Solve for Bigfoot: Using ChatGPT to Mathematically Estimate The Bigfoot Population of the United States

BF ChatGPT 2

By Jesse Durdel, National Cryptid Society

Cryptozoology is considered a pseudoscience by much of the modern world, but why?  Cryptozoology is the study of animals and other creatures that are not recognized by scientific consensus or have not been discovered yet. It is considered pseudoscience because it relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and speculation, rather than the scientific method, to support its claims. Cryptozoology researchers, investigators and enthusiasts (like yours truly) often base their studies on anecdotal reports, legends, and folklore, rather than on scientific evidence such as DNA, behavior studies or other testable and repeatable evidence. 

The lack of scientific rigor and the reliance on anecdotal evidence make it impossible for cryptozoological claims to be tested using the scientific method. Additionally, many of the creatures that are the focus of cryptozoology, such as the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch, are often considered by mainstream science to be the products of folklore and legend, rather than real animals. But what if there was a way, a method or mathematical formula that could bring cryptozoology just a little bit closer to scientific acceptance?  What follows is a little thought experiment, or an exploration if we could use real-world statistics and data to start a more scientifically pleasing conversation on the estimation of the alleged Bigfoot population in the United States.

science bigfoot TEE

Rise of the Robot Overlords

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have most likely heard of AI. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. It refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. These machines use algorithms and statistical models to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing images, and making decisions.  I’m personally terrified of robots but for some reason I’m not as averse to AI. 

Recently there have been great strides in AI technology, including the programs Midjourney and Dall-E which scan the internet of its images and artwork to “learn” how to apply its definition of art to then create images based on a person’s inputs.  Want to make a deep-fake video? FaceApp, Zao, Reface, SpeakPic, DeepFaceLab, FakeApp, Wombo, Deepfakes Web are some of the software that are used for creating “deepfake” videos and images to fool your friends or possibly the mainstream media or entire government agencies. All that fun stuff aside, the darling AI of the internet is without a doubt OpenAI’s robot darling, ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is a computer program that can talk and write like a real human person (sometimes a very smart person, sometimes a bumbling idiot depending on what you put into it). It was made by a company called OpenAI, and it learned how to do this by reading a lot of conversations. Now, when someone types something to it, it can respond in a way that sounds like a human that does human things like you and me. It can also be used to help with other language tasks, like translating or summarizing text, writing a bland and highly suspect essay for your high school language arts class, or even taking you step-by-step through complicated administrative tasks like clearing your internet browsing history and writing a living will. But what in the world has this to do with cryptozoology you say?  Well, nothing right now, but we’ll get there. 

madgasser_aliens_looking_at_the_stars_90124ae1-1249-4de1-9f12-3c5e34c65afa

The Mathematics of Aliens

Let’s change the subject so fast you get whiplash shall we?  Have you ever heard of the Drake equation?  It’s quite possible you have if you’re a fan of Ancient Aliens. The Drake equation is a mathematical formula used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy that might be able to communicate with Earth. The equation was first proposed in 1961 by astronomer Frank Drake and is used to estimate the number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy that might be able to communicate with us lowly Earthlings. The equation takes into account several factors, including the rate of star formation in the galaxy, the fraction of stars that have planets, the number of planets that are capable of supporting life, the probability that life will evolve on those planets, the fraction of life-bearing planets on which intelligent life evolves, and the lifetime of communicating civilizations. The Drake equation is not a prediction of the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, but rather a tool to help scientists consider the various factors that might influence the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

The mathematical formula for the Drake equation is:

N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L

where:

  • N is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible.
  • R* is the average rate of star formation in our galaxy.
  • fp is the fraction of stars that have planets.
  • ne is the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets.
  • fl is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life.
  • fi is the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life.
  • fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
  • L is the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

Each variable in the Drake equation represents a specific factor that could influence the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

  • R* is the rate of star formation in the galaxy. The more stars that are formed, the more opportunities there are for life to evolve.
  • fp is the fraction of stars that have planets. The more stars that have planets, the more opportunities there are for life to evolve.
  • ne is the number of planets that are capable of supporting life. The more planets that can support life, the more opportunities there are for life to evolve.
  • fl is the fraction of life-bearing planets on which life actually does evolve. This variable takes into account the fact that not all planets that can support life will necessarily develop life.
  • fi is the fraction of life-bearing planets on which intelligent life evolves. This variable takes into account the fact that not all planets with life will necessarily develop intelligent life.
  • fc is the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space. This variable takes into account the fact that not all civilizations will necessarily develop the technology to communicate with other civilizations.
  • L is the lifetime of civilizations that release detectable signals into space. The longer a civilization lasts, the greater the chance that we will detect their existence.

