Skeptical Review: Bigfoot Bounty, Episode 2

Warning: This post contains spoilers. Also, lots of scat jokes. 


The first week of 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty actually gave us a little science with its reality television escapism. Will the second episode follow through? Let’s find out.

The show strikes a tone of uncritical thinking right away when the pre-episode recap claims that the teams had an “encounter with Bigfoot” in the first episode. Which they most certainly did not; they chased some animal noises through the woods which they claimed were Bigfoot calls without any reasonable evidence to come to that conclusion. It was the Bigfoot equivalent of a cold spot in a house equaling an “encounter with a ghost.”

The episode itself begins with a very brief post-elimination scene before jumping quickly to the Field Test. This week it involves photography, and specifically motion-sensitive camera traps.  They’re being judged on placement and results. Dr. Todd and Natalia give them a quick rundown on what makes a good photo (short version: not a Blobsquatch) and send them on their way.

Very quickly, the choices about where to place trail cameras start to rely on shoddy Bigfoot assumptions. “Deer is a natural food source for Bigfoot,” says Team Dudebro to justify placing their camera near some deer scat — because apparently Bigfoot is a predator animal — right before they rub deer urine on themselves to mask their scent. I’m beginning to think we’re going to get some scatalogical camouflage in every episode of this show.

Team Odd Couple also seems to think Bigfoot is a predator species. Mike even calls him an “apex predator.” I guess I’m not up on my Bigfoot lore here; back in the 1990s when I was into this stuff, I seem to recall that he was generally believed to forage for berries and roots.

Oh, look, Team MDG is pissing off the other teams again. Moving on …

The critical thinking takes a big jump over the shark when Team Jedi finds some fallen trees that have crossed over each other in an unusual way. Their conclusion? Bigfoot must have deliberately made them fall that way! “The theory is that Bigfoot uses it to either mark his territory or mark a meeting spot or something,” says Dax. That’s not a theory, Dax; that’s a baseless conjecture. Still, Team Jedi declares it the “first Bigfoot structure we’ve found on this expedition.”

Sadly, Team Crazy kept pretty mundane in this challenge, even snapping the winning photo (a squirrel) and earning the use of infrared binoculars for the rest of the game. After the Field Test they were briefly shown wrapped up in some Squatcher drama, as Team Crazy and Team Dudebro begin to work together and to distrust Team Odd Couple. Come on, Justin, give us something good!

The second Hunt is in the burn zone of a recent wildfire on Mt. Rainier, which looked like a cool place for a nature hike. Before they’re set loose, Natalia urges the teams to follow scientific protocols when they collect samples, so as to not corrupt potential DNA samples.

Generally, this Hunt wasn’t very interesting. There were no misidentified vocalizations nor even a shadowy Blobsquatch to witness. Instead, the Teams just stumbled around in the dark, annoyed each other, and examined piles of scat.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some poor critical thinking on display. Team Odd Couple, for example, stumbles on some big scat piles and suddenly has a new theory: instead of being an apex predator, Bigfoot is apparently a bug forager, feasting on colonies of ants — convenient since they just happened to find ant colonies in the scat. So basically, Bigfoot is whatever fits the evidence currently in front of them. Then Mike follows up his loose logic by eating some ants out of the scat pile, clearly trying to challenge Team Crazy for the title. I hope Justin & Ro can do something to defend themselves before the end of the episode.

Unfortunately, Team Crazy just doesn’t seem to be trying that hard to entertain us. We get some footage of them watching a deer through their cool new binoculars, but that’s about it.

This episode has finally given us some time with Dan & Dave, the Native American duo. There’s some time spent this episode stressing their Native American heritage, including a scene where they spiritually cleanse themselves and Team Jedi in the middle of the Hunt with burning sweetgrass because … um? And apparently no one thought the smell would drive Bigfooto away, I guess. [Maybe they should have been burning scat.] I am sorely tempted to affix a more controversial moniker on them, but let’s stick with Team Sweetgrass.

Speaking of Team Jedi, they’re still swinging the lightsaber in the middle of the forest at night. They also make a Return of the Jedi joke. They’re idiots, but they’re my kind of idiots.

Because the Hunt is completely lacking in any exciting Bigfoot action, we instead get a lot of team bickering to ratchet up the drama. I’m sure it’s all very compelling if you’re the kind who gets into reality TV drama. For the rest of us, it was pointless filler. At least Team MDG had a miserable time.

In the Evidence Review there’s a lot more evidence presented, including scat from virtually every team, and it’s all as poor as the evidence of the previous week. Or to put it another way, their crap evidence was crap evidence. During the review, Team DonDon manages to hit one out of the skeptical park when they defend themselves against criticism by noting that there’s nothing actually known about Bigfoot yet, so the Squatcher teams claiming to “know” what Bigfoot is or does are just as uninformed as Team DonDon is.

Justin, on the other hand, finally flies his Team Crazy banner when he’s questioned on his scat by Dr. Todd. “I know what Bigfoot shit looks like,” he says, because the Bigfoot he killed shit itself when he strangled it. Which makes sense; I’d probably shit myself too if Justin came out of the woods and tried to strangle me to death. If this man isn’t on an FBI watch list somewhere, then the FBI is doing something wrong.

With all the evidence being pretty crappy, it once again comes down to who seemed to who brought back the least crap. Sadly, that means level-headed Team DonDon went home, as predicted last week, just narrowly losing to Team Jedi. It was a terribly uncritical decision, one I suspect was influenced by who was more likely to offer camera-worthy antics for the rest of the game. To quote the inimitable Jules Winnfield, “Personality goes a long way,” and Team Jedi is carrying a lightsaber that says “Dumb Motherf***ers.”

