Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview with Author and Paranormal Investigator Philip Spencer

Philip Spencer grew up in Anderson County, Kentucky, in the town of Lawrenceburg.
Blessed or cursed with an insatiable curiosity for everything, he has been seeking answers
to the mysteries of life, death and the paranormal since childhood. A 40 year veteran investigator, he has amassed a huge number of case files in his research of strange events that have occurred around the world. Bigfoot however, is one of the author's preferred areas of research as in Anderson County, Kentucky, there have been many sightings of the enigmatic creature known the world over. His first book, The Wildman of Kentucky, The Mystery of Panther Rock, entails these sightings and much more, taking the reader on a journey into the heart of the "Dark and Bloody Ground" one of the most active paranormal places in the nation also known as "The Frazier Land."

Philip Is currently writing a new book titled, "The Ghosts Of Anderson County" and is contemplating returning to Anderson County Kentucky to shoot a movie titled "Return To The Frazier Land".
Philip Spencer is the Author of "The Wildman Of Kentucky , The Mystery Of Panther Rock"
which can be found in book and DVD format and has worked with the TV show Monster Quest on The History Channel and recently can be seen in the NBC affiliate, WLEX-TV of Lexington Kentucky, presentation "The Bluegrass Bigfoot".
Philip has appeared on numerous radio shows worldwide. Philip is a investigative researcher in the world of strange animals and paranormal activity.

Philip, first I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It's an honor to have you and I know the members at the forum feel the same way.

1. Q: What first got you interested in the Bigfoot subject?

Philip Spencer: Thank you Chris for asking me to do this interview. I was approximately nine years old, which would have been in 1960, and lived in the small town of Alton in Anderson County Kentucky when one morning I found a large strange track in a plowed field on our farm. It was a single track and only had three toes. It was near the middle of the field with no sign of any other track or the ground being disturbed anywhere in the field. It was a right foot and approximately 12 to 14 inches in length and was not of an unusable width.
I can still remember standing with my Stevens Crack Shot rifle on my shoulder and looking down at the track and then looking up and scanning the edges of the field and finally I looked up.
Years later when I discovered the internet I was able to contact Smokey Crabtree who also has seen three toed tracks and Stan Gordon who at one time had a picture of a three toed cast from his research area of Pennsylvania.
I now do not connect this three toed track I saw with Bigfoot. But I think this track was the catalyst for my lifelong obsession with strange animals.

2. Q: I know you're from Anderson County Kentucky, is this area known for Bigfoot sightings? Is there any particular area that these sightings seem more common?

Philip Spencer: In regards to Bigfoot sighting in Anderson County Kentucky you can visit
and click on Anderson County and you will find 14 reports from Anderson County. Ten of the reports were taken by myself and I have 4 more that I am working on at this time.
I think there are several reasons that such a large number of sightings come from Anderson County. One is the fact I am accessible and listen to people and do not judge them. Second, Anderson County has everything Bigfoot could ever need. Remote areas with wandering streams and rivers and a food source any omnivore would desire. The waterways in Anderson County such as The Kentucky River and Salt River both have steep cliff sides that provide an instant getaway so that Bigfoot can put those big powerful legs to use and leave us standing around wondering “where did Bigfoot go?” as it escapes into the denseness of the thickly covered steep hillsides.

3. Q: Have you had a sighting of one of the creatures? If so, can you tell us a few details? (time of day, was it doing something? What did it look like?)

