There’s a very active subculture on social media that attracts people who believe in any number of offbeat subjects ranging from the paranormal and cryptozoology to those who insist that the Earth is flat. One cryptid, in particular, has a huge, loyal following and a recent survey appears to back up this phenomenon with solid numbers. Market research firm CivicScience completed a poll of more than 3,400 Americans to test their belief in a variety of “conspiracy theories” ranging from subjects such as extraterrestrials to whether or not the moon landing in 1969 was faked. One of the most surprising statistics, at least to me, was the fact that more than one in ten Americans believe that Bigfoot (or Sasquatch) is a real, living animal that roams the woods. He’s also apparently the all-time world champion of social distancing. (Paul Seaburn for Mysterious Universe)
It’s often said that every state in the U.S. has had at least one Bigfoot sighting and every state has at least one Bigfoot organization. Bigfoot television series dominate reality shows of the cryptid kind, so it should come as no surprise that a new survey found 1 in 10 Americans profess a belief in the big hairy one. However, when compared to belief in extraterrestrials, Bigfoot is a distant third behind aliens and aliens (we’ll explain). Does Sasquatch need better public relations, a better name … or some better conspiracy theories?
“More than 1 in 10 American adults believes that Bigfoot is a real, living creature. Men and women are roughly equally likely to believe in Sasquatch. And whereas belief in alien theories peaked among Gen X, there was a strong cohort of Gen Z that expressed belief in Bigfoot. Millennials and Baby Boomers were slightly more skeptical.”
Belief in bigfoot wasn’t the most popular theory by a long shot. Nearly 30% believe that not only is there other, intelligent extraterrestrial life in the galaxy, but that it’s been visiting us here on Earth. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) are certain that the United States government is in possession of definitive proof that the aliens are here but is hiding it from the public.
The rest of the topics didn’t attract nearly as much support, but even some of the subjects that didn’t make it out of single digits may strike you as alarming. Nine percent believe that the government is using chemtrails to control the population. Eight percent are convinced that the Illuminati are real and they control most human events around the world. The same number (eight percent) think the Loch Ness Monster is a real, living creature and, yes… four percent still think the moon landing was a hoax.
The thing I like about this CivicScience survey is that they really go deep in the crosstabs to not just discover how many people believe in these things, but which specific groups are the most likely. Belief in Bigfoot was fairly even by gender and there wasn’t much variation by age group. (Gen Z and Gen X were the most likely to believe, but the difference was only a couple of percent.) One of the big variations was among people living in different regions. People living in the mountain west and the Pacific Northwest were significantly more likely to find Sasquatch plausible than people in the northeast. That makes sense since the vast majority of sightings are reported out west.
Another curious demographic factor was where people tend to get their news. Regular viewers of Fox News were roughly five times more likely (39%) to believe in Bigfoot than viewers of CNN (6%) or MSNBC (8%). I find that kind of odd, since I watch Fox News fairly regularly and you hardly ever see a Sasquatch story on there.
Of course, the big word to keep in mind here is “believe.” Much the same as with extraterrestrials, this will always come down to a question of belief unless and until some indisputable physical proof is brought forward. Just for the record, I can tell you that Bigfoot is real, or at least it was back in 1974. But just hearing that from me or even hundreds of other people doesn’t make it real for you. That is unless you wind up seeing one yourself. Then you’ll turn into “that person” that everyone is calling a nutcase.
But that’s the funny thing about belief, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about religion or the Loch Ness Monster. I still recall a clip I once saw of a philosophy professor addressing a group of students sitting around a table. He asked one of the students if they “believed” in the chair they were sitting in. The young man looked puzzled and thought about it for a moment before saying that the chair had all the physical properties he would normally expect and seemed to function adequately, so yes. He “believed” in the chair. The professor responded by saying, “If you stopped believing in the chair right now would you fall to the floor?”
And that’s really the point of all of this. The chair exists whether you believe in it or not. So maybe Bigfoot exists. But don’t worry if you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot because… Bigfoot believes in you. Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend.