The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Can You Satiate The Pseudo Sceptics?

by guest blogger Matthew J Didier, PSICAN

I cannot lie... I was going to write a rather questionable post denying the existence of a person named Antonietta Pasqualicca, age 16... and I ended up deleting it.

I went into great lengths to describe her as obviously fiction as I had no body, no DNA, no evidence save some questionable documents and vague witness testimony, yada, yada, yada... and then reveal that she was a victim of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

It was too much... because, indeed, I used all the language and terminology by those who frequently blast the concept of cryptozoology as ridiculous... and noting how the same arguments did work on this poor girl thus "proving" she didn't exist.

I assure everyone reading, she did exist... and the tragedy she suffered in was horrible... and I apologise for even using what I have here to "illustrate" my point... because I wish I could find something better... and I'm glad I toned down my missive.

Basically, when I look into much of cryptozoology, I'm reminded of what the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said... "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Overwhelmingly I find myself, when looking into the study of strange creatures, hearing about how people are wasting their time over silly things... until something like a Okapi turns up or the discovery of the fossil of Homo floresiensis and then... what do we hear from those so-called sceptics?

Do we hear, "Hmm. Perhaps we should keep looking into these things." or even "Well, that puts things in a new light!"


What we usually hear is how THOSE instances are rare and obviously self evident... and those looking into odd sighting of strange creatures are still effectively laughable "woo-woos" to use the vernacular of the pseudo-sceptics.

The question then is... How much evidence or "proof" do these people require to remove their imposed stigma on these topics?

Long ago, I put the question to (then) chair of Skeptics Canada, Eric McMillan, and he said something rather interesting...

Any proof or evidence is enough. Any evidence to support a claim is viable proof.

...apparently, outside of witness testimony, mind you. (Granted, one must allow for the clouding of perception with testimony, but it still stands.)

Basically, the demand is for empirical evidence... and yes, that's a good thing and a worthy goal... and what most cryptozoologist, be they researchers or "in the field" investigators, are aiming for.

However, let's say someone produces a living (or corpse of a) Sasquatch and it's examined and looked over by a reliable and accredited university. What do you believe the pseudo-sceptics would do or say?

My personal belief, based on past experience, would be deafening silence... followed by a litany of "reasons" why THIS creature and this evidence couldn't POSSIBLY be what we were looking for because of {fill in this space for whatever you need... Wrong location? Wrong colour? Wrong size? Wrong diet? Odd DNA?} and that indeed, cryptozoologists are still "woo-woos"... because REAL zoologists have saved the day!

Don't believe me? I have some wonderful articles from so-called (big named) sceptical circles absolutely laughing at the hypothesis of panspermia... who did a one-eighty when NASA found evidence to support the hypothesis.

My point of all of this is simple. If you're sceptical of these things, think hard, are you a sceptic, or a non-believer? The latter will never accept anything as evidence and never concede, even in the face of hard data, that perhaps some of these mysterious sighted creatures exist.

If you're a cryptozoologist, either in the field or the library, don't waste your time, energy, or treasure on non-believers. They have a faith and you will never shake them from it.

The true (doubting) sceptics, however, might be helpful in simply answering one question...

What is required to make this field of study more than just something some people giggle at?

Like I said, the non-believers will always blurt out about "Extraordinary Claims" and "Extraordinary Evidence"... the real sceptical person will simply say any claim requires evidence, but a hypothesis can be entertained without mockery.


  1. Spot on! The only "science" more laughable than the pursuit of the unknown is the false notion that *is* empirical science. The most convoluted, corrupt & stagnation prone scientific institution on the planet. You want cutting edge scientific discovery? Then stick with the real scientists that do the REAL WORK, and not the empirical halls that waft the stale stench of pseudo scientific condemnation and ridicule. They are utterly useless apart from political divisiveness and a bit of personal pocket lining. Keep up the good work that is the pursuit of the unknown and good old DISCOVERY BASED SCIENCE. We really do need that stuff. Without as much, we'd all most likely be sharing a fresh killed meal by the cozy fire of our favorite cave dwelling.

  2. 'What is required to make this field of study more than just something some people giggle at?'

    Currently, pseudo-skepticism is subsidized by the status quo.

    Consider Randi. He is a showman, and he knows how to work the existing media complex for publicity.

    Likewise, Dawkins made a bit of cash from selling very badly written books outside his field of expertise in order to cash in on publicity.

    However, media technology keeps changing. A more participatory approach to media will tend to level the playing field. This will mean more honest skeptics will have a chance to do it themselves instead of just relying on a supposed "expert."

    As more skeptics do their own investigations, more of them will admit the truth - that unusual phenomena do indeed happen.