Philip Spencer: In the late summer or early fall of 1970 near the town of Glensboro in Anderson County Kentucky myself and my friend had a remarkable sighting. We both loved animals and loved to ride around out in the county late at night and see if we could see anything unusual or strange. We had a powerful spotlight that we plugged into the cigarette lighter and would scan the woods and fields and bottoms along the river to see what we could see.
It was approximately 2 P.M. and we were on Highway 44 just west of Glensboro and I was holding the light on the roof of the car and we rode along and I would shine the light into the fields on the right side of the car as Salt river ran through the area and deer and other animals were plentiful and we knew we would see something even if only deer.
Little did we know we would certainly see something other than deer.
As we got near the end of the stretch of road where we could see into the river bottoms I was shining my light as we crawled along and sweeping a large bend in the land where the river turned. I was seeing a large group of deer and as I swept the light I realized that something was wrong. I realized I had just seen some eyes that were out of place. They were at a much taller height that the deer and larger. I told my field to stop and as I swung the light back there he was. The creature was huge. I would say 8 feet tall and very powerful looking. It turned and started walking off in the direction of the valley where the river ran. It never ran, it never panicked. It briskly walked away and looked back over its right should twice in our direction. It came to an old fence in the field and just walked over it and never broke stride. The fence was maybe 3 to 4 feet tall and old. The creature kept walking and faded into the darkness of the river bottom and left us sitting there staring into the night and trying to grasp what we had just seen.
We were both extremely experienced outdoor guys and we just sat frozen in the car for a minute or so and then my friend looked at me and kind of smiled and said "what was that?"..He drove off and we actually never talked much about this sighting after that and he prefers to not talk about it at all for personal reasons.
The creature I saw was so powerful looking. Broad shoulders, tapering down to a smaller waist with long arms and very muscular legs. I could see the creature clearly but not clear enough to give exact specifics on fingers or face etc.
Oddly there is something that has stuck in my mind so prominently from that night for all these years and it was how the deer reacted. Even with something as monumental as a Bigfoot sighting what I saw the deer nearby do has caused me to give great thought to what they did.
For anyone who grew up in the country and were around chickens you will instantly understand what I am about to describe. In the field were maybe 30 deer and they were grazing and just looking around like deer do. When I spotted the Bigfoot with the light and he turned to walk away the deer did the strangest thing. The all moved at the same time and it was like chickens moving away from something at the same time. They did not panic or run fast, they just shuffled away almost like a circle. And then they stopped and went back to doing what deer do.
I believe Bigfoot eats deer but the deer did not seem terrified of this enormous creature near them (no more than 50 yards). So did they not know he was there? Could he have been down wind and slowly made his way to them? Why would they not sense something that was so close and was possibly looking for a meal?. Does Bigfoot prefer fawns and only in dire times kill the adults? These questions have haunted me for years and most likely will continue to do so.
In this same location several years later I had another encounter while on foot. Maybe next time for that one..

4. Q: What gear/equipment do you carry in the field on an investigation or outing? Any suggestions for new researchers on gear/equipment?

Philip Spencer: I try to always have my sample kit with me which has small plastic bags and large plastic zip lock bags as well as tweezers and a magnifying glass and of course a measuring device. I also have test tubes to put hair samples in if needed. A small notepad to write down info and a compass are good to have with you.
I always have several knifes with me and carry a pistol when in the woods. I am not really concerned with animals and needing the pistol as much as encountering people who just might require me to need my weapon. Better safe than sorry.
I also have a Nikon D3100 and a Sony SR-11 camcorder with me and my phone takes full HD video and has a 8 MP dual flash camera.
I own several trail cams which are always at whichever is my current research area in Kentucky and several audio recorders which are also at work in Kentucky just about year round.
Always have a small survival kit with you as you never know when something unexpected will happen and if you are unsure of how to make a fire then have something that will, this can also save your life.

I have access to many types of investigative equipment such as thermal and other visual detection equipment.

Your gear depends on many variables and also where you are and what you will be doing and how long you will be there. Give great thought to what you need before you go out as things can change rapidly in the outdoors and being ready can save your life.

Just remember if you find something or see something and have nothing to document what you saw or found then are you really doing research or just wandering around in the woods?

5. Q: Everyone seems to have different opinions about what these creatures are or may be, what do you think they may be?

Philip Spencer: Chris after all these years I still am not sure. The creature I saw, to me, was a flash and blood creature of enormous size. As to what this creature should be classified as?, ? well? Is it a relic hominoid related to what or who? Only time and study and hopefully a capture - analyze - release will tell us the answers to all the questions we all live with in our quest to understand this beautiful mystery known as Bigfoot.
Over and over in my mind I have been tortured with the thoughts of how can an animal of this size be so elusive? And even more so how with all the technology we have can we not have found this creature and been able to study and understand it.
Personally I have been told numerous stories by people who were in positions to know that the military has photos and videos and even satellite images of Bigfoot. One individual told me he saw the photos and to him the creature looked like a pre-historic man more so than what the common depiction most have in their minds of Bigfoot looks like. He said it was extremely strange looking at these images of several of the creatures in an area of Washington State. But all the individuals who have told me these stories have never been able to show me anything that I could see or hold in my hold for verification.

6. Q: On the Forum, there's been alot of discussion about the Sierra Bigfoot shootings and also the Ketchum DNA study. Have you been following either of these and if so, what's your opinion?

Philip Spencer: I have followed both and will say this. I am not someone who likes to assume anything and until the facts are laid out for everyone to see and discuss and review it is in my opinion best to let the work of Dr. Ketchum be done and laid out for everyone to see.
As for the Sierra shootings so much has been said and speculated on that it is hard for me to know what is what? When I read the story it made me feel so bad and if this actually happened it is a sad event. Hopefully in time solid facts will arise and we all will know the complete factual story. (more info may be available and I have just not seen it)

7. Q: There seems to be two schools of thought to proving Bigfoot exists, kill or no-kill, which best describes your thoughts and why?

