Friday, 14 August 2015

The Peter O' Connor Photograph (Part I)






It is a photograph which has courted controversy similar to Frank Searle and Tony Shiels and has divided opinion between Nessie cryptozoologists. I am referring to the picture taken by Peter O’ Connor on May 27th 1960 at Loch Ness.

The image is immediately recognisable amongst the lake cryptid community, but has been questioned by a sizable number of them. If a democratic vote amongst cryptozoologists was all that was needed, then the photograph may well have been consigned to the dustbin of research a long time ago.

Be that as it may, the story and picture first came to light in the 16th June edition of The Weekly Scotsman and added to the rising interest in the Monster generated by the Dinsdale film only three days before. Reaction to the picture was of course mixed. Tim Dinsdale was favourable to it in his book "Loch Ness Monster", but Maurice Burton dismissed it in his work, "The Elusive Monster" implying it was a hoax.





So, it would be appropriate to first recount the story from the man himself. Peter O' Connor wrote an account of his photograph to Tim Dinsdale, which was printed in the first edition of his book “Loch Ness Monster”. This is reproduced below.

Between 0600–0630 hours I left the camp (1 mile N.E. of Foyers Bay) and went N.E. for 100 yards. The Loch Ness Monster glided around the headland at a fast walking pace. I waded into the water to get as close to the route it intended passing as possible. I was waist deep and decided to go no closer as it had turned its head in my direction and I am sure it knew I was there. For a moment (a horrible one) I thought it intended coming towards me. I watched its head closely.

It had small sheeplike features set on a very, very, strong neck - the muscles kept rippling in it, reminding me of a panther's leg when pacing a cage. The head was approx. 10 inches long, the neck 6-7 inches in diameter increasing in thickness towards water - there was 2-3 ft. exposed and behind the neck was a large hump or body, greyish-black in colour. Where I expected limbs (i.e. Plesiosaurus) I saw the occasional swirl of water indicating them. I saw no eyes, but its facial structure suggests it has them, but its 'lids' were shut. The skin appeared smooth, as on a seal, but could have been fine scale.

When I took the photograph with a flash bulb inserted, I turned and yelled to my companion who was lying in the tent (the tent was built so a view of the loch could be obtained in any direction, i.e. no walls except cliff), and as I did so I gave the camera a couple of turns and took another photo of it disappearing with a great deal of commotion in the water. My friend said he saw something black for an instant and the water disturbance, which was not small.

I was within 25 yards of the creature when the photograph was taken, I am not sure if the light or my voice frightened it—one or both did. I am not fully satisfied that it was the same creature as seen on Wednesday May 24th, as it was smaller and a different colour. I think both skins were wet or at least damp - one on Friday certainly was. I do not know why I was frightened of it as it reminded me of a docile swan - perhaps it was the power it had at its disposal and the fact it was an unknown quantity.

Tim added his own comments at the end:

When I first saw this photograph published in a northern newspaper I was fascinated by it, and realized that if it was, in truth, the Monster it was without doubt the closest and most revealing still photograph ever taken—and therefore of unique importance. Upon studying it I found certain features in it that suggested to me it was indeed the Monster, although there were others equally difficult to explain, at first sight, but whatever the facts really were about it I knew there was only one way to find out the truth, and that was to talk to Peter O'Connor himself. This I have now done, and the report recorded above is from his own pen, and his picture is published in this book because I know it is from the original scrap of negative film, which is genuine; 


THE REACTION

If we compare this to the report which appeared in the Weekly Scotsman, there is no material difference in the account. However, the newspaper adds some speculation that the creature was 50 feet in length, 50 tonnes in weight, lived at a depth between 40 and 150 feet and liked to bask on the surface! I doubt all that was deduced from this one photograph and was rather O' Connor's own independent speculations.

The newspaper article only served to heighten interest in the Loch Ness Monster coming off the recent publicity of the Dinsdale film which made its public debut on the BBC programme, Panorama. However, the newspaper printed a picture of Mr. O’ Connor, which may interest readers.


Now, in the sceptics’ mind, two statements will fire through their brains. The first is “Too good to be true”, followed by “Fake Photograph”. But then again, all Nessie pictures for them fall into either the “Too good to be true” or “Too vague to be conclusive” categories. One thing is for sure, this photo is either a hoax or the real deal. I see no room for misidentification here.

The “Cheeky Chappie” look on O’ Connor’s face will no doubt persuade critics further that he was up to no good. After all, had he not committed one of the “Seven Sins of the Debunkers” when he had previously joked about his upcoming visit to the loch? To wit, the Sunday Express for the 4th October 1959, ran an article on O’ Connor’s plans for an expedition to Loch Ness to capture the animal, dead or alive.



The reference to Bren guns goes a bit beyond the normal kit list of a Monster Hunter. This was too much for one person who wrote a letter of protest to the Glasgow Herald, dated 15th October 1959:

NESSIE IN PERIL?

To the Editor 'The Glasgow Herald' October 13, 1959.

Sir,—It was with a feeling approaching consternation that I heard yesterday evening on the Scottish news the recording of an interview in which a group of people from Gateshead intimated their intention of killing the Loch Ness Monster. Had the announcement come from the Fellows of Regents Park I might have taken a less histrionic but equally stern view of this.

The news, however, that the lads of Gateshead were planning to come north with bombs and Bren guns causes one to regard this zoo quest as something verging on a national affront. I heard a young man interviewed say, seriously enough, that there was no alternative to killing the monster. This is a strong statement and one is obliged to inquire what harm the monster has done. It is locally popular. It has not eaten its way through the maidens of Drumnadrochit in a like manner to that southern dragon the English saint had to put down.

ln short, Nessie appears to be a douce beast with an eye to the tourist trade and it would be unthinkable for her to be shot out of hand. Before the rattle of the Bren is beard in the woods of Inverfarigaig could I suggest that the Gateshead naturalists turn their attentions to that other monster out Todday way? There they would be sure, like the rocketeers, of a warm reception.—I am, etc., 

ANDREW BEVIRIDGE. 9 Evan Crescent, Giffnock.

He had nothing to fear as O’ Connor was just cracking a joke. Indeed, it may have been that O' Connor was referring to a previous expedition when he made this quip. However, that was enough for some Loch Ness researchers to close the case on his later photograph. Well, I guess that implies they had never cracked jokes about monsters and monster hunting? Aye, that’ll be right, as we say in Glasgow.

The funny thing is, I have read sceptical Loch Ness researchers comment that reputations count for nothing in the world of Nessie photos. For example, take the case of the other vilified Nessie photographer, Peter MacNab. Respected author, president of the Clan MacNab Society,  local councillor and bank manager count for nothing it seems. 

So, logically, Peter O’ Connor’s reputation should count for nothing as well? Not quite it seems. Oh well, whatever it takes to win the case. But this article is not just about Peter O’ Connor. You would have noticed that a Maurice Burton was named as an adviser to O’ Connor and that seems to have been the beginning of a less than fruitful relationship.

It was Maurice Burton, more than anyone, who had the most to write against this picture. Here we concentrate, not on arguments for this being a monster photo, but on arguments against this being such a photo. For you see, when arguments are made for and against, one could imagine a pendulum swinging towards "hoax" or through "inconclusive" towards "real" as the debate ebbs and flows. Maurice Burton stated his case and ever since the pendulum has spent most of its time beyond "inconclusive" in the "hoax" area.

On the other hand, if one can demonstrate such an argument is on shaky ground, then the pendulum starts moving back towards the "inconclusive" and perhaps beyond to the other side. That depends on the individual and their own bias and prejudices (which I hope I don't have to prove occurs on either side of the overall debate).


MAURICE BURTON

Maurice Burton (pictured below) was a well-known naturalist who lived through much of the Nessie era since it beginnings in 1933. He was a popular author on wildlife and helped to popularise science through the publication of various books and media appearances. Such was the regard in which he was held that he regularly corresponded for the Daily Telegraph and the Illustrated London News. I suppose he was a kind of precursor to the BBC's David Attenborough.



