Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not Such A Great Day To Be Credulous

Image credit: The 20 Best & Worst Villains of All Time — Part 1: The Worst by Eric David Even

[That image just never gets old, does it?]

I'm sure most of P.T. Barnum's favorite demographic will get over it, but at least a few of the more cognizant ones had to feel some disappointment today. C/Net's Chris Matyszczyk puts the matter succinctly:

Live beings do not have rubber feet.

Bigfoot website stuns the world: "It was a hoax"

I can't say for sure that Mayszczyk is right, but I've never met one that did. One thing's for sure, primates don't have 96 percent opossum DNA:

One of the two samples of DNA said to prove the existence of the Bigfoot came from a human and the other was 96 percent from an opossum, according to Curt Nelson, a scientist at the University of Minnesota who performed the DNA analysis.

Bigfoot creatures are said to live in the forests of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. An opossum is a marsupial about the size of a house cat.

Scientist Says Bigfoot Fails DNA Test

The C/Net article includes a humorous narrative on how a "bigfoot hunter" defrosted and then examined the deep freeze that contained what, not too surprisingly, turned out to contain a gorilla suit. It then continues:

Subsequently, Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton, the two Georgian non-hunting hikers who claimed they had happened upon Bigfoot's body, allegedly admitted their sleight of mouth.

Mr. Kulls added: "The motives behind this fraud are still unknown at this time. It is still unclear why Whitton who, being a police officer for the Clayton County Police Department in Georgia got up before the world and lied and was complicit in a scheme to defraud in a felonious manner."

Bigfoot website stuns the world: "It was a hoax"

[emphasis mine]

Yes, a police officer committed a fraud, and one that was rather easily exposed. What he was thinking may remain a mystery. The basic motive was pretty obvious, though:

It was also revealed that Mr Biscardi paid an "undisclosed sum" to Mr Whitton and Mr Dyer as an advance on the returns expected from the "marketing and promotion" of the Bigfoot discovery announcement.

FoxNews.com reported the sum was rumoured to be $US50,000 ($57,000).

Loren Coleman, who runs Cryptomundo - a website devoted to cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals - said the whole scam appeared to be about money.

Bigfoot Nothing But a Rubber Costume

I suspect that we'll find some hidden gambling debts or some other desperate need for more money than a police officer makes in a year. I should have warned you, dear reader, I'm sure after the shock of this being a hoax, finding out this was perpetrated by a policeman has probably given you vertigo.

To me, the only odd thing about this episode is that it was "bigfoot hunters" who exposed this scam, rather than more traditional sources of of debunking. I have to congratulate them, though. Not everyone knows about the rubber feet thing.

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