The Drake equation is often used as a tool for discussing the likelihood of the existence of extraterrestrial life, and it has been the subject of much debate and discussion among scientists and researchers. Some argue that the equation is too uncertain, as it relies on a number of variables that are difficult to estimate. For example, the rate of star formation in the galaxy, and the fraction of stars that have planets are based on current observations and estimated values, but are difficult to accurately measure. 

Additionally, the equation also takes into account the probability of life evolving on a planet, as well as the probability of intelligent life evolving, which are both highly speculative and difficult to estimate. However, It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that there should not be only us in the galaxy, regardless of what values are used in the equation shown in the image above. Seeing as many scientists openly discuss the Drake equation even with so many unknowns, I began to wonder if a mathematically-inclined cryptozoology enthusiast could utilize an equation with a similar variable set to estimate the population of Sasquatch.  There are other distribution models around, most notably the study done by Lozier, J.D., Aniello, P. and Hickerson, M.J. in 2009. Although the article “Predicting the distribution of Sasquatch in western North America” was authored in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, it is professionally done and well worth a look. 

BF ADV CLUB TEE

Discussion with ChatGPT

As I am not an astronomer, cosmologist or an exobiologist (yes, that is a discipline that is estimated to pay $72.1K – $91.3K a year if you work for NASA) I did what any red-blooded cryptidphile would do.. I turned to Google.  However, Google can only do so much (for now), and I could not locate relevant information fast enough because I’m a spoiled middle-aged man who doesn’t have time for all this nonsense just to run a silly thought experiment.  Lo and behold ChatGPT became available to the public and the game was afoot.  So I began a conversation with my future artificial overlord about the possibilities of my blasphemous version of the Drake equation.

Me: “Let’s think about this, if you were to create a mathematical formula in the style of the Drake equation for determining the number of Bigfoot that could potentially reside in the United States taking into account the variables number of eyewitness reports, reliability of eyewitness reports, possible number of unreported sightings,  number of square miles of wilderness, the carrying capacity of the above wilderness areas, and other relevant factors, how would you proceed?”

ChatGPT: “If I were to create a mathematical formula in the style of the Drake equation for determining the number of Bigfoot that could potentially reside in the United States, I would take into account several factors such as:

Number of eyewitness reports: The number of people who have reported seeing a Bigfoot, as a higher number of reports would suggest a higher likelihood of Bigfoot’s existence.

Reliability of eyewitness reports: The reliability of the eyewitness reports, as some reports may be more credible than others.

Possible number of unreported sightings: The number of sightings that may have gone unreported, as not all sightings are reported to authorities.

Number of square miles of wilderness: The amount of wilderness area in the United States, as Bigfoot is often thought to reside in remote and wilderness areas.

Carrying capacity of wilderness areas: The carrying capacity of the wilderness areas, which is the maximum number of individuals that an area can support.

Other factors that could be included are the rate of population growth, the survival rate of the species, the breeding rate, and the migration rate.

madgasser_bigfoot_writing_math_equations_on_a_chalkboard_4e01f261-62a2-4766-858c-e6bdef5003dc

Based on these factors, I would create a formula that takes into account the number of eyewitness reports, the reliability of eyewitness reports, the possible number of unreported sightings, the number of square miles of wilderness, and the carrying capacity of the wilderness areas.

The formula could look something like:

N = (R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L)

Where:

N is the number of Bigfoot that could potentially reside in the United States

R* is the average number of reported sightings per year

fp is the fraction of reported sightings that are considered credible

ne is the estimated number of unreported sightings

fl is the carrying capacity of wilderness areas in the United States

fi is the estimated population growth rate

fc is the estimated survival rate

L is the estimated breeding rate

It is important to note that all of the values in this formula would be estimates, as there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, and this formula is purely hypothetical.”

