Archive for July, 2013


Update: 7/28/2013

Well it’s been a couple of weeks since last posting. I decided a little me time was necessary and time to “right the ship” so to speak.

Squatchdetective Radio, will return shortly, as I have been working on a new center, and will be complete by October. Currently working on arrangements to continue the show with our great friends over at CyberstationUSA.com .

The Squatchdetective.com Field Team has been completely revamped. We have parted company with Tri-City NY Paranormal Society and the New York Bigfoot Society. The latter was going in a direction in which was very different to ours and thought it was best to part ways.

Of course I am still proud to be associated with NESRA and the ABS.

That being said, this concept was slowly in progress prior to our association with Tri-City, and now is the time to roll such out.

A new team within the last couple of days has been formed, and it is a much larger, more diverse contingent than we’ve had previously.

We have an advisory panel of seven great folks that will lend their eyes, ears and analysis of our evidence prior to release. Team members and advisors will be announced on a new team page we will be adding to Squatchdetective.com.

We also have two team members which will serve as our Wildlife Biology consultants.

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Part of the new team in June 2013 on a scout mission.

 

That being said, we will announce today two positions that have been long overdue.

First is Gary Laviolette who has been acting as an ad-hoc Assistant Director since 2006 and now assumes the title.

Stacey Horton, who was previously with the original field team, now takes the roll of Squatchdetective.com’s Case Manager as well as taking an active field roll. 

In the upcoming months we have numerous plans in motion, so it should be an exciting season.

Till Next Time,

Squatch-D

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Well here goes a blog, I’ve had to think out a while. Last week I highlighted an article in this blog where Houston Chronicle science reporter, Eric Berger, belittles Dr. Ketchum using an anonymous geneticist who wishes to remain out of the fray for the sake of ridicule. 

 

 

Berger

Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger.

 

Some have criticized the fact that the source was from an anonymous source. I won’t hold that against the scientist, because how many times have we kept a witness confidential?

Would it be fair to discount the encounter reports by witnesses wishing to remain anonymous?

Obviously no.

But on the other hand, was it fair for this reporter to just state the results were this without any factual basis to back it up to be verified by the public?

Absolutely not.

(Why am I maintaining my source’s anonymity? Because some of his peers would question his engagement on such a topic, believing it unworthy of valuable research time. But make no mistake, he is a top-notch scientist at the top of his field.)

                                                                                             -Eric Berger, 7/1/13

What the journalist is asking us is to trust him, rather than trust Melba. He said she said…

Sorry, I call shenanigans.

More matter of fact, we reached out to Berger for him to come on the radio show and explain how his test came about, how the samples were provided what types of testing were done, insuring the anonymity of his source, and answer other questions. Of course our inquiries were not answered at all.

What does Mr. Berger have to hide? Why the professional discourtesy? A week is enough time to at least answer the request.

In my opinion an ethical journalist would find a source that would go on record and test the sample data, and provide some documentation in the article that condemns another scientist’s work. Not a “trust me” demeanor.

Even as a “mere little blogger and podcaster,” my ethics would have only allowed information with that standard to be allowed on my media outlets.

Since Berger’s article lacks that, is mere here say.

However…

Does the Ketchum Study reveal all the scientists and labs that worked on the samples? Could there be some equal ethical consideration on that side as well?

If not, it’s shenanigans as well. What’s good for the goose IS good for the gander as well. And I say to the proponents of the study, you can’t have it both ways.

There was one scientist more recently, who took to task the Ketchum study, not testing a sample from the project but rather reading the report itself and finding flaw with it.

Perhaps if Dr. Ketchum feels this scientist is in error she can send him a sample.

Thanks to Matt Knapp over at Bigfoot Crossroads, in this blog he highlights the Ars Technica website and a scientist who has written a rather lengthy article, technical, yet enough in layman’s terms to be understood, as he breaks down everything for us.

To me it is the best breakdown to date, why myself and many of my colleagues feel the study went askew.

The scientist, is Ph.D in Molecular and Cell Biology, Dr. John Timmer, not just a science reporter like Berger.

His bio is rather quite impressive, from his online bio:

John-TimmerJohn (Timmer) is Ars Technica’s science editor. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. John has done over a decade’s worth of research in genetics and developmental biology at places like Cornell Medical College and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He’s been a speaker at the annual meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the Science Online meetings, and he’s one of the organizers of the Science Online NYC discussion series. In addition to being Ars’ science content wrangler, John still teaches at Cornell and does freelance writing, editing, and programming.

What we have is a breakdown by a science writer. who is credentialed, perhaps even more so in genetics than Dr. Ketchum, who’s doctorate is in veterinarian medicine. 

