If you want to control what people think, then you have to control what they read. That's a well enough established fact from history and today I learnt something new about scepticism, especially as it appertains to the Loch Ness Monster.
You won't be surprised to know that the wikipedia page on the Loch Ness Monster is one of the most visited pages by people wishing to learn more about the monster. Up until a week ago, there were some references to my work on it, which have been there for years.
However, somebody by the name of "Bloodofox" decided they should no longer be there and edited them out. This came a week after I had given a highly critical review of Darren Naish's "Hunting Monsters" on Amazon. Coincidence? Maybe not, but for now I am not discounting it.
Two of the entries deleted were to do with the Hugh Gray photograph and an article I had written on St. Columba's encounter with a monster. The Hugh Gray entry used to read:
On 12 November 1933, Hugh Gray was walking along the loch after church when he reportedly saw a large creature rising from the lake. Gray took several pictures, but only one was successfully developed. The blurry image appeared to show a creature with a long tail and thick body on the surface of the loch. Although critics have claimed that the photograph is of Gray's Labrador Retriever swimming towards the camera (possibly carrying a stick), researcher Roland Watson suggests that there is an eel-like head on the right side of the image. This is the first known photograph of the creature.
Footnote 36 would then link to my Hugh Gray article. That entire paragraph is now deleted and the photo relegated to a small mention at the top:
On 6 December 1933 the first purported photograph of the monster, taken by Hugh Gray, was published in the Daily Express;
The reference to the Columba account used to have this line added:
The oldest manuscript relating to this story was put online in 2012.
Footnote 21 linked to my article on the Columba story. Looking at the revision history for the page, Bloodofox gave his less than unbiased and unprejudiced reasons for the edit:
Gutted non-academic, cryptozoology/pseudoscience, dead, and amateur monster hunting websites (definitely not reliable sources). Clarity—a tiny portion of people out there are "cryptozoologists", most simply encounter the being in popular culture.
Do I think this guy has an agenda? You bet. Now I can hear the excuses already. Wikipedia only deals in facts and so all this cryptozoology and pseudoscience should be censored. Actually, the deleted text suggesting an eel like head is visible in the Hugh Gray photo is not pseudo-science. There is an eel-like head visible in the photo. Now whether one wants to put it down to paredolia or a real fish is a matter of opinion. Visitors to the Wikipedia page should be told this and given the opportunity to make up their own minds on this.
Just because a sceptic finds it inconvenient, is no reason for editing it out. You control what they read, you control what they think. The Columba edit actually makes no argument for or against a monster, it just links to my article. But, since that article argues that Columba saw the same species of animal that we today call the Loch Ness Monster clearly rankles with our sceptical editor.
Actually, a look at his Wikipedia profile shows that he is interested in folklore but does not like cryptozoology. Doubtless, he has his own opinion on what Columba encountered and does not want more exotic interpretations to "pollute" people's minds. You control what they read, you control what they think.
Now I wouldn't care if someone edited in arguments that the Hugh Gray photo only shows a dog or a swan. I wouldn't make any censorious attempts to edit them back out. They may be no more than speculations, but in the interest of freedom of speech and disseminating opinion, they should be there. That also applies to opinions which are cryptozoological in nature.
You control what they read, you control what they think. Scepticism just plumbed new depths this week.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org