Saturday, 22 April 2017

Poor Old Alex Campbell (Part III)


 Alex Campbell (right) with Bernard Heuvelmans


It was May 1983 and Alex Campbell was nearing death. He had been in increasing ill health having been forced to retire from his work as an Inverness Courier correspondent in September 1981. He was to die the following month, perhaps aware of a book that had just been published that was making various accusations against him.

Fortunately for the author, Alex Campbell was probably too weak to answer the charges. The author's name was Ronald Binns and his book was entitled "The Loch Ness Mystery - Solved". I actually gave a small review to Rip Hepple's Nessletter the month after its publication. A fuller review was printed in issue 70 (June 1985) by Henry Bauer. You can read that here from page 4 onwards (note this book was co-authored with an R.J.Bell of whom not a lot is known).

This was not the first sceptical book on the monster to be published. That honour goes to Maurice Burton's 1961 tome, "The Elusive Monster". But these two books have some symbolism as they bookend the hectic era of the Loch Ness Monster between 1961 and 1983. Back in 1961, nobody was listening to Burton as monster fever began to grow. By 1983, people were more receptive to Binns' almost convincing logic.

What the books share is the predictable attempts to portray eyewitnesses as people easily fooled by drifting logs, swimming birds and passing boat wakes finished off with an overstated dash of expectation. It wasn't a convincing mish-mash of theories in 1961, nor 1983 and certainly not today, but the sceptical meme dominates today and so gets an easier audience - just like the monster meme did in the 1960s and 1970s.

But my aim is not to review all of this dubiously titled book, but to concentrate on those parts which discuss Alex Campbell. Indeed, an entire chapter titled "The Man Who Discovered Monsters" is devoted to Campbell.  Some people think Binns has done the business on Campbell. It is now time to present a different view.


BINNS BINS CAMPBELL

Binns devotes a lot of pages to Alex Campbell in his book and undertakes a multi-pronged attack on Campbell's character. The first method of attack is one that is generic to the whole tone of the book and it is the style of writing. In the context of Campbell, the style is basically a timeline narrative which is a mixture of facts, deductions and speculations.

There is nothing particularly wrong with that approach, it is rather the assertive style which tries to browbeat the casual reader into swallowing whatever he writes. In that sense, the text is often that of the politician rather the researcher. To that end, you will find phrases which seek to put down and exaggerate.

For example, Binns describes Campbell's written account of the first Nessie sighting as a "cumbersome and stilted piece of prose". Why this is relevant to the Nessie debate is unclear as Campbell was writing a short newspaper column, not a novel to compete with G. K. Chesterton.

However, the reason becomes clear on further thought as Binns' tactic is psychological as he attempts to make Campbell look small in the eyes of the readers by criticising anything about him. It's a filthy tactic and others have picked up on this acidic approach in past reviews of the book.

Other examples include his suggestion that Alex Campbell was "deeply committed" to monsters in the loch and whose Mackay report was "by no means a neutral, detached account". What Binns means by deeply committed is unclear and opens the door to all kinds of unwarranted speculations. The reference to not being neutral or detached is a laugh coming from someone who I could also claim is deeply committed to his sceptical cause and is hardly neutral or detached in the subject either!

There is no neutrality in this subject and Binns needs to come clean on his own prejudices in the matter. To me, Binns is again attempting to plant the meme that all this makes Campbell unreliable and possibly even untruthful.

The unproven ad hominems directed at Campbell are too numerous to mention here and this machine gun approach is a form of Chinese water torture designed to beat the unsuspecting reader into submission. Fortunately, this reader had his armour on as he waded through the mire.

One repeated ad hominem I will finally mention on this style topic is Binns' continual reference to Campbell as a zealous publicity seeker. Again, Binns unsuccessfully tries to portray Campbell as a person driven by ego. Indeed, on page 82, Binns labels Campbell as "the self appointed high priest of the loch's mysteries". Where he gets the proof for this vacuous accusation is entirely unclear. Binns tells us that Campbell "became the man everyone went to when they wanted to learn more about the monster".

Indeed, Campbell is held up as the focus of a "pilgrimage" by Tim Dinsdale when he first visited the loch in 1960. Note Binns' tactical use of religious metaphors as he tries to elevate Campbell to some kind of mystical figure presiding over an irrational cult of monster hunters.

The truth of the matter is that Alex Campbell was just one amongst a number of people Tim Dinsdale visited during that week. These were Hugh Gray, Constance Whyte, Aloysius Carruth and Colonel Grant. But by omitting these other people, Binns gives the misleading impression that Campbell was somehow a special visitation.

