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Creatures, Myths & Legends

Fake monsters in creature report experiment

By T.K. Randall
February 24, 2015 · Comment icon 27 comments



How would you report a sighting of Bigfoot ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 ArtBrom/Flickr
Researchers used volunteers dressed up in monster costumes to investigate how people reported sightings.
A team from the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland have been conducting a series of experiments to better understand how people react to sightings of cryptozoological creatures.

For one experiment a volunteer dressed up in a Bigfoot costume and skulked around the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, a site that was chosen due to its abundance of Redwoods which are common in the US forests where the creature is typically sighted.
Visitors to the garden were divided up in to two groups, one that was sent on a route that would guarantee an encounter with the fake creature and one that wasn't. Both were then asked to write a report about what they'd experienced once they'd completed the trip.

"It’s a serious study of people reporting things," said statistical ecologist Dr Charles Paxton who previously cataloged every recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.

"I’m trying to see if there are statistical patterns. All my work gets published in proper scientific journals. All I do is with the aim of getting proper results."

Source: Sunday Post | Comments (27)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by QuiteContrary 8 years ago
I would guess they chose Scotland as the University behind this is based in Scotland, not much of a leap in faith to work that one out. They could always fly the research group (possibly students) to every corner of the globe to create the right setting for each mythical beast they wish to recreate but why encourage another 'what a waste of money' thread on UM? I think it will be an interesting (if slightly limited) study and it think it will reveal how much the human memory embellishes sightings of the unknown, especially if an element of fear is involved. It doesn't mean there isn't a better... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by aquatus1 8 years ago
Its ok experimenting in a fake costume until one of them is confronted and fatally injured by someone Actually, I wonder how often that happens? I haven't looked into it, but I don't recall any reports, off-hand.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Myles 8 years ago
Actually it depends on your source, indeed sightings are considered "rare" by some. But then there is a modern UK bigfoot group that claims modern sightings are not so rare. Although they also consider "at least one reported sighting a hotspot". I wonder what every day Scottish folk think about the likelihood of Bigfoot in their country or Bigfoot at all? That, I don't know. They also have the "grey man", a bigfoot like creature. Not sure what percentage believe in bigfoot, but 1 in 4 believe in the Loch Ness Monster. https://nessieliberationfront.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/one-in-four-scots-bel... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by QuiteContrary 8 years ago
They also have the "grey man", a bigfoot like creature. Not sure what percentage believe in bigfoot, but 1 in 4 believe in the Loch Ness Monster. https://nessielibera...s-monster-real/ About the same as I could find on the percentage of Americans who believe in bigfoot. I should state that I do not believe these polls to be accurate. I don't think the target group was a good sample of Americans. I'm in northern Indiana and I know for certain it is far less than 25% who believe in the big hairy beast. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it is as "hot" a topic and TV/book/website fodder there, as it is he... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Junior Chubb 8 years ago
It doesn't mean there isn't a better place for a bigfoot eye-witness study that might produce widely-differring results. I hope the study explains why it was content with Scotland for this study. Quite correct QuiteContrary There is no better place for this study than the actual places the supposed phenomenon are witnessed but I have a feeling funding will explain the limitations. This is a small project carried out and funded by the University of St Andrews. It would be nice though if the results warrant further investigation that may inspire other people to carry out similar studies in more ... [More]
Comment icon #23 Posted by wolfeo 8 years ago
Why would they pick Bigfoot there? That's like using Nessie in the Himalayas (ok, if it had water). Also, it'll be interesting to see how scientifically sound this will be - such as what variables they control for, etc.
Comment icon #24 Posted by QuiteContrary 8 years ago
Hopefully the actual 'monster' seen is irrelevant as I feel they are looking for proof of embellishment in the recounting of the event, The more information gained from the 'witnesses' the better, like you say to see if the account changes over time, this could be very difficult though as I should imagine after the first interviews the truth will be revealed making all further interviews worthless. Its not fair to let someone believe they have seen a monster years after the study, well maybe it is if its in the name of science. Either way I am looking forward to the results, I do think it will... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Myles 8 years ago
Why would they pick Bigfoot there? That's like using Nessie in the Himalayas (ok, if it had water). Not quite the same. There are Scottish reports of a big hairy creature. I'd compare it closer with Canada's Ogopogo. Some sightings but not many.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Junior Chubb 8 years ago
However, then again, I would have to ask, how similar to an alleged sighting where the witness thinks or knows they saw a bigfoot would this be? Maybe after they are told it was fake, they'd forget it. As opposed to having a real "I'll never forget what I saw as long as I live!" experience. When no costume was revealed. That "I'll never forget what I saw as long as I live!" experience would nail it, that is exactly what they want to recreate but I fear they will struggle to do so. It's what the effects of such an experience on the memory that I want to see explored. I think they will may fall ... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by QuiteContrary 8 years ago
That "I'll never forget what I saw as long as I live!" experience would nail it, that is exactly what they want to recreate but I fear they will struggle to do so. It's what the effects of such an experience on the memory that I want to see explored. I think they will may fall short on getting this right, but only due to the funding and size of the project more than anything else. Yes, I am also interested in how our memory fills in that which was missing or unclear. So in such things like low-light, or an obstructed view or too far away to make out details, then when asked to recall a sightin... [More]


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