Q: Has the Patterson footage recently
been proven to be a hoax?
Exploiting the Consistent Popularity of the Bigfoot Subject
The BBC knew the subject of bigfoot/sasquatch was reliable TV ratings gold in the U.S. and Canada.
From across the Atlantic it was assumed the consistent interest in the U.S. and Canada was due mainly to the Patterson footage.
They could not perceive the real reasons behind the interest.
Americans in rural regions have been telling and hearing encounter stories for hundreds of years. The stories generally never mention the Patterson footage at all. Respected elders in many rural communities are eyewitnesses. Their stories are taken very seriously. In vast regions, most people either know an eyewitness personally, or know someone who knows an eyewitness. That's the foundation for the consistent interest in the U.S. and Canada, not the Patterson footage.
For almost 40 years the bigfoot/sasquatch topic has remained near the top of the list of subjects people want to see programs about or read about. Recently, National Geographic Online said an article about recent developments in bigfoot research was the second most read article in 2003, second only to an article about sharks. A subject like this would not remain near the top of the ratings charts for more than 40 years if it was only driven by a 16 second long clip of shakey footage and some campfire stories.
The big problem for TV producers over the years was that there was nothing new to say about the subject, nor any new close range footage. There wasn't anything new to say about the Patterson footage either, unless you were claiming to debunk it ... That would give you something new to say about the footage, and give people a reason to watch the footage again.
The BBC program was directed by Chris Packham and Paul Appleby. Packham was the writer/narrator in the original program.
Packham's script in "X Creatures" goes immediately to work
deceiving the audience. He explains that the subject really began with
the Patterson footage. "It all goes back to the Patterson footage," says
the authoritative sounding American narrator.
One of the big markets for the program was a relatively uninformed British and European audience -- an audience that wouldn't question the premise the the Bigfoot legend arose from the Patterson footage.
The Patterson "Costume" Could Not be Recreated in Hollywood
Packham tries to debunk the Patterson footage by showing how a skilled
Hollywood makeup artist could assemble a matching costume, and how the
footage can then be perfectly recreated at the actual location.
It sounds simple and logical. That's why they were given a lot of money to find and hire a leading Hollywood costume maker.
How could it go wrong if they had plenty of money to pay for the world's
The images below show what Packham and Appleby delivered -- their "proof" that the Patterson footage is a hoax.
It is bizarre to watch this show. At one point there is a split-screen, with the two moving figures side by side. Chris Packham's narration proclaims that has has accurately recreated the hoax with this identical costume.
Viewers were confused. Many contacted us. They didn't understand how something so obviously false would be stated in a documentary on TV. We explained about tabloid television and the new low standards of the BBc.
These folks successfully tricked a lot of people into watching the program by proclaiming to have solved the mystery of the Patterson footage "once and for all."
The funding from the BBC was given to Packham and Appleby based on Packham's script, which confidentally proclaims success in recreating the "hoax". The script was written a long time before they actually tried to make a matching costume. Packham and Appleby assured BBC executives they could easily do it. There was no concern about them failing.
The script was approved and locked down by the BBC long before it was obvious that even the best Hollywood costume studio couldn't make a matching costume. When the show was delivered to the BBC, the matching costume element couldn't be cut out, because it's the crux of the debunking argument. All Packham and Appleby could do at that stage is try to emphasize other lesser important conjecture, and distort peripheral facts to make some kind of circumstantial case for a hoax.
The BBC never came clean about the most profound revelation of their "investigation" -- it's basically impossible to recreate the Patterson costume. Their well funded attempt and failure strongly suggests that it is very difficult, if not practically impossible, to recreate the bio mechanical dynamics seen on the moving Patterson figure.
The Damage Done by the Deception
The tabloid program itself wasn't as damaging as the tabloid commercials for it. The commercials didn't show the matching costume. They only showed the Patterson footage, and said it was a hoax, and said all will be revealed soon.
For weeks most Americans saw the commercials repeatedly, but never saw the matching costume. The commercials planted a seed that will remain in many minds for long time.
