Woo traffic is still traffic

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As so-called “cryptozoology” goes, it isn’t nearly as deleterious to society as “complimentary-alternative medicine,” psychics, or creationists, but it’s still woo. Still, I’m not going to complain about a little traffic from the woo-site, Cryptomundo (I’ll even link back to them). I followed the trackback to the post, which was derisive of the skeptical/rational position without actually addressing the skeptical/rational arguments.

I actually wanted to post there and address one or two points for clarity and, perhaps, educational purposes, but they don’t seem welcome to outsiders. I suppose I could have “registered” and posted, but I’ll repost the comment here and invite discussion. I don’t require registration and anyone is welcome to post as long as they remain civil and spam-free.

Sometimes scoftics, big letter Skeptics, and debunkers seem to tie their feet around their tongues as they stumble to say something insightful.

Here’s my pick for “the quote of the week” from a rant against Elaine Morgan’s “aquatic ape” theory:

“The idea only truly becomes pseudoscientific once Morgan ignores the data and arguments that successfully refute the hypothesis without refuting the data and counter-refuting the arguments.”

A Hot Cup of Joe: What is pseudoscience?
Posted by cfeagans
August 17, 2009.

Not sure who “cfeagans” is, for like many on the web who criticize others, he or she hides behind a lower case name with no history.

Working backwards through this post:

“cfeagans” is not just my nom de blog but my name. I think most of the anthro-bloggers know me as Carl Feagans and I’m not exactly “hiding” -I just try to be consistent and familiar since this is both my login to the site and my email address. Clearly Loren Coleman didn’t bother to Google “cfeagans” or she would have noticed my “history,” which might not be comparable to “Greg Laden” or “John Hawks” in the anthro-blogging world, but my blog is rated:
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in the Top 25 Anthropology Blogs. I don’t think I actually earn that distinction, but I’ll do my best to live up to it.

But, Loren’s ad hominem remarks are just that, ad hominem, and probably not really designed to do anything but deride what she perceives as an opponent to her way of thinking. But I do, however, think it’s funny how she ends by deriding me for “criticizing others” when that’s precisely what she’s doing!

The substance of Loren’s criticism above, if one can truly say her post has substance, is that I’m scoffing and “stumbling to say something insightful” but there isn’t any actual rebuttal. If my words were so inept, surely she would have had something substantive to point out. Instead, she quotes one of my key arguments without showing why she thinks this is a problem.

In that passage, I’m basically saying that pseudoscience manifests once the proponents of an idea ignore or refuse to acknowledge apparently successful arguments that refute the original hypothesis. Sticking to the hypothesis without addressing the problems begins the process of pseudoscience. The speculator no longer holds an hypothesis but a conclusion to which he/she is not interested in data which aren’t supportive.

Such is the case with so-called “cryptozoology.” While I fully acknowledge that biologists and paleontologists are finding new species each year, and that there is a point at which “cryptozoology” could contain some science, the end result for the woos who consider themselves “cryptozoologists” is pseudoscience. There is a pretense of doing science and wanting to be scientific that falls apart in the end. One look at their websites reveals this as you seek titles and links on topics like bigfoot, mothman, and lake monsters.

Anyway, I invite the visitors of Loren’s blog to post here and discuss pseudoscience or what their thoughts are on the Aquatic Ape hypothesis, which is where this all began. I don’t know why Loren picked that as her “quote of the week,” -perhaps she likes the aquatic ape idea. I’d be interested to know why she thinks it holds water (no pun was planned on that). I’m also happy to discuss with her or any of her readers other aspects of science vs. pseudoscience.

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About Carl Feagans 398 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.


  1. Anthropology is a subset of primatology, a subset of biology. Sociology, social sciences (political science, economics, history etc.) are also subsets of biology. When Hawks states that the difference between science and pseudoscience is social, that is correct. AAH/T originated from Wood-Jones observations in comparative anatomy between the arboreal apes and humans, especially regarding the subcutaneous fat layer bound to the skin in humans and to the muscles in apes, which was noted by Hardy, a marine biologist familiar with skin bonded fat in marine mammals.

    The AAH/T (based on Hardys’ article “Was Man more aquatic in the past?”) is biological hypothesis/theory, which Morgan then used and expanded upon for a distinct sociopolitical purpose, in her book “The Descent of Woman”. Others have incorporated versions of the AAH/T in their books, this doesn’t change the AAH/T premise, just the interpretation.
    At my blog The ARC, I’ve got links to both ‘hot cup’ & ‘elainemorgan’, under the title The wonder of it all, not The woo of it all, for good reason, there’s some real science going on there, and good to see different views.

  2. Just a quick observation on the topic of names and googling–I am pretty sure Loren Coleman is a guy :).

    Otherwise, given the low tone of Coleman’s post, I respect you trying to make the discussion something useful. Good luck.

  3. Just a quick observation on the topic of names and googling–I am pretty sure Loren Coleman is a guy :).

    Otherwise, given the low tone of Coleman’s post, I respect you trying to make the discussion something useful. Good luck.

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