By any human standard, 50 years is a long time. And being fortunate enough to spend such an amount of time pursuing the passion that fuels your heart, is a grace that few of us will be fortunate to savor.
Loren Coleman has been one of those lucky few. Today, March 21st (the coming of Spring, to boot) marks his 50th anniversary in the field of Cryptozoology.
With the humility that often marks greatness, Loren feels he's only following the footsteps of pioneers such as his childhood heroes —Sanderson & Heuvelmans— and yet he's maybe not aware that currently there are more people alive with a current interest in the search of unknown creatures, than in any time in human history; and that this interest is fueled in no small part due to his incessant contributions to this often-misunderstood field of study.
With almost a dozen books published; countless interviews, consults and appearances in TV shows like Monsterquest; and his searching of a long-lasting legacy with the founding of the International Cryptozoology Museum, we salute our friend and mentor Loren, congratulating him on such a momentous occasion.
In 2005, Fortean researcher (and regular Darklore contributor) Nick Redfern traveled to Puerto Rico with another of TDG's good friends, Canadian film-maker Paul Kimball. According to Nick, the purpose of the trek was "to make a film - road-trip-style - that would see me and Puerto Rican Orlando Pla (a local expert on the beast) on a quest for the truth about the monstrous thing said to be roaming the island: namely, the Chupacabras".
If that wasn't cool enough, the documentary - titled The Island of Blood, "a low budget, lo-fi, slightly tongue-in-cheek, mostly serious look at the chupacabra phenomonon" - is now available in three parts on YouTube. To make things easy, I've embedded all three parts below. Enjoy!
Previously on TDG:
Boing Boing's David Pescovitz has posted a great little interview/feature on Loren Coleman and the International Cryptozoology Museum today. I really like Loren's comment about how the museum isn't just about the zoology, but also about the history of the field, and the people that have contributed to it:
I learned in this field, early on, that people come and go, and other people specialized, usually in Bigfoot only, at the exclusive of other cryptids. Nevertheless, I remained focussed on preserving the history of the general field, holistically, comprehensively, and globally. The human element has been as important, sometimes as the cryptids, to me. The hunters, seekers, and searchers, as well as the artists, writers, and "experts," have their own history to add to the story. Therefore, I tried to buy, gather, collect, and receive items, papers, and books out of respect to the work that people who have pursued these unknowns, these as yet to be discovered species, deserved.
Well worth checking out the whole interview - better yet, if you're within spitting distance of Portland, Maine, go visit the museum (and Loren!) in person...it's only $5 entry for crying out loud! And remember that Loren blogs constantly about cryptozoology topics at Cryptomundo.com
RPJ posted last week about the opening of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland Maine. For those interested in learning more about the museum (curated by cryptozoological legend Loren Coleman) a few people have since blogged about their visits to Loren's 'cabinet' of cryptozoological wonders, with the bonus of posting photos. See the Upside Down Hippopotamus blog for one report from the Nov 1 opening day - with accompanying photographic evidence (hey, this is cryptozoology after all) - and also comic creator Jon Rozum's own account of his visit to the Museum. Now the rest of us non-U.S. plebs just need Loren to put together a video package...
Our good friend Loren Coleman had a tremendously successful day yesterday, when the doors of the Cryptozoology Museum were finally opened to the public. Loren shares with us some photos showing the first visitors, come from all over the country, who had the chance to admire his collection; so if you're near the Portland Maine area... what in the world are you waiting for??
But even if you're not able to visit the museum just now, you can still purchase one of those über-cool tee-shirts displaying the ICM's logo, by placing an on-line order through PayPal.
After all the monumental problems that had to be overcome for this dream to come true, we here at TDG give our warmest congratulation to Loren, expecting to have our picture taken in front of his pet Bigfoot in the not-so-distant future.
[Edit: It seems that the official grand opening of the museum will be on Nov. 6, whereas Nov. 1st was an unofficial low-key event —apparently provoked by some early arriving folks determined to be the first in line, all very reminiscent of The Phantom Menace!
A number of celebrities in the Crypto world will attend the grand opening, including artist/researcher Jim McClarin.]
I am extremely proud to announce the formal unveiling of the public museum in tourist- and education-friendly Portland, Maine, housing five decades of cryptozoological pieces, with regular hours (11 am - 7 pm Tuesdays - Saturdays, Noon - 5 pm Sundays). The price of admission to view the gallery cryptozoology museum space, for all ages, will be $5.00, plus any other donations you might wish to leave.
One newsperson wrote in 2003: “The risky venture cost Coleman half of his retirement fund, but he expects it to pay off through the sharing of information.” (As it turns out, most of my small professor retirement fund is now gone, used to keep the museum alive to this point.)
So, now the serious business begins, with rents and electricity to pay, costs of moving the exhibition downtown, and much more to deal with, of course. Your assistance has never been more important. If you can donate, please do, below.
Donation details are via the link to Cryptomundo; please chip in if it's within your means to help Loren with the Museum.
I've just found out the very sad news that legendary Fortean researcher John A. Keel has died. Along with Jacques Vallee, one of the very first to think 'outside the box' when it came to paranormal phenomena, Keel was a primary influence on most researchers in recent decades. His book The Mothman Prophecies remains one of the most well-known cryptozoology (and paranormal) works, and other books such as Operation Trojan Horse were instrumental in looking past the 'nuts and bolts' UFO hypothesis. His trickster personality led to a controversial reputation, but there can be no denying his influence.
John Keel was 79.
