This week the University of Maine’s Club for the Investigation into Non-Mainstream Beliefs, formerly known as the UMaine Paranormal Investigation Club, spoke with professional bigfoot hunter Eric Altman.
Altman is a consultant and advisor on Bigfoot groups like Paranexus, the Paranormal Society of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Bigfoot Project. Altman also works for the UFO Research Center of Pennsylvania.
Many might know Altman for his work on the popular Animal Planet program Finding Bigfoot. Altman has assisted in Pennsylvania hunts for the cryptid with the show’s Cliff Barackman.
Altman attributes his interest in Bigfoot to movies he saw in his youth, beginning his official Bigfoot hunting in 1997.
“I’ve been interested in this since 1980,” Altman said. ”I really enjoyed films like the ‘Legend of Boggy Creek’ and ‘Creature from Black Lake.’”
While Altman is a firm believer in what he calls the “global phenomenon” that is Bigfoot, he is skeptical of much of the evidence out there. “Most of the evidence is anecdotal” he says, adding that he thinks “at least 90 percent of audio or video evidence” is likely faked.
Altman said that most of the evidence comes from eyewitness reports and footprints.
“While eyewitness reports are a global phenomenon, footprints don’t really prove anything other than that there is something out there leaving footprints,” Altman said.
Despite Altman’s skepticism of the evidence, he holds his beliefs steadfast after 20 years of research and thinks there has to be something to this global phenomenon.
Club member Connor Huck said that these lectures offer great insight and a platform for ideas that aren’t often spoken about.
“[The club] provides a chance to explore ideas that are outside of the mainstream,” Huck said. “I would not have the chance to talk [about] them otherwise.”
Altman’s skepticism gets at the heart of the Investigation into Non-Mainstream Beliefs Club’s mission. Club President Cory Lemay said that not every member is on board with every non-mainstream belief, but remains open-minded.
“We try to take an open minded but critical look at issues that many people often discard,” Lemay said. “I’ve never walked away from one of our discussions thinking that the speaker is crazy or irrational. All of the people we’ve talked to have had reasons for believing the things they do, even though those reasons might not be empirically accurate.”