August 21, 2008 in City

Bigfoot discovery a scam? No news there

By The Spokesman-Review
 

That frozen Bigfoot corpse in Georgia turned out to be a shaggy rubber gorilla suit.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Quite frankly, I started losing faith a few days ago when the DNA test on the so-called Sasquatch came back as 96 percent from an opossum.

An Animal Kingdom expert I’m not. But I can tell you that “big feet” are not part of the opossum package.

So another Bigfoot bites the dust.

I’ll bet Grover Krantz is rolling in his grave.

That’s where my mind travels whenever I read a Bigfoot story. I think about the late WSU anthropology professor who put his academic credibility at risk because he was absolutely convinced that Bigfoot was real.

“Does Sasquatch exist?” Krantz echoed a reporter’s question in 1985. “Any reservations I have about it are in the order of will the sun rise in the east tomorrow.”

Krantz died of cancer in 2002 without ever proving the creature’s existence. He was 70.

He did enjoy a measure of fame that few achieve. For decades Krantz was the go-to source for Bigfoot news.

The reason for that isn’t so complicated.

Krantz, who had a doctorate, was probably the only Bigfoot-believing anthropology professor teaching at a major university.

We mongrels of the media love juicy twists like this.

It’s like finding a NASA scientist who believes in a flat Earth.

Or discovering a neurosurgeon who performs faith healing in his off hours.

Krantz gobbled up the notoriety, too. He gave lectures on Bigfoot. He went on Bigfoot hunts. One year he even organized a cryptozoology conference on the WSU campus to discuss “animals that have been reported but not proven to exist.”

Krantz was Ahab.

Bigfoot was the white whale.

WSU administrators were, well, highly mortified.

“A belief is an opinion held because it makes you feel good,” he once told me during an interview. “Once I decided (they) were real, I never wavered.”

That’s the trouble with True Believers. Once their minds are made up they won’t budge no matter how much reality you toss at them.

Take this Georgia rubber Bigfoot hoax. It’s hardly the first Sasquatch scam.

The same year that Krantz died, a story finally broke about the famous prank pulled by Ray L. Wallace.

It happened in 1958. Wallace, a man with a sense of humor, carved himself a set of large feet out of alder. Then Wallace and his brother, Wilbur, used them to make tracks all around a Humboldt County, Calif., construction site.

The shocking footprints were discovered by a bulldozer operator. The local newspaper caught wind of it. A legend was born.

“The fact is there was no Bigfoot in popular consciousness before 1958,” Mark Chorvinsky, editor of Strange magazine, told the Seattle Times in 2002. “America got its own monster, its own Abominable Snowman, thanks to Ray Wallace.”

But you’re not going to kill off Bigfoot with some fake feet or a rubber gorilla suit.

Not as long as there are people who want to believe in hocus-pocus so badly that they will swallow anything no matter how absurd or contrary to science.

Hey, I would gladly recant my skepticism if someone could simply prove that the critter exists. Until then, I’ll maintain a mock-and-run approach to lunatic myths like UFOs, crop circles and Bob Barr’s presidential chances.

I’ll believe in ESP the day I read a headline that says, “Psychic wins third Powerball in a row.”

And Bigfoot?

Sure. I’ll believe in Bigfoot.

The day the ghost of Grover Krantz brings him over to my home for lunch.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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