Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC
Backyard Bigfoot, a book review...
I was curious about the possibility of stick signs being real evidence of interaction with Bigfoot, but I was also curious to know if Lisa A. Shiel, author of Backyard Bigfoot, had a new, logical perspective on Bigfoot and how the plausible existence of hairy forest giants might relate to UFOs, as it states on the book cover.
Shiel also discusses "orbs," but it seems that her outlook on these subjects as naive as those who staunchly "believe" that photographed orbs are manifestations of spirits from beyond, and that UFO's are proof that extraterrestrials or inter-dimensional beings maneuver through our airspace in highly advanced craft.
The bottom line is that there is absolutely no proof to substantiate these claims.
I mean no disrespect to the author. This is an interesting, fun and well written book, and she certainly has done her fair share of research. Her theories are entertaining, and there is much anthropological and paleontological information included in the book, though not always in the best context.
In some cases I notice that her interpretations are a bit of a stretch from what one might ordinarily gather from the information at hand. For example, in the first chapter, "Ancient Evidence," Shiel presents an image of a pottery piece decorated with a representation of Bes, an Egyptian "hairy dwarf" god.
Sheil tells us that Bes is often depicted with a feathered headdress, large feet, and sometimes as a bipedal lion-like creature but what the author fails to mention are the obvious wing-like appendages seen protruding from the back of the creature in the image presented. This depiction of Bes is as much a representation of Bigfoot as it is of Mothman.
Shiel obviously has done extensive experimentation with the stick sign phenomenon, but the fact that it continued at two very different locations, and on her property in both cases, may indicate that the phenomenon is the simple result of an imaginative misperception of her own environment.
I'm a skeptical person, but I try to keep an open mind about subjects like this. Backyard Bigfoot does contain some interesting information, and potential evidence that may or may not suggest the presence of hairy hominids on the author's property.
Much of what the author presents is assumption. She assumes a connection between hairy hominids and UFOs based on anecdotal evidence. She assumes that orbs and other photographic or optical anomalies represent paranormal activity when they are more likely the result of dust, moisture, insects, or other airborne debris. Shiel also assumes that these orbs have a connection to the alleged hairy hominids she believes frequent her property.
Shiel suggests some sort of association between things like strange lights, mystery canids appearing on a motion-activated game camera, and her personal sighting of an out-of-place jaguar near her home when she lived in northern Texas. It seems that all of the world's paranormal mysteries found their way into her backyard. That is, if out of place jaguars, or wolf-like animals are truly paranormal phenomena.
It is common that many people who believe in the unexplained tend to experience all kinds of strangeness in their lives, while the more skeptical among us seem to miss it all. Everything becomes part of some great mystery to them, far beyond the comprehension of even the most educated scientists and thinkers.
On that note, one thing that Shiel doesn't hesitate to do, whenever she has the opportunity in this book, is to bash skeptics as a close-minded group with an agenda to shut the door on all hope for the believers. I got the distinct impression that Shiel views skeptics as the most illogical of people, when in fact the opposite is true. Unfortunately believers view skepticism as a threat.
Skeptics ask questions, and point out facts which believers tend to conveniently ignore, maybe for fear of change. It is not my goal to bash the author, she has written a fun book and presents plenty of food for thought. There can be no belittling the author for the amount of work she has done. She is an intelligent person, and the book is well researched, however, much of what she offers and interprets seems liberally colored by her belief.
Are Bigfoot responsible for the stick signs the Shiel finds on her property? Does Bigfoot exist? Maybe, but also probably not. It seems that the author is convinced of their existence and assumes that unknown hairy hominids are communicating with her through stick signs. Some of the stick sign formations do seem to be deliberate, while others could very well have just fallen out of a tree and landed that way.
There are many less mysterious woodland creatures capable of shuffling some sticks around too, during the course of gathering materials for a nest or den for example, or simply scurrying by. Even the wind can whip up a loose stick or twig and have them land as they may. To say that a found array of sticks are messages from, and evidence of, a creature that science has not found to exist is a stretch. Oh, there we go with science again.
Throughout the book are references to stick signs and rocks (some of which Shiel claims are evidence of hairy hominids' toolmaking skills), apparently showing up where they were not the day before. In this case, how is it possible that the author has such precise recollection of what is, or is not present on her property, and how can she be so certain as to how something got there?
Are we to believe that Shiel patrols her property on a daily basis making a detailed inventory of the contents of her land? Many of the passages in the book seem to indicate just that.
I will admit that my explanations above do not answer the riddle as to why Shiel seems to consistently get responses to her own placed stick signs. If an animal didn't just happen to shuffle over the sticks during the night, rearranging them a bit by mistake, then maybe there is something intelligent trying to communicate with her. But the evidence is very sketchy, and it does not necessarily have to be a Bigfoot.
Sheil also discusses mystery braids that appear in the manes of her horses, seemingly overnight. She describes the detail and intricacy of the braids, but at the same time she contradicts herself, referring to them as having a knotted appearance and being difficult to remove.
The photos Shiel presents of the braids show no real detail, and don't really help to support her claim. In some pictures it looks like she's showing nothing more than a tangle of hairs. Hard to say for sure. She is again making an assumption that the braids are the work of playful, hairy hominids, though she never claims to have seen any Bigfoot at work making stick signs or weaving the braids. These alleged events apparently happen overnight, miraculously, therefore we cannot assume that unknown creatures called Bigfoot are responsible for these events.
There is just no proof, despite the cute cover image, which seems more suited for a children's book than a serious examination of the Bigfoot phenomenon.
The book is interesting, but I must say that it is odd as well. It is a book about the paranormal and the author's belief, perfect for those who wish to continue to believe in such things.