Skeptical Monster Hunting

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 15th, 2005

Dinah Voyles Pulver, the environment writer at the Daytona Beach News Journal has a good overview of the debunking of "sea monster" beachings at Tasmania, Bermuda, Nantucket and Chile. All were cetaceans, of course. She also lumps in the nearby 1896 St. Augustine beaching, as a whale too, but my emails with Roy Mackal tell me there may a surprise on the horizon about that one, in a new analysis being conducted. Could it be a giant octopus, after all?

Also highlighted by Pulver is the work of cryptozoologist "Charles Paxton, a researcher with the wildlife population assessment department at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, [who] published an analysis of witness accounts of an encounter with a ‘sea serpent’ off the coast of Greenland in 1734. The sailors told of the animal spouting water and falling on its back into the sea. Paxton and his colleagues concluded the sailors probably saw a humpback whale, a North Atlantic right whale or an Atlantic gray whale, possibly without its fluke or a male in a state of arousal. Other scientists say it is possible someone in the 1700s could have mistaken a prominent part of a male whale’s anatomy for a sea serpent. Scientists describe whale penises as ‘snake-like’ and ‘quite long,’ for example, 6 feet or more on a right whale."

Charles Paxton, one of our own, it is worth noting, applies an open-minded cryptozoological and zoological sense of the world to the cases he investigates. Truth be told, not all the results that cryptozoology produces end up supporting some of the legendary sightings in the way that the general public would think that we "should." Cryptozoologists are good critical thinkers.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Skeptical Monster Hunting”

  1. bccryptid responds:

    I have seen a less famous photo supposedly from the St. Augustine beaching that clearly showed a large cephalopod arm, complete with giant suckers. Is that lesser-known photo a hoax?

  2. Sasquatchery responds:

    I always felt that the greatest and most able debunkers of questionable evidence were the more serious researchers in our field. For example, if a serious Sasquatch researcher sees a footprint that is in his/her mind suspicious, he/she can base their opinion on real analyses such as heel-to-ball ratio, signs of mid-tarsal break, measured stride etc. etc. A skeptic who hasn’t bothered to really study any of the evidence (I have yet to hear of one who has) will give an answer that simply amounts to “it simply can’t be real, therefore it isn’t”. Since it is practically impossible to scientifically prove that Sasquatches do NOT exist this argument can have no legitimacy, and one would think the skeptics should at least know that. But they don’t seem to…

    Sorry, I’m just in one of those moods today.

  3. BuffytheVamp responds:

    Forgive me for my “affrontery” but whatever happened to good old fashioned DNA tests for verifications?

  4. Sasquatchery responds:

    BuffytheVamp, DNA tests have been a viable way to identify tissue only in the last few years. Most of the incidents Loren refers to are decades old, and the specimens involved have either been lost or destroyed. In fact there actually was some tissue preserved from the 1896 beaching but it’s a very small amount and in poor condition (it’s been preserved for over 100 years). I’m interested to hear what Loren has discovered about that.

  5. DrX responds:

    Sasquatchery, it’s important that credit go where it’s deserved. Perhaps you could write to as many skeptics as you can find addresses for. Point out to them that their arguments are illegitimate and that they should have known that. Tell them that the greatest and most able debunkers in your field are the serious Sasquatch researchers. It’s time you reminded the skeptics who deserves the credit for doing their job for them.

  6. Sasquatchery responds:

    I’m not saying just serious Sasquatch researchers, but any researcher into mysterious animals or “paranormal” topics who’s serious about what they do. As for the skeptics, it’s their problem to address, not mine. Skepticism is vital to any research because we have to be aware of alternative explanations. My only beef is with the Skeptical Enquirer-type bunch, “skepticism for it’s own sake”. It’s one thing to point out a possible alternative explanation for a phenomenon that may be more mundane than the original one, like what Loren discussed in his blog. It’s another to say that by doing so, they have somehow conclusively disproved the original hypothesis, which in most cases is quite impossible.

  7. purrlcat responds:

    I have an old real photo postcard of some kind of sea creature I would like identified. Is there a way I can post a photo to this site? If so, make it easy – I am no rocket scientist when it comes to computers. Thanx.

  8. BuffytheVamp responds:

    Thanks for the update Saquatchery. Another verification that I am living in the future. PS has anyone tagged any part of the “Loch Ness Monster” or any other lake monster, excepting that giant tooth?

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