His obituary can be found here, although like a lot of deceased Nessie-related personalities, their eulogisers tend to airbrush out that particular monstrous association. Interestingly, this obituary was written by Denys Tucker who more than once crossed swords with him over the Loch Ness Monster.

When the Loch Ness Monster came to the world's attention, Maurice Burton was not quite in the public view and was curator of sponges at the British Museum. Despite the museum's sceptical stance, this young man offered his opinion to the Daily Express in 1934 that the creature may in fact be a walrus and so began an interest in the monster that continued in various forms until his death in 1992.

However, years later, Burton denied that he had said the monster was a walrus and tells us that he in fact at the time believed it to be a giant eel. So it seems that he believed in some kind of unknown animal in the loch from day one. By the time he left the position of Deputy Keeper of Zoology for a writing career in 1959, it looks like he was more inclined to the plesiosaur view of Nessie but that position was soon to crumble as he headed to the loch with a team in 1960 to perform his own investigations. The following year he published "The Elusive Monster" which was an attempt to explain the various reported sightings of the creature as misidentifications of otters, rotting vegetable mats and other objects known to be found around the loch.

The Express article stated that Maurice Burton was described as an "adviser" to Peter O' Connor and his upcoming expedition. It seems that there was some kind of cryptozoological relationship between Burton and O' Connor but this should not surprise us as Burton was very much regarded as a leading authority on Nessie to whom others would seek wisdom. In fact, Tim Dinsdale himself (who lived about forty miles from Burton outside London) had made contact with Burton before his 1960 trip to Loch Ness and one of the Burton family had lent the cine camera to Dinsdale with which he shot his famous footage.

Indeed, the first ever mention of Tim Dinsdale in a monster context is in an article by Burton in 1959 when he makes reference to Dinsdale's analysis of  the best sightings - an analysis which later made it into Dinsdale's book.

So it seems that around October 1959, Burton was still a believer because in that O' Connor article, he talks about Nessie in familiar creature terms. Indeed, when Tim Dinsdale headed north in late April 1960 with the Burton camera, one may presume he was also of such a mind else he would not have lent the camera. However, by the time he reached Loch Ness in June 1960, he was there to seek out evidence for his embryonic book and I think the driving force behind that trip were the recent images taken by his "students", Dinsdale and O' Connor.

When the expedition was over, Burton had built his case against his former students and he could now progress with his book. But the mystery is why Burton had so quickly turned against the Loch Ness Monster despite this new evidence from his own students coming to light? Surely now was the time for him to consolidate his place as a recognised Loch Ness expert, back up Dinsdale and O' Connor, write relevant works and generally make a name for himself?

But the exact opposite happened and we need to sift around to find out why. Given Burton's stature in the cryptozoological world, it is not surprising that others have mused on this "volte face" by Burton.

A clue may lie in an article Burton wrote for the Sunday Express on the 2nd August 1959 entitled "Is there really a Loch Ness Monster?". In this article, Dr. Maurice Burton is presented as the Deputy Keeper of the British Museum. The article itself is revealing as Burton talks favourably of the plesiosaur theory and berates his zoological colleagues for hiding behind their reputations and not taking a risk in the matter. Nine weeks later in our aforementioned 4th October article on Peter O' Connor, Burton is described as the former Deputy Keeper.

Could it be that Burton's criticism of his academic peers was the last straw for them? The polite version is that Burton left for a writing career, but one would have thought you could do that and continue to hold a prestigious academic position. The only question for me was whether this was a dismissal or resignation.

Indeed, recent revelations on his colleague, Dr. Denys Tucker, show that he was dismissed from his post at the Natural History Museum in July 1960. We may not know, but was a similar dismissal of Burton the catalyst to get at the cause - the Loch Ness Monster? Or rather indirectly via two of its main proponents and his former students.

The book itself was written about the same time as Tim Dinsdale's "Loch Ness Monster" but the prevailing tide of public opinion was moving towards a large creature in Loch Ness and so Burton's book was generally ignored and taken to task by such Nessie authors as Ted Holiday. One problem with Burton's book was his disproportionate preoccupation with vegetable mats as an explanation. As it turned out, such objects are exceedingly rare on Loch Ness and water bailiff, Alex Campbell, could only recall seeing two such mats in his forty odd years (and even then it was clear what they were).

Later research by Adrian Shine and the Loch Ness Project proved that low decomposition rates in the loch precluded such a phenomenon except in certain localities around Urquhart Bay and Fort Augustus. However, Burton's campaign against any exotic creature in Loch Ness went on until his dying day and his line of scepticism continues to this day in a modified form amongst other such minded people.


OBJECTIONS AND REBUTTALS

Having given of his time to help O' Connor, Burton did an about turn and went on the offensive. Burton first raised two objections to the photograph. The first was that it looked too dark for the stated time of day. The second was that the lighting elevation appeared to suggest a height of twelve feet rather than the two feet or so that would be inconsistent with O' Connor wading waist high in the water. These objections will be examined in a later instalment of this article.

However, the final nail in O' Connor's coffin seemed to have been hammered in when Burton unveiled more revelations when he stated that his expedition had gone to O' Connor's camp site two weeks after he left and found evidence of deception.

That particular information is embedded within a general diatribe of the monster which is somewhat arrogant and dismissive in its delivery. When a "believer" becomes a "sceptic", they can sometimes turn out to be the most vitriolic opponents of the mystery.

Regarding the Hugh Gray photograph, he says the contact positive plates, "show clearly that his supposed 40ft monster was a common otter rolling at the surface." How many sceptics agree with that interpretation today?

Likewise, he concludes the Surgeon's Photo is the tail of an otter diving back into the water. He quotes the RSPB director, Peter Conder, who dismissively states "I do not think anyone can have any doubt at all that the surgeon's photograph was one of an otter ...". Another "expert" interpretation that was proven wrong and shows that just because someone is an expert, does not mean they will avoid talking nonsense.

With an air that makes us all wonder how we did not see it all before, Burton says the Peter MacNab "is simply a stern wave from a ship that has passed a short while before ..." and the Cockrell picture is just a stick. Dinsdale's film is dismissed as a boat and he names Jock Forbes as the pilot (however,  my own recent enquiries to his son, Donald, suggest his father did not use a boat at all).

Against this backdrop, O' Connor was not likely to be exonerated. The visit to O' Connor's campsite is described in a letter to the New Scientist for 23rd January 1969. The relevant portion is reproduced below.



Burton adds more details in a New Scientist article from the 24th June 1982 where he states the following in the extract below. In this he adds that he found the very pump nozzle used to inflate the alleged monster.




In the light of all this, fellow sceptic, Steuart Campbell, wrote to him in preparation for his 1986 book, "The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence". Burton gave a fuller account of his alleged trip to O' Connor's location which was summarised by Campbell:

P9 was published on 16 June 1960, just before Burton and his team arrived at Foyers. Naturally it was discussed among the guests at the hotel, some suggesting that it was a half-submerged but inflated sack. Burton ignored the picture, which he thought unconvincing, but the gillie who took him and his family out in his motorboat for occasional excursions insisted on taking them to what he called 'O'Connor's Cove'. 

On landing they found abundant signs that someone had camped there; ashes from a fire lay about and a bivouac had been made by tying down the lower branches of a small tree (with an unusual kind of red-and-white string). There were used flash bulbs and charred fragments of what must have been several white plastic sacks! One of the party, who had decided to paddle in the shallows, tripped over some red-and-white string (the same) which turned out to be attached to half a dozen rocks each about 25cm across and forming a circle about 1m in diameter. It was clear that someone had inflated a plastic sack and weighted it around the edge with stones.

The head and neck of the 'monster' had consisted of a stick which Burton and his party missed because it was lying in the bivouac, but it was discovered shortly afterwards by retired journalist Angus Forbes. Unfortunately the stick was lost when Forbes attempted a reconstruction of the mode1.

So do we move on like the sceptics? No, I think there is more to say on this matter.


BURTON RECONSIDERED

The case seems such a foregone conclusion and subsequent sceptical researchers have just repeated what Burton has claimed and added little else. But there are problems with his story which I will now explore.

