Learn what scientists say about aliens, Bigfoot, fortune tellers, ghosts, monsters, UFOs, and other strange things.

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In a nutshell: Bigfoot is a giant ape that has not been studied because it has only been seen in glimpses here and there. The evidence for Bigfoot's existence is scant: footprints, a film, and some eyewitness accounts.

black bear from http://www.theredneckhunter.com/id31.htmlBigfoot is a name given to a species of large ape that walks upright like humans, has been around for thousands of years, and has never been studied by scientists because no single Bigfoot has ever been seen for more than a few seconds. Most scientists think Bigfoot exists only in the imagination.

Many people say they've seen a Bigfoot. Some have footprints they say are those of a Bigfoot. And a few have pictures they say are pictures of Bigfoot. Based on this evidence, an adult Bigfoot would be as tall as the biggest black bear standing up and would weigh about the same as the bear, more than 500 lb. (225 kg). In fact, many people who think they've seen a Bigfoot have probably seen a black bear.

The only pictures of Bigfoot are most likely hoaxes, tricks played by Bigfoot costumepranksters. The footprints are either hoaxes or are prints from humans or other animals that have expanded in soft, wet soil or snow, which makes them look like a much larger creature made them. (The picture here is from a film by Mr. Patterson. Some think this is a Bigfoot. Skeptics think it's a person in a costume.)

Copyright 2002 Dave Rubert PhotographyThe picture at the left is of a plaster print and the 16-inch-long form used to make the print by prankster Ray Wallace. (The man in the picture is Ray's nephew, Dale.) The hoax happened in Humboldt county in northern California. The Humboldt Times ran a front-page story about “Bigfoot” and now the area is called "Bigfoot Country." Many shops along a stretch of highway 101 have large redwood sculptures of "Bigfoot" for sale.

Over the years, Ray Wallace made Bigfoot sound recordings, carved Bigfoot out of redwoodfilms, and photographs. At one time, he even offered $1 million for a baby Bigfoot. He printed one of his photos as a poster showing Bigfoot having lunch with other animals. He also made photos and films of a Bigfoot eating elk, frogs, and cereal.

So far nobody has found any Bigfoot bones, poop, fur, or claws. You'd think there'd be at least one skeleton somewhere if Bigfoot existed. You'd think that at least one mother and baby Bigfoot would have been seen. You'd think that at least one group of the creatures would have been found near one of the many places where a Bigfoot has been seen.

Bigfoot goes by many names. It is also known as the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, Yetisound or Meh-Teh (Asia), Mapinguari (the Amazon, where descriptions match that of a giant sloth thought to be extinct), Sasquatchsound, and Yowie (Australia).

Those who believe Bigfoot is a real creature say that many people have seen Bigfoot and they can't all be wrong. Skeptics say that they could all be wrong. Skeptics don't doubt that many people honestly think they've seen a Bigfoot. But skeptics know that we don't always see what we think we see. We may see a bear, a man in a gorilla suit, a large furry animal, or many other things and think we've seen a Bigfoot.

I remember riding in a car as a child when my father said "Did you see that pig? It was as big as a barn!" For several years I believed I'd seen a pig that must have been as big as an elephant. Many years later, I was at Crissy Field in San Francisco looking across the bay at the coastline of Marin county a couple of miles away when suddenly a giant bird flew into view. It looked like it had a wing span the length of a school bus! When my eyes refocused on the jetty about 100 steps in front of me, instead of on the coastal hills a couple of miles away, I realized it was just an ordinary seagull!

The brain does not work like a video camera. What we see is put together by the brain out of the light that hits the eyes. The brain makes sense out of the light patterns based on memory, expectation, and other things, including suggestion. Scientific studies have shown that we can be led to see something that isn't there if we expect to see it or if other people suggest to us that they see it. You'd be amazed at the many ways the brain tricks us into seeing things.

Watch this video:

The "impossible box" was made by Jerry Andrus (1918-2007).

The brain tries to make sense out of the sights and sounds it receives through the senses. We see Jerry inside a pen, but when he walks "through the front boards" we know something tricky is going on. When we see the impossible box from another angle, we understand that our first impression was an illusion: our brain told us it was a solid pen when it wasn't. You and I often take illusions to be the real thing. Often what we think is going on outside our bodies is actually going on inside our brains.

Last updated 18-Jan-2012

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