Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just in time, a new hoax

Just as the sailboat of my novel had run aground on another sandbar of confusion, the Georgia Bigfoot hoaxers came to my rescue. I still find it hard to believe that this got so much attention from the NYT, National Geographic, etc. I didn't have the impression that bigfoot hoaxes were that rare or newsworthy. However, I'm glad it happened. In my novel (and in some of my recent short stories also) I've been struggling with the question of why people hoax. Generally hoaxers are considered low-lifes and con artists, out for a buck. It seems like a very hard way to make a living; how much are you likely to get for a bf carcass, seeing as there's no X prize for cryptozoology? So maybe they want something else, most likely unsavory, but what? Fame? Fame for being a bf hoaxer? Or power? I think there's something to the power angle, in being able to "put one over" on somebody--the same thrill some people get from practical jokes. I guess what will happen once the hoax is exposed doesn't concern these guys (one of the Georgia hoaxers got fired from his job as a cop as a result)--or they think, perhaps rightly, that infamy will become a more benign and lucrative sort of fame soon enough.

I'm still ruminating on all the implications, but one aspect that struck me is how seriously the bf community polices itself. Note, for example, the comments by Michael Rugg, founder of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton (which we visited a few weeks ago). Belief based on the most fleeing vision is fine, but deliberate hoaxing gives the whole enterprise of finding bf a bad name.

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