The first and biggest one stands out like a sore thumb. Burton and his family were at Foyers from at least the 19th to the 27th June while O' Connor's photograph had previously went public on the 16th. He went on to write about this expedition in his 1961 book, "The Elusive Monster" and included photographs taken during it.

However, when his book gets around to discussing the O' Connor photograph, it completely fails to mention the saga of the beach findings and all we get is a brief paragraph on how the photo is too dark and the flash bulb too high.

So, let me get this straight, Mr. Burton. You went to the beach. You found the remains of plastic sacks, a pump nozzle, a bunch of used flash bulbs and a stick that looked like the head-neck. You even reproduced a similar photograph. You have multiple witnesses to the event and you .... do not print one solitary word about this in the book describing the expedition and critiquing the photograph?

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Or perhaps there are unseen issues here? It's a no-brainer to print all these revelations, but instead we have to wait another eight years to see anything about it in print. Is this an "epic fail" to quote the vernacular?

Perhaps Burton was afraid that O' Connor would sue him for calling him a hoaxer? That seems to be the suggestion in communications I had with another researcher. Burton claimed O' Connor threatened to sue him if he said anything against him or Dinsdale; so Burton said he pulled this account. But this is just nonsense, don't the other objections to the photo made in his book make that same accusation and Dinsdale certainly did not escape Burton's withering analysis? So, let's just conclude that Burton's lawsuit reason is actually no more than an excuse!

Comparing the quote from "The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence" with the New Scientist articles, the second issue arises.  In the 1969 New Scientist article quoted above, Burton claims he convincingly reproduced the O' Connor photo using a polythene bag and the stick he found at the camp site "that looked identical with the neck and head of O' Connor's monster".

Unfortunately, for Burton, he let the cat out of the bag by admitting to Campbell that he never had this head-neck stick. It was allegedly discovered later on by a journalist who lost it himself. In other words, the story about reproducing the picture with the stick is false.

So, it is no surprise this "convincing" reproduction has never been published and I wager never shall. What we do have is a truly awful reproduction that Burton made at Loch Ness and had published in the Illustrated London News dated July 23rd 1960. This article was essentially a report on his week's trip to Loch Ness.

In that article he talks about the various objects and conditions that can deceive the observer, but again he makes no mention of findings at O' Connor's campsite. Perhaps he was also afraid O'Connor would sue the Illustrated London News!? As part of his photo compendium he reproduced the picture below using a rock and a stick.




Now I would not call this picture convincing of anything. One wonders why he did not use the O' Connor reproduction which did "not differ in any significant way from O' Connor's picture"? The answer? Because it did not exist.


THE SUM OF THE PARTS?

Moving onto the general items of "evidence" at this campsite, we have three lists described by Maurice Burton in separate publications.

In his 1969 piece, he mentions the remains of three large polythene bags, a circle of 9 inch rocks, a stick and red-white string. 

His 1982 article mentions remains of white plastic sacks, a pump nozzle, the stone ring and the stick.

His final conversation with Steuart Campbell produces a third list of used flash bulbs, charred fragments of several white plastic sacks, the stone ring and red-white string.

Does this actually mean anything that leads one to a solid deduction? The logic applied here clearly attempts to synergise separate objects into the concept of a larger whole (a hoax). However, the argument relies on these smaller items having clear, designated functions.

Firstly, used flash bulbs on the beach carries no compelling argument as to a sinister use. It merely implies that photographs were taken in conditions of low light levels. We know two such bulbs were used in the reported incident, what the others were used for has a multiplicity of possible uses. Burton gives us no information with which we can draw our own conclusions. How many bulbs did he see lying around? Five, ten, twenty? What did he see that suggested a sinister and not harmless use for them? Nothing would be my conclusion based on what he said.

Regarding the charred fragments of white, polythene sacks. Again, Burton is unclear in what he states. The so called sacks were not complete but rather charred fragments. Could he actually tell how big they originally were and what their overall shape originally was?

Instead of positing inflated monsters, it would be simpler to read the text of the description of the camp to come to another conclusion. I note Burton says a branch was tied down to form a bivouac. This implies O' Connor brought no tent but improvised a shelter. That required some material to form the covering - such as plastic sheets or canvas. I think O' Connor brought polythene sheets to form a bivouac with and simply burnt some or all of them when he decamped. Burton was allowing his desire to find a monster hoax colour his interpretation of the scene.

What about the pump nozzle? Well, what about it? I take a pump nozzle with me when I camp at Loch Ness every year. However, it is not used for any sinister purpose. I use it to inflate the airbeds we sleep on! They had inflatable camp beds in 1960 which were pretty much similar to what we have today. Again, there is nothing sinister here which does not have a simpler, more innocent explanation.

The final item is more interesting and that is the submerged stone circle with the red-white string. Burton connects the circle with O'Connor because the red-white string was also found tying up the bivouac. Burton hypothesises that the arrangement of stones was used to weigh down a suggested inflatable monster.

Okay, there is an immediate problem with this interpretation. We have a circle of stones and we have a monster picture. The impression I get from the photograph is of a body that is not describing a circle but an ellipse where it interfaces with the water. I would suggest you cannot create an elliptical object from a circular base. You will get into all kinds of trouble trying to do that in water only a few inches deep.

In fact, since critics of this photo like to employ Occam's Razor in a rather indiscriminate way, why don't I suggest a simpler reason for a circle of stones at a campsite? I photographed this object at the area of the O' Connor site last year.




It is a campfire and you get them all over Loch Ness from wild campers. They existed before Peter O' Connor turned up at Loch Ness and they continue to be built to this day. But, some overheated sceptic may jump in at this point and tell me O' Connor's stone circle was underwater. It was, and barely so according to what I have read. The reason I do not regard this as a problem is the two pictures below which I took with one of my trap cameras back in 2011.





As you can see, the loch level can differ substantially even after two days. The water level of the loch can go up and down according to the inflow of waters from its many rivers and streams. In fact, it can go up or down by as much as seven feet. My simple contention is that O' Connor built a campfire that subsequently was submerged by rising loch levels.

This is borne out by the rainfall figures from the nearby Nairn weather station for May and June 1960. May 1960 had a monthly rainfall figure of 7.9 mm which was very low. In fact, the records go back to 1931 and May 1960 was the fourth driest month in 29 years.

Looking at the rainfall for June 1960 (when Burton was there), the figure was 78.5mm. That gives a rainfall increase of 70.6mm. Comparing this with other monthly differentials makes it the 41st highest climb in rainfall out of 1000+ data points. That would suggest that Mr. O 'Connor's camp fire was going to be submerged.

And what about that red-white string tied around the stones? I don't know, but I do know it has nothing to do with monster hoaxes. The stone circle was likely on dry ground when O' Connor was there, but comments are welcome. My own opinion is that this is another "over-interpreted" statement from Burton akin to his words about finding the head-neck stick and photographing a near perfect reproduction.


RELIABILITY

Given the theory that Burton had over interpreted what was seen on the shoreline that day, it seemed appropriate to seek corroboration from one of the other people present at "O' Connor's Cove". I emailed Maurice Burton's son, Robert, back in 2012 asking about that beach visit and the alleged reproduction photograph. His reply was as follows:

That you have asked the question suggests that you have not read "Elusive Monster". I have nothing to add to what is in that book.

Well, the book says nothing about what I asked and Robert's terse reply suggested he thought there was nothing to add beyond it. I would agree with that, there is nothing to add against the O' Connor picture beyond the 1961 book.

In terms of accepting the evidence that Maurice Burton has proffered in the past, it seems some caution has been urged by researchers. Peter Costello offered the most scathing line when he gave his opinion on this matter of beach evidence:

Nevertheless, Dr Burton would have to produce evidence for the existence of the all too easily found polythene bag before I would believe him.

In the original text from "In Search of Lake Monsters", the last word "him" is italicised. Costello had looked at Burton's other pronouncements and the runaround he had given him on the G. E. Taylor film and come to his own conclusions.You can find similar words directed at Dr. Burton by Roy Mackal in his book when he discusses the same film.

