Ketchum Bigfoot DNA paper released: Problems with questionable publication (Updated)

Melba Ketchum’s long LONG awaited paper on Bigfoot DNA is published today. But you’re not going to see it.

Back in November, Ketchum announced her resultsA team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.

There was no paper to go along with the results. There is now a paper. With it comes a BOATLOAD of issues that leave this announcement less than spectacular.

Researchers Sequence Sasquatch Genome, Novel Hominins Extant in North America.

The study, “Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies,” which analyzed DNA from a total of 111 high-quality samples submitted from across the continent, appears in the inaugural issue of Denovo: Journal of Science (http://www.denovojournal.com) on February 13.

“Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies.”
Authors: Ketchum MS, Wojtkiewicz PW, Watts AB, Spence DW, Holzenburg AK, Toler DG, Prychitko TM, Zhang F, Bollinger S, Shoulders R, Smith R.
DeNovo. 13 February 2013.

More information is available here at the project’s web site: Sasquatch Genome Project (Note: Site now gives 403 error).

The study, “Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies,” was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology. The team, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of DNA Diagnostics in Nacogdoches, TX, included Dr. Pat Wojtkiecicz, Director of the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory; Ms. Aliece Watts of Integrated Forensic Laboratories in Euless, TX; Mr. David Spence, Trace Evidence Supervisor at Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences; Dr. Andreas K. Holzenburg, Director of the Microscopy & Imaging Center at Texas A&M University; Dr. Douglas G. Toler of Huguley Pathology Consultants in Fort Worth, TX; Dr. Thomas M. Prychitko of Helix Biological Laboratory in Michigan; Dr. Fan Zhang of the University of North Texas Health Science Center; and Sarah Bollinger, Ray Shoulders, and Ryan Smith of DNA Diagnostics.

Mitochondrial whole genomes were consistent with modern humans. In contrast, novel data were obtained when nuclear DNA was sequenced. Next generation whole genome sequencing was performed on three samples. Phylogeny trees generated showed homology to human chromosome 11 and to primate sequences. The data indicates that the Sasquatch has human mitochondrial DNA but possesses nuclear DNA that is a structural mosaic consisting of human and novel non-human DNA.

We finally see the other authors, at least. Note that none are academics, but forensic specialists. Problem one.

Problem two: This is a brand new journal. Was it launched JUST for this paper? Well, this is an interesting and HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS twist. We do not know what the standards are for review. There are no rules for starting up your own journal and calling it “peer reviewed”. And, indeed, that’s what was done (from Sasquatch Genome Project) (Note: Site now gives 403 error):

After this journal agreed to publish the manuscript, their legal counsel advised them not to publish a manuscript on such a controversial subject as it would destroy the editors’ reputations (as it has already done to mine).  I have documentation on all of this drama.  So, rather than spend another five years just trying to find a journal to publish and hoping that decent, open minded reviewers would be chosen, we acquired the rights to this journal and renamed it so we would not lose the passing peer reviews that are expected by the public and the scientific community.  Denovo, the new journal is aimed at offering not only more choices and better service to scientists wanting to submit a manuscript, but also reviewers and editors that will be fair, unlike the treatment we have received.

Problem three: The paper costs $30 to download. No academic institution is going to have access to a new journal site so they will have to pay to review it. Some Bigfoot bloggers have received embargoed copies. Bigfoot bloggers. With NO scientific qualifications. I have yet to see any genetic specialists comment on the paper but it’s very early and I expect some will. I have requested access to the paper.

Problem four: Excuses. Check this out from the Sasquatch Genome Project page (Note: Site now gives 403 error):

It has been a long and tedious battle to prove that Sasquatch exists.  We have had the proof for nearly 5 years but building enough data to convince mainstream science has taken a lot of time.  Trying to publish has taken almost two years.  It seems mainstream science just can’t seem to tolerate something controversial, especially from a group of primarily forensic scientists and not “famous academians” aligned with large universities, even though most of our sequencing and analysis was performed at just such facilities.

We encountered the worst scientific bias in the peer review process in recent history.  I am calling it the “Galileo Effect”.  Several journals wouldn’t even read our manuscript when we sent them a pre-submission inquiry.  Another one leaked our peer reviews.  We were even mocked by one reviewer in his peer review.