So, when Binns says on page 83 that Campbell "had a great zest for publicity" by virtue of various radio, TV and newspaper interviews, I have somewhat to say on that matter. Again, where is the proof of this? I say that because when I was searching online newspaper archives for references to Alex Campbell, I found none! So much for the self-serving publicity seeker.

That does not mean Alex Campbell is to be found nowhere in the media, but I suggest that it is less than Binns makes out. Indeed, some other figures came to mind. Father Gregory Brusey was another go-to man at Loch Ness who frequently recounted his tale of a long neck sighting to the media.

Does that make him a self serving publicity seeker? What about the modern day example of Steve Feltham? Are his numerous interviews a sign of a big ego? Or what about leading sceptic Adrian Shine? He has been on numerous TV, radio and press interviews for years now. Will some sceptic now come forward and tell me that Adrian Shine has a big ego? Or does this argument only apply to monster believers?

I think the truth is more a matter of media laziness than Alex Campbell desperately banging on the door of the media for attention. When the press invariably turn up at Loch Ness for the film and photo ops, there is a default list of people to visit in their limited time, be they sceptic or believer. Alex Campbell had one advantage over Tim Dindale, Ted Holiday and Robert Rines. It wasn't a driven ego, it was the plain fact that he lived at Loch Ness. So let's just drop the hyperbole about egos and high priests.


BINNS ON CAMPBELL'S JOURNALISM

Moving on, Binns takes Campbell to task over his reporting of the creature to the Inverness Courier. Alex Campbell was the man behind the very first Nessie era report on a "strange spectacle at Loch Ness". That was the reported sighting by the Mackays on the 2nd May 1933. Now, Binns on page 12 accuses Campbell of producing a report that was "wildly exaggerated" and therefore proof of his over zealous mission to promote the monster.

I covered this seminal Loch Ness Monster report back in 2013 as part of the 80th anniversary of the monster's first modern appearance and you can read that here. However, in that article, I diverted to Binns' less than satisfactory handling of the case and concluded he was the one who was wildly exaggerating. First, I quote Campbell''s 1933 report on the Mackays:


Now, however, comes the news that the beast has been seen once more, for on Friday of last week, a well-known businessman who lives in Inverness, and his wife (a University graduate), when motoring along the north shore of the loch, not far from Abriachan pier, were startled to see a tremendous upheaval on the loch, which, previously, had been as calm as the proverbial millpond. The lady was the first to notice the disturbance, which occurred fully three-quarters of a mile from the shore, and it was her sudden cries to stop that drew her husband's attention to the water.
 
There, the creature disported itself, rolling and plunging for fully a minute, its body resembling that of a whale, and the water cascading and churning like a simmering cauldron. Soon, however, it disappeared in a boiling mass of foam. Both onlookers confessed that there was something uncanny about the whole thing, for they realised that here was no ordinary denizen of the depths, because, apart from its enormous size, the beast, in taking the final plunge, sent out waves that were big enough to have been caused by passing steamer.

The  watchers waited for almost half an hour in the hope that the monster (if such it was) would come to the surface again; but they had seen the last of it. Questioned as to the length of the beast, the lady stated that, judging by the state of the water in the affected area, it seemed to be many feet long.


Binns alludes to another recounting of the Mackay story "months later" and uses this to pick out two discrepancies in Campbell's account. One was that Mr. Mackay actually saw nothing and that Mrs. Mackay had only seen a "commotion in the water" akin to "two ducks fighting". That's it and these are the justification for Binns applying the accusation of wild exaggeration. In fact, the other unnamed account was Rupert T. Gould's interview with the Mackays in November 1933 which was reprinted in his June 1934 book, "The Loch Ness Monster and Others" which is reproduced below:


Mrs. Mackay and her husband were driving from Inverness to Drumnadrochit. At a point of the road almost opposite Aldourie Pier [which is on the other side of the Loch] Mrs. Mackay caught sight of a violent commotion in the water nearby, about 100 yards from shore. She thought at first that it was caused by two ducks fighting; but on reflection it seemed far too extensive to be caused in this way. 

The commotion subsided, and a big wake became visible, apparently caused by something large moving along just below the surface. This wake went away across the Loch towards Aldourie Pier. Then, about the middle of the Loch [some 450 yards from her], the cause of the wake emerged, showing as two black humps moving in line - the rear one somewhat the larger.

The rear hump appeared first, and Mrs. Mackay took it for a whale on account of its blue-black colour [she has often seen whales at sea]. The two humps moved with the forward-rolling motion of a whale or porpoise, but always remained smooth in outline, exhibiting no traces of fins. They rose and sank in an undulating manner [as if sliding along a submerged switchback] but never went entirely out of sight.

