Why No Classes On Cryptozoology?

damando5

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#1
I have always wondered why there is not a class either in high school or college as an extra credit that deals with Cryptozoology . Why does mainstream politics ignore even the existence ?
 

AlchoPwn

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#3
There wouldn't be much facts to teach.
The same could be said of Theology, but that doesn't mean there isn't the history and theories to teach.

In fact there are a few cryptids that have been discovered to be not local legends but real creatures. They include:

Cuviers Beaked Whale. Said to be an owl headed sea beast with a sword for a beak, the beaked whale fits the bill... more or less.
The Dingiso. Originally thought to be a mythical totemic ancestral animal of PNG, it turns out it is a rare marsupial and possum like.
Mountain Gorilla. Tales of man-beasts of Africa were thought to be myths until a German officer shot one in 1910. You're next bigfoot.
The Oarfish. A rare sea serpent that can grow to some prodigious lengths. Not a ship eater, but huge.
Komodo Dragon. The alleged land dragon of Indonesia was finally confirmed when live specimens came to the outside world in the 1920s.
Yangtse Giant Soft Shell Turtle. Extremely rare and tied into a myth about a Vietnamese freedom fighter, and a turtle god from whom he received a magic sword, but no Westerner had seen the rare turtle until the 1880s.
The Okapi. This girraffe relative was believed to be a silly rumor until discovered in the year 1901 (or thereabouts).
The Platypus. A creature so ridiculous in appearance to European eyes, that even when presented with physical evidence, it was passed off as a brilliant piece of hoax taxidemy for decades https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-19th-century-naturalists-didnt-believe-in-the-platypus
 
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Xanatic*

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#6
How many of those beasts were found by cryptozoologists as opposed to plain biologists?
 

Mikefule

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#7
I can imagine the fun to be had in a meeting about which university department funds and runs the course.

Depending on where you draw your lines, the broad subject of cryptozoology includes:
  • Biology, ecology and related sciences
  • An understanding of palaeontology
  • Psychology and sociology, relating to why people believe in sometimes quite extraordinary creatures, and how legends develop and perpetuate
  • History, relating to alleged sightings, actual discoveries, and the different social and religious views which were common at the time of historical reports and may have influenced them.
  • Literature, given that much of the anecdotal evidence is in written sources, and because there are obvious feedback loops between legends and fiction
On the plus side, the field trips would be amazing.
 

EnolaGaia

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#8

EnolaGaia

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#9
An enterprise operating under the name Thomas Francis University offers its own versions of Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. programs. This is a non-accredited educational program associated with a registered religious organization.

Thomas Francis University (TFU) is an educational program of the International Church of Metaphysical Humanism, Inc. (ICMH) a global, online metaphysical ministry based in North Port, Florida, USA. The Church teaches a human-centered spiritual philosophy called Metaphysical Humanism that is designed to build up and empower people by focusing on and reminding them of the indomitable power of their human spirit.
The cryptozoology offerings are described here:

https://www.tfuniversity.org/mod/page/view.php?id=1992

I leave it to you to evaluate the school, the program, and / or the prospective value of a degree obtained from them.
 

kamalktk

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#10
I can imagine the fun to be had in a meeting about which university department funds and runs the course.

Depending on where you draw your lines, the broad subject of cryptozoology includes:
  • Biology, ecology and related sciences
  • An understanding of palaeontology
  • Psychology and sociology, relating to why people believe in sometimes quite extraordinary creatures, and how legends develop and perpetuate
  • History, relating to alleged sightings, actual discoveries, and the different social and religious views which were common at the time of historical reports and may have influenced them.
  • Literature, given that much of the anecdotal evidence is in written sources, and because there are obvious feedback loops between legends and fiction
On the plus side, the field trips would be amazing.
One could make such a course, as there are things like courses examining some popular tv shows for instance. Plenty of normal things to be learned about as you point out.

You correctly point out it basically sets the university up for ridicule though.
 

