Monday, December 10, 2012

Is Melba Ketchum a "Real" Doctor?
This post is in answer to the claims that I have seen circulating regarding Dr. Melba Ketchum not being a "real" Doctor, and not being qualified to perform a genetic study.  So let's take a look at what it takes to become a Veterinarian in the United States, and what "Title" that entitles one, pun intended, to use.  Currently in this country to be accepted into Veterinarian School you have to have completed a 4 year degree in a scientific discipline (Bachelor of Science) as well as fulfilling other qualifications of grade point average, character, experience, and potential, just like Medical School.  Sometimes a person is admitted without a 4-year science degree if they have other outstanding experience or qualifications, but this is the exception.  Vet school takes 4 years, just like Medical School, upon which many Vets then take internships/residencies, just like Medical School, if they want to specialize in a certain area of medicine or kind of practice, but unlike Medical School completion of a “Residency” is not a requirement. Many Vets specialize in certain areas such as Nutrition, or Radiology, or Genetics, just like regular Doctors. This can entail doing specialized work while in Vet school or completing Masters or Ph.D. programs concurrently or after Vet school.  At my time attending and working at U.C. Davis, which has a School of Veterinary Medicine, I knew many Vets who chose to go into research or teaching, instead of practicing medicine.  This is true of some Medical Doctors as well.  In the United States Veterinarians receive a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, which makes them “Doctors”.  They then have to pass a State Board of Examination in order to practice in the state of their choice, just like Medical Doctors.  
Are the requirements in Texas the same or as stringent as other states?  Maybe not.  Were the Texas requirements the same at the time of Dr. Ketchum’s acceptance and completion of her degree as they are now? (Current Texas A&M Vet School Prerequisites).  Perhaps not.  Would Dr. Ketchum be able to pass the California State Board of Veterinary Medicine?  Possibly not.  Are her Texas State Board Qualifications currently up to date?  What were her pre and post Veterinary School degrees in, and do they exist?  I have looked into these questions and what I have found so far from the Texas A&M Alumni Office are as follows:  Dr. Ketchum Graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1976, and was part of the Graduating Class of 1978 receiving a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  Those dates would indicate that the requirements for becoming a Vet at that time took only 2 years instead of 4.  So yes Dr. Melba Ketchum IS a real Doctor.  But her seeming 2 years of post graduate work becoming a Vet is in no way comparable to the time it takes to finish a Ph.D in research, which would usually be 4 years at a minimum, and I know one person who took 12 years as her area of research was more demanding.

And as Doctors, Veterinarians take their own version of the Hippocratic Oath upon receiving their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degrees:

"Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine,

    I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence."
But how did Dr. Ketchum become qualified to work in the area of genetics and genetic testing?  She makes the following claims on her company website: "Dr. Ketchum is a past three-term Chairperson of the International Society for Animal Genetics Equine Genetics Standing Committee. She has also been Dog Map Chairperson and a Committee member on the Dog and Cat Parentage Committee. She is a former Treasurer for AFDAA, The Association of DNA Analysts and Administrators."  But she does not list any Degrees, Certifications, or indications of further education or training beyond her Veterinarian Degree.  That does not mean these do not exist, but it seems odd that someone making the extraordinary claims that she has regarding the Sequencing of Bigfoot DNA, and her year/s long attempt at bringing her findings to an esteemed Peer Reviewed Journal, would not have released her Credentials or her Curriculum Vitae by now.  These are commonly circulated amongst members of the Academic Community, and I am sure something of the sort was submitted along with her paper to the Journal/s she has been working with.  Her Genetic expertise may well have been gained on the job while working in the labs of others before she founded DNA Diagnostics Inc. in 1985, which is quite a valid form of learning and training, but that information could be relaid by making public her CV.  Doing so would go a long way to setting the minds of many to rest who have serious doubts about her credibility, doubts based on her own statements and public association with members of the "fringe" of Bigfoot Research, those claiming on the one hand that Bigfoot are "human" yet on the other hand that Bigfoot are capable of all manner of paranormal and other-worldly abilities and behaviors.  And they have yet to bring forth any evidence of the abilities and behaviors they are claiming their Bigfoot are capable of which would withstand any manner of scientific scrutiny or substantiation.