Mrs. Mackay estimated the overall length of the two humps at about 20 feet. X, after rising, continued to move towards the pier for some distance. Then it turned sharply to port and, after describing a half-circle, sank suddenly with considerable commotion. [Mr. Mackay, who was driving the car, only stopped in time to see the final commotion, and a noticeable "wash" which came rolling on to the shore after X had sunk.

Now, I might be going out on a limb here, but Campbell's account hardly looks like a wild exaggeration of what Mrs. Mackay recounted to Gould. Indeed, Binns is the one in the dock here for executing a hatchet job.

Observe that Binns claimed that Mr. Mackay "had seen nothing". That is not true, as Gould's version says he saw the final commotion. Binns also tries to make out that Mrs. Mackay only saw two ducks fighting and completely ignores the two humps that she recounted to Gould.

In a last futile act to discredit this sighting, Binns indulges in some guilt by association mud slinging by stating that Mrs. Mackay's brother "was a major source" for pre-1933 monster stories. On investigating this claim further, it turns out that Kenneth Mackay had told Rupert Gould about a monster account in 1913 involving a James Cameron.

And that was that! Just one story passed onto Gould. Please tell me how that makes him a "major source" of stories and please tell me what on earth this has to do with the sighting by the Mackays. Binns is playing mind games here and his credibility over this so called analysis is already halfway out the window.

As an aside, Binns mentions the letter of a Captain John MacDonald which the Courier published ten days later. Binns, in one of his frequent meme-enforcing metaphors, tells us that Campbell's report was "squashed flat" by MacDonald lengthy critique as a man who had fifty years experience as a boat captain on the loch.

Now, I am being kinder to Binns here and will not presume that he deliberately omitted information that did not suit his case. For as it turns out, Captain MacDonald changed his mind some months later when he told a Daily Mail reporter:

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

I am only too glad to keep Ronald up to date where his research falls short. I note there is currently at least one other boat captain likewise claiming fifty years experience on the loch. Perhaps one day he too will be inclined to the belief "that there is something in it" ... but I doubt it.

Binns asserts that Campbell "made no reply" as if to imply that no reply was possible. But he did, by reporting on the continued eyewitness reports and letting the monster do the talking for him.


On the subject of newspaper reports, Binns also tries to make some mileage out of a report filed in the Northern Courier on the 27th August 1930 in which the creature made an appearance to three anglers. His basic accusation is that Alex Campbell authored the report and again indicates his obsession with getting the monster into the public eye.

Now this 1930 incident is worthy of a whole article itself; but whether Campbell authored it or not is a matter of debate, but not one that is important as the three witnesses were subsequently interviewed by Gould for his 1934 book to confirm it as a genuine incident and not something made up or even exaggerated by Campbell (curiously this story also made it into some international newspapers!).

So what is the big deal here and why does Binns throw around the hyperboles in claiming this is "very revealing"?  If Campbell was the author, he was just reporting an incident that had come to his attention. Where was the deception or so called over-fostering of a so called non-existent monster? The only thing Binns can nail on Alex Campbell is an enthusiasm for a strange creature he believed inhabited Loch Ness. In that, he was no more different from a range of people from various walks of life from decades past.


BINNS ON CAMPBELL'S FIRST SIGHTING

Now as intimated in the previous part of this series, Alex Campbell claimed to have seen the creature in late 1933. He then retracted it in a letter to his employees and then retracted the retraction by claiming it as a genuine sighting some years later. From that point on until his death he continued to insist it was his first and best sighting of the creature.

Clearly, this double "volte face" was a golden opportunity for Binns to put the boot in as he employs another irritating hyperbole dubbing it as "so extraordinary". Well, actually it is not extraordinary. Seeing a 30 foot beast in a Scottish loch is extraordinary, this is not. Why Campbell so uncharacteristically wrote this sceptic letter is beyond Binns as he deems it "inexplicable" and "obscure".

The explanation is a bit more mundane than Binns' elaborate psychological monster theories when we understand that Campbell's employers were taking a dim view of the whole monster thing and it would not do that an employee would be claiming to have seen it. Campbell obliged them with a sceptical letter and his job during those Depression era years was safe. Read my previous article for more details. Another poor piece of research by Binns is his statement that:

Unfortunately for Campbell his letter came to the attention of Rupert Gould, a monster investigator and author, who promptly splashed it across the pages of his book ...

Now I must admit I am disappointed with this piece of subterfuge by Binns. Throughout his book, Binns quotes and footnotes Gould's 1934 book, so he must have been quite familiar with its contents. Yet here he twists something he should have been clear on as Gould clearly states that he obtained permission from both Campbell and his employer to print the letter! This is footnoted by Gould right below the letter Binns examined!

