Friday, 9 February 2018

A Review of "The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded" (Part II)



BINNS ON THE MACKAYS, SPICERS AND RUPERT T. GOULD


In the first chapter of his new book, Binns continues his retrospective on his previous book, "The Loch Ness Mystery Solved", by revisiting some old classic cases. The first is Aldie Mackay's report from 1933, generally regarded as the first sighting of the modern Nessie era. Binns rehashes some of the arguments he levelled against the Mackays in his 1983 book, finally concluding this witness had just seen a boat wake. Binns in both books does not answer the objection of how a long time resident who was an angler and familiar with the moods of the loch surface could be taken in by such a simple deception.

Despite Binns admitting he reads my blog, he makes no mention of my 2013 article on the Mackay sighting which takes him to task for errors in his analysis. This was a perfect opportunity for Binns to show how weak my arguments are, but no answer came. I could make some argument from silence, but I refrain as I will point out for effect later on in this article. However, Binns adds nothing new of substance to his previous book on this matter.

The Spicer case is equally dismissed on questionable grounds such as the fact that the witnesses were driving a car. Now why this should cast doubt upon the case is unclear, especially since they were driving towards the creature, not to the side and not away from it. What is worse is that, like the Mackays, the nebulous tool of "expectant attention", which can magic away many an inconvenient eyewitness testimony, is employed as Binns tries to convince us that George Spicer knew all  about the monster beforehand and this therefore prejudiced his judgement.

The theory of "expectant attention" is the idea that an observer's assessment of an observation such as bow waves, otters, etc is compromised by an expectation that the Loch Ness Monster needs to be included in the list of candidates. It is a theory that no one disputes has merit. What is under dispute is the application of it. In what circumstances should it be used? How can its use be judged when nothing is known about the witnesses' psychological state? How is it to be used, if at all, when we have a witness that has experience of the loch's various facades?

I do not recall any article by any Loch Ness sceptic on application guidelines. Rather, it appears to me that the theory of "expectant attention" is applied in a lazy and indiscriminate manner without any regard to the situation it is being applied to. I put it to the readers that this is the case here. Now I covered Binns' objections to the accuracy of the Spicers' account in a previous article, but since it was published after Binns' book, I do not expect to see a response in said book (if ever).

Binns does add a new complaint concerning changes to the original Spicer-Gould sketch in the books of Whyte, Dinsdale and Holiday. I had already pointed out this issue in my aforementioned Spicer article and took Whyte to task for it, but it clearly has no impact on the original sketch and account which should be taken as the primary source. As for Dinsdale and Holiday, apart from Dinsdale relocating Spicer's "flap" to be a tail tip, this matter looks very much to be in the eye of the beholder - be they sceptic or believer. To me it just looks like hand copying errors, to Binns it is one of his  overstated "important" things. 

Binns further takes Holiday and Dinsdale to task with the suggestion that they had a dodgy agenda missing things out in the Spicer case which again look wholly insubstantial to me. Yet how ironic that Binns decides to omit the subplot of William McCulloch who was a corroborating witness to the area of flattened undergrowth which "was as if a steamroller had been through". Dodgy agenda? Surely not.

For some reason, Binns changed his mind on George Spicer. He initially put him down as taken in by an otter but now he is fooled by some deer. The deer "huddle" argument is covered in my aforementioned article. Indeed, Binns was mainly covering old ground here. I could get most of this stuff from his 1983 book, so what was the point in these chapters?


BINNS ON GOULD

Now moving on, Ronald Binns devotes a chapter to Rupert T. Gould and, not surprisingly, the critique is designed to cast doubt upon the subject's integrity and ability. Binns makes certain accusations against Gould that are questionable. This latest book has given me renewed opportunity to analyse this form of argumentation and I would liken it to the traditional game of Jenga.

As you may know, Jenga is a game based upon a tower constructed from wooden blocks. Blocks are successively removed by players until the tower collapses. I would suggest the Binns argument against Gould is a Jenga tower doomed to topple. In fact, the Binns tower appears to be one constructed from easily challenged sub-arguments, the successive removal of each causes eventual collapse. The tower may look impressive in sum total, but the overall structure is not sound at the individual level. Let us look at each block in turn as they are then pulled from the tower.



