By Vic Tanner
Irrational beliefs are much more common than many people think and they can be a major handicap. They can lead to dysfunctional behavior and keep us from living satisfying and fulfilling lives. But, of course, they can also be fun. I'm a big fan of them. Not of believing in them, of course, but I love hearing about them. Bigfoot sightings and UFOs were both a huge part of my childhood. I really thought that "In Search Of" was the greatest show ever on television. For the life of me, I could not figure out how such a fantastic show ever got canceled. Of course, it did take me well into adulthood to figure out that people were actually taking this stuff seriously, but that was my own naivety, I guess.
Speaking of Bigfoot, here's a great story: Crystal and I were watching Monster Quest on the History Channel (yeah, I know! History Channel, why hath thou forsaken me?) and she told me about a neighbor of hers back in Wisconsin that sold real estate. He got the bright idea that if there was a Bigfoot sighting in the area, it might help to sell some houses. So he talked his son, who was 6'x5", into putting on a Bigfoot costume and walking across some roads. Hold on, it gets better. Within minutes of hearing this story, Monster Quest had a "Bigfoot Hunter" on the program. They flashed his name and location on the bottom of the screen, and Crystal blurted out, "Hey, that's were mom and dad live!" They play a little more and she says, "Oh my god, that was our neighbor! I'm glad he didn't get shot!"
The worst thing about Monster Quest, besides the fact that it's played on the History Channel, is that whenever I watch it I learn just how many people really take this stuff seriously. And, quite frankly, that takes the fun out of it. Instead of being able to laugh at a guy walking around in what must be a very hot costume, I start thinking about the Johnsons down the street scanning the horizon with a pair of binoculars, desperately waiting for Mr. Fuzzy Wuzzy to show up. I wish Bigfoot existed. I really do. After all, it would be one more hominid anthropologists could study. But, unfortunately, there just isn't any evidence for Bigfoot. Not one single solitary scrap of anything. Not a hair, not a pelt, not even Bigfoot urine sprayed on a tree. Yet the belief continues. Of course, I could be wrong. The Bigfoots might be hiding themselves by bending their auras so as to deflect the light around them. Or, perhaps the Bigfoots have contacted space aliens that have been hiding in Atlantis with their psychic abilities, and the aliens have given them safe haven in some off world refuge. Is the world ready to know?
My stance in the quasi-fun goofy monster myths is essentially the same as my stance on religion. I'm not really opposed to it, just to the belief in it. I understand the sense of community and the aspects of the psycho-drama; the acting out of the stories; the call and response of certain prayers. I'm sure it can all be very edifying. But anyone that strives to be intellectually honest has to know that it's all make-believe. I really do think that if people could go to church and dance around and speak in tongues and then, at the end of the service, brush themselves off, go home, and forget about it, the world would be a better place. People wouldn't be so dogmatic of their belief systems if they didn't think they were infallible. The happiest people seem to be ones that can distance themselves from their beliefs and look at them objectively.
After all, as we are all aware, there isn't any actual evidence of any religious claims. Not one single strand of God's hair has ever been found. Nor any God urine sprayed on a tree.