Finding Bigfoot, or something else?
I enjoy bad documentaries and spurious esoterica, particularly when they go together. Recently I’ve become a bit obsessed with the Animal Planet series Finding Bigfoot. On the one hand, it does exactly what is says on the tin - three ‘squatchers’ and one skeptical scientist go looking in various US states for Bigfoots (Bigfeets?). On the other hand it fails entirely - they never find Bigfoot. They find all sorts of other things though - cows, poachers, other squatchers, raccoons, a warm decomposing log etc etc.
And yet for all it’s comforting daftness, I find it fascinating. It tells me quite a lot about the country - I get to see a lot of rural America that you don’t really see elsewhere. It reminds us of the vastness of the country, that a lot of it is still pretty wild - I did not know that bears were quite that widespread. It shows me Indigenous people being talked to about their beliefs.
Perhaps most importantly, in this day and age when it can be so hard to know who to believe, it says a lot about evidence. That two people can see the same facts - or at least circumstantial evidence - and come to opposite conclusions. That if you want to see a Bigfoot then you’re more likely to see one. They spend a lot of time doing recreations - how tall was what you saw? How wide? And yet how can people remember this, often years after the event? Why don’t they go looking for physical evidence - like remains or droppings or that kind of thing?
And if all it would take for Ranae the sensible scientist to believe in Bigfoot is to see physical evidence of one, what would it take for the others to change their minds and not believe in Bigfoot anymore? The beliefs that they have constructed out of the evidence they have seen are very strong. But so is the Bigfooting - sorry, Squatching - community. We all need a community to belong to, so why not this one? And they get to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, taking in nature, which is always beneficial.
So there you have it, a daft but earnest programme has made me think. Admittedly I’m pretty skeptical about the existence of Bigfoot myself, but even if 99% of the sightings people report are hoaxes or misidentifications, what about the other 1%? Should we keep a window cracked open for the extraordinary to creep in?