When it comes to gathering information on the hidden world of the sasquatch, my feeling has long been that the most reliable and useful information does not come from eye witnesses, but from serious field researchers. The eyewitnesses seem to be understandably shocked by their unexpected sighting of a sasquatch, and this interferes with their ability to make focused observations. Virtually all eyewitness sightings are also brief, fleeting glimpses although there are certainly exceptions. Most witness also grapple with intense fear. They're more focused on getting out of there alive. It's a wonder such witnesse are able to gather any information at all with so much else on their mind. The habituation, or long term witnesses are the noted exception to this general pattern, which is one reason they are so valuable as sources of intel. Even in these cases, the role of the researcher is critical, for it is the researcher who must sort out the claims and overlay these claims onto a general picture of supposed sasquatch behavior. Then researcher has to make a judgment as to the authenticity of the creature descriptions, assuming there is no physical evidence. Finally, if the the info is seen as legitimate, the researcher hopefully passes the information along to the rest of us or otherwise publishes it in some way. Indeed, I am in awe of how much useful and detailed information some witnesses are able to provide to researchers, and how much we have learned about the sasquatch through this protracted process. Which brings us to a closer examination of the so called sasquatch researcher.
Since there is no test or certification that entitles one to be called a 'bigfoot researcher,' there is quite a wide variety of individuals who , like me, label themselves accordingly. As with bigfoot witnesses, there is no easy way of categorizing all bigfoot researchers, even though the word "delusional" is often used by the skeptics. In truth, there is quite an assortment of well-meaning but poorly organized research groups and individuals who try to provide some much-needed interpretation to the large body of sighting report information.
The more witnesses a researcher has interviewed, the better that researcher ought to be at identifying patterns, if there are inded any patterns to be found. As stated in the last one of these blog entries, the experiences and the biases of the researcher also influence the kind of information that is gathered from the witnesses. Specifically, the questions a researcher poses to the witness tend to reflect that researchers view on what the phenomenon entails. If one sees the sasquatch phenomenon as indication of wild ape-like animals, that view will be conveyed to the witness and the witness will very likely omit observations that differ greatly from this view. Conversely, if the reasearche favors paranormal interpretations of the phenomenon, they may explore that possibility in their questioning as well, even if the witness does not sugget it. I can certainly attest to this tendency from my own experience, which is why I value the interpretations of broadly based researchers like Henry Franzoni in Oregon and Tony Healey in Australia. They have seen and heard so many reports from so many places for so long that their biases, while not absent, are certainly tempered by the sometimes contradictory nature of the information they are given to understand. One thing I have learned from my contact with these broadly experienced reseachers: They have gradually come to realize that there is much more to the whole sasquatch phenomenon than meets the eye.
This does not mean every experienced researcher ultimately abandons the "flesh and blood" point of view in favor of something more paranormal. Personally, I also support the research efforts of folks like Cliff Barackman who see nothing paranormal at all in the bigfoot phenomenon. I even hope Cliff succeeds in his efforts to gather photographic evidence that will demonstrate that the sasquatch are simply North American great apes. It would certainly make this whole problem much simpler to understand.
I also have a lot in common with Cliff. I, too, began my pursuit of this phenomenon with this point of view. I worked the hidden camera angle for years, beginning in 1996. Back then, I knew of nobody else who was even using game cameras in the bigfoot arena. I wired my own forested property with video cameras after we dismantled the system we instralled in the wood near Onalaska, WA.
Although my own position has evolved, I still exchange information and ideas with with those like Cliff who continue to work the cameras and who heavily favor the 'flesh and blood' point of view. Then there are the folks who play both sides of the street. They see the merit in the 'flesh and blood' point of view but they do not shun the paranormal possibilities either. All they know is that they don't know, so they listen to and look for information of all kinds.
One researcher who embodies this well rounded, highly experienced, yet flexible field approach is Virginia-based researcher William Dranginis. As far as I'm concerned, Bill is the world's foremost authority on remote camera use in bigfoot research. No one I know of has devised more ingenious camera systems, and spent more time deploying them than Bill. His emphasis on these camera systems pretty much identifies Bill as as card-carrying member of the 'flesh and blood' camp. Paranormal advocates seldom use cameras. They generally feel that the sasquatch are too wily to ever be fooled by hidden cameras, and in any case they feel the sasquatch are adamantly opposed to being photographed. While I am genereally of this opinion, I still love tinkering with cameras, so I am very interested in what guys like Bill are doing and what they are learning when they do put out the cameras.
The most interesting thing about Bill is that even as he does the cutting edge camera work that typifies the 'flesh and blood' point-of-view, he is very conversant in matters of shamanism, telepathy, and other slightly spiritual matters that would ordinarily relegate a researcher to the paranormal 'loony bin.' Like Henry Franzoni and Tony Healey, Bill is as expereinced as they come, so when Bill Dranginis talks, I listen.
A couple weeks ago, Bill Dranginis talked. He read my blog post entitled "Spy vs. Spy" that discussed The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel's seminal volume on paranormal research. John Keel is now dead, but in his lifetime he was a seasoned reporter who investigated some decidedly paranormal events as thoroughly as anyone, ever. Bill e-mailed me because he thought I would be intereted in one particular conversation he once had with John Keel about the sasquatch. I was indeed very interested. As far as I was concerned, John Keel was The Man; the guru on the mountaintop. Bill was offering to share with me information gathered from one of the most reilable and experienced researchers of them all. If experience meant anything, then words from Keel, by way of Dranginis, would be something I could take to the bank.
