Last December, I wrote this post about the modern-day drama swirling around the claim that the arm of a Bigfoot (quickly revealed to be the articulated leg of an alligator) had been found in Florida. I was interested in the story because the key ingredients of how it unfolded (including a climate of public interest, a lack of basic scientific acumen about the actual "evidence," profit motivations, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories) are all things that likely contibuted to the "giants" fad that rolled wave-like through late 1800's America. While the two are not the same thing, I see some potential parallels between finding giant skeletons back then and searching for Bigfoot today.
One part of the Bigfoot phenomenon that doesn't have a parallel in the world of 19th century giant skeletons, however, is the weird clan-based, trash-talking celebrity culture of self-poclaimed "Bigfooters." These guys (as far as I can tell, searching for Bigfoot is largely the domain of white males) compete for attention in just about every way possible except for producing actual physical evidence of Bigfoot. Given that we can't use the discovery of real evidence as an objective criterion for resolving all the mutually exclusive claims about who the best Bigfooters actually are, I was happy to learn that there are professional publications available for helping the layman sort the wheat from the chaff.
And the 2016 award for Bigfooter of the Year goes to . . . Stacy Brown, Jr.: the guy who mistook an alligator limb for a Bigfoot arm.
Maybe Bigfooting awards are like paticipation ribbons now. Hey -- good for you! You tried!
What brought this important story to my attention was a posting in a Facebook group of some emails that appear to show Brown discussing how to keep the "Bigfoot arm" story in the news even though he knew it was a hoax. I have no way of knowing if those emails are legitimate or not, but you can read them here if you like.
Maybe we should start a year end tradition of awards for the archaeological "fringe." Help me brainstom categories and we'll get it done.
Anyway, Happy Holidays to all the Bigfooters out there who didn't win an award this year. Keep up the good work!