So Dr. Ketchum chose not to play by the rules and forged her own way. Why was the paper rejected by journals? Perhaps not only was it controversial but could it have been poor quality? I will have to wait to see what experts say but from what I have heard from those who did see it, it was not of good quality. It is more likely that it had some fatal flaw than that the scientific community was ganging up against her. There are PLENTY of journals that would have published this paper. She chose this route. That does not bode well for this to be taken at all seriously. Most people who compare themselves to Galileo end up NOT producing something earth-shaking, they are making excuses. When you propose the novel RESULT without having collaborated with the true experts in the field to check your work, odds are you made some error along the way. It reeks of pseudoscience.

Ketchum has also launched her own website called the Melba Ketchum Global Sasquatch Foundation (Note: Site now gives 403 error):

Due to the efforts of our founder Dr. Melba  Ketchum it has been proven that the Sasquatch are a human hybrid. Here at G.S.F. we have made it a priority to protect these indigenous people from being hunted, harassed, or even killed.

That’s more than a little bit premature. On this site you can see pictures of supposed Bigfoot stick structures and a photo of a matted horse’s mane. Having heard about this before, Ketchum has alleged that Sasquatch “braids” the horse’s mane.

My initial opinions of this latest news? It’s a fiasco. It’s unprofessional and disappointing. The websites are amateurish, the goals are delusional and it smacks of a self-serving money-making venture. Melba has positioned herself as a self-named expert with additional projects set up to collect funds and protect an animal she insists exists. It has not been confirmed, contrary to her opinion that she has “proven” it.

As a good Skeptic, I am COMPLETELY willing to change my mind if the paper itself provides scientific value. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not hopeful. This has been a long and torturous road not only for Ketchum but for those of us who awaited the results. This is what we get. Experts will weigh in. We’ll have updates as this story progresses.

UPDATE: The “sequences were not able to be uploaded to a GenBank® because of their lack of taxon” according to the paper. Also, there was a video provided of “Matilda”, a sleeping Sasquatch. I have not seen this video as it was temporarily uploaded and then removed via copyright issues. Those that did see were not impressed. It did show something and according to the paper, DNA was taken and respiration rates were obtained by watching the video.

I have read the paper. Because I have no specialized training in genomics or forensics, I can not comment on its validity. But I can say it begins with the premise that Sasquatch exists and this study helps to confirm that suspected idea. I await experts to comment on what we are seeing here.

UPDATE2: The Sasquatch Genome Project has authorized release of this video supposedly showing a sleeping Sasquatch. Copyright: Sasquatch Genome Project

UPDATE3: Prelim commentary on the science: Bigfoot genome paper “conclusively proves” that Sasquatch is real | Ars Technica.

As far as the nuclear genome is concerned, the results are a mess. Sometimes the tests picked up human DNA. Other times, they didn’t. Sometimes the tests failed entirely. The products of the DNA amplifications performed on the samples look about like what you’d expect when the reaction didn’t amplify the intended sequence. And electron micrographs of the DNA isolated from these samples show patches of double- and single-stranded DNA intermixed. This is what you might expect if two distantly related species had their DNA mixed—the protein-coding sequences would hybridize, and the intervening sections wouldn’t. All of this suggests modern human DNA intermingled with some other contaminant.

UPDATE (15-Feb-2013): I found this on a Bigfoot blog: Bigfoot Buzz

I did a little digging and I was able to corroborate Dr. Ketchums claims. I found that the following journal was recently registered to Dr. Melba Ketchum:  Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology.  I found that Dr. Ketchum had registered the Journal in her name in January of 2013. So yes Dr.  Ketchum did just recently create the new Denovo Journal website because as she asserted she acquired the Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology.

More to it…Here is the more on the journal information from Jim who also commented below.

So, it certainly is plausible that she purchased this journal in the way she claims. However, it still does not really make the picture any more rosy. [My mistake] It’s not exactly “self-publishing” but it’s shaky crap. We still don’t know the process it went through. Regardless, this was not a highly cited journal (it may be brand new). So it did not have credibility established. Regardless, info coming in from people who know what they are looking at are revealing that the paper is not good science.

 

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  78 comments for “Ketchum Bigfoot DNA paper released: Problems with questionable publication (Updated)

  1. February 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Hmm. Just a thought — Where are the videos that were promised?

    Where’s the big kaBOOM? There was supposed to be an earthshattering KABOOM!

