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She’ll Be Back | What It Means If Patty Is a Hoax

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

It’s grainy. It’s blurry. It’s out-of-focus. And it might just be the best evidence we have. That’s right, we’re talking about the Patterson-Gimlin Film. Lasting less than a minute, this low-resolution mess of a video has convinced many that forest giants roam the earth. There have been too many arguments for and against its authenticity to list here, and I’m sure you can find someone who’s digging into that already. Instead, I’m going to try something new. Something I’ve never seen done before. I’m going to imagine what it would mean for the Patterson-Gimlin Film to be a hoax.

Before we go any further, we need to establish the fundamentals. How does natural philosophy, including the scientific method, really work? If we don’t answer this question, we aren’t getting anywhere. It starts with us making observations. What we perceive, we call phenomena. The reality that exists behind phenomena is ontology. Natural philosophy is the process of creating and testing explanations of phenomena to better understand their ontology. That means that every notable phenomenon requires an explanation. It also means that we need to consider the logical ramifications of any explanation we propose in order to have a consistent worldview. With me so far?

We perceive the Patterson-Gimlin Film, and it begs an explanation. How did it come to be? The answer most cryptozoologists will give you, and the answer I believe is correct, is that the creature captured on the film, affectionately referred to as Patty, is a hominid yet unrecognized by mainstream science. This view goes against the scientific consensus, and has some implications on primate evolution and forest ecosystems. But I’m sure you’ve already thought about that everytime the topic of conversation shifted to bigfoot, so today we’re doing something a little different. Let’s look at some other conceivable explanations for the Patterson-Gimlin Film. We’re going to figure out what it means if Patty is a hoax.

Man In A Suit

Skeptics have long proposed that Patty may actually be nothing more than a man in a monkey-suit. (Everyone says monkey, even though the appropriate term is ape. That’s life, I guess.) There are a few setbacks to this theory, but it’s not strictly impossible. As any bigfoot researcher worth his salt will tell you, the proportions of whatever Patterson recorded that day don’t match up with a human being. Its arms are too long, its legs are too short, and its head is too slanted. There’s just no way to fit an ordinary human being into such a suit. And for anyone that’s listened to ThinkerThunker before, this will sound trite, but it has to be mentioned; what about arm extensions?

Long story short, it is possible to add a stick or something similar to the end of someone’s arm to make it appear longer. The trouble is, the arm can only bend around the original elbow joint, rendering the apparatus as more of a forearm extension, unless you want to consider the horrifying possibility of the hoaxer’s arm being snapped along the ulna and radius, creating an improvised “joint” of sorts. That would be extremely painful, and I’m not convinced someone could walk casually with that kind of injury, using their wound as a joint, especially not without heavy medication. Also, the arm is too short for a normal human’s hand to reach to the elbow joint, only moving the forearm via contraption. We just don’t know of a way to hoax this aspect of a costume. That’s why Hollywood sasquatch creatures must have human arm lengths, unless they’re made with digital (ie CGI) or practical (ex puppet, claymation) effects.

Add in the fact that its torso is too long and its legs are too short? I suppose an entity could genetically engineer a person like that, hypothetically, if this person or organization had the sufficient knowledge of the human genome and the facilities to carry out the procedure. Or you could perform some kind of invasive treatment on an infant, perhaps by utilizing hormones strategically along with a calculated restriction of the growth plates. Or perhaps someone’s thigh was cut short, a prosthetic joint and lower leg then attached, and the torso mutilated from being stretched on the rack, in some sort of ungodly human centipede-style blasphemy against bodily integrity. Or maybe someone was just born the goofiest person to ever walk the Earth. Regardless of whether any of these are legitimate possibilities, one thing is abundantly clear; if this is a man in a suit, this is a human being unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Now, on to the height. I’m not an expert at photoanalysis, but I saw one on TV once. Anyway, actual experts have given conflicting opinions on the subject. Some say this is a being of ordinary human height, which is what Patterson and Gimlin both estimated in their initial report. (There are certainly reports of sasquatch of this size, possibly juveniles.) Other experts have concluded this figure was considerably taller than a typical human, with the most extreme estimates north of 10 feet tall. The arguments for this latter position seem more credible than the former to my layman’s perspective, but I couldn’t really say for sure. However, I will note that if the figure was 6-feet tall in that posture, it would be even taller when standing fully upright. (Note that the knees are considerably bent, and the body is slumped forward a little, lowering the total height substantially.) That means, even if the conservative estimates are correct, we’re dealing with something pretty tall for a human, if not in the range of mild gigantism. And if the less conservative estimates are true, I’m not sure that even extreme gigantism would be enough to explain it.