Did you see that little jab ChatGPT got in there at the end?  Well let me tell you Bub there’s currently no scientific evidence the the existence of extraterrestrials either. We continued with the conversation to expand on the variables of the equation.

madgasser_Bigfoot_doing_math_ce6ce8c5-fe2b-4f2d-8587-ea7dd27c5dc6

Me: “Very good, now can you describe how to estimate each one of the variables?”

ChatGPT: “Sure, to estimate each one of the variables in the hypothetical Bigfoot equation, I would use a combination of data from eyewitness reports, scientific research, and expert opinion.

  • Number of eyewitness reports: The number of reported sightings per year can be gathered by looking at historical records of sightings, as well as current reports made to organizations such as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) or the Bigfoot Research Organization (BRSO).


  • Reliability of eyewitness reports: The credibility of the eyewitness reports can be assessed by evaluating the details of the sighting, the experience and qualifications of the eyewitness, and the consistency of the report with other sightings.


  • Possible number of unreported sightings: The number of unreported sightings can be estimated by surveying people who live in areas where sightings have been reported and asking them if they have ever seen a Bigfoot but have not reported it.


  • Number of square miles of wilderness: The amount of wilderness area in the United States can be gathered by looking at maps and data from organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.


  • Carrying capacity of wilderness areas: The carrying capacity of wilderness areas can be estimated by looking at data on the population density and food availability in similar wilderness areas.


  • Other factors such as population growth, survival rate, breeding rate, and migration rate can be estimated by looking at data and studies of similar animals that live in similar environments.

It is important to note that all of the values in this formula would be estimates, as there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, and this formula is purely hypothetical. All the variables are based on assumptions, estimations and guesses, so the final result should be taken with a grain of salt.”

Another little jab at Bigfoot but that’s fine, I was used to it.  I just needed to tweak inputs so we could utilize more real-world data in the equation.

WOODBOOGER TEE

Me: “Are there any other variables you would consider relevant to the equation and that should be included?”

ChatGPT: “The variables that I have mentioned in the equation N = (R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L) are the ones that are commonly considered when trying to estimate the population of an unknown species. However, there may be other variables that could be relevant to the equation and should be considered, such as:

  • The rate of habitat destruction: If the habitats of the supposed creature are being destroyed, this could have a negative impact on the population.


  • The rate of human encroachment: If the human population is increasing and expanding into wilderness areas, this could also have a negative impact on the population of the supposed creature.


  • The presence of predators: If there are predators that prey on the supposed creature, this could also have an impact on the population.

madgasser_bigfoot_writing_math_equations_on_a_chalkboard_78917a68-c7ad-4ea6-8c62-87a949885b6c

  • The availability of food: If the food sources of the supposed creature are declining, this could also have an impact on the population.


  • The genetic diversity of the population: If the population is small and has low genetic diversity, this could make the population more vulnerable to extinction.


  • The presence of diseases: If the supposed creature is affected by diseases, this could have an impact on the population.

It’s important to note that these variables would also be based on estimations and assumptions, as there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, and the information about these variables would be difficult to obtain. Additionally, the inclusion of these variables would make the equation more complex, and the final result would be even more uncertain.

If we were to add the variables of habitat destruction, human encroachment, predators, and food availability to the equation, it would look like this:

N = (R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L) x hd x he x p x f

Where:

N is the number of Bigfoot that could potentially reside in the United States.

R* is the average number of reported sightings per year.

fp is the fraction of reported sightings that are considered credible.

ne is the estimated number of unreported sightings.

fl is the carrying capacity of wilderness areas in the United States.

fi is the estimated population growth rate.

fc is the estimated survival rate.

L is the estimated breeding rate.

hd is the rate of habitat destruction.

he is the rate of human encroachment.

p is the presence of predators.

f is the availability of food.