    • February 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Ah, there is a teaser of the video. I don’t wish to post it here because it is copyrighted but there is an analysis of it here. http://youtu.be/_D9v7z3INXc I was unimpressed.

  2. Tyler Kokjohn
    February 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    A precondition for publication in scientific journals is the requirement that DNA sequences will be deposited in a public database with accession numbers provided to enable others to examine the data.

    The group can now claim full priority and perhaps Dr. Ketchum will facilitate the full evalaution of the data by releasing the database identifiers. This would be helpful because I am pretty sure my institution does not have a subscription to that journal. In addition, I would be quite interested to have the input of Drs. Todd Disotell, Jeff Meldrum and Brian Sykes on the overall quality of the data and opinions regarding the reliability of their conclusions. Since they are not directly involved with the study and experts, maybe she already sent a preprint to them in advance of publication to facilitate this process as well.

    Peer review is as good as the peers. Let’s see how they did.

  3. February 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    I would also like to point out that, not only did the journal not exist before this paper, the website didn’t exist 10 days ago and has been registered anonymously:

    http://www.themadskeptic.com/2013/02/ketchum-publishes-dna-paper-in-journal.html

  4. spookyparadigm
    February 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    As I’ve said, this business of DNA is going to be the Roswell of bigfootery and cryptozoology* more generally (if we mean that as a scientific endeavor). The scientific community bet it all on Roswell, and when it came up short, it didn’t mean there weren’t some people who still believed in it, of course there are. But if you look at ufology historically, the 1990s largely brings to a close even the barest attempts at a scientific approach. Nearly all the action is either local news reporting “sightings” that usually end up bust, or it is in the more belief-oriented communities (conspiracy, disclosure, ancient/religion, abduction which has also been imploding both due to greater outside study of that community as well as other factors, and other flavors of contactee or occult/magickal).

    If the Sykes study returns inconclusive results, we will see a couple of years where the old guard of cryptozoology continues on but becomes quieter, and they will not be replaced, but instead supplanted by the contactee, hybrid/conspiracy, tulpa/4D, and etc. explanations for cryptids.

    * other than individuals chasing legends and writing travelogues, is there really any multi-researcher topics in cryptozoology other than bigfoot, at this stage? There once was for lake monsters. But these days, it seems there is a Bigfoot community, and then individuals who either focus on one cryptid and they are the primary voice on it, or individuals who travel from place to place for various cryptids, and weave their own adventure narrative that doesn’t have a lot of room for other researchers except maybe some of their friends.

  5. Mike Bok
    February 13, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    So they published a paper in a Journal they bought for the purpose of publishing the paper, and still have not released any of the sequence data?

    Yawn,

    Wake me up when they put the raw data online. Or in any of you get a hold of the paper and want someone with training in genetics to take a look, send it my way.

  6. February 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Sasquatch genome and Ketchums new site are currently down. Getting 403 notices.

  7. February 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    As The Mad Skeptic points out, the domain name was registered just nine days ago. And it was registered through an anonymyzer in order to obscure the identity of the owner of the site. Why would the owner of a journal not want anyone to know who they are?

    If you look up the IP address where the journal web site is hosted, you find it is owned by WIX.com. They are a FREE website publishing company. If you go to the Contact Us page on the journal web site, you’ll see Twitter/Facebook/Google Plus icons in lower left – they all go to WIX’s social media presence! (Probably defaults in the template).

    So to summarize, whoever is running this journal doesn’t want anyone to know who they are, and has a website budget of zero. Impressive!

    On the plus side, they did actually take the time to register an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) for their publication.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      This is looking worse than I even imagined.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Since they are “free” website companies, will their servers be able to handle the expected traffic (looking like they won’t according to the 403 notices)?

      • February 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        DeNovo is still up as of a few minutes ago. I wouldn’t be surprise if they are on Amazon infrastructure which would minimize the likelihood of the site going down. The other sites may be hosted on physical servers and that’s why they crashed when people started doing follow up, etc.

        • February 13, 2013 at 11:44 AM

          Oh man, that Journal page is great. Cheesy animations, formatting errors everywhere, sciencey stock photos, and the first issue is one single paper.

