Sunday, 21 August 2016

John Keel and the Victorian Loch Ness Monster

You may know about the case of UFO researcher, John Keel, and the fabled 1896 Loch Ness Monster story. For me, it began with a reference to the case in Ted Holiday's 1973 book, "The Dragon and the Disc". However, the origin of the story appears to have come from John Keel's 1970 book, "The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings" from which I show the relevant extract:


Given one of my favourite pursuits is tracking down old stories of monsters in Loch Ness before the modern Nessie era, this seemed like gold dust. But no one had ever found it and I stated so in my book, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness". Henry Bauer said he had scanned every issue from November 1896 and found nothing. I concur with this, having done the same via online resources recently. There is nothing from that month that bears the slightest resemblance to  a monster in Loch Ness.

Naturally, sceptical books from Binns' "The Loch Ness Mystery- Solved" in 1983 to the recent "Abominable Science!" have latched onto this as proof of poor claims on the part of Loch Ness Monster researchers. They don't, however close the book on this story. That can now be done.

The solution was simple, having an online resource, change the terms of the search and another issue with the image below turned up.




Do we have a woodcut image as described by Keel? Yes. Do we have Nessie like images? Yes. Is this part of a full page article? Yes, this is a full page article, but it is not on the Loch Ness Monster. It is from the Atlanta Constitution issue of May 2nd 1897 and is titled "What We Know of the Sea Serpent" and draws on the work of A. C. Oudemans' prior book, "The Great Sea Serpent". The full page is shown below.




Keel had got his dates wrong. The issue he had in mind was six months later. Moreover, the article was not on Nessie, but her marine relation, the sea serpent. Keel made an honest mistake and misremembered what he had seen; possibly years later. If he had made a note of the date at the time he was going through the microfilm, the issue would have been resolved and put to bed a lot earlier than August 22nd 2016!


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com





60 comments:

  1. Gosh, you've reported something which doesn't support the pro-Nessie case. Well done. The next step in your awakening will be to start reporting things which actually *oppose* the possibility of Nessie. I think you will get there.

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    1. The fact you are surprised says more about you than me. Nessie researchers don't accept every story is bona fide monster. They never have.

      What would be surprising is a sceptical website saying "I can't explain that" instead of the usual summary dismissals. Adrian Shine was honest enough to say he couldn't explain the three 1987 sonar contacts. That doesn't mean he is saying they are monsters, but he was open enough to say that.

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    2. I'd agree with your points. However, when it comes to eyewitness reports without accompanying images, I don't see why any sceptic would ever have to say, "I can't explain that". I don't think there's any need to elaborate beyond saying "Ok on the face of it that's an exciting sounding report, but in the absence of any corroborating evidence we cannot rule out a misidentification, a memory which has become exaggerated over time, or a hoax". Unless those three factors can be ruled out, what *real* power does an eyewitness account have, other than to pique interest and maybe get an investigation going? In itself an eyewitness account is a very empty thing. The human mind is highly creative, especially at a place like Loch Ness.

      So I would agree with your assessment that sceptics need to be honest when they can't explain something, but only when that something is measurable and tangible - such as a sonar contact or video. And even then, "unexplainable" most definitely does not translate to "evidence for a monster", as you've rightly pointed out.

      As an aside, Roland, I've noticed the heat has been turned up a bit recently. Might I suggest a new level of understanding between the two opposing camps in this debate? I think we'd all be much better off not getting personal in our postings, book reviews etc. It's about perspective. Just my thoughts anyway.

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    3. Your downgrading of eyewitnesses is to be expected, but that has been covered elsewhere on this blog. I don't agree with you.

      You may feel that the phrase "I can't explain that" need ever be uttered, but neither should the phrase "I can explain that" always be uttered.

      And how exactly do you rule out hoax, misidentification or memory defect? Disproving negatives is not always easy.

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  2. I am a believer and as you know a big hunter ( if thats what you call it ), I certainly dont believe in every sighting or photograph, in fact its only a small percentage I find worthy of further investigation. I agree Roland that Adrian thinks there is something there, a big fish in his opinion and he does not stoop as low as to call people ' halfwits' or ' suckers' like other well known sceptics do.
    I have lots of time for Adrian.

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    1. Adrian is one of the good guys, but we must all remember he has a vested interest in keeping the mystery alive in some way, shape or form.

      He's hardly going to come out and say unequivocally that there is no LNM and its all perfectly explainable as natural phenomena and/or misidentification / hoax.