Philip Spencer: I am a no kill advocate. I believe in capture, analyze, release. I do not like seeing animals held in cages or compounds for people to stare at. I understand that we as a species are extremely destructive and will kill off many species with little thought to the ramifications of what we are doing and some people try to save species by captive breeding.
But once people see that Bigfoot is real there will be a bounty on this amazing creature, more so than now, and I suspect a body will be taken for display. As per example what is said to have occurred with the Texas group. Alton Higgins declares Bigfoot killable and a body needed for study and out come the guns and the woods are filled with Bigfoot hunters looking to kill one just as fast as they can find one. Other groups are doing the same thing and in my opinion it is just ego gone wild and nothing more than one person or one group wanting to wear the tag of the person/group who killed Bigfoot for the betterment of Bigfoot ( the paradoxical paradox?).
I have been involved in a small group who very quietly have been working for over one year to capture Bigfoot. Never ever have we even thought of killing Bigfoot as we see no need to kill what we think is a subject from a very small group of creatures that are dwindling by the day. We have everything laid out and in place to do what is needed to capture and analyze then release. Killing one of the few remaining samples might not be the best idea for protecting the species.

8. Q: In your book and documentary, you refer to one individual as "X farmer" who owns property within the Frazier land. Has living in this area had any effect on him or his family? If so, can you tell us a little about it or any odd experiences they've had?

Philip Spencer: So many strange events happened to the family of the X-Farmer and he and his family suffered greatly from the events on their land even to the point of physical illness. The children were no longer allowed to go out and camp or have friends over for campouts and told to not go out at night. The adults were armed constantly and on edge and stressed out constantly. Large farm dogs with their faces cuts deeply found laying in the yard after a vicious fight the night before with a strange looking creature and one dog from the fight , which weighed approximately 100 Lbs was never seen again! Less than a mile away a 700 Lb cow came crashing threw a gate and as the elderly man and woman who owned the cow rushed out to see what was happening they found her with her ears ripped off to the bone and her right eye torn out and dangling and three large gasp marks in her back which looked similar to the smaller gashes on the dogs face which had 3 claws or talons or whatever?

I have often thought about this family and what they went through and how they wanted none of this to happen they just wanted to be a family and not have to deal with all the bizarre events that happened to them on their farm in the Frazier Land. Even after I wrote my book and detailed all that happened more events happened. Also numerous others in this area have had negative reactions due to strange events. One family even moved away from the area.
I think although Bigfoot is part of the events it is important to understand there were many more strange events that happened to the X-Farmer and his family and others in the area that were not Bigfoot related..

9. Q: What's your opinion on infrasound? Do you think Bigfoot uses infrasound? If so, any opinion on what it could be used for?

Philip Spencer: As for Bigfoot "using" infrasound I have no evidence that this is true. It seems that a perception is among many that Bigfoot uses infrasound as a type of defensive weapon, something to confuse people or maybe large predators until it can get away or as a warning signal.
I have listened to amazing stories of people telling how they encountered Bigfoot and were suddenly confused as if there was some kind of event happening that was making them unable to function and they associated this event with the sighting. But to my knowledge we have zero proof of this, we have great stories but zero hard facts.

Could Bigfoot make sounds in the infrasound frequency spectrum? Maybe? I have worked in the field with scientists from several schools and we were monitoring a valley and gathering information within the infrasound range. We were call blasting and we got a very distinct tree knock after one of the call blasts.
When the waveform data was analyzed for the time after we stopped call blasting and over the night they found a sound in the infrasound range that could not be explained, they had not seen anything like it before on the spectrum analyzer.

So what does this prove? It proves something made a strange sound in a remote valley where the same night a very distinct tree knock was heard. That’s all it proves.

10. Q: As a Kentuckian myself, I find it kinda funny that the scientists say "There's no such thing as black panthers in KY". So, as a quick question for our cryptozoologist members interested in large cats, Have there been any reports of large black cats in your investigation area?

Philip Spencer: Yes , in my book I tell of a friend of mines encounter with a large black cat in the Frazier Land. He was an avid outdoorsman and an animal lover and the large black cat he saw was not only large and black but rather strange in description. It ran low to the ground and had a very pronounced stomach. He said the tail looked very strange as it looped (curled ) much more than he said it should.
He encountered the big cat on a hillside path near the Kentucky River in an area known as Gilberts Creek.
Also if anyone would like to take a look at an unsolved animal track that some say is a big cat track, although it would be a huge cat that left the track, please visit my website and click on the words "Mud Track" near the top and look over what is known as "The Frazier Mud Track". Experts from many fields have looked at this track and to this day no one is sure as to what made this track.

11. Q: If Bigfoot was proven to exist tomorrow, what do you think our role as modern humans should be?

Philip Spencer: Our roll as modern humans should be one of compassion and understanding however, the sad truth is we as a species are not all we should be and it will be like everything else, some will be compassionate and understanding and want to know everything about this mysterious wonderful creature and try to co -exist in a very hard world to do so in.
Some will want to capture the creature and put it on display and others will want to kill it and mount it over their fireplaces. That sadly is just how we are..

