval, and often in varied places, with the sightings being many kilometers away from each other. Witnesses on chemical stimulants are often easily recognized, and their stories are usually fantastic and unbelievable. This does not stand up, in the author's opinion, as an explanation for more than 10% of reported sightings.

As I have finished the subcategories under the first answer to "why?", I would now like to discuss what these previous four paragraphs mean. It is my opinion that the above four possibilities, either together or separately, are not enough to explain all Bigfoot sightings. This means one of two things. Either there is another explanation that, combined with the previous stated, explains the remainder, or Bigfoot, as a "real" entity, must exist in some form, which is what the second answer to "why?" says. I will investigate the latter possibility in the remainder of this paper.

The first subcategory under the second answer to the question "why?" is that Bigfoot is a real flesh and blood animal, a large bipedal mammal by description. At first glance this is a very good explanation. It does not require hundreds of misidentifications, drug addicts, and many people running around in the forest of North America in ape costumes. The question is simply, is it possible that a large creature could exist in the wilderness of North America, supposedly including many well populated states in the U.S., without being scientifically proven to exist. The evidence for this includes the consistency of the sighting, including nearly identical sightings by people who had no previous knowledge of each other or of Bigfoot, and often in diverse geographical regions. This is also supported by the fact that there are large areas of nearly uninhabited wilderness in North America that could support the creatures that have been described. Various other pieces of evidence have been given, including footprint analyses, by people such as Dr. Grover Krantz (Krantz, 1992). Such arguments are better left to experts in the field, and I will not address these here. Needless to say, these pieces of evidence have not been enough to prove the existence of this creature. This subcategory must remain as a possibility if the other explanations do not suffice to explain the existence of Bigfoot sightings.

The second subcategory is that Bigfoot is some type of supernatural or metaphysical entity, which, if ever flesh and blood, is not always flesh and blood. Before I hear of this paper being torn up and burned, please listen to the reason for inclusion of this possibility. In John Green's book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, Green tells of happenings, with one in particular, that indicate something that generally fits the description of Bigfoot, doing things impossible for a flesh and blood animal to do. I will quote what I feel is a quintessential example. From Green's book:

Bigfoot also known popularly as the Sasquatch, Momo, Skunk Ape, the list goes on and on, is without a doubt, the most famous of all hairy man-like creatures. The following will make you a believer in this overseen creature, it made me one.

Bigfoot is seen in every possible location throughout the North American Continent, mountains, swamps, forests, crossing desolate and some not so desolate roadways and on open farmland. While its demeanor varies from docile to curios to almost threatening, its general appearance varies. Bigfoot is a massive animal, its average height is seven and a half feet tall, its weight is said be between 400-500 pounds. It is covered almost completely in fur, and its fur ranges in color from the moist widespread dark red-brown to brown, black, red, gray and even white. It leaves its footprints behind as a calling card, almost taunting the researchers that feverently research this undiscovered animal. While its prints resemble mans,they are characteristically large in comparison, and instead of the weight distribution being concentrated under the heel and ball as in the arched human foot, the weight distribution is more evenly distributed over the flat, yielding Bigfoot foot. Most often the prints have five toes, occasionally however the tracks are apparently three toed. The three toed tracks can be theorized several ways; that there is a unique variety of Bigfoot in existence, while resembling the five toed Bigfoot closely, it retains a few distinguishing characteristics; another theory is that some soil conditions can cause the toes of Bigfoot to 'clump' together. The proportion of three toed tracks in comparison to the five toed tracks seems to indicate that three toes is the exception to the norm, and that it is the result of some environmental peculiarity. The main physical characteristics attributed to Bigfoot, other than size and foot shape, are that it is bipedal and upright, has wide shoulders and a heavy brow ridge. Its eyes are sometimes said to appear to be red in color, but are mainly reported as yellow. Although no discernible language has ever been placed with Bigfoot creatures, they are very vocal. Witnesses have reported high pitched wails and low, growling roars, either before and/or after visually spotting a Sasquatch. On some occasions the sounds have been heard from two or more locations at the same time, apparently in communication with one another. Another possible form of communication between Bigfoot is the use of rocks or wood to make banging noises. Quite a few reports associate the odd repetitive banging sounds with Bigfoot, and at times witnesses have heard the sounds from two spots in the woods, indicating communication, or warnings of some sort.

Some say the modern Bigfoot legend was born in America in 1958, when, in the Bluff Creek Valley region of California, a bulldozer operator named Jerry Crew discovered a series of sixteen inch long and seven inch wide footprints in the mud. The tracks literally covered the ground , they were everywhere. The tracks went up hills and down trenches, in place where man could not walk. Crew and his team had noticed the tracks like this for weeks, but for the first time, made a plaster cast. The truth is Bigfoot were sighted long before 1958. Almost all Native American cultures contain legends of creatures that closely resemble Bigfoot, and some reports indicate that early explorers saw these creatures also. Most 18th and 19th century sightings by Non-Native Americans refer to the creature as a wild man, or ape-man. They were seen up and down the east coast of the US and Canada, and the deeper into the frontier regions settlers moved, the move sightings occurred. Bigfoot almost never display aggressiveness behavior, and only one known case has contact with a Bigfoot resulted in death. There was a case of a Bigfoot abducting a man while he slept in his sleeping bag; in 1942 Albert Postman was on a prospecting trip at the head of the Tuba inlet, opposite Vancouver

Word Count: 669


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