That’s not the end of the anatomical anomalies. It is also clear that the figure in the film has a functional midtarsal break, a joint many primates possess in the middle of the foot. Only a small percentage of humans have this vestigial trait (although it’s not clear to me if these individuals possess enough flexibility to produce a basal hominid gait or if it’s only a slight degree of flexion). Furthermore, the head isn’t the correct size and shape for a human being. It’s too short in the forehead, and too high on the vertex. It’s the shape you would expect of a creature with a pronounced sagittal crest. Given that ordinary human heads do not fit neatly inside such a head shape, (which is why gorilla costumes have heads that are oversized or human-shaped) the most reasonable conclusion is that this figure had a head with an inhuman shape.

In humans, the most likely causes seem to be either scaphocephaly or artificial cranial deformation, at least from my limited understanding of human skeletal pathology. Even still, the head is larger than would be expected, so potentially unrelated macrocephaly must be inferred. (As artificial cranial deformation, often called head binding, alters the shape of the skull but not the size.) I’ve never seen a head quite like this, but it is theoretically possible if a naturally big-brained baby underwent head binding. However, given that the practice was rare in Europe in the early 20th Century, and unknown among the general US population, one has to wonder what such a person would be doing in 1960’s California.

We also have the fact that this individual is moving very fast at a walking gait, through rough, tough, and uneven terrain, all the while looking backward at the camera. That’s pretty darn impressive, to say the least. Add in the fact that this was in what would have had to be a bulky and cumbersome suit? That’s even better. Consider the possibility that this individual may have been walking faster than a man could run? That’s unreal.

Then there’s the issue of the fur. Whatever material it is, it allows light to shine through in such a way that the flesh underneath can be seen rippling. Oh right, and the flesh is a material capable of rippling, much like genuine muscle under fat and skin. I have never seen a costume made with comparable materials. So far as I know, neither has Hollywood, even some 60 years later. CIA cosmetics techniques, used for some of the most important intelligence operations worldwide, don’t even come close to mimicking that level of detail. That would put the production quality of this suit beyond anything the public has ever heard tell of, even to this day. That would make whoever designed the suit the greatest practical effects artist in the world, bar none. By an immense margin, too. No one else comes close.

As if that weren’t impressive enough, we have the fact that this hoax has remained a secret all this time. Sure, many have claimed to be responsible for this hoax, but none of them produced such a wonderful suit or exotic actor as to be capable of filming it, nor have any even described how it is they came into such rare finds. Actors and costumes of such a legendary quality don’t grow on trees, after all. If it was a small team, as few as one or two people, then I’m surprised they were able to funnel so much in the way of resources to this project. If it was a larger team, then I’m surprised they were able to keep everyone on the same page about the hoax. (You know the saying, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” But surely the hoaxers wouldn’t have killed their own to keep them quiet, right? Hopefully?) Either way, this would have to be the greatest hoax the world has ever known…assuming it was really just a hoax, of course.

I’m not going to say there isn’t an olympic-level cross-country speedwalker with freakishly inhuman body proportions, a fully-functional vestigial midtarsal break, macrocephaly, severe cranial deformation, and possibly gigantism working with the best costume designer in the world, whose innovations were at least half a century ahead of even the most dedicated publicly recognized organizations, passing up immense fame and fortune by keeping this whole affair totally secret for all these years, just for the purpose of pranking the world with a low-quality home video about a mythical creature. What I will say is that if, by some miracle, they do exist, I would really love to meet them.

