Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Just before we set out to record this weeks podcast Tara reminded me of a story that had made the rounds earlier in the week, about a genetic study which had supposedly produced definitive evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. What I didn't realize at the time of recording, was that the "study" in question was the same one that had been announced in November of last year, by Texas Vetrenarian and genetic researcher Melba Ketchum. Once I realized this was the case, I started to wonder why it was in the news again. Turns out, after months of struggling through the peer review process, the team's research paper was finally published on Feburary 14th, in the well known and highly respected "DeNovo Scientific Journal".
What's that? "I've never heard of the Denovo Scientific Journal." you say? Well, that's probably because - according to the Huffpo, anyway- it was first registered with godaddy.com (anonymously) on February 4th, 2013, for a period of one year, and currently contains only one published paper "The Bigfoot Genome Paper"; AKA, the "study" in question. Seems legit, right?
Aside from the dubious method of publication, which we'll get back to shortly, the problems with the study, the likely rational explanation, as well as why the paper was rejected for publication by legitimate scientific journals, seems pretty obvious. Best case scenario, the samples were contaminated. Which the group, of course, insists couldn't possibly be the case, since they were very careful to eliminate that possibility. Which I'd be willing to give them the befit of the doubt on, had the 1,100 samples used in the study not been collected, handled, and stored, by untrained individuals, from 34 different sites across North America [Yahoo News]. Which, again, one might be willing to forgive, if their claims weren't so definitive.
Melba Ketchum's statements from DNA Diagnostics Inc's Press release on their "Bigfoot Genome Paper"
“Our study has sequenced 20 whole mitochondrial genomes and utilized next generation sequencing to obtain 3 whole nuclear genomes from purported Sasquatch samples. The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species. Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens. "
"Sasquatch nuclear DNA is incredibly novel and not at all what we had expected. While it has human nuclear DNA within its genome, there are also distinctly non-human, non-archaic hominin, and non-ape sequences. We describe it as a mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence. Further study is needed and is ongoing to better characterize and understand Sasquatch nuclear DNA.”
Mmmm-kay. Maybe it's just me. But, "mosaic of human and novel non-human sequence", sounds a lot like: Collection of unrelated genetic materials most likely originating from multiple sources, some of which we can't identify. But, okay. Is there anything else we should know?
“Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry. Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them.”
Melba Ketchum on her paper's rejection in mainstream journals (VIA Huffington Post):
"It has been a long and tedious battle to prove that Sasquatch exists... Trying to publish has taken almost two years. It seems mainstream science just can't seem to tolerate something controversial, especially from a group of primarily forensic scientists and not 'famous academians' aligned with large universities, even though most of our sequencing and analysis was performed at just such facilities."
Oh, THERE it is. It always comes down to this, doesn't it? What I've come to call "the X-files argument"; the assertion that the mean old dogmatic doctrine of the scientific establishment is holdin' ya down, cause they're all just too close minded to challenge accepted facts. In short, it's nonsense.
Even if the "scientific establishment" did choose to dogmatically resist or deliberately deny their findings, it wouldn't matter. Because, as the saying goes: the great thing about science is that it's true, weather you believe it or not. Which really means- objective truths, are objective truths, regardless of who discovers them. So If you've done your science correctly. If what you think you've found, really is what you say it is. Then proving it's true, is only a matter of someone else looking in the same place, and seeing the same thing. And sooner or later that WILL happen regardless of weather you, or anyone else for that matter, tells them where to look or not. But if what you've claimed to have discovered, truly is something that only you can manage to see. Then whatever it is you may think you've found, it isn't science. That's what that whole peer review process Melba's research couldn't get past, is all about.
Sources: dnadiagnostics.com, Ben Radford: (Yahoo News)- (Discovery.com), The Huffington Post