Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


You probably know all about such familiar cryptids as Bigfoot, Nessie, El Chupacabra, and Champ, and if you're a regular reader of this blog you probably also have a good working knowledge of some less familiar ones -- the Bunyip, Mokele-Mbembe, LizardMan, Sheepsquatch, the Beast of Gevaudan, Black Shuck, and Cadborosaurus.  You are probably also well aware that there has never been a bit of hard evidence for the existence of any of them.  All we have is sketchy eyewitness accounts, grainy photographs, and videocamera footage so shaky it looks like it was taken by a person who had just consumed about a quart of espresso.

What explains this dearth of tangible proof for any of these mysterious creatures?  There are two possible explanations that come readily to mind:

1)  None of them actually exist.
2)  The eyewitness accounts, photographs, and video clips aren't of actual, live cryptids; what people are seeing are the ghosts of prehistoric animals.

Well.  I think we can all agree that option #2 is a pretty persuasive scientific explanation, can't we?

It will come as no surprise to you that the Ghost Cryptid Theory is the brainchild of Nick Redfern, author of Contactees: A History of Alien-Human Interaction, Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story, Man-Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot, Three Men Seeking Monsters, and about a dozen other titles on similar topics.

Redfern writes of a discussion he had with his friend, Joshua Warren, on the subject:
Could it be that certain animals of a strange and fantastic nature seen today are actually the spirits or ghosts of creatures that became extinct thousands of years ago? As fantastic as such a scenario might sound, maybe we shouldn’t outright dismiss it.

Indeed, paranormal expert and good friend Joshua P. Warren, the author of the highly-relevant book, Pet Ghosts, told me that he had extensively investigated a series of encounters with apparitional, ancient animals on farmland at Lancaster, South Carolina – one of which seemed to resemble nothing less than a spectral pterodactyl. Josh seriously mused upon the possibility that the ghostly presence of certain extinct animals might very well help explain sightings of monstrous beasts in our presence to this very day.

“Maybe Bigfoot is a phantimal,” said Josh to me, utilizing a term he uses to describe ghostly beasts, “perhaps even the ghost of a prehistoric creature, similar to the enormous extinct possible ape, Gigantopithecus, or maybe even the spirits of primitive humans.”
Okay.  Right.  A "phantimal."  So, what we've succeeded in accomplishing here is to take something that is potentially open to investigation (I hesitate to call what the Finding Bigfoot people did "investigation"), and place it entirely outside of the realm of what is even theoretically verifiable. 

Redfern and Warren seem to think that this is a good thing.  If all of those people who claim to have seen Bigfoot are actually seeing a "spectral" proto-hominid, then the lack of evidence somehow becomes a point in favor of the theory, right?

Ghostly Sasquatches, after all, leave behind no hair samples.

This seems mighty convenient to me.  It takes all of the objections that skeptics have to the cryptozoology thing, and dismisses them at one fell swoop:  "Of course there's no tangible proof."  It also explains all of the cryptid sightings with equal facility.  Nessie and Cadborosaurus are spirit pleisiosaurs.  Mokele-Mbembe is the ghost of a brachiosaurus.  Black Shuck and El Chupacabra are the ghosts of deceased canines.  Sheepsquatch is the ghost of...  well, I still don't know what the hell Sheepsquatch is.  But the ghost of some prehistoric mammal or another.

All of this, of course, just goes to show something that I've commented upon before; there's no crazy idea out there that's so outlandish that someone can't elaborate upon it so as to make it even more ridiculous.  We take something for which there is no evidence, but which at least isn't biologically impossible (the existence of cryptids), and put it in a blender with another thing for which there is no evidence (the existence of ghosts), and pour out a wonderful new Woo-Woo Smoothie -- Cryptids are the Ghosts of Prehistoric Animals.

Maybe we can elaborate it further, you think?  Maybe the spirit animals are actually in contact with... aliens!  That's it, the spirit animals are spies and are relaying information on us to their alien overlords!  I'm sure that somehow it's all tied up with the Roswell Incident, HAARP, and the Illuminati.

And I'm also sure that before the year is out, Nick Redfern will have written a book about it.

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