Not so long ago, one could have called me a dyed-in-the-wool, hard-core skeptic about cryptids.
Cryptids. You know Bigfoot, Yeti, the chupacabra, the Jersey Devil, the Dog Man, the Loch Ness Monster, the Mokele-mbembe and their ilk: fantastical beasts that allegedly lurk in the wild, windswept, lonely places beyond the lights.
As a student of history, well aware of the old sailing maps that once carried the legend “Here be Monsters” over the unexplored areas beyond the known ocean, I recognize in these fanciful horrors the psyche’s eternal trait of projecting its worst fears onto the unknown.
But of late, my wife’s late-night habit of surfing documentaries about such boogiemen and their like has changed my thinking, shuffling me from the “whatta load of crap” contingent into the “yeah, maybe, could be, I dunno,” camp.
Thing is, “I dunno” exactly how to take this. As of this writing, I’ve begun to change my thinking about Bigfoot. I still do not believe in the chupacabra, vampires or the Jersey Devil and am unlikely to do so, ever.
Or so I tell myself.
I tell myself, with a bit of pride, that what has nudged me closer to believing in Bigfoot are the plaster casts of giant feet culled from many a woodland. And all the renowned experts on human and ape anatomy who have declared that careful analysis of the image of an alleged beast walking along a river bank showed it could not possibly be a human being in an ape suit.
Or so I tell myself.
In 1999, I had the privilege of interviewing WSU Professor of Anthropology Grover Krantz, an acknowledged expert on Bigfoot, shortly before his death. He informed me that if anyone had faked a certain plaster cast of one of Bigfoot’s, well, big feet, that person would have had to know more about bones than he did.
“And ain’t no one knows more about bones than I do,” he told me.
All to say, I embrace only the logical, the scientifically verified. Seems harmless enough to accept at least the possibility that out there is some hitherto uknown form of hominid, right?
So I tell myself.
Ah, but then speaks a corresponding voice: “Yeah, bro, but that’s what crazies of all stripes tell themselves. See, they don’t know they’re crazy.”
I’ve got to wonder then: is my head going soft? Given this Bigfoot business, have I taken the critical step down to embracing all the crazy theories that now abound on the Internet? Do I now stand poised with one foot on the greased descent into the realm of the tinfoil-hatted?
And finally, will my days on Earth end with the pathetic image of an unshaven old man in a lobster bib, ranting and drooling on a street corner?
Jeez, I hope not.
You may be wondering why I’m harping on this topic. Well, it’s not really about Bigfoot.
Whenever I listen to someone who embraces out-there theories in general, theories about the deep state, about the Kennedy assassination, about the moon landing, I wonder, how does this guy differ from the genuinely paranoid? The guy who’s absolutely convinced everything is really out to get him? And moving on from there, to the person whose paranoia poses a potentially lethal harm to others?
With the advent of social media in recent years, it seems to me what I once naively assumed to be a great chasm separating the lucid from the lunatic has closed up a bit.
It’s hard to ignore that in contrast to past times, when only a comparative few may have embraced a given bit of craziness, the Internet has given given many lunatic ideas feet to run with and wings to fly.
With no consideration given to actual, bona-fide, tangible evidence, which makes my jaw hit the floor.
This is a terrifying development. In the hands of master manipulators, I shudder to think what may result. Then I remember, the master manipulators are already here, and they’re keen to manipulate technology to serve their ends
Wow, sounds a bit paranoid. Perhaps social media has softened me up via the process of Big Footing me. Very devious. I’d better be on the lookout.
Robert Whale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.