Visual evidence of monsters no good anymore but people see what they believe

Pictures? Unreliable. Video? Can be faked. Stories? An endless, dubious parade of them. Even DNA – problematic. Only a body will do to prove the existence of monsters. Are we attuned to fakery now?

Has the internet killed the Loch Ness monster? | Philip Hoare | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Exactly 80 years ago the Loch Ness monster was invented. Or, it resurfaced, depending on whose account you choose to believe. The modern monster myth was born in the Inverness Courier on 2 May 1933, under the headline “Strange spectacle on Loch Ness”. In his accompanying report, Alex Campbell claimed that “Loch Ness has for generations been credited with being the home of a fearsome-looking monster”.

Then the sightings began in earnest. As the writer notes, the Nessie images shifted along with changing times. He concludes by noting that we are bombarded with fakes every day – photoshopped imagery, CGI video and more tall tales passed around the world in an instant, thanks to the internet.

We can’t take any of this evidence at face value. I’ve given up trying to follow the multiple daily postings of Bigfoot pictures and videos. After all this time, they are no better, no clearer, no more definitive than those of decades ago. The technology precludes us from ruling out hoaxes as a top explanation. I know it is not polite to accuse someone of a hoax but it is a VALID consideration. Nothing personal but often the hoax fits as the best answer.

Our innocence is gone, along with an era that was trusting, gullible, even. It may be far-fetched to suggest that those 1930s monster-believers were contemporaneous with fellow Europeans who placed their faith in real-life monsters – the totalitarian leaders who offered darker and more dangerous fantasies – but it is undeniable that in the internet age, it is much more difficult to fool us.

I’m not so sure, a lot of people still see it when they believe it. And these videos and photos still fly around the world like never before because we still hope. We want it to be true.

Unexplained blobjects

  7 comments for “Visual evidence of monsters no good anymore but people see what they believe

  1. May 3, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    As long as there are credulous 10 year olds to make the startling new deduction that Nessie is a pleisiosaur she will not die.

  2. spookyparadigm
    May 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    The problem isn’t photoshop or CGI tech, though. We went through that phase in the 1970s and 1980s, when people still did photo fakes. Yes, in the 1990s, there was a brief “is it real” moment. But look at all the monster photos we get these days (and this goes for UFOs too). They’re either obvious photoshops/CGI, I mean obvious, or they’re deeply blurry and momentary (the mammoth in Siberia is a combo of the two, which is why it worked so well, sort of a bait and switch).

    The technological change is the ubiquity of hi-quality cameras. At this stage, we expect our video footage to be either super-blurry, or hi-quality. And only super blurry because the person didn’t actually see the creature except perhaps at a far distance, or they then freaked out and ran away. But that’s the only reasonable explanation for non-decent photos of such things now. With high-quality video of tsunamis, meteor explosions, plane crashes like the one this week, if Nessie or Bigfoot or whatever are routinely being seen, we expect there should be video of it. And when we do, as in the case of most lake monster footage these days, the high quality makes hoaxing or a mistake apparent. And for Bigfoot, what we get are poor cell phone images that unsurprisingly look a lot like found footage horror movies that themselves already look like they are taken on obsolete tech (the real world has moved on from 1999, yet blobsquatches look a lot more like The Blair Witch Project than they do Cloverfield).

    This is why the old photos and films still provide the “best” evidence for these phenomena being anything except folklore. Because they come from a time when film would have been rare, and it would have been grainy and blurry. The old photos and films survive because they are old, only falling when other evidence finally outs them as mistakes or fakes (like the Surgeon’s Photo at the link). The same principle applies to the bimodal distribution of interest in UFO reports. You still have the old chestnuts get pulled out from before 1973. Or the ufology crowd obsesses over the latest super-sightings (not just random ones) that then fall apart. Presuming they haven’t moved on to more esoteric speculations and mythology (exopolitics, bigfoot dna, tulpas).

  3. May 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    When a Rhinoceros arrived in Lisbon in 1515 it was regarded as a monster, and so it was to the Europeans of the day. I’m sure there are still many small invertebrate monsters to be discovered. Strange species will always be monsters until we get to know them.

  4. Chris Howard
    May 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Or “we’re all suckers for something.” The con just has to find out what the mark is a sucker for, and exploit their lack of skepticism in that area.

    In other words, people will be skeptical of evidence (in this case video, and photos) that they are disinterested in, but when it comes to what they want to believe all bets are off.

  5. One Eyed Jack
    May 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    I blame Jurassic Park. When anything is possible, nothing is reliable.

    It’s a good thing Champ is authentic. Nessie is so over.

  6. Michael
    May 10, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    Skepticism is an art in itself! How many new discoveries are made by it? What are skeptics and doubters trying to protect us from? Is such an attitude likely to truly define, or discover, what is real?

    All new understanding, comes from individuals who challenge the accepted ‘norm’, by questioning it. Science is a process which constantly overturns our preconceptions and present assumptions. Most of what is presently accepted as ‘known fact’, will end up in the dustbin of outmoded ideas. Protectionism – trying to hold on to your favourite view of reality – is a fools paradise!

  7. May 10, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    How correct, @Michael.

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