12. Q: Any thoughts or opinions on the Erickson Project?

Philip Spencer: I think we should all just sit back and let it speak for itself.

13. Q: Are there any particular times of the year that Bigfoot activity in your research area peaks?

Philip Spencer: October through April seems to be the time for peak activity in Kentucky. Not that activity will not happen year round but year after year the reports start rolling in about October and they sure have this year (2011). Charlie Raymond and myself are on the phone almost every day during this specific time of year discussing new reports and also going over all our investigations etc.

14. Q: What's the most convincing evidence of the existence of Bigfoot in your opinion?

Philip Spencer: At this time I think the cumulative evidence is the best evidence. Thousands of reports over the years from excellent witnesses who in numerous cases are trained observers. We have casts and videos and still images but those are not absolute verification, they are part of the cumulative information which is part of the information that is needed to not only further the study but also to help in solving this amazing mystery.

15. Q: I really enjoyed your DVD "The Wildman of Kentucky. The Mystery of Panther Rock." Are you working on any new projects that you can discuss briefly?

Philip Spencer: At this time due to health reasons everything is on hold in my research and work. I have enough material to do another movie and book in Anderson County Kentucky and hope to so soon. Also one of my monitored research areas in central Kentucky has recently (Oct & Nov. of 2011) started being very productive in some of the strangest events

16. Q: What advice would you give to new Bigfoot researchers?

Philip Spencer: Maybe consider bowling or collecting stamps J. Seriously though be prepared, think about what you are doing and be prepared. It is a captivating and engrossing research. You will be baffled and frustrated and at times want to surrender but you will carry on as trying to solve this mystery as it seems to get into a person's very soul, especially if you have had a sighting of this creature.

Be prepared to be "thick skinned" as they say dealing with those who ridicule and make fun of you but always know you are the one actually "trying" to accomplish something and if you ask the person who is ridiculing you what their research is, in most cases they have none.

If you are out in the woods and you have your camera and your recording device all set up and suddenly something happens, please please do not talk! So many great captures of audio have been over ridden by " What is that?!!" or "Did you hear that?!!"..Stay calm and get the information, after that, panic and talk and run into trees if you need to.

The beautiful mystery of Sasquatch has held tens of thousands of good people captive for many years and will continue to do so. I hope before I leave this life I know the answers to all the questions about this magnificent creature that have haunted me for all these years..

Philip is a member of the following groups:
Investigator With: Kentucky Bigfoot Research Group
Investigator With: American Bigfoot Society
Investigative Consultant With: Tri-State Bigfoot
Member Of: Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society
Member Of: Sasquatch Watch Of Virginia

Also Philip is the owner of Back River Productions A multi media company in Hampton Virginia and the company Memories Of Me . Also located in Hampton Virginia…
For more information on Philip Spencer please visit:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Georgia History Professor tackles the topic of Bigfoot

