Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by CA-BFRO Researcher, Bart Cutino. He is an unabashed, unapologetic member of The Bigfoot Research Organization, a diverse group of about 200 researchers and adventurers. He's also a member of the AIBR, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum and a co-founder of the Sierras Evidence Initiative.
As I get inundated with emails from family and friends who are mildly intrigued by the bigfoot phenomenon and mean well, congratulating me on the recent DNA press release (unfortunately picked up by the AP) I almost don’t know where to begin in explaining to them just how intimately familiar I am with what’s being proclaimed (without any substantiation) and by whom. For now, due to time considerations and trying to complete the written analysis on what little time I do have so I can release the recent thermal footage I obtained in the Sierras in late August, I’m admittedly giving a very simple and canned answer:
“I know exactly what’s happening, (have known for two years) know most of those who submitted samples in good faith and especially who funded the study (a special man & friend with the most honorable of intentions). But FYI, I have zero confidence in the purported study and believe the person running around announcing it publicly without any confirming data, has zero credibility. Don’t expect anything to come of this, including and especially an authenticated “paper” with replicable data.”
I’ll explain more later.
Why am I so firmly negative about what could be the “smoking gun” of a lifelong passionate pursuit you might ask? Because for starters you're asking the scientific establishment and the general public to accept the most improbable species (by perception with respect to viability) without a physical specimen; a tremendous ladder to climb. That’s not the problem however, that’s just stating the obvious. The problem is that the person climbing that ladder, rather you or I like it or not, by her decision to go public against her supposed own rules, is now representing all of us and happens to believe the biological species we pursue also happens to be fallen angels, has the ability to speak to her through her mind, suddenly frequents her property (only since her work began, mind you), braids the hair of her horses and essentially have thankfully allowed and even encouraged her to move forward in her work. Without having passed peer review, she’s demanding constitutional rights and protection now for an unrecognized species she’s drawing attention to…. by attempting to recognize them? Or… maybe she’s really not and just attempting to make us all believe she is?
Because of her and others before her and like her, we're all guilty by association of subject through the prism of the general public. That same general public resides in most of your households and doesn't have the time, interest or patience to make distinctions regarding the facts or players objectives. In their eyes, how many of these “bigfoot researcher/enthusiasts” can there possibly be and they must fit an extreme minority "blind believer" stereotype, like a small club of dreamers in unison. Of course in reality, this couldn’t be further then the truth as many of us involved with this subject matter are respectfully some of the most honest, diverse, educated, skeptical and objective persons on the planet. In addition, this is also the same general public by the way, where anywhere from less than a fifth to as much as a third of the population (dependent on parameters of various surveys and geographic location) believes these animals do exist, though the most common question still asked is, "is there only one," implying the name "bigfoot," a name absent of any plurality, gives the false perception that people like myself are running around the wilderness at night chasing one mythical animal with a perpetual lifespan.
The truth is, right now, based on the recent “announcement,” I'm actually embarrassed to be associated with this subject, but not at all for the reasons those outside bigfooting may suspect, as I sleep just fine at night since August 18th 2007, knowing from personal experience these animals are a biological reality and discovery and species recognition is inevitably around the corner. The question for many of you who understandably aren’t so sure (understatement) because collectively we’ve failed as researchers to give you much of a reason to be optimistic at this point is “how?” The question for me and many of my research peers and colleagues who’ve been fortunate enough to see one is, “when, where, who and how (“how” specifically referring to method).”
For clarification purposes and to bring everyone up to speed, the Sierra's shooting incident I’ve been investigating for a year and a half thanks to a damn good friend and researcher (Derek Randles) will either become forever anecdotal in nature or will be eventually corroborated through one or both of the two forms of physical evidence submitted, one of which, the “non-circumstantial” evidence (boots) will be processing soon and is solely in my custody and has been for 15 months. The other, is the “circumstantial” evidence (tissue) retrieved by the hunters in the snow by the attention of a bloodhound roughly a month after the purported shootings. This tissue sample is apparently a major component (“the centerpiece,” if you will) of Melba Ketchum’s purported study and has been processed by us (my Canadian partner Tyler Huggins and I, and with the persistence and support of Justin Smeja) independently, with two North American labs and nearing final status after 6 long months of waiting and constant back and forth communications.
I want to remind everybody, come hell or high water, the completed lab reports we expect to receive soon, are going to be shared as promised several months ago (when complete) by us in addition to all email communications through process and recommended protocols from our trials and errors (written by Tyler) which will not only be informative, but also serve as a roadmap for researchers to efficiently expedite and navigate the diagnostic process with contracted labs in the future. “If” those final determinations, which were performed by lab directors with impeccable resumes and reputations, don't happen to mirror Melba Ketchum’s findings (if we ever see them and they even exist) confirming the Sierra’s tissue as the human hybrid she claims, I suspect we’re going to have a little problem. Since Ketchum decided to go public without her results being appropriately validated through the peer review process, it will be her burden to justify and answer for any deviations that could potentially turn up in those findings.
Of course we’d hope she's right, but we’re not holding our breath based on her unprofessional behavior and lack of ethics through the entire process while many have anxiously waited for something substantial that was promised, including many with blind faith, emotional investment and optimism. What precipitated us unilaterally and independently testing around her for attempted unbiased examination in the first place was our lack of confidence in her from the beginning and her purported study (supposedly outsourced to multiple university labs) in which I have even less confidence now than when I began investigating this incident in July 2011. Just for the record, and as all my peers in this field can attest, I had no confidence in her when I began.
If her study results are eventually authenticated through the appropriate scientific channels, as passionate as I am, I’d be admittedly thrilled to see us one major hurdle closer to discovery and species recognition and she’ll deserve her own recognition for that accomplishment. After all, our intentions were never to discredit her but get the truth and share it, in a perfect world and personal feelings aside, we’d help substantiate her work and everybody wins. I’ll also be relieved and happy for those who worked with her in good faith and provided great samples (they put in a lot of work to obtain). However, the last thing I will be is regretful of never having been supportive of her, as I believe when we make decisions, the best any of us can do is take the information we’re privy to, assess it diligently and then react appropriately. No honest, rational person unwilling to compromise their principals would walk in my shoes the last year knowing what I do and not proceed exactly the way I’m proud to say we have… with extreme caution and commitment for the truth and not seduced by the ultimate prize or promise.
When final lab reports are received and both Tyler and I complete our summaries, we’ll announce it here through Shawn and you’ll be able to access everything (lab reports, emails, protocols etc…) on our newly formed, Sierras Evidence Initiative team site (www.sierrasiteproject.com).