      • gedq@yahoo.com
        February 14, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        403 is a general error code, but the error message that accompanies it would indicate that the content has been deleted – your browser is trying to access an empty directory.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      I didn’t follow up on the Wix lead. I guess it’s not as obvious as a “journal” published on Google pages! She mentions electron microscopy in the abstract. That happens to be one of my specialties and I sure would like to see the paper to see if that is, well, cow pie too.

  8. February 13, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I just updated my post on the topic. All three sites (Ketchum’s, Sasquatch Genome, and DeNovo) share the same name servers.

  9. Bob
    February 13, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    *munches popcorn*

    • February 13, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Hey Bob, pass that popcorm around would you? There’s a good chap.

  10. February 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    >No academic institution is going to have access to a new journal site so they will have to pay to review it.

    Granted, subscribing to an academic journal that just popped out of the blue is not something universities would opt to do, but it should be pointed out that charging to grant access to papers is standard procedure among many high-end journals –Aaron Swartz, anyone?

    If they launched the journal just to publish the paper, they should have offered it for free, as a way to start cementing their rep.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Agreed. But most institutions have subscriptions so their staff can have access. How would anyone have access to a new journal? EXTREMELY bad form. Since she is the owner of the journal (so it appears), this is completely intentional, not established practices for every other paper in an established journal.

  11. February 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Also, wondering what the name of the original journal was. I can’t find that stated anywhere? If she and whomever acquired the rights to said journal after the paper was reviewed, shouldn’t we have that information?

    Nice that the page says “open access” but it behind a paywall. They don’t get science OR “open access”.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      I think they’re trying to mimic PLoS without understanding Open Access or Creative Commons. Wait, that was a massive understatement.

  12. snoma
    February 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Why is this post not listed in the “Epic fail” category?

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      No one has seen the paper! But, you’re right, it sort of does qualify for that already. So disappointing. But not unexpected.

      • drwfishesman
        February 14, 2013 at 7:58 AM

        Friend of mine just posted on Google+ that Karl Zimmer has purchased the paper.

        • February 14, 2013 at 9:47 AM

          Yes. Saw that yesterday on Twitter. I would love if he had something to say about it. Carl is one of my favorite science writers.

  13. J
    February 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    While I’m intrigued by the process these people are going through to gain a cloak of authority, the problems mentioned remind me of “tooth fairy science” through and through. And yet I’m still interested to see how this turns out, if only to learn how people can go about using loopholes to make their claims seem legitimate so as to expose them in the future.

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      It seems akin to dietary supplement manufacturers who publish their “clinical trials” in their own small journals and then cite them as references of peer reviewed work. It’s published and citable. This will convince non-science people who don’t know that it’s really cheating the quality controls.

  14. February 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    This is very similar to the creation of the Answers in Genesis journal on creation ‘science’. They couldn’t get their work peer-reviewed in science journals, so they created a journal of what they considered their peers. http://www.answersingenesis.org/arj

  15. Eike W.
    February 13, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    OK, let’s be properly scientific about this. What matters now is not the journal, however shady that may be. What matters are the data. Either they GenBank it, or we should not bother wasting our time here & do some research instead.

  16. Tyler Kokjohn
    February 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I am not exactly shocked that the data will not be deposited in GenBank. So that must mean the authors (knowing this would be an issue) have it available on a web page of their own. Time to provide that link or just say that the data are not going to be released.

    I agree with Eike W. How long will this game continue?

  17. February 13, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    The authors aren’t academics but forensic specialists. No surprise to me. Whenever you see a fringy paper supported by someone with “scientific” credentials, they’re almost never academics. They tend to be engineers or applied scientists. Look at who writes all the moon hoax and 9-11 papers.

    Those that can, teach. Those who can’t, do. And no, that is NOT a misprint.

    • February 13, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      So, an adjunct assistant professor with a PhD doesn’t qualify as an academic? Would it be more credible if a tenured professor was involved? Certainly it’s more than just someone with a research doctorate and an argument from authority …right?

      • February 13, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        There is a difference in my opinion between people who are good at getting forensic evidence, and analyzing it, and those who can interpret it in terms of genomics. This is where I suspect they failed. If you have such an incredible find, why not have it checked by the experts. I’m reminded of the chemists who thought they discovered cold fusion.

        • February 13, 2013 at 6:25 PM

          They probably showed it to experts, who told them it was a disaster, and not evidence of bigfoot, so they made their own journal. That’s what I’m guessing happened here.