Unfortunately, episode two of the 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty had less science and more reality tv drama than episode one, and there wasn’t a lot of science in the first episode to begin with. At best, we are getting a crash course in shoddy logic and wild conclusion-jumping. Is Bigfoot an apex predator, or an insect forager? If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, is it evidence of Sasquatch? And most importantly, does Bigfoot ever actually shit in the woods? Maybe we’ll find out next time.

About Alison Hudson

Alison is a writer and educator living near Ann Arbor, MI. She blogs regularly about skepticism, games, and the transgender experience.
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18 Responses to Skeptical Review: Bigfoot Bounty, Episode 2

  1. Paul says:

    Sadly, I cannot watch anymore of this “reality” show. I should have known better when I saw it was on spike tv; however, I will miss the display of idiocy and wild conjecture. Luckily, I can rely on your
    hilarious re-hash. I look forward to your comments Alison, which will tell me all I need to know. Keep up the funny work!

  2. Damned Skeptic says:

    Your summation captured how I felt about this episode so well that I could have skipped the episode except I enjoy seeing the silliness for myself. I’m curious to see which direction this show will go this season and what they will do if they get picked up for more episodes. If they do continue then I think they will have to embrace science or embrace credulity, and I don’t expect them to embrace science. Not that the science will go away since they need standards that will keep the 10 million dollars safe but add a lot more sensationalism. And get some experts who are excited by every “hair” and scat sample and just as sadly disappointed to find out that it’s just moss and elk crap.

  3. Stephen N, Australia says:

    I’m with Paul – I enjoy your review Alison. Even if it was offered for viewing in Australia, I don’t don’t I could put myself through watching it, but these posts are great fun.

  4. chriskathol says:

    I almost shit myself when reading about the claimed murder victim shitting himself…

  5. I humbly salute you, Alison Edwards, for this hilariously comprehensive review of such a terrible show that touts the seedy underbelly of “science” to the uneducated masses. Also, your expert use of the word “crap” is second only to that of Internet sweetheart Strong Bad of fame. You should be given a trophy made out of pizza for such an accomplishment!

    This review summed up everything I love to hate about Reality Television: a “scientist” (or “expert” of some kind) and a beautiful man or woman presiding over the events; a whole lot of pointless, scripted bickering between teammates; gross stuff and people eating said gross stuff; a prize of enormous wealth be it of a destination vacation, a large pot of money, a free pass into a job a la The Tester (as a side note, you can work for Sony as a “Tester” if you live in the San Diego area, walk in to the office building, sign a few papers, take a simple-ish technical aptitude test, pass their quick interview, and don’t mind playing the same game– possibly the same LEVEL in said game– for six months to a year. My partner works there and runs into the “winner” of The Tester on occasion– the winner doesn’t actually play games but instead works for the marketing department), a vehicle, or something else of enough value for which people will embarrass themselves on camera; stereotypes– I’m Cherokee and the mention of the Native American team acting like that on camera just sickens me; and, of course, elimination rounds! Is this the first Reality TV show that has actually included elimination (crap) in an elimination round? Because that, quite honestly, is a beautifully thought out play on the producers part. It probably brings in the 8 to 12 year old crowd like flies to a pile of– well you get it.

    As others have stated, Thank you for watching this so that we do not have to. I look forward to your next review.


  6. Freke1 says:

    there are plenty of interesting Bigfoot witness interviews out there:

    • Alison Edwards says:

      Without corobborating evidence, they’re just anecdotes. Sorry, I don’t buy them.

      • Freke1 says:

        until the scientific community investigates this it’s all we’ve got. Catch 22.

        • Alison Edwards says:

          Science hasn’t been given anything to investigate. There have been dozens upon dozens of excursions into the woods looking for Bigfoot over the years, some of them very scientific, others not, and there has been exactly zero evidence that holds up to any real scrutiny.

          • Freke1 says:

            Funny You think that. In reality scientists run away from any investigation of Bigfoot. They will have nothing to do with it. It’s (almost) all done by amateurs. The low levels of curiosity from all but a few scientists is odd. Humans have survived hundreds of thousands of years being the must curious species here. We can believe in a story that a guy rose from the dead, walked on water, turned water into wine, but we can’t believe in some unknown Bigfoot. Where is Your sceptism?

          • You are assuming that Alison and others of us Skeptics believe that the Bible is true which is WAY out of left field, has nothing to do with Bigfoot, and is, in most cases (because we cannot rule out the possibility that there exists a percentage of Skeptics who are also devout Christians), a completely inaccurate assumption.

          • Alison Edwards says:

            I am an atheist, so no, I don’t believe that story either.

            Your claim that no trained scientists have ever looked for Bigfoot is simply false. Have you ever heard of the BFRO? It is run by a biologist. Heck, this very show has a primatologist and a DNA expert ready and willing to look at the evidence. But that’s the problem: there’s nothing to look at. The BFRO has been looking for twenty years, and the best they can do is “distinct tracks that do not match other animal tracks, hairs that match each other but no known wild animals, and large scats that could not be made by any known species.” And so far, all proposed DNA samples drawn from that limited pile of evidence has fallen flat.

          • Freke1 says:

            take a look at this big ape:
            (I see arms)

          • Alison Edwards says:

            I see a 22 second YouTube clip without context, follow-up, or corroborating evidence that also shows clear signs of editing.

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