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Let's Talk Bigfoot is a archived Internet radio show endorsed by AIBR.

On each episode are the Who's Who of bigfoot research.

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News › Setting the Record Straight: the Penn & Teller "Sonoma" Video
Setting the Record Straight: the Penn & Teller "Sonoma" Video

Announcements Tonight on the Showtime series Bulls**t, Penn and Teller reveal that they were behind the filming of the “Sonoma video", originally described as showing a bigfoot walking along a hillside (see here for more info on the duo). The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO.net) alleged the film was legitimate, after conducting little to no investigation, and prominently featured it on its website. They stated that they were working with the witness, Mark Nelson, to license the video and would act as his “agent.”

There is no doubt that Penn and Teller will poke fun at all bigfoot investigators for (supposedly) believing this video to be real, to the point that the “the only scientific research organization exploring the bigfoot/sasquatch mystery” was willing to help the witness market it. However, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of the bigfoot research community, including the AIBR, recognized the video as a hoax less than a month after its release.

The Sonoma video first made its appearance on November 18, 2005. According to Mark Nelson, he was out hiking with his girlfriend near Lake Sonoma on November 14, 2005 and videotaped a bigfoot. The video was discussed at length on the BigfootForums.com website (click here). Although many folks/organizations talked with the witness, conducted investigations, and/or analyzed the film, one evaluation stands out.

As found on the Jeff Rense website, John Freitas, a well-known and respected investigator, exposed the video as a hoax on December 11, 2005.

Separating Fact From Fiction
by John Freitas, 12-11-05

Note - The following is an analysis of the latest 'Bigfoot video' controversy as submitted by veteran researcher John Freitas.

Mark Nelson's story gets better and better as time goes on. He originally told me via phone that he was camping at Lake Sonoma. When they left, he headed towards highway 101 for the return drive to his home in Oxnard, CA. On the way out of the park he located a large turnout, pulled over and found a game trail. He followed this trail up a hill and continued to hike about a 1 hours. At this point, he claims he and his girlfriend heard a grunt. He says he thought it was a bear at first, so they waited about ten minutes and started taking landscape video again. As he was taking a video shot, he heard something on his left side; this is when he captured this "thing"...

I asked him specifically where this turnout was and he said it was going towards Lake Sonoma 15 minutes from highway 101. He said it was private land and he had to climb through a three-strand barbwire fence to gain access to this game trail. I also asked him to send me a video file of a minute before and a minute after this event, Mark became nervous and said he would rather not do that. I asked him why, and he could not come up with any reason other than he didn't want to do it.

This conversation was cut short when he said in a whisper "I have to go now, my girlfriend just got home and she is really jealous of the time I am taking on this video". I explained that I would need to talk with her also, as she is the only other witness. Mark started saying "I don't know, she is getting real jealous". I explained to Mark that the film is worthless if is not authenticated, and he said he would try to talk to her. He said he was interested in selling this film, and I explained that I knew of one producer, national news reporter and a talk show host that would be interested in this video IF a few questions were answered. He promised to call me back in a day or two and then hung up the phone.

A few days past and after I had left several more messages on his phone, he finally called me back on my cell phone at around 8pm. This time I was on my way towards LA. I told him that I was having trouble locating the turnout 15 minutes from 101. Mark then changed the location and said it was 15 minutes on the south side of lake Sonoma towards the ocean. I asked Mark could we meet Sunday so I could see the whole video since I was coming to the LA area, he immediately started to back pedal on me saying that he promised to spend the day with his girlfriend and he just couldn't meet with me. I told him it would only take 10 minutes...then I asked for only 5 minutes...and he still refused.

Mark stated he is afraid to meet new people. This seems to contradict his claim of playing guitar in a local band, or holding a job for a temporary agency where you meet new people/employers on a frequent basis. I asked Mark what his landline phone number as it would be easer to get in touch with him if needed, but he refused to give it to me saying "that's my DSL line and I use it just for the computer".

I asked Mark what his girlfriend did for a living and he hesitated for a second and said "she works in a doctor's office". I asked him what he does for a living, and again he hesitated and said "I work for a temp agency". I asked mark what he does for the temp agency and again he hesitated as if he was thinking about what to say, and said "I work in a office as a clerk".

After all that transpired, I told him if this was a hoax to let me know now and I would go my way, and he would go his; no harm done. There was silence for 10 seconds....(this is classic textbook behavior of deception) He became verbally flustered and nervously said "it really happened", and added that MAYBE we could get together at a later date, but said he was interested in knowing how much the film was worth. He then said out of the blue, he wanted to arrange a "group showing". When I questioned him about who is in this "group", he again hesitated and said "um, well, I mean you". I then said, again, I could be there Sunday. He again declined to meet with me, but said he'd call me by December 5th with a time and date and to have me go ahead and arrange the live radio interview. He then said he was at work and needed to get off the phone immediately. This, again, was after 8pm in the evening. A strange time to be working as a temporary clerk in an office. This was the last contact I had with Mark. He has not responded to my phone messages, nor e-mails.

Without going into more detail, Mark's statements during both phone interviews were consistent with someone fabricating a story.

Yesterday (12-09-2005), I spent several hours searching for the area where Mark said the turnout and barbwire fence was. The entire fence on this road is field fence and nowhere is there three strand barbwire used exclusively. This is true from the park and 15+ miles south on the road. At one point, I thought I located the site because the terrain seemed familiar. I took a roll of pictures, but once developed I could not match the peak shown in the video.

Some other facts:

1. I asked Mark if he has ever heard of Art Bell and he said "no", although he posted his so-called experience on Art Bell's message board 11-16-2005

2. Marks prefix is Santa Maria, CA although he states he lives in Oxnard, CA

3. Mark wrote another investigator and said he was in San Luis Obispo, CA

4. I located a picture of a peak in San Luis Obispo County that looks almost identical the mountain peak in the video

5. Mark now states he was on a fire road (as per Moneymaker's website), although Mark clearly stated he was following a "deer trail" ready to cross a gully

6. Mark claimed to be an expert with a compass, although he could not tell me the name of the peak in his video (this is taught in basic map reading)

7. There is NO distinctive peak that was displayed in the video in the area he claims he obtained the footage

8. Where is his girlfriend's voice when this happened?

9. Why are there not two sets of footfalls when he runs after this thing?

The rampant inconsistencies with Mark's story, his inability to answer questions freely, his contradictory statements and his unwillingness to show the video in the original format all have raised large red flags. The fact that the scene does not match the terrain is in itself deception, and therefore it is my professional opinion this video is a hoax.

-- John Freitas

Even in the wake of this investigation, the BFRO still maintained that the video was authentic. Although no longer available on the BFRO website, their support of the video can be found here.

We understand that the point of the Penn and Teller show is for entertainment. Unfortunately, the BFRO gave them fuel for their fire. The show will almost undoubtedly attempt to equate the BFRO with all bigfoot researchers; however, the AIBR wants to set the record straight. The BFRO does not represent the entire bigfoot community nor does it reflect how genuine investigations are conducted, particularly in the case of the Sonoma video. Most of us are professional and ethical, hesitant to accept anyone’s story at face value until after a thorough investigation is conducted.

Please do not judge the whole community based on this television program or the actions of one group. If you have any questions, please contact the AIBR by calling the toll free number or through the “contact us” link.

Kathy Strain, Chair, AIBR

Posted by Kathy.Strain on Monday, April 24, 2006 (18:49:54) (10057 reads)
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