Nowadays when children ask their parents about the subject, or students ask their teachers about it, the subject is often quickly dismissed as a bunch of nonsense. Plenty of people previously had doubts about the Patterson footage, but it was the commercials for it that announced and propagated the specific lie that it had been finally debunked once and for all.
The BBC never publicly apologized for their tabloid deception. A man from the BBC's science unit did make a private retraction to the BFRO. He said many in the BBC science unit were disgusted by the Packham/Appleby scam, but the BBC never came forward said anything about it publicly.
Later, the ever deceptive Paul Appleby stated, in direct contradiction to the narration of his program, that "the point of re-enacting the filming at Bluff Creek was not to reproduce the suit but the filming of it. So the suit wasn't as important as using the same dimensions and the same model of camera and lens."
That's Appleby's new lie, to cover up the old lie: They weren't trying to show they could make a matching costume. They only tried to show that they could use the same 'dimensions and the same model of camera and lens.
Appleby is attempting to confuse and bamboozle those who continue to question him about the scam. The bigfoot episode of "X Creatures" undeniably focuses on their ability to recreate the hoax with a matching costume made by a top Hollywood makeup artist. The same 'dimensions and the same model of camera and lens' were details, and only relevant if the figure looked the same.
A Parade of Charlatans and Opportunists
This episode of "X Creatures" began something of a trend in the media that lasted for a few years. Between 1997 and 1999 there were front page newspaper headlines stating the Patterson footage was proved a fake. It wasn't all one story. It didn't refer to the "matching costume" made by the BBC. There were different stories making contradictory claims about how the footage was hoaxed.
By 1998 it had become a media ratings gimmick to tease people with the suggestion that the mystery had finally been solved. The once-and-for-all story got big ratings once, so even major media outlets tried it a few more times, with entirely new, inconsistent stories.
Some of these news stories reported a "confession" by someone claiming to have been "the guy in the costume". Not surprisingly, there was more than one confessor trying to take credit for it.
None of the hoax confessors had a costume to display, or even a photo
of one. They all thought there was a quick buck to be had for their story
alone. There were local news stories and/or hype on the Internet each
time a new confessor came forward. The hoax confession stories were never
backed up by the basic proof a real hoaxer confessor would have -- a matching
piece of footage, or the ability to demonstrate how it was done, in full
dress, so the side by side images would speak for themselves. The mark
of fake confessor, or a bogus tabloid show debunking, is the hyped proclamation
of "resolving the mystery once and for all" ... but then only
presenting allegations or conjecture.
The mystery simply cannot be "resolved once and for all" without demonstrating a reasonably close approximation of the Patterson "costume" in action.
With all the money handed out for these tabloid productions, one would assume it could be feasible, especially with the assistance of someone who claims to have worn the suit.
Another special during this period was a Fox TV program entitled World's Greatest Hoaxes. It focused on a tall fellow in the Northwest who had allegedly "confessed" in the 1970's that he was "the guy in the costume." There were many, many promotional commercials for this program that many people saw.
Click for more info on this news story.
The venerable New York Times contributed to this deception when their
Seattle-based reporter Tim Egan was assigned to fluff the "Father
of Bigfoot" story into a New York Times cover story. Egan (possibly
at the behest of NYT editors) blatantly and deliberately misquoted the
three scientists he interviewed for the story -- Dr. Henner Fahrenbach,
Dr. Matthew Johnson, and Dr. Jeff Meldrum.
Egan claimed all three of them "credited Wallace" with creating
the first publicized track casts that gave rise to the legend. Fahrenbach
and Johnson say, in their brief conversation with Egan, they made it very
clear that Wallace didn't give rise to the legend, and they didn't know
anything about Wallace's possible involvement with those first publicized
track casts. Dr. Jeff Meldrum told Egan that he could prove that Wallace
did not fake those first track casts.
Egan challenged Meldrum on this point. Meldrum said the proof was readily apparent in the photos -- the shape of the track cast doesn't match the shape of the Wallace track stompers (see above).