Animatronics & Puppeteering

What if it were a puppet or animatronic? Well, gee, it would have to be awful advanced. I’ve seen plenty of animatronics in my day, and I’ve seen even more online. What’s most striking about animatronics, as anyone with automatonophobia or submechanophobia can attest, is how eerily artificial they are. They’re firmly in the uncanny valley, more lifelike than a mere statue, but far from the genuine article. How then could one be so lifelike as to be mistaken for a man in a suit?

Instead, perhaps it was a puppet proper. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some truly impressive puppet shows out there, and many talented people have worked very hard to make the movements fluid and lifelike. But not this lifelike. And they aren’t that good at hiding the strings, either. I mean, a puppet of that size typically uses cables, and cables tend to show up on film. Add in the fact that this figure traverses a long distance in a long shot on a long take? No offense to the puppeteers of the world; I appreciate what it is you do, but if someone was able to make a puppet show that looked this good, on a continuous shot no less, back in the ‘60s, he’s making you all look downright incompetent.

Midget Mech

Okay, so maybe a standalone puppet wouldn’t be feasible, but what about if it were manned? Now, we’ve already discussed that a normal person wouldn’t fit inside Patty’s dimensions, but what about a little person? A person with dwarfism, a juvenile, or even a Pygmy tribesman could certainly fit into the chest cavity of a Patty-shaped vehicle, and could then pilot it from inside. Maybe even a normal person, if somewhat on the smaller side, although it would certainly be cramped. This would be extraordinarily complex and expensive, and I’m not sure the technology for a bipedal walking machine was even available in the ‘60s. In addition, everything about the fur and jiggly tissue still holds. This would be nothing short of a marvel. If true, that would mean there is an organization dedicated to manufacturing bipedal, walking vehicles for a tiny rider, complete with beyond Hollywood or CIA grade cosmetics, all for the purpose of convincing people that mythical creatures live in the woods of North America. That would be, like, the coolest thing ever.

I want to believe in midget mechs. I really do. But I just can’t accept the existence of such a thing without proof. If you ever see a midget mech, please try and obtain photo or video evidence. I would love to see it. Until then, I’m just not convinced that they exist.

Robotic Automaton

That’s a bust, so how about an unmanned vehicle? Remote control technology started to take off around World War II, so it would conceivably be available in the ‘60s. But a bipedal walking machine? That would probably require more than simple RC controls. Software would need to stabilize the robot over dynamic terrain, such as the rugged bank of a dry creek-bed in the autumn forests of northern California, as a random, nonspecific example. We certainly have that technology. We have robots that can walk over uneven terrain. We even have robots that can do parkour. The trouble? Those have only been made possible very recently.

So, how would a hoaxer have access to such technology some 40 or 50 years before it was supposedly invented? Perhaps it’s all a conspiracy, and this technology has really been around for some time before the powers that be finally decided to make it public. Maybe there is a secret organization more advanced than the rest of the world, who have remained hidden as part of their hidden agenda, and the hoaxing of sasquatch is but one piece of their insidious master plan. Or maybe it was aliens.

Perhaps time travel could be involved? That’s currently believed to be physically impossible, but I don’t recall that fact ever stopping Skynet. John Conner better look out, because terminators aren’t just disguising themselves as human beings; they also take the form of innocuous, 10-foot tall forest giants. If you thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was scary, imagine a robot double his size coming after the sole hope for mankind’s salvation. Now, maybe some of you at home are saying, “Revenitor, don’t go jumping to conclusions. This could just as easily be a hominid primate, like those already attested to in the fossil record. Scientists have already conceded the existence of some very bigfoot-like creatures, such as Dryopithecus, Gigantopithecus, Paranthropus, and arguably even Homo neanderthalensis, which existed very recently from an evolutionary perspective. Perhaps one such species, or its descendants, simply hasn’t gone extinct yet.” Yeah, well that’s exactly what Skynet wants you to think.