I think another legitimate question might be has Dr. Ketchum violated the "principal of veterinary medical ethics" in that above oath?  Well since her lab provided a genetic identification service, and not a medical diagnostic service which could have resulted in the harm and suffering of animals due to the negligence indicated by her Better Business Bureau "F" rating and customer complaints, probably not.  But this is a gray area and may be interpreted differently by others, as she is using her title of Doctor in her DNA Diagnostics  Bio Page which I am sure her customers used in their decision to do business with her.

So Dr. Ketchum I call for you to please release your academic history and qualifications by making your Curriculum Vitae part of the public record, along with the extraordinary claims of success in sequencing the entire nuclear and mitochondrial genomes of several specimens of Bigfoot that you were so eager to share with us before any data substantiating those claims had been released. 

Read more about DNA Diagnostics Customer Complaints at the Bigfoot Lunch Club.


And you can read what an actual geneticist feels about Dr. Ketchum's claims here:
Dr. Disotell is a Professor of Anthropology at New York University 

Has Dr. Ketchum Sabotaged Her Own Study?

Questions for those who have suspended their critical thinking abilities in order to believe and support whatever Dr. Ketchum states, without any corroborating evidence:

Why has Dr. Ketchum herself been claiming since at least fall of 2011 that she can't talk about her data or results "before" the publication, on the explicit stipulation of the Scientific Journal itself, but now, suddenly, she can?  Why has that changed?  Just because Igor Burtsev made a purportedly unsolicited announcement himself? 

Has she been rejected outright from one or more of the Journals originally involved, as we know her paper was sent back for revision, at least once, over a year ago?  Is she now going to try to publish the data herself without any peer review or other credentialed members of the scientific community in concurrence with her interpretation?

If Dr. Ketchum does actually have legitimate and qualified "co-authors", and not just corroborative third party testing from other labs who are not taking part in the actual analysis and interpretation process, then why are they not also appearing publicly in statements to back up what she is saying?  Why are they allowing the whole project and their reputations to be jeopardized by the completely unprofessional way this has been handled over the last 9 days, and especially the association of others now acting as her spokespeople who have been previously discredited by both the Scientific and Bigfoot Communities.

And why is it that the results she is now claiming to be the outcome of her study, are basically the same thing that her copyright was filed for in 2010, before she had even tested many of the samples?  And especially before the Sierra Site event even happened or she received the sample from Justin Smeja, which she has now stated is the centerpiece on which her study is based?

Those who have not asked themselves these questions or don’t want to think about their implications have been hurling many insults and accusations at those of us who have.  Accusations of “jealousy”, “participation in Government cover-ups”, and the fact that we want whatever the Sasquatch turn out to be, to be classified as “Apes” not “Humans”.   I will address these arguments one at a time:

I don’t know anyone who is jealous of what Dr. Ketchum has been subjected to over the last several years.  She has now had 2 years to complete her peer review process, and the fact that other studies have announced they will have data publicized by the end of this year leads one to believe this is simply a bid to get her name into the media first.  I am not part of any DNA study going on, and while I have worked in DNA sequencing and analysis in the past, specifically in a project involving the extraction of virally induced mouse tumor DNA, I now work in Immunology and Cellular Biology, not Genetics.  I have no personal reason for “jealousy”, in fact as a member of the Bigfoot Research Community as well as the Scientific Community, I am pulling for someone, anyone, to come forth with legitimate data that can prove, or at least help us step into mainstream scientific consideration toward proof of, the existence of Sasquatch.  But unfortunately I have observed way too many red flags emerging in the way this particular study has been handled over the last 2 years, especially the far from scientific or objective personal beliefs that have been leaked and publicly spoken of by those involved.  Beliefs that have most probably led to an attempt to make the data fit the personal expectations of those involved, instead of the analysis simply reflecting unbiased fact.