BLOCK ONE

The first "block" is an accusation that Gould was a liar. Binns tells us that Gould was indulging in a fabrication when he said that he initially put down the first reports of monsters coming from the loch as something with a normal explanation. To quote Gould from his introduction in his book, "The Loch Ness Monster and Others":

In so far as I had any theory on the subject, I considered that the witnesses had probably seen, but failed to recognise, some well-known creature which, in some unexplained manner, had made its way into Loch Ness.

However, Binns does not accept this statement from Gould on the grounds that he had previously written a book in 1930 entitled "The Case for the Sea Serpent" which advocated the cryptozoological existence of sea serpents. Binns portrays Gould as a prejudiced researcher loaded with confirmation bias.

But where is the proof for such an accusation? There is none provided and the grounds for such an attack is merely based upon a line of reasoning that says, "Gould believed in sea serpents", "People were reporting sea serpent like creatures from Loch Ness", therefore Gould would have believed them to be sea serpent reports.

This makes no sense at all as a deduction and looks more like biased speculation. When I thought about this from my own point of view as a believer in aquatic cryptids,  I certainly do not jump on the next monster bandwagon whenever I hear about some report from a lake in some other country. Neither do I presume there must be a large, unidentified animal in a body of water just because a distant blob is snapped from someone's mobile phone camera.

Indeed, examining Gould's 1930 book, one is left wondering whether Binns had actually looked at it. I have a copy and so reviewed it in the light of Binns' accusation and what I found was a Gould who didn't swallow every sea serpent report that came his way.

In his introduction, Gould admits that "there were practical jokers who took a delight in hoaxing the public with stories of sea serpents". As to the matter of misidentifications, Gould refers to the previous work of Oudemans entitled "The Great Sea Serpent" and its 187 sea serpent cases. From these, Gould dismisses "at least half" on the grounds of insufficient evidence or more natural explanations. So much for the version of Gould that is desperate to see monsters everywhere.

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that Gould did believe in sea serpents. But it does change the idea that he uncritically accepted claims for them from any old region of the world. The last word against this feeble accusation goes to Gould, who with keen prescience saw Binns coming when he said (pp.16-17):

Of course, if anyone chooses to assert that I went to Loch Ness with the intention (conscious or subconscious) of identifying the "monster" as a "sea-serpent," and points for confirmation to the fact that I have already committed a book about such creatures, and am an avowed believer in their existence, I have no means of disproving his assertion. But if I am any judge of what I think, and of how I form my convictions, I can - and I do - contradict it most emphatically. I retained my original theory - that some known creature had found its way into the Loch - so long as it appeared to fit the facts; I only discarded it under the compulsion of what I consider to be reliable and convincing evidence. 

It is to be noted that Binns decided not to quote this passage in his book.


BLOCK TWO

Binns move on from his whataboutery tactics by further accusing Gould of not consulting any sceptics at Loch Ness. This employs the decidedly weak approach of argumentum ex silentio since Gould does not explicitly state this to be the case. Indeed, Binns tries to wrestle Gould's words to imply he was out only to speak to believers. This is said to be the case when Gould stopped off in Edinburgh to confer with Scotsman journalist, P. G. Stalker.

Binns employs hyperbole by describing Stalker as "an ardent promulgator of the monster" and "second only to that of Alex Campbell". However, Binns cannot even get his basic facts right here as it was not Stalker, but his boss, J. W. Herries, who directed reporting of events at Loch Ness. Herries told Stalker to break off from reporting on Navy manoeuvres on the Moray Firth to find out what was going on at Loch Ness.

Consulting my copy of Herries' autobiography, "I Came, I Saw";  he makes this clear enough and  admits it was a bit of a risk putting such articles into the normally sober minded newspaper. However, the reaction of readers proved it to be the right decision and The Scotsman began a long association with the Monster of Loch Ness.  It is no surprise that Ronald Binns is not pleased with this "promulgation", after all, he does not believe there is anything unusual in Loch Ness. To deride the Scotsman newspaper for printing these eyewitness accounts says more about the derider than the derided.

Of course, Gould did not go to Edinburgh to be indoctrinated by "ardent promulgators". His chief mission was to examine the various articles to extract eyewitness information for his own research purposes later on at the loch. At that time, only Scottish newspapers were reporting with any consistency and detail on events at Loch Ness. Therefore, it is no surprise that Gould made his way to Edinburgh.

