David Paulides & Missing 411

Austin Popper

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I believe he was officially charged with fraud.

I have zero experience with police departments, but Ms Popper works for "the guvimint" and has had to watch as creeps and flakes were dealt with in, well one might say passive aggressive ways. Whole departments get "reorganized" around some asshole's behavior because it's too hard to get rid of them. In my line of work, you just get canned. Police departments hate the sort of embarrassment that comes with cheating and lying cops, and I'm sure in this case the bosses were happy to reach an accommodation that didn't involve a public trial.
 

Sharon Hill

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Even if Paulides did not have two giant strikes against his reputation (Ketchum and the criminal charge), he would be untrustworthy. He is not upfront with all the facts and research into the cases he promotes. The guy is making a living on this stuff. It appears he tested out the theme on the Coast to Coast AM crowd, it was a hit, and he keeps milking it. He never clearly states what the issue is that he's talking about either. He seems to be deliberately nebulous about it all - maybe he doesn't want to marginalize any particular community of believers as his idea can be molded to fit a variety of fringe beliefs - government conspiracy, Bigfoot, aliens, shapeshifters, inter-dimensional portals, etc.

Here are two recent pieces that describe the various problems with Missing 411

Why You Needn't Worry About the Missing 411​

https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4794

The Mishandling of the Missing 411 Phenomenon​

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348550578_The_Mishandling_of_the_Missing_411_Phenomenon
 

Paul_Exeter

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I have watched both the Missing 911 documentaries and read a great deal about the man and his theories. For some reason his back catalogue of 411 books seem to be unavailable or being sold for extortionate prices either in print or on Kindle here in the U.K.

I’m not surprised to read the above linked articles. Many of the cases are intriguing but sadly I feel he doesn’t cover all the possibilities, including mental fatigue and errors caused by a fall, weather, what mountain lions are capable of and what our fellow humans are capable of I.e. abduction and murder. You only have to look at the tragic recent case of Esther Dingley:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-58176416

Her disappearance was treated as inexplicable by her partner, who stated her experience and knowledge. It couldn’t have been a simple, tragic accident. But unfortunately it was just that - she slipped on rocks.

I do want to believe - people dying aside - but you don’t need shapeshifters or Bigfoot to explain why a hiker might take a wrong turn in extreme weather and inhospitable terrain.
 

Austin Popper

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I do want to believe - people dying aside - but you don’t need shapeshifters or Bigfoot to explain why a hiker might take a wrong turn in extreme weather and inhospitable terrain.
That sort of thing happens all the time around here. If you look only at people dying while skiing in Colorado during a typical season, it's on the order of two per month. You hear about the famous ones, but the industry, the state government, and the media are careful to be low key about it. It is sometimes argued that more people are killed in car crashes on the way to the ski hills, and that may be so but it happens and it's not mysterious. It's terrible for all involved, but the risk is accepted the same as any other risk associated with recreation. The remains of a few long missing campers and hikers have been found in recent years, with no evidence of anything weird happening to them. The only curious thing is that it took so long for them to be found, sometimes very close to well traveled paths.
 

Paul_Exeter

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Also to add another example, that of the tragic abduction and assumed murder of Geanette Tate here in England:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Genette_Tate

She was abducted whilst riding her bike on a quiet, country road. A chilling detail from this case is that the wheels of her bike were still turning when her friends caught up with her, but there was absolutely no sign of her or her abductor. That is how quickly a 13 year old can be ‘made to vanish’
 

Frideswide

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True, and the issue of search dogs so frequently failing to find the bodies in the locations they are subsequently discovered needs explaining, absolutely.

