By: Chris Richards
Bigfoot, zombies and vampires may seem like creatures from some horror movie or fantasy novel, but for cryptozoologist Danny Stewart, folklore is life. Stewart has been studying folklore since he was a UVU student years ago and teaches about part of the mythology in his humanities classes today.
“I don’t believe in vampires, but I believe in the truth of vampires,” Stewart said.
He believes that what we see today in the movies isn’t real, but if you take a detailed look at the origin of myths and put them in historical context, things become clearer. By using art as a historical context clue, one can look at symbols, regional nuances and texts to better understand more about the origin of a myth.
Stewart mentioned the Wasatch Front, saying that there is a lot of strange activity. From Bigfoot sightings to the Bear Lake creature, Utah seems the perfect base camp for a cryptozoologist. Stewart has studied many events in Utah, interviewing eyewitnesses of many strange phenomena and bizarre creatures. Stewart tries to have an open mind, searching for the truth no matter how blasé the results may be.
“We should go in with the intent to find the truth, no matter what it is, no matter how mundane or boring,” he said.
One example he related was about interviewing a man who swore that he saw two giant rabbits in a field one day. With additional research, it turned out that that year, several kangaroos had escaped a zoo and were roaming around the area.
According to Stewart, not all unusual events can be explained away by escaped zoo animals, swamp gas or military testing. In his opinion, a synonym for “folklore” or “fantasy” should be “hypothesis.”
Taking out the baggage that is attached to so many things such as the word “monster” could allow for better research.
“I want people to understand I don’t believe everything, but I leave the door open for everything at the same time,” Stewart said. “We live in an extraordinary world where anything can happen and putting limits on the universe, in my opinion, is the worst. The minute that we say we know everything, we are lying to ourselves and everyone else.”