      I'm not really sure he believes there's a big fish in there. I think he has suggested sturgeon sightings in the past may have contributed to the legend, but if I had to bet on it I'm pretty sure he thinks there's nothing there.

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    2. Yes but the point im making is Adrian is not nasty towards people who are fooled by a boat wake or wave, it is easily done for people on a first visit. They are not halfwits or suckers like one sceptic says.

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    3. Absolutely. I've lived loch side for years and still double-take at many of the boat wakes every now and again.

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  3. It's certainly a shame that this did not support the previous 1930's Nessie, but I don't think anyone who is sceptical of this phenomena will be converted by older sightings anyhow. Myself, I love to hear them, and it strengthens the case certainly.

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    1. Martin, as the years continue by without any good physical evidence, all the reports strengthen for me is my conviction that many honest people have "seen" something that simply isn't there. The power of the fertile human mind.

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    2. Well it must be pretty fertile. I've almost misidentified rocks or waves around them as dolphins or seals, and boat wakes too can be confusing. But a whole big beast has been sighted and the sightings evidence, nomatter what anyones opinion, is strong, and can be cross referenced in many regards. These 'hallucionations' are too odd, too similar. We simply do have elusive creatures on planet earth (or maybe planet sea is a better description), and too many reports of odd goings on, like the gentleman's drawing of a creature at Morar, that looks like nothing else, except perhaps the original Spicer drawing. Or the later to be privy councillor, who hooked something while fishing, that dived with enough force to break his trout fishing rod and prevent him from lifting the rod at all. I'd love to know what your thoughts are on those, and more specifically, Morar, as it did not have the hype of Ness, so wishful thinking can be removed from the equation. I'm convinced, but I don't ever try to convince anyone else.

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    3. The problem with Ness is that it's a relatively small area of water. If big animals were surfacing they'd be caught on camera, but they aren't.

      A fish which broke an angler's rod? Most likely to be either a very large salmon, a catfish or even possibly a sturgeon. Those are possibilities infinitely more likely than some "monster".

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    4. Ermm, they are caught on camera, its just that you don't accept any of these photos.

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  4. An unequivocal reference to a large unidentified animal in the Loch before 1933 would at least silence those who think that the story was invented then. This point was recognised by the 6th Duke of Portland, who, in his memoirs Men, Women and Things, published by Faber & Faber in 1937, writes (pages 311–12): ‘When I first fished the River Garry and Loch Oich, in 1895, the fishermen often spoke of “a horrible great beastie” which, they said, appeared from time to time in Loch Ness. Of course we ridiculed these reports, and chaffed them about the potency of the Fort Augustus whisky; but the proprietor of the Invegarry Hotel, who had been brought up at Invermoriston, assured me that his father and he had actually seen the monster. I am glad to have an opportunity of making this statement, as it shows that the monster was known to exist more than forty years ago. I, for one, fully believe in its existence; for, in the first place, I do not see why so great a number of individuals should pretend to have seen it; and, secondly, if the tale were untrue, I cannot believe that the inventions of so many people would agree so closely as to the appearance of the beast … My daughter and I missed seeing it by only five minutes. We were motoring along the Loch to Inverness when we passed a car whose occupants shouted, “Go on! You’ll be in time to see the monster.” But, alas, when we reached Glen Urquhart the spectators told us it had disappeared five minutes before.’

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  5. Haveyouseenityet, could you do something for us? Please go to the archive of 02/21-02/28, read that sighting then post your thoughts. I'm a Nessie fence-sitter, but that sighting has stayed on my mind since I first read it back in February. It was a rather unsettling experience for the eyewitnesses that just doesn't fit into the mis-I.D. or hoax explanations.

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    1. Which article are you referring to Paddy?

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  6. Martin, it's the one about the twenty-something couple who had a rather eerie, close-up sighting back in 1990. They didn't go public at the time, but their story was brought to Roland's attention and he contacted them and they agreed to provide their account for this blog. And it is an eerie tale.

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    1. Just re-read that account thanks to paddy prompting Haveyouseenityet...and what a fantastic account it is. I find the couple's reaction almost the most interesting thing about it...not at all the way you would expect to react and very reminiscent of Greta Findlay and her son back in 1952.

