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Thursday, February 14, 2013


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.


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.


  • 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:

1 comment:

Dan said...

What they are essentially doing here, I hope unintentionally, is sending up all the red flags that indicate when scientific fraud is in progress.

Were I, or any member of the CFZ group, or indeed any scientific organisation to embark on trying to publish sasquatch evidence, the very last thing we would do is open up in public ahead of scientific journal publication. The initial papers would have to be something on the lines of "Unusual ape-like hair samples from a North American forest area" with a paper leaning heavily on towards the hypothesis of these hairs being from an escaped zoo or circus specimen, and requesting assistance in determining species.

As it is, thanks to some extremely dubious Soviet research we know that simple crossing of humans and chimps (the species that most closely resembles modern humans) does not yield viable offspring. So, notions of a human X whatever hybrid are highly likely to be bogus.

And then we have the film evidence. What can I honestly say about this? I could, by dint of persuasion and probably outright bribery persuade Jon Downes to don a suitably large ghillie suit then be filmed in Devon; even this would provide a more convincing sasquatch than that seen in the video evidence (hell, even Richard Freeman in a monkey-suit would do that!).

The entire episode looks like just one more round of unprofessional fakery.