Of course, it all seemed strange that O' Connor was so cavalier in leaving so much alleged evidence of wrongdoing. It all seemed so convenient and Peter Costello knew it. Given the false flag episode with the stick photo story, I can see Costello's issue with whatever bold statements Burton would make.

Later, Burton was to be found unreliable again in stating the facts when he was again asked about the Taylor film. To quote one Loch Ness researcher:

In his The Loch Ness Monster: the Evidence (New York: Prometheus Books, 1997[4th ed.], p.56) Steuart Campbell refers to a letter sent to him by Dr. Burton in which he stated that a short while before [the filming] there had been a newspaper report of a four-horned monster in the lake, which was later identified as the bloated body of a horse. This indicated that he thought that the Taylor's object was this same dead horse. 

However, a German researcher and the editor of a magazine BILK, Ulrich Magin, claimed (in one of the issues, which I don't have with me at the moment) that there was no such newspaper report about the horse's body, implying that Burton was mistaking.

I would concur that I have never seen such a report either. Whether Burton lied or just got muddled is beside the point, Costello was right when he said more demands should be placed on Burton when he made statements about Loch Ness Monster cases.


CONCLUSION

Whatever you may think about this photograph, I suggest you do not rely on what Maurice Burton said about his visit to the O' Connor campsite back in June 1960. There may be other objections, which I shall come to, but this is not one of them.

Debates about monster photographs or films do not merely focus on what the "believer" side of things say and do. There is also the small matter of what the sceptics are saying. Burton has made pronouncements about this photograph going back fifty years. Nobody (as far as I know) has made an attempt to critique his arguments. Sceptics rarely take on others from their own camp. Perhaps they want to show a united front against those silly monster believers.

Unfortunately, closing ranks does nothing for critical thinking and that problem continues today when you see sceptical forums which are more dedicated to bashing "believers" than critiquing the barmiest of arguments that lightweight sceptics post. Self regulation appears not to work in these instances.



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com










139 comments:

  1. Being pro LNM, I can't honestly (in my opinion) attribute this photo as to being Nessie. The back/hump in the photo does not look right? Not smooth roundness of skin as would be expected. I'm no expert, that's my humble opinion.

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    1. Point taken, but this article is not about whether the photo is of a monster.

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  2. Great article Glasgow Boy! I used to be certain O'connor's photo was just a silly fake made from polythene and a stick, but having read this I am now of the opinion he photographed a large monster similar to a plesiosaur, swimming in Loch Ness!!! The power of your article is incredible, hats off to you and your Nessie saving research!

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    1. Hmmm, well, debunking a debunker does not prove it is a plesiosaur or any other kind of creature. I'll leave that for another day.

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  3. You make reference to Peter Costello earlier in the article - easy mistake to make. But you'll want to change it to "Peter O'Connor wrote an account of his photograph. . . ."

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  4. Wonderful article about a photo that has fascinated me since I first saw it. I look forward to your analysis in the second part of this article; in the meantime, though, I am interested in the second photo O'Connor purportedly took as per his description of events. It could provide a valuable basis for comparison between the two photos. Have you, Glasgow Boy (or has anyone else) ever seen the photo?

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    1. Thanks, AFAIK the 2nd picture turned out blank. More to come.

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  5. Fascinating article GB! Between Burton's refusal to show the Taylor film to LNM researchers and now this revelation that he never found a head-neck stick on shore despite having claimed to, Burton comes across as an absolute jackass! For the record there's a connection between Dinsdale and O'Connor: In his book Dinsdale mentions taking a portable canoe with him on his first expedition to the Loch. My understanding is that this canoe was on loan from O'Connor. But what the heck is a portable canoe?
    Paddy

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    1. Chasing Leviathan25 August 2015 at 12:41

      Intriguing to hear there appears to have been a connection between Burton and O'Connor as well as Burton and Dinsdale. Paddy, if I may, can you give any more information about Dinsdale's canoe being on loan from O'Connor? I hadn't heard that before and would be very interested to find out more.

      Excellent article as always, GB. Many thanks.

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  6. Michael Alberty, Portland, OR15 August 2015 at 07:32

    I've always been mesmerized by this photo because there is no room for ambiguity or misidentification. It's not a seal, catffish, rogue wave etc. It's either the LNM and O'Connor was the bravest/dumbest man on the planet or it is a hoax. For me, it's difficult to reconcile "muscles rippling like a panther's leg when pacing a cage" with that snapshot.

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    1. Michael, speaking in general terms, one should not map a monster account 100% onto any accompanying photo.

      The account is a process spread over seconds or even minutes. The photo is a snaphot of an instant in time. I don't tend to attempt to find every testified point in a picture. The feature could be intermittent, the photo many not resolve rhe same feature seen by the human eye.



      Delete
    2. Michael Alberty, Portland,OR15 August 2015 at 11:42

      Oh I didn't mean to imply it was impossible to reconcile, just that with the one photo it's difficult. I still love the "either/or" quality of the event and if it is authentic, it's spectacular!

      Delete
    3. Whichever way you look at it, it's a "classic".

      Delete
  7. Michael Alberty, Portland,OR15 August 2015 at 12:45

    Can't wait to read part 2! Will it cover height/angle of the camera, how much light there should be at time of morning etc?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Been waiting for an article on this “classic” photo. This photo has always fascinated me and, I dare say, I find myself thinking that it is too good to be true. If this is not a hoax and is genuine, it has got to be the best evidence for the LNM. No ambiguity there. Now, the big question is, what the heck is it? A plesiosaur, a giant salamander, a giant eel, a giant fish, or a giant fish with a proboscis? It's something though! I'm keeping with my “something strange and big” in the loch position. One interesting thing to note is: as skittish and situational aware as a Nessie is reported to be, how was O'Connor able to sneak up on it!

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    Replies
    1. Must have been wearing his slippers!

      Delete
  9. Martin Kostaglos16 August 2015 at 07:32

    I don't understand why anyone gives this photo the time of day, let alone writes an extremely lengthy article about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoyed writing it, actually.

      Delete
    2. While it seems fairly obvious this not a picture of a LNM the main focus here - on the claims of Maurice Burton - is something that has long needed explaining. I hope part two will include an illustration of what the rest of the body looks like under the water line, and how the neck is able to connect to the body. Will we get part two soon?

      Delete
    3. I have not set a date for the second part, I have some practical work to try out first.

      As far as the similarity of the photo to the eyewitness record goes, it reminds me of the Edith Christie report.

      Delete
    4. Oh, the hell with it you can't win!

      Delete
    5. Now they're complaining it is too long! LOL

      Delete
    6. Your attention to detail and ability to dig up old photos and articles does make for some long and usually interesting pieces. While not everyone may agree with your conclusions, I cannot see how anyone can question your dedication or passion...

      Delete
    7. Yep, only my sanity is questioned!

      Delete
  10. My memory may be faulty here because it was long ago but I do distinctly remember reading Tim Dinsdales book and it had the O'Connor pictures in it. I say pictures because I'm remembering at least two separate shots of the 'creature'.

    However, I was taken aback when some ( a few?) years later and locating Tim's book in our public library that the O'Connor photos were no longer included.

    At the time I wasn't hip to the knowledge that in later book printings, things might be added or deleted from the original version.
    However, again, I do recall more than one O'Conner photo.

    Jon, LINY

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    Replies
    1. Tim did omit the photo, that's for another article. If you think a second photo was published, where did you see it?

      I have not seen such a photo.

      Delete
    2. All the photo's were in Tim's book. IIRC, there were at least two photo's.... basically the same shots, just that the 'second' one was at a slightly different angle.... as if the second photo was taken as had the creature moved on a bit away from the camera's position.

      However, it also could have been the one photo exhibited at different exposures.... which would have been kind of pointless though
      Point being I'm dang sure I saw more than one O'Connor photo printed in Tim's book

      Jon, LINY

      ps... I may soon be 'retiring' to upstate new york near lake champlain. ;-)

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    3. I have never seen a 2nd O'Connor photo either. It is not in my printing of Dinsdale's book...

      Delete
    4. Dinsdale's "Loch Ness Monser", 1st edition has one shot in it.

