In a nutshell, Bigfoot in Evolutionary Perspective is a book that looks at data from various sources and uses that data to come to conclusions about bigfoot. The sources range from John Green’s sightings database, the BFRO database, and various books and publications. Wilson uses his own field experiences as grounds for his conclusions as well, as any field researcher should do.
The book is definitely a valuable resource for researchers. Wilson has created numerous charts and graphs in which he shows a breakdown of how many reports from Green’s database show a certain characteristic, such as height, arm length, or even the types of foods sasquatches have been seen eating. In fact, there is an entire section at the end of the book that only features these graphics, though they are peppered throughout the book in the appropriate chapters where those features are discussed.
A notable chapter in the book solely deals with the value and reliability of eyewitness testimony. This is particularly important to bigfooters because of the assumption by skeptics that eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Using data from psychological field studies, Wilson clearly shows that eyewitnesses are adroit at getting the main details of unusual events correct in retellings.
Other conclusions Wilson draws from the data are interesting to note, though many have been published elsewhere, such as the running speed of saquatches, how far and high they can jump, and others. However, even when rehashing these particular abilities, he does an excellent job using sighting reports to support his claims.
There are several points where my own opinion differs from that of Wilson’s. These points tend to come from assumptions that Wilson makes. Fore example, one entire chapter of the book details how sasquatches couldn’t possibly be a relict form of Gigantopithecus. While I am far from certain that sasquatches are relict Gigantos, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea. Wilson sites the research done by Cinchon in his book, Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory, probably the most complete book on the discovery and analysis of the Gigantopithecus fossils. Many assumptions about Gigantos have been made by both Cinchon and Wilson that would be difficult to know considering how few fossils we have of these creatures. No post cranial fossils of the species have been recovered, and everything we know about these creatures is derived from a handful of mandibles and a few hundred teeth. Saying that they were quadrupeds is as speculative as saying they were bipedal. Saying that Gigantos were almost exclusively herbivorous, had limited endurance, or only ranged locally are other examples of speculations based on incomplete data.
Another glaring example where my opinion diverges from that of Wilson has to do with the sasquatch hand. Since Wilson assumes that sasquatches are a hominin, which could very well be true, he also assumes that they would have to have human-like hands for precision grip. Yet the data suggests otherwise. Wilson contests the idea that the sasquatch thumb lies parallel to the other fingers. Such a thumb, if limited to this one position, would indeed lack the ability to pick up, grasp, and hold objects, just as he claims. Wilson’s mistake is his assumption that the sasquatch thumb can ONLY lie parallel to the other fingers. Just as your thumb can move inwards in a grasping motion and back and forth on a more horizontal plane, sasquatch thumbs seem to do the same. In fact, the available sasquatch hand casts show the thumb to be impressed at various angles from the other fingers demonstrating this mobility. Wilson uses many paragraphs to explain why such an inflexible and strange hand structure could not possibly be used for the variety of applications that sasquatch hands must be used for. I agree. The problem here is the inflexible idea that sasquatch hands can only bend a certain direction. I would argue that assuming a sasquatch thumb can only move in that limited way is a product of rigid expectations.
Since Wilson disagrees with the hand analysis supported by Krantz and Meldrum based on the Freeman hand casts, he therefore goes on to assume that the Freeman handprint evidence, and indeed other casts not collected by Freeman but are often ascribed to him because they were collected in the Blue Mountains, are all hoaxes. This assumption then spills over to any evidence thought to have been collected by Freeman in the Blue Mountains. In my opinion, this is an error. Not only does most of the Freeman evidence stand up to analysis, but many of the so-called Freeman casts were actually collected by others, including Wes Sumerlin, Dar Addington, John Mionczynski, Vance Orchard, and others. Unfortunately due to incomplete and poorly-recorded data, these others’ contributions to the Blue Mountains evidence has been incorrectly ascribed to Paul Freeman.
Don’t get me wrong. Just because I disagree with some of Wilson’s conclusions doesn’t make this book any less valuable. In fact, I agree with most of his conclusions about bigfoots. I can also happily say that I picked up a couple things from the book that I hadn’t considered before. Wilson bravely speculates on what he thinks bigfoots are and can do, which makes for a much bolder book than the compendium of sighting reports that most bigfoot books end up being. Early in the book Wilson states that these are only his conclusions and he can be reasonably disagreed with. All good researchers should have this opinion. None of us have all the facts, and Wilson uses statistical analysis well to support many of his conclusions.
The book can be a little dry at times, as any statistical analysis can be, but the text is information-rich. I don’t agree with some of Wilson’s assumptions, but I also don’t mind my own assumptions being challenged by others, such as Wilson, when they are well-informed, use data, and have some field experience to back them up. While peppered with sighting reports, this is not a narrative, and the eyewitness reports are included to support Wilson’s conclusions as examples. For those scientifically-minded bigfooters that use facts and data to drive their opinions about sasquatches, I strongly recommend reading this book.
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