From our good friend Loren Coleman, Cryptozoologist extraordinaire:
April 24: Emergency bulletin ~ Hey, this is Maine. Keep more than the hope alive. The bank is empty. The museum’s out of oil, there’s no heat or hot water. Your PayPal donation today is greatly needed. No communication, no blogs and no internet is next, not to mention foreclosure. This is no joke. Please, seriously do…
Let's put it like this: If you have ever watched Loren on one of the Monster Quest shows, then you owe the man at least a buck for keeping you entertained ;-)
When Sir David Attenborough remarked last week on the possibility that the 'Yeti' exists, it was pretty obvious what a favourite thread on skeptical blogs would be this week. Here's what Sir David is reported to have said:
Speaking on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, the revered wildlife expert said: 'I'm baffled by the Abominable Snowman - very convincing footprints have been found at 19,000ft.
'No-one does that for a joke. I think it's unanswered.'
Now, to me, it sounds as if Sir David is casually mentioning a mystery that intrigues him. He's not saying the Yeti is for real - in fact, he explicitly says "it's unanswered". However, to Evan Bernstein at the SGU blog, the famed naturalist had become "a new and reputable ally in trying to convince the world that he/she/it has jumped out of folklore, and into reality". Indeed, it would seem that Sir David's loose lips could sink ships:
Attenborough is allowed to explore his fantasies and speculations just like the rest of us, but skeptics are very aware of the law of unintended consequences. The Bigfoot believers of the world will cling on to Attenbororough’s words and wield them high up in the air for everyone to see. If the history of incidents of famous people having lent their credibility to pseudoscience is any indicator, then the damage has been done.
That's right Sir David, you've done some serious damage this time! Er, what?
Attenborough, now 82, is famous for his nature and animal documentaries. Unfortunately, being a nature documentary host does not necessarily prepare one with the skeptical tools necessary to deal with the fringe.
Nature may be complex, but it does not actively try to fool you. Attenborough’s observation may seem perfectly reasonable to an elderly gentleman, but should strike a skeptic, magician, or hoaxer as hopelessly naive. People do strange things for their own reasons. For example, if you’re going to go through the effort of hoaxing a Yeti footprint in the snow, 19,000 feet is exactly where you would do it.
...I doubt David Attenborough’s reputation will be much affected by this episode, beyond a single news cycle. He has a legacy of outstanding nature documentaries that I’m sure mean as much to many people as they have to me.
I should hope his reputation will survive - decades of educating the world about nature and science, versus a casual comment about something he finds interesting? I vote for the former.
Meanwhile, turning our gaze to the Yeti's American cousin, Anomaly Magazine have a new online article worth checking out: "The Patterson-Gimlin Film: An Analysis, by Noah David Henson. The author is a professional illustrator and student of physical anthropology, and uses his knowledge of primatology to dissect the (in)famous footage of an alleged Bigfoot:
My conclusion, after analysing the film footage countless times, employing a degree of expertise in human and primate anatomy, and examining critically the analyses of forensics expert J. Glickman of NASI, among others, is that the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film does not and cannot depict a human being in a costume. It is a real, as-yet uncatalogued animal, most likely a primate of either pongid (ape-like) or hominid (human-like) taxonomic classification, that resides, or once resided, somewhere in the millions of square miles of human-uninhabited forests of the Pacific Northwestern United States and Canada.
The article includes online video footage which is referenced by Henson during his article, to point out the intriguing aspects. Still looks like a guy in a suit to me, but good to see this type of analysis being done...and I guess he's more qualified than me on this particular topic. One to mull over.
A few weeks back I posted about a James Randi newsletter in which he references (in the wake of the Georgia Bigfoot hoax) the controversial Minnesota Iceman case of the late 1960s and the involvement of his 'former' friend, famed cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson. In the post (and in a later comment), I pointed out that - although there were certainly many elements of the case suggestive of a hoax - Randi seemed to have skipped some of the more intriguing parts of Sanderson's investigation, as related by Loren Coleman in his book Mysterious America.
However, in a new post at Cryptomundo.com, Loren has made clear that the Georgia Bigfoot hoax has made him reassess the level of evidence required for him to take cryptozoological investigations seriously, and as such he has decided to reject the Minnesota Iceman case. Loren's announcement is quite eloquent, using the parable (and of course, the title!) of Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 play The Iceman Cometh to illustrate his point:
If you examine most good analyses of The Iceman Cometh, you will find there is agreement that the play finds universality through the theme that all human beings have a tendency to entertain unachieved or foolish hopes – or, as Hickey and others in the play call them, “pipe dreams.”
...I am guilty of having hope that the Minnesota Iceman would be a key to understanding unknown hominoids around the world, and I have written about those thoughts. I had hopes, fleeting ones, yes, but hopes, nevertheless, that, against all my instincts regarding the unholy three Biscardi-type personalities, an actual body would be revealed during the summer of 2008 too. But that hope lasted for about ten minutes. As I reach nearly three decades of holding out hopes that the Minnesota Iceman might have been real, I must completely reject it now, as a bringer of false promises to enlightenment.
If an alleged cryptid body is sitting in front of you but has not actually even been touched, it cannot, it should not be held aloof as a form of scientific evidence within cryptozoology. We call for others to be open-minded and set their standards with cryptids to a level of fairness without rejection off-handedly. We must set our standards higher than they have been in the past, and only through such an exercise will something of value come out of the horrible Georgia experience.
...The Minnesota Iceman leaves us with nothing but false hopes, deceptive leads, and, yes, pipe dreams.
Check out the whole post, it's an excellent article from Loren which examines a lot of issues we wrestle with daily here on TDG.