Each of the new variables in the equation represents a specific factor that could influence the possibility of Bigfoot’s existence.

hd is the rate of habitat destruction: The rate at which the habitats of the supposed creature are being destroyed, this could have a negative impact on the population.

he is the rate of human encroachment: The rate at which human population is increasing and expanding into wilderness areas, this could also have a negative impact on the population of the supposed creature.

p is the presence of predators: The presence of predators that prey on the supposed creature, this could also have an impact on the population.

madgasser_bigfoot_writing_math_equations_on_a_chalkboard_7b8f8e70-2382-424a-97e0-d8b3bde5f74c

f is the availability of food: The availability of food sources of the supposed creature, if the food sources are declining, this could have an impact on the population.

It’s important to note that these variables would also be based on estimations and assumptions, as there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, and the information about these variables would be difficult to obtain. Additionally, the inclusion of these variables would make the equation more complex, and the final result would be even more uncertain.

By this time, I was sick to death of ChatGPT’s roasting me over there being no scientific evidence of Bigfoot.  However, I was overall pleased with the result.  Not necessarily because the equation works or that it’s even accurate, but that the AI was able to reference the Drake equation and create a similar one applicable to an Earthly subject.  

BF paradox

The Bigfoot Equation

Looking at the suggested equation we can determine which variables we can get real-world data from. I’ll classify each variable for whether the data is KNOWN (if there is real-world data we can draw from), UNKNOWN (if the data will not be known until a Bigfoot is studied and accepted by science as a biological entity) or MAYBE (if the data is there but there are different ways of interpreting it, if collecting the data is just too challenging to collect enough of it for it to be practical, or if there is data for a known animal that shares the same ecological niche as Bigfoot).

N = (R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L) x hd x he x p x f

N (number of Bigfoot that could potentially reside in the US = UNKNOWN) This is the unknown we have to solve for.

R* (average number of reported sightings per year = KNOWN) If we go by ChatGPT’s suggestion, we could very well gather this data from the BFRO website, and I would personally only include “Class A” reports since they “involve clear sightings in circumstances where misinterpretation or misidentification of other animals can be ruled out with greater confidence (BFRO website).”

fp (fraction of reported sightings that are considered credible = MAYBE) This is a tricky one, but it could probably be estimated in a reasonable manner.  Eyewitness evidence is typically considered the weakest form of evidence according to law enforcement.  While our justice system is effective at distinguishing between truthful and deceitful individuals, it is less adept at identifying those who are genuinely mistaken. If we relate the credibility of Bigfoot witnesses to eyewitness accounts the number of non-credible reports could be exceedingly high.  For example, in recent years, the topic of mistaken or flawed identification has become increasingly relevant. Research by the Innocence Project, an organization based in New York that aims to exonerate the wrongly convicted, suggests that it has played a role in almost 78% of 130 cases of wrongful convictions that were subsequently overturned using DNA evidence. Some studies have noted that mistaken or erroneous eyewitness testimony happening around 20% of the time.  Although several factors contribute to the issue, it should be possible to reference multiple studies and come up with an average for eyewitness reports that should be considered non-credible in the equation.

ne (estimated number of unreported sightings = UNKNOWN) Now that I think of it, I’m not certain that this variable should even exist.  One would never get an accurate value for this variable and It does not seem that it would have a significant difference on the overall estimation of N. 

fl (carrying capacity of wilderness areas = MAYBE) Consulting with experts in fields such as ecology, wildlife biology, and conservation biology could help with this variable by combining data from real-world ecological models, field observations and historical data of a known animal (perhaps the black bear), there could be a way to give a value a real number value to this variable.

fi (estimated population growth rate = UNKNOWN) This is a guess and will most likely be unknown until actual studies are done on a Bigfoot population.

fc (estimated survival rate = UNKNOWN) Same as above.

L (estimated breeding rate = UNKNOWN) Same as above.

hd (rate of habitat destruction = KNOWN) Satellite imagery, census data, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze the spatial distribution of the human population in a given area and historical data could also provide real-world data that could be analyzed for this variable.

he (rate of human encroachment = KNOWN) This is almost a carbon copy of the examples above. So much that I would probably combine the two variables… but I am no mathmagician and this was ChatGPT’s idea so I’ll just leave it be.  

p (presence of predators = MAYBE) This data could be determined by naturalist surveys and data from wildlife conservation organizations.  However, the weight of the variable would be unknown as we don’t really have an idea of how Bigfoot are affected by our traditional predators like wolves and bears. 

f (availability of food = UNKNOWN) I personally don’t know what a Bigfoot eats but I would infer their feeding habits would be similar to those of the black bear as they allegedly share their ecological niche. There are some that say deer is their primary source of protein, so maybe we could include the availability of deer in this variable. Or we can wait to see what they’re eating.

