The Bigfoot Discovery Museum

I visited a local Bigfoot museum here in California, the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. I didn’t know what to expect, because once you hear “local Bigfoot museum” I’m pretty much ready to go.

Before I describe it, you may wonder my stance on Bigfoot, because why not. Based on what I’ve seen I don’t think we have an undiscovered apelike cryptid here in the US (or one that’s survived to the modern day). Other “mystery primates” I give credit to on an individual basis. I do think there’s a Bigfoot phenomena that does hint at something weirder and wilder, something that’s more paranormal, psychosocial, or both. You now have an idea of my mindset – but I went in wanting to just see what this was like.

I was not disappointed. The Museum is small, two rooms and a few outdoor exhibits. It’s run by a few people for the most part and has been for years. It’s delightful (and powered by donations and merch so go to the link above).

The first room is mostly pop culture representations of bigfoot, and this was absolutely enthralling. Until you pause and see this small but surprising slice of Bigfoot culture, you don’t realize how much Bigfoot is part of our culture. Honestly, the proprietor could probably have only focused on Bigfoot in culture and built a larger museum.

The rest of the museum are various aged exhibits, the famous video running in a loop, and a small library and merch area. There’s nothing overly surprising to a person like myself who’s had an interest in this, but it’s a nice compilation, especially for California which is big and has many a cryptid. For me it was nostalgia, and a reminder of the enduring story of Bigfoot.

There’s a few outside exhibits, again nothing unusual, just nice to see it all in one place. There’s a diorama and some great wall art to bring it all home, though the diorama wasn’t well lighted.

Of course I got a T-shirt. Of course I donated. How could I not?

Did I learn anything new? Come away with an increased appreciation of Bigfoot? Nothing changed my mind on the phenomena of Bigfoot – but what I did was appreciate the impact on culture and the museum.

This museum was a vision of a small dedicated group They believed in Bigfoot, they were curious about Bigfoot, they wanted to connect on Bigfoot. They had a museum that was a unique and personal. They had made something, something sincere and honest and very much itself.

In the world of the paranormal, of cryptids, and the like there are tons of grifters and obvious scams. There’s crystals and weird testimonies by people whose so-called experiences magically evolve with current fads. Then there’s the Bigfoot Discovery Museum.

Just some people doing their thing. I might not believe in Bigfoot, but I believe in them.


Science Envy, Religion Envy

I’ve noticed a weird kind of science envy in American Christianity as well as various New Age and occult circles. There’s creationism which tries to use science to kinda disprove scientific consensus. There’s incredible abuses of quantum physics by, well, what seems to be 50% of anyone writing on religion or spirituality. There’s a lot of “science” in the same way that someone cosplaying is actually the character.

Too many people want the dignity, applicability, and detail science around their complex spiritual experiences and faith. Or, without that, they want to discredit it. Meanwhile science would like more grant money, thanks.

On the other hand, there’s what we’ve seen break apart various atheist and skeptic groups – a fanaticism that borders on, well, religion. That need to disprove but not prove. The smugly sure atheists who seemed to have driven people from atheism. Atheists embracing bigotry that religious groups promote (oft anti-Islam). Assorted YouTube and TikTok bros that we’ve seen come and go (but not go enough) over the years. There’s a lot of religion among these supposedly scientific types.

Too many people want the surety and breadth of religion, the sense of utter rightness. Religion can’t truly deliver that, and science still wants its grant money as there’s actual shit to do.

Having been all over the religion map, I’ve wondered about this phenomena, of supposedly religious people wanting science to back them, and so-called scientific types being no different than religious fanatics. I’m sure you’ve seen this as well, and I’ve had conversations about it with friends.

Now I could go into my own take on this – and perhaps will, but I think it’s important to address the core. How is it religious types want to have the validity of science (or undermine it) and “scientific” types want the surety of religion? Because of power-hungry assholes.

That’s it.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses religion, then you can’t have science get in the way, you have to hijack it, destroy it, or preferably both. Science is a rival to you. Also since you’re all about power any rational thought or analysis is your enemy.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses “science” (I have to keep putting it in quotes), then science is not enough. Science is a mix of cooperation and argumentation, half freeform concert, half thunderdome fight with pillows. It’s not the kind of thing that will anoint a king or a messiah, but you can pretend to be one and claim you’re the Most Rational. So you do what you can to try to anoint yourself Brain Pope or whatever, and end up looking pretty religious (and perhaps unconsciously duplicate religion).

What is perhaps saddest is how much of religion and science gets defined by these various battles and personalities and grifters. Forget religion versus science, let’s try to diminish the amount of and power of assholes first.


The Syndicate

I was listening to the Nonsense Bazaar, one of my favorite podcasts on weird stuff, and one of the hosts discussed the connections between weird metaphysics grifters. He christened this The Syndicate, and I realized how absolutely appropriate it was. I’d like to go into something that is very obvious in the world of spiritual scams – so obvious it’s disturbingly easy to miss.

If you find any grifty religious/spiritual group and pursue it’s origins you often find others like them very quickly. Some online guru is just channeling beings dreamed up by another scam artist, while doing affiliate marketing with a fellow grifter. An exceedingly weird religious group directs you at courses taught by an only slightly less disturbing organization. If you pursue this for any amount of time, it starts to seem very connected.

The podcast Conspirituality noted a whole guru ecosystem, where some new internet influencer will suddenly hook up with other more well-heeled ones. Once you’re in the ecosystem you get to start exchanging audiences, expanding together, and so on. Plus you want to connect with new talent so they don’t steal your audience.

Now do I think this is some kind of conspiracy? No, it’s just networking by people of similar interests, its the influence of ideas, and of course it’s driven by people who see dollar signs and power. You don’t need a conspiracy, so though there may be some tiny conspiracies, good old greed explains plenty of it.

However I think there’s an issue here that The Syndicate also helps give the illusion of truth.

We humans decide things are true not in simple linear fashion – though it may look like it – but by a web of associations. People we trust, classes we took, experiences we had, techniques we learned, all come together to help us evaluate truth. Even something that comes as a revelation only seems so as it rests on a substrate of past experiences.

The Syndicate has people linking back to each other, to past teachings, and to various forms of content. It has people recommending and boosting each other. It is a web of associations that can give the appearance of truth. Even if this is not intentional, if it’s just people helping each other rip others off, it’s “close to truth.”

When it is intentional, it’s pretty damn effective. In the world of spiritual grift it’s also easy – a dash of Theosophy, some alternative medicine, and then some conspiracy theories and you’re good. Team up with a few others and you’re good.

I think this is important to remember. The network of people busily selling you fake spirituality for real money can seem true because of the network. Something that should set off someone’s alarms may, under the right conditions, do the opposite.

(Come to think of it, the way I recommend podcasts, some of which refer to each other, should make you suspicions . . .)