Professor Jeffery Wells is a 10th generation Georgian. Having grown up in the state, he is quite familiar with its terrain, geography, and history. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in history from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. He is currently the social sciences and education department chairman for Georgia Military College’s Atlanta campus. He has published several articles on Georgia history in various magazines and newsletters, as well as penned chapters on the state’s history for Georgia history textbooks.
In his book Bigfoot in Georgia, Jeffery Wells explores the mystery of Bigfoot in the Peach state from the earliest Native American legends of the Creek and Cherokee tribes through the latest Bigfoot hoax. He covers encounters and reports throughout local history, the Elkins Creek cast, and the fascinating people who are searching for the elusive creatures in Georgia.
How did you become interested in the Bigfoot phenomena in Georgia and what led you to write a book on the topic?
Jeffery Wells: As a child, I was always interested in mysteries. I remember watching In Search Of hosted by Leonard Nimoy when I was much younger. In fact, I still have copies of them at home. Occasionally, I will watch them to recapture that spark for mysteries and legends that so inspired my youth. Perhaps it is why I chose to study history academically and teach it at the college level as a profession.  The reason for writing the book was that a student of mine years ago wrote one of his junior research papers on this topic in an academic writing class I taught. At that time, I had no clue that this creature might exist in Georgia.  I told him to go ahead, but that he should not be disappointed if he finds no evidence.  In fact, he found lots of evidence, including some great local sightings in that area.  He told me that I could keep the paper; unfortunately, I have lost it, but it was good and merited an A.  Years later, I discussed this paper with my college students. One challenged me to take the young man’s suggestion seriously. When I began my research, I was astonished at what I found.
Can you tell us about some of the evidence that you feel supports the idea that such a creature exists?
Jeffery Wells: It is very difficult to make a total assertion that Bigfoot exists in Georgia without a shadow of doubt. There is still some reservation in my mind; however, the collection of evidence is absolutely worth pausing over, and I have done that.  First, the Elkins Creek cast is without a doubt the crown jewel in Georgia.  In a broader context, the Patterson-Gimlin footage is certainly very close to a smoking gun.  Specific research done by scholars would include the work of Dr. Jeff Meldrum, and readers will recall that I interviewed him for the book.  Others would be Dr. Grover Krantz.  His theories and many of the prints he collected were very eye-opening.  But furthermore, the many sightings in history when word did not travel as well, and human civilization was not in the third wave (Technological Revolution/Information Age) and people were not able to read what happened across the country or planet as quickly as we are able to do today, are quite valuable.  In other words, it is amazing to read the sighting reports from the 1800s from places far away from each other and see how they are similar, all the while knowing that there was no way they could have been feeding off each other due to the unavailability of mass communication.
In your book, you relate stories and legends from Native Americans that are attributed to Bigfoot. Is it possible that these stories are simply social constructs and myths conjured by those tribes as a form of entertainment or do you feel there is a level of truth behind them and why?
Jeffery Wells: This is a very plausible question.  Of course there is the possibility that these stories are nothing more than yarns spun by our native ancestors to do just that.  While I am no expert on Native American culture, I do know more than the average person about their culture and way of life.  I am currently reading everything I can about those tribes in the Southeast in an attempt to understand them more.  However, one must pause when the legends are read and think about the many references that are made to what we know today may be Bigfoot behavior, i.e. wood-knocking, eating habits…  It is very true that humans in general throughout the ages have stories and legends that are no more than that.  Surely no one thinks that there are small humans in the Catskill Mountains or that a human can sleep unmolested for 20 years as Washington Irving wrote in his legendary tales. So it is true that every culture has its own share of legends and lore. However, it is also true that cultures have tried as hard as they could to explain their world and environment through stories and such when they lacked the scientific foundations to do so. Greek mythology, Native American stories, and African oral epics come to mind. So, it is very possible that these stories are just that in the Native American culture. My hesitation to dismiss them is that there are some amazing similarities to what Bigfoot researchers have now uncovered as possible behavioral patterns of the creature, if indeed that is what is out there.
If Bigfoot does indeed exist, what do you think these creatures are?
Jeffery Wells: I will speculate that they are an evolutionary oddball. What I mean by that is that they are a descendent of Gigantopithecus Blacki that somehow did not die out but made it through the evolutionary melee.  However, it must be noted that I am a Georgia historian and not an anthropologist or biologist. So I defer to men like Jeff Meldrum and the late Grover Krantz or John Bindernagel. I have read their work and find much in it to be noted.
Skeptics often cite such things as the lack of data in the fossil records for Bigfoot, the lack of recovered remains from natural or accidental deaths and the lack of any other verified biological evidence. They commonly assert that there are only footprints (questionable in source and nature) and anecdotal accounts or stories used to support the existence of these creatures. In your opinion, how could a population of these creatures exist and leave such seemingly scant evidence and virtually no environmental impact?
