The years in the making story concerning the collection and analysis of DNA from an unknown species of primate living in North America was dubbed the Erickson Project by someone in the cryptozoology community when word of it first popped up on the scene. The name is a misnomer. It was called that because a man by the name of Adrian Erickson started purchasing land that was said to be habituation sites for these animals and financed a study. While Erickson is an integral cog in the wheel, it turns out that he is just one of a number of researchers who have submitted DNA to Dr. Melba Ketchum, a veterinarian who owns her own DNA testing facility. She is the real owner of the findings in this case given that her name is attached to the actual paper that has reportedly been written and submitted for peer review. When I read things that are supposedly about the Erickson Project, they don’t have anything to do with Erickson’s study. I’ve even made the error on this blog. They have to do with Ketchum’s study. That’s why I’m suggesting we start referring to this as the Ketchum Report and not the Erickson Project.
The reason I think it’s important to make this distinction is because Dr. Ketchum seems to have done her due diligence to approach this from a purely scientific stand point. She is playing by the established scientific communities rules. Namely, she’s refrained from making any public claims to the specific findings of the study. She’s appeared on radio shows and a few blogs discussing the general topic, but she’s stopped short of making any overt statements as to what the study has actually revealed. Her closest revelation as to the outcome of the study so far is that she now believes that such an animal does indeed exist.
This approach is rarely taken in the world of cryptozoology simply because the majority of mainstream science habitually plays it safe by studying the known and steering clear of the unknown. A few brave souls will stick their necks out and examine the outrageous, but their heads are usually placed on pikes for all of academia to spat upon. The bulk of cryptozoological research is left to the curious every-man who takes well-meaning enthusiasm and turns it into amateur science. A few get it right. Most don’t.
The ones who get it wrong will turn personal hypotheses and stretch it out until it becomes fact. They will call press conferences and make unfounded claims. They will take to the internet and report rumor and speculation as reality. They will respond to skeptics with anger and venom. They will turn their research into material for public fodder because they jumped the gun.
Dr. Ketchum’s decision to stick to accepted scientific procedure has frustrated the crypto-fanatics to the point of madness. Messageboards and blogs are digging through hearsay and supposed inside sources to satisfy their growing anxiety. Here are samples of what you might read in various online groups.
- Why must it take so long?
- Why is Ketchum dragging her feet?
- What is she trying to hide?
- If she had something, it would be front page news by now.
The list goes on. Patience has worn thin among these otherwise reasonable people. They’re not bad people. They just want the ridicule to end. Like it or not, the Ketchum Report has become a beacon of hope for many eyewitnesses, researchers, and believers. They’ve made the assumption that she’s proven what they already know to be true, there is undeniably a bipedal North American Ape out there, even though Dr. Ketchum hasn’t openly said that. She’s hinted that good news is coming and that people will be pleased with her findings, but those statements are open to a wide variety of interpretations.
I came across of a Facebook group administered by Rhettman A Mullis Jr. called Bigfootology. Mullis wrote a reasoned piece about the insanity surrounding the pending release of the Ketchum Report. He quoted a Sally Ramey about the scientific procedure that Ketchum is following. Ramey has experience in the world of academia with the peer-review process and she shared it with Mullis’ group. I post it here in its entirety, but I urge you to read the entire piece by clicking here: Clarifying the insanity of rumor and false information.
Summary: Peer-review process
by Sally Ramey on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 4:58pm
Lots of people have recently been wondering about the process of publishing scientific papers. Here is the basic process, based on my experience doing PR in higher ed:
The researcher prepares a paper about their findings and submits it to a scientific journal for peer-review, which can take MONTHS. The paper is reviewed by a team of scientists with expertise in the discipline(s) involved in the researcher’s work. They decide if the research was conducted according to standards and practices accepted by the scientific community, and review the findings to see if they pass muster. It’s like a professor checking your work in college. If the review team has questions, they can ask the researcher to provide more info, run more tests, get someone else to run tests that replicate the work, etc. This can delay publication but it is sometimes necessary. ONLY after the review team is satisfied is the paper accepted for publication. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the scientific community’s “stamp of approval” that the work is valid.
