Friday, 21 June 2019

Darren Naish Tells us there is no Loch Ness Monster

... again.

The headline from the Daily Telegraph trumpets "smartphones have killed the Loch Ness Monster, zoologist tells festival" as the article continues:

The advent of smartphones proves that the Loch Ness Monster is a myth, a leading scientist has claimed. The ubiquity of camera-enabled devices means the creature would have been photographed by now if it existed, according to palaeontologist Dr Darren Naish. However, the University of Southampton expert on cryptozoology - the pseudoscience of mythical creatures - said the last few years had seen a record low of reported sightings.

The same goes for other “cryptids”, such as the Himalayan Yeti, the Australian Bunyip and American’s Bigfoot. “Everybody has good phones,” said Dr Naish. “You really would think they'd be more and better photos, but the only things that ever have ever appeared are terribly low resolution little blobs in the distance. “I would say that the fact that we haven't got any of the evidence that we should have by now - alarm bells are ringing. “It's all speaking towards the fact that this is a cultural event, a belief system.” 

As sales of camera-equipped phones have soared, there have been droughts of several years with no new Nessie pictures, he said. Those that have emerged are unconvincing. Cryptozoologists have taken to calling them "blobsquatch pictures”. The name is a play on “Sasquatch” meant to convey how the purported monster invariably appears as a tiny, indistinct blur.

Most scientists argue it is unlikely that a creature such as Nessie - which purportedly resembles a cold-blooded reptile - could survive in the cold Scottish waters. They also say the 22-tonne stock of fish in the loch would not be sufficient to sustain a population of giant plesiosaurs. Sceptics further argue that if such a creature did or had existed, the bones of its ancestors would have been detected by now. In 2003 the BBC took part in a large search for the monster, including the use of 600 sonar devices, but nothing was detected.

Let us look at the main objection first, which is the only one attributed to Mr. Naish, given it is the only one he is quoted on, and that is mobile phones. I covered this objection five years ago in this article. Whether Mr. Naish has read this is unknown, but I learnt a while back that sceptics and pseudo-sceptics rarely if ever read articles by those who dare to believe in monsters. I guess it must be beneath their intellectual dignity.

Naish says "you really would think they'd be more and better photos". Well, as my previously mentioned article concluded, there are "more" photos of alleged monsters coming forth now. Unfortunately, they are of sufficient distance as to be mainly inconclusive or non-monster. As to the "better", the article concluded you do not get better images using a typical mobile phone camera compared to the traditional SLR cameras with their superior optics. 

But perhaps Naish means more pictures that are better than what has gone before? When it comes to objects that appear mid-loch in a typical distance from tourist to water objects, the answer is no. In fact, the quality of the image is worse. But at the other end of the witness spectrum, is it reasonable to conclude that more and better short range pictures would become available?

All things being equal, one may be tempted to answer in the affirmative. But there is a likely cryptozoological explanation for the lack of these "better" images and that is because there are less monsters in Loch Ness. Leaving aside the itinerant monster theory which would explain volatile swings in monster photograph counts, it seems not to have occurred to pseudo-sceptics to consider this sub-theory of the monster. The reason they do not consider the sub-theory is because they have rejected the main theory - there is no Loch Ness Monster. Thereafter, anything else is mentally blocked out.

The idea itself is eminently reasonable. Historic overfishing, pollution, climate change and other factors have served to reduce the biomass of the fish the monster would normally feed on. Less fish means less monsters. Less monsters means less surfacings and less surfacings means less clear photographs. Now whether such environmental factors have served to reduce the population of indigenous fish such as Arctic Char in the loch is a matter of debate. The tonnage of biomass stated in previous studies were performed decades ago. Have they now changed for the worst? Perhaps the recent eDNA studies could help in that regard, but that is a hope rather than a stated fact on my part.

The graph below shows the catastrophic crash in the Scottish salmon and trout populations over the last 67 years.  One wonders how the underlying cause of this depopulation has affected the alpha predators around these waters?



Focusing on the rivers feeding into Loch Ness, we have these graphs from the Ness District Fishery Board since 1952. The first graph is for catches of salmon and the second for trout. It looks like trout have fared considerably worse than salmon. Realising the predicament, the authorities instituted tougher measures such as catch and release to encourage numbers to recover, but what effect has this had on large predators in Loch Ness? What is the tipping point for a given number of such creatures?





