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Q: Has the Patterson footage recently been proven to be a hoax?

The short answer: No.

A longer answer:

The Patterson footage has never been debunked as a hoax. No one has ever demonstrated how it was done. Neither the original "costume," nor a matching costume, has ever been presented by honest skeptics, nor by various imposters who claim to have worn the costume.

Large amounts of money have been spent trying to make a matching costume. The best Hollywood costume design talents have been brought to the task, but have never succeeded. The British Broadcasting Corporation spent the most money so far. They failed miserably. The side-by-side results are shown below.

Every attempt and failure to make a similar costume strengthens the case for authenticity of the Patterson footage. Comparing a man in a costume side by side with the Patterson creature in motion helps highlight the striking anatomical peculiarities.

If you hear about some debunking claims in the future, be ready to ask the obvious questions:
  • Where is the costume?

  • If the original costume is gone, why can't they make an identical costume and do it again? Why is that so hard?

  • Why does the news media always trumpet every half-baked "man in the costume" story that comes along without asking for the obvious proof, which should be so simple to provide?



A History of the various News Stories and Television Programs Claiming the Patterson Footage was shown to be a Hoax.


TV Commercials for Tabloid Program Misinform Millions of Americans and Canadian about the Patterson Footage

In the late 1990's most television viewers in the United States were exposed to television commercials for a deceptive tabloid program claiming to hold the final resolution to the bigfoot mystery. The commercials had an authoritative sounding narrator calmly claiming the upcoming program was going to expose the bigfoot legend and the Patterson footage as a hoax.

Those commercials -- not the program itself -- served to announce that the Patterson footage was fake.

It was pure tabloid television. The program itself was a sham. Fortunately it was graphically obvious that it was a sham. But most people only saw the commercials and only remembered the deceptive message.

Those commercials, for a program produced by the BBC's own Natural History unit, called "X-Creatures," were in heavy rotation for weeks. Every family watching television in the late 1990's saw those commercials several times. They are the main reason many people will make the assertion that the Patterson footage was "shown to be a hoax".

Many people were trained, in effect, to say this, and to think this about the Patterson footage, because some fraudulent TV commercials.

Curiously, many of the same people who accept what they heard on those commercials still believe bigfoots do exist, because they personally know some witnesses, or know people who know witnesses. It seems that people are able to separate the two ideas, bigfoots and the Patterson footage. But the Patterson footage has never been debunked, especially not by the fraudulent tabloid farce made by the BBC.


No scientists or qualified experts have ever debunked the Patterson footage. It has never been shown to be fake. On the contrary, every scientist who has studied the footage either says it shows a real, unclassified species, or that a conclusion cannot be made.

Close scrutiny and analysis of the Patterson footage almost always transforms scientific skeptics into supporters for more research into the subject.


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 best fakers?

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.

The Patterson creature
The BBC's 'identical match' of the Patterson '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.



Yet another news story involved the famous Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers. Chambers was the artist who made the costumes for "The Planet of the Apes" films in the late '60's.

In the late 1990's producer John Landis claimed to the press that Hollywood insiders knew Chambers made the Patterson 'costume'. Chambers himself was still alive at the time the story broke. He laughed at the idea of having anything to do with the Patterson footage. He also explained that if the rumor were true he would have no hesitation taking credit for the footage. But the rumor was simply not true.

The latest once-and-for-all story made headlines in late 2002. It was reported that a recently deceased man named Ray Wallace had started the whole bigfoot legend by faking the first tracks cast in Northern California in the 1950's. Ray Wallace had never claimed this himself. His family even admitted he never claimed it himself. But they did have boxes of his old junk after he died which included some carved wooden track stompers.

When the Wallace family was contacted by a Seattle reporter after Ray passed away (at the behest of promoter Loren Coleman), one of the Wallace nephews claimed that Ray not only researched the subject, but he had started the whole thing with a harmless prank using these wooden track stompers. The Seattle reporter saw an opportunity for a headline story, and thus the obituary about a long time figure on the bigfoot scene, became the official media announcement that the "Father of Bigfoot" had passed away.


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.


CLEAREST VERSION OF THE PATTERSON FOOTAGE: The clearest copy of the entire, original Patterson Gimlin footage became available to the public in January of 2003. It's a hi-res digital dub of a 1st generation master copy. All previous versions were analog. The footage is in the Extras section of the DVD for the 2003 documentary — "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science".

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.



 
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