In the end, this elevated view I had of John Keel just heightened the turmoil I expereince when Bill finally told me exactly what Keel had told him. It was definitely not what I wanted to hear, nor was it what I expected to hear. Indeed, after I read Keel's words by way of Bill Dranginis, the futility of all field-based sasquatch research suddeenly seemed more apparent than ever. I will share this info with you anyway, since it is from as relaible and informed a source as you are ever going to get. But be ready for the fact that, if you're into cameras and photographic evidence like I am, it is definitely not good news.
Bill was kind enough to allow me to share his entire e-mail with everyone \who reads this blog post, so here goes:
I called and left a message on your phone Saturday, I hope I had the
right number. I'll go ahead and tell you about my talk with Mr. Keel now, just in
case I get hit by a bus tomorrow.
A , Sandy Sheppard was good friends with Mr.
Keel when she lived in New York City. Sandy was a VIP in the New York
Society circles as she came from an extremely wealthy family and was very
interested in the paranormal. She worked with Rockefellers concerning
UFO's and she also financed the "Disclosure Project". The 'DP' was the first
comprehensive effort to assemble military personnel, aircraft pilots, and
others to disclose their eyewitness information while being recorded. She
did this work with Dr. Stephen Greer and she gave me the full set of VHS
recordings as well as the transcripts. Sandy also financed the
X-Conference at the in Washington DC.
I met Sandy at a Fort Fest in Maryland in 2003 and we seemed to share many
interests including Bigfoot. Sandy even accompanied me on a number of
investigations including one you wrote about in the Locals. Her name was
Genelle from Southern Virginia. There is an incredible story behind that
meeting. We’ll need to talk about that one some other time. During one of
our many conversations, Sandy and I discussed the Mothman and I asked
Sandy if Mr. Keel had any thoughts about Bigfoot. She smiled and said why
don't you give him a call and ask? I explained I didn't know Mr. Keel and
didn't even think his number was public. Within seconds, she wrote out his
phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to me and said to call him
after she sets up a time. She called me a few days later and gave me the
time which I could call so I did. I still could not believe I had a
landline call into a New York apartment where Mr. Keel lived, who would
Mr. Keel answered the phone with a simple hello. I thanked him for his
time and quickly told him of my sighting with the two FBI Agents and how
I had become so interested in seeing the creatures again. I continued to
tell him about the camera systems I developed but still didn't have any
video of them. He cut in and started talking about how he had also
researched the Bigfoot creatures for a short time. It was somewhat
satisfying that he had also conducted some of the same type eyewitness
interviews that I had. Towards the end of our conversation he recommended
that I stop trying to find these creatures and that my camera systems and
other techniques would prove futile. He said they are not of this earth
and I would be wasting my time by continuing with the search and I will
never find them. He also mentioned that during the search you will think
you are getting closer to solving the mystery only to find out your
farther away. Sometimes I think he was right, but I continue with this
search because it is part of my journey through life.
I asked him about one scene in the where Richard Gere
ripped the phone wires out of the wall but the voice was still heard on
the phone. Mr. Keel said that did happen to him when he was conducting
research years ago.
I hope this email gets to you as who knows what powers “they” have!
Hope all is well.
So there it is folks: some pretty usettling news straight from the horse's mouth. I say 'unsettling' only because it it would be easier to dismiss it than take it seriously. If one does accept Keel's expertise in this area, it forces us to drastically reconsider the whole 'flesh and blood' position, as well as any hope of getting photographs or other compelling eveidence that could be presented to a skeptical public. Not only that, but it violates the cardinal rule that Loren Coleman and many others have long used to dismiss any paranormal interpretations of the sasquatch phenomenon: "Scientifically, you aren't allowed to explain a mystery with a mystery."
Sorry, Loren, but John Keel just wiped his feet all over your rule.
With all of this in mind, I would like to now direct the reader to go back one blog post on this site and read the comments posted by readers to "The Coconut Telegraph", specifically the one posted by "dede95064" in which she cites "The Law of One Sessions," whatever that is. The passages Dede quotes sounds like stuff someone channeled from some sort of 'voice from beyond' named "Ra". It is the sort of stuff that all card-carrying 'flesh and blood ' bigfooters ridicule. But it does mirror many elements of the stuff John Keel was saying. Mind you, Dede's comments were posted on this blog before I shared any of this story.
I guess if I'm going to be a good little scientist, even in my pursuit of such non-scientific matters as bigfoot, I must go where the path leads me, even if I don't like where it takes me. When it comes to my mission of gathering better bigfoot evidence, the problem with John Keel's path is that he leads me right into a friggin' brick wall.
Since I don't like the John Keel's message maybe I'll just tell myself that John Keel wasn't such an authority on bigfoot after all.
I mean, if I don't like the message, can't I just kill the messenger, instead? I guess not. He died two years ago. Rest in peace, John Keel.
A special thanks to Bill Dranginis at www.VirginiaBigfootResearch.org for the inspiration and the fantastic material!