Well, it does sound impressive. If you have no idea what a “copyright” is.
An announcement on the blog Bigfoot Evidence cries out: “Impending Copyright Application for text, photograph(s), compilation, editing, Data Tables.” The entry lists
entries . . . from the U.S. Copyright Office website. They are copyright application submitted by Melba Stinnett Ketchum. They will contain photographs and most likely data from the Sasquatch mitochondrial genome sequence and nuclear DNA variation . . . .
Then come the links to the real evidence:
In case you didn’t follow those links, they are to database entries of the U.S. Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress. The text of the links above are the titles of the works registered with the Copyright Office. The author is Melba Ketchum, who apparently holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and runs a DNA lab.
The post is making a rather weak attempt at using a common logical fallacy: the argument from authority. Apparently, we, the faithful readers of Bigfoot Evidence, are to be duly impressed by the acceptance of the evidence that has been submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office, an obviously august and trustworthy government agency, given its impressive-sounding name.
Let’s take this bit by bit, shall we?
First of all, the proceeding in the Copyright Office is not “impending,” it’s “pending”–or at least the site wants you to think that. “Impending” means “about to occur.” But Ketchum has already filed the documents. What they meant was “pending,” which means awaiting some action. They are trying to imply that the Copyright Office will be making some decision about the proceeding, like saying, “Yes, Ketchum filed information on Bigfoot DNA.”
Second, the proceeding is not an “application.” It is a “registration.” There is an enormous difference. When you apply to some authority or agency, you are seeking permission to do something. A common example is applying for a building permit. You provide information about what you are going to build, and the government gives you permission to build it. The law prohibits you from building a structure without permission.
When you register something, on the other hand, you are merely telling the authority or agency some information; the agency does nothing with the information other than record it for future reference or use. A common example is registering a dog. You provide information about your dog, and the government records the information so that the police can access it when they find your dog digging up the neighbor’s petunias. The government doesn’t say, “Yes, this is indeed a dog” or give you permission to keep the dog, because the law doesn’t require you to get permission before you can have a dog.
Have you figured out my point yet? It’s this: the Copyright Office ain’t gonna do diddly (for those of you non-Americans who may not understand that oft-used phrase, it means, “isn’t going to do anything”) with the registration except keep the information in its database. The purpose of having it there is essentially so that Ketchum can prove in court, if she has to, that she was the first to create the copyrighted work.
Oh, but look! The U.S. Copyright Office says that it has on file information about a new species of human! That must mean something!
Yes, it means that someone gave it information and claimed that it was information on a new species of human.
This reminds me of the sleazy sales pitch of the International Star Registry, which used to say on its radio ads that when you have them name a star for you, the star name is “recorded in book form in the U.S. Copyright Office,” or something like that. Now, their website says,
Because these star names are copyrighted with their telescopic coordinates in the book, “Your Place in the Cosmos,” future generations may identify the star name in the directory and, using a telescope, locate the actual star in the sky.
Like with Bigfoot Evidence, the implication here is that registering the copyright gives the information some official imprimatur. That is, at best, misleading. And if future generations want to look up your star, they’re going to have to pay the Copyright Office for a copy of the book, or at least of some pages from the book.
Third (remember, I had a list going!), the “most likely data” statement is amusing. There will “most likely” be data sent to the Copyright Office? Does that mean that the data doesn’t exist, or that it may not be recorded?
Fourth, how can you have a new species of Homo sapiens? What does it mean to have a new species of a species? I think they mean new species of Homo, but I’ll leave it to scientists to explain that one.
Ironically, a later post on Bigfoot Evidence has a quote from Ketchum regarding a 2010 preregistration of a motion picture that Ketchum also made in the U.S. Copyright Office:
[T]he information pulled off the US Copyright website for a 2010 preregistration for a proposed media project is not an accurate summary of our scientific testing and data and does not reflect the current conclusions of our scientific paper.
Wait a minute. Dr. Ketchum, you mean to say that something isn’t true just because it’s registered with the Copyright Office? Say it ain’t so!
I’ve learned something else from doing this post: I shouldn’t necessarily be so happy as my blog readership goes up. Maybe some visitors are just checking out my site for the pure entertainment value, and laughing at me all along the way like I did as I explored Bigfoot Evidence.