Bigfoot advocates have repeatedly claimed that professional scientists are willfully ignoring compelling evidence. The problem, in fact, is that the advocates haven’t been approaching the question of Bigfoot in a scientific fashion. So two years ago Sykes and his colleagues decided to run a scientific study of those hairs from an “anomalous primate.” And that involved creating a null hypothesis to try to reject.
The null hypothesis they developed was this: The hairs purported to come from Bigfoot (or the Abominable Snowman or other regional varieties of the creature) belonged not to a previously unknown primate, but to known mammals. They extracted DNA fragments from 30 different hair samples and were able to isolate the same short stretch of DNA from each. They then compared that stretch to the corresponding stretch of DNA sequenced from many living mammals.
The results were clear: The scientists found precise matches for all 30 samples in previously known mammals.
Does this mean Sykes and his colleagues have proved that Bigfoot does not exist? No. It simply means that Sykes, unlike Fisher with his tea test, could not reject the null hypothesis. The question remains open, and—if Bigfoot doesn’t exist—always will.
Don’t misunderstand — Zimmer’s point is not about the existence of Sasquatch, but about how science is done. Fascinating article.