The message read like so many others I’ve received over the years; hoping to lure my attention from of the innate security of doubt, its author began with an appeal to, and an acknowledgement of the disbelief that generally resonates with such stories.
“I understand when people have reservations about a large biped allegedly unknown to science,” it began. The author, a gentleman named Graeme, went on to describe an encounter he and several others had back in 1992, where they observed a large, black colored, muscular biped figure, “running at high speed over extremely difficult terrain with absolute ease up and down the same area on a steep hillside.”
The witness described that the incident was, at the time, “totaly unbelievable,” but that he and all the hikers present with him witnessed the strange feats performed by this uncanny figure.
Like so many stories about Sasquatch that have cropped up over the years, the encounter related here shares a number of common traits. Namely, a group of individuals encountering something appearing almost human, though perhaps with certain impressive physical traits that extend beyond the capabilities of the average man or woman.
It differs, however, in that the encounter retold here, rather than stemming from the remote wilds of the American Pacific Northwest, occurred in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands.
From time to time, strange stories like these are reported in the British Isles. A similar story was shared by Charmaine Fraser, as related recently in the UK’s The Courier, where she described her childhood encounter with such a beast several decades ago in a wooded stretch near Carmyllie:
“I came across a ‘thing’ on the track. It was terrifying — a big black monster, just standing there. It was standing looking at a branch. I stood and stared at it and then screamed. It started to turn around and I ran. No one believed me but years after I came across a documentary called Finding Bigfoot and a lot of what they were talking about matched my experience. I didn’t jump to conclusions but started researching — most of the sightings were in America, but slowly I started finding that people had seen big, dark creatures in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
The problem stories like these present is obvious: how, in an area as well populated and geographically limited as the United Kingdom could creatures like Sasquatch remain hidden? The same question is asked of the American encounters where, admittedly, the amount of remote woodland might at least still offer hope that a reclusive species could successfully remain hidden up until the present day. But how are we to rationalize similar reports in the United Kingdom, where the population, space limitations, and other factors would make it virtually impossible for such creatures to stay hidden?
Last year, Nick Redfern addressed this same problem in his article, “The Absurdities of Cryptozoology,” where he showcased the seeming impossibility of various cryptid reports, though without altogether dismissing the testimony of those who have claimed to have such experiences. In Nick’s own words:
It’s one thing to talk about Sasquatch in the Pacific northwest forests, the Yeti in the vast Himalayas, or the Yeren in China. But what about Bigfoot in the land I grew up in: the UK? I can tell you, for sure, that the UK is overflowing with reports of Bigfoot. I know, as in 2007 I wrote a book on the subject of the British Bigfoot. Its title:Man-Monkey.
The reports from the British witnesses are no less credible than those from the United States, or from the aforementioned China or the Himalayas. People in the UK tell their stories in lucid, level-headed fashion. But (and here comes that word again…) it’s 100 percent absurd to think that colonies of Bigfoot could live in somewhere so small as the UK. But people see them – regularly, too. The reports aren’t in the dozens, they are in the hundreds.
What is the root of this phenomenon? In other words, how can it be that so many reports continue to persist, even in the least likely localities around the globe? I share Nick’s frustration in trying to understand what this all means, and attempting to find a way to rationalize the apparent phenomenon, without going down the way of negative skepticism, and calling all of the alleged “experiencers” liars (something I’ll never do, and which frankly, I think is entirely unwarranted… though it remains a common practice among many modern skeptics).
For sake of trying to rationalize the problem at hand, here I’ll hope to produce a series of hypothetical scenarios, which we might use to begin constructing a general theorem, or perhaps a combination of two or more, that look at the most likely explanation of such phenomena. They are as follows:
1) People really are just lying, although as I’ve already emphasized, I find it unnecessary to engage in intellectual assassination of witnesses, or to otherwise assume that they’re all being dishonest about their experiences. We must nonetheless consider that there will always be individuals who, for one reason or another, fabricate stories about experiences they retell as fact; this may occur under a variety of circumstances, and for a number of reasons, which may include a general desire for acceptance within a social group (i.e. paranormal organizations or conferences).
2) Delusions caused by mental health issues, where the dishonesty may not be intentional deception at all, but nonetheless represents a falsehood, which the individual interprets as a real-life occurrence.
3) Misidentification of prosaic experiences, which may include observation of distant hikers, wildlife, or other things, which are then misinterpreted by the witness. This kind of experience may have underlying psychological influences that include exposure to literature or other media, which may help foster a belief that such creatures as Sasquatch do exist.
4) Valid observations of undocumented species would be among the most challenging of these possibilities (particularly in a location like the UK), though the possibility should not be excluded entirely.
6) Hoaxes should not be ruled out either, since otherwise valid reports or observations might, in some instances, be explained through the work of merry pranksters.
7) Sociological/Other Phenomenon which might contribute to understanding a phenomenon like Sasquatch, and rather than merely in the UK, but in a variety of locations around the world, is perhaps the most deeply complex of the scenarios we’ve outlined. Much like the “clown panic” occurring in the United States right now, could there be a societal influence behind reports of mystery creatures? Or, could there be an evolutionary component, in that there is some aspect of the human mind that relates the apparent observation of a mystery animal to being a literal, physical experience? In other words, what if these kinds of observations represent some psychological vestige of our evolutionary past, which operates on an unconscious level? Or, to appease the proponents of the latest flavor of the month, the all-too-suddenly popular “simulation hypothesis”, could the appearances of anthropomorphic apelike creatures simply be “glitches in the matrix?”
Any of the explanations in this final category might be labeled “paranormal”, in the sense that they fall well outside our accepted notions about the human mind and its function, social structures in our society, and rational observations of the physical world. I have also excluded from these categories what we might call “traditional” paranormal theories like entities which traverse space-time by leaping into our reality from another dimension, as well as ghosts of our long-extinct protohuman ancestors, and the classic “alien pets” dropped off on Earth by flying saucers. With no reliable evidence of similar phenomena (i.e. proof of aliens, dimensional gateways, ghostly apparitions, etc), it is harder to rationally consider this collection of “fringe” ideas.
I realize my words here will incite the fury of many longtime paranormal devotees. However, keep in mind that it is not my intention to exclude all such ideas entirely. Rather, it is my hope to build a logical foundation for understanding the broader “man-beast” phenomenon, and work our way up in an evidence-based fashion, which does not retreat in to skeptical “Denalism”… or to put it bluntly, a willful rejection of all evidence, even that which may represent good data. Hence, it is my contention that we must begin with the most likely scenarios, of which hoaxes, misidentification, delusions, and yes, perhaps the presence of some physical creature, all remain the firmest possibilities.
Where does all this leave us, at the end of the day? It seems that we often find ourselves asking this question, when we really commit ourselves to a deeper analysis of the facts at hand. As Nick Redfern, and plenty of others have argued, there appears to be no simple explanation at hand for the enduring appearances of mystery beasts like Sasquatch… even in such geographically confined areas as the United Kingdom. How then do we explain the persisting reports, and does their presence indeed call for a greater interest in seemingly unrelated psychological, sociological, or even paranormal phenomena?