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Strange Animal Sighting Confirmed! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

bionicbigfootRecently, a mountain lion was sighted in a wooded area of Kansas. More importantly, it was photographed, and those photos have been authenticated. We can now say that there are mountain lions in Kansas for the first time since 1909.

The Wichita Eagle's report is very interesting, and it tells us a lot about bigfoot sightings. Like bigfoot, there are a number of sightings each year. Also like bigfoot, most of the pictures taken are blurry and inconclusive. So, given that sightings of a real animal bear so much in common with bigfoot sightings, does this lend credence to the theory that there are hairy hominids wandering the Pacific Northwest?

Well, yes, but that's only because many hunters eschew shaving rituals during deer camp. There may be similarities between the two cases at first glance, in reality there are very few. Consider the facts:

  • Mountain lions were known to exist in Kansas as late as 1909

  • Mountain lions are known to exist in neighboring state, Colorado

  • In states where a population is established, they are seen fairly frequently

  • All the sightings are fairly consistent (they describe the same thing)

  • Mountain lions are sometimes hit by cars

  • Cats are excellent at hiding

None of these things are true of any hominids we're familiar with. If bigfoot is real, I'm sure it will eventually be described by science. But given how little wilderness there is left, and what we know of hominid species, it seems exceedlingly unlikely that they exist. All that's really needed is one specimen, dead or alive. The excuses given for us not finding these have included the suggestion that bigfoot is an alien visitor from another planet, though those folks may simply have watched too much Six Million Dollar Man.

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There's that word "theory" again...
written by Kajabla61, October 21, 2009
All Skeptics, please be careful to use hypothesis where appropriate.

A theory has facts to back it up, a hypothesis does not.

Unfortunately the religious have bastardized the word "theory" for so long even many Skeptics use it incorrectly. "It's only a theory!" applies to gravity, electricity, etc.

Jeff, I do enjoy your articles and appreciate the work you do for JREF. Keep at it my friend.
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written by Arthwollipot, October 21, 2009
Wait - Jeffrey Wagg? Since when have you been Jeffrey?

Edited by JEFF WAGG: There, fixed it for you.
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written by latsot, October 21, 2009
It's perfectly acceptable to use 'theory' in the informal sense, especially when the intended meaning is clear, as in this case. It's unfortunate that many people mistakenly or deliberately confuse the formal and informal meanings of the word to cast undue doubt on evolution, but it doesn't change the fact that both usages are correct.
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That's great!
written by Noadi, October 21, 2009
Good to see that mountain lions are making a comeback into areas they used to roam. We get sightings of them here in Maine from time to time but so far they're about as credible as bigfoot sightings. I'd love it to be otherwise.
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Couldn't resist...
written by JeffWagg, October 22, 2009
For those who don't get the reference on the last line, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JktcQ2A32cU
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Pedantry or precision?
written by jcwept, October 22, 2009
"the fact that both usages are correct" - you go from a qualified 'acceptable' to 'correct' in two sentences. Another dilution of meaning we could do without.
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written by Wave, October 22, 2009
Bigfoot is NOT one of the fifty-seven know varieties of aliens. George Noory has convincingly explained the lack of physical evidence by identifying Bigfoot as an inter-dimensional creature. It evidently prefers to relieve itself, shed hair, nest, and die in other dimensions. It only blinks in here to leave footprints and terrorize people who eat beef jerky.

As superb at hiding as cats are, I suspect that the terrain of western Kansas would pose a challenge to one as large as a mountain lion.
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written by LovleAnjel, October 22, 2009
Well, this and a cat making it into Chicago. Is nowhere safe anymore? To anyone in Kansas five feet tall or less: consider yourself cougar bait.
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@kajabla61, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by siddhigyrl, October 22, 2009
Crap, I'm under 5'0, really REALLY slow, AND tasty with catsup!
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Non Sequitor
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
"remember you guys get duped just as often with your Ida's, Piltdown man, etc etc"

First of all, the difference is that science and rational/critical thinkers acknowledge their mistakes when better data is discovered.