That other large predators have suffered is evident in this population graph of harbour seals around the Moray Firth from the year 1995 onwards where the count dropped from 1300 to less than 850. Seal counts have fared considerably worst in other parts of Scotland such as the east where the count is now a third of what it was. Biologists may debate what the main cause of decline is, but it is naive to isolate larger creatures such as the one of Loch Ness in this overall problem.



So, we have an alternative explanation to counter the one championed by scepticism. But some other arguments were cited in this newspaper article that may or may not be supported by Darren Naish. The first one cited is "the 22-tonne stock of fish in the loch would not be sufficient to sustain a population of giant plesiosaurs". Needless to say, cryptozoologists are not all plesiosaur supporters. There are other theories which can reduce the required prey to predator ratio.

The oft quoted estimate of 22 tonnes of fish stock is also a fabrication. Yes, studies were done which came up with this approximation, but this was performed on the fish inhabiting the top 10 metres of the loch water column in the pelagic region using sonar counting. It took no account of the eel population in the lower regions or the migratory salmon and trout in the side (littoral) regions. Some journalist did not do his research and any sceptic would do well to avoid leaning on this number too much.

Indeed, one may ask such people how many fish were in Loch Ness in 1833 or 1933 when the monster became international news? I say this because they indulge in the logical fallacy of applying this 22 tonne number not only erroneously today but retrofit it to decades past. To be clear, it is likely there were far more fish in the loch in times past than in these ecologically challenged times when recent studies have been done.

How many large creatures this translates to whether in 1819, 1919 or 2019 is a complete unknown. A study I did on multiple creature sightings suggested a minimum of four creatures - and that was back in  1976. How many are in the loch right now is a number no one can authoritatively state.

Finally, we are told that "in 2003 the BBC took part in a large search for the monster, including the use of 600 sonar devices, but nothing was detected". Now I wish I could watch that documentary again as the memory of it has long faded (indeed I cannot even be sure I watched it at all). However, I am pretty sure the BBC did not use "600 sonar devices". Perhaps they meant 600 sonar beams which in itself is inadequately explained.

Did the BBC sweep the entire loch in the manner of Operation Deepscan (which produced three sonar hits which had moved on when the sites were revisited)? Or was it done in a fragmented, piecemeal manner? Does the BBC finding nothing negate anything else found by other sonar researchers? That is a bit like me looking out the window and stating that if I do not see a blackbird outside, then they do not exist in the area. Well, such is the range of pseudo-sceptical logic.



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com




51 comments:

  1. Dont the char live deeper down in the loch during the day? And are they not they the most dominant fish in loch ness?

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    1. Yes there is vertical migration and netting suggests charr are the dominant species. The sonar count would not distinguish the various fish species and the total number was deemed speculative. You can read Adrian's own paper here:

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

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  2. Climate change has somewhat to do with the biomass of fishies in the loch? Come on - there is more evidence for Nessie than there is for Global Climate Warming Change.

    As for that amount of fishies, be it 22 tons or whatever. This is not an empty equation - that 22 tons is what is left in the loch with a population of large, unknown, animals eating away...

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    1. I don't want to start a war on this site, but there is ample evidence for climate change. To save you the trouble of Googling it, here is a link.

      https://www.climate-change-guide.com/evidence-of-climate-change.html

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    2. 22 tonnes is whats left after the Nessies eat? So they have stopped eating?

      As for global warming, well like Nessie, not all theories attract all people.

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    3. As for climate change, you can see it happening. I can see the difference between the 1980s and today. Even the grape growing regions of England have traveled north. As for what's causing it, that's probably more up for debate, given the fact that establishments lie constantly.

      As for Nessie being a figment of everyone's imagination, I certainly don't think that the mystery is logical, and I agree with Ted Holiday's general bent on this, before he went totally fringe. Ted had the luxury of being able to fully state his mind on the subject, which ties up loose ends regards sightings, bodies, lack of physical evidence etc. The cameraphone stuff is a side-show and is useless unless very close range. Plus Nessie appears to be a water breather, if she is a flesh and blood creature at all, and a very rare visitor to the surface. I've been to the coast many times, very rarely do you ever see anything break the surface, never mind be close or quick enough to get a recording.

