Episode #011- First Impressions

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DoctorAtlantis
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Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:44 pm

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This week on MonsterTalk we talk with fingerprint expert and self-described Bigfoot research “cheerleader” Jimmy Chilcutt. Chilcutt, a retired Texas lawman and crime-scene investigator, came to prominence in the Bigfoot community when he joined Dr. Jeff Meldrum in the documentary Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science making the pronouncement that his research had found evidence that some Bigfoot track-castings showed signs of dermal ridges — the equivalent of primate fingerprints. This is the first time we have interviewed someone on the “believer” side of the fence in cryptozoology, though you’ll hear in the interview that what Chilcutt is willing to attest to is somewhat different than the impression you’d get from his TV appearances.

Topics in this episode include:
  • How did Chilcutt get involved with Bigfoot?
  • Did he identify any hoaxed tracks in the casts he examined?
  • What are “dermal ridges?”
  • Has he examined any latent Bigfoot prints?
  • How many casts showed the ridges?
  • Has anyone replicated his findings?
We also discuss Matt Crowley’s research which shows that it is possible to mimic dermal ridges during the casting process. Crowley’s excellent research is detailed on his website in a series of essays and articles. His work on casting artifacts and the track hoaxing of Ray Wallace should be required reading for Bigfoot researchers.

Resources of Interest
Ben Radford: 50 Years of Bigfoot
Matt Crowley: Bigfoot Research into Casts & Hoaxing
Skookum Analysis reprinted from Bigfoot Times

Music
Monstertalk Theme: Monster by Peach Stealing Monkeys
Celestial Stereogram by Sinfonia Electronique

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busterggi
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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby busterggi » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:38 pm

Interesting...Chilcut has always seemed a pretty down to earth guy, so far he's never come across as a blind believer. I look forward to a lengthy discussion.

Good choice of guest.

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:32 pm

He's certainly basing his position on evidence as he's interpreted it. And even then, he couches it in a space of cautious acceptance - and of what exactly? He absolutely will not say he believes in Bigfoot. But he will say he believes there is an unknown primate living in North America. That might be splitting hairs to some, but he is very careful about what he will say - and what he believes.

I'm inclined to disagree with his conclusions - but I think we agreed to disagree on what to make of his findings.

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby spookyparadigm » Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:59 am

The discussion of race, fingerprints, as the reason for looking at the other primates was ... interesting.

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:47 am

spookyparadigm wrote:The discussion of race, fingerprints, as the reason for looking at the other primates was ... interesting.


Yes. Here's the thing. He ultimately gave up on that research - but says he thinks the reason that it didn't work is that humans interbreed which destroys the racial characteristics.

I'd argue that it didn't work because race is an illusion and that fingerprints aren't as indicative of ethnic characteristics as he'd hoped just because they don't work the way he hypothesized. I say "I'd argue" but what I actually did was ask him a lot of questions about the nature of his research and his findings, and then I went and asked a forensic anthropologist.

I think Chilcutt is wrong about his theory - but the point of the interview was to talk about the bigfoot footprints and I was concerned that the question of his fingerprint/race theories - which I think represent dispassionate analytical (but incorrect) research into how far you can go with fingerprint data - could have been distracting since they deal with race and outmoded categories of human "types." Chilcutt admits his racial typing doesn't work - but again, I think, we disagree on the reasons.

I have written Chilcutt back about the current thinking in anthropology as regards DNA, ethnic features and the disappearing idea of "race." I offered to put him in contact with the anthropologist I corresponded with who confirmed my suspicions.

I'll keep the board updated if he responds.

-Blake

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby spookyparadigm » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:26 am

We're in agreement, I just was taken aback a little (though I didn't really attribute any malice).

I am an anthropologist, though I am not a bioanthropologist by practice (smattering of graduate courses on the topic nothing more), specifically an archaeologist. The notion of there being some element of geographical heritage in one's physical characteristics isn't entirely absurd of course, as one can use facial features to estimate input into a person's genetic lineage (as is taught in any basic introduction to human osteology or forensic anthropology), but as I'm sure the person you consulted with told you, it's a hell of a lot more complicated than "race," and ultimately such characteristics are quite plastic in the face of environmental change, the degree depending on which characteristics (something anthropologists have known since Franz Boas, though that will just get me going in a froth on the eviction of Boas from the AAA, so never mind).

I just sort of sat there for a minute and rewound the podcast when I heard the bit about "the races mixing," which while not an uncommon pop concept of ethnicity (I've had to field that question from students, who hold on to the popular notion that there were root "races" that were more pure in the deep past, and less so today), is still surprising to hear in a broadcast, especially from a scientist.

BTW, I plugged the show on my culture of the paranormal blog I've been intermittently writing for a few years. I really love it, I think it's the best skeptical presentation I've ever run into, as instead of counting coup or coming across as know it alls, it as y'all have explicitly mentioned, harnesses the wonder that drives many people to find these topics interesting, and then utilizes that both to teach some real/mainstream/whatevertermyouwant science, but also to legitimately say "hey, if you really want to investigate these ideas, let's actually do it, and do it with real science and not just fun stories and mystery style."

Here's the post I made about the show.

http://spookyparadigm.blogspot.com/2010 ... -talk.html

Thanks again for a good model for tackling this stuff and science in general.

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby DoctorAtlantis » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:38 am

Thanks for that feedback! That's really good to hear.

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Re: Episode #011- First Impressions

Postby tread282 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:46 pm

I was just pursuing some of the older podcasts. This episode was a great idea, however some of the questions asked gave proof that Ben wasn't very informed on their guest in that their guest is basically an expert in dermal ridges, NOT a Bigfoot researcher. This was sort of an insult I feel. For example, Ben asks "Let me run the numbers here, with the most recent tracks discovered with dermal ridges dating back to the mid 1980's, and assuming Bigfoot has two feet with a population of 5000 to 10000, why are there so few print casts with dermal ridges in existence?". Your guest, who volunteered his time to be on your show is not obligated to answer your skeptical views on the subject of Bigfoot. Ben wasn't even aware that other collections of casts exist among other scientists. Thank goodness the guest knew this. This interview started off good, but quickly became difficult to listen to as the interviewers didn't seems to understand who they were interviewing. There's a time to be skeptics and that involves understanding your audience/guest.


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