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Randi Throws ‘Friend’ Under Bus?

James ‘The Amazing’ Randi comments on the recent Bigfoot scam in his latest newsletter, with some rather slippery knife work on cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson in discussing the Minnesota Iceman:

…I recalled that in October of 1969, when I was a resident of New Jersey, an exhibit at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown had attracted my attention. It was what appeared to be a hairy human-shaped figure about six feet tall. I say “appeared to be” because the thing was frozen inside a huge cloudy block of ice, visitors viewed it from an overhead scaffolding, and it was poorly lit – perhaps for good reason. All I could have really said about it was that it looked like an old fur coat with legs…

My friend Ivan T. Sanderson, a naturalist who was very interested in Bigfoot matters, having coined the word, “cryptozoology,” lived in New Jersey, north-west of my home, and I contacted him immediately. He arrived the next day, and took a great interest in this exhibit, despite what I found to be very shaky evidence and no validation at all. Much to my dismay, I now discovered that a few years before this, he’d already chosen to accept and endorse the validity of this farce, and had also supported a true “critter” nut, Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans, formerly of the Royal Academy of Sciences in his native Belgium. Up until that point, I’d respected Ivan’s opinions, but we parted company on this. And to think that I’d spent a couple of days at his home in Warren County, where he’d taught me how to handle and fire a .45 automatic…

Pardon me, but did Randi just suggest that Ivan T. Sanderson may have been of unsound mind, or at least unfit to possess a firearm? Okay, Randi didn’t exactly say “damn I’m lucky he didn’t put a cap in my ass”…but it read that way to me.

Furthermore, Randi’s glibness on this story – as always – covers up the more interesting facets of the case (you’ll find nine pages on the Minnesota Iceman in Loren Coleman’s Mysterious America). The reason that Sanderson (and Heuvelmans) showed “great interest” in the Iceman was because they had studied it up close in 1967. Coleman also cites the opinion of another close-up witness, herpatologist Terry Cullen, as relayed by Mark A. Hall: “Some of the reasons for Cullen’s avid interest in the Iceman exhibit were that he could see: plant matter in the teeth, shed skin of ekto-parasites (lice) on the skin, and unique detention showing in the mouth where a lip was curled back.”

  1. Minnesota Iceman – real or fake?
    I had not heard of the Minnesota Iceman before so I took a quick Google to see what there was to see or read.

    The general consensus is that the whole thing was a fake, with both Sanderson and Heuvelmans eventually distancing themselves from the whole thing.

    I have to say that James Randi appears to right this time – except for the odd comment about the .45


    1. consensus opinions
      With all due respects, the “general consensus” on anything is often wrong–I could give a few thousand examples of that from the history of science. As Greg pointed out, Sanderson had closely examined the specimen, and I don’t take his professional opinion on things too lightly. Of course, he could well have been wrong–but I’d take one Sanderson opinion over ten “consensus expert” opinions almost any day.

      Just saying…

      Ray G.

      1. From what I read
        From what I read of that event, Sanderson and Heuvelmans were convinced that they saw a real specimen, but the initial story used in the Fair exhibition (that it had been picked floating on some remoe part of the northern sea by a ship) was a lie. Later the Minessota iceman disappeared briefly, and when it came back Sanderson and Heuvelman noticed slight differences, leaning to suspect that it was a forgery (or another copy of the “original” fake, as another possibility).

        And yes, Sanderson and Heuvelmans spent considerable time studying that thing up close; and although the ice was milky on many parts of the block, others allowed a closer scrutiny. That’s why they found the “ancient creature” (as was originally promoted) had a nasty bullet shot in one of its eyes. By that time the exhibition guy changed his story and claimed he had killed the creature during a hunting trip; and that the “original” had been reclaimed by the enigmatic owner that had lent him the body…

        Inconclusive evidence, of course. But still very provocative.

        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

    2. Randi’s failing
      [quote=Nostradamus]The general consensus is that the whole thing was a fake, with both Sanderson and Heuvelmans eventually distancing themselves from the whole thing.[/quote]

      Hi Nostra,

      What are the references for Sanderson and Heuvelmans distancing themselves from their Iceman conclusions? Loren Coleman claims that Heuvelmans “never wavered” in his theory that the Iceman was a Neanderthal-like man. Sanderson wrote 4 years before his death that he “had not fully formulated” a theory on the Iceman.

      Personally, I find aspects of the case (such as Hansen not wanting public attention/intense scrutiny) strongly suggestive of a hoax. My point though, was that Randi seems to deliberately skip over important aspects – in this case, that the two famous cryptozoologists had examined the Iceman up close. And that another investigator (Cullen), had found interesting “up-close” evidence to support their views.

      Kind regards,
      You monkeys only think you’re running things

    1. eyewitness testimonies…
      well, I guess if he says he’s responsible for the whole thing, that settles it.

      oh, and by the way–I was responsible for that whole Phoenix lights thing–just take my word for it. 🙂

      Ray G.

    2. Cheers
      [quote=drjon]If you missed it: Minnesota Iceman eyewitness tells his story on the BFF

      Because skeptics do love eyewitness testimony…. 😉

      Thanks Dr Jon – good to get all these various sources of information on the topic. It’s interesting that more hasn’t been made in the media of the similarities in the Iceman/Bogus Bigfoot cases. I guess the Iceman story is pretty much forgotten these days, except by people who were there like Randi and Loren Coleman.

      Kind regards,
      You monkeys only think you’re running things

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