      Plus, it's an insult to those who have seen something unusual at Ness to tell them it's a misidentification, every single time. I realise that there are plenty of well meaning mistaken identities when folks are all go, waiting for a monster to pop it's head up, but looking at the evidence, which Darren Naish has only selectively done, would tell anyone that there is something strange afoot.

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  3. The discovery channel calculated at least 28 tonnes when they went to the loch.

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    1. How did they figure that out again> Netting samples?

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  4. Strange how these oh so intelligent scientists can be so exact with their pronouncements about 22 tonnes and stay strangely silent when it comes to eyewitnesses like Harry Finlay. It doesn't fit their narrative. Therefore they prefer to leave ordinary decent people with the "liar" label hanging over them . The best people I've met in life don't have a PhD or a scientific degree which says certain things are impossible despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I have spoken to people brought up beside Loch Ness , including a 73 year old man who I met in Berlin recently.(He was there on a city break with his daughter).
    After a conversation watching the champions League we spoke about the Nessie's. There's no question about an unknown species within the Lough.
    People are fed up to the back teeth with hoaxers. The "surgeons photo" did untold damage to proper investigation. From all I've heard the creatures sightings tend to be the upturned boat variety . Vertical sinking and gray colour mentioned a lot.
    I've always been open to more than one species as well as the transient visitor. The salamander theory ticks a lot of boxes until we hear of Harry Finlays close up sighting which clearly states a neck and jet black colour propelling forward....
    To my mind this can't be a tail as animals only move backwards for a very short distance , usually in a defensive mode.
    Multiple witness accounts are always worth investigating. I'd love to know more about another sighting where the neck and head is obvious. 27 people on a bus in 1958. This time the head was a definite horse shape.... contrasting with Harry Finlays (and others) account s stating that what they took to be the head had no discernible features like ears or a snout or eyes .
    I can't find anything more either about a 1979 encounter . This time another bus and a grey hump travelling very fast. Apparently a few people took photos.
    Maybe the intellectual s could talk to witnesses rather than adopt the attitude that they are all liars and mentally retarded because such a thing can't exist .
    This last aspect particularly rankled with my Scottish friend who naturally stronly objects to some of his family and neighbours (many of whom have passed on)being so categorised .

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    1. Very good piece Phoenix man. I have to say, the multiple life forms that seem to have been sighted in Ness present a very large problem for science. As does possible lack of food source. Not arguing over fish stocks in Ness, there were many eyewitness accounts of similar creatures in Ireland (courtesy of Ted Holiday and co.) that simply couldn't have had enough food. Therein came the fringe science. I have an idea on this myself, reading about shape shifting 'spirit' creatures. Possibly the bunyip, which seemed to ludicrously take a different form each time there was a sighting. Could it be that the creatures are from 'somewhere else', and our brains cannot interpret the data? Same as feeding data into the wrong computer? Maybe our brains try their best, and maybe that explains the prehistoric type sightings of Nessie whenever dinosaurs became popular. Certainly there are very many sightings that did not resemble a long necked prehistoric sea creature. I don't know, I'm just guessing. But it makes sense to me.

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    2. These things can travel on land from Irish lake to Irish lake.plus maby there is underwater caves.
      The ogopogo has been photographed on land and underwater.
      www.sunnyokanagan.com
      Request the photos from Andrew bennett

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    3. Have you seen these photos? Do you know why they're not in the public domain?
      Although that part of Ireland is sparsely populated, I am surprised that there are no real reports of moving between lakes if it was taking place regularly. Any large creature (with flippers) would burn up enormous energy doing this. And therein lies my problem, and Ted Holiday's. If these are creatures as we know them, they are exhibiting behaviour that is highly anomalous, and leaving next to no trace. Ted's only answer to this was that they existed outside the realm we think of as our world. He tried to explain this in a very fringe scientific way. In my mind he was onto the beginnings of something tangible. But we couldn't build a modern mobile phone in the 1970s because of all those things that were yet to be invented. Maybe we can't explain this mystery for exactly the same reason, and the amount of scientific progress we have to make before we can. Maybe Ted was 100 years ahead of his time.

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    4. Yes I have them..the ogopogo is a family of animals,that has a varied morphology,including the ability to look like a log with bark,while it lies in a creek with it's reptile ear above the water.
      The females go in land to lay eggs,and will camoflague themselves next to trees.
      Why don't you email Andrew Bennett? He will send you the photos.
      A very large ogo was seen on land moving rapidly through tall grass. Very muscular and seemed well fed.it had a rounded snout like a frog and was 6 feet high at it's shoulder.boy did it move!( Witnesses comment)
      Ogopogos are anatomically different than the Nessie phenomophe.

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    5. Water horse
      Water bull
      Kelpie
      Horse eel
      There is more than 1 type of animal in the loch.

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    6. Hmmm, perhaps more than one species visited the loch over the centuries, but not likely to have co-inhabited the loch.

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    7. It would be interesting to research Scottish tales of the loch to see if these animals were in the loch at the same time..I feel that they were and are inhabiting at the same time.
      But many in low numbers.

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  5. Agreed on the BBC.. 600 beams they said! But no info on this test at all for us.. They claimed they swept the whole Loch but failed to mention it took em a few days to do so!! So if they did 25% one day then finished and went off out for the night for sum wine or tennents ( soz John Rutherford lol) any creature cud move about and go into the areas they have done.. So pointless in my humble! I agree with phoenix man with multiple witness sightings.. The best evidence for large creatures in the Loch in my opinion.. I was hoping GB wud write a piece on this subject as I find it interesting and an important part of the mystery!! I have just booked my next trip up at the cabin Park.. Let's hope we have a multiple sighting lol.. Cheers . Roy

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    1. I did an article on multiple sightings a while back:

      http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.com/2014/01/tales-of-multiple-monsters.html

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    2. If you position your beer/ale to reflect the loch, you'll spot Nessie for sure.

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  6. Soz GB.. Slight confusion.. I was on about multiple witness sighting were more than one person see's the sighting at same time! Cheers

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    1. Ah right, how many humans has Nessie claimed to have seen at any given time .... :)

      Nothing written on that but I have read of numbers going up to busloads.

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  7. Phoenix Man, there are sightings in the record of upturned boat shapes with head/necks. There's a very vivid one from 1978 where a guy was fishing below Urquhart Castle when an upturned boat shape surfaced relatively close to shore (less than 50 yards IIRC). As he took this in a long neck emerged in front of the hump. He was so effected by this that he scrambled up the embankment. He had fished Loch Ness many times before and had never seen anything unusual, and didn't believe in the monster, but after his sighting he stated he believed.
    GB - you should track this guy down and interview him.

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  8. The eyewitnesses' name is Bill Wright, you can read about his sighting in Nessletter #28 June 1978.

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  9. 29C at Fort Augustus yesterday, spent some time at the strangely quiet Borlum beach, only sign of fauna was a dead baby deer or sheep in the shingle, [ no hair , a foetus probably ].
    I notice a new house built on the site of the demolished Kilchumein Lodge, in a similar style and colour scheme if my memeory serves.

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  10. Meh, no more flames and posts about climate change - its a Loch Ness Monster comments section.

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  11. The problem for any believer is that there is so little scientific evidence - and almost all the data I'd personally accept is disputed by others. So in effect this kind of article whilst pompous, dismissive, blinkered, ignorant and arrogant can't really be argued with. Kinda just have to take it on the chin.

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    1. The problem with any skeptic is that they spend hours and hours posting on a blog,the subject which they dont believe in.
      As for evidence,there is PLENTY.

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    2. "this kind of article can't be argued with"????
      Are you joking?
      Could you be more obvious?

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    3. Well some of them do look pretty pre-occupied in an object they don't believe exists. btw, are you the jquest43 that regularly emails me?

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    4. John I'm not joking. The current status of the LNM is a cryptid. Until that changes it officially doesn't exist and this kinda article is par for the course.

      Glasgow Boy - do you mean am I emailing you? Sadly, it isn't me ;)

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    5. No, I was asking "john" if he is "jquest43".

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    6. Thanks for clarification GB.

      I'd just like to add a wee addendum to my first comment here (for anyone who cares and apologies to GB if this seems spurious). I randomly, by complete chance, came across a blog by the writer in question, Mr Naish, whilst researching another aspect of the LNM and actually thought his writing was excellent. I kinda didn't agree with him on that topic either but what he'd written was actually very insightful in places and I appreciated his angle on the matter even if it wasn't the same as mine. Earlier I ascribed a number of derogatory words to his scepticism. Whilst I still don't see much value in blanket scepticism that doesn't mean I should be quite so vindictive in my critique. I wouldn't be like that if I met him in the pub to talk about it so I shouldn't be like that online.

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  12. Just to add on Ted Holiday (who seems to be more and more often held up as a man ahead of his time). I think he's a great writer and did a lot for the mystery and I love that he thought outside the box. Yet his ideas of the monster being supernatural (or interdimensional) are problematic for 2 reasons.
    1) to me it's tough enough to find evidence for/develop a credible theory for/get scientists interested in the possibility that there's a living creature there at all. Once you add in Ted's theories of supernatural origin you instantly double the issues relating to evidence and general credibility. I am happy to admit that I'd read about or listen to any theory and would consider other dimensions a possibility as an issue seperate to the LNM. Yet even I struggle to accept the LNM has a supernatural origin.
    2) To me there's an element of desperation. Can't find any physical evidence? The more you look the less you find? Oh well... it must be supernatural then! It's just bad logic suggesting that because one unproven theory is difficult you can solve it with another.

    Again, I'm not slagging of Ted. I'm just suggesting that if the mystery can't be solved with a more rational explanation I doubt it'll be solved with an even more elaborate solution. I won't jump down anyone's throat who wants to keep putting it forward I just wanted to throw this out there.

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    1. I agree with you Kyle and I have great difficulty in going down any supernatural route or other dimensions. I've no problem with thinking outside the box when it comes to other issues and paranormal phenomena.
      In relation to Ted Holiday,I think he contributed a great deal to the Loch Ness issue. A relative of mine met him once in Connemara in western Ireland in 1969. He was assisting in a search for large ,eel like creatures reported from several small lakes there. He was quite matter of fact about unclassified creatures in Loch Ness and that he himself had a couple of sightings. He was very convinced about it having been shown a few black and white photos which were taken from a short film in the thirties. Only years later having read about the supposed Dr.McRae film and extensively covered on this blog did I recall what my grandother had told me as a boy.

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    2. I understand why many people find the 'supernatural' view questionable. I look upon it as if it were undiscovered science. Ted Holiday tried a logical approach, based on current wisdom, and found it failed on multiple levels. I'm certainly not as fringe as Ted, but I do share his view that there are deeply unusual aspects around this mystery, and normal modes of investigation have failed. For Ted the clincher seemed to be the Irish creatures that simply couldn't have had enough food, although there were many other odd observations before and after this. For me, it's the sheer breadth of descriptions in Ness, with some oddities in Morar (although the sighting types seemed more uniform there).

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    3. The paranormal explanation raises more questions than it answers. As does the sceptical explanation with its simplistic and naive interpretation of eyewitnesses.

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    4. Possibly, and I sympathise with the fact that yourself and other hunters over the years have been required to take a rational (as per the era) approach to the mystery. I just believe that the facts cannot nearly be explained using current scientific logic.
      I was lucky enough once to see an unidentifiable craft, flying, with my then wife (of which I'm glad or I would have doubted my own eyes). Almost everything about the craft defied our current scientific logic, and should not have existed. Yet it was there. Maybe I've been forced into looking at things from a different perspective.

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  13. Okay, you want to talk UFOs, dimensions, the supernatural, the paranormal as it ties in with the LNM and other cryptids? Let's go! It is my belief that the UFO phenomenon is of an inter-dimensional / supernatural in nature. Some aspects of the UFO phenomena are ridiculous on it's face. For instance the dematertialization of observed seemingly material UFOs, the absurd variety of humanoid beings reported (The Greys, the Nordic close to human looking, the Mantis insectoids, the Reptilians, robotic humanoid drones etc. The abductions phenomena with it's accompanying physical examinations and anal probes... why? The wide variety of explanations given to abductees about their origin, the fate of mankind and portents of the future. Also some reports of aliens seeming to materialize out of thin air and traversing solid walls. The cattle mutilations... why? Crop circles... why? All this is somehow tied together. Having said that, it is not too far fetched that the notion of paranormal creatures i.e. Bigfoot, Mothman, Big bird sightings, the Jersey Devil, Chupacabra including The LNM and other cryptids slipping into our reality is possible. Also, ghost hauntings, demonic activity (I'm not implying any religious tie in with this one), NDEs, Life after death, time slips with weird occurrences and human or other beings (Men in Black) who seem to be out of place reported.

    Perhaps all these anomalies have an origin in a unified theory of everything that ties it all together. There are paranormal hot spots around the world where all these activities are all reported in that one place. Further, it is my belief that there is an “intelligence / consciousness, a pre-cognitive sentient, trickster phenomena existing independently from our own reality. This phenomena has always been here since humankind's inception and has influenced the course and affairs of humankind. Everything has a beginning and who or what created this other intelligence, who knows? (I dare not say God as defined by some religious beliefs.) Maybe it is responsible for our existence, think simulated universe, or multi- universe interacting with our own if you will, as a possibility. This intelligence also seems to be “toying” with our space time continuum and is deceptive in nature. In days of old there where the fairy and goblin sightings, in the late 1800s there was the airship appearances. This phenomena adapts to the zeitgeist of the time and era and humankind's understanding of the world and reality In our time UFOs are more technically manifested to fit into our stage of technology. So, in short maybe Ted Holiday was onto something. The Goblin universe? Yes, something to consider. Hey, anything is possible...except me winning the lottery :(

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    1. Hah! Love it. You've gone full Jacques Vallee ;)

      I am open to all that. I just think the Loch Ness Monster is clearly physical, aquatic and had no reports that are supernatural (and the very rare ones that are are outliers imo).

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    2. Interesting stuff John. Maybe it's not the phenomenon that adapts, but our perception of it. Maybe that's why Nessie had so many different descriptions over the years. Which clearly doesn't stand well with science.

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    3. Yes, I'm really thinking outside the box here. And yes, I do subscribe to his theory. As a Ufology buff yourself I'm glad you can appreciate my position with an open mind, as far as the UFO phenomena goes. As for the LNM, I have my doubts as to it being a paranormal creature.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Vall%C3%A9e#Interpretation_of_the_UFO_evidence

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhM6q7roy1w

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    4. Forgot to add this link to the above to bolster the “airship” comment as trickster shenanigans.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBaw2oqVz8w

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    5. I will have at watch at these John. I wouldn't call myself a UFO buff at all, I was just very fortunate to have a sighting. It freaked me out for a few weeks until I realised I could do nothing about it. I saw a silver sphere, clearly under control, with, as the terminology now goes, 'no flight surfaces'. At fairly close range, maybe 40ft off the ground, moving in a straight line at the speed of a helicopter. There was no mistaking it. I thought it was from another world at the time, now I'm not sure. Could I have seen into another place, or is this one of ours? Maybe. I'm certainly a believer in that black technology may be far more advanced than we're led to believe. So really, I don't know much. But I know how far science has progressed, for someone at least.

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    6. I believe you 100% Martin. My only question would be do you believe they are aliens?

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    7. Watch William r lyne on YouTube for a true source on UFOs aka Tesla electric flying machines.
      Also
      Pentagon aliens 3rd edition

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    8. John, somewhere some time ago I found a description from Tesla's writings that fairly much matched the craft that I'd seen. Until that time I was unaware of this.
      Kyle, I have no idea what it was. It was only big enough to be a probe as far as I'm concerned. If it was from outside our planet, someone else was taking a very large interest in our affairs.

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  14. So .... does anyone agree with the main premise of the article which rebuts Darren Naish?

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    1. Aye. I think Darren makes the usual skeptic case which is logical enough and acceptable to a degree and you counter it very well. I think your point on the phones is a correct one - you'd expect more photos but of worse quality which is being proven. Unfortunately the quality of photos in the last few years has been notably poor. I think they're all fakes or misidentification rather than poor quality shots of 'something'.

      The skeptic case rarely considers that the creature(s) may be dead which is something I often wonder may have happened. To be fair when I read Mr Naish's other work he lacked the off putting mocking, smug tone that many skeptics plump for which was extremely refreshing.

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