          From the many samples that they sequenced in masse, they probably assembled some ungodly gallimaufry of various mammalian DNA fragments into something that didn’t match anything else, therefore bigfoot.

  18. Stuart Robbins
    February 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    I listened to a 3-4 hour interview of Ketchum on Coast to Coast AM about two months ago. Her position actually sounded defensible and I was beginning to feel sorry for her and decided I would withhold judgement. Not anymore with this latest move.

    • February 13, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      I heard that too. She sounded awfully confident. In fact, I’m sure she still is confident. Being Galileo and all…

  19. February 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Others are checking on the co-authors. From the JREF forum:

    Prychitco did some sequencing, is aware of the paper, but did no analysis or writing of the paper. He has a private lab, but they only do the old school sequensing – the sanger technologies.

    Wojtkiecicz is aware of the paper, had not seen any recent versions, and had resized and reformatted some images for melba, who he has known for a long time. he also apparently worked on 4 or 5 samples, but could not get DNA from them, apparently he was using a kit that was specific to human. he has not seen anything since Melba went next gen .

    They also noted that they saw that Robin Lynne was listed as the editor of the Denovo journal. If that’s true, and you know who Robin is, you are ROFL.

    • February 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      I expect only the highest editorial integrity out of someone who thinks she is visited daily (for years) by a family of bigfeet, and the best piece of evidence she has accrued is the mussed-up mane of a pony.

  20. February 13, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    They could submit the sequences to FigShare. We could all get them there and start to evaluate the data.

  21. February 13, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Sasquatch Genome Project page is no longer 403 and reads only one word: “teaser”.

    I do have some forensic experience (electron microscopy, fiber and white powder analysis). I can’t wait to get a copy of this paper. Furthermore, I know geneticists.

  22. Brock Way
    February 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    The idea that somehow this farce will be “real science” when the ‘data’ is released is poorly founded. Any idiot can change ACGT into CGAT, and how would you know? You wouldn’t.

    • February 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      You would have to alter it in a consistent, evolutionarily reasonable manner throughout the entire genome (or multiple genomes?). I doubt this team possesses the requisite understanding or time to have done this.

  23. Jay
    February 13, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    This is sadly another one of those events that will ruin the credibility of scientific minded people who think that the existence of unknown bipedal primates is possible (such as myself). It’s very sad to see, and I hope that we can get a real scientific breakthrough very soon.

  24. RDW
    February 13, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Never a bone or tooth, a strand of hair. Nothing. This would have to be a very,very clever creature to scarf up every single bit of evidence of itself.

  25. February 13, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    The comments have been as interesting as the article. Hope to see more.

    This Bigfoot DNA nonsense is all good for a laugh.

  26. One Eyed Jack
    February 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    There are many comments I could make, but, being born and raised a country boy, there is one comment that covers it all… horse shit.

    Pardon the language, but this whole thing is just one steaming pile of it.

  27. garethl
    February 13, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    “It has been a long and tedious battle to prove that Sasquatch exists”

    Oh you’re not kidding are you.

  28. February 13, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    You would think with all the investigators and Bigfoot hunters, SOMEBODY would come up with a tangible piece of evidence that is irrefutable and will not leave no one in the dark. But that’s not happening. I watch the Sasquatch show on one of the cable channels hoping some evidence will be turned up. But as usual, fuzzy movies, deer carcasses, (“Yep. That’s a Bigfoot kill.”), lots of footprints, lots of “eye witnesses,” BUT NOTHING CONCRETE!

    • One Eyed Jack
      February 14, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      I have the same problem when I try to gather evidence for the invisible, pink dragon in my garage. I mean, he’s right there in my garage! Yet all I can manage is some invisible, odorless, dragon poo and scorch marks on the welding bench that look a lot like soot marks from a torch.

      Go figure.

  29. Eve
    February 13, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Someone on the JREF forums pointed out that the journal’s copyright notice reads “all rights preserved.”

  30. Eejeb22
    February 14, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    I think a lot of the commentary is missing the larger point of what is going on here and I personally believe this should be picked up by larger news sources. However this turns out, it is a big deal.

    It is obvious to state that if this scientific paper is legitimate (and I am definitely not saying it is) then we have a discovery that will rock science to its core.