Jeffery Wells: To me this comes down to numbers. From what I understand from the research, and this is hypothesis mind you, there are not a lot of these creatures in any one environment, which may account for the lack of evidence.  There are other things that may be at play here. Perhaps they bury their dead, or destroy the remains. If these creatures are skillful and able to solve problems, then we have to assume that they realize that by leaving things behind they may invite trouble. I think of the sightings where the animals follow hikers or campers only to scare them, not harm them. The intent is to move them along and remove them from their environment.  I also think of the stories where these animals are said to be communicating with each other through wood-knockings and other devices.  I also think of the story where the creature was able to kill a skunk in the pipeline of a large irrigation system only to use the scent to cover his/her young so that it would not be so susceptible to attack by predators since the juvenile of the species would not be as able to defend itself as the adults would be.  These things represent problem solving skills to me. However, I fully understand the scientific community’s need to have a body or live specimen in order to get behind the idea that Bigfoot exists. I believe it is incumbent upon the Bigfoot researchers that are out there and are credible to continue to do what they can to bring in the evidence that will one day solve this mystery.
The Elkins Creek cast is a very well-known piece of purported evidence that Bigfoot does exist in Georgia. Why do you feel this single cast is so revered and what is the story behind its discovery and subsequent designation as “The Crown Jewel of Georgia Sasquatchery”?
Jeffery Wells: I cannot say enough about why this piece of evidence intrigues me.  I am not the only one who respects this piece of evidence.  In fact, and I mention this in the book, while interviewing Dr. Meldrum in January 2008 while writing the book, I asked him about the cast.  Steve Hyde of has already mentioned to me that Meldrum had a great deal of respect for the cast.  So I asked him to clarify his thoughts on the cast.  He commented that it is one of less than a dozen pieces of evidence in North America that he feels have the strongest potential in proving the existence of a great ape in North America. Having said that, it is impossible to ignore this piece of evidence.  The story behind the cast is very interesting, and it is actually my favorite sighting/experience I wrote about.  A condensed version goes something like this:  An older gentleman in Pike County, Georgia lived near Elkins Creek, a small creek that springs from the Flint River.  Apparently, this was home to something that visited his mobile home and barn from time to time stealing dog food and other things.  The visits became more violent as whatever this was killed a few of his pets, threw tires in to trees, and would bang on the side of the mobile home.  At one point, the animal even walked alongside the outer wall of the trailer and assumed a position of either mocking or threatening the elderly man and his wife who were inside listening.  The old man had somewhat of a blunt personality, and as he had made reports to the Pike County Sheriff’s Department before about these events, many did not take him seriously.  James Akin, who was a deputy sheriff at the time, was sent to investigate.  The old man took him down to Elkins Creek where he made plaster casts of one of the prints. It was quite large, and seeing it convinced Akin that this could be the real deal.  His interest in the mystery deepened after that point.  Akin had friends who encouraged him to send the cast to Meldrum and Krantz for investigation.  The rest, as they say, is history.  The cast is so important because of its size and perceived authenticity.  It also showed that the animal making the prints was more than likely older, for the bottom of his foot had very little fat on it. Perhaps it was even starving, which might explain the drastic measures it took to procure food at the home of the older man on Elkins Creek.
During your research for the book, you met with several field researchers and investigators involved in the search for Bigfoot in Georgia. What was your impression of these people and did you observe any common personality traits between them?
Jeffery Wells: For the most part, the researchers I met were very inquisitive, positive people.  In particular, I was quite impressed with Dr. Meldrum, Matt Pruitt, Steve Hyde, Wayne Ford, and the researcher identified as Ranger in the book.  These men were very intelligent, thought critically, and took their subject seriously. I will say, however, that I was more than once privy to the competitive nature of various organizations. Then again, no discipline lacks that. 
What has been the response of your academic peers regarding your interest in Bigfoot and your subsequent book on the topic?
Jeffery Wells: For the most part, the response has been supportive. However, very few of my peers have commented on this work, and I rarely go to them for that commentary. It is not that I do not respect them, for I do. But I would rather have feedback from those who have spent a large part of their lives studying this subject and tracking what they think is the most elusive creature on the planet.
Do you have any future plans to write another book on the topic of Bigfoot?
Jeffery Wells: One can never tell.  That will depend on the demand from the readers. My area of expertise is Georgia history and myth and legend.  I am now working on a joint project with a fellow English professor about another Georgia mystery-this one focuses on a different creature (or what was perceived as one).  We are just now in the research phase, so this work will not be out for another year or so.  However, I could see myself doing a follow-up.  I have long been interested in doing a book on the men and women who search for Bigfoot. Perhaps there is a demand for such a work. I am just proud to be the first author to publish a serious work on the subject of Bigfoot in Georgia.  It is with great pleasure that I did so and continue to engage those who have read my work and want to know more about it.
Visit Professor Wells' blog at  Georgia Mysteries and for more information on the history of Bigfoot sightings in the Peach State, pick up a copy of his fascinating book: Bigfoot in Georgia