      Delete
    5. Alright then... my human memory has mutated a bit as it's wont. :-)
      I could swear in my minds eye looking at the pages in memory there was more pics.... ah well, false alarm

      Was going to suggest if anyone has a first printing of the book to check and hopkarma and GB did just that.

      Minor mystery solved, lol

      Jon LINY

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    6. Careful with the bevvy, John. Nessie might appear in your back room!

      Delete
    7. True John, but what into, that is the question! lol

      Jon, LINY

      Delete
    8. A pink Nessie I'm afraid. Oh dear!

      Delete
    9. The 1961 edition of Dinsdale's book has two O'Connor prints, figs.3 & 10, the latter being an enlargement of the former to show the creature in more detail.

      Delete
  11. Didn't Dinsdale remove reference to the O'Connor photo in the later edition of his book because he had come to view it as a hoax?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, that's not how I read his later comments.


      Delete
  12. Very interesting reading GB, lots of research by the looks of it. A couple of things caught my attentions. Didn't Stuart Campbell report that it was journalist Angus Forbes who tried to recreate the picture rather than Burton? He also reports that it was Forbes who then lost the stick. Campbell references these facts as coming from a letter Burton sent him.

    Given the camera settings quoted by Campbell I'd still expect to see some background details if this was shot in daylight especially if the sky was in the frame. The settings are what you would use in bright sunlight, so if it was overcast it would be a bit darker but not black. Also, with those settings and using a modern top of the range flashgun on full power you would need to be about 2 - 3m from the subject to get the exposure we see here. With a flashbulb I would expect you wouldn't see much beyond 1m. It seems fairly obvious this was taken at night with a flashbuld. If the body was 5m long he would need to be much closer than 25m, to get that framing of shot unless the negative had a large crop. From Campbell's book, I seems like he is quoting O'Connor's own description of the events.

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    Replies
    1. Les, I'll leave the photographic arguments for the next article, but Burton claims the stick was found by an Angus Forbes who accompanied them to the site. Forbes goes off and loses the stick anyway. I'll go along with Costello and regard it as mighty covenient that O'Connor left everything for Burton to find.

      Delete
  13. Much of Burton's story always bothered me. I could never undertand how a ring of stones would do anything to create a long, oval shape, or what use string would be in the construction. String? With stones, water and a huge bag? Maybe some rope, but string? And even a detail like finding charred remnants of plastic sacks doesn't ring true - first of all, why would someone burn a plastic anything? The toxic fumes unleashed would be very unpleasant. But OK, he is leaving camp and burning the evidence. Plastic doesn't char when burned; it melts. None of this means O'Connor photgraphed a living creature however...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. Burton constructed a hoax scenario from false flag objects which do not actually work in unison.

      Of course, anyone can hoax a monster given enough time and resources, but too often we get sceptical ideas which are long on theory but short on testing.

      Delete
    2. Burton's story rings true for me. String would tie around large rocks and stay on much better than rope would. And string could be threaded through the bag. It would be easy to construct this shape using exactly as described, a large bag, rocks, string. To pretend otherwise is to cling onto the hope that this photo might not be a hoax.

      I recommend you guys do some testing of your own. This photo is just another of the many fakes.

      Delete
    3. This article isn't about whether O'Connor is a faker but whether sceptics can be fakers - Burton in this case.

      Going by your comment, it seems you recommend us to do some testing but it is clear you have not done any yourself. This is a common sceptical failing. They propose many things but test few things to see whether they're talk is nothing more than that.

      Believe me, this setup doesn't work and you've fallen at the first hurdle because if you thread string through the bag, it no longer remains inflatable, does it?

      Delete
    4. Yes it could, if the pierced parts were underwater and you had a parachute effect above the water then the above water part could be filled without any emissions. Simple.

      Delete
    5. I think we are talking at cross-purposes here. I am interpreting this story as Burton saw it, He claimed O'Connor inflated a bag (hence his reference to a pump nozzle) and weighed it down with stones. You are going off at a different tangent with parachuted sheets. Now you're welcome to suggest how someone goes about creating an inflatable monster, but the main point of the article is interpreting in the CONTEXT of what Burton claimed.

      Hence my talk about the stones being a campfire which were submerged by rising loch levels after O'Connnor left, etc.

      There is no evidence for inflatable monsters at the camp site. You are free to believe one was made up for the job, but that is different to claiming there is evidence for it.

      Delete
    6. To be honest I don't understand why you attach so much importance to long dead hoaxers, skeptics and monster advocates. I've noticed a curious property of your articles, namely that you seem to regard photos and characters from a long gone era with some extra significance. I also fail to see any gain in attempting to pick apart the writings of a dead person about a very obviously hoaxed photograph. Do you feel that if you make a dead Maurice Burton look flawed you are somehow also dismantling the arguments of modern day skeptics? Isn't this bad science as much as the approach of dismissing the entire legend once the surgeon's photo was debunked?

      Delete
    7. You seem to think a sceptic has to be alive to be relevant for some reason.

      This blog covers all aspects of the Loch Ness Monster phenomemon, historical, cultural, etc. What does it matter if the person who took a picture or argued against it is alive or not? This article demonstrates that sceptics are not the hot shot logicians they have been portrayed as and the corollary of that is that nothing has changed (as I daily see confirmed on various forums).

      And, no, debunking old sceptics does not automatically invalidate new sceptical arguments. They're directly dealt with as well.

      Delete
    8. Not sure I sent this. ( Still drunk, here it is again. Please, no disparaging comments about my drunkenness). Dead skeptics of the past have relevancy, they are part of the historical record.,part and parcel of the whole Loch Ness Monster Story. Yes this is a lengthy article, one of the longest I've read, with pleasure. I will elucidate and critique shortly. I am still formulating my response. Stay tuned. As with all “classic” pics, there are some problems and questions. Not all believers jump over the cliff so redely. Still drunk in LA. Somebody shoot me please. :-) LOL

      Delete
    9. MacDan since your comments are replies to my post I assume I am one of the "guys" who needs to do some testing. I was simply ageeing with this articles premise, and even ended my post with "None of this means O'Connor photgraphed a living creature however...", while in my reply to a comment from Martin I started with "While it seems fairly obvious this not a picture of a LNM..." Having cleared that up I do have to ask if you have actually tested your string pierced parachute theory yourself? Did you take pictures?

      Delete
  14. I've been looking at reactions to the article on the Internet. Some comments here.

    Some commentators seem content just to criticise the length of the article, its writing style and try to draw negative psychological conclusions from it. Well, that's nice, but I was more interested in the logical arguments I was making about how scepticism approached the photo in the form of Maurice Burton.

    One odd comment suggests that since the photo is "obviously a fake", why criticise Burton? The answer is simple, if an argument for or against something is wrong, its fair game. You can't argue something is fake for the wrong reasons. The whole point is sceptical arguments are not as watertight or as trustworthy as some like to think and that has ramifications going forwards (one commenter seems to think this is me being defensive. No, mate, this is me on the offensive!).

    Another seems to think its a bit unfair since Burton is dead. I guess they should lay off Tim Dinsdale then?

    So far I have not seen much of an attempt to dismantle the argument against Burton's beach "revelations". Some seem happy to retreat to other arguments and begin the de-Burtonisation of this photo, blissfully unaware that Burton originally posited the other arguments too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

      Delete
    2. Dick Rayor. is smilimg, Sorry Dick.

      Delete
    3. To that small corner of the Internet which is forever Nessie-sceptical.




      Crank up the rage-ometer!

      Delete
    4. I meant Raynor. My seniality is catching up with my eyes. (Actually one more glass of beer did the trick!) Again, sorry Dick. A word to the wise, don't be contemplating Nessie when you're drunk.

      Delete
    5. Oops! I left myself open on the one. Not all Nessie believers are drunks! Nor are eyewitnesses.

      Delete
  15. I see some comments elsewhere stating Burton is irrelevant to this case. Really? Better sceptics than them quote Burton against O' Connor. Namely Steuart Campbell's and Tony Harmsworth's books. Darren Naish also quotes Burton's beach findings in his blog articles.