Indeed, it is most likely that it was Campbell that told him about his letter when Gould met him at Loch Ness in November 1933! Yet Binns again tries to make Campbell look small by stating the complete opposite to what had transpired. Thus, this untruth allows Binns to create another when he says:

Campbell's discomfiture at finding himself quoted against the existence of a monster must have been immense.

Really? I would suggest Campbell was quite happy to have his letter quoted as it kept him on the right side of his employers. When the time was right, Campbell would eventually come clean on his sighting.

Binns on page 81 finally takes Campbell to task for not being accurate enough in the recounting of his 1933 sighting over the span of three decades. The first issue is there are at least three dates for Campbell's sighting: 7th September 1933, 22nd September 1933 and May 1934. Only the last one is actually a direct quote from Campbell, the other dates are stated by secondary sources. This does not bother me as Campbell himself says of May 1934, "If I remember aright", and the 22nd September may actually be an entry date in Cyril Dieckhoff's diary.

But it seems to bother Ronald Binns, who does not seem to take the fading of memory after a quarter of a century into account. Likewise any discrepancies in the retelling of the actual account. I re-read the three accounts I have of this story from the Scotsman newspaper of 1933, Constance Whyte's 1957 quote of Cyril Dieckhoff's 1933 diary entry and Campbell's letter to Tim Dinsdale in 1960. You can read these yourself in my previous article.

Based on those re-readings, I am convinced Binns is again being reckless in his comparisons. One problem with his assessment is that if one account does not mention something, but another does, then this is apparently a contradiction. I see no logic in that, because if a detail is omitted in one account, that does not make it a contradiction. Rather, a contradiction appears when two statements are made that cannot both be true at the same time.

One example will suffice in that Binns claims one account says Campbell saw the creature's flippers and another says he saw no flippers. The actual texts are "he could see the swirl made by each movement of its limbs" (Scotsman 17/10/33) and "Noted front paddles working, on either side alternately, as it turned about." (Dieckhoff 22/09/33). If these are the accounts Binns is referring to, then I see no contradiction. In fact, it is unclear from these whether Campbell did or did not see any part of the limbs.

I will only briefly mention Binns' handling of Campbell's seventeen claimed sightings. Binns, in his usual manner, calls this an "astonishing sightings record". But Binns (or anyone else for that matter) is in no position to make such a statement as we only have a record of perhaps five or six accounts. We have no idea what the other eleven or twelve accounts contain and they seem to have been unworthy of any publicity, making me wonder how "astonishing" they actually were?

Looking further, two of the accounts we know of did not actually involve eye contact with a monster. One was the rocking of his boat and the other was a strange night time noise. Without eye contact, Alex Campbell could not say for sure these were Loch Ness Monsters. That just leaves about three visual sightings of note and these recorded accounts are the only ones we should take seriously.

Three visual encounters with the Loch Ness Monster over the space of 35 years is not so "astonishing" and Ronald Binns should acknowledge that. However, Mr. Binns' overall analysis has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.



CONCLUSION

In conclusion, others have waded in on this debate since Ronald Binns published in 1983 and to be fair to him, he has not gone to the ridiculous lengths that these people have. For instance, somebody called Josh Bazell goes further in claiming that Alex Campbell wrote anonymous letters to the Highland newspapers making up eyewitness accounts to bolster the case for the monster. Not surprisingly, he does not have a shred of evidence to back up any of this, it is just a speculative tautology based upon the a priori assumption that Campbell was an inveterate liar.

Speculation becomes deduction and deduction becomes fact in the less than logical world of some so called analytical sceptics.

The last time I looked, Ronald Binns was still around and was still a sceptic. You can find him here reviewing Gareth William's book, "A Monstrous Commotion". His was a generation who went to the loch with a "Veni, Vidi, Vici" attitude to the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. It appears the monster had other ideas as it refused to bow down to their demands for final, conclusive evidence.

Naturally, some became sceptical and some became vindictive about the whole thing when they left empty handed. That bitterness is still evident today when you engage with such people. Others continued to accept there was a large, unknown something in the loch; some because they had seen it and others because they were less cynical about the evidence.

One such person was Alex Campbell. I visited his grave near Fort Augustus last year and as I paid my respects, I resolved to dismantle the untruths that have swirled around him since his death. He no longer has a voice to defend himself, but I hope these series of articles will do justice to a man who helped propel that mysterious denizen of the deep into the public limelight.





