You see it everywhere. Often on a yard sign or bumper sticker. Sometimes accompanied by the words “I Believe.” Yesterday I saw it again while driving.
I’m not talking about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, flying saucers, pothead pixies, or various religious deities. Rather, a different supernatural entity that takes the form of a furry biped. A creature not unlike the Himalayan Yeti, or “Abominable Snowman.” I’m talkin’ ‘bout Bigfoot. Sometimes known as Sasquatch. Scientific name: Hoaxus maximus.
At one time I was mildly amused at how certain adults clung to a grainy 59-second video—filmed in California in 1967, significantly when LSD was still legal—to substantiate their claims that Bigfoot is real. “Let’s all play make-believe. It’s easier and more fun than the truth.”
These days, I no longer see the cuteness or humor.
Since the 2016 nomination and election of an even more terrifying biped (scientific name: Dumbshiticus politicus), whose singular pre-election political credential was that he led a movement attempting to disprove the citizenship of a sitting president—even after that president was, beyond reason, compelled to produce his birth certificate—there’s been one idiotic claim after another. And enough idiots to believe in those (always unsubstantiated) claims to cause serious alarm to the rest of us forced to reside in the Kingdom of Lilliput (America).
I truly believe (maybe I should use a different word) that these Bigfoot cultists actually think a creature like this exists. Just go to the Wikipedia article. Wikipedia is a wonderful tool. But the entry for Bigfoot has 90 paragraphs devoted to him. There are 249 footnotes.
Remember, unlike World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia. It is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln once wrote in a very different time. Citizens of our republic contribute to it. And there’s obviously been a helluva lot of contribution to Bigfoot.
(The Wikipedia article for the Gettysburg Address has half the footnotes of Bigfoot.)
Some of you probably know that there once was an historical epoch known as the Age of Enlightenment, or Age of Reason. According to the aforesaid free encyclopedia, it was “an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries with global influences and effects.”
During this Age, knowledge was pursued “by means of reason and the evidence of the senses, and ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.”
Francis Bacon, John Locke, Voltaire, Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were just a few of the leading lights casting light. Another was scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Newton must have had foreknowledge of what was comin’ down, because his Third Law of Motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Longitudes predicts the 21st century will be the opposite reaction to the Age of Reason. Think about it. We kicked off this century, this new millennium, with a “truther” movement claiming that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.
Ten years later Lilliput entertained itself with a “birther” movement claiming that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and therefore shouldn’t be president.
Since then we’ve entertained ourselves with one fiction and conspiracy theory after another. Manmade climate change is a hoax. COVID-19 is a hoax. Joe Biden’s election victory is a hoax. The January 6 U.S. Capitol attack was “legitimate political discourse” (Republican National Committee, February 2022). The Sandy Hook massacre was orchestrated by the government to enact stricter gun legislation. (I’m not religious, but God help anyone who believes this last claim.)
But Bigfoot is real.
Why do so many people exercise freedom of choice by believing in unscientific, unsubstantiated, and preposterous claims?
The late James Randi, a professional debunker of psychics and faith healers, famously exposed the fraud of supposed mentalist Uri Geller on a 1973 program of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Geller was humiliated when his “mind” was suddenly, for the first time, unable to bend spoons. The result? Instead of the public showering Randi with praise and gratitude, he was the recipient of an avalanche of hate mail. (Few of us like being shown we were fools.)
Psychologists undoubtedly have detailed analyses for the phenomenon of masses of people who choose the lie over the fact. I’m not a psychologist, so I’ll just say: there are many idiots living among us.
People, there is no such creature as Bigfoot. There’s also no Santa Claus or Luke Skywalker, and the town of Mayberry is fictional (ask journalist Ted Koppel, who tried to visit one time). And—though this may shock and offend—there was no giant boat that held two of every species on earth.
Maybe I’ve got it wrong, though. Those of us who still believe in reason and enlightenment—in progress, knowledge through education, book-learning, the scientific method, the five senses, solid and verifiable facts and the search for truth (of course, truth is ever-evasive; the idea is to pursue it)—still need a place to escape to in the face of monstrous tragedy (or monstrous idiocy). And self-annihilation is not an option.
The Rolling Stones sang “We all need someone we can dream on.”
But like I tell my five-year-old granddaughter, Avi, while it’s fun to pretend, there really are no such things as ghosts, haunted houses, and people on horseback without heads. And she gets it. (Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are on hold.) Sadly, there are way too many adults these days…adults, but who have the minds of children…who can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality.
And as long as society believes in things like Hoaxus maximus, there will always be a Dumbshiticus politicus lurking in the shadows.