The journal must then figure out when to publish the paper. Some journals work weeks/months in advance, adding further delay. Some work faster, meaning that the paper might run within a few weeks. At some point, the researcher is notified that they have a “pub date.” In my experience, you often only know about three weeks out when your paper will publish. Once there is a pub date, the researcher (typically university-based) works with their campus PR folks and the journal editorial and PR staff to be sure that images are prepared for publication, news releases are written and reviewed, and everyone is prepared for the announcement.
If the news is HUGE, the researcher will be interviewed by the science media, under a strict embargo, the week before the pub date. Most journals publish on Fridays and most embargos lift on Thursday afternoons. The science media, journal PR folks and university PR folks all post their stories and news releases upon the lifting of the embargo. This is why big science news seems to be posted everywhere at once. – it actually is.
If the story is HUGE HUGE HUGE, any news conference would be held when the embargo lifts, unless the journal allows it to happen early due to scheduling conflicts – the journal drives the schedule – no one else. And NO ONE can publicly discuss the paper, its pub date, what journal is involved, the findings or other contents in advance of the embargo or the journal will not publish the paper. This preserves the credibility and sanctity of the peer-review process. Hope this info is helpful.
The point of this post is that restraint is in order here, by all of us. We need to keep our heads and let the process play out. We are all anxious for results but we have to relax and wait. Rumors are just that. Speculate and vent if you must, but never lose sight that is what you are doing, speculating.
Update: It’s clear that some have read this post as a slight to Mr. Erickson. That’s not the case. It wasn’t my intention to denigrate his reported contribution to the DNA study. My intention here was to try to establish that these findings are more than an alleged habituation study and documentary. It is true that Erickson’s work and Ketchum’s work are linked together, but it’s clear that the DNA study is the most significant element in these developments and has a greater opportunity to change some minds.
It’s simple really…take your time, do the research, ignore the critics. The important thing is to make sure that testing of ALL THE EVIDENCE is done in a comprehensive, unbiased, objective, without any time restraints. Do not rush to conclusions…science takes time and human error occurs.
Let those who argue about why this project is taking so long…etc., do so amongst themselves and not let this hinder the results or the
outcome/importance of this project.
The goal is not to please others, but to learn and increase our knowledge about this. Dr. Melba Kethum has been a complete
professional…not seeking any personal gain, financial, public
or otherwise. I have only seen her post one time and that was
in self-defense. Dr. Melba Ketchum was accused of being “pro-kill,”
but to let people know exactly her position on this kill vs. no-kill
topic, Dr. Melba Ketchum replied quickly expressing that she is
a “NO-KILL” researcher and respector of all living things.
Let the debates rage on and let the science prove what it does, no
matter how long it takes…
Gee, I wonder where she got the evidence from.
Dr. Ketchum has been misrepresented in the “Blogosphere” too many times to mention. Cryptomundo began with an unauthorized (by Ketchum) release of Better Business Bureau reports concerning a dispute she had with a client who, according to Dr. Ketchum, wouldn’t pay. These records were summarily copied by staff at Cryptomundo and posted with the title, “Dr. Melba Ketchum’s DNA Diagnostics gets an F?” I suppose the use of the question mark “absolves Craig Woolheater, owner of Cryptomundo Inc., from any malice, but it doesn’t. It was followed by a post copied from Dr. Ketchum’s Facebook page, again without her permission or knowledge, and pasted to another article on Cryptomundo titled, “Dr. Ketchum on the DNA Project (paraphrased)”. It was then followed by yet another unauthorized (by Dr. Ketchum) article that postulated that she, Dr. Ketchum, had been hoaxed. This sort of madness, perpetrated by Cryptomundo and their likes, does not only border on defamation, it clearly IS defamation. Dr. Ketchum has been quite candid with me concerning these matters, but does not have the legal funds at the moment to fight these atrocities. But, as I have had my own share of ongoing problems with Cryptomundo, lasting years, I will say that very soon, all of this will very soon come to an abrupt halt. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I hope you will post this. People like Dr. Ketchum will forever be discouraged from presenting new facts, studies and ideas as long as those hostile to change, or seeking attention for themselves at the expense of others, are allowed to operate without being held accountable for their actions.
