Re: Wild man of Borneo?

Tom Lathrop (
Thu, 15 Jun 1995 20:14:55 GMT

In article <>,
J. Moore <> wrote:

>There are tales and reported sightings there (as in many places) of
>purported hominids, but nothing has come of it so far. I'm not one of
>those who says it's impossible for sasquatch, or the almas (Pamir mtns.)
>or orang pendek (Borneo and Sumatra) to exist, and some of the reasons
>given as to why "they *can't*" are as silly as some of the proponents'
>views, but we really haven't gotten much out of any of the business so
>Sadly, few people are going to try seriously looking, which is too
>bad because there's definitely some sort of anthropological study
>therein, ie. it's either hominids (big story), massive world-wide fraud
>(big story), mistaken ID of all sightings (understandable with amateurs
>but unlikely with many locals and pros, therefore big story), or
>long-term myth and legend from many many areas (big story). The biggest

As much as I'd like to see new and living hominids discovered, I think
the fact that the stories come from many places is a big strike against
the possibility. For even one such group to have survived all these
years without our finding them or their bones is stretching it; the
idea that this could have happened in many places is unbelievable. So
there must be a social explanation (like fraud, or widespread "hairy
beast-man" myths (the existence of which which would hardly strike me
as a "big story")) for most of the sightings. But if you accept that a
high percentage of the sightings must be false then you've acknowledged
that you are dealing with a widely falsified phenomenon, and that means
it is quite possible that *all* the sightings are false. If there were
persistent rumors and sightings from only one part of the world and
nowhere else then I would take the whole thing much more seriously.

BTW, this argument is very similar to one that you can use against
belief in miracles. The believer must either accept that all miracles
which he is unable to debunk are therefore true (which he is usually
unwilling to do, because it would mean accepting the miracles given to
believers of other faiths), or else he must hold that most reported
miracles are false (even though he can't explain how). Once you've
accepted that *most* miracles are false it becomes difficult to deny
the possibility that they are *all* false, and it becomes harder to
persuade the unbeliever by confronting him with one set of miracles
when you've already provided a way out by dismissing all the others.

(Forgive me for introducing a religious argument into a scientific
newsgroup, but in my defense I have to say that if living non-human
hominids were discovered it really *would* be a miracle! :-)

Tom Lathrop | Politics: A strife of interests masquerading | as a contest of principles. -- Ambrose Bierce