Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, March 04, 2011

EDWARD STERN: You Can Study Anything You Want, Kids... except Cryptozoology

Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog.

Education, particularly its earlier stages, is meant to be an excursion into wonder. It is meant to stimulate the imagination and allow children to begin to see the vast possibilities the world affords and that life itself provides. Teachers encourage students to embrace the fantastic and seemingly implausible, suspending disbelief to enjoy a view of reality that can only be shaped by innocent fantasies.

But if that is one of the goals of education, to stimulate curiosity and the imagination through an exploration of what is or very likely might be in the world, then why is cryptozoology so flagrantly regarded as a frivolous non-science?

This is particularly confounding and frustrating given the material many children enjoy and that educators embrace. Around the holidays children are cheerfully read stories of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and led in song about him as they patiently await Santa Claus's arrival, an arrival that will not happen. Yes, the magic of Santa is a treasured part of many a childhood, but face it: it's a bold-faced lie perpetuated by adults including educators, whose job it is to help students find the truth.

While they read stories of unrealistic beings and creatures, getting youngsters to believe in things we know not to be true, education policy ridicules another search for truth, one based in evidence and with much more grounding in reality: cryptozoology. Funding is suspended for any type of education that embraces the basic tenets of the study, and the field is widely dismissed as "not science" and as unfounded hearsay.

So creatures captured on film or seen by numerous eyewitnesses are less grounded in reality than a childhood myth? So encouraging our children to search for the truth about the seemingly implausible but simultaneously very real is a pursuit not worthy of their aspirations, not a worthy use of their intellectual imagination? So we do not want our children to keep questioning and searching and pushing forth the boundaries of what is known?

Cryptozoology is unfairly maligned by an education system that is old-fashioned and stuck in its ways when it comes to its definitions of 'accepted' fields of scientific study. These fields are changing all the time, with new scientific evidence and theory consistently replacing the old. New findings prove true old myths, while old truths become flimsy, illogical and poorly thought-out.

Even within the field of cryptozoology itself, what was once thought of as myth has become visible reality. The famed okapi, once the symbol of the International Society of Cryptozoology's quest for the fantastic, can now be found at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom for thousands of visitors a year to see with their own eyes.

Cryptozoology is based in evidence and the scientific search for exotic beings. It is an embrace of the fantastic, a stirring example of the world's possibility, and an application of scientific method all at once. It should not be a source of ridicule and scorn, particularly from an institution so willing to let its constituents believe that a fat man in a red suit flies from the North Pole to bring them presents every year.


C-E C said...

Totally agree! And very well put!


Ben said...


I just stumbled across your post, and I found it interesting. I wonder where you got some of your information, such as "Cryptozoology is unfairly maligned by an education system...."

What on earth are you talking about? Which educational system is "unfairly maligning" cryptozoology? Do you have any examples you could share with us? Which teachers or educational textbooks are "maligning" cryptozoology?

Also, while I agree that cryptozoology should not be "a source of ridicule and scorn," I have to ask, why are you assuming that it IS a source of ridicule and scorn? Can you give some examples of this "ridicule and scorn," or are you just assuming without evidence?