Egan's cover story in the New York Times didn't mention the discrepancy plainly visible in the photos.
Egan's challenge to Meldrum on the track shape issue suggests two things: 1) Not only was Egan well aware that Meldrum didn't give Wallace credit for hatching the legend. 2) It seems Egan (and possibly the NYT editor) had already decided what they wanted to say in this cover story. They only needed to attribute the right quotes to some experts to make it work. When those experts couldn't be coaxed into making those statements, Egan simply said they did.
When the three experts later demanded a correction or retraction for Egan's distortions, the New York Times ignored them -- three Ph.D's.
This occured when the Jason Blair scandal was already brewing at the New York Times but before it was publicized. The Times was desirous to pin unethical practices soley on Blair, and not let it seem widespread among its reporters.
Fahrenbach, Johnson and Meldrum still claim Egan blatantly and intentionally misquoted them. Other environmental reporters at other newspapers say Egan has done similar things before. Tim Egan has never been investigated about this, or at least the three misquoted experts have never been contacted by the Times to investigate the matter.
Upcoming "Man in the Costume" Claims in 2004
Tabloid TV producer Robert Kiviat (best know for presenting the notorious "Alien Autopsy" footage in one tabloidish program, and his own debunking of it in a subsequent tabloid program) claims to be preparing a new program about the Patterson footage.
His latest venture will present yet another confessor who claims to have been the "man-in-the-costume".
Kiviat may have missed the boat on this one. In the late 1990's various individuals "finally came forward" claiming to be the "man in the costume". One even hired a lawyer to serve as his spokesman and media agent. Most made their bogus claims over the Internet, but only a few made it on TV.
None could pass the basic test of costume confessor credibility: None
could show a matching "costume" in action, or re-create the
16 seconds of allegedly hoaxed footage. Don't expect to see this happen
in Kiviat's latest production either.
Kiviat's man-in-the-costume is, according to Kiviat, not particularly tall. Kiviat believes the man-in-the-costume would not have to be more than six feet tall. Forensic measurements show the Patterson figure stood about 7'2". The height is only one problem. The hard part is the anatomical proportions and muscle movement. An average sized man would be very hard pressed to fake the same body mass and muscle movement of the figure. It has never been done, even though millions of dollars have been spent to try to debunk the footage in other various ways.
Though Kiviat claims his program will "put the Patterson footage to rest once and for all." (Do we hear an echo?) Kiviat won't even attempt to do the one thing that would actually 'put the Patterson footage to rest once and for all' -- a reasonably close re-creation of the Patterson footage "hoax" with a strikingly similar "costume".
The program will instead be more novela tales about alleged connections and dealings between this man-in-the-costume and Roger Patterson. Conveniently, Patterson is not around to defend himself, nor has he been for many years.
More than 35 year after the fact, bogus stories from those who claim to have colluded with Patterson in the hoax have grown increasingly elaborate. Look for future talk of smoking gun documents or receipts that have "recently come to light".
Talk and documents are worthless in this case. Both are easily fabricated. The footage shouldn't be hard to re-fabricate if it is a hoax. None of the well funded debunkers, nor any of the man-in-the-costume confessors, can re-fabricate the costume and the 16 seconds of footage themselves. Their evidence is allegations, which are presented as truth even though they are easier to fabricate than anything.
As for Kiviat's future program, and any other future programs claiming to "put the footage to rest once and for all":
Don't buy them and don't watch them unless the promo commercials can
show a strikingly similar side-by-side re-enactment of the Patterson footage.
That shouldn't be so hard, considering today's advanced state of technology,
and the amount of money being sunk into these tabloid shows.
Several prominent researchers, such as Canadian author John Green, know
the whole history of the footage the various scientific examinations,
the confessors, the imposters, the rumors, and the media deception, and
the unpublicized "debunking debunkings".
The history of the Patterson footage is a fascinating story in itself. With any luck, one day a proper, honest, and accurate documentary will present this history in detail.