Aristotle left us a couple of good quotes. Well, more than a couple of course. But a couple that truly apply here to investigating the world of mysteries.
The truly high minded man does not care what people believe; he cares about the truth.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Put together this basically sums up why I don’t mind investigating any type of mystery that catches my attention. I don’t care if it’s ghouls and goblins, things that go bump to Scooby Doo vibes, grizzly murders, or lost treasure. I want to discover the truth. It’s thrilling both to pursue and crack a mystery.
But I don’t join in. By this I mean I don’t become part of the genre. I love to share what I’ve discovered with my readers here and in my books. But I investigate the cases, each case on its own. I’m not a chronicler of the genre.
Rene Dahinden, of Bigfoot fame, became the greatest example of violating this approach. Toward the end of his life even his supporters had to admit that he had been “a man who investigated men who investigated Bigfoot” rather than a Bigfoot investigator. He had become nothing more than a character in the genre, a player in a real life comic strip. Yet his image was that of one of the most significant hunters and investigators of Bigfoot. Far from truth. He investigated claims. He became reactive rather than proactive.
Few in any popular genre rise above this mistake. They become chroniclers, but of what? One element becomes folklorists and another their debunkers.
Folklorists catalog. They catalog any number of conflicting stories that seldom have any evidence behind them. If there is a strand of truth it can only be uncovered by analysis. But folklorists don’t analyze. They catalog. Opinions and discussions often springboard from this rather than from facts. Debunkers merely respond to what has been presented by the folklorists. They shoot a hole in the popular discourse of a topic, market themselves as “myth breakers” and then walk away. It becomes a cyclical, strange world, one that a friend of mine Jean St. Jean likened to an “Ouroboros feeding in a shallow pool of data.”
But who actually investigates the topic– whether it be UFOs, Bigfoot, occult claims, or classic Cold Cases? An actual sighting? An actual case?
Others memorialize an incidence. Like a history student may visit the battle site of Waterloo they visit a location made famous in one of the genres– Zodiac Island or Ape Canyon. Or they search for holy relics like Empress Helena. Bigfooters go to the spot where Roger Patterson filmed a “Bigfoot” and they try to reconstruct how it was done to prove the film is of an authentic Bigfoot. Hasn’t anything more interesting happened since 1967? This is all fine, but label it for what it is. They’re chronicling, relic hunting, or tourists of a real life action cartoon.
How about another example, one that piques the interest of true crime buffs? The “Smiley Face Killer Theory.” It’s elaborate, often farfetched sounding, and even its proponents admit a smiley face exists in only 17% of the cases. But it’s a catchy title. Some commentators have been glad to dismiss it by saying that the smiley face is only a coincidence. Does that really matter except to the title and to one facet of theorizing? Many of the cases are still suspicious and in one case the verdict of accidental death was overturned in favor of homicide. Removing the catchy title doesn’t change the substance of each case and how similar they are as a whole. Perhaps there is no smiley face killer gang, but are these cases of “accidental drowning” reflective of the pattern of a serial killer?
It is better to seek the truth rather than to merely become a burp in the vast whirlwind of popular discourse on a topic.
Who wants to be a part of that world? The mainstream, which made these topics so hot at one point, has squarely said “No.” They don’t want to be a part of it. They walked away when these topics became rehearsed formula and cottage industries.
But the mainstream still want the truth. . . if someone is willing to dig into it in a sober manner. Cash cows won’t die. But they may give a different milk.
Truly, what is the truth behind these topics? In many cases I have found it very fascinating. As we approach that witching time of year, it is best I put this post up so that readers will prepare for a glimpse behind the popular curtain of some very strange and at times frightening subjects. For some it will be an interesting glimpse, for others perhaps a disturbing one.
But there is something out there in the dark, in the forests, and beyond our gaze of the sea at the beach.
It takes a long time to learn one’s way around. No school can teach you the ins and outs. For cold cases, it takes lots of on-scene investigation and risking danger in shady parts of town. It takes lots of contacts, lots of time building up your reputation. But you will find investigating these X Files subjects is a fascinating and rewarding journey, far more productive than merely wedging oneself into popular discourse on them.