Episode 55 guest Sharon Hill has posted to her blog an account of how she ran afoul of the BFRO’s purity police. Turns out, she wrote an article for Doubtful News about Bryan Sykes’ new Yeti book and posted it to the BFRO Facebook group. Innocuous enough. You’d think those interested in Sykes’ work (and there are lots) would be happy to read the information (keep in mind, she’s done a crackerjack job of keeping everyone current on the Ketchum madness).
You can go read the exchange for yourself. You could have read it for yourself, but the admins for the Facebook group have deleted the post. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I’ve said before that there are good people in the BFRO, but, it seems, the closer they get to the inner-circle of leadership, the more extreme and defensive they get.
And you know what? I understand where that comes from. I really do. I’m a “believer” based on my interpretation of the evidence and own personal experiences. No doubt, the BFRO is filled with people like me. And surely, there are those who call themselves skeptics who, every time they write or speak on the topic, make me angry and frustrated. But in the same way I will not accept the skeptical side lumping me into the same crazy stew as Ketchum, we as a community cannot write off all skeptics as skofftics until they’ve demonstrated ample cause.
There’s a saying that goes, “Feedback is a gift” (usually said by me right before I give someone their review at work). It’s not always pleasant and it’s not always welcome, but if it’s given with constructive intentions and is fair, we should view it as an opportunity for discourse and mutual edification, not immediately cringe and withdraw like a snail from salt. I have always viewed true open-minded skeptics as providers of constructive feedback. As long as their position isn’t “bigfoot cannot be real,” we can have a conversation. And that conversation can make me better and sharper in my actions and thoughts.
Of course, if what you want out of the bigfoot enthusiast community is to have spooky experiences in the dark woods (or read about them from others) and to talk only amongst like-minded people, what I just said may not apply. But that way leads to criss-crossed logic and self-reinforced assumptions of reality. We must make room for alternative points of view, not only in how we approach this subject, but throughout our lives. I have many good friends with whom I see eye to eye on hardly any subjects, but my association with them has enriched my life. If you’d rather not be exposed to opposing or alternate points of view, I’d suggest you’re ultimately part of the problem.
We should not fear fairly-leveled, reasonable, and well-intentioned criticism. We should embrace it.