Ontologizing anomalous space: why mainstream science rejects the Sasquatch

Authors: Oliver Keane*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Theory, Social Geography
Keywords: Sasquatch, science, ontology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cryptozoologists scientifically investigate hidden animals termed “cryptids”. A cryptid is often a "legendary" creature, which leaves scientifically verifiable traces. However, it is also a creature which has never been verified by mainstream science. I focus on a cryptid called the “Sasquatch” in Canada or “Bigfoot” in America. Though thousands of pieces of scientific material evidence of the Sasquatch exist, the Sasquatch has not been verified by mainstream science. This contradiction is the focus of my presentation. The contradiction between evidence and acceptance of evidence raises the question, “what counts as knowledge?”. I interrogate this question through the example of Sasquatch foot prints in Sasquatch investigation. Over-sized foot prints are unintelligible only in relation to the scientific consensus. Such foot prints are formative of what Kuhn terms the “anomaly”. Kuhn makes clear that science is founded on the rejection of sound scientific evidence that presents as an anomaly to the broad scientific paradigm. Drawing on Slavoj Zizek I argue that mainstream science hides its own impossibility through symptoms such as Sasquatch investigators. I conclude by suggesting that if we traverse the fantasy, mainstream science shows as impossible because it depends on the rejection of sound scientific evidence. I argue that this conclusion calls for a new research agenda in geography. Geographers should deliberately seek out valid scientific evidence-based cultures that focus on examples of Kuhn’s anomaly. This archeology of the anomalous-in-culture can unveil spaces that function outside accepted scientific ontology, and that produce new forms of spatial consciousness and awareness.

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