An Interview with Benjamin Radford

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer, former editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, which was published in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine Skeptical Briefs newsletter, Discovery News, and He also co-hosts, with Karen Stollznow, Skeptic magazine's audio podcast MonsterTalk, which critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and werewolves. [1]He has written six books, and hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, film, and media literacy. In his work with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, Radford characterizes himself as one of the world's few science-based paranormal investigators, and has done first-hand research into psychics, ghosts and haunted houses;[2] exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, crop circles, and other topics. Radford also writes on many other topics, including world travel, science literacy, jungle hiking, sex offender panics, and popular fallacies. Radford has appeared on CNN, The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Learning Channel, CBC, BBC, and others. He also served as a consultant for the MTV series "The Big Urban Myth Show."
1. Q: What weight, if any, do you place on the historical data about Bigfoot, (like that illustrated in NA culture), and the plethora of continuing eyewitness accounts?

Benjamin Radford : It depends on what you mean by "historical data." There's nothing wrong with looking at Native American / First Nations stories and legends, but these are not eyewitness accounts of encounters with real creatures. Any expert on anthropology and folklore can tell you that. Legends and stories from the Grimm brothers, Aesop, and Greek myths about monsters and magical creatures were written hundreds (and thousands) of years ago, but they are not "historical evidence" for any real-life animals. If anyone is interested, I discuss the weight of historical data in the search for cryptids in my book Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creatures. Of course much of it is about lake monsters, but it applies to Bigfoot as well. Eyewitness accounts should be investigated and can be valuable if they lead to other evidence (for example if a person sees a Bigfoot somewhere, and goes to where they saw it and finds tracks). But eyewitness reports, by themselves, are simply not good evidence. They are the most common type of evidence, and the weakest because it is well known that sincere eyewitnesses can be very wrong. Loren Coleman admits that at least 90% of eyewitness accounts are wrong (misunderstandings, misidentifications, etc.), and this is a well-established fact supported by decades of psychological studies (I have a degree in psychology). That doesn't mean that it's not possible that some people are really seeing an "unknown creature"just that there is very strong reason to be skeptical.
2. Q: How do you think the Bigfoot phenomenon compares to the chupacabra phenomenon? Do you think they are similar and if not why?

Benjamin Radford : They are very different. We can trace back the chupacabra to 1995, while of course Bigfoot dates back to at least the 1950s, with Jerry Crew and all that. Chupacabra, unlike Bigfoot, is a vampire, and was mostly seen in Spanish-speaking areas and countries. Also, it's pretty clear to me (and people who have read my book Tracking the Chupacabra) that the chupa mystery really is pretty much solved. I don't think we are anywhere near as definitive on the solution to Bigfoot, partly because there's so much material.
3. Q: What do you think is the most challenging evidence for Bigfoot from a skeptical viewpoint? Also, what evidence regularly cited by Bigfoot proponents do you think is the weakest?
Benjamin Radford : The most challenging evidence from a skeptical perspective would probably be DNA analyses, since they are scientific and theoretically definitive. Unfortunately "unknown" or "unidentified" results do not mean "Bigfoot." There are many reasons why a given sample might come back unknown, including that the sample was contaminated or degraded. As for the weakest evidence, I have to go with eyewitness sightings, for reason I mentioned above. There have been thousands and thousands of sightings, and every single one of them has failed to uncover good evidence. Think about that for a second. If you are trying to do something (i.e. identify an animal by describing what you think you saw it do), and you did this for months and years and decades, collecting thousands and thousands of descriptions without ever accomplishing your goal (identifying the animal), you're doing something wrong. Your methods are not working. From an evidence and investigation standpoint, eyewitness testimony has been a complete and undeniable failure. Why keep doing something that has never succeeded?
4. Q: On the Bigfoot Forums, there's been alot of discussion about the Sierra Bigfoot shootings and also the Ketchum DNA study. Have you been following or investigating either of these and if so, can you share your opinion or any findings with us?
Benjamin Radford : To be honest I haven't been following these two very closely... Bigfoot is only one small part of my crypto research (including lake monsters, chupacabra, etc.), which is only one small part of my "unexplained / paranormal" research (which includes everything from ghosts to UFOs to crop circles and miracles), which is only one small part of my workload (magazine editing, writing books, Discovery News columns, etc.). So I can't keep up on the latest developments in all the fields. But from what I've seem of the Sierra shootings and the Ketchum analysis, I think they will be just another set of dead-end embarrassments to Bigfoot research. If Ketchum's analysis is solid, they should be replicated by other labs. Get them out there; there's no reason a Bigfoot buff should have special access. If the science is there, publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. Otherwise it's just more of the same bullshit we've seen for decades. I've seen dozens of these "promised earthshaking evidence" things come and go: the Gates Yeti track; the Minnesota Iceman hoax; the Skookum elk print cast; the Biscardi / Georigia Bigfoot hoax; the recent Russian Yeti expedition, etc. It gives the whole field a bad name.
5. Q: In 2011 Bigfoot remains a popular topic in North America and yet there is still no conclusive proof in the form of a type specimen. How do you think the subject remains as popular as it does?
Benjamin Radford : Bigfoot has always been popular. I think a lot of it comes from pop culture. Of course something doesn't have to really exist to capture the public's imagination, think "vampires and zombies"so the lack of evidence isn't really a problem for most people. Unless you're trying to solve the mystery, which I am!