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    2. I know the one Paddy. It doesn't fall into any categories other than 'true' or 'untrue', and I happen to believe it. Humans have a tendency to see a face in anything. Clouds, buildings, grass etc. Yet the couple, in common with many other witnesses, never saw eyes. Their wish for no publicity, their comment about being petrified and their holiday being ruined points to this being genuine for me. It's not how you would make a story up, and it is not a unique set of circumstances for a Nessie viewer. It has an eerie ring of the truth about it.

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    3. Can someone tell me the story ? Im curious.

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    4. http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/an-extraordinary-nessie-story-from-1990.html

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    5. Thanks. Fascinating story.I wish I could see something like this.

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    6. I wish I could see something like that and be recording the whole incident. I would then post the video up and await the accusations of CGI.

      When I once proposed here that some witnesses would freeze on the spot in "shock and awe" at looking at this creature and not use their cameras, some people here couldn't accept this could happen.

      It happens, even to the best of us.

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    7. "I wish I could see something like this"

      Nessie Hunter, you've just got to deeply breath in that Brigadoon mist that we are told invisibly envelopes Loch Ness, and you will begin to see things beyond your wildest imagination!

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    8. Haha Roland well ive been hunting for 15 years and been coming to loch ness for nearly 40 years, people say folk see things they want to see, well i have not.

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  7. Over the last few years of nessie hunting I have spoke to a few people, mainly fishermen who have told me their fathers or grandfathers have told them they have seen things in the Loch much before the 1930's, and though most have not seen anything themselves they are convinced there is or at least there was large creatures in loch ness.

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  8. "and somewhere out there in the night a sound rings across the glassy surface of the lake. It is not the sound of a woman screaming or a baby crying. Listen very closely. It sounds like laughter." John Keel

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  9. @Paddy. I've now read the article you asked me to comment on. It's so odd I read the article 3 times. Here are my thoughts:

    Once again, we have a story that has no accompanying photographic evidence. So none of us can offer anything more than an opinion. We can't offer knowledge of what really happened.

    2 things stand out for me. Firstly, the ease of writing an account anonymously. To my knowledge, no one has been held to account or scrutinised over this report. We don't even have any names of the couple involved. Do they even exist? They don't appear to have answered any of the several questions put to them below the article by readers.

    Something about the report feels scripted to me. That's just a feeling I have. The anonymity, the "keeping quiet for years", the close up beast, the disgust at what it looked like. It's almost as though someone who knows Nessie lore has tailor made a story for this blog. Either a sceptical prankster, or a Nessie advocate who wants to bolster the case. Again, this is only my feeling.

    Would the couple consider making their identities known? I'd love to see them being interviewed by someone who'd ask difficult questions.

    As for the naming of the village near the south as Dores, I don't know about that. Seems odd, especially as they claim to have taken the recording process so seriously afterwards.

    So once again, it's a "sighting" without corroboration. In this case done with the protection of anonymity. So for me it's utterly worthless.

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    1. It feels "scripted" to you? Tell me, "haveyouseenityet?", do you have experience of writing scripts?

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    2. Are you suggesting I wrote that report? Seriously?

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    3. No, I am asking if you have experience in writing scripts generally.

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    4. How is it scripted if they made a mistake with the place name? Not very well scripted I would say. And, yes, it could have been made up from start to finish. But so could any eyewitness testimony in court, as there are usually very few in the court who have seen the crime first hand. But, people are convinced on the strength of eyewitness testimony. I'm not entirely sure, but maybe not much else in some cases. I'm wondering why good (and sometimes professional) eyewitness testimony is ok in court, but not with an unknown animal? Is it because it can't exist because we don't know about it? We would never have advanced far if that was the case, and maybe our pig headedness as a society is holding us back.

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    5. Do you think that it sounds tailor made because it actually happened, as did many other decent eyewitness reports of this anomaly? People shouldn't have to twist it up so that it doesn't seem clichéd. Maybe it is clichéd, but maybe it's really there too.

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    6. Martin, how do you know that ANY of the eyewitness reports for Nessie have ever been accurate? Show me the evidence please.

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    7. I'd call the account polished rather than scripted. It reads as if they have seen something amazing and want to convey that so as to convince others, so details and clarity abound. You don't get that degree of detail in many reports. Very fortunate, this, but also sets off alarm bells. There are just enough errors to make one think they couldn't keep their stories straight -- but also something you expect to see in an honest retelling. Whatever you're predisposed into believing, is what it is. As you say in the original post, it's either a genuine sighting or a complete fabrication. Frustrating.

