Friday, October 4, 2013

HOAX ! you really need to read this.


By Matt Knapp Bigfoot Crossroads
An unfortunate reality of bigfoot research is the ever present danger of the hoax. Just the word itself has a ring of evil and darkness to it, conjuring up thoughts of witches and black magic, or Rick Dyer. I think everyone is aware of how much damage a hoax can do to the field of bigfoot study, especially since it is already viewed as a tongue-in-cheek subject by nearly everyone outside of the bigfoot community. My question is, do people really take the time to sit back and think about what a hoax really is? We throw the term around freely at will, without ever really considering if what we are talking about is a hoax or not. Very seldom does one think of the flip side of the coin, which is the damage that can be caused from falsely accusing someone of a hoax. How can we give a specific definition to something, that is actually a very complex subject?
What is the actual definition of a hoax?
hoax  (hks) n.1. An act intended to deceive or trick. 2. Something that has been established or accepted by fraudulent means.

In my opinion, the term hoax when used in the bigfoot community, or any other fortean area for that matter, has a very specific definition to it. When you click on a video on YouTube that says "REAL BIGFOOT CAUGHT ON TAPE IN AFRICA" and you see a video of a couple kids running away from a guy in a gorilla costume, is that a hoax? Of course not. We know it is meant to be comedic entertainment of sorts. If you're going to study bigfoot seriously, you have to accept the fact that a lot of people are going to poke fun at the subject. To most people the thought of bigfoot is silly. Our common sense tells us that regardless of the title, we know they were not intending to be taken seriously. Therefore it is not dangerous to the field, it isn't going to be seen on the 6 o'clock news, and we can go about our way with little to no animosity. A true hoax comes from within the community. It has a purpose, an agenda. A hoax has substance to it. The hoax is constructed to cause harm in different ways specific to the hoax itself.
One of the main reasons behind the danger of a bigfoot hoax is that the hoaxer is usually trying to garner as much attention as possible. Generally speaking, hoaxes are never really that convincing. Normally the most elaborate ones can still be uncovered with a little digging. When these hoaxes do generate a buzz, and gain the attention of the media, it quickly becomes painfully obvious they are not genuine, and thus a shadow of doubt is cast over the entire community as though we were all responsible for the hoax in the first place. Which in some ways "we" are. I know this won't get me any brownie points with the bigfoot world, but quite frankly there are a lot of really gullible and stupid people in the field of bigfoot. Which in turn gives the hoaxer an audience and a following, which ultimately creates the publicity and buzz they are looking for in the first place.
Another type of hoax is the one that is used to gain financially. They use specific tactics to gain followers who believe their claim, and then use that to their advantage. They come up with reasons for people to send them money. Usually using empty promises and making their followers feel "special" for doing so by allowing them into some exclusive club. These are easy to spot. They keep making new claims to generate income, but they never actually produce anything. By never actually producing anything, they keep the hoax going. If they don't actually put anything out there, how can you actually prove they are lying? Smoke and mirrors.

The common factors in the above examples are that they target no one specific. They are intended to fool people in general, not a specific person. Another factor is that they do not have a definite end point. The hoaxer rides them and adapts as long as they can until they have no other choice. If they are never exposed publicly, or backed into a corner with no way out, they will refuse to let go of their hoax.
Now what about the other side? The damage caused by falsely accusing someone of hoaxing. In the bigfoot world it's very simple. Being labeled as a hoaxer is the equivalent to being added to the sex offender registry. Once you have been labeled as such, your integrity is ruined in the community. In the field of bigfoot, integrity is your number one attribute. It is what you are judged by time and time again. The other aspect is that once you are labeled as such, if you do somehow manage to explain and offer proof that you were falsely accused, very seldom is it noticed. Often times it is already too late.
That is what makes the hoax truly dangerous. The fact that it can be used by individuals with an agenda to ruin the credibility of others. I've seen a great deal of damage done to reputations just based off associations with individuals who are believed to be hoaxers. Guilty by association is all too true in the bigfoot world. If a person wants to ruin another, for whatever personal animosity they may have towards that individual, all they have to do is go around spreading rumors of hoaxing. It takes very little to make someone look guilty of something, and often times it takes nothing more than a claim. Forward the wrong information, or the wrong photo to someone, regardless of your intentions or if you were the actual source it came from, and you can instantly find yourself being called a hoaxer. Too many people in this community are out to do nothing more than make a name for themselves, and they will do whatever it takes. If you have a following, or get more attention than they do, you become their enemy. If you associate with someone they do not approve of, you become a target. The majority of bigfoot researchers and enthusiasts who have been around for any extended amount of time wear knife scars all over their backs.
Is it right? Of course not. Hoaxers should be outed, but you must ask yourself, are they a hoaxer or is it something else? Are they doing harm to the community? Are they doing something that will drive bigfoot research backwards? There are a lot of people who in my opinion need exposing, and not all of them are outright hoaxers. They are however doing as much harm, if not more so, by being allowed to continue their personal agendas in this field. They garner entirely too much attention as it is, and are followed and believed by the naive and the newcomers to the field of bigfoot. 
The most dangerous hoax of all has already taken place. The chances are most of you have already fallen for it. I'll give you a hint. The dogs who bark the most get the most attention. The dogs who know the most only bark when there is a reason to do so.