    Why is this? Because just saying "it is obviously a fake" is not really critical thinking, it's just a naked statement. Poeple who write articles/books need to say more than just "I don't believe it".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A sceptic from the site you are watching19 August 2015 at 02:15

      Yet somehow it's ok for you to just say "I do believe it" when an eyewitness reports a monster without any photo.

      ?

      Delete
    2. Yes, because I am poor, benighted, faith-driven believer.

      Meanwhile, you claim to stick to the highest standards of critical thinking. I am judging you by your own oft-boasted but not-quite-adhered to standards.

      Delete
    3. Indeed, the fact that so many (or all?) of your ilk swallowed Burton's beach story without any critical analysis just shows that you are the ones who only hear what you want to hear and see what you want to see.

      Set your own house in order before you come banging on other peoples' doors.

      Delete
    4. To me an eyewitness is more trustworthy than a vague ill gotten, blurry photo. Sometimes the eye is more reliable than a photo. My main trust is in the beholder. I've said it before and I'll say I again, eyewitnesses carry a lot of weight with me.

      Delete
    5. Let's just hope you're not a science teacher John.

      Delete
    6. Talk about Burton is irrelevant because ... the photo is "obviously" a fake. Let's try again - this article is about an instance of how sceptics work - in a suspect way.

      Some think this is not worthy of discussion. Well, like it or not, monster sceptics are part of the story of the Loch Ness Monster, so they're fair game if they intrude into that territory.

      If sceptics can have a go at the modus operandi of Nessie hunters, don't be surprised when they get the same treatment.

      Delete
    7. Well, no I am not. Are you? I was a Sergeant in the USAF. Very proud of that. I won't tell you my age because you'll turn that against me and probably make fun of me. I have/had been stationed all over the world ( I call it all over the World , four corners of the globe anyway. Lackland AFB,Texas : Basic Training, Sheppard AFB, Texas: Technical Training as an Electrical Power Specialist, Germany 2 years, in support of a nuclear strike force. Korea 1 year, again in support of strike aircrft. TDY in the Philippines and Pakistan in support of war games and in my home country America. Vandennberg AFB, California 3 years with it's stratigic nuclear strike capability, and in support of reconnessance satillites. Iv'e seen missle practice launches to their distant targets, and launch vehicles with their classiffed payloads. Patrick AFB, Florida 1 year with a rapid strike force. I have been around airplanes ( F-4s, F-16s, F-15s I have also seen MIGs, and every other major aircraft from other countries. A total of ten years. What does this have to do with Nessie, not much really, just to let you know that I know your implication. A dumb nobody.

      I have a ton of life experience. I have seen a lot in my life, I have studied peoples character and foibles, (Human nature is no stranger to me) So as you can see, I am not surprised by your comment, in short, I suffer no fools ask Geordie Skeptiic he'll tell you! I dare say, I know where you're coming from. If I saw a Seal, Dolphin, Whale, Big fish , Big Turtle , Big Salamander, Big Eel, Plesiosaur or a Big something in the loch for that matter, you can rest assured that is what I saw and would tell you that. I know we're comparing apples to oranges, (me to you) If I see a UFO I will tell you that it is not an airplane. Put a name to your Anonymous face so that we can see who you are.Which Anonymous is this GB, have you been keeping count Some may accuse me of raging , but that's OK. Some of the comments by skeptiscs have been very snide and overly critical. Engage in polite discussion., or expect the same in return. All is fair in Love and War. It works both ways. I will now take a more aggressive stance, bring it on! No more Mr. Nice Guy.

      Delete
    8. I was just thinking... Hey! I'm not brain dead yet! I have a feeling I am going to catch hell for my previous lengthy, ranting post. Maybe from both sides. Sorry guys and gals. The bullet has left the barrel of the gun. Remember when I was called a prick? Some people don't play nice and are nasty also, keep that in mind. Okay, I said I was going to critique the article, and the pic. I'm still working on it. (this from a believer, go figure.) For starters, the texture of the body does not look right, shouldn't a Nessie look darker? Plus, Nessie is not looking at the camera (how come we can never get a good head shot, darn!)

      Delete
    9. Sorry, a little levity never hurts, I'll shut up now.

      Delete
    10. You should see the comments that go on elsewhere in other forums!

      Delete
    11. Im sure my name has been mentioned, and my character vilified! That is why I haven't visited and engaged in such venues. (ie Facebook and other Cryptzoological places) It's enough that I air my views here! I don't know, I'm seriously thinking about entering the fray, maybe I should defend my name and honor (not that I think too much about myself!) I wonder if my blood pressure will hold!

      Delete
    12. My advice, having looked around? Don't bother.

      Delete
    13. You may be right GB, I'll stay here where it's nice and comfy

      Delete
  16. I don't understand how finding fault with burton is relevant in the wider context. Is burton the figurehead of skeptics who all others look up to and mimic? I don't think so. Does the shoddy work of Searle mean all Nessie hunters are charlatans? No. So wtf does burton have to do with the likes of Dick Raynor, Geordie and co? You don't go criticising Steve Feltham based on Searle's life do you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is the difference between a sceptic and a scoftic?

      The former correctly parses your arguments and understands what you are saying, even if they disagree with it.

      The scoftic reads your arguments with two desired outcomes in view. The first is a concious attempt to find fault with your article.

      The second (and relevant to this reply) is subconcious and involves said person misunderstanding your inferences due to a bias that seeks to produce a conclusion that can further feed into negative feedback.

      So did I imply that "Burton [is] the figurehead of skeptics who all others look up to and mimic"? Clearly not since I said his work on vegetable mats had been discredited by subsequent research.

      Perhaps someone will quote my line:

      "his line of scepticism continues to this day in a modified form amongst other such minded people."

      That is certainly true, but for some scoftic to come on here and tell me I believe Burton is some kind of benchmark for current sceptics evidences the subconcious twisting of arguments that births in the darker recesses of the human mind.

      Is this done deliberately in a sleazy, deceptive manner? No, its just that old confirmation bias kicking in.

      Is Burton relevant to the wider context? Of course he is. Techniques may change, but human nature does not. That has clearly been demonstrated by this sorry comment.


      In other words, it is a straw man argument and one easily spotted by myself (since I am the one being criticised), though others may think it valid. It is not.

      Delete
    2. And this fault in human nature you've identified, it only presents itself in skeptics right?

      (Scratches head)

      Delete
    3. No, it doesn't. It's just you refuse to acknowledge it in your own group (as evidenced by your attempt at deflection here).

      Delete
    4. I can only think, off the top of my head, of three authors who have written skeptical books on the LNM - Ronald Binns, Steuart Campbell and Maurice Burton. Burton, as a lifelong professional zoologist, has more credibility with the public than the other two. I remember thinking, when I read his plastic bags story, that it was conclusive evidence against the O'Connor photo. Surely (I thought subconsciously) such a distinguished man wouldn't be lying!

      In other words, I was insufficiently skeptical. Glasgow Boy's excellent article reminds me that that's always a mistake.

      Delete
    5. You also have Tony Harmsworth's "Loch Ness Understood".

      There are also smaller manifestations, but these four are the main one IMO.

      I wouldn't say Burton lied throughout. I prefer "over-interpreted" the data. But his statement about the head-neck stick and so called reproduction photo is certainly false.

      There is also the two arguments on the actual photo which I shall address in the near future.

      Delete
    6. Us skeptics are fighting the good fight on the internet these days. See Dick Raynor's website and various skeptical sites. The information is on the increase, but not in book format. We are reaching a lot more people with our message now.

      Delete
    7. David Evans if you really learnt then you should also be skeptical of Roland's article here!!

      Delete
    8. Sceptical? I have yet to see a decent attempt to refute what I have said about Burton!

      Delete
    9. Doesn't mean david can't be sceptical

      Delete
    10. Of course not, we all are to some extent else every single photo/film/story every published would be accepted. No one does that.

      The original comment from "pandwah" implied there was somethign wrong with the main thesis of the article, hence their counsel to be skeptical of the article.

      Not the first time, the commenter failed to go on from there and explain why.

