Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by David Batdorf, a Sasquatch enthusiast that is interested in taking an anthropological, bird's-eye-view of the phenomenon and an advocate for species protection. Basically, he's a Bigfoot nerd.
Such importance and credibility has been placed upon the involved members of the scientific community, Dr. Meldrum, Dr. Krantz, Dr. Bindernagle, et al, that it would seem logical to assume that we should want to employ their profession’s methods... or to, at least, be able to communicate and share your evidence with the afore mentioned, in an intelligent and useful manner.
In this article, I hope to outline how ANYONE can use the tools outlined in “the scientific method” and explain the standards of research that are demanded by the scientific community in order to affectively communicate your findings to the appropriate subjective authorities.
What you will need and the order in which they should appear:
1. A PROBLEM TO ADDRESS: The existence of Sasquatch and other similar creatures around the world is not accepted, at this point... so, keep it simple and don’t get ahead of yourself, please. Wether you’ve seen one or have a deep belief in the subject, the fact of the matter is that, in scientific terms... this is highly problematic. A problem that should be the starting point of everyone’s research.
2. SOME QUESTIONS: These questions should be based upon, but not necessarily limited to, the type of information you would expect to find in documentation on a known species (diet, range, habitat(s), behavior, etc...). Since there is no scientifically recognized or verified information about the Sasquatch, the door is totally open to formulating questions that we all have and ask, regularly.
- An appropriate question would be: “What does Sasquatch eat?” versus “Do Sasquatch eat Deer?” The latter is a hypothesis, posed as a question and we have not yet reached this stage.
- Questions should remain very basic and not leapfrog or assume missing data, even if you are fairly certain you have reached the answer or a conclusion.
- If you intend to find answers to questions that assume or rely on previous, unverified data, you may be overreaching and tainting the rest of the process.
3. BACKGROUND RESEARCH: This is a problem in this subject. Using “anecdotal” “circumstantial” and “coincidental” claims, as data, is allowed in this process... However, because of the fact that this topic has ZERO recognized, scientific data, it may be best to start from scratch.
- If at some point, data becomes recognized or is more that “anecdotal”, it can be drawn into this process, without concern.
- My suggestion is to take the info available, go through the next two steps and reformulate a hypothesis, specific to observations in the course of your field research. Let your initial observations be your background research.
- Leaving out the spurious, unconfirmed data may actually make your conclusions more palatable to those whom you will later submit your findings.
4. A (testable) HYPOTHESIS: Here is where we can get a bit more specific, however, if you become too specific... you may lose the ability to create a “testable” hypothesis and find yourself making an “untestable” or “conclusive” statement, predicated on unverified data. A testable hypothesis should be nonspecific enough that it doesn’t lead one, prematurely, to a conclusion, but something that can easily lead you to answering a portion of your generic question.
- A hypothesis should simply be a thoughtful suggestion for how to answer a potion of your basic question and be flexible enough to follow the subsequent data in any direction, without being in conflict with or dependent upon the overall problem being true.
- An example of an appropriate hypothesis to test (that I actually intend to use), based on the question: “What does Sasquatch eat?”, would be: “Because, Sasquatch has been described as an Apelike Primate that inhabits the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, the most reasonable analog for diet to examine is, in fact, ourselves, as the only known North American Primate. The human primate has evolved the reliance on a cooked diet, whereas, other known primates have not. One could assume that our diets would, at points, intersect and should include, but not be limited to, any foods that are edible, raw by modern humans. Therefore, food and foraging habits of the aboriginal tribal peoples should be examined.”
- Your initial hypothesis should be a null hypothesis, or most “likely scenario”, given the current data. The more documented and accepted data that you draw from, the better. In the case of the above hypothesis, I assume that Native Americans and other, more contemporary “foragers” may be the best analog for discerning an intersecting portion of the Sasquatch diet, as we have some basis for assuming this.
- Without a stated hypothesis, you cannot corroborate or debunk a clear and poignant statement and and are taking “stabs in the dark”. Also, your findings could be considered “circumstantial” or “coincidental”.
- A correct hypothesis should be open ended and require further steps in the process or solve a problem and be flexible to the data, not intent on completely satisfying the generic question, from which it stemmed.
5. AN EXPERIMENT: Once you have developed a “testable” hypothesis, the next step is to outline the steps, by which, you feel you can best collect data to prove or disprove your null hypothesis.
- In my particular experiment, the target subject is not Sasquatch. The raw edible plants and animals in the area will be the target. The goal would be to attach Sasquatch to one or more of those food sources, by identifying the subject food sources and ascertain what has been eating them. Nothing more.
- I will not need any high-tech gadgets, like FLIR imagers, trail cams, etc... Only enough to document the findings of the specific research (wether it is Bear, Deer or any other creature). A couple field guides, notepad/pencil and camera should be sufficient.
- If you cannot design an experiment to find truth or fault in your hypothesis, you have not created a “testable” hypothesis and should rethink your research.
6. OBSERVATIONS: Documentation is an important aspect of research, when using the scientific method. Without documentation or corroborating data, any findings can be rendered useless and the researcher will be forced to start over. Use the tools you have and remember, there is no such thing as over-documentation... even if a particular subject does not bare fruit.
- Be sure to identify, entertain and rule out ALL the other options. It is your job to corroborate or debunk each observation and to document the process.
- Attempt to attribute your observations to other sources, first. Then explain why that is false.
7. REPEATED OBSERVATIONS: This is the MOST important step in this process!!! Whatever data you are able to gain in the field, must be recreated... and an important thing to remember when developing hypothesis and/or experiments is to assure you are striving for data that is not only “testable, but also, “repeatable”!
- For example: In my above hypothesis and experiments, if I were to find corroborative evidence that Sasquatch was feeding upon a particular species of plant(s)... even though it may be a great or small portion of their diet, my next goal would be to develop a more specific hypothesis, based on my observations and subsequently, shift my research to follow the data and repeat and corroborate them.
- This may seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but once the data has been corroborated and submitted (the next step), anyone, including myself, can extrapolate/expand upon your observations.
8. A CONCLUSION: Keep conclusions reasonable, short and simple. Following the ongoing example, if I were to find and document repeated evidence that the Sasquatch in my area were eating Horsetails, through whatever means or sign... the only conclusion that I could reasonably draw is: “There is an unknown animal, that fits the description of a Sasquatch, that is eating Horsetails in my research area”.
- It is important that you acknowledge that the existence of Sasquatch is not recognized, but it CAN be duly noted that the description fits documented, “anecdotal” claims, with regard to morphology, etc...
9. A PLATFORM FOR SUBMISSION: This is where the respected members of the scientific community that I mentioned above can begin to get involved and share your excitement, because:
- You chose a format that is submittal to their peers for scrutiny or review.
- You did your due diligence to prove or disprove your findings.
- You can put all the subsequent steps and/or branches of your experiments into a readable format and potentially, a paper could be drafted and put through the scientific paces and who knows? Maybe, even be accepted... this all depends on the data, I suppose.
10. SCRUTINY/ACCEPTANCE: Using the above steps is the only way to have your data appropriately scrutinized and possibly, accepted by the scientific community... and if this is what you are after, then I suggest you take a look at this process, as abbreviated as it may be.
If after applying the above, with diligent observations and a solid and reasonable conclusion, the scientific community is unwilling to address the data... the problem is a prejudicial scientific community and not the impossibility of a viable, extant Sasquatch species.
...to all those that currently decry the scientists for their unwillingness to take a “fair” look at this subject, ask yourself this...
“Have we really tried speaking their language and using the rules of their process???”