Perhaps people don’t “see” the yeti because it’s not there

BBC magazine has a story out today that Bigfoot researchers are using to explain why we don’t have reports of the yeti in Bhutan (and, subsequently, Bigfoot in the US Northwest). Is it a GOOD reason or just a convenient excuse for the lack of evidence?

Why don’t people see the yeti any more? – BBC News

Until recently it was common for people in Bhutan to share stories of their encounters with the Himalayan yeti. But with the arrival of modernity, villagers no longer need to climb high into the mountains, where they once saw traces of the yeti – or thought they did. So a legend is slowly fading away.

Maybe they don’t see it because it’s fading out of the culture or out of need. It’s been demystified. It’s a legend that no longer is necessary. Note some of the CLEARLY mythological features of the yeti, or “Migoi”, described in the piece: backwards facing feet, hair that falls in its eyes if it runs downhill, and it is unable to fit through small doorways because it can’t bend.

Bhutan Himalayan Yeti Abominable Snowman

The Migoi is known for its phenomenal strength and magical powers, such as the ability to become invisible and to walk backwards to fool any trackers.


These are old ideas and indicate a myth not an actual animal, even if the ideas had some features of real animals. There seems little doubt that the traditional stories were told as such but what is the evidence that traces of the yeti were “common”? Or, evidence that it was a genuine unique beast.

Instead, the story reads, to me, that with the advent of electricity came a new look on life. Times are changing.

US Bigfooters say it makes sense – people are less apt to leave social areas and venture out into the wilderness where the elusive creatures are. Really? Is that a valid explanation when many MORE people visit remote areas to search for adventure. They also bring supplies and cameras. Some deliberately are out looking for the creatures. 600-700 people a year attempt the very dangerous Mount Everest climb. That’s more than in the past when the yeti legend became know to the outside world. Plus, it’s a mistake to equate this remote culture of the mountains with those of the U.S. and Canada.

Are there less people in the backcountry these days? How would we know? I would see reasons to disagree when more people are prepared to attempt it.

Others say that the sightings happen, just aren’t reported. Or that the animals are better at hiding. Or, most unlikely, that the sightings are actively suppressed by officials. There is NO evidence of of any of these; it’s speculation with no foundation to take it seriously. All these ideas skirt the main issue that, for a quiet culture in a more modern world, the Bhutanese may be giving up the monster stories. And, the reason why we don’t find Bigfoot either is because there is simply no creature to find.

As I wrote in a five-part series focusing on water monsters and folklore traditions, it’s a mistake to equate legendary, perhaps spiritual creatures, with real flesh and blood animals still living today that can be captured. Such a view short-changes traditions and culture and leads to a zoological dead end.

Even knowledge of the local fauna does not preclude a myth existing. A culture can hold understanding of real creatures and belief in mythical creatures at the same time. It is dangerous to assume that an outsider can make full sense of the difference with just the stories.

The yeti is not some huge monkey but it is so much more than that.

  12 comments for “Perhaps people don’t “see” the yeti because it’s not there

  1. Sean A. Elliott
    November 3, 2015 at 12:48 AM

    I’ve always gotten a kick out of the claim that reported sightings are only a fraction of actual encounters, as many go unreported. If they go unreported, how would we know it? Why assume it’s a significant number? It’s the kind of silliness that so often surrounds claims around these creatures. I think we can safely say there are more people traversing the wilderness than ever before in history, and carrying better equipment than any other time in history. If there was anything to it, there should have been documented encounters by now. Not anecdotal nonsense, but sustained, clear, unambiguous data.

  2. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    November 3, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    If only they wore big red circles around them like in some of the bigfoot photos. Or maybe they’ve just returned to Yuggoth.

  3. Dan Beach
    November 3, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    I don’t know why you doubting-thomas’ can’t just accept that yeti and bigfoot exist. It’s just that they are like poodles and don’t shed and they crumble to ash like vampires (ref. the Blade trinity). Quite simple, really.

  4. Tony
    November 3, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    If the ability to walk backwards is a magical power, my 15 month old niece must be a necromancer.

  5. Rich
    November 3, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    Yes! As Chris Morris said on Brass Eye (satirical ‘news’ show on UK TV,) “So much for recorded crimes – but crimes we know nothing about are going up as well.”

  6. Hiram
    November 4, 2015 at 1:25 AM

    There have always been enough people to believe in Santa Claus and UFOs. But I look at the recent developments in Bhutan as a positive sign, actually. This suggests that people are willing to challenge their long – held, superstitious beliefs, and test them against evidence from the real world. Even if such an animal is found to exist (vide the Hoan Kiem turtle), minus the exaggerations and physiological implausibilities, it is less likely to be “evil” and misanthropic -an idea that legend sells- and more likely to be protecting its own interests against perceived intruders who happen to be human beings. Its behavioral profile is more of a myth than its existence itself, one feels. The fear that generates is what keeps the myth alive, despite lack of any concrete evidence.