Coal

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#11
One could make such a course, as there are things like courses examining some popular tv shows for instance. Plenty of normal things to be learned about as you point out.

You correctly point out it basically sets the university up for ridicule though.
If you set about crytpozoology is a scientific manner as @Mikefule say, the course would vaporise from it's own examination of the field. All the students who joined up thinking they were going to be talking cryptids with other believers would discover they're doing actual science and probably leave, because, 'science doesn't have all the answers'. Or summat.
 

AlchoPwn

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#12
How many of those beasts were found by cryptozoologists as opposed to plain biologists?
Many were found by people who were neither, i.e. army officers. As to the difference between a biologist and a cryptozoologist, well, any biologist who is prepared to take the existence of cryptids seriously enough to pursue them is a cryptozoologist by default, as there are no courses in cryptozoology. As it stands, I believe the komodo dragon specimen that made it to New York in the 1920s was effectively captured by an amateur enthusiast for the purposes of display and profit and the pair of dragons he caught ultimately made it to the NYC zoo.
 

Ermintruder

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#13
I think I've been corrected prevously in my error of logic here (by virtue of there being co-systemised factors and controls upon the emigration of terrestrial microbes via eg human satellites & space-probes) but I still feel that the purported discipline of astrobiology (nee exobiology) has got some serious gaps in its prospectus.

I mean as any form of seperately-supported discipline outwith biology or cosmology. To me, it's like having a massive part of theoretical physics but not even the chance (sadly) of a dataset.

It's possible under some panspermia theories that *we* are aliens on this planet (I mean all of life).

Don't get me wrong- I consider it a fascinating area of study. I'd strongly-question, though, whether it should really have faculty establishment or professorial chairs etc.
 

AlchoPwn

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#14
I think I've been corrected prevously in my error of logic here (by virtue of there being co-systemised factors and controls upon the emigration of terrestrial microbes via eg human satellites & space-probes) but I still feel that the purported discipline of astrobiology (nee exobiology) has got some serious gaps in its prospectus.
There is a lot of frozen poo in space these days. Not exactly panspermia, that comes from discarded alien space condoms.

I mean as any form of seperately-supported discipline outwith biology or cosmology. To me, it's like having a massive part of theoretical physics but not even the chance (sadly) of a dataset.
There are plenty of extremophile microbes that are good candidates for being extraterrestrial.

The goal of exobiology is to increase knowledge of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe. This is a multidisciplinary science, and the conceptual and experimental tools of virtually all scientific disciplines and branches of learning are relevant. In seeking answers to such questions as how the development of the solar system and its planets led to the origin of life on Earth, how planetary evolution subsequently influenced the course of biological evolution, and where else life may be found in the solar system and beyond, exobiology brings together life scientists and physical scientists in a common interest. There is plenty of groundwork to do before we get to space.
 

EnolaGaia

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#15
The nomenclature has shifted over the last half-century. The current terminological layout goes as follows ...

Astrobiology focuses on 'life' (overall; in general) as a natural phenomenon in the universe, including here on earth. In other words, it's more or less theoretical biology with a cosmic outlook. In this usage, astrobiology encompasses 'life' of all conceivable types (e.g., carbon-based; silicon-based; etc.) known (here on earth) or possible (elsewhere).

Exobiology is no longer used to connote universal-scoped theoretical biology. It is now used to denote that portion of astrobiology addressing life elsewhere than earth. Exobiology's scope is therefore qualified with respect to location.

To round out the set ... The old science fiction term xenobiology originally arose as a synonym for the current scientific usage of exobiology - i.e., the study of life elsewhere (extraterrestrial life). To the extent it's used nowadays within science, xenobiology has been redefined as addressing 'life' of different basic type (e.g., silicon-based) rather than different (extraterrestrial) location. Like exobiology (in the current sense), xenobiology is a subset or specialized area within astrobiology.

All these fields are pursued with respect to scientific principles, knowledge, and theorization. Even though they are highly speculative, they are based on scientific biology and subject to scientific methods and practices.