Here is one such sample from the article condemning the study to turning a blind eye to the truth, for a more romantic idea, which is the summation (not that we’ve seen that in the Bigfoot community over the years..ha..ha) :

If the DNA was human and had not degraded much during its time in the environment, then most of these reactions should produce a clear, human-like signal. The same would be true if, as Ketchum concluded, the samples contained DNA from a close relative of humans (remember, chimps’ DNA is over 95 percent identical to ours). If the animal were more distantly related, you might expect some reactions to work and some to fail, with the percentage of failures going up as the degree of relatedness fell. In some cases, you might expect the reactions to produce a PCR product that was the wrong size due to changes in DNA content that occur during evolution.

But you can’t necessarily expect the DNA to sit outdoors and remain intact. DNA tends to break into fragments, with the size of the fragments shrinking over time. Depending on how degraded the sample is, you might see more or fewer reactions failing.

What they saw was a chaotic mix of things. As Ketchum herself put it, "We would get these crazy different variants of sequence. We would get these things that were novel in genbank. We would get a lot of failure, and we’d get some that would have regular human sequence," Ketchum said. "We could not account for this, and it was repeatable."

All of which suggested that there was likely to be DNA present that was only distantly related to humans; anything that was from a human or close relative was probably seriously degraded…

…So all the initial data suggested that the DNA was badly preserved and probably contaminated. Which in turn suggests that whatever techniques they used to get DNA from a single, uncontaminated source just wasn’t sufficient for the samples they were working with. But instead of reaching that conclusion, the bigfoot team had an alternative: their technique worked perfectly fine. It was the sample that was unusual.

                                                                                                      Ars Technica, 7/7/13

Too often, as we’ve seen in the field, people get romantic about the existence of the Sasquatch and alleged evidence they have found. And they get dead set on it without stepping out of the area and looking at it without bias.

Bottom line, nobody except a few of you here even care about the truth. Most would rather perpetuate that BF is a myth or an ape.”

                                                                                        – Dr. Melba Ketchum statement

And that is the usual blanket excuse (as well as untrue) of those committed to an opinion rather than to the science and review of such.

Coming from a scientist, who needs to look at their own results without bias, I find the statement disappointing and typical of the same type of witness who insists there blobsquatch is a Bigfoot no matter what inconsistencies you point out.

Usually when the conversation devolves to a statement as such, any debate and constructivism is lost upon the statement maker.

Read Dr. Timmer’s article.

I will let the audience and time to be the judge.

Till next time,

Squatch-D

This just in…

A reporter from The Houston Chronicle states he spoke with Melba for an hour and was allowed for a geneticist friend of his double check one or more of the samples from the Ketchum project which were from a “Novel and Non-Human Species.”

The results were that of an opossum and other mixed species, dealing yet another blow to the long waited for and revered “Ketchum Study.”

The article can be read here:

Back in February I savaged the release of a research paper that claimed to prove the existence of Bigfoot by providing a DNA sequence from the species.

The paper contained details of DNA from the “Sasquatch genomes,” which the authors characterized as novel and non-human.

Following the paper’s publication I solicited the views of several geneticists on the work. From their reading of the scientific paper — published in a journal that had been started just the week before — they said at best the evidence was inconclusive.

Ketchum

Ketchum

In summarizing my views of the work, led by Nacogdoches geneticist Melba Ketchum, I was blunt and brutal:

If Ketchum really had the goods she would have co-authored the paper with reputable scientists and gotten the work published in a reputable scientific journal. Instead she’s playing to an audience that doesn’t understand how science works, that wants to believe Bigfoot exists and is willing to send her some cash to further their delusions.

A funny thing happened later that week — Ketchum called me. We spoke for nearly an hour, and after the bad things I had written about her research, I was impressed that she bore  no grudge and wanted to nonetheless engage with me. It was a good and constructive conversation.

I am first and foremost a journalist, and I figured if there was even a 1 percent chance that the Bigfoot evidence was real, it was worth my time to check the story out.

So I agreed to be an intermediary between Ketchum and a highly reputable geneticist in Texas, whom I trusted and knew personally. I also knew that this geneticist was first and foremost a scientist, and if there was even a 1 percent chance the Bigfoot evidence was real, he’d want check out the story. I asked, and he was willing to approach the evidence with an open mind.

(Why am I maintaining my source’s anonymity? Because some of his peers would question his engagement on such a topic, believing it unworthy of valuable research time. But make no mistake, he is a top-notch scientist at the top of his field.)

The deal was this: I would hold off writing anything until this geneticist had his lab test the DNA samples obtained by Ketchum that were purportedly a novel and non-human species. If the evidence backed up Ketchum’s claims, I had a blockbuster story. My geneticist source would have a hand in making the scientific discovery of the decade, or perhaps the century. Ketchum would be vindicated.

In short, we would all have been winners.

Alas, I met my geneticist friend this past week and I asked about the Bigfoot DNA. It was, he told me, a mix of opossum and other species. No find of the century.

Source: http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2013/07/i-had-the-bigfoot-dna-tested-in-a-highly-reputable-lab-heres-what-i-found/

Till Next Time,

Squatch-D

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