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    8. Simple yes or no, haveyouseenityet, do you have experience in writing scripts generally?

      Talking about something being scripted implies experience in the matter. If you have no experience in scriptwriting, your argument is lightweight.

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    9. "how do you know that ANY of the eyewitness reports for Nessie have ever been accurate? Show me the evidence please."

      That is a really stupid question.

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    10. Stupid.... or inconvenient?

      I have enough knowledge of scripted stories to know that the couple's story feels scripted TO ME. That is all.

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    11. No, just stupid. To prove a report is accurate, you would have to retrieve the object from the loch being reported, measure it and compare those dimensions against what was reported.

      You know that's impossible, but you thought you would ask anyway. Why?

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    12. My reply was aimed at Martin who seemed to be suggesting it actually happened. There's zero evidence pointing to that being the case.

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    13. I wouldn't say eyewitness accounts are zero evidence, but you can't hold them in your hand. I'm afraid as time goes on, the idea of what qualifies as evidence evolves. And to be honest, I think a sceptic could accuse any piece of evidence as being faked. No one would like to see high quality, solid evidence more than me, but even DNA evidence is up for question. Storage, processing, lack of rigerous professional standards (and let's face it, any researcher can be accused of that, never mind one of those crazies who believes in the LNM), and I'm sure things I haven't thought of yet can provide yet more reasons not to believe in this phenomenon.

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    14. Martin, the trouble with Loch Ness is that we don't even have a single photo or video which gets the agnostic observer excited. There's just nothing out there which grabs the average person as convincing. At the very least there should be several consistent images by now. I mean ones which would even get the sceptics interested. The last time we had that scenario was back in the 70s with the Rines flipper, but that turned out to be a painting. If the animals really existed, we'd have some thoroughly interesting and clear photos and films to discuss, not just a lot of hard to make out blobs and lumps which contradict each other.

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    15. "And to be honest, I think a sceptic could accuse any piece of evidence as being faked."

      Even skeptics can keep an open mind. A contrarian, never.

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    16. More distortions from our new resident sceptic. There are photos that I find convincing an exciting. Your problem is you have listened to the feeble arguments against them and swallowed them whole.

      Moreover, your logic as to "there should be several consistent images" is just a subjective opinion. What animal is this based on? An air breather which likes to surface regularly or a water breather that likes to dwell in the littoral or benthic regions? What about the sceptics that think a sturgeon or catfish is in Loch Ness? How many "convincing" images should we have by now?

      I don't think you have a clue to these questions. But this is all "information" that you claim is being censored? Some information that.

      Why don't you actually tell us who you are and what your agenda is here?

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    17. You sound ridiculously angry, Roland. I can see that people in the past have offered you calculations of how many clear images should now be in the bag. I also see that someone called you out and asked you to mathematically justify why there are none. And there really are none that even support each other or convince the majority of the public. Your response was to ignore the question. So I'll ask you again: Why do you accept the fact that there is not even one good video of Nessie, when "thousands" believe they've seen her?

      Your answer needs to demonstrate the precision you demand from me, i.e. you are not allowed to base your explanation on wishy-washy concepts floating around your mind such as "shock and awe", nor are you allowed to say that camera phones would yield nothing worth looking at. We all know they would. Hell, a friend won a landscape photography comp with an iPhone photo recently!

      So go ahead Roland, put your money where your mouth is and tell us all why the millions of people who have visited the loch have never managed to capture a clear video? No falling back on your old excuse of "Sceptics would suspect CGI anyway", because that's one of your beloved red herring arguments.

      I'm waiting. Pray, put your case forward now. Why are so many seeing her so clearly but can never video her?

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    18. So you don't bother to again answer any of my questions and instead think the correct procedure is to make me answer more questions?

      I hope more and more people see that your aim is again to disrupt and not actually engage in any conversation.

      You say my response to ignore the "how many images" question. You are either lying or did not look very hard:

      http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-sightings-problem.html

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    19. Interesting page there. It does appear that Nessie advocates try their hardest to excuse the lack of a single good video. I'm entirely unconvinced by their attempts, but I'm guessing they offer themselves just enough semi-credible arguments to keep the hope going.

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  10. Great point again Roland. Yes most sceptics ( including Adrian Shine) think that there could be a large sturgeon or catfish in loch ness, but have we any photo's? No.

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    1. It's interesting that Adrian explains away sightings as poor eyewitness skills, yet he touts various reports as possible sturgeons at the same time.