The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com










80 comments:

  1. Roland this is a fantastic piece on Alex Campbell and Binns.As you say, the skeptics wait until his death to start the rubbish talk. I read the Binns book a long time ago and what you have written is exactly what i thought, complete garbage! I dont mind reading skeptical views but this guy basically made things up and tried to convince his readers.There are still people now who believe what he wrote, surely people have the brains to see for themselves what rubbish he came out with.I think you have finally put Binns and his theories to bed.
    Great piece Roland, and so right.

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  2. Hello again Glasgow Boy. Firstly, let me say what a fine article this really is. Mightily impressive.

    I read the Binns book many years ago and I concur with your thoughts. It's a book which contains a blend of cherry-picking, irrelevant emotive language, and at times borderline desperation. So strong is the need for Binns to forcefully discredit everything, that he comes across as blinkered and fanatical. Somewhat like a recently discussed well known sceptic.

    As for Campbell, you eloquently put into written word what should have been (but clearly wasn't) clear to everyone. Namely that Campbell didn't court publicity, publicity courted Campbell! It's the same with Steve Feltham and Adrian Shine as you say. If a man is based at the loch and plays a key role such as that of water bailiff, then of course the media and the public will regularly track him down for comment! What was he supposed to do, refuse to give his experiences and views?

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  3. A cumbersome and verbose piece of prose that strangely goes over well worn ground that has been documented in his previous 2 Campbell missives.

    Seriously though, interesting and thought provoking article. I had to consult the dictionary a few times though.

    Meme ? Ad Hominems ? Volte Face ?

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    1. John, were you really unaware of the meanings of those, or are you joking?

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    2. A concise and to-the-point report that adds to and completes the alex cambell story and the paid skeptics that denigrate him.
      Well done!

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  4. I enjoyed all three pieces on AC. Excellent analysis that cleared up my own confusion and, I'll admit, some of my own doubts that Binns and others might have stirred up about AC in my own less-than-critical readings of Binns. But you're doing the true work of an historian (and your archeological metaphor is an apt one.) Well done and thank you!

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  5. Very well done piece and interesting reading. Keep digging into this mystery for us please, your research is what leads to new information. The Loch Ness mystery is never just black and white, it's a complicated matter full of unexpected twists and turns. Thank you for shedding light upon one of my favourite mysteries.
    I believe your work will lead to many interesting finds regarding the Loch and its strange residents.

    I believe AC was truthful in his accounts even if they are considered stories to some.

    Does AC have family around Fort Augustus who are familiar with his accounts?

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    1. I am not sure about Alex Campbell's family. You may note on his gravestone that he had a son who died in the 1990s. Whether he had any siblings is not clear.

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  6. <<>>>

    I had a passing stab english at school, not Greek, French and Latin.

    Oi be of humble, pastoral stock master Henry, just like Alex Campbell

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    1. Many of our words and phrases are derived from other languages. Are marmalade vol au vents passé?

      Ok I can understand you not knowing the first two, but volte-face is a regularly used phrase. Please stand in the corner for 10 minutes, wearing a conical hat adorned with the letter "D". (Joke!)

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    2. It's Ronald Binns that should be standing in the corner!

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  7. Thanks to all.

    Binns reminds me of the preacher's sermon notes: "Argument weak here, thump pulpit".

    Binns does a lot of thumping in his book.

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  8. Did Binns ever spend much time at loch ness ?

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    1. He says he was an active member of the LNIB and Loch Morar Survey and made "numerous" trips to the loch. Well, actually he says he *and* Bell made numerous trips. If you deduct Bell's trips, I don't know where that leaves Binns.

      He even lays into Adrian Shine in his book. Perhaps he didn't even get on with his Loch Morar Survey leader!

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    2. Sounds like a grumpy fella, which often seems to be a trait among sceptics. They can't understand or accept that people don't think the way they do. Sometimes they even expect eyewitnesses of the monster to simply accept they were mistaken, even when the eyewitnesses know they weren't! It's crazy at times. I'd take the descriptions of intelligent eyewitnesses over the negativity of those sceptics who are unable to "think big" any day.

      I'm interested in the new sonar technology coming onto the market these days. I think we'll probably have something at Loch Ness that's very exciting to look at/analyse within the next few years. Bring it on!

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  9. It's possible that being a professional sceptic is also a lucrative occupation, as well as a fanatical one.

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    1. Judging by the worn, frayed nature of a particular rent-a-sceptic's sailor's cap, not very lucrative at all!

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    2. Maybe the old hat is a good disguise.....
      What I was getting at was the nature of writing 'flavour of the month' books, possibly more for sales than for getting to the truth. I know some of the sceptics are also quite vociferous, with nothing to sell but an idea.

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  10. I remember laughing out loud, much to the surprise of the passengers on the train, when at the end of the book, Binns depicted Nessie believers as being in front of him, with a pleading look in their eye, as if he was some sort of god and everyone had to justify themselves to him!

