Cryptomundo reader and Skeptical Inquirer managing editor Ben Radford has taken on the “Maine Mutant” in a SI column published on Sunday, September 24, 2006.
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Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.
In “Mystery Monster Dogs Maine” Radford overviews the story, getting all the facts right, more so than most retellings of the events. He even quotes me correctly:
When Maine monster hunter Loren Coleman was shown a photo of the creature on Aug. 13, he stated, “This is a dog, probably a feral dog or a hybrid, but a dog.”
Then Radford mentions all of you and concludes:
On the message boards at the monster-hunting Web site Cryptomundo.com, the mystery beast was a hot topic. Many posters commented that they were baffled by all the hype the creature received; after all, it was just a dog! Yet this is an excellent example of a typical lake monster or Bigfoot sighting: A person sees something he or she doesn’t recognize, and concludes that the animal is an unknown creature. As this case clearly shows, just because a creature can’t be immediately identified does not mean that someone else (perhaps a zoologist, or a dog breeder) might not know exactly what the animal is.
The only difference is that in this case (unlike, say, Bigfoot or chupacabra) we actually have a carcass to positively identify. If this animal had just been glimpsed as it bounded into a wooded area and not caught (or later found dead), it would remain a mystery monster to be written up in future books on the unexplained.
The Maine Monster is an object lesson in the ways that people can “create” monsters because of misperceptions or logical fallacies. And what of the “real” Maine Monster, the one with the eerie cry and glowing eyes? Loren Coleman maintains that the long-sought creature still lurks in the forests: “I think there is a mystery beast out there in the woods around Turner.” Until and unless it too is found, the stories and sightings will continue.
On one level, Radford merely helps along the monster-making here, pointing out the fantastic-sounding elements like “glowing eyes” and “eerie cry.” The actual physical evidence for the pre-dog sightings of the Mystery Beast still out there in the woods, such as the slashed and dead animals it has left in its wake, are perhaps too concrete to mention for him.
One is left with the feeling that our old Cryptomundo buddy Radford might not quite get it. The “Maine Mutant” story actually had little to do with the precursor “Mystery Beast” sightings. The sightings and death of the dog on Route 4 had nothing to do with the real Maine cryptid encounters that took place before the summer of 2006.
These two diverse incidents (data) with different circumstances and details (variables) that have separate story endings (outcomes) do not hold, neccessarily, the most valid (statistically significant) analogy to apply to the whole of cryptozoology. They are being combined when they are not even mirror events, and should not be linked, scientifically, to demonstrate any lessons to be learned in cryptid-sightings.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.