Did Gould only consort with "believers"? Well, Gould's book says he consulted with Mr. E. W. Porter, resident engineer of the Caledonian Canal on the waterways between Loch Ness and the sea. That doesn't sound like an exercise in confirmation bias. I guess that disproves Binns' accusation and it is clear from Gould's book that he quotes and examines the opinions of well known sceptics such as the zoologists Calman and Boulenger.

But Binns demands to known why Gould did not visit Captain John MacDonald. John MacDonald is one of the poster boys of Loch Ness Scepticism. Back in the early days of 1933, MacDonald wrote to the Inverness Courier as captain of one of the loch's steamers saying he had not seen anything unusual in his decades of navigating the loch. Binns rolled this man out in his 1983 book and does so again here.

Unfortunately, for someone who puts himself out as an accomplished researcher, Binns seems yet again unaware of an article of mine from 2011 in which MacDonald recants his scepticism with these words to the Daily Mail in 1934:

If so many reputable people say they have seen 'the beast' one inclines to the belief that there is something in it.

MacDonald says his daughter, Christina, saw the monster and I take her to be the Miss C. MacDonald who saw the creature in its single hump aspect on 22nd October 1933, and whom Gould interviewed for his book. Perhaps Gould met the captain while he interviewed his daughter? If so, I suspect John MacDonald was less than sceptical. So what other local sceptics should Mr. Gould have consulted? Perhaps Mr. Binns can name some more for us.


BLOCK THREE

Binns then takes Gould to task for eventually deciding that the Spicers had seen nothing more than a huddle of deer. Yes, that's right, Ronald even finds fault when somebody comes to, in his eyes, the correct conclusion. The basis for this argument is that if Gould had this"extraordinary volte face" on the Spicer case, it doesn't say much for his research techniques and therefore calls everything he did into question. Gould said this:

"Were I rewriting the book, I should have omitted this case. I think the Spicers saw a huddle of deer crossing the road. RTG".




Now Gould concluded his research for his book in the first half of 1934. I had contacted Jonathan Betts to get the original annotations of Gould's book and it turned out his Spicer recantation happened no later than November 1941, or about seven and a half years after his book. I suppose I must go out on a limb here and ask how changing ones mind on a single case seven years later calls into question ones entire methodology?

After all, Ronald Binns changed his mind on the same case when he went from an otter to a deer explanation. Does that call into question his investigative techniques? The answer is "no"; well, in this instance anyway. Gould does not explain why he changed his mind but one may presume he came across information he regarded as new data which was fed back into his assessment of the case. For Gould, it seems the data changed and not the method of investigation.


BLOCK FOUR

Binns then descends into more whataboutery by taking Gould to task for not contacting Hugh Gray or Kenneth Wilson about their headline grabbing photographs. It is not enough that Gould discusses the photographs in his book, but he must also show proof of interviewing them. The lack thereof is taken by Binns to again prove that Gould was not a thorough investigator.

This is another instance of Binns devising ways in which Gould should have gone about things and since he didn't, it is an easy win for Binns. But the correct deduction from the source material is not "Gould did not contact Wilson or Gray" but rather "We do not know if Gould contacted Wilson or Gray".  However, by setting up his straw man statement, Binns can proceed to fill the fact free void with less than neutral speculations for another Jenga block.

In the case of Kenneth Wilson, my counter balancing speculation is based a bit more on the facts. Wilson's role in faking the Surgeon's Photo was documented by Boyd and Martin in 1994. What comes across in their investigation was a picture of a man who was very reticent to talk about the picture and indeed give oblique hints that all was not what it appeared. In that light, it seems more unlikely than likely that Wilson would have granted Gould an interview (if anyone is aware of Wilson granting interviews to the media, let me know).

In the case of Hugh Gray, the two men were separated by over 500 miles. I have no idea if Gray had his own phone line and I am sure Gould would not have undertaken a special journey just to see him (note Gray's photo had not been published at the time of Gould's loch visit). If Gray was amenable to written correspondence, we will never know as such a thing is not stated either way.