6. Q: If Bigfoot was proven to exist tomorrow, what do you think our role as modern humans should be?
Benjamin Radford : If Bigfoot were found tomorrow, it should be treated like any other undiscovered species. It should be protected and studied and hopefully we can find out where in the evolutionary line it fits. I would love for Bigfoot to be proven real, that would be awesome and very exciting from a scientific point of view.
7. Q: Any thoughts or opinions on the Erickson Project?
Benjamin Radford : Yes. I'm always willing to look at new evidence, but real scientific proof of Bigfoot would be reported on CNN and ABC News, not in a movie. As I noted earlier, this is not the first time when someone has claimed hard evidence, and it won't be the last. These folks will be forgotten in ten years or be remembered as either sincere but deluded, or hoaxers.
8. Q: As a Bigfoot researcher, I've spoken with several witnesses. Credibility is always the big issue. Some encounters seem to be questionable or honest misidentifications, and yet there are others that to me, ring true. Have you personally ever spoken with a Bigfoot witness that you felt may be credible?
Benjamin Radford : Sure, I've interviewed many Bigfoot witnesses who seem very sincere and credible. The problem is that sincere and credible people are only human, and they are subject to the same eyewitness problems that everyone is. Anyone can be mistaken, and pilots, policemen, priests, and public officials are no exception. Just because a story "rings true" doesn't mean it reflects reality. It might, or it might not as I noted, eyewitness reports are not worthless, but unless they lead to real evidence, one report is as good as a thousand. And remember that not a single eyewitness report in history has ever provided a single verifiable detail about Bigfoot.
9. Q: In your article "Bigfoot on Ice" you gave several reasons why Bigfoot does not exist. One of the first was "the empty fossil record".
"There's no fossil record of anything fitting the description" of Bigfoot, said Radford. "There's simply nothing there." Many in the Bigfoot community believe these creatures likely to be relatives of Gigantopithecus. Isn't there some fossil evidence from China to support that theory?
Benjamin Radford : Sure, there's fossil records of Gigantopithecus, absolutely. I was referring to Bigfoot, not Gigantopithecus. Gigantopithecus lived about a half million years ago in Asia; Bigfoot (allegedly) lives in modern times in North America; they are completely different. You can speculate all you like that Bigfoot and Gigantopithecus are related, but there's no evidence for it at all, it's just a wild guess.
10. Q: It doesn't take a lot of research to find you've investigated various topics/mysteries from a skeptical point of view. Have you had any in-depth field investigations on the subject of Bigfoot? If so, can you tell us a little about some of those investigations?
Benjamin Radford : Sure... In addition to writing and researching various Bigfoot related topics (Skookum cast, Bigfoot videos, Manitoba Sasquatch hairs and videos, P/G film, etc.), I've done field investigations in Canada (near a town called The Pas in Manitoba); Central America (mostly Belize) in the Maya Mountains jaguar preserve, Honduras, and Nicaragua); in rural western New York state (a sighting and photo taken on a farm owned by Hans Mobius, investigated by Biscardi); in Louisiana (Honey Island Swamp); and elsewhere. Most of these were Bigfoot / wild man reports, and involved doing interviews, visiting sites, etc. I've probably done about a half dozen of those in total over 12 years, though I've spent more time doing field research and investigation on lake monsters (Scotland, USA, Canada) and chupacabra (Puerto Rico, Texas, and Nicaragua).
11.Q: I mentioned before, there's currently alot of excitement in the Bigfoot community about the Melba Ketchum DNA study. (Soon to be released we are told) This study is said to contain DNA sequencing from several different Bigfoot creatures. As a skeptic, if the results are found to be conclusive, will this change your opinion on the existence of Bigfoot/Sasquatch? If not, What evidence would be required for you to do so?
Benjamin Radford : "If the results are found to be conclusive, will this change your opinion on the existence of Bigfoot/Sasquatch?" It depends on what the results say; I don't know what "conclusive" means in this context. Conclusive about what? We have no reference sample of Bigfoot DNA to compare it to, so there cannot be a "conclusive match". I have no idea what Ketchum is going to claim about the DNA, but whatever it is, I will not just take her word for it; that's not how science works. The samples should be sent to independent DNA labs who have no vested or monetary interest in a movie, or the creature's existence. I have serious questions about Ketchum's objectivity and bias, and I read on Cryptomundo that questions have been raised about her laboratory (and perhaps results). If whatever Ketchum comes up with is accurate and valid, then she should be happy to have independent labs run the same tests to support her conclusions. The whole veil of secrecy behind this project is both unscientific and laughable. If Ketchum is right, and they can prove Bigfoot exist, then I congratulate her and look forward to seeing the Bigfoot. Otherwise, we'll need a live or dead body.
12. Q: What advice would you give to those skeptics with an interest in Bigfoot?

Benjamin Radford : I would hope that most people are "skeptical"despite how skeptics are often treated (I stopped posting on Cryptomundo because of the ridicule and abuse). My main advice is to give both the skeptics and believers a fair hearing. Don't let other people tell you, "skeptics say..."do your own research, take some time to really read some skeptical literature and arguments. You may not be convinced, but if you don't give each side a fair hearing, then you're just being closed-minded. I read a lot of "believer" books and magazines and articles, while I have found that relatively few "believers" have read skeptical books and magazines and articles, by people like Mike Dennett, Dave Deagling, Matt Crowley, or myself. Some people who haven't read my work assume or think that I say or believe that Bigfoot does not exist. This is completely wrong: I don't know if they exist or not. I'd love to see a Bigfoot, or find final proof that they exist. But I approach the topic with critical thinking and science, and I'm not going to accept a low bar for evidence. Nobody should.
Credit Wikipedia for opening information about Mr Radford. Chris B.