Advanced Effects

Well, if it’s not a guy in a suit, a puppet, or a robot, maybe it wasn’t there at all? Well, it seems like the first movie to make use of CGI was in 1973, half a decade after the PGF, so this cheap, grainy home video would have to be well ahead of its time. Add in the fact that our current special effects tend to be pretty easy for an expert to spot, and this would be a masterful display of technical achievement. I’m just glad they aren’t using this skill to frame people for crimes they didn’t commit.

I mean, if they can make a sasquatch appear genuine on video, they could make it appear that any celebrity, world leader, or billionaire was committing a crime on camera, and this person would have no chance of defending himself in court. Video evidence is considered the gold standard, after all. Think of how much money this hoaxer is passing up when he could be blackmailing the rich and famous. Unless of course he is blackmailing them, and this video was some kind of test or demonstration. Maybe this individual or organization hires out its talents for wealthy patrons to discredit their rivals, and some people who have been arrested on video evidence are actually innocent. That’s obviously much more likely than a creature reported consistently by cultures worldwide for thousands of years turning out to be real. Now that would be crazy.

Supernatural Illusion

Well, I suppose it wouldn’t have to be an illusion of human origin. Perhaps the hoaxer is paranormal in nature. Maybe a ghost rose from the depths of the underworld to troll the living. It could be that demons have hatched the diabolic plan to damn mankind by fueling the heated debates between skeptics and believers, relying on our own hubris and mean-spiritedness to lure us all into a hell of our own making. Or perhaps these illusions are nothing but the fading dreams of a great old one, some timeless deity from beyond the stars, whose alien mind conjures reasonless reveries no mortal could ever truly comprehend…in the form of a moderately human-like primate that is otherwise not very different from other known animals. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

Yeah, this is possible and everything, but there’s no firm supporting evidence, and it seems just a tad far-fetched. If you can produce any evidence of wildmen being fabricated by supernatural forces, I’ll be ecstatic to hear it. Until then, I’d have to assume the wild animal reported by unrelated cultures across several continents and millennia is, in fact, just a wild animal. Occam’s razor, and all that.


There have long been stories of people or spirits that could change shape, but there has been little in the way of evidence for this in the real world. Native lore often attributes the ability to shapeshift to the wildman, such as the ability to transform into a coyote, and occasionally attributes their existence to shapeshifting humans. This may or may not be related to skinwalker legends. Perhaps it’s also related to the original idea of the ghoul. Either way, evidence for this phenomenon is scant, to say the least. I’m open to the possibility, but I would need some kind of evidence. Even as far back as St Augustine, the opinion was that if something like werewolves were to exist, it would only be by matter of demonic illusion, and I’ve already discussed why that theory requires some firm evidence to get off the ground.

In Conclusion

As incredible as these possibilities are, it gets even more incredible when you realize that the Patterson-Gimlin Film is not the only photographic evidence to depict these creatures. It may be the clearest, but there are many more like it that could not be hoaxed by conventional means. So whatever is responsible for these videos, not to mention all the perfectly realistic footprints and unknown animal vocalizations, it must be everywhere, all over the world, working day-in and day-out, year-after-year. And all these decades, whoever is responsible has made sure that not even a hint of evidence pointing to a hoax has ever seen the light of day. Bravo.

It would be an interesting world where Patty was a hoax. A world of conspiracies, a world of intrigue. It’d be fascinating for something or someone to so painstakingly imitate a mythical creature for the purpose of barely altering some people’s conception of zoology, so that instead of only believing in relatively humanlike primates, a small number of people would also believe in slightly more humanlike primates. How funny would it be if that’s what Skynet was doing with its physics-defying time travel? How bizarre would it be if that’s what Cthulhu was dreaming about for untold æons? I want to believe in such a world, but alas, I am a realist. Instead, I must face the boring, mundane reality at hand. We live in a world where the most interesting thing to talk about is that there’s just one more monkey in the woods left to classify, but most people are too stubborn and prideful to admit that they don’t know everything, at least not yet. Imagine that.

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