As far as evidence supporting the existence of Bigfoot goes, nothing has seen so much laud and praise over the years as the famous Patterson-Gimlin film.
Purportedly filmed on October 20th, 1967 in Bluff Creek, California, the film depicts what many interpret as a female Sasquatch, making haste to leave a sandbar as Roger Patterson, armed with a 16 mm camera, approached with his associate, Bob Gimlin, on horseback. Surprised by the creature, Patterson was allegedly thrown from his horse, and regaining his footing, grabbed his camera and began filming as he pursued the creature on foot.
Skeptics consider this a convenient set of circumstances, considering that this allowed the camerawork to be shaky enough to help conceal any stylistic flaws with the costume depicted in the film, while believers have long argued that the detail, musculature, and other characteristics–namely the creature’s breasts–all point to a very real animal being represented.
Interestingly, with the production of stabilized versions of the film over the last few years, the debate has only heightened, and become ever-more polarized. Skeptics continue to argue that enhancements show it’s a man in a monkey suit, while previous analysis of the film in such a way has led researchers like M.K. Davis to determine the creature may have been human, and possibly even sported a ponytail (admittedly, that last bit seems beyond a little odd, even for a discussion about Bigfoot).
In my opinion, stabilizing and enhancing a decades-old piece of footage hasn’t really helped us determine anything new at all; if it had, there wouldn’t still be such diversity in the interpretations of what the film entails. Therefore, in my recent article at Mysterious Universe, I sought to look at whether there were other things that might qualify as evidence that the object of the film bore credible features, or any lack thereof. As my article outlines, from a primatological standpoint, the “creature” we see here possesses an exaggerated, unnatural stride, as well as a combination of male and female physiological features. Based on the clear inconsistencies the object portrays, contrasted alongside the well-known physical appearances among the great ape species, “Patty” fits in about as well as a square block shoved into a round hole.
Comments and responses have varied, and of course, many interpreted my call for abandoning the Patterson film as an attack against Bigfoot on the whole. However, this isn’t accurate, per se; like many, I am very open to the existence of a Bigfoot, and frankly, while I would relish the thought of an extant hominid species in our midst, I simply feel that if proof exists, the Patterson film isn’t the best we could be working with.
Hence, I responded thusly to the original article:
I want to express that, in my opinion, there is other information pertaining to Bigfoot that I find more compelling than this film; to try and say that there is too much “dirt” associated with it is not to say that I’m trying to make a case against the existence of Bigfoot as well. Once a believer, I consider myself somewhat “agnostic” about Bigfoot today; some of the data is compelling, but some of it cannot really be considered trustworthy, if we want to be completely honest in our rationalism. I choose not to “believe” just for the sake of belief alone.
To me, that’s what we’re seeing with the Patterson film; is it possible the thing is a real animal? I would never say that it’s impossible… but I also see a lot of people trying to convince themselves of its authenticity, primarily on the grounds that they want to be able to say that Bigfoot exists. Question: can one adopt a view that the creature may likely exist, but that the problems associated with the Patterson film, and the circumstances surrounding its creation, aren’t suited for presenting it as “good” evidence for that likelihood? I think so.
Therefore, I want to be clear… we can continue asking questions about “what if what we see in the film is actually this, or that,” or “look at what this person said about why it’s real,” but that only adds to the problems in my opinion, because the best cases for, or against, only show how divided opinions are on the film. That is not anything that will ever warrant a scientific consensus, and so again, I have to logically conclude that by observing this film over and over again and saying “real, or fake?”, we’re just wasting time on something that will never be accepted as good evidence.
Hence, I feel it’s time to move on, with the hope for finding better evidence that can be observed, and appreciated for being plausible, rather than criticized for its lacking areas.
I’m reminded here of a quote by Andy Kaiser, who back in 2008, expressed similar criticisms of the film:
Being a skeptical thinker, I am open to the idea of Bigfoot, but don’t see the proof that science demands. Show me a body. Not a picture. Not a movie. Not stories from those who claim to have seen it. Show me something that can’t possibly be a hoax. Something that can be peer-reviewed and verified by everyone, and can be put through the scientific testing necessary to qualify it as a new species. Bigfoot proponents claim Bigfoot exists. Prove it by showing objective evidence.
Here again, and to mirror Andy’s statements somewhat, if proof is to be had, then maybe it’s time to accept that the Patterson-Gimlin footage isn’t going to provide that for us reliably. Abandoning it here doesn’t leave Bigfoot stranded and helpless, alone to wander the wilderness forever in gloom by his (or her) lonesome; but I do feel that doing so may be in the best interest of trying to approach the subject with a serious, scientific mindset, rather than just a hopeful sense of wish-fulfillment.
I’m always a little hesitant to talk about the Patterson film when people bring up Bigfoot. As you stated, it’s not a source we can trust to provide any evidence for or against the existence of Bigfoot. I’ve watched many of the videos of people analyzing this footage, and while there is some convincing evidence, there’s just as much evidence that destroys its viability as proof. I would like to think that there is something out there that we haven’t found yet, (I know there are many), but as far as the creature depicted in this film, I have to say that this is not Bigfoot. I would like to know why he and his friend were out there in the first place and what is on the rest of the film from this camera? It seems odd that this is the only footage they have. Didn’t he try to follow it? Didn’t he look for footprints? Something other than just this footage so that he could substantiate his claim? (I’m not saying the footage isn’t worth anything, I’m just saying that it’s far too easy to fake a sighting like this and in order to say for sure that this is an unknown creature, other proof is needed.) There’s just too many things that don’t add up and its time to shelf the footage. For a while anyway.
Good points, my friend. I think you are spot on when it comes to your statement, “but I also see a lot of people trying to convince themselves of it’s authenticity, primarily on the grounds that they want to be able to say that” _________ exists – fill in the blank. We do the same thing with climate change, alternate fuels and the walk on the moon for that matter. Part of our problem is we’ve lost the ability as individuals and as a society to “hear both sides” or to review ALL the evidence for and against a position. We’re only interested in what “confirms” what we already believe. This has polarized our society on so many issues. I think the lack of true debate is dumbing us down overall and it’s darn shame.
How great to hear from you, as always. And I think you make some excellent points. When you say we’ve lost the ability to “hear both sides,” you hit the nail on the head. Belief confirmation is something that far too many of us give ourselves to, rather than seeking to really, honestly educate ourselves on various positions that maintain truth and credibility.
[posted here because I am inexplicably banned from MU:]
Strange to say: the P-G film is better evidence than ANYTHING ufology has — and it might be a hoax!
On the picture itself, it seems Bigfoot loves to take pictures. But these pictures does not give any credence of its existence up until to this date.
I always wondered what spooked Roger’s horse was it Patty or did it smell or see something else near or in the area they were riding.Bob said his horse reared and it threw him off.He got up and grabbed his camera and ran toward the creature to start filming.Could Roger of had this thing planned with someone else that Bob knew nothing about if it was a man in a suit. It does look convincing as it is walking away but the film then just stops. Why did Roger not continue running after Patty and filming the creature. Bob said he had him covered with his rifle. When I first seen the footage I was convinced but now I am not 100% sure. In all these years this is still the clearest footage. WHY!!!