Book Review: Abominable Science

abominable scienceAbominable Science! authored by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero is one of those books that comes along and makes the world a better place. A rare treat that you didn’t know you needed until you had it in your hands.

The combination of good research, good references and an honest, open-minded yet critical outlook turns Abominable Science! into a must-have for anybody with a passing interest in monsters and strange creatures.  Continue reading

The Loch Ness Monster In Windermere? It’s More Complicated Than That…

Many people don’t know that Windermere has a lake monster “mystery” all of its own. I’ve been investigating Bownessie for years and even took CSIcop investigator Joe Nickell there for a few days in 2012 to get his thoughts on the situation surrounding the alleged beast of Bowness, Windermere. You can read about the investigation and also about my thoughts on the mystery as whole and you can even listen to me on the awesome Monster Talk podcast discussing Bownessie too, but in summary it’s fair to say that it is unlikely that there is anything weird swimming in the waters of Windermere. Continue reading

I believe in the Loch Ness Monster

‘The water in there is like looking through a glass of coca cola” Steve Feltham told us, rolling the clay between his hands as he created another of his much loved Nessie models to sell to tourists. I was sitting in the cosy van he calls home that is parked on Dores Beach, overlooking Loch Ness from where Steve maintains his twenty-year-long vigil for Nessie whom he believes does exist. 

From my position perched on the piano stool (for yes, there is a piano in that van) I could see through the windscreen that has a great view of the wild, choppy waters of Loch Ness where tourist boats make regular journeys up and down, trailing dark waves behind them that roll around mysteriously for minutes after the boat is out of view. My dad wandered along the beach outside, battered by the wild winds, taking in the stunning views of the Loch, and sitting to my side on another stool was Joe Nickell who was visiting from the US. We had travelled directly from the 2012 QEDcon conference in Manchester where Joe had delivered the closing talk and I had been a panellist alongside him and Deborah Hyde, talking about Cryptozoology.  Continue reading

The internet hasn’t killed the Loch Ness Monster.

I’ve just read a really interesting opinion piece on The Guardian website by Philip Hoare that questions if the internet has killed the Loch Ness Monster. I can somewhat identify with Hoare’s feelings that the mystery and wonder brought forth by monster stories gracing the headlines has disappeared. A memory that always stands out strongly for me was being a young child when a monster scare broke out in the village I lived in. I can remember being at Primary School but I forget my exact age, but I do know that it was before the internet was a thing in my house. The local paper was (and still is) The Wiltshire Times and they ran a story on a Big Cat that had been seen prowling the fields near my house and right next to the warehouse that my mother worked in. I will filled with pure fascination and terror that can never be replicated by a story breaking on the internet.

However I’m not so keen to consider this a terrible thing. I believe that any decent Paranormal researcher, Fortean, Cryptozoologist or whatever they identify as wants to know what is really causing what is or has been witnessed, whether it be a ghost, monster or UFO sighting they are dealing with. There are, of course, those who revel in the pseudo-scientific and the answers they fancy that aren’t necessarily logical, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that they represent every researcher out there. The majority of researchers I know are rational thinkers who aren’t led by their biases.

When a new monster sighting occurs we now have masses of information at our finger tips. More than that even… we have the experience of so many others at our finger tips too. I have witnessed the buzz of activity borne when it is reported somewhere in the world that a strange beast has been spotted, caught on film or captured. Communities of people who were never connected before the internet swap notes and speculations, the reporters and eye-witnesses are easy to track down, experts around the world – biologists, marine biologists, ecologists – are contactable immediately, and we can examine what happened and where it happened in great detail because all the details we need are often online. More often than not researchers can discover what it is that has really happened – whether it be hoax, misidentification or the next new discovery of a real monster that has never been seen before! If it’s going to happen, then I truly believe that now is the time.

Before the internet made it possible to connect to the bigger world I was a young girl who clung to mystery as though it were essential, not because I loved the mystery but because I loved the ‘what if?’. Today modern technology and social media make that ‘what if?’ easier to answer. Before, there were ‘what if?‘s that went unanswered and led me down the path to becoming a pseudo-scientific ghost hunter, and as a result I wasted so much money and time on the wrong questions. So yes, although it is a shame that a lot of the mystery in these stories is now lost by the instant media that our world has come to know, I feel it has been replaced with something much more valuable and important – the ability to answer the mystery once and for all. I know of nothing more wondrous that resolved curiosity.

On a parting note – I visited Drumnadrochit last year, and Nessie is looking as well as she ever did 😉

photo credit: Artist unknown (if you know, let me know)

The problems with the latest Nessie photo

For just over a week I have attempted and failed to contact George Edwards who took the latest photo it is claimed shows the Loch Ness Monster. Clashing work schedules coupled with  a busy season for Loch Ness boat tours means being able to chat just hasn’t happened so I haven’t been able to get answers to the questions I have about the photo from the man who took it. However, even without speaking to Edwards there are still problems I have with the photo. Continue reading

New Loch Ness Photo: a disappointing reaction from the skeptical community

It was March, and as we walked along the shore of the lake in Bowness I was telling Joe Nickell about the most popular theories about what had caused the ‘monster’ photographed by Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington. I told him that most people believed it was a tyre, or a bunch of tyres tied together and floating in the water and how, days after the photo hit the newspapers, a sliced up tyre was found on the shore of the lake (pictured right).

Joe asked ‘does a tyre float upright when sliced up?’ and the answer was of course ‘I don’t know, nobody has tested it’. He then gave me that look, the look that says ‘I know you already know the answer to this so I’m not going to patronise you’. So many people had speculated about the cause of the Pickles photo without taking the time to ask the right questions or to speak to the people involved, myself included. Continue reading