If we’d had a rash of sightings way back in, say, the ’40s and ’50s, when we were still a cohesive nation with shared beliefs, maybe there would have been enough traction to force the scientific community to act. And if they had, if they’d proven these creatures are as real as the gorilla or chimpanzee, icons like Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall might have built their careers studying the great apes of North America. The problem was that sightings peaked in the late ’60s, early ’70s, which was, coincidently, the dawn of public mistrust. We’re talking Vietnam, Watergate, “do your own thing” counterculture. Now, I’m not saying any of that was bad, especially in a democracy. You need a healthy degree of critical thinking. You need to question authority. But Bigfoot came along just as everyone started questioning everything, including academia. This was a time when university profs were getting hit from both sides; the right with their creationist agenda, and the left who’d suddenly realized the connection between science and war. The upshot was that already cautious PhDs got even more skittish about their grants and tenure.