I keep coming back to the idea that the Gentry have something to do with it. As is totally their right, she said hastily. :yay:
 

Paul_Exeter

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This makes interesting reading:

https://www.abajournal.com/news/art...waning-leading-to-speculation-about-the-cause

Essentially, it argues advances in DNA detection, cell phones, children no longer playing unsupervised, CCTV etc have made life difficult for those who the capacity to become serial killers. Perhaps it would be no surprise that National Parks would make an attractive base of operations for these sick individuals: poor to nonexistent cellphone coverage, children ‘offf the leash’, no CCTV, no DNA if the body is moved and then immersed in water for a long period…
 

marhawkman

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Also to add another example, that of the tragic abduction and assumed murder of Geanette Tate here in England:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Genette_Tate

She was abducted whilst riding her bike on a quiet, country road. A chilling detail from this case is that the wheels of her bike were still turning when her friends caught up with her, but there was absolutely no sign of her or her abductor. That is how quickly a 13 year old can be ‘made to vanish’
Reminds me of the Stacey Arras case. Teen girl hiking with her family, she apparently stepped away from the group to take some pictures... and disappeared never to be seen again. Best guess is she was abducted, but no one found any sign as to who or where.
True, and the issue of search dogs so frequently failing to find the bodies in the locations they are subsequently discovered needs explaining, absolutely.
search dogs aren't a magic easy button for finding people. Especially if you don't have a clean search area. It's like trying to follow a single person's footprints... after a crowd has trampled the area. You might succeed... or you might not.

Then in the Jaryd Atadero case the dogs DID actually find him, but it's a location the dog team wasn't physically able to search. Yeah Jaryd didn't get to the top of that rock outcrop himself. I'm guessing Catamount. They like to eat their prey on top of things. Hunters sometimes find deer corpses dangling from trees because the cat drug it up a tree before eating it.
 

maximus otter

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True, and the issue of search dogs so frequently failing to find the bodies in the locations they are subsequently discovered needs explaining, absolutely.

l could be wrong here, but years ago l discussed dogs tracking people with a couple of my force’s dog handlers. My recollection is that dogs don’t follow a specific scent, they follow the most recent/clearest scent.

Consider someone who’s been missing for days: Time and weather have erased the MFH’s scent, but groups of people are wandering around trying to find them. In comes the dog; it alerts to the scent trail of one or more of the searchers, and follows it to where said searchers have unknowingly blundered close to the corpse.

maximus otter
 
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Ogdred Weary

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I started listening to Paullides episode of The Unexplained with Howard Hawks podcast and had to turn it off. He, characteristically unchallenged by Haws, droned on asking: "why is it only young children and those with the mental capacity of young children who are targeted for short abductions? People who cannot give an account of their experiences due to their cognition?"

I remember thinking "because you've cherry picked those cases for your shitty books you twat." At that point I knew little about him. Apparently, it is significant that in some cases missing children had travelled uphill, as children never voluntarily walk uphill! As if we can account for the behaviour of terrified, exhausted, hungry, dehydrated children.

I also stumbled on a Reddit AMA with someone who volunteers in search and rescues in a national park and they said, it's incredibly easy to get lost and stay lost, those lost are encouraged to remain in one place as moving greatly increases the chance of being missed by searchers. It's also a lot easier to die of exposure than people realise and it needn't be particularly cold or hot.
 

Austin Popper

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That advice to stay put next to a road or trail, or some place where you will more easily be seen, has saved lives in the wilderness. Roads are best. There are many stories of bodies eventually being found fairly close to developed areas, but the person had gone deeper into the brush or whatever, in exactly the wrong direction. If the weather is mild and you find water, you can last long enough for someone to find you. People have abandoned stuck cars, which were found in a matter of hours, and set off to their doom into very inhospitable terrain.
 

stu neville

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It's also a lot easier to die of exposure than people realise and it needn't be particularly cold or hot.
Very true - I've mentioned before speaking with someone who involved in mountain and cave rescue, and exposure is one of the biggest risks in the UK countryside precisely because it's so temperate. The damp and near-constant breeze, especially at elevation, make it agreeably lethal. Temperature variations are far more pronounced in North America, obviously, and what can be shorts and t-shirt weather at sea-level can kill you just a couple of thousand feet up, plus (as we discussed earlier in this thread) narrow footpaths and people convinced that Crocs are suitable hiking footwear can combine to make slips, trips and other misfortunes almost inevitable. Add to that very dense foliage which can render you invisible within twenty feet, and your chances of being found are remote at best. No need to invoke any mystery.
 

Gizmos Mama

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I've watched and listened to many of David's movies and interviews. Mostly because I love the outdoors, and knowing what could be out there is important to me, as I like to be prepared.
My 2 issues with his "criteria" to be included in the Missing are boulder fields and berry pickers.

Boulders Fields: Having spent some time in the bad lands of Alberta, with it's (what you think are) distinctive painted hills and hoo-doo like structures, I know how easy it is to get disorientated in those landscapes. Because what seems like really distinct and unique features look very different when seen from the other side.

This why people tend to get lost in boulder fields. You walk in thinking, "oh, all I have to do is find that big boulder that looks like a dog, and I'll know which way is out!" Except, now, on the way out, you see LOTS of boulders that look like a dog, and only the backside of the one you're actually looking for. Now, you're lost forever...

Berry Pickers: Paulaides tends to single out these mysterious forces as selectively disappearing berry pickers.

A key trick to not getting lost anywhere you go, not only the woods, is to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS! If every 5 minutes you look up, around and behind you at features in the landscape, you'll be able to keep your bearings much better.

However, many activities, such as berry picking, fossil hunting, and even just keeping your head down and blindly following a trail, can leave you very disorientated after a very short distance. When doing these things specifically, people are keeping their gaze directed almost exclusively at short distances in front or downward, make frequent direction changes, and are often in dense brush where sight lines are limited.

Of course they get lost!

Also a pet peeve of mine. He pushes people to carry a locator beacon, (not my beef, it's a good idea and I have and use one myself) BUT, he never tells them the most basic survival skill of all.

If you are lost, STAY PUT! Don't keep wandering around aimlessly and make it harder for searchers to find you!

My overall take on the Missing 411 phenomenon is... There are a few truly strange and unexplained disappearances out there that really do defy rational or easy explanation.

Many, many of the cases he highlights have mundane explanations, and too many criteria are just normal things people lost in the woods and suffering hypothermia do. Paradoxical undressing, burrowing and being close to or in water are just normal. If you've been in the woods for 3 days, I hope you are near water!

Searchers, dogs and thermal imaging aren't infallible, so finding someone where they searched before isn't surprising. Neither is never finding them. It's a big wilderness out there.

Accidents, inexperience, animal attacks, lack of preparation and bad weather or decision making in unforgiving environments are the causes for most of these lost people. It really is too bad in his "passion" for the subject, he tends to dilute the strangeness of the truly interesting ones by ignoring obvious explanations for the majority of the cases he claims are strange.

That might be a bit mild. I guess I still watch him and take it all with a grain (pound) of salt. Like the big time hunter who went missing in Alaska. "Only a piece of his skull was found... there were no signs of animal predation". Really, he exploded, then? Aliens missed that piece when they transported him? Yeah, I'm not sure why I continue, but I do.
 

marhawkman

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hmmm here's a big thing about thermal that people very often forget: warm clothing makes you HARDER for thermal to find! How? it insulates you to slow the loss of body heat... and thus makes you a dim outline on thermal... except for exposed skin. But exposed skin in freezing weather after hypothermia has set in is less noticeable than you'd think as well.

here's a few pics I found in a quick web search for a demonstration.

Here's what most people think of when they think of using thermal imaging outdoors:
derr.jpg

or this:
FLIRONEThermalImaging-Cyclist.jpg

The first pic of several deer has little obstructing the camera view... except a barb wire fence. But it's pretty easy to see that fence as a thin dark shadow in front of the deer. Now compare that to the tree in the second picture. The deer would be effectively invisible if all of the deer was behind the tree. And that's exactly what happens in search and rescue. You can't guarantee line-of sight.

then there's clothing....
istockphoto-1081969210-170667a.jpg

In the pic above we see a man on a bike, and his shorts reduce his thermal signature quite a lot. In the case of these people they're also wearing light clothing that doesn't mask thermal greatly.

covid-19-temperature cop2.jpg

Here's a quick example of people wearing heavy clothing that's meant to keep them warm in cold weather. Yeah... looks a LOT different.
 
