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BFRO Database History and Report Classification System



BFRO Database History

The BFRO web site was built and launched in 1995. It was the first web site to provide a collection of bigfoot/sasquatch sighting reports. In fact, it was the first web site to provide a database of sighting reports of any type of elusive phenomena. The early success and popularity of the BFRO site led to a minor proliferation of other web sites applying the same formula, to UFO reports, ghost reports, etc.

The BFRO site is the only collection of bigfoot reports from across North America that have actually been investigated by researchers to determine credibility.

Wikipedia states that 70%-80% of sighting reports are fake, but the very uninformed Wikipedia editor(s) attributes those arbitrary statistics to two people who are somewhat famous in the bigfoot community for their unsubstantiated, overblown assertions.

Those two people cited by the Wikipedia article have zero substantiation for their fabricated statistics of 70%-80%. The BFRO is the only organization that receives reports in large enough numbers (and investigates them), to have any sense of a percentage of fake reports among total submitted reports in a given year.

More importantly, neither Wikipedia, nor the unqualified people they cite, mention that much depends upon whether the reports in question have been investigated or not. A substantial percentage of the uninvestigated reports are indeed fake (But not nearly 70%-80% -- that is poppycock.) Very few, if any, reports shown publicly on the BFRO site are fake, because any reports that seem very dubious are not shown on the site at all. And then if a report that does get shown publicly later turns out to be fake (which happens at a rate of 2-3 per year -- out of 500 or so reports every year) that report is immediately removed from the collection. Thus it is very possible that 0% of the reports shown on the BFRO site are fake, though a very uneducated and unqualified person (like Diane Stocking -- cited as a source by Wikipedia) might not believe more than 20%-30% of what she reads.

The BFRO's more educated researchers and investigators collectively spend a great deal of time and effort sorting through and investigating sighting reports to determine which are credible enough to display to the public. The BFRO has a large network of experienced volunteer investigators across the U.S. and Canada who use various methods to determine the credibility of reports.

None of the modern reports in the BFRO's online database are made public without some kind of investigation. The nature of these investigations vary. The most complex investigations involve field searches with experienced trackers and wildlife biologists, surveillance projects, and lab analysis of forensic evidence. The less complex investigations involve phone interviews and other steps to verify the relevant information. If a witness cannot be contacted and interviewed, etc., the report is not considered credible. Credible witnesses are usually eager to have their sightings investigated, even if they don't want the information posted online.

Sighting reports sent to the BFRO are analyzed, evaluated and investigated with techniques and approaches derived from the legal profession, law enforcement, and investigative journalism. The legal profession often relies exclusively on witness testimony to determine facts. In a court of law conclusions are determined under various standards, such the "more likely than not" standard, and the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Every day in court rooms across America, legal conclusions are handed down based solely upon witness testimony, and often upon the testimony of a single witness, and often under the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. In these situations the evaluation of a witness is almost entirely subjective.

The use of subjective evaluation is what separates the legal perspective of witness testimony from the scientific perspective. Witness reports are considered "anecdotal evidence" by science, mainly because they are not testable. Yet many scientists are wise enough to understand that anecdotal evidence always precedes and leads to the collection of scientific evidence. In the history of science, scientific evidence has never been collected or even pursued until there has been enough anecdotal or indirect evidence at hand to merit an effort to collect the testable evidence. Thus without the collection and evaluation of anecdotal evidence or indirect evidence, there would be no scientific discoveries at all. This is the intrinsic relationship between the two types of evidence. Sighting reports by themselves are not scientific evidence, but they are what leads us to the scientific evidence. With respect to the pursuit of an unclassified species, the collecting of credible sighting reports is an essential part of the scientific process.


Report Classification System

All reports posted into the BFRO's online database are assigned a classification: Class A, Class B, or Class C. The difference between the classifications relates to the potential for misinterpretation of what was observed or heard. A witness might be very credible, but could have honestly misinterpreted something that was seen, found, or heard. Thus, for the most part, the circumstances of the incident determine the potential for misinterpretation, and therefore the classification of the report.

Class A

Class A reports involve clear sightings in circumstances where misinterpretation or misidentification of other animals can be ruled out with greater confidence. For example, there are several footprint cases that are very well documented. These are considered Class A reports, because misidentification of common animals can be confidently ruled out, thus the potential for misinterpretation is very low.

Class B

Incidents where a possible sasquatch was observed at a great distance or in poor lighting conditions and incidents in any other circumstance that did not afford a clear view of the subject are considered Class B reports.

For example, credible reports where nothing was seen but distinct and characteristic sounds of sasquatches were heard are always considered Class B reports and never Class A, even in the most compelling "sound-only" cases. This is because the lack of a visual element raises a much greater potential for a misidentification of the sounds.

Class B reports are not considered less credible or less important than Class A reports--both types are deemed credible enough by the BFRO to show to the public. For example, one of the best documented reports ever received by the BFRO is a Class B report from Trinity County California. It involved a very credible witness who backpacked into a remote area that has a history of sasquatch-related incidents. He described various occurrences around his camp at night that are strongly suspected to be sasquatch-related. The report is still considered Class B though because there was no clear visual observation to confirm what was heard outside the tent.

Almost all reports included in the database are first-hand reports. Occassionally a second-hand report is considered reliable enough to add to the database, but those reports are never Class A, because of the higher potential for inaccuracy when the story does not come straight from the eyewitness.

Class C

Most second-hand reports, and any third-hand reports, or stories with an untraceable sources, are considered Class C, because of the high potential for inaccuracy. Those reports are kept in BFRO archives but are very rarely listed publicly in this database. The exceptions are for published, or locally documented incidents from before 1958 (before the word "Bigfoot" entered the American vocabulary), and sightings mentioned in non-tabloid newspapers or magazines.


The BFRO's report classification system rates the circumstantial potential for misinterpretation, not the credibility of the witness or how interesting the report is. If you are checking the Recent Additions page periodically for new reports, or to steadily gain a better understanding of behavior and geographic range, you should pay attention to both Class A and Class B reports.

If you encounter a report that seems to have been misclassified, please feel free to let us know via our Comments form.


 
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