Anthropology - Other

Cryptozoology – No

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In pure scientific terms cryptozoology is not a valid science.  Taken literally, cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals.  It is very difficult to reconcile scientific method with sometthing so speculative.

First, we probably all have different thoughts of what constitutes science. To some it is a systematic search for knowledge. For many the ability to

observe and test hypotheses is the defining factor.  For academic philosophers of science who have spent decades pondering this question in the leading universities of the world the ability to undertake systematic,  repeatable experiments is key.  
The academic test for science is rigorous. 

To satisfy the philosopher the cryptozoologist would need a definitive, repeatable experiment that tests the hypothesis that the cryptid in question exists.  This is almost impossible because the cryptozoologist faces too many variables in his work.  The capture of an exotic species might prove that the species exists but it does not definitely tie it down to a specific habitat.

The academic test is so stringent that only physics and chemistry are able to pass the test. Modern science is increasingly encountering complex systems in which it is impossible to isolate variables and test hypotheses by experiment.

Rather than look exclusively for repeatable experiments modern scientists like to examine their work through peer review.  Scientists train in a common body of knowledge and publish in peer reviewed journals. Once again cryptozoology is not a science because there is no common body of knowledge. There is no university faculty that teaches the techniques of cryptozoology.  There is  non journal in which the work is peer reviewed.

Two of the most exciting aspects of cryptozoology clarify that it is not a science. A great deal of the work is highly speculative.  The first sightings of a cryptic can be very confused or even flights of the imagination. The stories may have become distorted in the re-telling and may have become distorted by folklore and local legends. During his search for the cryptid the cryptoozoology will need to make speculative assumptions. In a sense he will need to hunt his prey. We do not usually think of hunters and trappers who successfully use their instincts as members of the scientific community.

Second, the work is very multidisciplinary and difficult to pin down as an offshoot of a hard science. We could say the same of archaeology or sociology, or the search for exrra-terrestrial life or police forensic work. Cryptozoologists need to be a jack of all trades. They need to use scientific method to provide part of the overall picture.  

From this essay we can conclude that cryptozoology is  not an academic science.  Questions as to whether it a worthwhile pursuit, or using the best scientifi techniques are beyond the scope of this essay.

More about this author: Nick Ford

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