Sunday, 22 April 2012

Why Witness Reports have Little Value

Witness reports are not a reliable source of information. The BFRO and many researchers/investigators have documented witness reports and present them as evidence. Let's consider how memory works, here is a quote from a 2010 Scientific American article:

The uncritical acceptance of eyewitness accounts may stem from a popular misconception of how memory works. Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall

In applying this to sasquatch sighting there are several characteristics that diminish the credibility of these reports:

  1. Witness who report sighting years later. Witness reports that are reported immediately after the sighting are more credible than sightings reported years later. When a witness waits years or decade to report their sighting their memory of the story is less likely to be accurate. The witness' imagination has potential to exaggerate, or otherwise construe their memory.
  2. Witness who are overly emotional when retelling the story decades after the sighting. This suggests they are exaggerating their experience. This possibly indicates that they are actively reconstructing the experience.
  3. Reports where there is a single witness. When the sighting happens alone the individual has potential to reconstruct the memory without dispute. With multiple witnesses there sorties can be cooperated.
  4. Witnesses with multiple sightings - Sasquatch are extremely rare. It is more probable that the witness' memory is flase than they have seen multiple Sasquatch.
Other potential considerations are:
  • Personality disorders - In mental health it is not unusual for people to lie and create elaborate stories to attract attention. Even for many psychologically healthy or borderline personality disorders getting a story published or even being listened to intently is enough motive for many people to fabricate a story.
  • Pre-conceptions - Expectations can influence interpretation of visual or auditory stimulus (Google the Red Panda Effect, or Duck-Rabbit Illusion). Potentially when someones sees a shadowy figure in the woods their interpretation of the shadow includes massive muscles, extremely tall, covered in hair....

The Ketcum DNA Study: Red Flags

If there is legitimate DNA evidence that sasquatch exist then this data (sequenced DNA) should be made public. This is an important discovery, if Melba Ketchum holds proof that sasquatch are real living creatures and has been withholding this information from the public then her behaviour is  immoral, regressive, and selfish. Geneticists, Anthropologists, Biologists, Zoologists, Physiologists, Physicians, ... need this data. The human species needs this data. If this data exists then it needs to be examined and interpreted by a variety of scientists AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

We shouldn't get our hopes up.

Red flags:
  • How could any rational person keep this hidden from scientists for years?
  • How can DNA samples (blood and tissue) be collected without getting an un-ambiguous photograph?
  • Hype, publicity created by Melba Ketchum's Facebook page. If the data is legitimate let the data speak for itself.
  • Delay in publishing results. Guy Edwards' 5 Stages of Big Bigfoot Announcement
  • There is no Geneticists, Anthropologists, Biologists, Zoologists, Physiologists publicly associated with the study.
  • Dr. Ketchum owns the lab where the samples are tested. This potentially is a conflict of interest.
The argument that Dr. Ketchum wants to protect sasquatch is weak. If they exist it is extremely difficult or apparently impossible to even get a good photograph of one. There has never been a confirmed case of a sasquatch being successfully hunted and killed. They do not need protection.

Having said all this there are some positive and encouraging signs coming from Dr. Ketchum's work and I hope she is successful in providing good evidence for the existence of sasquatch.