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marhawkman

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That might be a bit mild. I guess I still watch him and take it all with a grain (pound) of salt. Like the big time hunter who went missing in Alaska. "Only a piece of his skull was found... there were no signs of animal predation". Really, he exploded, then? Aliens missed that piece when they transported him? Yeah, I'm not sure why I continue, but I do.
Was that the Bart Schleyer case? Several pieces of Bart were found... near bear dung.... coincidence?.... maybe... wouldn't count on it. seemingly all of the actual investigators concluded it was probably a bear... and his next of kin put that in his obituary.
 

Yithian

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Notably 2012-14 Paulides is a lot less trenchant and more open to alternatives. Of late he has, I'll put this delicately, begun to echo the tone and suspicions of right-wing political conspiracists; I can see no legitimate link between these tendencies and his work on missing people.

He'd do well to sequester his views on such subjects, but given the trauma his has been through and the current climate in the U.S., I'm almost certain he won't.

I'm genuinely interested in the cases he publicises and discusses, but he's beginning to spiral.

The first fifteen minutes of his latest video is about a Chinese plot to kill Americans by producing and exporting Fentanyl while Mexican cartels flood the border with illegal immigrants and hard drugs, and the U.S. Government seeks to destroy the nation from within by mandating vaccines among the military and other service groups in order to destroy or demoralise independent critical thinkers.

I support his right to free speech and don't even go so far as to say any of his views are wrong, but they have nothing to do with missing people in national parks in North America--or even with Bigfoot.

He has also been intimating over the past week or two that YouTube are investigating his channel, presumably with an eye to shutting it down, presumably, he believes, owing to his views on vaccination.

Again, he needs to disentangle these threads pronto and find a separate outlet for his political content.
 

Austin Popper

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Yikes. That's some hard core nutjobbery. Lots of that going on over here, unfortunately. Many people have lost touch with reality, I have no hesitation in saying. When they spew one batshit crazy "theory" after another, they've lost the plot.

It's not just the right-wingers either. I know some old hippies who are just about as bad. Some younger ones too. They even believe some of the same nonsense. Plandemic! FEMA camps! Moon hoax! It's really sad.
 
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stu neville

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It's not just the right-wingers either. I know some old hippies who are just about as bad. Some younger ones too. They even believe some of the same nonsense. Plandemic! FEMA camps! Moon hoax! It's really sad.
There's a very noticeable crossover between the "wellness" movement and the conspirasphere. I've seen this a lot, sadly - people whose timelines have become a 50/50 split between pictures of mountains with Maharishi Yogi quotes in Papyrus font overlaid and screeching "Wake up sheeple!!!11!1!" posts. Sad in most cases, unsettling in others.
 

Sharon Hill

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I'm genuinely interested in the cases he publicises and discusses, but he's beginning to spiral.

The first fifteen minutes of his latest video is about a Chinese plot to kill Americans by producing and exporting Fentanyl while Mexican cartels flood the border with illegal immigrants and hard drugs, and the U.S. Government seeks to destroy the nation from within by mandating vaccines among the military and other service groups in order to destroy or demoralise independent critical thinkers.

I support his right to free speech and don't even go so far as to say any of his views are wrong, but they have nothing to do with missing people in national parks in North America--or even with Bigfoot.

He has also been intimating over the past week or two that YouTube are investigating his channel, presumably with an eye to shutting it down, presumably, he believes, owing to his views on vaccination.

Again, he needs to disentangle these threads pronto and find a separate outlet for his political content.
Good riddance. He's turned into a real menace.
 

marhawkman

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I'm genuinely interested in the cases he publicises and discusses, but he's beginning to spiral.
Well I lost any interest in Missing 411 when I started fact checking cases. some of them sound weird... until you realize Paulides left out key facts... at which point it becomes mundane. Like the Bart Schleyer case. It's one of the first I looked up because the Paulides description felt... incomplete. I just instinctively wanted to look for more information. Which yeah... lead me to quickly realize Paulides had left out MAJOR information. Such as how Bart had been wearing a face covering... which was found ripped and bloodied. A clear indication something very violent happened to Bart.
 