BUCKAROO TEE

Conclusion

Before you start invading our comment section with “this is trash science” or “statistical mathematics doesn’t work this way” and “you are overdue on your water bill” let me just say this… I know the above equation is wrong and won’t produce any viable data.  Like ChatGPT said, I’ll take my grain of salt but not about the existence of Bigfoot. ChatGPT may be an amazing language processor and JAVA code writer but it turns out this iteration of the bot is notoriously bad at basic math. Now this can be due to it being primarily designed for conversation or it not fully understanding the inputs from the user.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m no professional at prompt architecture. That being said I’m still not completely dissatisfied with this experiment with our future AI overlord.

SOLVE FOR BF TEE

See, even if nothing comes out of this, the Bigfoot equation has three known variables. All the variables in the Drake equation are currently unknown or hypothetical and all the values in that formula would be estimates, as there is currently no scientific evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, and the information about these variables would be difficult to obtain. The Drake equation is not a proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life, but rather a tool to guide the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and a way to estimate the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. If someone (a math or computer whiz which I am neither) could perfect a “Bigfoot version of the Drake equation” would it be similarly discussed among zoological societies? Could cryptozoologists be held in the same regard as exobiologists?  At least the cryptozoologists would have something to do and go outside. Come at me X-O’s. 

Perhaps a cunning linguist would be able to sprinkle prompts into a future, more capable version of ChatGPT or another machine learning tool and extrapolate exactly what we tried to do here, except as a fully functional equation where real-world data is scraped from the internet in real-time, providing the right sequence of variables to mathematically determine perhaps not only population estimates but location estimates for Bigfoot or any other animal for that matter.  If and when that happens, and real, ecological data brings researchers to Bigfoot’s doorstep, what happens then? Bigfoot goes from being a contested, unverified creature of mystery to a boring old pongid with binomial nomenclature and begins its tenure with zoology. I, for one, would love to see that happen. For the time being, Bigfoot is just as likely to exist as extraterrestrial life in the eyes of the scientific community.  The difference is, we can go walk in the woods anytime to look for Sasquatch with very little risk.  Sending the dark forest of space looking for aliens is a much more costly endeavor. 

 

Hey, if you enjoyed this article please comment and share it with your nerdy friends and if not thanks for sticking around.  Please help support us by visiting our various t-shirt advertisements passive-aggressively sprinkled throughout the article.

DET MOTHMAN TEE

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Oh, I almost forgot. I had ChatGPT write a bunch of social media posts for this article.  Here they are and oh my are they click-baity:

  1. “Are you a fan of #cryptozoology? Discover the reasons why it’s considered pseudoscience and the potential for using real-world statistics and data to bring it closer to scientific acceptance in our latest article! #Bigfoot #LochNessMonster #Sasquatch
  2. “Unlock the secrets of the elusive #Bigfoot with our groundbreaking new article on #cryptozoology! Learn how we’re using AI and real-world data to bring this controversial field closer to scientific acceptance. #BigfootPopulation #WildernessCarryingCapacity #BigfootSightings
  3. “The debate over #cryptozoology has raged for decades. Our new article explores the use of AI and real-world data to bridge the gap between speculation and scientific proof. Check it out now! #LochNessMonster #Sasquatch #BigfootResearch
  4. “Are you curious about the world of #cryptozoology? Our new article delves into the reasons why it’s considered pseudoscience and how AI and real-world data could change that. Don’t miss out! #BigfootPopulation #WildernessCarryingCapacity #BigfootSightings
  5. “The hunt for #Bigfoot and other cryptid creatures takes a step forward with our new article on using AI and real-world data to support the study of #cryptozoology. Learn more now! #LochNessMonster #Sasquatch #CryptozoologyResearch”

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