      Delete
    11. Could it be that no one is bothering to question the points raised by your article because the entire thing is trivial and irrelevant? I would summarise as follows....
      1) Man makes extremely obvious fake photo.
      2) Another man says it's fake and explains how it was made.
      3) Decades later another man writes an incredibly tedious article about why the second man got details wrong, assuming he was not misquoted. This third man also makes a lot of assumptions in his article that he is not in a position to make.
      4) The photograph remains an extremely obvious fake.
      5) The writer of the article makes some weak overall claim about sceptics, as though they are a homogenous group all behaving in exactly the same way.
      6) Cryptozoologists and sceptics alike are left wondering what on earth the article was written for.
      7) The article writer realises he has missed his intended target by a country mile once again.

      Next article please!

      Delete
    12. Thank you for this opportunity to expose the couch potato scofticism that so pervades internet forums today.

      I ask for a critique of my arguments and someone steps up with a seven point rebuttal. Sounds a lot, it must be weighty. No?

      The commenter starts with a "its not relevant" point. Well, not really since sceptical books refers to it as an argument against the photo. First point rejected.

      The other points:

      "1) Man makes extremely obvious fake photo."

      Not an argument at all. Just a dogmatic but subjective statement that the commenter thinks the photo is a hoax. Big deal, I thnk we knew that. Second point rejected.

      "2) Another man says it's fake and explains how it was made."

      Yes, we know Burton said all this, you're just stating the obvious again without actually addressing the argument of this article. Third point rejected.

      "3) Decades later another man writes an incredibly tedious article about why the second man got details wrong, assuming he was not misquoted. This third man also makes a lot of assumptions in his article that he is not in a position to make."

      Ouch, into ad hominem territory now! Commenter also plants doubt that Burton was misquoted by New Scientist and Steuart Campbell but doesn't explain why. I think he's just making this up as he goes along. Commenter also implies "a lot of assumptions" made by me. Again, I suspect commenter is making this up and I await his explanation of this. "A lot" implies a big list, but I suspect he will come back with only one or two shoddy excuses for assumptions. Fourth point rejected.

      "4) The photograph remains an extremely obvious fake."

      In case, you missed the "Man makes extremely obvious fake photo." point, it is repeated here for no reason at all but for the purposes of padding out the fluff. Fifth point rejected.

      "5) The writer of the article makes some weak overall claim about sceptics, as though they are a homogenous group all behaving in exactly the same way."

      A statement which has nothing to do with the main argument, so we class this as deflection. Again, the commenter says my argument is weak but offers no logic or data as to why. Sixth point rejected.

      "6) Cryptozoologists and sceptics alike are left wondering what on earth the article was written for."

      I thought that was obvious. Burton's beach findings story is used as evidence against the O'Connor story by Campbell, Harmsworth and Naish (and no doubt other places). Seventh point rejected.

      "7) The article writer realises he has missed his intended target by a country mile once again."

      The target was Maurice Burton. I think i can safely say the target was hit. Final point and overall reply rejected.



      Delete
  17. You can tell you've won a particular argument when scoftics begin to tell you they never really thought this was an important argument. Burton couldn't really be bothered and neither can they.

    LOL

    Just remember, a scoftic never admits you got anything right.

    On to part II, I'll guess they'll be telling us those arguments were never a priority, never really bothered with them. photo "obviously" a fake, blah, blah!

    ReplyDelete
  18. OK all I have an update on the sonar and its good news this time. The manufacturer identified the fault quickly and it was minor. The gear has been retested and it works a treat. Off the coast of Plymouth we got VERY clear images of seals and two dolphins. The dolphins hadn't made themselves known on the surface so we know this equipment worse perfectly.

    Hotel and transport are booked for second week in September. This project is going ahead. I will keep you all updated. Wish me luck!

    Daz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To my imposter (Anonymous 22 August 2015 at 00;37)

      Please refrain from posting false comments and using my reply name of Daz.

      Daz.

      Delete
    2. We seem to have a scoftic that likes to go around impersonating people. He may even be the author of this post. Such is the immaturity of the immature skeptic.

      I have Daz's personal email. If he wishes to say anything, he should use that channel.

      Delete
  19. Daz how deep will this 3d sonar go ?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Forget any comments by Burton: the combination of flash and camera wouldn't have illuminated an object at the distance claimed but, given the slow shutter speed, there should have been some illumination due to daylight. The reason that one commentator above feels the picture looks "wrong" is the lack of aerial perspective (haze) due to viewing something relatively small that is not very far away, rather than the object being the claimed size and viewed at a distance.

    Please don't go down the same slippery slope as the UFO community by digging up long dead hoaxes and trying to inject life into them: evidence is more about quality rather than quantity and cases such as this simply weaken the argument.

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    Replies
    1. No, actually, I won't forget comments by Burton. Unless of course you also wish to forget his other comments onthe photo which you may agree with him on.

      The only thing I have to say to your comment is, since you all claim to have science, logic and maths on your side, to prove what you say.



      Delete
    2. As you know GB its very difficult to prove a negative - its not scientific to believe that UFO's Fairies or Nessie exists unless someone can prove they don't. Its the other way round. Its up to the people making the claim to prove what they say is true - Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to back them up. Do the believers not have science on their side, if not why not. Its a powerful ally.

      Delete
    3. Oh, we have scientific theories, Les. Just not enough data to prove one theory either way (and that includes the sceptical ones).

      Delete
    4. The burden of proof surely must be on Nessie fans, not sceptics? I think there's one sceptical argument which you cannot refute, and that's that no one has ever been able to scientifically describe and catalog anything unusual within the loch. Therefore the current position is that it does not exist. And it will continue to not exist until you prove otherwise.

      Delete
    5. Yes, you can argue the burden of proof lies with us, but your sceptical argument is a statement not an argument!

      No one disagrees with the statement that nothing has been scientifically described in Loch Ness. And, yes, it is the current position of the scientific community that it does not exist.

      However, whether the monster continues to exist or not has no connection or bearing on what you, I or any scientist thinks.

      Delete
    6. Well the fact that it's not been identified shows that it is extremely unlikely to exist.

      Delete
    7. Even a good close up film may not identify the creature, so I presume you mean we haven't captured one yet. That is not as simple as you seem to demand/imply.



      Delete
    8. A good close up film would indicate that we have a creature to identify. The continuing absence of such a film indicates that no such beast exists. Whichever way you look at it, the absence of a good film is hugely problematic for the Nessie advocate.

      Delete
    9. This sounds like an EKM comment, but I might be wrong ...

      I think it is more "hugely problematic" for you than me.

      "Good, close up" film is by definition extremely difficult to achieve and consumer technology only went HD in recent years - while the number of sightings went off a cliff. A monster hundreds of yards away is not going to produce what you want.

      Which brings me to the perennial question that is never answered. How many "good, close up" films of Nessie should we have?

      Maths please, not just a number plucked out of the air .....

      Delete
    10. It seems you are not Erik, I'll call you something else - Matilda.

      Delete
    11. Okay, some anonymous commenter has sent a reply (who knows if it is even the same person). It is an argument loaded with assumptions in their favour.

      But I am going to include it as a comparison in an article dedicated to this subject. I don't do this because it is a weighty reply, but because it is the only reply. I will fully quote it without distortion.

      Delete
    12. I'd say you only need 1 close up film or photograph to establish there is something unusual in the Loch. So far we don't have that. Of course you would also need have established that it wasn't a hoax.

      Delete
    13. Sadly, any close up would only be derided as fake, CGI, etc.

      Delete
    14. But that's no excuse or reason for such a close up not to exist, is it?

      Delete
    15. Well, all I can say, is that if this is not a hoax, it's the pic we've been waiting for. 55 years in the making!

      Delete
    16. "But that's no excuse or reason for such a close up not to exist, is it?"

      Well, that's the problem. I think there are close ups (Gray, MacNab, Cockrell, etc) but the sceptic just steps back, redraws the line and says "not good enough". This will almost certainly happen with the next close up.