 I would add that Gould comes across as not too enthusiastic about Gray's photo and employs words such as "vagueness" and "indefinite" to it. Having said that, he does accept it as a photograph of the creature. One also has to add that as a sea serpent investigator, Gould would have had next to no experience in critiquing such photographs. Indeed, I find no reference to such pictures in "The Case for the Sea Serpent" as such an item is even more rare than any of the Loch Ness Monster.



BLOCK FIVE

The final argument Binns employs against Gould seems to have some merit and that was Gould's use of sketches from his sea serpent book to help eyewitnesses in their description of what they had seen out on the loch. This appears like an attempt to influence witnesses in a certain direction. Unlike Binns' other assertions, we know this to be true because Gould said it in his book:

I must plead guilty to having taken a copy of the book North with me, and I must also confess that I occasionally showed it to a witness - but I made it my rule not to do so until after I had taken the statement, and to attach no weight to suggested modifications of this which I considered the book might possibly have inspired.

I used its illustrations as a means by which witnesses who could not draw might be able to indicate something to me which more or less resembled what they described; and I consider that this was a very natural proceeding. If, for example, I were an insurance official, going to interview a witness who had seen a car accident, but could not tell the make of the car, I should certainly take an illustrated catalogue of cars with me. And if for some reason (or prejudice), no such catalogue were available, I should certainly do my best to compile one of my own.

The Binns hyperbole machine goes into action as phrases such as "extraordinary admission" and "blatantly manipulative" are wheeled out to increase the impact of the argument. As the old preacher's notes used to say - "argument weak here, thump pulpit". Note that Binns does not include the first Gould paragraph above which lessens the alleged impact of the second paragraph.

However, Binns claims Gould used these sea serpent illustrations to "clarify some of his drawings" for his Nessie book. That is certainly not clear to me as I read the two paragraphs in toto. What is clear to me is that Gould did not allow any feedback from the sea serpent sketches to colour the statement from the witness. Neither is there any indication that these sketches formed any basis for any sketch that appeared in his Nessie book. In other words, this is another straw man argument and the pulling of the final block gives you this:





CONCLUSION

In the hierarchy of persuasive arguments, there are empirical facts, deductions and finally speculations. What Binns has done to Rupert Gould lies at the far end of the "speculation" spectrum. The fact that Binns employs some ready made binnsisms* to dress them up in the language of empiricism should not fool anyone.

Since I undertook to review this book, I have found so many errors, exaggerations and weak logic it would be a herculean task to enumerate and dismiss all of them. But I have better things to do with my time, such as finishing off my own new book. So, I will do one more review and that is Binns' critique of my own previous work, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness". In the meantime, take it from this and the previous article that this is a book that continues the ignoble tradition of "slasher" scepticism.


* Binnsism (n.) A psychological tactic derived from politics in which the weakness of an argument is obscured by the use of hyperbolic language.

48 comments:

  1. Just one point regarding your thought provoking tranche.

    It's hardly "recanting his scepticism " maybe a case of MacDonald being conciliatory or diplomatic .

    Fact is, his letter is still a major problem for the LNM " tradition ".

    If we respect Alex Campbell's years of knowledge and experience of the loch's history, flora and fauna we must also respect MacDonald's flatly stated opinion that in many years sailing on the loch he saw nothing exotic. Why would he lie ?

    Binns' much needed basic research on the non-existant LNM tradition still stands up to scrutiny after 30 years.

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    1. Oh, if only I could give you a *complete* review of Binns' works ... unfortunately that would have the same withering effect of someone having to examine dodgy images for the vice squad. I would rather do something else.

      As for MacDonald, it seems he regarded his own letter as a problem.

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  2. On my mystery quest ive never paid much attention to the claims that people have worked or lived on loch ness for so many years and not seen anything!getting a sighting in loch ness has as much chance as winnin lottery! And ive met people who have recently had a sighting after years of not seeing anything including one mate who works on the loch every day and has done for years! I also remember talking to a worker at urquhart castle who had seen a huge shape in the water the previous year after years seeing nothing and working on the loch! For me its not an argument against the tullimunstrem just cus sumone hasnt seen it for years! Cheers...mm Roy

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  3. I read Gould's book and loved the fact that he's the first one to say that he wished there were serious qualified scientists looking into the matter and laid out in detail his best attempts at utilising the scientific method. Gould did a very good job. You can argue with his conclusions but not his integrity nor the skill and energy with which he approached the task.

