Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 13th, 2013
Wow! Not just a skeptic, but a cynic as well…
Over the last two weeks I’ve taken it upon myself to become educated in the field of Cryptozoology and Cryptid Animals. Though I know there is no shortage of crack pots or gullible idiots who will believe anything, I was amazed at how many people carry the title of “expert” believe in animals that (at best) don’t exist or (at worst) are hoaxes. So then I got to thinking, “What IS Cryptozoology specifically What does this study actually mean? Is there a school for study? Where can somebody get a degree? What qualifications must an expert have in order to be “recognized” as an expert?”
What is Cryptozoology?
Wikipedia defines it as a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven. This includes looking for living examples of animals that are considered extinct; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported; and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges.
Cryptozoology is not a recognized branch of zoology or a discipline of science. It is an example of pseudoscience because it relies heavily upon anecdotal evidence, stories and alleged sightings.
Yes, you read that right. Cryptozoology is NOT a recognized form of science because it does not follow the scientific method.
As well, Cryptozoologists tend not to be interested in discovering new species of insects, invertebrates or other “mundane forms of life (which scientists in multiple fields have stated there are plenty to find) but rather are intent on proving the existence of ”megafauna” like living dinosaurs, Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster.
What does it take to become a Cryptozoologyst?
According to Education Portal you do not need to have a degree in any field to be a Cryptozoologyst. None. You can be a high school drop out and call yourself a Cryptozoologyst…. at least to a point. The whole reason people claim the title of Cryptozoologist is to be able to claim that fantastic creatures exist, and get somebody else to fund their “research” (though usually this pursuit is self funded). Pursuing college-level training could lend credibility to any cryptid findings especially if the Cryptozoologist seeking help from an institution with a respected reputation.
As an example, let us take a look at the man who launched a Kickstarter in 2000 to lead a team of four experts (none of them accredited scientists) in search of dinosaurs and other unknown species in the Congo jungles. Stephen McCullah, says he has spent some time doing humanitarian work in South America and studied biology at Missouri State but there is no mention of him earning a degree.
”…we anticipate discovering hundreds of new insect, plant, and fish species during the course of our research and work in the area. There is also the legitimate hope of discovering many reptile and mammalian species as well. We have received reports from week to two week expeditions in the region of eye witnesses seeing canine sized tarantulas, large river dwelling sauropods, and a species of man eating fish (which was recently discovered on river monsters).” Actually that fish is a 50kg. piranah and the show, River Monsters, is about real animals that are scary, not cryptids.
McCullah was so sure that he would find all those new creatures that he offered to name the creatures after any backers who offered $500 or more as an incentive to his Kickstarter.
If it were a late night infomercial I think it would sound something like this…”Yes, you too can have a dog-sized tarantula named after you. Just send $500 and we’ll promise to name a strange creature after you if we actually find one. But WAIT! There’s More! If you are a company and pledge $10,000 you will be named our official sponsor and all expedition members will wear clothing with your company name on it. Don’t wait, act now before this offer becomes….. extinct!”… I wish I was joking about the sponsor thing.
Hmm… honestly, I find myself looking at the picture of McCullah flashing gang signs, the distinct lack of any academic credit to anybody on his team… and my immediate thought is “This has to be a scam. How could anybody possibly believe this guy?” But they did apparently. He surpassed his goal and earned $29,000. In fact, there were rumors circulating that the Discovery Channel was even going to film his three month expedition and make it a new show.
Now, I’m not shocked that the Discovery Channel would be interested in McCullah’s expedition because they haven’t put out any REAL scientific programming in years. But, as far as the reputable news sources go, my personal research into this pseudoscience has also taught me that if the Cryptozoologist has a pitch that sounds convincing enough, then even the most respected news sources won’t question the validity or even the logic behind the claim. The Huffington Post of all places wrote, “One thing’s for certain: [McCullah] will have to bring enough equipment. Capturing a living dinosaur may require some very big nets.” Big nets that very well may have been stolen. After only three days in the jungle the expedition was called off due to theft and lack of funds/poor financial planning.
Going back to schooling…
If you do decide to pursue some form of a degree program, the Salisbury University recommends that you get training in zoology or biology and that you work at or volunteer with a zoo, aquarium, museum, or a non-profit conservation group. As well, get used to public speaking and paper writing because this is your primary way of obtaining funding… Kickstarter aside.
So far, UniversalClass.com is the only place in the United States that offers a certificate program. Cryptozology 101 is a $60, six month online course designed for hobbiests. Upon completion, students will earn a Continuing Education Certificate. Here is their video on the course as well as the class goals.
By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
Summarize the origins of cryptozoology.
Summarize the famous cryptozoologists.
Summarize the existing species that were once cryptids.
Summarize which species were previously thought to be extinct.
Summarize what keeps unnamed species hidden.
Describe what bigfoot is and compare and contract various evidence of its existence.
Summarize the history of sightings and evidence of the Loch Ness Monster.
Summarize the history of sightings and evidence of the Chupacabra, Mokele-Mbembe, Thunderbird, Mothman, Jersey Devil, and Dover Demon, and
Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
So, in conclusion, Cryptozoolgy is not a science. Cryptozoologists by and large ignore science and logic because it gets in the way of their “findings”. Dinosaurs are dead (no duh), and if you have a sexy enough pitch you can get people to give you money.
With that said I would like to turn your attention to the blog of one, very interesting Cryptozoolgist that lives in my home town of San Diego. Doctor Josh Finney (he is a doctor, that’s how you know it’s legit) has captured some pretty interesting photography in and around the Miramar area. You can read all about it and make your own conclusion at JoshFinney.com. In fact, I’d like you to leave your comments either on this blog or on Doctor Josh Finney’s findings below. I want to know what you think and if you are a believer in the unexplained.
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Kat “Katapult” Rocha is a writer, artist, editor and co-owner of the science fiction/horror publishing company 01 Pulishing. She and her husband, Josh Finney, have received world wide acclaim for their futuristic war epic “Titanium Rain” as well as their cyberpunk noir book “Utopiates”.
When not publishing books, Kat enjoys drawing robots, lapidary, and finding strange things on the internet.