Second of all, BS to your "just as often" claim until you support it with quality data. I drive to work every weekday. Three times in the past year, I have seen Mr X drive to work, therefore Mr X drives to work just as often as I do. Do you see any problem in my logic?
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@Davis
written by KWC, October 22, 2009
I think this is confusing the issue. Rarely have I seen a scientific article claiming to have revolutionized a field while they are still in the process of studying the find. This type of sensationalism generally comes from the media, not the scientists. Also episodes like Piltdown Man have not weakened the theory of evolution, but reminded us that we can be mistaken (or even fooled) as well as any other person. It reminds us to take the evidence and follow that, and allows science to remain a self-correcting discipline.

I admit that I am not familiar with the particular discovery you are talking about but I can't help but notice the term "lemur type creature". Is it a lemur or not? Is it another known species? Or is it another example of a evolutionary step? I can imagine a research team finding this and thinking there is a missing link involved only to be disappointed, but again there was no theory surrounding this.

Maybe I misunderstood your comment but it seemed as if you were trying to imply that evolutionary biologists (not Darwinist, please) are among the crowd that mistake "theory" for "idea". If you did mean that I just don't feel that you've made your case.
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@Karl_Withakay, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@KWC, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Can you spot the troll?
written by huonia, October 22, 2009
Two guesses!
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@huonia
written by Davis, October 22, 2009
Very original!
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written by bjornart, October 22, 2009
Truth is rarely original.
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Lack of Evidence
written by GMJ, October 22, 2009
@ Davis. Still waiting for a drop of evidence that Jebus actually existed.
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@GMJ, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Who's touchy again?
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
@davis
"My, a tad touchy about my "just as often" comment"

It's hardly touchy to point out an unsupported, fallacious argument.

I am annoyed when people use bogus hyperbole as equivocation and then get defensive when their point is invalidated and they get called out for using fallacious logic.
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Evidence: I do not htink that word means what you think it does...
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
@GMJ

"At the risk of veering wildly off topic, there is more evidence that Jesus existed than there is Alexander the Great."

Care to provide support for that statement? Outside of the bible, can you provide much (or any) evidence that the historical Jesus existed, and please don't cite Josepheus; the authenticity of the references in his work to Jesus and John the baptist are at best, questionable.
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@Karl, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Read closely...
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
@Davis, I didn't bring up Jesus or religion, nor did I attempt to support the theory of evolution in any way, AT ALL .

I also never disputed the existence of a historical Jesus, though I did dispute the falsifiable claim the there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than for Alexander the Great.

Prior to now, I never brought up the fact that I consider the theory of evolution to be as well supported and proven as any scientific theory today.

I'm not sure what you mean by "everytime you give someone the date you are validating my point." Maybe I'm a little distracted, but I have no idea what you're trying to say with that sentence or which point you think is being validated.
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@karl, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Not really support for you position.
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
I actually don't deny that it is likely there was some guy Jesus, possibly the son of Joseph the carpenter born a little over 2000 years ago that became the central figure in the Cristian religion, I but I dispute that there is much, if any legitimate evidence of such, and certainly not more evidence of his existence than of Alex the Great's.

The AD calendar system might be some support for the existence of a historical Jesus if we had started using it anytime during his lifetime. As it is, we didn't start using it until so long after his lifetime that we guessed wrong on the starting point.

You're using circular logic for support for the existence of Jesus: You know Jesus existed because we base our calendar off of his birth, and we base our calendar off of Jesus' supposed birth because we know he existed, because we base our calendar off of his birth, because he existed.....
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@karl, Lowly rated comment [Show]
We have physical evidence of the moon landings...
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
Outside of the Bible, we don't have much, if any, reliable evidence there was a historical Jesus.

