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Cryptozoology

"Cryptozoology," was coined by Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans in his personal correspondence among colleagues in the 1950s, after the 1955 French publication of his book On the Track of Unknown Animals. The first published use of the word "cryptozoology" was in 1959 when a book by Lucien Blancou was dedicated to "Bernard Heuvelmans, master of cryptozoology." Since 1982, Bernard Heuvelmans has written extensively in the journal Cryptozoology on his current thoughts defining and redefining "cryptozoology."

Meanwhile, ISC's Vice President Dr. Roy Mackal has written: "...the term 'cryptozoology' seems to me particularly appropriate, coming as it does from the Greek work *kryptos*, meaning 'hidden.' 'unknown,' 'secret,' 'enigmatic,' 'mysterious'; hence literally the study of hidden animals".

Dr. Karl Shuker has noted that "cryptozoology" is "literally translated as 'the study of hidden life'', perhaps thus too broadly encompassing plants and other nonanimal forms.

Dr. Karl Shunker can be contacted via the MAPIT Facebook Group.

From discussions with Richard Greenwell (ISC Sec.) and Bernard Heuvelmans (ISC Pres), as well as with various directors on the ISC Board, the general feeling is that an important element in the study of hidden animals as envisioned in current cryptozoology is the input of local, native, explorer, and traveler traditions, sightings, tales, legends and folklore of the as-yet unverified animals. It is for this very reason that most, but not all, of the animals under pursuit are large ones.

Therefore, not too simply, cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals (whether large or small), to date not formally recognized by what is often termed Western science or formal zoology but supported in some way by testimony (in its broadest definition) from a human being.

For some of our opponents, cryptozoology, just as astrology, ufology, graphology, parapsychology and tutti quanti, is not a science, but only a kind of wild goose hunt, or to say all in one word, a pseudo-science. It is thus more simple to define what a pseudo-science is (and therefore, a contrario, what a true science is not) : the "theory" of a pseudo-science is subjective, with concepts only accessible to "initiates" ; its formalism is poor, involving few or no mathematics and logical reasoning (deduction, induction, etc.) ; it claims hypothesis impossible to be checked, or even proved to be wrong ; it does not use the data from other disciplines ; its doctrine is always the same, sometimes for centuries (whereas science is always changing, enriching itself, and sometimes questioning completely what was hitherto considered as sure) ; last but not least, its conception of the world is in contradiction with the law generally admitted of physics, if not with common sense.

What about cryptozoology from this point of view ? It appears that it has nothing in common with pseudo-sciences :

1) cryptozoology is objective :

Cryptozoology (unlike cartomancy for instance) is not accessible to "initiates", and it is based on several undisputable facts :

■ The faunistic inventory of our planet is far from being achieved.
■ Large animals, still unknown to science, are still discovered nowadays.
■ These large animals are "new" only for zoologists, as they were always already known to the natives.
■ Their discovery often took years, sometimes decades or even centuries.
■ Their identikit-picture and their zoological affinities were generally foreseeable prior to their official
  discovery.

2) Cryptozoology is formalist :

Cryptozoology has been using statistics, from Oudemans in the nineteenteh century, to Heuvelmans and his successors nowadays. Cryptozoology, the interdisciplinary journal of the International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC) has published valuable contributions to "mathematic cryptozoology", such as calculates by Paul LeBlond on the dimensions of the "monster" of lake Champlain.

3) Cryptozoology can be verified or discussed :

Cryptozoology is based upon data which can be verified : bibliography, cited references, investigation methods, biological analysis, etc., have been used by cryptozoologists for decades.

Its claims can be discussed, as shown by the controversial comments in the columns of Cryptozoology.

4) Cryptozoology uses other disciplines :

The cryptozoological research is interdisciplinary, as it uses zoology, of course, but also paleontology, anatomy, ethology, ecology, taxonomy, psychology, archaelogy, linguistics, etc., whereas astrology, for instance, has nothing to do with astronomy.

5) Cryptozoologie is consistent with the principle of lesser thought or economy of hypotheses :

Cryptozoology does not contradict the laws of physics (unlike psychokinesis or levitation), as the existence of large unidentified animal species or sub-species is continuously confirmed by new discoveries, like the various large mammals recently described from northViêt-Nam.

The problem of the proof in Cryptozoology :

Our opponents use to say : "when you will have a cadaver, we will believe". The problem is not "to believe or not to believe" : does a physicist "believe" in the atomes ? In fact, the problem is the nature of the proof.

As emphasized by Bernard Heuvelmans, there are only three kinds of proof : autoptical (which everybody can see), testimonial (based on witness' accounts) and circumstancial (concomittent indices). All the human knowledge is based on any of these three proofs, most often circumstancial proofs, rarely autoptical proofs.

The existence of subatomic particles, the chemical composition of star atmospheres, the inner structure of the Earth, the biological evolution, etc., are only based on circumstancial evidence.

It is true also in history : the existence of the Nazi gaz rooms is based on testimonail evidence (the reports from the people whoc survived) and circumstancial evidence (for instance the list of the trains to Auschwitz, the purchase of Zyklon B to chemical companies, the building of crematory ovens, as found in Nazi archives).

In palaeontology, the science of extinct animals, the whole animal is seldom at our disposal (with the exception of the mammoths frozen in the Siberian permafrost or the insects of the yellow amber of the Baltic) : we often possess only some bone fragments, and sometimes only tracks of the passage of the animal (Chirotherium). By the way, cryptozoology and palaeontology are disciplines related to zoology, they are interested in "hidden" animals (in space or in time), the knowledge of which is fragmentary, they are based on circumstancial evidence, and the identikit pictures in cryptozoology are as likely as the reconstructions of prehistoric animals. And finally, cryptozoology is sometimes concerned by the survival of animal forms considered to have become extinct since geological times.

Some will say that cryptozoology does not go forward, which is wrong. But even if cryptozoological research had not discovered any new animal form since it exists, where is the problem ? Exobiology, the study of extra-terrestrial life, is considered a science, although such a life remains to be discovered.

Tim Matthews is currently a member of the CFZ and can be contacted via the MAPIT Facebook Group.
Center of Fortean Zoology : http://www.cfz.org.uk/beta/index.htm

Compiled by: Currently Unknown.

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