Creationists (other science deniers) just like cryptozoololgists


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Wow, this description seems uncannily accurate to some of the posters here.

And don't forget the science textbook from abroad, creationist will use cryptozoology to support there idiocy of a young earth and attack evolution.

... the reviews from the cryptozoologists have been nasty, unfair, and full of venom, some of which Daniel has addressed in posts about Daniel Perez’s and Bill Munn’s attack on our treatment of Bigfoot, and Roland Watson’s attack on our demolition of the Loch Ness monster myth.

For me, it’s deja vu all over again. Substitute a few words here and there, and the tone and the content of these cryptozoologists’ attacks on our work sound much like those of the creationist internet trolls that attack anything mentioning evolution. As I pointed out in my other new book, Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future, the people who don’t like the “inconvenient truths” of science which might threaten their own cherished belief system always fall back on some of the same tactics to blunt the critique of their arguments, and obscure what everyone else accepts as reality. I call it “the Holocaust denier’s playbook” because it’s the same strategy pioneered by the Holocaust deniers, who have managed to convince a lot of people that the Holocaust never happened, or that it was not as bad as claimed—despite the fact that the Nazis themselves proudly documented it, and we have thousands of survivors still living who remember (although that number dwindles every day as they die off). The same strategy has long been used creationists as well. Some of these tactics were described in Michael Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird Things, but the specific differ from case to case.

In our case, all three of the reviews mentioned above employ the common tactic of nitpicking about insignificant details. Holocaust deniers will quibble about small details of scholarship on the Holocaust, as if these small details make the entire event a fantasy. Creationists are legendary for picking out small individual examples that they misinterpret as favorable to them, and dominating a debate with such trivia. Climate deniers will pick some tiny factoid about climate out of context, and focus on it to get the debate completely derailed. As you read the cryptozoologists’ arguments, and Loxton’s rebuttal to them, they spend the entire content of their review focused on some little detail of who said what in what year, and whether we quoted a certain source properly. Daniel’s reply puts all those ridiculous claims to rest, but unless one has spent a lot of time buried in that literature to know all the minuscule details, and the full context of various cryptozoological claims and reports (as Loxton has), you can’t tell whether their claims have any merit or not.

But the flip side of this obsession with debunking by trivia is another common phenomenon: missing the forest for the trees. Such trivial details may be important to obsessive-compulsive types who spend all their time in Bigfoot and Nessie minutiae, but they have no bearing on the larger argument: what does the preponderance of the evidence say? In Chapter 1 and throughout the book, we compiled mountains of scientific evidence that are overwhelmingly against the existence of these creatures. So what if a particular source said a particular thing in a different year that Loxton or I cited? Where are their attempts to deal with the fact that the evidence of cryptids is almost entirely based on “eyewitness” accounts, which recent psychological research has shown is completely worthless as evidence of what really exists? Where are their counterarguments to the huge list of biological, geological and paleontological constraints that we enumerated that make their obsession with details irrelevant? For the Nessie story (and all the other lake monsters), the most crucial fact is that all of these lakes in which monsters were reported were under a mile of ice just 10,000 years ago. None of these lakes has a route to the sea that any marine organism could travel up, and most are completely landlocked. So where did Nessie and Champ and the rest go when the ice covered the lake? I’ve never seen one decent explanation by any cryptozoologist that shows they comprehend the geological impossibilities inherent in their mythology. What about the fossil record, which shows overwhelmingly that both dinosaurs and plesiosaurs have been extinct for 65 million  years all over the world, so there’s no possibility that they somehow hid from the excellent Cenozoic fossil record of large land animals and shallow marine organisms without leaving one single bone (even though their fossils are abundant in Mesozoic rocks). Likewise, we have an excellent fossil record of mammals in North America, with literally thousands of fossils from the Ice Ages from nearly every species, yet there is not one primate fossil in North America younger than about 34 million years ago. What about the problems that animals this size (whether Bigfoot or Nessie or Mokele Mbembe) need a huge  range to sustain their populations, yet none of their supposed habitats is big enough to support such a population? What about the fact that not one bone of these creatures has ever been found? We find plenty of other bones of creatures we know exist (including rare things, like bears and cougars), but the entire evidence for Bigfoot is based on “eyewitness” accounts (worthless as scientific evidence, since it is so easily mistaken and distorted), trackways (easily hoaxed and faked, as has happened often), grainy, blurry, terrible photos (“Blobsquatch”), the suspicious Patterson-Gimlin film (an obvious fake, for reasons we documented), and the supposed hair and DNA (which has always come back as human or some other known wild animal when the DNA is sequenced). All of these problems and many more were enumerated in the book at length—yet not one of these cryptozoologists even begins to address it.

The third common science-denier strategy is cherry picking: find something here and there that appears to favor your position, and ignore everything else that doesn’t. Both the climate deniers and the creationists are legendary for doing this, and so too are the cryptozoologists. In all the reviews mentioned above, the cryptozoologists pick on a few cases they think are strong and deserve to be taken seriously, and omit any mention of the dozens of counter-cases that we dissected in the book. In these particular cases, the reviewers even admit that they read only one chapter of the book, and didn’t bother to read the rest! So much for a fair unbiased assessment! Not only did they cherry-pick the parts of a single chapter that they preferred, but they are completely honest in confessing that they never even looked at any of the mountains of counter-evidence that we amassed. Then they have the gall to accuse us of sloppy scholarship!