Even within the bible itself, the earliest gospel, written about 40 years after Jesus' death, is attributed to Mark, who never met Jesus. It is widely considered that neither Matthew nor John actually wrote the gospels attributed to them, and that the books called Matthew, Mark, & Luke all were derived from common source of unknown composition. Luke even admits he based his work on his research of numerous works done by others. Paul, the most prolific author in the New Testament, never met Jesus either, at least not prior to Jesus' ascension. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Kuroyume, October 22, 2009
How can an actual historical person (of such importance) be so vague? With Jesus we have a birth (a miraculous, virgin, touched-by-god birth no less), a momentary incident at age 12, and then a totally cocked up story (told differently four times!) of the supposed last three years from 30 to 33. We're missing about 30 years. There is no birthdate mentioned (Jesus must have hated birthday parties or something) and the one used was guessed much later (in the 6th century). The mythical, undocumented events surrounding the birth (three mages, stars, angels, Herod's slaughter of newborns) reinforce the fiction of the account. The last three years are all mythical and unbelievable and it should befuddle anyone why there are no valid corroborative sources outside of the biblical accounts if anything even close ever happened. There were literate Greeks and Romans *living* in Judea at the time all of this supposedly happened. Josephus, whose texts on the subject were assuredly interpolations, didn't write his "The Antiquities of the Jews" until well after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (many decades after the purported ministry of Jesus).

After long contemplation and reading scholarly or other books on the subject, my consensus is that the religion had no figure even resembling a Jesus but was instead started by some collusion of Greco-Jewish ideas maybe as a way to assuage and introduce the Jews to more Helenistic ideas (and try to spare them the unfortunate fate that followed) or just as a way make this type of foreign religion appealing to the Jewish people.

Finding a historical Jesus is about as difficult as finding a specimen of Bigfoot. It is hard to support the reality of something that has no convincing evidence.
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I AGREE WITH KUROYUME!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Kuroyume, October 22, 2009
Head meet desk. smilies/cheesy.gif
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God of the gaps; really, that's where you want to go?
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
@Davis
Are you seriously using the god of the gaps argument, implying that since science currently doesn't have an answer for something, that therefore god is the explanation?

Maybe you're new to the evolution discussion, or maybe you just have always ignored the answers you have been given over and over again: The origin of life, has NOTHING to do with whether evolution is factual or not. Even if a god created the first single celled life ex nihlo, it would still be possible for all subsequent lifeforms to have evolved from that single, created organism.
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@karl
written by Davis, October 22, 2009
Do you believe life can arise from non-life?
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@karl- clarification
written by Davis, October 22, 2009
Do you believe the evidence we currently have supports the belief that life can arise from non-life?
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@karl, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Abigenesis
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
I believe that life originally arose from non-life.

I believe there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

I believe that the evidence is currently extraordinarily weak, more along the lines of strong inference and reasonable speculation, but it is far stronger than any evidence for any competing theory.

@Davis,
Do you believe that life was created by a god?
Do you believe there is evidence that life was created by a god?
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written by Kuroyume, October 22, 2009
There are tons of inanimate objects that produce life: quarks, subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, proteins, peptide chains. There is nothing in any form of life that we know which isn't constructed of the same molecules and atoms as rock, crystals, air, suns, asteroids, water, clouds, gaseous remnants of novae and supernovae, and so on.
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@karl, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@kuroyume
written by Davis, October 22, 2009
Your statement is wrong on so many levels its not even worth replying to.
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Not that is was relevant to the question of evolution
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
Of course, my belief in the origin of life is irrelevant to the discussion of evolution, unless you intend to claim my bias blinds me to your truth.

My belief in the origin of life is also irrelevant to a discussion of whether a god created the universe as well. It is possible for a god to have created the universe in a process we call the Big Bang, and stayed hands off since then, or for there to be no god at all and either way, it wouldn't have any bearing on whether life rose from non-life.
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@Davis
written by Kuroyume, October 22, 2009
Which part is incorrect: the factual part or the science-based reality part?

What, you don't 'believe' that life is made up of the same matter as the rest of the universe?
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@kuroyume
written by Davis, October 22, 2009
Life may be made up of the "same matter" as the rest of the universe (man is made from dust, afterall). But there is huge difference between life and non-life.
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troll has been spotted
written by huonia, October 22, 2009
A few of us skeptics are using up bandwidth on the troll. Learn when to walk away. You've been TROLLED.
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Care to give any evidence...
written by Karl_Withakay, October 22, 2009
beyond god of the gaps and personal incredulity?
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A few points
written by ClareZ, October 22, 2009
Hypothesis: the idea that some idea or process may exist. Needs follow up testing and scientific inquiry. Correct?

Theory: Hypothesis that has been tested and looks to be true from all of the data collected to date. Yes?

