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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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Thursday, February 14, 2013

MELBA KETCHUM'S NOVEL HOMININS: And the beat goes on

And so the story continues. And it is not making very impressive reading. I haven't received an answer to my letter to DeNovo asking for access to their press room, and I still can't work out where to download the journal from, but it doesn't matter now because I have actually been sent a copy of the journal (albeit one of the press evaluation copies) from an anonymous source. (This is especially ironic as I was going to pay the $30).

My first impression was that the whole thing was appallingly badly laid out. It looks more like an amateur parish magazine than a scientific paper, but what about the contents?

I am a naturalist and a journalist, and although I am - by definition - a zoologist, in that I am a bloke who studies animals, I never went to University, and my technical knowledge is sadly lacking. So I passed copies of the journal over to two of my colleagues whose zoological chops are far more impressive than my own.

Now, before we go any further, I am not going to identify them. Why? Because as the provenance of the said pdf is a little dodgy, and I know next to nothing about American copyright law, I do not want to implicate the two zoologists (whom I shall call Zoologist #1 and Zoologist #2) in any criminal act which I amy or may not have been party to. We are NOT quoting any of the text, or posting pictures except for the front cover, so - as far as I am concerned - there should be no problems, but better safe than sorry.

ZOOLOGIST #1

I think their methodology looks weak at best, Just their description of the variation in the morphology of the hairs is enough to make me think they have been analysing hairs of several different species of animal mixed together. One of the photographs of the hairs looks distinctly human to me, whereas one of the others looks more like a bear. Apart from that the paper has a lot of statements they just expect us to take at face value, That's simply poor science. I can't see any scientific journal accepting this.

ZOOLOGIST #2

  • The English is poorly written. In a normal paper, a high standard of English is assumed, and papers can be rejected based on this. A normal reviewer would jump on this (though obviously small typos and things are found in any paper, as you would expect)
  • From the introduction, it is obvious that the writers are not writing from a null position. Because good science is hypothesis driven, you need a null hypothesis to act in opposition to the actual hypothesis (for instance, I hypothesise that compared to the average human, there is a significant difference between the sizes of X and Y. The null hypothesis would be that there is no significant difference). Study introductions should review the literature from an un-biased point of view, make hypotheses accordingly, then go into the study. This kinda doesn't.
  • "Some photographic evidence also exists such as Figure 4 is a reddish brown Sasquatch sleeping in the forest" (page 2, 4th para) is one heck of a statement to give, especially without a reference to a paper (or at least a book!) demonstrating that it is in fact a 'squatch. To my knowledge, no peer-reviewed paper does so.
  • "Video of the same Sasquatch is seen in Supplementary Movie 1 where her respirations are counted at only 6 per minute." Again, unreferenced assertion of sex and existence of the being as a Sasquatch.
  • They end the introduction by telling us what the study finds (in their eyes). This is a poor way to write a paper introduction as it indicates the lack of a null position (again).
  • Methods: no references for much of it. If you "thoroughly cleaned [the samples] in a manner consistent with forensic testing procedures" you need to reference the paper you got this from!
  • When they talk about "primers", they don't show or reference the sequences used! Bad practice.
  • No actual academics are on the paper, they are all forensic scientists. A potential bias from influence via funders and the private sector perhaps?
  • In the results section, they make inferences and speculations about the data (eg, "With the wide variety of haplotypes in the study and especially with the majority of the haplotypes being European or Middle Eastern in origin, migration into North America by these hominins may have occurred previous to the migration across the Bering land bridge."). Again, a stupid thing to do, that is what the discussion is for.
  • Random crappy readouts from various programs are strewn all over the place with no explanation. Again, shoddy.
  • They give it a scientific name. With no haplotype. And the name is not in italics. A mistake which is guaranteed to irritate me.
Finally I would point the earnest seeker after truth towards the following online commentarys:


FORTEAN BIRD NEWS FROM THE WATCHER OF THE SKIES (CFZ)

In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that whereas the study of out of place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in. So after about six months of regular postings on the main bloggo Corinna has taken the plunge and started a 'Watcher of the Skies' blog of her own as part of the CFZ Bloggo Network.






RETURN OF THE GONZO BLOG DOO-DAH MAN

And once again the main topic of conversation is computers and our woefully inadequate ISP. Apparently Dave B-P spoke to BT yesterday and they have made our case a priority. Nearly 24 hours later and nothing has happened.
The new issue of Hawkwind's classic 'Warrior' album has been confirmed
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/hawkwind-warrior-album-release-confirmed.html
What happens when Graham and Davey C get let off the leash to go review a Hawkwind concert
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/have-you-ever-wondered-what-happens.html

*  The Gonzo Daily is a two way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at  jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work, or even just say hello please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow...

*  The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link:
http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit-to-print.html

* We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!

*  Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 53 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the orange cat?

RUSSIAN TRANSLATOR WANTED

Is there anyone out there in the CFZ Readership who can read Russian? And furthermore could they (and would they) be able to translate a lengthy document for us? If you don't ask, you don't get.

CFZ PEOPLE: J.T. Downes

On this day in 2006 my Father died. We didn't get on for most of his life, but for the last three or four months we were friends. I miss him still...

MELBA KETCHUM'S PAPER HAS NOW APPARENTLY BEEN PUBLISHED

Following on from my post this morning, it now appears that Melba Ketchum's paper sequencing the Bigfoot Genome has now been published. It appears that the two separate journals DeNovo and Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology are actually one and the same, and although no explanation for why the second of these two titles is now being published by the former, and that Scolastica are now out of the picture is, I suppose, none of our business.

The backlash against the credibility of this new journal, has spread. Loren writes:

Breaking update: The paper has been published. But there are some major problems that are being revealed with the publication in which this paper is appearing. Number one that the “journal” (or website) is new, apparently purchased as a way to get the paper published. The domain date is February 4, 2013. Not enough time for any credible peer-reviewing under the editorship of a new journal. Is this vanity publishing? Is this scientific suicide? 

One has to agree with him. To self-publish something of this magnitude in an unknown journal would seem to be rather unwise. I have not yet received an answer from Dr Ketchum or anyone else at DeNovo, replying to my request for press access. However, once again I seem to have been overtaken by events. Because it has now, allegedly, been published. I do, however, have one question.

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL IS IT?

If you go to the Journal Page on their website, its all very nicely laid out, but where is the journal? Where is the link to read or buy a copy? I expect that I am just being dumb here, but please can someone let me know...

CFZ "PEOPLE": Kassie Preston (1999-2013)

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go to Matthew Williams at this sad time.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Yesterday’s News Today

Hope everyone has a Happy Valentines day, except for the git that reserves tables at all the restaurants 6 months in advance so he can sell them off to the highest bidder.
And now the news:
  • Python hunt winds down in Florida Everglades
  • Dogs cross species barrier, help cheetahs survive
  • Asian Needle Ants Displacing Other Aggressive Inva...
  • Prof Stephen Harris: Fox cull 'won't address probl...
  • Sockeye salmon 'sense magnetic field of home'
  • Using whale oil to fuel whale hunting ships is obs...
  • Extinction risk as Aceh opens forests for logging
  • Earliest placental mammal ancestor pinpointed

  • All you need is love: