The Conspiracy within Our Own Minds
Do you believe there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll? Do you believe an extraterrestrial craft crashed outside Roswell? Do you believe Lewis and Clark discovered Sasquatch, that Jefferson covered it up, and that the government has been covertly hunting the species into extinction ever since?
Oh, you don't believe in conspiracies you say, and especially not that Sasquatch one which sounds like the plot from a dime-store novel. Well, I can't speak for the first two, but you're right on the latter. It is the plot from a novel—mine, one that I began writing nine years ago. My initial premise for Cryptid: The Lost Legacy of Lewis & Clark was of a thriller about a real creature that ravages the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest. As any good thriller writer knows, fact is always scarier than fantasy, especially when it comes to monsters. However, having lived in the Pacific Northwest for much of my life and having spent many hours deep in its dark woods, I admit I hadn't encountered many real monsters to caste as the monster in my book. In fact, I had no candidates at all.
And then I recalled the few stories of Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, that I'd heard told around campfires. A ten-foot tall hairy ape that smelled of rotting flesh and that disappeared into the deep shadows of the forest fit the role of my monster very nicely. Now if only Sasquatch were real, I thought.
Of course, I was writing fiction. I could certainly make the thing real, after all I did have a degree in biology. And so that's what I set out to do, assuming all along that I was working with nothing more than a myth.
So off to the library I went to bone up on Sasquatch. I expected to find an innocent and shallow legend that was founded on nothing more than a handful of anecdotes dating back to the Willow Creek events of the 1950's. In other words, I expected to find nothing of substance, merely a social phenomenon that could easily be explained away as the cultural ghost of a few ill-mannered hoaxers and backwater storytellers. Instead, I found just the opposite. There was indeed meat on the bones here, perhaps even the beating heart of a biologically authentic species. I was not only amazed at the volume of material on the subject, but also the quality of professionals involved and that real science was being employed. More importantly, though, while slogging through thousands of eyewitness accounts, thousands of footprint analyses, dozens of film footages, and three centuries of Native American lore, I realized I had discovered something else far more intriguing than the very real possibility of a bipedal, indigenous North American great ape. I discovered a conspiracy.
And this conspiracy was as ancient as the human species and far more sinister than any shadowy government or corporate cover-up. What's worse, this conspiracy had been safely hiding all along within my own mind... and yours, everyone's.
What, you doubt me?
Yeah, well that dark shadow in your mind is a master at convincing us to deny the truth. But that's how we can identify it, root it out and destroy it forever.
Don't you recall how difficult it was for us to accept that the world was flat and that it revolved around the sun? You see this conspiracy within our minds is intrinsic to the human brain. From birth, our minds take an empty slate and literally begin to construct the universe around ourselves, slowly expanding outward based on our subjective view and irregardless of the shape and dimensions of the true universe. As we age our universe hardens like cement, such that nothing except the painful swing of a wrecking ball can alter it.
For me, Sasquatch is a classic study of this phenomenon—the biological equivalent of Copernicus's theories. To this day I don't know whether Sasquatch exists, but I do know that there is far more evidence that suggests it does than that it doesn't. I also know that most people believe contrary to the evidence. Whether we are creationists or neo-Darwinian evolutionists, we still hold ourselves to be unique on this planet, much like we believed of the earth with respect to the universe before Copernicus came along. However, the possibility that another intelligent, bipedal hominid shares this planet with us greatly threatens that uniqueness. So in order to avoid the wrecking ball, we reflexively reject this possible truth, vainly claiming that hoaxers are behind it all, or the government, or even the media. Anything and everything that is far more unbelievable than the potential truth. We'll reject and deny all evidence until that wrecking ball crashes through the wall of our universe and we see a pair of intelligent, soulful eyes staring back at us beneath an apish brow.
And then we'll say to ourselves, all right, I guess there might be something to this Sasquatch thing after all. But there is no way there was a second shooter, and certainly nothing crashed in the desert outside Roswell. Just as there's no such thing as global warming or smoking-induced cancer.