Tunn11

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I agree with Yithian some of the cases are weird, not that I’ve tried that hard to fact check them. But like a lot of writers on Fortean subjects there is this tendency to broaden the net and start adding more and more cases which starts to weaken the argument and discourage people from looking at the weirder items. Some cases from the 1800s for instance may be relevant but it’s difficult to know given the paucity of information.

I think that for a long time Paulides failed to recognise the effects of hypothermia on behaviour, which he now seems to acknowledge and I can’t help feeling that assertions about weather are the wrong way about i.e. strange disappearances don’t happen before bad weather but bad weather hampers the searches helping create a mystery.

People living “wild” may account for some cases. Someone like the leopard man of Skye if near a search may not want to be seen in the area but if they found a missing child may just place them on a path or a rock in a stream to be found. I can see that they might fear being blamed for abduction because of their alternative life style.

One of the books that I found interesting deals with people found drowned, often in urban environments, something that happens in the UK and often gets on local and national news. The reason given is that they’ve gone out, got bladdered and fallen in the river. However some of the circumstances are odd and as Paulides points out, these cities often have a pretty high population of drug addicts and alcoholics who aren’t being fished out of the rivers. Given the spiked drinks and needle panics it does make one wonder about serial killers who have not been traced or even suspected.

On a plus side I’d say that Paulides has made some people more aware of taking safety precautions when hiking and it seems, from looking at some of the National Parks websites that they have started to acknowledge some missing people and put signs up asking for information and for hikers to be on the lookout for any clues etc. Maybe the standard search patterns based on average behaviour will also start to be looked at given the highlighting of the volume of cases where children have been found to act contrary to the norm in such situations.

Initially I liked Paulides’ stance of not offering explanations – although in some cases it was pretty obvious where the reader was being led. As the books progress though I’ve noticed that we’re starting to get references to “portals” and “vortices” which always makes me wary (more so if they’re “vortexes”):)

Having shown real empathy to the relatives of the missing it’s especially tragic for him to lose his son, who seemed to have real talent at documentary film making. I do agree though that he needs to separate his political views from his missing 411 stuff or he’ll just turn more people away from looking at what could be some genuinely interesting cases .
 

marhawkman

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I agree with Yithian some of the cases are weird, not that I’ve tried that hard to fact check them. But like a lot of writers on Fortean subjects there is this tendency to broaden the net and start adding more and more cases which starts to weaken the argument and discourage people from looking at the weirder items. Some cases from the 1800s for instance may be relevant but it’s difficult to know given the paucity of information.
This gets into the BIG issue I take with these over-arching fake investigations.

Yeah, I said FAKE.

The core problem is that not only did the author not demonstrate a cause, but didn't demonstrate the cases have ANY connection at all whatsoever. The fundamental premise of lumping cases into a group is that the cases are supposed to have commonalities (beyond coincidence) and shared .... something? If they don't then why bother at all? Paulides's work fails this test. No evidence of any connection is presented at all. If the cases have no connection... why present them as a group? Sure, there's that woo-woo semi-plausible idea of "investigating" and looking for answers. But... he doesn't really do that. He's really just making lists of woo-woo things. To what end? He barely does any more than hint at a goal to his "investigation". It's like putting a giant pile of puzzle pieces in a box, then waxing philosophical about how you have no idea what the puzzle looks like... when you haven't even tried to put them together.
 

Yithian

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This gets into the BIG issue I take with these over-arching fake investigations.

Yeah, I said FAKE.

The core problem is that not only did the author not demonstrate a cause, but didn't demonstrate the cases have ANY connection at all whatsoever. The fundamental premise of lumping cases into a group is that the cases are supposed to have commonalities (beyond coincidence) and shared .... something? If they don't then why bother at all? Paulides's work fails this test. No evidence of any connection is presented at all. If the cases have no connection... why present them as a group? Sure, there's that woo-woo semi-plausible idea of "investigating" and looking for answers. But... he doesn't really do that. He's really just making lists of woo-woo things. To what end? He barely does any more than hint at a goal to his "investigation". It's like putting a giant pile of puzzle pieces in a box, then waxing philosophical about how you have no idea what the puzzle looks like... when you haven't even tried to put them together.

Yes but no but maybe.

I actually do approve of drawing up lists of similarities and apparent coincidences, but I'd argue that he hasn't gone nearly far enough.

I think that an agglomeration of facts, both objective and subjective (and anywhere between) can allow evidence of higher-order causes to emerge.

Scientists are naturally drawn to those variables that are easily measured, quantified, compared and repeated—and these can be vital—but this approach leaves a lot of avenues unexplored; it can prejudice the search for explanations by deciding in advance which set of facts will lead to the territory in which a common cause resides.

I was taken, for instance, with Paulides's belief that the colour red may carry some significance—specifically that many of the vanished were clad in red. This is interesting as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far. I'd like to see an exhaustive list of the predominant colours worn by all those who went missing—sortable by date of disappearance alongside data on the age, height, weight, sex, sexuality, eye/hair colour, sexuality, occupation and personality type of the victim—with accompanying notes on the colour of the landscape and foliage during the season concerned, and figures showing the distribution of different colours among garments produced by the outdoor clothing industry, plus a discussion of the colouration of the various prey of all predators indigenous to the region.

Supply all that and crowdsource it to see what, if any, patterns emerge. Repeat the process with data for the entire range of seemingly unexplained disappearances to see what, if any, metapatterns emerge.

And this is before we even enter the realms of the subjective and/or apparently trivial: diet, marital status, religion, blood type, physical attractiveness, intelligence, name, hometown, previous addresses, travel history, date on which the researcher became aware of the case, level of interest the researcher has etc.: it's spreadsheet heaven!
 

Tunn11

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Originally it was disappearances in National Parks and Paulides makes much of geographical “clusters” and temporal clustering (I just invented that – there are some clusters of cases over a small time period followed by gaps in certain areas) which may indicate a human predator. The centre of the US does seem to have fewer cases than the West and East coasts, but see below –we don’t have a picture of the total number of disappearances.

As he started all this investigating bigfoot it isn’t surprising that the initial pointers are aimed that way but, I think to his credit if cases didn’t fit the bigfoot scenario he has still included them.

It would be nice to see the total figure of how many go missing in National parks and are quickly found, but it seems that the Parks service don’t keep the figures which , in part is what interested Paulides in the first place. If, for instance the Paulides cases are a high percentage of the total missing then they don’t seem that remarkable and would perhaps indicate that search and rescue needs a re think. If they are a small percentage they may (and only may) indicate something odd.

It would also be nice to see any updates, IIRC one guy turned up much later; he had decided to vanish and start a new life.

I think the majority, if not all, may have “rational” explanations but there remain some very odd cases – the guy pulled through a fence while walking behind his companions comes to mind. If they the work of a human agency (drug dealers, crims, perverts, etc.) They are still worth looking at to see how they are being committed and how the perpetrators are getting away with them; and as a consequence make these areas safer. Similarly if some of this is due to fugue states of mind brought on by being in the wilderness this is worth a look as it may help future searches.

In the end this may turn out to be another “Bermuda triangle” scenario making something out of very little but without a bit more research the jury is still out for me.
 

Sharon Hill

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Originally, readers leaned into the “Bigfoot” theme of answering an unknown with an unknown. These days, thanks to Reddit and TikTok, the Paulides cases have been linked to skinwalkers and wendigos. Take about a slippery slope!
 

Yithian

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Originally, readers leaned into the “Bigfoot” theme of answering an unknown with an unknown. These days, thanks to Reddit and TikTok, the Paulides cases have been linked to skinwalkers and wendigos. Take about a slippery slope!

There's been a lot about portals of late.
 
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