    I think it was the scarf and cap he wore in the author's pic, trying to make him look brainy, that did it for me!

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  11. As with religion [ which I think Nessieology is to many ] we must accept there will be unbelievers and doubters who will endeavour to undermine and question the gospels of the prophets like Campbell, Finlay, Dinsdale and Spicer.

    A healthy and robust religion should have no fear of the gainsayers and cynics.

    We must accept that others have every right to question the scriptures that we regard as the truth and the light.

    Here Endeth The Lesson.

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    1. Certainly no fear of Binns, that's for sure!

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    2. As with religion [ which I think Nessie scepticism is to many ] we must accept there will be unbelievers and doubters who will endeavour to undermine and question the gospels of the prophets like Steuart Campbell, Binns, Raynor and Shine.

      A healthy and robust religion should have no fear of the gainsayers and cynics.

      We must accept that others have every right to question the scriptures that we regard as the truth and the light.

      Here Endeth The Lesson.

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  12. Good analysis G B and I agree that it was prudent of Alex Campbell to downplay his Nessie sighting if his employers took a dim view of the subject.

    Do you know if Alex Campbell had any financial interest in producing stories for the Inverness Courier.E.g being paid per story,or was he on a flat rate and being paid irrespective of the number of stories he produced?

    I think Campbell's "astonishing sightings record" is explained by the fact that he worked at the Loch rather than being a casual visitor.

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    1. Thanks, Campbell was paid a shilling for his first story, which (using an online inflation calculator) works out at £3.30 in today's money.

      However, a shilling was about the equivalent to an hour's wages back then, so not a lot.

      He may have got a rise once Nessie fever took off, but that would have likely tailed off once things quietened down from 1935.

      Not a money spinner, but in those hard times a welcome addition to the household budget (or dram budget).

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  13. I cant believe anyone took Binns seriously. In fact i believe one critic says Binns has put nessie to bed! oh dear, thats the type of skeptic we have to deal with. Incredible.

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    1. Ah well, perhaps they want to disbelieve as much as the poor numpty believers want to believe?

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  14. Fine analysis GB. I have my own issues with some of what Mr. Binns wrote, but on the other hand I do find much worthwhile in the book's pages. And 34 years after its publication his basic conclusion/criticism still holds: There is still no irrefutable, unambiguous scientific evidence for large unknown animals existing in Loch Ness. If anything, time has only strengthened his case. Binns' book was published at the 50 year mark of the Nessie mystery; we're now at the 84 year mark and the whole business hasn't really progressed. Whatever data is produced is ambiguous.

    The one thing about Binns' book that I find off-putting is the at times contemptuous attitude towards believers that fairly drips off the pages. It reminds me of the works of former Christian believers-turned-atheists, who now regard themselves as enlightened and those who continue to believe as blithering idiots.

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    1. As a whole, I consider the large body of eyewitness testimony to be irrefutable evidence of large unknown animals in Loch Ness. But that's the thing, even the definition of the word "irrefutable" can't apply to anything. There are no irrefutable facts, only the ways we all interpret evidence.

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    2. A bit like lake monster skeptical page.

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    3. Gezza, what's that page called exactly? Can you post the link on here?

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    4. Henry, I have a science degree, and I'm of the same mind as you with regards eyewitnesses. Certainly the ones reporting seeing the LNM raised up from the water. Those are pretty much unambiguous, whereas water level disturbances are much more difficult to interpret.

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    5. Indeed Martin, I too have a BSc (Hons) degree. Such is the importance of eyewitness testimony, that an effect or condition is not deemed to exist unless it has been observed. Everything anyone ever reads in the science books is only there because humans have witnessed it. I think there can be no doubt that these animals exist, and I also think every amateur scientist and psychologist who has tried to prove otherwise has failed miserably. The legend lives on, the sightings continue.....

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    6. Yes, paddy, there is no irrefutable and unambiguous evidence. That would really boil down to a live or dead specimen, nothing else would cut it.

      However, that doesn't mean we have to accept his rationale for why this is the case (i.e. dumb witnesses misconstruing ordinary objects).

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  15. The saying is you can't judge a book by its cover but in this case U can say u can judge a book by its title.... " mystery solved"........ enuf said !!!!!!! Not one for the collection lol

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    1. Sadly it is in my collection, mainly because I have to cover the bases and examine and refute their weak arguments.

      I even have both hardback and paperback editions - just in case he changed his view on something (which he didn't).

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  16. Yes , it does not look good for the skeptics when Binns is their voicepiece.

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  17. Is there a current Loch Ness water bailiff? It would be interesting to speak to him or her if there is. Likely to have seen the monster and to have heard from others with similar experiences.