Btw, I thought it is not the theory of gravity - it is the Law of Gravity. So, is gravity a theory or is it past that because the weight of the scientific evidence has proven it and now we accept its existence and use it as a given when moving on to new hypotheses?

Although interested in science and truth in general (I am Debbie Downer in conversations as I continuously poke holes in people's stories by stubbornly relying on facts), I am obviously not trained in sciences. Love them - do not have the logic stream in my head needed for higher math skills. Would love some serious insight as the the above - hypotheses, theory and law if anyone think they are germane.
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Spotted Trolls
written by Kuroyume, October 22, 2009
A spotted troll! Aren't they rare? smilies/wink.gif

I certainly know what 'Davis' (aka other names) is up to. It is always a service to assist this person in looking even more foolish than already made by their own postings.
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written by Diverted Chrome, October 22, 2009
ClareZ,
It's both. Depends what you're talking about at the time.
You might think of it this way:
The "Laws" of gravity refers to the interactions of the system that are immutable and consistent. I.E. a law is a statement, or list, of behaviors.
"Theory" of gravity would be the entire set of facts, proofs, and the predictions based on these, that pertain to the phenomena, which arise from the empirical evidence and have consistently and accurately described the phenomena in all experiments and observations.

@Jeff:"given how little wilderness there is left"
Though you're probably using the term colloquially ("Wilderness" is a land management term), there's a lot it left. Those that have not lived in, say, Alaska or Wyoming often seem to hold this viewpoint, but wilderness is increasing (in America, from 9 million acres in 1964 to 107 million acres today with more coming). It gets a lot of press when Republican detune the system for their timber/oil buddies (& got less press when Clinton added millions of acres) but the net effect over time is massive increase.
Not trying to be merely pedantic (see below); "colloquial" wilderness doesn't really exist anyway (and in most definitions wouldn't include de facto regions) whereas technical (Managed-as) wilderness is real and not simply interchangeable with "the forest" or "unpopulated area".

Anyway, on this note: I once went on a short bigfoot excursion with a certain southern Oregon proponent and learned that bigfoot sighting-claims occur in heavily logged areas (which means checkerboard road building) that, unlike wilderness, are easily accessed and which are usually, post-logging, set aside for recreation designation. Which I found hilarious for reasons that should be obvious.
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Humor
written by GMJ, October 22, 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...r_embedded
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written by latsot, October 22, 2009
ClareZ:

That's broadly true, but I think it's a mistake to view it as a progression from hypothesis->theory->law as evidence accrues, although it's often thought of that way.

A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for some set of observations.

A theory is a proposed explanation that has undergone a lot of scientific testing and usually conforms to some other standards, such as parsimony. Hypotheses sometimes become theories as they undergo testing, but in practice, that's not the only way theories are born.

A law is a different kind of thing altogether. It states some kind of relation between properties, but doesn't itself explain why that relation exists. Hypotheses and theories do (for a flexible definition of 'why').

A fact is something that can't be disputed by a reasonable person. For example, evolution is a theory, but it's a fact that evolution occurs.

Of course, these are the scientific uses and the colloquial ones differ. Both are perfectly acceptable, but it's important not to confuse them. Creationists confuse the two (possibly deliberately) to make it seem as though evolution isn't a fact. Kajabla61 rightly points this out, but I personally think it was clear Jeff was using 'theory' in the colloquial sense.
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written by Dooyoowoowoo, October 23, 2009
The "Ida" that is being referred to is 45 million years old. Is it any wonder it took time to work out it's place in evolution?
We still have more facts about it than we do about jesus don't we Davis.
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Spooooky
written by Sadhatter, October 23, 2009
Weird thing.

I had a dream last night that i was at some form of skeptical conference, and some insane heavily armed person rushed the stage and started screaming about how the calender proved christianity. Though he actually did debate somewhat he also fired off a large gun into the crowd as he did so. Strangely no one,myself included left, while people were being killed.

Then i come in here and read Davis'comments.

I am officially spooked out now, lol. And awaiting my MDC check.
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@sadhatter
written by Davis, October 23, 2009
If I were you, I would either double the medication or cut it in half because your current dosage is not working.......
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