      Delete
    17. Good job sceptics are challenging these photos rather than blindly accepting them. One by one they have turned out to be fakes, and that is known thanks to questioning analysis. Thank you sceptics!

      Delete
    18. I think you're overstating the validity of sceptical questioning. I suspect you're not exactly neutral when it comes to assessing their ability.

      Preaching to the converted comes to mind!

      Delete
    19. I'm not a sceptic but I concur with the (probably) sceptical poster above. In the instance of the previously idolised surgeons photo I thank non sceptic A Boyd for analysing it and saying "not good enough". Reason being that faked photos really are NOT GOOD ENOUGH whichever side of the fence you sit with regard to a Loch Ness monster.

      Delete
    20. I agree that faked photos are not good enough. I disagree on what is classed as fake.

      Delete
    21. Glasgow Boy dont forget you thought the Surgeon's Photo showed Nessie before Boyd's investigation.

      Delete
    22. If you're implying I will eventually come round to thinking the same way for other photos, you're mistaken.

      My conviction on various pictures has strengthened as I found the cases against them to be weak on a more critical re-examnination.

      Delete
    23. A peculiarly dogmatic position, given that more evidence of fakery may come to light in due course, just as it did with the surgeon's photo. Additionally, the images do not gel together as a cohesive body of evidence. Rather the opposite: they appear to contradict eachother a lot. A perfect example being the eel-like head you identify on the Gray photo, and the head you identify of the Jonathan Bright photo. How can these two images be compatible? Yet you appear to promote both as solid evidence for the Loch Ness Monster.

      Most peculiar this mystery, in ways one might not at first consider.

      Regards,

      A Farndon MSc

      Delete
    24. When that evidence comes to light, let me know. Until then, it cannot form part of any judgement. If you're rejecting evidence based on an assumption that a hoaxer will step forward, that is not critical thinking.

      I never interpreted the Bright photo as a head, so your argument is based on a false premise.


      Delete
    25. If 'critical thinking' is our goal, then the most we can call the objects in the photos is "unknown objects". It simply has to be acknowledged that there is at least as much chance of these pictures being hoaxes as being genuine. The only logical way of applying critical thought is to accept that these may very well be fakes.

      Delete
    26. Inconclusive is 50-50, yes. You then say critical thinking moves them into the "may very well be fake" category which is beyond 50-50. I see no warrant for that move which is no more than an assumption which I suspect is not free of confirmation bias.

      Delete
    27. So you keep asking for a reply to your question on how many films there would be if Nessie were real. Someone gives you an answer and you withold it?

      Can you see why you generate vitriol from some quarters?

      Delete
    28. They didn't give me an answer, thwy gave me their opinion. I said I would hold it for an upcoming article and include/critique it, but if you're so impatient, I'll quote it here.

      "Ok let's show mathmatically the minimum since 2005, because I have read a stat that 90% of adults since 2005 have carried a mobile phone with a camera, averaged over the last 10 years. This seems reasonable, certainly not far off the mark in terms of everyday observations. In 2015 it is higher than 90%, in 2005 it was lower. So for argument's sake we will both ignore the years before 2005, and we will not factor in the multitude of digital cameras and video cameras (inc night vision) taken to the loch additionally.
      Next we need to know how many sightings lasting more than 10 seconds have occurred since 2005. We are told that this figure is down to about 3 a year.

      So doing the maths, there should have been 30 sightings of more more than 10 seconds, and 90% of these should have been filmed. We should have 27 films worth looking at since 2005, and dozens more from before then. Of these 27, if they were all clear views of Nessie, they would all produce footage worth analysing.

      Now, your turn to justify why we have ZERO instead."

      Delete
  21. Thanks to readers interest in this article, it is now the top hit on google when you search for "loch ness monster peter o connor".

    Let's get the alternative view to what the sceptics are saying out there!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think every "classic" Nessie photo is a fake. I think there might have been an unusual visitor or two at the loch in years gone by, but I see no reason to believe anyone photographed it. The photos listed as classics are all rather churlish to my mind. I enjoy this blog though.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Confimation bias..... aint that what drives this entire blog? Just sayin....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it doesn't drive the *entire* blog. I admit I'll have my biases. I know this because I am human.

      Anyone who think they are free from this is deluding themselves.

      Delete
  24. & yours make you see monsters when others see hay bales.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I've made my case that Frere lied/misremembered. Once people have made their minds up about hay bales, nothing you say will make a dent ... and you shouldn't judge a blog author by one case.

      Delete
  25. I am still eagerly awaiting the blog author's calculations regarding sightings and probable video numbers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have started doing a degree (on top of the day job), so LNM articles will slow down. Bad timing on your part.

      Delete
  26. As per your invitation not to wait for the second part of this article (“The Sightings Problem” post of 15/10/15), please see below.

    Photographic equipment:
    Brownie Flash Six-20:
    Aperture = f15
    Shutter speed = 1/50th of a second
    Flash = Philips PF5 (bulb)

    Film: Ilford HP3

    Guide Number for PF5 flashbulb with 200 ASA film (HP3) = 330 @ 1/50th sec. (using feet as distance measurement).

    Claimed distance of object = 25 yards = 75 feet.
    Correct aperture required = 330 / 75 = 4.4. = f4 (approximately).

    The bulb manufacturers (Philips) recognize the shortcomings of less than optimal flash reflectors and cameras by including a table on the back of the packaging for “snapshot cameras” (e.g. Brownies), which gives the maximum subject distance for the type of camera and film used with this bulb as being only 19 feet, which is far less than the 75ft distance to the subject stated by O'Connor.

    Regarding the dark background, the small aperture of the camera is offset by the relatively long shutter speed when photographing in daylight. One would expect to see at least some detail lit by daylight at 6:30 am on the 27th of May, the sun having risen at some time around 04:45am, that is an hour and three-quarters before, the combination of shutter speed, aperture and film being around two to three stops more than required for bright sunlight.

    The distortion of the circular ripples emanating from the left of the image can be calculated by extending these into an ellipse on a graphics package and dividing the short axis by the long to give the cosine of the angle at which they were viewed. This turns out to be somewhere between 62 and 65 degrees (the reproduction of the photograph is distorted such that it no longer conforms to the original aspect ratio of the negative, although this is only by a few percent.)

    Should the object be at the claimed distance of 75 feet, then the camera would have to be 35feet above the water level to account for the geometry of the ripples.

    In summary, the equipment used could not have produced a flash exposure of a subject (whatever that subject indeed was) at the distance claimed, but instead the picture should have shown the subject and it's surroundings lit mainly by ambient (sun) light.

    Also, the distortion of the ripples in the picture suggest that it could not have been taken under the claimed conditions, that is, at the distances claimed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm, looks like a Dick Raynor post, but then again maybe not.

      If there is anything worth replying to here, it'll appear in part II.

      Delete
  27. No, I'm not Dick Raynor!

    Why not see if there's anything worth replying to by working it out for yourself? Everything, including photos of the flash bulb packs showing the information quoted above, is available on the internet and the maths involved aren't difficult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will, just don't assume you're right.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous don't hold your breath. This site owner dude is only interested in trying to prove the monster exists. He buries anything he finds which goes against his aim.

      Delete
    3. That must be why I published his comments.

      Delete
    4. Only because you welcomed his post here on a different page, not expecting him to be so thorough and convincing. Then you had no real choice but to post it.

      Delete
    5. Just like I have no real choice but to post your drivel? I suggest you wait for my reply before you jump the gun again.




      Delete
  28. Bobby "Hoots" McAfee25 October 2015 at 05:41

    Hi there to all. Is there an expected date for part 2 of this article? I've been waiting a long time. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's in my head, just needs firming up. There was something I wanted to add of a more technical nature which acted as a drag. I think I will just have to postpone that to a part 3.

      Delete
  29. Great article, very eye-opening. Just one thing. If this photo is real (and I'm not saying it is or isn't) why did O'Connor only take one photo? Maybe he thought that was enough, but surely catching the monster so close up was a golden opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to Peter O'Connor's own testimony, he did take another picture, but it turned out a blank.

      Going by his account, he would have had to change the flashbulb before taking the second.

      Delete