Bookbeat: March 2005
Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America’s Enduring Legend
David J. Daegling , Department
(AltaMira Press, 2005)
In Bigfoot Exposed, the hairy creature’s existence, or lack of it, is used to explore how scientists think and how science works in society. Does science, in fact, operate in the same way when dealing with topics that are unusual or perhaps considered off limits?
Associate Professor of Anthropology David Daegling and Bigfoot go way back.
As a child growing up in northern California, he heard his share of Bigfoot
stories, and as a graduate student, he played his part in passing them on.
Daegling, whose main research interests are in the biomechanics of jaws and skulls, with a more general interest in how bones adapt and evolve, has taught at UF since 2000.
“This is a legend that I’m very familiar with and I thought it would be a good topic for exploring the boundaries between science and pseudoscience.” In North American Western culture, Bigfoot represents the wilderness and our ambiguous relationship with it, explains Daegling. And it is not accidental that Bigfoot gained in popularity as environmental concerns increased.
“We have come to the point where something has to be materially real to be meaningful, and so the people who are drawn to the mythological impact of Bigfoot feel that it’s very important that Bigfoot becomes something more than a legend in order to be legitimized as an object of interest.”
While Daegling addresses the complaint that science has not been fair to Bigfoot, he also looks at the other side of the debate, which regards such work as a waste of scientists’ time. “My response is, ‘Who is paying for scientific research in this country?’ It’s the taxpayers. If the public deems it interesting, science performs a service by investigating the topic, even if it ends up telling the public something they don’t want to hear.”
The trouble with trying to decide whether the search for Bigfoot is inherently a pseudoscientific endeavor is deciding what pseudoscience is. “Some people would say that we only have good science and bad science, but not pseudoscience. Though I conclude that in all likelihood the animal doesn’t exist, I also end up concluding that the search for Bigfoot could be done scientifically, but would be done with such a skeptical eye that the people doing it would not find it rewarding. The reason we don’t study Bigfoot is because there isn’t anything to study. We don’t have an actual animal to look at. Scientists operate in a context where you have to be productive and you have to produce results, and there is nothing to produce there.”
The validity of eyewitness testimony is a theme that runs through the book. “It’s now known that eyewitness testimony is unreliable, yet in social sciences these are the means by which we evaluate hypotheses.” Daegling has his own eyewitness issues to deal with—e-mails criticizing him for writing on something he knows nothing about. “Knowing in this case seems to mean seeing,” he says. “If I had seen Bigfoot I would have written a very different book.”
Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism
edited by Sidney
I. Dobrin and Kenneth B. Kidd, Department of English
(Wayne State University Press, 2005)
Today’s young children are occupied with numerous activities taking place in settings that are isolated from nature or merely simulations of the earth’s natural environment. As a result, unless they receive appropriate nature education, many children may never develop a familiarity with and positive attitudes toward the natural world that are so crucial to its preservation. Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism examines the ways in which literature, media, and other cultural forms for young people address nature, place and ecology.
Vocal Rehabilitation for Medical Speech-Language Pathology
edited by Christine M. Sapienza, Department
of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Janina K. Casper
Vocal Rehabilitation for Medical Speech-Language Pathology is an outstanding addition to the For Clinicians, By Clinicians series. It combines the insights of some of the field’s most distinguished scholars with a wealth of practical, expert clinical experience. This new book organizes state-of-the-art information and presents it with the mature perspective of world-class clinician-scientists. In the rapidly evolving world of voice care, this book should prove to be a valuable resource for voice-care professionals.
This exciting new book combines into one convenient volume the scientific insights and clinical perspectives of many of the finest experts in the field of voice. This book belongs in the library of every voice professional.