    In reference to ROY's interesting comment above, the 'lottery' theory doesn't hold up to me 100%. True, not everyone sees it the more time spent or lived at the loch but in most cases the more people looked the more they saw it. Dinsdale and Mackal both saw it at least once more. And if you believe Alex Campbell then he saw it well over a dozen times. Now in complete contradiction to what I've just said - personally I think Campbell was at it. It's possible he saw it a few times but the frequency he claimed is an clear anomaly to all other data. But then he's dead so I can't track meet him and look into his eyes and see if he was telling porkies. The McDonald issue can be used by either side to claim a victory with equally genuine weight.

    Anyway great article. If Binns reads this then I really hope he joins the debate on here.

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  4. I slightly disagree with that Kyle. You say the more people look the more they see, so what about Steve Feltham? He saw something in his first couple of years at the loch yet after another 20 odd years of looking he has seen nothing.

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    1. Sure GEZZA. Yet if you're not looking at the loch then it's impossible you'll see it. So by definition you need to be there to have that 1 in a million chance to begin with. I know what you mean though - it's not directly proportional that the longer you're there the more you'll see.

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  5. Kyle, if memory serves, I don't think Campbell actually claimed over a dozen sightings, but rather told of a number of experiences that he attributed to Nessie. In some of those experiences he didn't actually see anything.


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    1. http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/poor-old-alex-campbell-part-i.html

      http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/poor-old-alex-campbell-part-ii.html

      http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/poor-old-alex-campbell-part-iii.html

      With the emphasis on iii.

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    2. It's a truly magnificent defence of Mr Campbell GB. It's possibly the best example of your passionate, positive stance on the mystery and the characters associated combined with your usual logical detective work.
      So Campbell possibly saw the creature on only 3 occasions? Much more believable. One thing I always wondered about; the Surgeon photo hoaxers claimed they had to sink the model because the water bailiff was approaching. Are they possibly admitting Campbell was in on the hoax?
      I dunno... And I'm sorry if this is irrational but.. he seems so well placed at so many critical junctures in the mystery and to have had such an influence that I can't help but be slightly sceptical about some of his claims. I will end my unprovable negativity by saying that if the creature exists that Campbell probably saw it a few times and has over egg the pudding a little... and I'd have very much liked to have met him myself.

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  6. Kyle if u bought 20 lotto tickets instead of one u wud improve ur chances of winning but still prob wont!point im making is its ok mcdonald or others saying they on the loch or workin on loch for umpteen years but how much time do they spend looking for monsters??? And who knows on a tourist boat if anyone has had a sighting? Sum peole mite keep it quiet!! Good example was that lady on a documentry who moved to the loch and had a sighting of a huge hump within 12 months... the locals didnt like this so called her a liar. She took a lie detector on tv and passed it!!! I think its the luck of the moment! Ive bin going to loch ness regulary for 17 years and not seen anything..but one day we had gone out for a day a hump had bin sighted right by were we stayed..witnessed by the crew of the royal scot and a woman from fort augustus driving past! Sods law! Ive got friends who work on a tourist boat who never watch the loch while two others do! For me sumone watching the loch for 2 weeks can watch it longer thsn sumone who has bin there for 2 years! My humble of course :-) on a good note..ill be back up there in a month! Cheers ....Roy

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  7. I don't suppose Spicer, Findlay, Gray or MacNab were " looking for monsters" but they saw and photographed something in the loch just by being there at the right time.
    Without labouring the point, and using a Binns statistic, allegedly in the entire 1950s only 21 sightings were recorded, 2 per annum.

    How can that be explained away ?

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    1. I make it about 80 sightings in the 1950s.
      How can what be explained away?
      What have Spicer and Gray got to do with the 1950s?

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    2. So are you agreeing with Roy that it is a lottery?

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  8. Explain wat away John???? The point im making is 20 years of travelling up and down the loch doesnt mean uve actuallyy spent much time watching the water so for me it doesnt wash when people use that for a reason there is no nessies. My humble of course :-) im up the loch for 4 days next month and if the weather is ok a big fire and a bbq outside my cabin overlooking the loch wil prob ensure i watch over the water in that 4 day period more than most people who live there watch it over 12 months.....if u see what i mean lol all opinions of course....cheers ROY

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  9. Roy, I meant if anyone could explain the paucity of sightings in the 40s and 50s compared to the 1933/34 period is all.

