Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dogman Thoughts...

Well, I thought the History Channel did a good job of addressing the controversy of the Wisconsion Dogman on last night's episode of Monster Quest. I did have a couple of quibbles; however, overall I thought they presented the story well and treated it in a serious and balanced fashion. And getting some of the prominent witnesses to take lie-detector tests (they all passed) was a good angle, too.


AWT said...

G'day, Nick. I'd like to hear your "quibbles" with the episode and compare them to mine.

Here's my 2 cents: early in the show, the narrator mentioned that there are 3 basic forms reported: an upright, canine-headed biped, a bipedal bearlike animal (this was news to me), and a Bigfoot-type hairy primate. The narrator said that the show would concentrate on sightings of the first type of creature, but my impression was that at least 2 of the witnesses interviewed on-camera described a creature that would have fit the primate bill more so than the "werewolf" form. (Especially the young man who answered "yes" to a question describing his subject as resembling a "caveman.")

Complicating all this was the witness who under hypnotic regression (this technique alone could be the subject of many hours of heated debate!) described a baboon-like critter. Sounds very similar to the "devil-monkey" creature reports of which Loren Coleman and other investigators have distinguished from traditional Bigfoot sightings. Of course baboons have a somewhat doglike muzzle.

This situation reminds me a lot of the "Jersey Devil" in that multiple kinds of creatures are reported within a relatively well-defined area but are all lumped together (by popular media) into the same category, creating a chimera of sorts that fits well into the folklore of a supernatural entity. Unfortunately this creates headaches for investigators trying to find a zoological basis for the sightings and further prevents the reports from being taken seriously.

Finally, it seemed that a few of the witnesses were actually inspired by previous acounts to go out and "look" for the creature, making them prone to "wanting" to see the beast or even more susceptible to a hoax.

Overall, though, I give History Channel and Monster Quest props for at least trying to sort this out in a mostly responsible manner. I don't think that the "Dogman" or "Beast of Bray Road" has been totally discredited, but I'd sure feel more optimistic if some physical evidence turned up.

Nick Redfern said...

Hey AWT:
Interestingly enough, the quibbles I had were precisely the ones you refer to - namely that they should have focused on the Dogman/werewolf reports and not get sidetracked by some of the reports that could have fallen more into the realm of Bigfoot.

After all, there are many classic Dogman/werwolf reports from Wisconsin without the need to discuss some cases that might fall into another category.

Personally, I think that it's no necessarily troublesome that people see these things when they go out looking for them.

Although it gets into some weird areas, there are indications that in some of the more paranormal type reports these things manifest to those looking for them - almost like in a taunting fashion.

AWT said...

More evidence that great minds do think alike! ;) Actually, I'm not completely against placing "werewolf" reports in a paranormal context. For instance, I'd have liked the show to have explored similarities btwn reports of the Dogman and the Skinwalker tradition of Native Americans (the latter still seen today, especially where tribes are extant or maintain a strong cultural influence). Admittedly, that's a lot to ask for when the goal of the TV program is almost purely hard-evidence driven.

Nick Redfern said...

I definitely think there is a link somewhere with these werewolf, dogman and skinwalker type reports.

But you're right: it's an area sort of difficult for TV to deal with properly.

And of course, a lot of people within cryptozoology prefer not to deal with fringe-type cases either.