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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Bigfoot Bounty Episode 3 Review: Anatomy of an Anecdote

by Alison Hudson

January 27, 2014

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Donate There was something that happened on 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty this week that was so incredibly interesting that I am tempted to skip right to it. But I shall resist the urge and carry on with a full recap -- all for you, dear readers.



As usual, we get a quick after-elimination sequence. Nothing much to repeat here, though some teams were sad to see Team DonDon go.

This weeks Field Test requires the teams to try and trap an animal with a cruelty-free cage trap. Dean and Natalia tell them that they will have to try and decide what kind of animals might, maybe, presumably be a food source for Bigfoot. Natalia made sure to stress that they had to work off of what they THINK Bigfoot eats since no one actually knows. Score one for Natalia for reminding them of the obvious truth they like to ignore.

I'm not 100% clear the thinking regarding Bigfoot food that any of the teams employed. Mostly, they all just set traps in places where they thought a raccoon or squirrel or something might find it. They were baiting traps with everything from cut apples to peanut butter to cracked raw eggs [perfect for capturing a wild Rocky Balboa]. There was some intra-team bickering with Team MDG and Team Odd Couple, but nothing interesting really happened.

The next day they all gathered to find out the results: no one caught anything. Which is kind of hilarious in a "If you can't catch a damn squirrel, how do you think you're ever going to catch Bigfoot?" sort of way. Dean makes sure to rub it in, noting that "Since you all failed miserably, no one gets an advantage in the hunt." Stick it to them, Superman!

This week the show went straight into the Hunt with no intermediate scenes. Maybe even the editors realized that these people are as boring as elk scat. They're in Yakama Valley Washington this time, another Bigfoot "hot spot." While I can't say that this show has made me any more of a believer in Bigfoot, it has definitely made me want to take a nature hike in the Pacific Northwest. These forests are beautiful.

And oh look, Kristen and Shaney -- aka Team Camouflage -- come across more scat. A big pile this time, that looks weird and has hair in it. They collect a sample.

Note to self: If I ever do go hiking in the Pacific Northwest, watch where I step. There's scat everywhere!

Meanwhile, Team Crazy comes across some potential tracks in the dirt and they go all Aragorn on them -- Justin even puts on some prescription lenses as they follow the tracks along the ground. They determine that these are Bigfoot tracks, and that Bigfoot was using his knuckles, because that's the best explanation for tracks that don't fit the usual Bigfoot profile -- not "these aren't Bigfoot tracks," but "this Bigfoot uses his knuckles!" Apparently there's a line of belief out there that Bigfoot will move like a gorilla sometimes, and since the theory fits the evidence before them they use it to justify taking lots of pictures and measurements. Okay, Team Crazy, you can take the rest of the night off.

On a side note: Justin with glasses on looks like a very different person. He kind of gives off a Kevin Smith vibe. Justin, keep wearing those glasses!

Team Sweetgrass, meanwhile, finds a rock and, because Bigfoot maybe MIGHT use tools and because this rock is shaped ... um, nicely? I don't know, but somehow it may be a Bigfoot tool. They ultimately decide against collecting it before deciding to collect it anyways. During the conversation they bring up Justin's story about strangling a Bigfoot, and they immediately rose in my estimation when they delivered the line of the night: "He couldn't choke his own chicken, much less a freaking Bigfoot."

The centerpiece of the episode, however, comes when Kat of Team Odd Couple has "an encounter." Specifically, she thinks she sees something large dart through the forest in the distance, in the near darkness, beyond a bunch of trees. She's a ghost hunter, remember, and in true ghost hunter television fashion this just happened to occur off-camera (Mike was taking infrared footage of cows for some reason). By the time Mike gets there with the camera, there's nothing to be seen.

Kat's initial description is very vague and lacking in details. She saw a large, black "something" move between trees very quickly. She's so unsure about what it was that she asks Mike if he saw a black cow go running through his view of the herd he was filming. Let me repeat that, because it will become important later: she was so unsure of what she saw, and she saw it so briefly, that she thought it could have been a cow.

Here's where the fun begins. Mike immediately begins to feed her details that she begins to confirm in her story. "Was it big?", "Did it walk on two legs?", etc. And after a minute she thinks that, yeah, she did see it up on two legs, and yeah, it was big.

Mike definitely thinks Kat saw a Bigfoot. Why? Because he says that Kats story matches a sighting that his wife had where she saw a dark shape dart between some trees and also attributed that momentary glance of something in the distance as a Bigfoot. And since Kat also momentarily saw something dark in the twilight, therefore it must have been a Bigfoot. Kat concurs, saying at one point that "Based on the descriptions of what other people have seen from Bigfoot, what I saw was a Bigfoot." Which other people? Why Mike's wife, of course, whose sighting he just conveniently repeated out loud and next to Kat,

Except no, Kat, it wasn't a Bigfoot. Because your initial description was caught on film. You didn't know what you saw, and it was over so fast that not even the television cameraman got a shot of it. Originally, you thought it might have been a cow. But with Mike there to feed you details and confirm it as "being like a Bigfoot sighting," you're clearly putting the spit and polish on your own memories.

Not surprisingly, subsequent searching yields nothing. Not even a footprint.

Team Sweetgrass, meanwhile, is over on the other side of the cow herd. They have a new theory: if Bigfoot is a predator, maybe it eats cows. Why? Because they are looking at a herd of cows. One would think that missing cows or chewed cow corpses would have popped up if that were the case; but I guess it's entirely possible that such remains were accidentally identified as alien cattle mutilations.

True to their name, Team Sweetgrass decides to have another nighttime cleansing. They think the burning sweetgrass might attract Bigfoot, but all they attract is Team Odd Couple from the other side of the field. Of course, Mike immediately tells them what Kat saw, and then asks them if they'd seen anything unusual. They say that the cows spooked at one point. Why, that must have been Kat's Bigfoot! So now her sighting has confirming evidence, at least for her. In fact, she even weaves the sweetgrass burning into it, suggesting that maybe the Bigfoot "was attracted to the smell or the spirituality" of the sweetgrass and that is why it was nearby.

This is an incredible display of the misinformation effect served alongside a heaping helping of wishful thinking. She wants that momentary glimpse of something black to be Bigfoot so badly that everything she sees and hears in the minutes following the encounter begin to color her memory and support the idea that she saw a Bigfoot. It's confirmation bias at its best.

Meanwhile, Team MDG is bickering again, Team Jedi finds some "footprints", and Team Sweetgrass has an injury when Dave twists his knee and has to be pulled out by the medical team. No one else sees a Bigfoot that night.

By the time they reach the Evidence Review, Kat's story has a lot more specific detail. Now it was definitely standing upright (remember, she originally thought it might have been a cow) and it "walked" from tree to tree. At this point even Mike tries to tone her down, noting that she was "a lot more confused" at the moment of the sighting. Sorry, Mike; the time for skepticism was before you fed her all those details and got all excited that she'd seen Bigfoot.

The rest of the evidence is just as bad as in prior weeks. There's not so much scat this week and instead a lot of photos of vague indentations in the ground. The bottom two teams are Team Crazy, who submitted photos of their knuckle prints (which Dr. Todd completely mocked), and Team Jedi, who brought back some terrible foot casts. Team Jedi is sent packing. They will be slightly missed.

10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty wanted to draw viewers in with the possibility of an actual Bigfoot sighting caught on national television. And in a way, they did. It was a perfect demonstration of the way an errant unknown encounter can quickly become a Bigfoot sighting, just because the person wants it to be and confirms the details that make it so.

How will Bigfoot Bounty top this sighting next week? I don't know. I'm still waiting for Matt from Team MDG to shoot someone, though at this point it may very well be his partner on the business end of that biopsy dart. Guess we'll wait and see.

 

by Alison Hudson

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