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Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 11.59.59 PMAllegedly, an Oxford University geneticist, Dr. Bryan Sykes has taken samples from two so called Yeti, and has pulled a hybrid bear out of the hat.  It should be noted that Sykes has submitted his work for peer review publication.  He has a book coming out about it, as well as a television special. He used two samples with an unknown provenance.  One sample, supposedly came from a bear shot 40 years ago.  The other from another hair sample.  Working the Yeti angle, he received 70 samples. 27 had good DNA samples.  He has chosen to publicize two of those samples, which are from a polar bear jawbone from Norway that went extinct between 40,000 and 120,000 years old.

“…Sykes said the results had been submitted to a journal for peer review, so other scientists will be able to examine the results more closely as soon as they are published. He is aware of the limitations of his analysis, saying that there was only a limited amount that could be learned with the hair. “It’s 40 years old and not much DNA there really. The next best thing to do is to get an expedition together to find one and see what one is like in the wild and to see if any aspects of its behaviour are more likely to be identified as a yeti. And genetically to find out how much polar bear is in this animal. It might be a hybrid or a new species of bear. But we can’t tell all this from one hair sample.”…”

BUT…. according to Cryptomudo, in 2001 Sykes examined a yeti hair and said it was not a bear.

I have been interested in ‘weird’ animals since I was about nine years old.  I’ve since learned that the topic is called Cryptozology.  It is a fascinating, often crazed study of animals and critters that don’t exist – but might?  The crown jewel of the field is Bigfoot and the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman.  There are other creatures, such as the alleged dinosaur in Africa, which is probably an elephant, and the Loch Ness Monster, which is looking more and more dubious every day.  I mention this because, since that day, when I was a little kid, I’ve been searching for an explanation for what I saw.  My cousin was with me.  My mother saw it.  My grandfather, Froehlich, who is no longer with us, went out after it with a shot-gun, it was that freaky and threatening.

Michael and I were in Grandy’s orange grove.  The house once stood at 5511 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach Florida, right on the corner of canal bridge and Belvedere Road.  We watches something huge, some gigantic bird soar over the grove, for quite a bit of time.  Grandy finally came out, saw it, and went back into the house to get his shot-gun. He called my mother, who was inside the house, to come get Michael and I, and take us indoors.  She stood on the front steps with us, as we watched the thing.  It was big, gray, and had huge, weird wings.  Grandy, who had been around the block, said he’d never seen anything like it.  He’s seen the usual suspects, condors, albatross, eagles, large birds, but had never seen anything like it. It soared, circling the area, like some vulture on steroids.

We never did learn what it was.  From that day forward, I’ve looked for an explanation.  I’ve been told that’s the way it works.  Once you see something like that, you’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to find a logical answer.  This is my caveat with Bigfoot.  I’m curious.  It’s strange, and I live in an area where there are some fascinating sightings and stories.  Because I also live in a community which is basically over-run with brown bears, I find the Sykes Yeti DNA study to be just a little dubious, and if true, extremely alarming.  I also find the reception Bryan Sykes is getting to be quite different from the reception Melba Ketchum is still receiving.

I should also add a note here that I’m working on a novel, playing with a Bigfoot subplot.  Before I go any farther, I should state that it is not about ‘Bigfoot’ but it is a murder mystery, with a peeper who may or may not be Bigfoot.  My idea came from numerous local stories about Bigfoot peeping in bathrooms and bedrooms of teenage girls and young woman, at night. And, yes, I know people who were called in to investigate the claims.  All anyone connected with the incidents will say is that something freaked these young women out, enough to call the cops.   My research is to flesh in the story and have some fun with it.

I will also state that I find the Ketchum work to be fascinating.  One of the reasons I’m interested is because of two of the investigators who are part of the study.  Both are highly creditable individuals who have excellent resumes, either as outdoors-men or in law enforcement.  I will also state that I think Ketchum hurt herself by appearing on FOX News, which is more and more nothing but tabloid television, and nothing more. One of the individuals involved in the project, J. C. Johnson is from New Mexico.  He has an excellent reputation here in the state.  I suggest you check out his videos, but don’t do it late at night.

I probably have more respect for Johnson’s work than just about anyone else. He has been very upfront about the DNA sample collection process for Ketchum’s work. Naturally, the Bigfoot world pounced, pointing to a CSI article debunking Ketchum.  Frankly, I have a real problem with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry because I think they protest far too much.  Much of the debunking has been credited to Sharon Hill.  She appears though, to like the Sykes study.  I have a real problem with professional ‘skeptics’.  They are as fanatic as any true believer, which they are.  Over the years, I’ve found the very process of being a skeptic causes numerous problems with properly balancing material.

“…One of Hill’s main points is that investigators in the paranormal or Cryptozoology are not themselves scientists or scientifically trained.  To her, the ghost hunters on TV are just guys faking science for entertainment.  Hence her term, “sciencey” as a poke against the researchers that use scientific method but are not academically trained in such methods.  There is a certain hubris with this approach.  Sharon Hill has a BS degree in geology, but she can tell us that Bigfoot isn’t real?  Nor ghosts? Nor conspiracies?  Her apparent scientific research in these matters is basically nil.  Great, a scientist that does no scientific research into the matters she writes about.  Granted, everybody has an opinion and has right to it.  We all get to!   Other than banging away at a keyboard, what research has she really done?  Apparently, none.  She also has a tendency to be like the debunkers by dissing people, such as Dr. Melba Ketchum who announced she has some DNA data before publishing her results. And she was forced to do that by a scientific Politburo that basically wouldn’t let her publish her findings to be begin with (for more info check out her interview on Coast to Coast AM–quit enlightening how this process works).  Hill wrote a piece challenging Dr. Ketchum’s work without viewing her paper.  Is this what a real skeptic does?  Or in the terms of a Cryptomundo.com poster, a “pseudoskeptic.”  Which evoked a whinny response form Hill followed up by a sarcastic one before she gave up and moved on….”