      Suddenly the eyewitnesses are reliable and lucid because it suits ones theory! Go to:

      http://www.lochnessproject.org/adrian_shine_archiveroom/papershtml/loch_ness_surgeon_sturgeon.htm

      and search for "1932".

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    2. Well the loch ness project like many others conclude that nessie must be a fish due to amphibians not tolerating saltwater and reptiles not living in the cold.There are a few examples of reptiles living in the cold, and of course Loch Ness is freshwater. So instead of leaving them out of the picture we should include them.

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  11. I've only ever seen Adrian Shine saying it's CONCEIVABLE that a sturgeon could enter the loch. I've never seen him categorically state that a particular report was caused by a sturgeon. And he's right. It's conceivable, but never proven to have happened.

    It's far more conceivable than.... well, you don't really need me to tell you, do you?

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    1. Not in my opinion Haveyouseenit. Hardly any sightings see a dorsal fin and not many sightings resemble a sturgeon.

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    2. The dorsal fin of a sturgeon is small and very far back, meaning a sturgeon could conceivably account for a single hump sighting. Take a look at this photo: http://thenews.pl/b3da4e70-43f3-4bc3-9891-acfcdabef1a8.file

      I think most hump sightings are subtle waves colliding and producing a large wave which can then go in a direction opposite to the prevailing wind. I've seen this effect on Windermere and Derwent Water. I take the view that Nessie reports are caused by a multitude of misinterpreted natural phenomena, with the odd hoax thrown in now and then. The mystery would have been long solved by now if there really were large animals in Loch Ness. Obviously this is purely a subjective opinion on my part.

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    3. It is possible that sturgeon enter the loch and maybe one or two sightings can be put down to these big fish. But the problem I have is nobody mentions the distinctive back of a sturgeon, and the hump is roughly in line with the fin and tail therefore for me they would get spotted along with the hump.

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    4. I'd agree that a sturgeon couldn't account for anything more than a handful of sightings of humps without fins. It's also quite telling that there aren't reports of humps with fins, ie exactly the reports that would be expected if sturgeon did enter the loch. Hence I favour the following explanations for humps in descending order: waves, wakes and other anomalous water turbulence effects, seals, otters, large fish. I don't even consider "Nessie" as being a possible explanation. Why would it need to be?

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    5. Well, let's see.

      Reported height to length ratios for hump sightings exceed those for your stated explanations plus eyewitnesses with some experience of the loch say the object they saw looks nothing like any of these. Of course, they could all be wrong and you are right. After all, they only saw the thing.

      As an example, why don't you give us all the benefit og your wisdom on this report by an experienced loch ness local:

      https://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/a-loch-ness-monster-sighting-from-1993.html


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    6. There's a big difference between thinking you "saw" a monster on Loch Ness, and actually seeing one. The place plays tricks on the mind whenever someone isn't immediately certain of what they're looking at. Human recall is notoriously poor. The complete lack of videos of such events as these indicate that people aren't recalling what actually happened, they're recalling an exaggerated and confused version of it.

      Just my opinion again of course.

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    7. well, actually, there is not a "big difference" between thinking and seeing. You (as usual) take a one size fits all approach and lump all witnesses as incompetent. Your technique lacks finesses and looks more primed to discredit witnesses at every opportunity.

      You haven't really examined the case I presented (or probably the one below from Nessie Hunter). You just assume even experienced anglers of the loch are no better than a tourist just off a bus who has never seen a large body of water. Clearly, you are wrong.

      As for memory, perhaps your recall is not so good either as it should be obvious to you that a person who sees a significant event is more likely to imprint it in their memory.

      You knew that, but it was more convenient to ignore it. Yes?

      I already addressed the video question in reply to another comment you made (to which you gave a vague reply).

      You have nearly asked all the same old questions others haver tried here in years past. There won't be much left for you to say.

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  12. Well for one example a fisherman in loch ness who i have now become good friends with saw a hump the size of his boat come up at 8pm one night whilst he was fishing. He said no boats had passed for more than an hour and the loch had been flat calm.He said it was far too big for a seal or an otter and the hump was a good 3ft out of the water and no sign of a tail. So what dud he see i wonder.

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  13. Mr haveyouseenityet, your comments are becoming a bit too repetitious despite being answered. You may think they are not answered, that's your opinion. I'm not allowing broken needle stuff thru.

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