Cryptozoology, on the other hand, is concerned with the demonstrable existence of particular purported terrestrial animals known solely on the basis of anecdotal observations and / or someone's interpretation of physical evidence. In effect, cryptozoology's scope is limited to questions regarding possible additions to the taxonomic tree of known terrestrial life.
 

Frideswide

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#16
A small thing but... when I was lecturing and had a tutor group, I used to use forteana as a basis for critical thinking skills.

So we'd take a topic, I'd give 5 minutes of salient points including lots of key words. They'd get a week to come back with /everything/ they could find.

And then develop different PoV on it, establish theories and challenge them.....
 

Mikefule

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#18
If you set about crytpozoology is a scientific manner as @Mikefule say, the course would vaporise from it's own examination of the field. All the students who joined up thinking they were going to be talking cryptids with other believers would discover they're doing actual science and probably leave, because, 'science doesn't have all the answers'. Or summat.
This is possible in some cases. There will always be students who choose a course based on their casual interests and hobbies who give up when they find it is not what they expected.

However, my point was that cryptozoology could be an interesting and diverse subject for a degree course, although one of the problems would be that it is so multidisciplinary, encompassing sciences, the arts and humanities. There is plenty of scope for genuine and respectable academic study.

Sciences and maths: analysis of energy budgets, food supply ecosystems, minimum sizes of viable populations. If there were to be an unknown species in Loch Ness, what would be its minimum requirements in terms of breeding population, volume of water, or mass of prey species? Which cryptids are "plausible" from these points of view, and which are not?

Psychology: What is it that inspires some individuals to believe strongly in the existence of certain cryptids in the absence of evidence? What inspires other individuals to believe in certain cryptids despite the clear evidence to the contrary? What inspires some individuals to believe in the Yeti but not Bigfoot, or vice versa? How does susceptibility to these beliefs tie in with phenomena such as conspiracy theory? Are the believers in "fairly plausible apemen" psychologically different from believers in cryptid megafauna, or from those who believe in the weirder theories about cryptids from alternative dimensions?

Sociology: Is belief in cryptids associated with certain age groups, one gender or another, different socioeconomic backgrounds, or cultural backgrounds? Do people from different backgrounds tend to believe in different kinds of cryptids? Does the nature or prevalence of belief in cryptids change in accordance with political or economic events. (Comparison here with widespread belief in alien origin UFOs at a time when many people felt the world needed saving from imminent nuclear war.)

Social history: How have beliefs about cryptids changed throughout history? For example, in mediaeval Europe, were all cryptids described through the paradigm of Christian belief? How did our attitude to cryptids change as society became more secular and an understanding of science became more widespread?

History: Studies of actual historical reports, and an understanding of historical context that may help us to interpret those reports. In an age where dragons were a common motif, were sea serpents described in terms that made them more dragon-like? Now that most people have some idea about dinosaurs, are descriptions of cryptids more likely to be influenced by perceived similarities to known dinosaurs? The Loch Ness Monster is a fine example. It went from being a "water beast" in the time of St Columba to being "probably a plesiosaur" when dinosaurs became well known, to being "perhaps an eel" when people started to understand the basic ideas of ecology. Have witness descriptions of the LNM changed accordingly?

Literature: Many reports are in printed sources. These need to be compared and analysed, and placed in context, using the sort of skills that might be possessed by a student of literature or the classics.

Mythology: There are obvious feedback loops between "natural myths" and "contrived fiction". Fiction adapts myth for its own purposes, and myth absorbs tropes from fiction. The most alarming case is perhaps the way that Slender Man (of known fictional origin) became such a powerful myth that it led to the 2014 stabbing incident.
 

Coal

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#19
This is possible in some cases. There will always be students who choose a course based on their casual interests and hobbies who give up when they find it is not what they expected.

However, my point was that cryptozoology could be an interesting and diverse subject for a degree course, although one of the problems would be that it is so multidisciplinary, encompassing sciences, the arts and humanities. There is plenty of scope for genuine and respectable academic study.