    Going back to my comment about advanced sonar techniques, it says it all that the Sherlock Holmes Nessie model lay undiscovered for decades before the latest technology was able to locate it. This proves how irrelevant previous sonar searches really were. If the animals were sitting on the bottom or sides they'd probably have been missed by the sonar, just like this enormous model was.

    And as for the Dinsdale film being poo poo'd by sceptics, I suspect a level of jealousy at work. With a simple camera Tim created a film within two minutes which thoroughly eclipses anything ever created by the sceptics, film or otherwise. Tim achieved so much. Others work like crazy for a good film and end up bitter and on their backsides.

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    1. That is a good point, I ought to track him/her down for a chat.

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    2. I think you have it spot on Henry. Previous results have fairly much been rendered void as you say. Any self respecting scientist should admit that. As far as I'm concerned, it's time to start again.

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  18. If Dinsdale filmed a fisherman in a boat then this must of been a regular thing on the waters at that time. Why hasnt anyone else shot the same video ?

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    1. Dinsdale film.....I think Tim had something filmed, what frustrates me, the film ran out before this object submerged. Another 10-20 feet of film might have been a 'game changer' he's still my hero because of his belief and diligence seeking Nessie, the godfather of Nessie hunters.

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    2. A question I ask often, GEZZA, and I think the truth is that people have done so. The only problem is they always end up with a film of a boat, not of a large, dark, hump that perfectly matches the description often given of a Nessie by eyewitnesses. If Dinsdale filmed a boat, why is everything else in Dinsdale's film - birds, vehicles on the opposite road, debris on the far hillside - clearly identifiable, yet the closest object has no discernable features at all?

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  19. That's a bit of a straw-man argument Gezza as one could just as easily ask why haven't there been more films of a large animal prone to occasional prolonged surface displays.

    Just playing Devil's Advocate ;-)

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    1. My theory is that the animal was behaving unusually on that fateful day in 1960. The beast could have been unwell, having issues with control over its buoyancy, struggling to submerge. The latter part of the sequence does imply this; the animal takes several yards of paddle strokes before it submerges, leaving just its wash and spray at the surface. Everything points to this being an animal in some kind of distress. Under normal circumstances the animals stay submerged. Only due to unusual events do they break the surface. Hence the relative paucity of prolonged sightings and captured images.

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    2. Not really RP. fishermen are always on the surface and plenty of them. Nessie does not surface often .

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    3. They're not that common. Spend a week here and I bet you'd be lucky to get a snap of a fisherman in a small boat.

      Bigger boats yes - the pleasure cruisers and tourist boats.

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    4. I do spend a lot of time there RP and always see fisherman in boats, especially in the evenings.

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    5. I tend to think the only time these animals surface is due to something unusual - illness, on coming death, mating. Whatever is in Dinsdale's film does move in very odd pattern - random and aimless at first, then arrow straight. One of the most unusual apects that can be noticed is the big jump in location just before the "submerged" portion begins; all of a sudden the subject is much closer to the far shore. Did Dinsdale film two different subjects?

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  20. I notice another leading sceptic is silent on this criticism of Binns. Perhaps Binns would have said "strangely silent" or "curiously silent".

    After all, don't these guys rally round and defend each other in a kind of cozy sceptical fraternity?

    Perhaps there is a general professional jealousy of each other that stops them defending certain others?

    I say that because I noticed that Binns took Adrian Shine to task in his book. I also note that another leading sceptic, Tony Harmsworth says this of Binns' book:

    "Author of the rather prematurely titled "Loch Ness Mystery - SOLVED" book."

    Perhaps Tony wanted that coveted title for himself when he wrote a similarly titled book: "Loch Ness Monster explained ..." and I don't see what Tony has added significantly that Binns had not added already.

    Meanwhile I know of another sceptic who has inserted his claws into Tony Harmsworth. Just one big happy family.

    I think it is more a case these people are like a bag of cats vying for the title of leading Loch Ness expert. The biggest monster is the green eyed variety it seems.



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    1. I would also add being silent in the face of another fellow sceptic being criticised has the advantage of them being made too look smaller while you implicitly are made bigger.

      The politics of scepticism.

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    2. All of the traits of a cult - power heirarchy, mistrust, backstabbing, sycophancy, relentless pursuance of a single unwavering concept.

      Tragic that these people actually have superiority complexes.