  7. November 4, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    Well, it’s not an unreasonable claim on the face of it. In fact, I’d be willing to actively support the idea that the majority of people who believe they have seen Bigfoot/yeti/whatever have not come forward or made any official report, because they know about the circus that could ensue if their claim is one of the ones that gains traction. If I thought I’d seen some kind of paranormal phenomenon (and wasn’t already aware of the many more plausible explanations for them), I wouldn’t file a report. I’d keep it to myself, maybe tell the story occasionally over a meal with friends.

    The more pertinent point is that eyewitness reports of people seeing “strange” animals are of almost no use whatsoever (c.f. the multiple “strange animals” just on the front page of this blog that are clearly normal animals seen in odd places or under unusual circumstances), and unlike issues such as crime where we have other ways to monitor/confirm its existence, there is no corroborating evidence to suggest that the I-saw-a-Bigfoot non-reporters are any more correct that the people on Monster Hunters or wherever.

  8. November 18, 2015 at 5:49 PM

    I spoke to many yeti witnesses in the Garo Hills of Northern India in 2010. A lot of them were recent, some within the last year. All described a black haired, upright, animal , some ten feet tall with a gorilla-like face. The witnesses were members of local hill tribes and knew the wildlife of the area.
    It never fails to amaze me how armchair experts will scoff without ever visiting the places in question or talking to witnesses. As for mythological aspects, many known animals posses these. Gorillas were once thought to club elephants to death with tree trunks and rape native girls. Its easy to sneer when you are sitting at a computer, far less so in the jungles of Sumatra or India.

  9. November 18, 2015 at 8:01 PM

    Knowing the local wildlife is no guarantee AT ALL that the witnesses are not mistaken or messing with you.

    I’m playing some pretty safe odds by asking for evidence greater than testimony when it comes to an extraordinary claim. For those making such a claim, I have every good reason to NOT accept such a claim and wait for a body, body part or DNA. In fact, it’s quite reasonable.

    No one is sneering. You are assuming too much, Richard. The gorilla bit is OLD HAT, that was a very long time ago. Stop rehashing a useless story. It’s quite telling the cryptozoologists do a very poor job with such examples that they have to keep going back to a poor one from the mid-1800s.

  10. November 26, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    Again we see a re-hash of rubbish from someone who has not been in the field or done the legwork. Native people often have a struggle to survive. Making up stories about bogey men to tell to westerners is not something they waste time on save for tourist areas in places like The Gambia. How many native guides do you know? I’ve known quite a few very well. Our Sumatra guide Sahar Dimus knew the local wildlife inside out. I’ve never known a man so knowledgeable about the jungle and its flora and fauna. He lived in the rainforest for 14 years and knew the orang-pendek when he saw it. Likewise Debbie Martyr who has lived in Sumatra for years and works for the national parks has had several good, clear sightings. Wildlife photographer Jeremy Holden is also unlikely to have mistook another animal for orang-pendek. The witnesses from the hill tribes in India I spoke too were hunters that lived in the jungle. Many had clear long sightings of yeti, including one building a nest. You say knowing wildlife is no guarantee but these people live there 24 /7 and are experts.
    The gorilla, an animal I have worked closely with, is an excellent example of a mystery ape that turned out to be real. And remember gorillas are social animals living in groups of up to forty strong. The yeti and orang-pendek are propably pongids (like the orang-utan) and solitary. Yes I too want decent DNA, skeletal or body parts (preferably without killing the animal) but to throw out all eyewitness accounts is very short sighted.
    I don’t make money out of cryptozoology. These expeditions devour money. I don’t waste my time on chasing things I think are shadows. Neither do I glibly except all stories in hear. For example I’m pretty damn sure that the Nink-Nanka of Wes Africa is nothing but a demonization of a pre-Islamic python cult and the ‘sea monster’ washed up on the beach there was a dolphin.
    There was once a French biologist called Pierre Denys de Montfort. He was once one of the most celebrated scientists in Europe. He specialized in mollusks. After years of collecting evidence he dared to suggest there was such a thing as the giant squid. To his peers he became a pariah and died of starvation in a Parisian gutter in 1820. In 1861 he was proved correct.

  11. November 28, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    It’s your choice to pursue the lines of inquiry you wish, Richard.

    However, based on the evidence presented that can be checked, there is no foundation to conclude that the Yeti as you describe as a pongid, or as other describe as a relict hominoid, exists. Unfortunately, even native stories are just… stories. And while there are exceptions to never and always, I’ll stick with the odds unless better evidence presents itself. More stories won’t cut it.

  12. Richard uk
    January 18, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    I agree…Its time that the Bigfooters produce conclusive evidence but what we have ,to them,are conclusive statements of its existence..big difference…It is incumbent on the believers to prove the case and I don’t mean referring the rest of us to the hopeless that upload their Bigfoot sightings to Youtube. I would also like to hear an explanation as to how whole colonies of these supposed creatures,and colonies there must be, cannot be detected. I’ve heard that some cryptos estimate that there could be between 2000 to 4000 living and strolling about in the US north west…so again,ask the question,and it is a reasonable question, why can they not be detected and documented?

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