Monday, August 27, 2018

Althea Photo Hoaxer Exposed In Record Time Thanks to Remarkable Team Work!

The verdict is totally in. When confronted with facts, the hoaxer confessed ( and it wasn't me!)   While it is on the one hand, disappointing, it is also gratifying that there is such a strong pool of experience and analytical thinking in this collection of individuals called the sasquatch research community.
    It only took 18 hours for the collaborative efforts of alert readers to assemble three principal reasons to doubt the authenticity of the photo. One person texted me and pointed out the lack of time stamp on the photo.  While my early days with camera traps got me used to not having time stamps, especially back when we loaded actual film into the camera traps, times have changed and any more modern camera trap should show time, date, and manufacturer of the camera on every digital photo.  "Why is that important?" you ask. Because it means that the photo was taken on a phone or digital camera but not a camera trap.  Dave E., the guy who gave me the photo, was under the impression that the photo was taken on a camera trap.  At least, that is what he was told. This, of course, suggests that someone is not being truthful.
     That alone is not a huge deal, but it was the first reason to take another look.  More helpfully, a reader using the moniker “Digby” helpfully submitted the observation that he was seeing a certain similarity to a Sasquatch costume sold at Party City, a large costume chain, and the features seen in the photo. My good friend Suzanne then involved her engineer/husband Bernie Ferencak,, to do a little photo-shopping using Digby’s observation as a basis.  Boom. Here is what Bernie came up with:
The inserted photo on the right is Bernie's copy from of a  costume (photo provided by Adam Bonkers Bird), and of course, it is a really close match to the photo.  Indeed, the photo Bernie lifted may even be the same image that was used to contrive the photo I was given.  I then sent the pair of images Bernie created to Dave and suggested he confront his friend who was claiming to have personally obtained the photo. To his credit , Dave was very prompt and candid in his reply:
     "Wow, I just talked to him and he finally admitted that he got this off Instagram. Needless to say, I am very pissed and very disappointed. I apologize to you for defending this, but I truly trusted him and the location matched his perfectly. This probably ruined my relationship with him but this doesn't explain my other friend seeing the same being since they don't know each other and she had never seen the photo until she shared her sighting with me. Again, I am indeed sorry, Thom. I really thought I could trust him. Thank you for making me get to the truth with him."
     So, it seems, my acquaintance was conflicted in the usual way: He had other valid experiences that indicated that there was a reality to the sasquatch phenomenon, but then his view was challenged by another friend who had no problem with being a liar. Unfortunately for Dave, he did not have access to the analytical minds that I do.
    First let me also offer my own apology for generating excitement and interest that did not pan out.  Second, may I express gratitude that my circle of fellow researchers is so deep.  I am especially grateful to Higby, Suzanne and Bernie Ferencak, Adam Bonkers Bird, Doug Hajicek, Daniel Perez, Thomas Wilson, Richard Soule, Ron Morehead, and whomever else I am neglecting to mention.  Between the lot of us, it took us less than 18 hours to get to the bottom of the ruse.  Considering the fact that some historic hoaxes went on for years before being day-lighted, it represents some remarkable teamwork. Thank you all.
     Now lets look at what I learned:
     I sat on the photo for three weeks before publishing it, and shared it privately with many folks. The consensus seem to be that it had merit. I was certainly hopeful and positive, based on my interaction with Dave E, and gratified that no one wanted money or attention.  I was a bit concerned that the ultimate source did not want to be known, but it seemed reasonable, so I "went to press" and published on this blog.  What is most impressive is how collegial everyone was in offering not just opinions, but facts and observations based on countless years of experience.  It does seem that the community of sasquatch researchers has matured greatly since the days of the Four Horsemen.  Nastiness and vituperation are gone; replaced by analytical thinking and raw experience. While I am also embarrassed, as is Dave, to find that my initial endorsement was wrong, I cannot help but be gratified by the collegiality and team work that ultimately exposed the truth of the matter.
     Allow me to also reiterate one point I made in yesterday's post that seems to be supported here:
The sasquatch do know about cameras and they do not want to be photographed.  The biggest problem I had with the photo is the fact that I knew this in my heart of hearts, yet the photos seemed to suggest otherwise. I wanted the photo to be genuine, even though I had a strong reason to doubt that a sasquatch would allow itself to be photographed. True, Patty was filmed and the Patterson-Gimlin footage of 1967 IS the real deal, but since that fateful day, the sasquatches themselves seems to (in my humble opinion) have learned a lesson and become more averse than ever to being photographed or filmed. In light of this, the picture in my possession seemed too good to be true, and guess what? It was.
     I, for one, stopped deploying camera traps a long time ago.  Still, I do not disparage or discourage others who still put them out in the woods.  Heck, I hope they succeed, even as I inwardly doubt that they will. But who am I to rain on someone else's parade?
     Anyway, it has been an interesting week.  My sense of embarrassment is offset by my renewed faith in the sasquatch researcher community.  This experience has greatly heightened my opinion of my fellow sasquatch researchers. I am a lot smarter than I was a few days or weeks ago, and I hope others are, too, and I am also prouder than ever before to be a part of this thing called the sasquatch research community.  I will also sleep a bit better, secure in the knowledge that my fellow researchers "got my back".


  1. Hey Thom!
    Well I was at work all day and came home to find the mystery cleared up ... that WAS fast! I am happy to have helped in a small way, thanks for the shout-out!
    My name is Ben Schneider by the way, I live in south Indiana. Never seen the big guy but I've been interested all my life and enjoy following the ups and downs of Bigfoot news. Although this one turned out to be fake, I think it's neat how an online community all sort of pitched in to help get to the bottom of it.
    Keep up the good work, we love what you do!

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