    If this paper turns out to be a hoax by failures to properly analyze DNA evidence then there is an enormous issue with the eleven scientists who put their name on this paper. These are forensic scientists who have had their findings in DNA used in criminal cases. These DNA labs (especially for the ones in Texas) have put people to death through their findings. If you can firmly state that these scientists published false data through pure incompetence what does that ask of our judicial system which considers DNA evidence the nonpareil? What other mistakes or sloppy science are they producing?

    If this paper turns out to be a deliberate hoax then the issue becomes an enormous credibility of character conundrum. If these forensic labs are willing to falsify evidence for the sake of profit then what else have they falsified? This would bring into question every verdict that has utilized evidence from these respective labs.

    I would just keep this in mind as this unfolds. If the mentality is simply “bigfoot does not exist, therefor lets pick apart this paper!” you are not fully analyzing the context. I would just hope the expectations put on this paper are equal to those put on any other scientific paper that is making a specific claim. It might possibly be a mix of good science and poorly conceptualized conclusions? It could be many things, but whatever the outcome is, this is significant.

    • February 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      I’m getting the impression you aren’t really familiar with how science works. She is making an ENORMOUS claim and while she says she has done the due diligence, I think the mistake is in the conclusion. It was not subject to others’ views to point out what could have been missed. It is the scientific community’s job to be VERY skeptical or else all kinds of wrong ideas would get through (they already do but more would). The context is, she is make a very sweeping claim. I don’t believe for a moment this has been a hoax. She truly believes what she has.

      If she continues to play this victim/martyr card, it will do her no favors. If she is so tough, she needs to show her work and let others have at it. If she’s wrong, she needs to own up. I don’t think any of that will play out. She is too in love with her idea. That’s obvious in the foundation for Bigfoot protection she has set up.

      • Eejeb22
        February 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        I am very familiar with how science works. If your belief is that Ketchum and these other scientists do not know how to distinguish pure dna from contaminated dna (which is an understandable position) that is very significant. That’s one of the elementary steps to being a forensic scientist. In a large amount of crimes the blood samples are mixed up. Both sets of DNA (and often animal DNA) need to be set apart. This is a fundamental procedure in forensic science. Granted DNA is not frequently sequenced in forensic science; but they got three samples to a point where they would take the time to sequence them without seeing a problem which appears so obvious to some.

        If this were a problem with some theoretical, abstract or minor procedure of their work then this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. The immediate conclusion now by skeptics is that the dna was contaminated. That’s a mistake in step two of being a forensic scientist. That’s fine. But at this point that conclusion is itself a very significant detail. Any convictions made in conjunction with the work of these scientists will (and should) now be called into question. This will (and should) lead to putting this paper on trial.

        • Pimpero
          February 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM

          The thing is that the forensic scientists in question probably know how to distinguish pure dna from contaminated dna. It’s just that Ketchum doesn’t know or doesn’t want to. So she has included the names of everyone involved in the dna examination process, as if they wer backing up her conclusions about the data.

          • Eejeb22
            February 14, 2013 at 4:31 PM

            That’s a pretty bold and sweeping claim (though I am not in a position to tell you it’s untrue). To my knowledge there have been only two (alleged) responses from the other ten authors that were rather meaningless either way. It’s true that Ketchum has made some odd maneuvers in this whole story, but just defaming her character is not good science. If she has indeed included their names in a false and misleading way then there will be many legal issues for her to face. Real or hoax I imagine her primary motivation is money and fame. Unfortunately, her actions seem to be consistent with someone trying to make money off of a hoax or off of a real discovery.

            • February 14, 2013 at 6:16 PM

              I actually did not allow another comment from Pimpero to be published because it violated the comment policy.

              Please note I have a VERY strong moderation policy. If your comments are not appearing, there is a reason for that.

      • spookyparadigm
        February 15, 2013 at 7:50 AM

        But it does bring up the point of potential damage to the co-authors, who may only now be realizing exactly what their name is on.

    • spookyparadigm
      February 15, 2013 at 7:49 AM

      It might indeed put some of those things into question. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why “bigfoot skepticism” (which isn’t just about bigfoot) matters.

  31. February 14, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Brilliant! Concoct a DNA analyst paper on supposed Bigfoot DNA, create a shell journal to publish it and then charge anyone and everyone $30 to see it. Profit, profit, profit.

    • February 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      As I noted in other places, it would not be so bad if I had to pay $30 for a copy from a standard journal with credibility. There are reasons why journals are so expensive to produce. But not for one where she controls the output and COULD have given this for free. Just imagine, if the paper (was readable and) convinced people that Sasquatch was real, she could have garnered a lot in donations. Sometimes, people are willing to pay generously for things they love and support. Opportunity blown.

      • February 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        I have a feeling that the paper is actually a large Bigfoot merchandise catalog. The $30 gets you a key-chain and license plate holder.

  32. February 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    I’ve been asked a few times about the “academics” vs “specialist” comment. Academics are more experienced at constructing a research program and how peer review works. It is not disparaging of the talents of specialists who work for clients and have to produce high quality results (some academics do private work too). But the process of putting a paper through peer review is a bit different. I’m a bit stunned that such a landmark conclusion would not have been checked with experts in human genomics BEFORE putting it out there in such a fashion. It just creates more questions than it answers and does not bolster credibility. Of course, that’s my opinion in that we should value this knowledge and spread it far and wide, not try to profit from it. If it has monetary value to society, that will come on it’s own accord.

  33. Chris Howard
    February 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    So I’m going with English sheep dog, Irish wolf hound, or Scottish cow for the video…

    I would have included something from Wales, but it’s obviously too big to be a corgi. ;-)

  34. Kitty Lapin Agile
    February 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    As someone that runs a cheesy wix site (and I have zero budget, which is truly why one uses Wix), the quality of her site would not be an issue if she had good data. She could have the results written on crayon on a napkin if she had really GOOD results and work that other scientists could look at and say “Wow, this is 100% clear, give me a sample and I’ll do it also!”. Point is, we’ll know if Bigfoot is REAL very quickly. Because there should be lots of Bigfoot DNA all over the place, heck someone just poke that sleeping Squatch with a stick (honestly, or just go back later and find some hair and drool to test). Others will replicate her work (or actually do good work), and voila! Bigfoot is real.

    it’s that simple.

    Also, I sort of cringed when I looked at the names on the paper. Honestly, you would put the name of the lab where you work on this paper? It means they are either very confident in the results, or they are just not that aware of the publicity this will garner them and their labs. Has anyone talked to anyone else named on the paper? I would love to get their input. We have heard from Ketchum, let’s hear from the other authors.

    • February 14, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      While this is an ideal way of science working, in reality it wouldn’t be quite so simple.

      If biologists tracked some new species of monkey in Borneo and hypothesised it was a close relative of the orangutan, DNA evidence would be fairly convincing. This isn’t just because of the DNA, however – for every claim made, there is a weight of ‘invisible’ evidence which contributes to its support. It’s the same reason why I could easily convince you I own a cat with a photograph, but can’t do the same for an alien. There is a weight of history also supporting my cat claim that makes the chances of my lying or hoaxing a cat photo far less likely. There is also far less gain in hoaxing a cat photo than an alien.

      So in this case, the weight of evidence would need to be relative to the absence of that history. A strange semi-human sequence would not be immediate evidence of bigfoot. It would require independent (blinded) assessments, for instances, using different techniques to ensure there was no high level hoaxing or subterfuge.

      It’s what many bigfoot believers lament – skeptics are never satisfied. But when the stakes are this high, the evidence needs to account for the sheer (non?)history of experience on the topic. That would need to be pretty remarkable, and no single test would do it.

  35. Kitty Lapin Agile
    February 14, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    should be noted, proving Bigfoot is NOT real is impossible. There is always another tree in the forest to look behind. As long as there is that tree, Bigfoot will be alive to someone.

  36. Stuart Robbins
    February 14, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    A bit late, but I did a post about this issue from the standpoint of the peer-review process if anyone’s interested: http://wp.me/pjMYE-va

  37. February 14, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    I like what the zoologist says in this piece: http://squatchsightings.com/2013/02/melba-ketchums-novel-hominins-and-the-beat-goes-on/

    QUOTE: From the introduction, it is obvious that the writers are not writing from a null position. Because good science is hypothesis driven, you need a null hypothesis to act in opposition to the actual hypothesis (for instance, I hypothesise that compared to the average human, there is a significant difference between the sizes of X and Y. The null hypothesis would be that there is no significant difference). Study introductions should review the literature from an un-biased point of view, make hypotheses accordingly, then go into the study. This kinda doesn’t.

    I saw that immediately.

  38. Massachusetts
    February 15, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    So, is she claiming that this journal is in fact peer reviewed? If so, is she saying that she and her coauthors are the peers who did the peer reviewing? It seems that she’s basically saying that, to satisfy expectations for peer review, she started her own journal and basically did it herself, with a little help from her friend. Am I misunderstanding her position? If that’s the case it amazes me that she would expect others to accept that as a legitimate method. Am I missing something here?

  39. Jim
    February 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    The Bigfoot Buzz report in no way helps Ketchum’s case. The Beyond Highbrow blog posted on 2-12-13 that the paper would be published in the aforementioned “Journal of Advanced Multidisciplinary Exploration in Zoology.” (http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/bigfoot-news-february-12-2013/) When this was reported on the Bigfoot Evidence blog shortly thereafter (where I first read about it), I did a google search and only found 4 entries total for that exact name, none of which were an actual website for the journal. The name apparently did not exist prior to 1-11-13. It cannot be found in ANY college database. That speaks volumes to its novelty. There is a “Journal of Advanced Zoology,” but this is a completely different publication, especially since they’ve been active since 1980. Therefore, Ketchum probably figured people would cry “self-publish,” so she created the first “journal” to cover her tracks. Then she created an actual website anonymously on 2-4-13 and named it “Denovo Scientific Journal” to back up her cover story of acquiring the old one. She can dance around the issue all she wants, but it’s clear she self-published.

    • Jim
      February 15, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Correction: the journal doesn’t seem to predate 1-9-13 (not 1-11-13).

      Ketchum herself has quoted this webpage (http://publicationethics.org/case/editor-author-own-journal) as being a precedent for publishing in her own journal. It’s basically a dialogue between a person in the same situation and a representative of the Committee on Publication Ethics. The person claims the focus of the unnamed journal is so specialized that there is only a small handful of people that can peer-review the article. The rep tells them the only ethical way to go about doing that would be to divorce themself from the process. It is recommended that an associate editor send the article out for peer-review and a commentary describing the transparency of the process should be published along with the article if it passes muster. So, the initial situation may mirror that of Ketchum, but the person is clear in the beginning that their journal is well established with a history of publication and a listing in the MEDLINE archive. The journal she bought just popped into existence and has zero publications. The person has problems with peer-review because the subject is so specialized. However, Ketchum’s paper deals with animal and human DNA. I’m sure there are numerous qualified veterinarians, biologists, or geneticists who could have peer-reviewed the material, so she can’t pull the “obscurity card.” She has also failed to provide information detailing who she handed the peer-review process off to, and there doesn’t seem to be any transparency commentary to go along with her paper. Thus, the quoted webpage only makes her gross misconduct look even worse.

  40. February 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Please note that LONG, opinionated posts about how awful skeptics are and that just reiterate what everyone can find through the links given will not be posted. They violate the comment policy. This is not a debate forum. The facts are that this claim made by Ketchum et al needs to be completely critiqued by experts. People telling skeptics that they should shut up and quit tearing down this awesome idea are completely clueless about how science works. Better not bake that crow pie just yet.

  41. February 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    The comments section for that video require approval. It is not surprising that the video is vague on details of the creature and only lasts a few seconds.

  42. February 19, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    The DeNovo site is also forcing SSL (secure port 443), yet, has NO valid 3rd party signed certificate.
    You have to acknowledge all the security issues and accept their self-rolled cert to even browse the site.
    Not a good sign of credibility or know-now on the part of the “institution” or webmaster.
    Run screaming.

  43. David J. Kaplan, Ph.D
    February 20, 2013 at 5:21 AM

    While I do agree that there could be problems with the content of this publication I would like to make at least 2 points: (A) THE STATEMENT THAT NONE ARE ACADEMICS IS ENTIRELY WRONG: (1) DR. FAN ZHANG (2) DR. ANDREAS K. HOLZENBURG ARE FROM ACADEMIA, (3) AS WELL AS THOMAS M. PRYCHITKO WITH SIGNIFICANT ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE.!!!!!!!
    (B) Assuming that there has been no Hocus Pocus in the Sequence paper, the fact that these researchers find that chromosome 11 is conserved definitely serves as a positive internal control to validate the integrity of their sequencing results.

    David J. Kaplan, Ph.D , Detroit R & D. Inc.

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