The fact that we are here, in a public forum, freely talking about Bigfoot at all would tend to discredit the idea that the Government is sweeping this all under the rug and suppressing the truth.  I am a personal friend with several people, State and Federal Government employees, who are unabashedly public in their belief in, and study of Bigfoot.  I am not going to delve into the psychology of those who insist that conspiracies are responsible for their personal beliefs not being substantiated by real science, or why their pseudo-science is dismissed by those looking for real evidence, as that would be a whole other area of research, but let me just say that I have worked in both Academia and the Private Biotechnology Industries over the last 21 years and I have never felt the need to cover up my interest in Bigfoot, or encountered any attempt at silencing me or discrediting my scientific qualifications because of my belief. 

And now to the perpetually false dichotomy of the Ape versus Human argument.  Science works to classify and understand things. The currently used Classification System, based on DNA sequencing and analysis by the way, consists of  “Kingdom”, “Phylum”, "Class", “Order”, “Family”, “Genus”, and Species”.  This is easy to remember if you use the truly scientific mnemonic system handed down by Professors for the last 100 years: King Phillip Came Out For Good Sex.  Yes Scientists have a sense of humor too.

Species are genetically distinct (from other species) inter-breeding populations.  There can be sub-species, which are distinct populations with some genetic and morphological differences, but which are still genetically close enough to inter-breed.  The further up the ladder of classification you go, the more inclusive the groups are, but the farther apart, genetically/Evolutionarily speaking, the individual member species become from one another, but the closer to their common ancestor they move towards.  The Scientific Community classifies human beings as (Genus) Homo (Species) sapien.  Homo sapiens are members of the Animal Kingdom (Animalia), we are animals, the word animal is not an insult, it simply means we are not members of one of the other 5 Kingdoms: Plantae (Plants); Fungi (Fungus); Protista (Eukaryotic Microorganisms); Archaea (Prokaryotes that differ from Bacteria); and Bacteria (Prokaryotic Microorganisms).  Homo Sapiens are classified thusly:

Kingdom:  Animalia (see above)
Phylum:  Chordata (posses a notochord)
Sub-Phylum:  Vertabrata (posses a spine)
Class:  Mammalia (warm blooded amniotes)
Order:  Primates (prosimians and simians)
Family:  Hominidae (great apes)
Tribe:  Hominini (Homo, and other members of the human clade after the split from the
           tribe Panini (chimpanzees))
Genus:  Homo (genus of great apes that includes modern humans and species closely
             related to them (currently all other known members are extinct))
Species:  sapiens (only currently known living members of the Genus Homo)

So as you can see by the current scientific classification we are great apes, along with Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Orangutans.  So even if the Sasquatch genetic determination does reveal them to be our closest living relatives, and even more excitingly, another living member of the Genus Homo, they will still be, along with us,  ANIMALS and APES.

Several people have theorized over the last year that Dr. Ketchum would not manage to navigate the peer review process, and would then resort to self-publishing, after which she would embark on some sort of a money making campaign based around her assertion that they are “humans” and that her organization is the only one qualified to mediate on their behalf.  Since it is now believed that her company has been bankrupted, and we know that her funding by Wally Hersom ended in the last 6-12 months, this may be the reason she has chosen this highly unorthodox and non-scientific route to publicizing her claims.  If she does self-publish, she would need to include the raw data from the genomes she has sequenced, as well as a “Materials and Methods” section detailing the exact procedures, equipment and reagents she used in order for other professionals to then be able to substantiate her claims.  If this happens at least the data will then be accessible to other qualified academics for analysis and the whole legitimate scientific community can then weigh in upon a consensus interpretation.  It is my sincere hope that the world may still be able to benefit from all the years of work, time, and money that went into this study, and that the hopes of the whole community of witnesses, and especially those who in good faith submitted their samples can be vindicated.  I hope this will help lead, along with the works of Dr. Sykes and the other independent DNA studies currently taking place, to the answers we are all looking for regarding how these creatures fit into the Animal Kingdom along with us.  But I can guarantee that the future scientific interpretation of this data by others will not include the terms or phrases: angels, aliens, nephilim, or constitutional rights.

Nadia Moore

This article originally appeared courtesy of Shawn Evidence on the Bigfoot Evidence Blog:   Has Dr. Melba Ketchum Sabotaged Her Own Study?

See Dr. Meldrum's view on the leaked rumors here courtesy of Ro Sahebi of
(The Bigfoot Report)