Sciences and maths: analysis of energy budgets, food supply ecosystems, minimum sizes of viable populations. If there were to be an unknown species in Loch Ness, what would be its minimum requirements in terms of breeding population, volume of water, or mass of prey species? Which cryptids are "plausible" from these points of view, and which are not?

Psychology: What is it that inspires some individuals to believe strongly in the existence of certain cryptids in the absence of evidence? What inspires other individuals to believe in certain cryptids despite the clear evidence to the contrary? What inspires some individuals to believe in the Yeti but not Bigfoot, or vice versa? How does susceptibility to these beliefs tie in with phenomena such as conspiracy theory? Are the believers in "fairly plausible apemen" psychologically different from believers in cryptid megafauna, or from those who believe in the weirder theories about cryptids from alternative dimensions?

Sociology: Is belief in cryptids associated with certain age groups, one gender or another, different socioeconomic backgrounds, or cultural backgrounds? Do people from different backgrounds tend to believe in different kinds of cryptids? Does the nature or prevalence of belief in cryptids change in accordance with political or economic events. (Comparison here with widespread belief in alien origin UFOs at a time when many people felt the world needed saving from imminent nuclear war.)

Social history: How have beliefs about cryptids changed throughout history? For example, in mediaeval Europe, were all cryptids described through the paradigm of Christian belief? How did our attitude to cryptids change as society became more secular and an understanding of science became more widespread?

History: Studies of actual historical reports, and an understanding of historical context that may help us to interpret those reports. In an age where dragons were a common motif, were sea serpents described in terms that made them more dragon-like? Now that most people have some idea about dinosaurs, are descriptions of cryptids more likely to be influenced by perceived similarities to known dinosaurs? The Loch Ness Monster is a fine example. It went from being a "water beast" in the time of St Columba to being "probably a plesiosaur" when dinosaurs became well known, to being "perhaps an eel" when people started to understand the basic ideas of ecology. Have witness descriptions of the LNM changed accordingly?

Literature: Many reports are in printed sources. These need to be compared and analysed, and placed in context, using the sort of skills that might be possessed by a student of literature or the classics.

Mythology: There are obvious feedback loops between "natural myths" and "contrived fiction". Fiction adapts myth for its own purposes, and myth absorbs tropes from fiction. The most alarming case is perhaps the way that Slender Man (of known fictional origin) became such a powerful myth that it led to the 2014 stabbing incident.
You could add in 'Critical thinking' as well.

I didn't mean to suggest that I disagreed with your post or points, in fact I agree - a course arranged on such lines would be quite fascinating. I meant to suggest that it would attract those for whom cryptozoology is a belief system, so once such beliefs were exposed to the scientific method and critical thinking, the class would simply disband.

A more apt title for such a course might be "The science of the phenomenon of cryptozoology".
 

EnolaGaia

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#20
I meant have any of the self-styled cryptozoologists actually found new species? Just a simple beetle for example.
A side comment ...

Some folks would construe tangible / demonstrable discovery of a new species an exercise in cryptozoology.

I don't.

Speaking only for myself ... I draw the line between zoology and cryptozoology with respect to allegations versus demonstrations of existence. If it's 'real' and you're the first to happen upon it, it's zoological. If it's alleged but its 'reality' is still questionable, it's cryptozoological. Once the previously cryptozoological is demonstrated to be 'real', it's not 'crypto-' any more.
 

James_H

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#21
Bear in mind the distinction between 'biology' and 'zoology'. 'Astrobiology' is a reasonable theoretical exercise, 'astrozoology' is not (certainly not yet, anyway).
 

Comfortably Numb

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#22
Absorbing discussion, with many a post to ponder.

Originally: 'I have always wondered why there is not a class either in high school or college as an extra credit that deals with Cryptozoology'.

Is it too simplistic to respond, that the answer is Cryptozoology has to evidence academic credibility?
 
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