    Sounds like a nice break Roy, I was up there last week and the Glencoe and loch ness sections of the A82 are a pothole nightmare.

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    1. Yeah itll be straight on motorway for us John towards glasgow then perth ..then turn off at dalwhinnie and head for fort augustus..yeah glencoe can be a nightmare!

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  10. John, there's an argument that the road improvements of '33 caused the increase in sightings in that period due to: a.) Debris (felled trees, rock, etc.) being dropped into the loch and disturbing the side/bottom dwelling creatures. b.) More cars on the road due to its improvement. c.) More clear views of the loch with trees/vegetation having been cleared away. As for the 1940's, if I'm not mistaken the loch was off limits during the war years, and in the late 40's through much of the 50's Britain was pre-occupied with getting back on its feet after the war, so folks likely weren't visiting the area in large numbers, and the locals generally tended to be reticent in discussing the subject of the monster for fear of redicule.

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  11. I was very impressed on Gould's chart of sighting locations that they were in many different places - not just tourist hotspots or where population was always densest. To me that is an indicator of legitimacy to sightings, and possibly more like what you'd expect from a living creature, particularly if it/they are a shy one or a deeper dweller. On the other hand, perhaps more fake sightings can be perpetrated in isolation?

    It's very easy to swing and interperate the available data any way you choose really.

    Best of luck during your time at the Loch ROY.

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  12. Cheers Kyle...if the weather is ok it will be even better lol. Love it ..a permanent camp fire..bbq..fridge full of tennents..couple bottles of whisky and a catch up with gud friends...and of course one eye on the loch in case lol If i hear of anything of intrest you lot on here will be first to know! Still 4 weeks to wait yet grrrrr !! Ha...cheers Roy

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  13. The problem with this ‘review’, like the earlier one, is that it reveals that Roland Watson hasn’t actually read the book he claims to be reviewing. The bits he has read he distorts to a laughable degree.

    For example, this blogger says:

    Unfortunately, for someone who puts himself out as an accomplished researcher, Binns seems yet again unaware of an article of mine from 2011 in which MacDonald recants his scepticism with these words to the Daily Mail in 1934: "If so many reputable people say they have seen 'the beast' one inclines to the belief that there is something in it."

    This exposes Roland Watson’s inadequacy as a reviewer, since Binns actually cites Watson’s article, quotes MacDonald’s remark, and then discusses it. Because Watson is a lazy and prejudiced reviewer he hasn’t bothered to read the book and so his comments on it are worthless. Commenters on this site should look at the book and see just how its contents are being grossly misrepresented on this blog.

    Far from condemning Gould as not being a thorough investigator, as Watson falsely claims, Binns actually suggests that he was and that it was Hugh Gray and R. K. Wilson who preferred to avoid having any contact with him, because, in Binns’s words, Gould was ‘a relatively knowledgeable inquisitor’. This illustrates how Watson characteristically twists the meaning of what Binns has actually written.

    It is dishonest of Roland Watson to avoid telling his readers of all the criticisms which Binns makes of this blog in the book. For example, Binns devotes a complete chapter to Alex Campbell and Watson’s defence of him. You’d never know that from these ‘reviews’.

    If The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded is such a bad book why then did the prominent cryptozoologist Loren Coleman include it in his list of The Top Ten Best Cryptozoology Books of 2017?

    The first duty of a reviewer is to describe a book’s contents. Roland Watson can’t even be relied on to do that. But then how could he when he inadvertently reveals he hasn’t read the book?

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    1. Ah, a pugilistic comment. Good.

      It seems you only ever come on here when Ronald Binns is the subject of the article, a quick google confirmed you are not Ronald Binns undercover, but one of his literary colleagues or even a friend come to defend the indefensible?

      So you don't think I have read the book? You will note from amazon that I am a verified purchaser of the book, so it would be odd not to read it having shelled out for more than it is worth.

      I am reading and reviewing it as I go along. I thought I made that clear. My review of Binns' handling of Gould does not depend on the chapters I have not read yet purely because the damage has been done - he has trashed Gould and even if repents later on in the book, it changes nothing.

      Let me address your two points (only two?).

