Ought we to believe in Sasquatch?

Whether Sasquatch exist or not, it would be morally wrong for us to believe that they do. Last month, I posted a thread on Twitter explaining why.

I suppose everyone living in the USA or Canada has heard of the Sasquatch; others may not be aware that there is a more-or-less ancient body of legends that a race of hairy anthropoids live in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. “Sasquatch” is apparently derived from a Salish word for these anthropoids. Because of their rumored size, and perhaps because of stories about mysterious footprints found in areas they are said to frequent, the Sasquatch are also known as “Bigfoot.”

Here’s a link to the article that prompted the thread, and here’s the thread itself.

Let’s take the idea of Sasquatch at face value for a moment. One of these propositions must be true:
A. Sasquatch do not exist.
B. Sasquatch do exist.
What are the implications of these propositions?

If A, and if we take it as axiomatic that we ought not to believe in the existence of non-existent beings, it follows that we ought not to believe in the Sasquatch.

If B, then there is a species of megafauna that has eluded human attention throughout the millennia that it has existed in areas adjoining dense human populations. This would require extraordinary intelligence, organizational ability, and self-discipline.

Indeed, a species with these capabilities would certainly be capable of waging warfare against humans to defend the habitat of which humans continually deprive them. Yet there is no reason to believe that any Sasquatch has ever harmed a human.

Therefore, if Sasquatch exist, it must be the case that they have dedicated themselves above all to preventing humans from knowing that they do.

Considering that they have done nothing to harm us, and we have done a great deal to harm them, it would be the least we could do to honor their wishes by not believing in them.

That the debate about Sasquatch is not conducted in these terms strikes me as proof positive that those who participate in it do not take the idea of their existence at face value, but are acting out the sorts of dramas that the book and review linked above describe.

Originally tweeted by Acilius (@losthunderlads) on October 10, 2020.

The first documentary film about the Sasquatch I ever saw was a 1977 episode of In Search Of, a TV series narrated by Leonard Nimoy and presenting outré explanations of various legendary topics. Extraterrestrial contact was a favorite hypothesis.

I would say that this show is in a way the ideal introduction to the topic. Not only does it display the overheated mental atmosphere that often accompanies debates about whether the Sasquatch exist, but it also exposes some excellent reasons why any Sasquatch who do exist would be wise to conceal themselves from humans. Most dramatic of these is a moment about 17 minutes in, when Professor Grover Krantz of Washington State University explains his opinion that it doesn’t matter if his research drives the Sasquatch to extinction. So long as their existence is unknown to science, Krantz declares, they may as well be extinct now. I, for one, would not like to be noticed by a species with enormous destructive capacity, prominent members of which are incapable of seeing any value in lives unconnected with their own.

RIP Leonard Nimoy

Here are some links people have been sending me since Leonard Nimoy died:

1. Sugar Smack Spock

It is illogical to suppose that you can touch my Sugar Smacks and live

2. 20 Cool Things Nimoy Did Other Than Star Trek

3. Her heart belongs to Beard Spock (nsfw)

4. A Star Trek comic book that never existed:

5. Leonard Nimoy was definitely my favorite member of the original cast of In Search Of…, and here’s one of the most endearing episodes:

My wife and I have some connections to the Episcopal Church, and one of the things that first attracted me to that institution was this In Search Of… episode about the tragic life of Bishop James Pike.  All the remarks from clerics reminiscing about the efforts they made over the years to keep their friend Jim out of trouble showed me that, whatever its faults, it was an organization in which there was an abundance of clear heads and warm hearts:

5. When I was about twelve years old, my brother gave me an LP I still have.  I should say “the LP I still have,” since I haven’t had a record player for 20 years and got rid of all the others long ago.  This one is The Touch of Leonard Nimoy, and it’s a prized possession.  Here’s my favorite track:

6. There are a couple of outstanding made-for-TV-movies Leonard Nimoy was involved in that I haven’t seen mentioned in any of the tributes.  One is 1991’s Never Forget, in which he played Holocaust survivor Mel Mermelstein, who in the 1980s found a way to fight Holocaust deniers in court.  The movie makes it clear that Mermelstein is Good and the denialists are Bad, of course, but there’s a lot more complexity and humanity in the film, as it explores Mermelstein’s relationship with his family and shows how the consequences of the Holocaust continue to play out in all of their lives.

Another is 1971’s The Assault on the Wayne, where he plays the commander of a nuclear submarine against which enemy agents are hatching evil schemes.  He’s the good guy, but watching him I’m very glad I am not a sailor- it would be quite exhausting to serve under a commanding officer like that, especially in the confined world of a submarine.  His first encounter with his supply officer is terrifying:

7. Many dolls of Mr Spock have been brought to market over the years, and I’ve never wanted any of them.  But I may one day be unable to resist buying this Leonard Nimoy action figure, based on his appearances in two episodes of The Simpsons (the one with the monorail, and the one that spoofed In Search Of…):

“You didn’t do anything.” “Didn’t I?”

8. And no tribute to Leonard Nimoy would be complete without a remembrance of this, the definitive dramatization of the work of J. R. R. Tolkien:

And a comment thereon: