Minnesota Iceman to go back on display (UPDATE: Still hyped as real)

Recall back in February the “Minnesota Iceman” was sold on eBay. Just announced is the person who bought it who will put it back on display in a very appropriate place.

The Long Lost “Minnesota Iceman” Resurfaces… in Austin, Texas!.

Museum of the Weird owner Steve Busti announced today that the original Minnesota Iceman is currently in his possession, still frozen, and will soon be exhibited to the world once again in his Austin, Texas tourist attraction. Busti is aiming to have the Iceman set up in his museum and open to the public within a week.

No, it’s not a real “caveman” (cue Scooby Doo episode), but it is a part of American history and it’s a darn good story. Glad to see the piece found and put back for us to see. Check it out when it appears soon at the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas. That’s another reason for me to visit there!

More about the Iceman:

The Mysterious Creature in Ice » Orgone Research.

Listen to this great episode on the Minnesota Iceman from Monster Talk.


UPDATE (29-June-2013) This piece on Huffington Post ignores the point that it is a sideshow gaff and leaves open the suggestion that it is real, that Hansen shot it in Wisconsin. Outrageous.

Minnesota Iceman: Mysterious Frozen Creature From ’60s Resurfaces At Museum (EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS).

Tip: Fortean Times

  5 comments for “Minnesota Iceman to go back on display (UPDATE: Still hyped as real)

  1. Colin Davis
    July 2, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I read with interest the Article by Chris Fellner reproduced at Orgone Research, and I have to say that Fellner is right in saying the Iceman was a gaff that took in a “mark”. However, the gullible mark was not Ivan Sanderson, it was Mr Fellner himself, and the showman who achieved this was Ivan T. Sanderson!
    That’s what Sanderson was – a showman, and the show he presented was his series of books about Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, and other popular topics of that sort. The show was quite successful. Sanderson didn’t get seriously rich, and he died young, but some of his books, notably the thick volume concerning Bigfoot, are still in print. He started off as a genuine zoologist, and led an animal collecting expedition to West Africa in 1932, described in his book “Animal Treasure”, illustrated with his own beautiful drawings. The expedition was of the traditional kind, with lots of creatures shot, including some which were known to be rare. Given the problems we now see in this approach, the expedition did some useful work. Sanderson never returned to Africa – an important point, as I shall explain.
    Somewhere along the line Sanderson strayed from his respectable scientific beginnings into the world of pseudo science and cryptozoology, writing popular articles for publications like The Saturday Evening Post and Argosy. The latter, by the way, is described by Fellner as a brash men’s magazine, but that’s not the Argosy I remember. Later still Sanderson had his very own “scientific” organisation: SITU (Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained), and wrote often for a magazine called Fate. He was a brilliant writer, and wonderfully persuasive in pushing his improbable theories and yarns. He frequently used the trick of starting a piece with protestations of scepticism. “Really, this is too much! I cannot believe this stuff”. Then he’d carry on with the cunningly detailed narrative.
    The seeds of this career can be seen in the early “Animal Treasure”, where he describes an encounter with a giant black bat with a six foot wingspan. He also describes collecting a huge spider with a 12 inch legspan, which was sent with other specimens to the Natural History Museum in London. Although I don’t remember where I saw it (yeah, I know!) I once read that the museum categorically denied receiving any spider of that size from him.
    In a 1948 Saturday Evening Post article Sanderson gives a wonderfully atmospheric description of encountering in a river running through a great gorge, a gigantic waiter creature whose head alone was the size of a whole hippopotamus. After this, the expedition completed its work and Sanderson left Africa, never to return. A young, enthusiastic zoologist sees what he describes, finishes work, goes home – and that’s it. What would you do? Wouldn’t you devote the rest of your life to following up the matter? Yes, Sanderson died young, but he was for some time friendly with the wealthy Tom Slick, who mounted an expedition in search of the Yeti. Surely he would have tried to interest Slick in an investigation of the African water monster.
    In the matter of the Minnesota Iceman, Sanderson knew exactly what he was doing. His purpose was not to do any real scientific investigation. It was to develop the Iceman as a player in the drama he presented in his books, to a considerable public avid for such stuff. This entailed emphasising his own scientific status, not through real arrogance, but because it was part of the show he was putting on. Heuvelmans, I fear, may have been a true believer.
    So, I’m afraid you were conned, Mr Fellner. Sanderson wouldn’t have cared about the occasional sceptic like you, when there was a whole crowd out there eager to believe

  2. spookyparadigm
    July 2, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    I love that Scooby Doo website. The images of the backgrounds are great. Never mind how impossible it is to go back and watch the show as an adult, even as a kid I disliked the characters except for Velma. But the opening of most episodes had excellent atmospheric background artwork whose gloom puts it up a notch in my book from the similar Johnny Quest backdrops. These would be used for decent (for kids) spooky scenarios, at least until the usual hijinks began after the legend exposition.

    So a collection of those backdrops is awesome.

  3. spookyparadigm
    July 2, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Colin, very interesting post. I think the showman thing is obviously clear wrt Sanderson. But I wonder if Sanderson is another example of what I think is one of the great mysteries of occulture: the self-serious trickster. The true believers, I mean the real true believers, and the skeptics are pretty easy to understand. The cult-leaders and con-men are easy to understand. Even the hoaxsters not out for gain or fame but for lulz, not hard to follow. And these topics also have a small but influential number of people who have mental or reality-basis issues, that often end up providing fodder for the fields (I’m thinking of Richard Shaver, for example).

    But then there is a persistent character one finds in these communities, the author or promoter or that has one foot in the showbiz or clickbait side of things, and one in the “deep thinker” or “persecuted investigator” side of things. They know there is a lot of chicanery, and cynical sensationalism or exploitation, and they’ll partake in some of it themselves. They’ll also be more than happy to play with narratives, or at least go along with such play, if it is entertaining or scratches a certain itch. All the while also taking the “phenomenon” or the “work” seriously at some level. Such people get mistaken as either hoaxers or true believers, but they move back and forth on a middle ground.

    I don’t know if one can consider Sanderson like this. I’ve read about him, and I’ve read a few snippets of his stuff, usually the more outre (ala Invisible Residents). But I’d wonder if the truth lay somewhere between Colin’s “he was a showman” and the linked article’s “he was a true believing rube.” Forteana, especially that of the “discovery” fields like cryptozoology and ufology, would not function without people like this (they’d be mostly collections of sincere prophets and new religious movements, or charlatans) simultaneously stoking the mystery but also providing some element of grounding. And I’ve yet to see anyone really explain this. George Hansen et al’s hypothesis that people involved with the Linda Cortile abduction case were role-playing (not seeing their actions as really tied to the real world, hence Colin’s point of why Sanderson wouldn’t bore-down on one single discoverable creature he had encountered, and instead kept traveling and changing topics from mystery to mystery, opportunity to opportunity) is probably the closest I’ve seen to an answer, but I’m not sure it is sufficiently explanatory.

  4. July 2, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    Well said, spookyparadigm. Personally, I enjoy the freedom to be able to wear the hat of the showman and entertainer one day, and the investigator and seeker of the truth the next. I can still hold onto the wonder that there could be fantastic things left in the world that we haven’t yet discovered, while simultaneously entertaining people with a gaff.

    The thing I love the most about the reemergence of the Iceman is that for once, the cryptozoological community is “in on the joke” instead of being the victim of it. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

    By the way, the night that the news broke, during a special interview with the local FOX affiliate I brought up the possibility that what I have could very well be a fake. I mentioned this to the other news reporters as well, but nobody wanted to report on that part, of course. Here’s my interview:


  5. spookyparadigm
    July 3, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Ok, I know that I’ve taken this off-topic (Colin’s post was addressing Sanderson, which is obviously integral to the ice man issue), but I have to point this out (and I’ll bring it back to the ice man and Sanderson at the end):

    I mentioned the George Hansen et al report on the Linda Cortile abduction case above, which concludes with comparing the ufologists and participants involved in the case with role playing gamers, in that these issues are almost firewalled off from the real world into a separate unreal world of adventure (this was my tie-in with the comments above on Sanderson, and how he acted more like a mystery monger who was playing the fictionalish role of an adventurer, rather than a biologist, but at the same time I think it is difficult to think of him as a hoaxer or charlatan).

    So I went and fetched the Hansen et al essay


    While googling for it, I also found a detailed rebuttal as part of a much larger pro-Cortile abduction as real event website


    Here’s the kicker: Both pages recommend the writings of John Keel. Hansen et al refer to Keel as “a no-need for an introduction” leader in the psychosocial hypothesis. The pro-Cortile page, which from the few pages I read this morning appears to be materialist (ie, the abduction are relatively close to face value in their reality, I could be wrong about this if it is different in other parts of the site), puts Keel as the first go-to for understanding ufology, and then secondly Vallee.

    Keel came to hate ufologists as close-minded simpletons chasing little green men or rather their metal saucers, vs. the far wilder and weirder experiences Keel reported on as being the heart of “ufos.” He was eventually condemned by many in ufology, including some involved in the Cortile case, as a demonologist. And I think he’s arguably the greatest example of a fortean author and investigator that you can’t tell how serious or sane any of his writings are at any given time (in contrast with an author connected with Keel’s most famous case, Gray Barker, who clearly was much more of a trickster, getting back to some of the other discussion above).

    So what’s the connection to the Ice Man? I think everything. As Museum of the Weird states above, this time, cryptozoology is in on the joke. But are they? I used the word occulture above, but here is where I think it is appropriate to use the word pseudoscience. The power that make aspects or famous cases and icons of cryptozoology, or ufology, or even ancient aliens and so on, household words internationally, is the pseudoscience angle. The tendency, and at times successful, to appear as scientific investigation of actual mysteries, is what has driven the appeal of these fields in the media, and in the larger public. Those who actually look closely and thoughtfully at these fields for some time see the ambiguity, and aren’t surprised that it is more likely to be present in a carnival sideshow or low-cost cable entertainment than it is in scientific journals (though it can show up there every so often), and more importantly, they come to realize that this tricky and ambiguous aspect is integral to it all (I think this is understood by many skeptics as well as a lot of veteran paranormalists, they just disagree on the root causes).

    But that’s not the face of discovery paranormal fields in America (this seems to be a bit different in the UK at least). There is still an attempt to emphasize a materialist and “scientific” approach, often leading to tremendous angst and polarization within these communities. Witness the divide in Bigfootery between the Giganto/Ape camp, which was once dominant in Bigfootery, and the persistent and currently ascending Forest People camp, which almost inevitably involves other rejections of large fields of science (while there are some minimalist Forest People believers, many reject creationism, involve religious ideology and spiritualism, or aliens, or other exotic elements). The fight here isn’t just over the answer, but also over the place of the field. Remove the scientific frame and go full paranormal or mystical, and the field loses much of its power amongst the media and the larger public (though I think the decline of the scientific frame in parapsychology, ufology, cryptozoology, and even pseudoarchaeology has to do with the decline of interest in science more generally). But it will pick up other adherents and practices as it becomes a more fully mystical element of occulture.

    That ambiguity, that gap between materialist investigation and mysticism, is arguably Forteana’s greatest asset and liability. It is where the most thoughtful in these fields, who stay in these fields, end up. But it also leads to inevitable stagnation, because instead of answers, all one gets is unending mystery. It reminds me of J. J. Abrams’ TED talk (note, I don’t really like TED talks, and I hate J. J. Abrams) about the mystery box. blog.ted.com/2008/01/10/jj_abrams/ In this talk, he talks about his love of mystery. But generally, part of the appeal of mystery is that yes, there are hidden things, yes there is information you don’t have, but the thrill is both the initial feeling of mystery AND the chase of discovery to find out what the answers are. He’s right in that sometime the answers aren’t as fun as the things we imagine when the mystery still exists. But that’s why a carefully crafted story of mystery has the initial atmosphere of mystery, and then followed up by an exciting and engaging adventure of solving the mystery.

    But that’s not what Abrams is arguing for. He argues for mystery after mystery after mystery, often in ways not very connected to the previous mystery, and without resolution (have I mentioned I hate anything J. J. Abrams works on?). And that’s what I see when I look at forteana. Skeptics have answers, sort of (either specific answers for a case or “I think someone is lying,” or more honestly “I don’t know, but it isn’t something weird, just bad data”). True believers have answers (Space Brothers, God made a Flood, etc.). But the folks in the middle that are the architects and engineers of forteana, they have to keep the machinery of mystery going, forever.

    And that’s how the Ice Man is going to be treated, I think. As a cryptozoological historical item (it certainly has a value as that). But it will remain a neverending mystery. Were there two ice men? Was one real? Who really backed it? Was Sanderson fooled? Etc. Etc. Etc.. A permanent mystery box.

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