I wonder if you can explain what you mean by unauthorized. I was under the impression that CW just posted from the BBB’s public record.
BTW – I am not a fan of the BBB. I’ve never dealt with them personally, but I have seen some good people and companies unfairly portrayed via their process.
Thanks for this post and the informed comments. This is not
the first time that Cryptomundo has used half truths and
twisted facts to try to discredit someone that they percieve to
be gaining more attention than themselves.
Since David Paulides writes that there will be a news conference, Ramey’s description of the publication process reasonably leads to the conclusion that Something Very Large is coming our way.
I didn’t know DP had called a press conference. That’s interesting.
He hasn’t. But on his NABS site, he wrote that there will be a presser. I’m just trying to connect the dots, since he linked to this page on your blog. You can check the olympicproject.com website as well to read Randles description of how a BF was brought down. If this latest wave is a hoax, it’s fantastic.
at least after her report is made public y’all will have to stop calling them frickin “apes”. lord i hate that.
I consider myself an ape so it’s not intended to be disrespectul.
All higher order Primates ARE apes, including Humans. There is nothing derogatory in the term.
If those making issues where there are non would take a few moments to educate themselves we could all stop wasting our time on debating things that are not important.
Correction, all apes (including humans) are Primates; not the other way around. There is a distinct difference in this statement.
I said all higher “Order” primates not all Primates. The higher order primates ARE.the apes.
Justin the evidence came from multiple sources…..that is where the evidence came from. Point being? What was your assumption (or more directly…..what was your role?
Also, BBB reports were public record and had been discussed elsewhere (BFF) before posted up on Cryptomundo by Woolheater et al.
I have to give credit to Ketchum for the long haul tenacity in view of distractors and detractors. I assume this tenacity will prove fruitful with abundant scientific data, results, conclusions and discussion that will humble the primatology world.
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I just tried to respond, but no luck ! … I think I’ll enter my response/comments in two parts, then:
Hi; Richard Stubstad here … I don’t think what is posted above is entirely accurate.
For example, the statement that “Ketchum is the real owner of the findings in this case given that her name is attached to the actual paper that has reportedly been written and submitted for peer review.” She states (recently) herself that there are five co-authors; what about them? Are they not “the real owner of the findings” as well?
Originally, I was a co-author, and later due to a variety of factors I was left out of the continuing work towards eventual publication of the paper. What about me, then? Am I bound by some kind of prohibition by the Journal(s) the paper was submitted to when I don’t even know the final contents of the paper or the nuclear DNA findings in particular?
One other person, a highly qualified geneticist, was also an original co-author but no longer is one. What about her/him?
Please note that the prestigious Journal called “SCIENCE” recently published a peer-reviewed paper on the Denisovans — a “new” hominid or human subspecies (depending on how one defines it) by no less than 28 co-authors. A whole lot was previously published on these findings (from Denisova Cave, in Russia), but this didn’t inhibit the publication of an exceptionally well-researched and detailed paper, not only about the “discovery” itself, but about the relationship of CURRENT modern human populations to both the Densiovans and the Neanderthals.
Similarly, I have personally participated in the peer-review process, both as a peer reviewer and a paper submitter (or co-submitter, usually) dozens of times; in the field of engineering, not genetics. The only prohibition I have ever seen is that the SAME paper cannot be submitted to two or more journals simultaneously. Before the paper is submitted, a great deal of interaction AND COOPERATION with both co-authors and others takes place; this is necessary because that is how science works — through collaboration and the discussion of the interpretation of results that will ultimately lead to the most accurate and defendable conclusions; not just one or two persons in the world working in the darkest corners of secrecy.