It should also be noted that there are very few women in the crypto field.  The most famous is Linda Godfrey, who is an expert on the Beast of Bray Road.  She came to the field as a journalist.  The only other women anyone notes is Ranae Holland, of the Finding Bigfoot series.  It should also be noted that Sharon Hill’s bio is rather limited, and based primarily on her own articles about skepticism.  As do most skeptics, who have a tendency to belittle and bully, Hill makes light of Dr. Melba Ketchum‘s very  extensive resume which includes membership into the Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators.   Hill has a B. S. in geology, BTW. She appears to hate Ketchum with a nasty passion.

The Guardian

The Guardian

This takes us to the heart of the problem.  Bryan Sykes is a man.  He’s from Oxford, with all the mystical aura of Oxford.  Dr. Ketchum is a blond from Texas.  She is being treated like dirt, I think, because of her appearance and gender.

Beyond Highbrow

Beyond Highbrow

I’ve heard much of this before:

“…The Ketchum haters have long screamed that the paper never passed peer review. Once again they are proven wrong. So much of what they screamed about her has turned out to be not true. Ketchum is a Machiavellian Dark Triad type individual and I would personally trust her about as far as I could throw her. If you get involved with her business or project wise, she will probably screw you and back-stab you at some point. But a vast number of Bigfooters, especially the higher echelons, are Dark Triad types. She is what she is, and they are what they are. Anyway, this is science, not a popularity contest.

I think Melba’s science is probably pretty good. She has been ripped into a thousand pieces over her science, and it is simply disgusting and shameful what has been done to this woman. It turns my stomach to think of it….”

So, let’s get into this latest information from the UK, that Dr. Bryan Skyes has determined that the Yeti is some sort of bear hybrid.  Sykes runs a company called Oxford Ancestors.  It may or may not be a scam.  From what I can tell, his company appears to be better than most.  Skyes is a science popularizer. We need more of them, especially if they are good and credible.  The greatest complaint I have against Skyes, is that apparently such groups as VDare and Stormfront are very impressed with his work.  As far as I’m concerned, that, alone is enough to completely discredit him in my eyes.

According to Robert Lindsey, who has probably the best Bigfoot site I’ve seen to date, Sykes detests Ketchum so much that he was, allegedly (according to Lindsey’s sources) the one who sandbagged Ketchum’s peer-review study in Nature.

It is all so very fascinating and down right tacky, trashy, and disgusting in that apparently a professor from Oxford is more credible that a woman from Texas.  If you Google both of them, Sykes is treated with respect, while Ketchum is treated like dirt.  What is more interesting is that most of the nastiness about Ketchum seems to be generated by one wannabe, Sharon Hill.

The possibility that some sort of an allegedly extinct bear has been discovered is exciting.  What isn’t all that exciting is the way Ketchum has been treated.  It doesn’t matter if her work is flawed.  What matters is how nasty her reception has been.  What makes it even worse is the fact that, after nearly a year, her detractors appear to be resorting to lies and duplicity to debunk her.

From the look of things, already, it is quite obvious Sykes is going to be given the star treatment, even if the provenance on his DNA samples are questionable.  Even if both are right, watch to see how Sykes is going to be treated.  Evidently being male, at Oxford automatically enables an individual more cache than being a very competent scientist from Texas, blond, with Texas hair, and a high-pitched Texas voice.

What matters here is that the woman from Texas is being treated like dirt and the man from Oxford is being treated like a celeb.

Wonder why?

We all know the reason.

Now, if you want to put this into perspective, you might want to listen to this podcast of some of J. C. Johnson’s latest work.  In a way, he blows Sykes out of the water.

Science Set Free

Science Set Free

As for the tactics of Guerilla Skeptics, Sharon Hill denies being directly associated with them, but does approve of their tactics.  I think that should explain exactly what is happening to Melba Ketchum.  In fact, the skeptics are quite proud of the bio page they’ve manufactured for Sharon Hill, to make her appear more important than she is.

“...Sharon Hill – A brand new creation by Nathan Miller and team – this page will be featured on the front page of Wikipedia, May 8th from 4:00am – noon EST.  Please support the GSoW team during that 8 hour window by visiting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page and look for the Did You Know section.  This is a lot of fun (please share on your social networks)..  DYK is terrific outreach for our community as the majority of people who will be viewing this page are not skeptics.  Nathan is leaving a great little tease (called a hook) about Bigfoot so that should draw some extra attention. ..”

In fact, it is now quite obvious that Sharon Hill is being used to discredit the work of Ketchum.  It will be interesting to see how she attacks Sykes, if she does, at all.  Just this information should discredit anything she has written about Ketchum’s DNA studies.

Why do I care?  Well, I don’t like liars and cheaters.  I don’t like people who manipulate and abuse, to promote a fanatic agenda, be it religious, political, or scientific.  The more one delves into Hill, her background and her dubious associates, the more obvious it is that someone doesn’t want Ketchum’s work taken seriously.

I wonder why?

 

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