Monday, 9 August 2010
More on the Spicer Sighting
This really combines what I said in my last post about the secularization of Nessie and I apply that post's thoughts to this particular sighting.
Skeptics may rightly scold some Nessie enthusiasts for accepting any old reported sighting as a genuine Nessie sighting but on the other hand Nessie believers should not accept any old explanation offered by skeptics.
As said before, the Maurice Burton and Ronald Binns view was that the Spicers had seen a line of otters crossing the road. To account for the bulk on the left and the neck on the right, Burton suggested the adult otter was the "bulk" and some cubs ahead of her were the neck undulations.
So we can accept that and close the file?
Not really. I emailed an otter conservation group and asked a simple question. Do otter cubs follow or go ahead of their parent? The reply was:
"As a rule, cubs would follow their mother, but an excited cub might easily run ahead ...."
So cubs follow their mother - not the other way round as Burton postulated. That makes the otter explanation somewhat less convincing. In a piece of tautology, the skeptic may suggest that in this case the mother did follow the cubs. You are not any under compulsion to believe that leap of assumption making.
One could also add that otters tend to be active mainly at dawn and dusk whilst the Spicer sighting was late afternoon.
It is rare to see an otter at Loch Ness, it is even rarer to see an otter and her cubs. And by all accounts it is even rarer to see the cubs leading the mother.
One may say "it is possible" and I say it is also possible my car will be struck by a meteor this week - possible but not probable. You have to ask yourself if an explanation is not so much "probable" as "reasonable". I do not think the otter hypothesis is reasonable.