It is also incorrect to state that there are no monetary motives involved in connection with the proposed Journal submission by Ketchum (et.al.?). With a potential finding of an extant hominid, not an extinct one such as the Denisovans, it is ludicrous to think that no commercial fall-out will occur, and that Dr. Ketchum has “no commercial interests” in such fall-out or post-publication “fervor”. Of course she does.
This is a test; I’m having a lot of trouble posting the last half of the above post.
Not sure what the issue is, Richard, but if you email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll post it in the comment section for you.
I’m posting for Richard Stubstad, because there was some difficulty with him posting from his computer. Here after are his comments and not mine.
Continued from previous post …
Moreover, I never stated that Ketchum was “pro-kill”. She merely stated to me over the telephone when she received the “bigfoot steak” that she HOPED the Sierra kill story (of course, she wasn’t the shooter!) was true and the shooting was, in her mind, justifiable “in the name of science.” She further asked me if I would “hide” the remaining flesh/specimen so the authorities wouldn’t come and disrupt “her” DNA study at the lab. I said “no, I wouldn’t hide this sample because I did not wish to be an ‘ACCESSORY TO A HOMOCIDE’, since both she and I (and many others) already knew that sasquatch was at least partly Homo sapiens sapiens (meaning relatively modern human). She disagreed with my moral and ethical stance, and I haven’t heard from her since.
Would she shoot a sasquatch? Of course not; and neither would I. So far, so good. Did she hope that someone else had done so? Yes, she did, but what I said at the time was – “I CERTAINLY hoped that it was yet another hoax.” I guess I lost our $2 bill bet, then, right folks?
I also feel, very strongly, that even if she (Dr. Ketchum) is successful in passing peer review sooner or later, that other studies by other qualified researchers will be needed to confirm her results. At least one other study I know of is already underway; others will also follow, without a doubt. The scientific community, let alone the government(s) of Canada and the USA, will not accept that a hominid called sasquatch actually exists based on a single, very secretive, scientific peer-reviewed paper. Just ask the folks who “discovered” cold fusion.
Lastly, just for the record, “Dr.” Ketchum is only titled as a doctor because a veterinarian should be called a doctor OF VETERNARY MEDICINE. She says herself that she doesn’t have a Ph.D. To call her Dr. Ketchum in connection with a DNA study of any kind is unduly stretching the definition of “Dr.”, which normally means a person with a Ph.D. unless one is a Medical Doctor or a Veterinarian.
Richard Stubstad, BSCE, MSCE, PE (Registered in California)
Engineering and Statistical Consulting
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I saw about 4 years ago what seemed like a bear but had shaggy red hair a flat face but ran like a bear. I’ve been trying to find a bear that matches the profile but unsuccessful. It’s been bothering me because of the face. I had a side view and it happened so fast. I live at the time in the lake tahoe national forest .
Its all fake. Bigfoot is a hoax
I was pleased when I became aware of the ongoing DNA research that was underway and the new groundbreaking efforts that were being made by Dr. Melba Ketchum in Texas. I followed the numerous websites and radio interviews that were commenting about this research, and was very gladdened by the December 24th Coast to Coast AM Interview with Dr. Ketchum.
I have taken note of the fact that numerous highly opinionated individuals, who are Skeptics, have almost always made derogatory comments to the effect that the DNA findings must necessarily be flawed by some form of contamination for the results of the research to have shown the presence of Human Mitochondrial DNA in the samples that were in the Study
Dr. Ketchum spoke in reply to the matter of sample contamination many times, and detailed the efforts that were being made to forestall that problem. The Skeptics were obviously not listening clearly, because they continued to rail that there absolutely must have been contamination of the DNA Samples that were used in this Study, all 109 of them.
The true facts seem to be that an enormous amount of care had been taken by Dr. Melba Ketchum and her highly skilled associates, who used State of the Art Forensic Techniques to prevent even the remotest possibility of that happening, and my reading of the Study confirmed the rather obvious conclusion that most of the skeptics had unquestionably jumped to their conclusions without any real factual evidence, as usual.
