A Conversation with Eric Altman | Local Vocal | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Conversation with Eric Altman

Eric Altman, 33, is the founder and president of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society, which investigates claimed sightings of Bigfoot (or "Sasquatch," as the disputed creature also is known). In the past year, the group went on about 30 local expeditions...

Are you trying to figure out whether Bigfoot exists, or do you believe it already and you're trying to prove it?

I'm about 95 percent believing they exist. I need to see one of these things to know for sure in my heart that they're real. But I've talked to enough witnesses, I've seen footprints in the snow and the mud out in the field doing research. I know there's something out there.


When people dispute these sightings, don't they usually say it's a bear or something?

Some of the critics -- or the "naysayers" as I like to call them, the close-minded people -- say, "You saw a bear." "It was someone in a gorilla suit." Or "It was a hermit living in the woods." Some say the person who saw it was obviously doing drugs or alcohol or has a mental problem where they made something up or had a hallucination.


And you obviously don't think that's a fair characterization.

A lot of people I've spoken to and some people who've joined our group, I know for a fact aren't alcoholics or do drugs or have hallucinations. They're normal, everyday people.


Still, most people just don't buy it.

Right, and it's quite understandable, especially with the scientists these days. The mindset is these creatures don't exist until you prove they exist, until you can come forward with a body or a part of a body so they can study it. My thinking is if you can put someone in jail for circumstantial evidence, why can't you prove something exists with this kind of evidence, like this cast of a footprint here?


Why do you think this cast is authentic?

Usually you can tell if a foot is fake because it's got a boxy shape to it. Here you've got a ball of the foot and an angle to the toes, so if this is a fake they obviously knew their anatomy. Usually a fake footprint is just a square -- they don't put the time or the effort into it.


So what size would Sasquatch's foot be?

About a 16 or 17.


So in theory Bigfoot could get a pair of loafers if he really needed them?

Probably. Look at Shaquille O'Neal. He wears a size 21.


Has anyone claimed to have collected Bigfoot droppings?

There's a group in Ohio that in '95 or '96 did collect some droppings. They were rather large droppings.


How large?

I believe they were about a foot and a half long. That might explain why you hear some of those strange noises in the woods at night! They collected them and sent them off for testing to tell exactly what kind of animal it came from. And they sent if off and it came back with no matching animal. Naysayers said it doesn't mean anything -- just because it doesn't match something known doesn't mean it's a real Bigfoot.


You've got a Jesus painting here in your living room -- do you see belief in Bigfoot as a matter of faith at some level?

That's a debate a lot of researchers have. If you believe in God, and no one's ever seen God, then how can you say you can't believe in Bigfoot if you've never seen a Bigfoot? Scientists have not seen a Bigfoot to say he definitely exists, but people in this day and age haven't seen Jesus Christ to say he exists, and there are thousands and thousands of people in Pennsylvania who know Jesus existed and God exists. My wife and I are both Christians.


Bigfoot didn't do these extraordinary things -- didn't raise people from the dead, didn't walk on water -- but he does do things that are not normal. He's quicker than humans -- he's been seen and estimated to run at 40 or 50 miles an hour, keeping up with cars. His agility is incredible -- he has a really great ability from what I've read to disappear like that.


What's the most important thing you try to impress upon Bigfoot skeptics?
Before you make a judgment on something, listen to all the facts. Look at the evidence as presented. Go out and talk to people who have had an encounter and listen to the sincerity in their voice.

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