      First, John MacDonald. I admit I have not read further on what Binns say about my article on MacDonald's recantation. I will do so, but the fact stands that MacDonald said what he said and so there is no point in Binns deriding Gould for not visiting him.

      Your second point is laughable. Binns spends an entire chapter trying to dismantle Gould as a serious cryptid researcher. That is the entire point of the chapter! Please quote the page number where Binns suggest it was Gray and Wilson who preferred to avoid contact with Gould when it is clear Binns takes Gould to task for NOT contacting them!

      Binns' description of Gould as "a relatively knowledgeable inquisitor" hardly tells us anything about Gould when the nebulous word "relatively" is prepended. I note you have not addressed any of my other four points. I will assume you agree with them.

      Also, regarding Alex Campbell. My two reviews make no mention of Binns' handling of Alex Campbell, so why even mention this?

      As for Loren including this book in his top ten cryptozoological books, you need to ask him, because I think the book is a load of ill-informed crap.


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    2. Most readers on here respect Binns' first book a fair bit. Some don't obviously. Personally I think Binn's made a great contribution to the mystery even if I don't always agree with him.

      It's also very clear that Mr Watson and Mr Binns are almost completely diametrically opposed to each other regarding their conclusions. We all know that so no matter what Roland says or how much I respect him (and I do so very much) I'll ultimately make my own mind up on Binns' new book should I ever read it. But it's fun to hear Roland's slightly caustic, detailed review of it.

      As it stands I hoped Mr Binns himself would be flattered that his new book is gonna get 3 full blog posts as a review! From the current foremost active Nessie believer no less! And maybe join the debate here in the comment section? That would be brilliant.

      Regardless, I do respect what you've said in your well written, passionate defence of Binns' new book but whilst Roland's conclusions may differ entirely to your own (as they sometimes do to mine) it would be slightly ungracious so say that as a researcher he's anything less than very thorough and articulate in his opinions and findings.

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    3. I have no problem with sceptics and reasoned contributions to the debate. Unfortunately Ronald Binns' brand of scepticism is caustic, libellous and deceptive. I call this "slasher" scepticism.

      Because of the harsh treatment he hands out to now dead and silent people, I decided long ago to deliver my responses to him in like caustic manner. If you can't take it, don't dish it out.


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  14. After the first effort from Binns im suprised anyone has even read the second one.

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  15. This spat could potentially take up the blog for many years to come if GB is going to take to task every point Binns' makes. I mean we haven't even reached the bit where Binns makes mincemeat of the land sightings.
    I have my tin helmet, 8 months provisions in the bunker and the cyanide capsule in my tooth should a pre-emptive first strike occur.

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    1. John that's very, very funny.

      I really want Roland and Ronald to go for it and fight their respective corners. I really appreciate GB's thoroughness. I write my own film blogs that are faaaar less detailed than his and I know how long it takes so I'm always amazed at the effort he puts in. I always learn something.

      Roland 'slasher scepticism' is an interesting term. Probably apt. I do not find Mr Binns as egregious as you do but I understand where you're coming from and respect your detailed and intelligent rebuttals. I just wish Ronald would accept your challenge. You're totally up for it and it would be a wonderful battle! ;)

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    2. Except Mr. Binns is conspicuous by his absence - anywhere on the Internet (unless he is hiding behind a pesudonym).

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  16. So Binns makes mincemeat of the land sightings? Ok John, over to you?

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  17. Roland, what you do on your own blog, no one cares much. But you admit that you see nothing wrong with posting negative reviews of books on Amazon without having read them entirely, or even half read them (I reckon you've got as far as chapter three or four of Binns: you certainly don't seem to have reached as far as p.61). This leads you to make statements about the book which are demonstrably false. Other people may not care that you are so slapdash, but as the entire issue about the Loch Ness mystery is to do with carefully evaluating and sifting evidence, using one's judgment and not rushing to conclusions, in order not to make obviously false statements, I'd say you just prefer to be amateur. No wonder you hate Binns's book: it's so much the opposite of your kind of writing.

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    1. Yes, well, the usual parting put-downs without any attempt whatsoever to answer the arguments I make. Same old, same old.

      I'll get round to the rest of the book as and when time and priorities allow me. I have more important fish to fry.

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  18. I have to laugh at the pro-Binns forces now being marshalled. A Daniel Allen rushed onto amazon.co.uk to award Binns' book 5 stars with this comment:

    "Another resounding nail in the coffin of the Nessie myth. The other review of this book comes from well known Nessie enthusiast Roland Binns who clearly has an agenda is obviously not remaining objective."

    Is this yet another pal of Binns adding his judgement free evaluation? He was in such a rush to add it, he calls me Roland Binns! It was clear to me he had not even read what I said and added the obligatory "not being objective" slur at the end.

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  19. I read his book and along with stuart campbells they both stunk of ' i dont believe so there is nothing there' and both books were full of guesswork!! In my humble they tried to make out the guesswork wer indeed facts and i agree the book is decieving for the middle of the road reader( not saying they wer purposly set out to decieve) .while im all for a both sets of views we shudnt take guesswork as facts! It happens a lot...a good example over the years was the surgeons photo whih was explained away as an otters tail by some writers and we now know thats not wat it was. But some 50/50 readers wud of bin left believing it was an otters tail. And i agree that Binns attacks GB for his beliefs and i find that arrogant! Cant we accept other people have other opinions. Great mystery ..great people involved...GB ..Feltham....me ( haha) Shine...Raynor.....and a few more..but for me ..not Binns and Stuart campbell....Roy

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  20. Another resounding nail in the coffin? More like a bloody panel pin :-)

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  21. <>

    Gezza, that's a Nessie trap I'm not going to fall into, even believers should read the book.



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    1. What are you on about John? Nessie trap? Why dont you back up what you say ? I dont see how he made mincemeat out of the land sightings so please explain how he did.

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    2. Well, Binns did not make mincemeat out of the Spicers story in this or his previous book. Based on that, I don't hold out much for his later chapters.

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    3. Gezza, comment not published.

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  22. Only finished Block One so far, and Binns Tower has endured unsustainable damage. Nicely done! I must save the rest for another time, as I am a big figure skating fan and the Men's Long Program is starting shortly. Scrolling down I did notice that Binns Tower bares a strong resemblance to a certain Lake Monster as it is falling...

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  23. No point in goading Gezza, it does you no favours, I happen to agree 100% with Binns that all the land sightings are hoaxes, I've always thought they were a sideshow, so no need to take it as a personal slight on your manhood :)

    Not all evidence of Nessie is persuasive, we are allowed to be critical, aren't we Gezza ?

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    1. I agree witu u john though i doubt all are hoaxes ..some may be mistaken identity.
      Im sure a huge seal or deer in the dark cud look like a strange animal! But i dont agree binns closed the case on these..i read his book and he didnt in my humble...cheers Roy

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  24. Im not a big fan of the land sightings myself but nobody has prooved them wrong and certainly not binns!! As GB has explained before that over time these stories have changed or bin exaggarated ! I read bins book and wasnt impressed with his views tbh...Roy

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  25. I see Mr. MacDonald Daly has posted his comments over at the amazon.co.uk reviews for this book. I have pursued him over there like a terrier after a rabbit ...

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  26. I read your exhaustive [ in a good way ] Amazon review GB, you're not a trained advocate / barrister are you ?

    Your exacting interpretation of testimony and statements, detailed presentation of facts and your use of legalese leads me to wonder if you have studied law ?

    I wouldn't like to be a dodgy witness being cross examined by you that's for sure. :)

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    1. No, I have never studied law - though I like a good courtroom or detective drama. My way of thinking comes more from a BSc in Astronomy which was 99% mathematics and a career in computers where logical thinking is also a prerequisite.

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  27. Hi, GB. Haven't had a chance to read this one yet and time is currently against me. Can you possibly expand a little on what Mr Binns is claiming re. George Spicer knowing "all about the monster beforehand"? Is he referring to McCulloch's corroboration or something else? Cheers for any help you can give on this.

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    1. Binns needs George Spicer to be a victim of the ubiquitous "nessie expectation" effect to bolster his argument. So he decides, based on Spicer's initial letter to the Inverness Courier, that this was the case, even though Spicer admits to no such thing. Any knowledge Spicer shows of the monster in his letter can easily be explained as information gathered AFTER his experience.

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  28. Sounds to me pretty much like what he said in his first book, then. Nothing new there. Thanks for the info. Great read, as always. :)

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