The work done by the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas has revealed that the three samples that Dr. Ketchum had submitted for Nuclear DNA sequencing were of very high quality, and highly purified, and capable of providing very valid results, using the Illumina Next Generation Sequencing Platform, with a statistical probability greater than 1:1000 of being correctly sequenced.
Obviously these were not “Contaminated Samples” as the Skeptics contended that they must have been.
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION, As reported in the PRweb Seattle WA at http://www.seattlepi.com, :
“The team, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum, DVM, of DNA Diagnostics in Nacogdoches, TX, submitted a tissue sample, a saliva sample, and a blood sample to the DNA Laboratory at the University of Texas, Southwestern, who then sequenced the Three whole Nuclear Genomes using the Next-Generation Illumina HiSeq 2000 Platform. The University lab reported that the three genomes all attained Q30 quality scores above 88 on the Illumina Platform, which is significantly higher than the Platform average of 85, indicating highly-purified, single-source DNA with no contamination for each sample. The three Sasquatch genomes were reported to align well with one-another and show substantial homology to primate sequences.”
NOTE: The important fact to observe is that the three Q30 Scores of these three Genomes, with over 90 Gb of Raw seqence for each sample, (Comprising greater than 30x coverage), were 88.6, 88.4 and 88.7 respectively. The Q30 is the percent of reads that have the statistical probability greater than 1:1000 of being correctly sequenced. According to Illumina, a pure single source sample would have a Q30 score of 80 or greater, with an average Q30 score of 85. Contaminated or multiple source samples would have Q30 scores of 40 to 50.
Therefore, not only were the three samples that were submitted for sequencing, each determined to be totally UNCONTAMINATED and were from a single source, and the resultant quality of the sequences that were obtained from them was FAR ABOVE the average 85 score of the Genomes sequenced using the Illumina Next Generation Sequencing Platform at the UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. A Further comment made about the samples was: “The high quality of the Genomes can be attributed to the STRINGENT EXTRACTION PROCEDURES UTILIZED WHEREBY THE DNA WAS REPEATEDLY PURIFIED”. Dr. Ketchum obviously did a very good job of providing high quality samples that were capable of providing scientifically valid results.
NOTE: It would appear that the University of Texas Southwestern’s DNA Laboratory is rather sure that these are good Genomes, and that they were tested to be of very high quality.
How could you ask for much more than that?
One Genome would be more than adequate to prove the existence of a new species. Three Genomes is gross OVERKILL. It is a NEW Species.
You will not be able to find any qualified Geneticist who can argue with the spectacular results produced by the UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS DNA Laboratory. NOT WITH THOSE HIGH Q30 scores.
New species have been accepted by Science with as little as 16 Kb.
Just a very small number of base pairs. The sample size here was 90 Gb for each of three samples. See the Supplementary Data 7-10
I believe that this groundbreaking DNA Study was done with very great care and that the resultant findings are now thoroughly capable of proving to even the most diehard, outspoken Skeptics, that there is incontrovertible PROOF that there is an unclassified Biped roaming North America.
This evidence is backed up by the substantial work that has been done at instituions like The University of Texas at Dallas, Texas A & M University, and several other academic institutions and Professional Laboratories.
Dr. Ketchum and her esteemed colleagues are to be heartily commended for the dedication that they have shown in the face of derision from the mass attacks by huge numbers of Naysayers, Skeptics and Fools.
I urge everyone interested, and especially hardcore Skeptics to take the time to read this amazing DNA Study and to become aware of the incredible quality of the Science behind it.
Being a skeptic does not require that you cannot accept valid Scientific studies, that are done with a great deal of care and appropriate attention to detail by highly skilled professionals, at highly accredited institutions of Higher Learning!
My kudos to the BRAVE DNA researchers who refused to give up and quit. They will go down in History! The Skeptics will have an eternal meal of CROW PIE. I hope they enjoy it. I would imagine it has a bitter taste!
Bigfoot Believer 3/18/13
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