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    3. Good grief, I think I've found exactly the place where all this nonsense goes on! There's a peculiar mix of (a) copying and pasting comments made on here so they can criticise us while patting themselves on the back; (b) an apparent fear of challenging the "Alpha Sceptic", presumably because he's been at the loch for so long now; (c) an awkward, snidey tone from an unknown sceptic who often starts threads and appears to admire the Alpha Sceptic with some form of godlike reverence! It's cringeworthy to read. And it also begs the question as to why on earth would someone spend so much time and energy on something they think is nothing? If they think there are no unknown animals in the loch, why on earth would they give the subject anything more than a cursory look and a couple of passing comments? It's weird.... VERY weird!

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  21. Quite right Henry. I find it very childish.

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    1. According to someone who has spent his entire life arguing with numerous people about trivia, and who even wrote a book arguing the case against Nessie (and his former, now deceased, employer), we are not worth wasting time arguing with. Far better to post toxicity on a dark corner of Facebook about us, because that isn't wasting time at all, is it?

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  22. I find it a bit sad that grown men spend half their life talking about something they dont believe in. BAFFLING.

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    1. Establishing your beliver credibility?

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  23. When your copying whats in here into another site ( when you dont even believe in nessie) it really is time to look in the mirror and take your life in another direction ! Its rather pathetic really. You must feel quite important Roland all the attention they give you.
    Keep up the good work, they cant get enough of you.

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    1. Gezza, the way you put that is perfect. We know they're all reading this. Perhaps they'll even copy and paste your comment to their Facebook page, but one thing is certain, and that is that your comment will privately strike a chord with them. They're mostly intelligent but also obsessive people. They'll know what you say is totally correct, but they almost certainly won't be able to stop themselves continuing with it. It grinds away at them almost daily, that is very clear from reading their Facebook page.

      If Nessie is so obviously not real, why do these sceptics spend so much time on the subject? They don't fixate on Flat Earthers, why Nessie? Are they ashamed of having once believed and are spending the rest of their days trying to erase that?

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    2. It's not about whether monsters exist or not, it is about ego. It's a place to show off and score points. Otherwise, yes, it looks pretty pointless being there.

      That facebook group was set up after some sceptics become a bit overbearing and insufferable on another lake cryptid group. The admin set up a sceptically oriented group to get rid of them.

      Unfortunately a group mainly consisting of sceptics and lacking the counter balance of "believers" is just going to descend into a negative feedback loop. I stay away from the place.

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  24. It is very strange how they spend so much time on a topic they dont believe in. Each to their own i suppose, but you dont see Adrian Shine in and out of these groups or blogs so that tells me he has a life away from nessie unlike the others.Maybe they could do with getting some sort of hobby or something, bowls? golf? bird watching ? i dont know .

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    1. Gezza you talk sense, always. Great comments.

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    2. Arent you one of them?

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  25. Firstly, eyewitness testimony is not irrefutable in the sense that it is not scientific, hard evidence. It is a subjective experience that can't be tested or examined. A carcass, a skeleton, a piece of tissue from which DNA can be extracted is hard evidence that can be examined scientifically. I agree with the late Robert Rines that eyewitness testimony should not be considered zero data, and there are a number of testimonies in the historical record that I personally find quite compelling, but it is not hard, objective evidence and therefore cannot be considered irrefutable. An eyewitness can be mistaken in what they think they saw. And for all the talk about the sincerity of eyewitnesses, that's a load of Hallmark card sentiment which is really beside the point. Sincerity is, again, a subjective notion, and being sincere does not convey any special powers of observation. A person can be sincerely wrong.

    Secondly, if large animals are or were existing in the Loch, and are presenting parts of their anatomy above the surface to eyewitnesses that are described as "elephant backs"; "upturned boat"; "giraffe-like neck"; "anaconda", at some point one would think such vivid manifestations would've been caught on camera - particularly during the decade when the LNI had the Loch's surface under extensive photo surveillance. But the LNI's major photographic coup is the Raynor film of a wake. Which doesn't require an unknown animal as the cause. This lack of photographic verification is a problem folks, and it's why I moved from believer to fence-sitter. It's the law of attrition. At some point someone should've gotten a compelling, convincing reasonably detailed piece of footage. For all the justifiable criticism of Binns this was his strongest argument and it's a damn good one! It was and is the elephant in the room for believers. That's not to say it can't be rebutted, but if we're honest, it should at least be admitted that it is a rather big problem for the pro-Nessie side.

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    1. It is indeed a big problem, but not as big a problem as the sceptics have when asked to provide either a date by which an "irrefutable" video should have been captured, or how many such videos an elusive animal should have resulted in to date.

      All pure conjecture, the hunt continues whether that feels ok to sceptics or not.

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    2. Yes Paddy but we all know even if somebody did obtain a video of something moving through the water the skeptics would still say it wasnt an animal. The Holmes video is a good example.

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  26. But Gezza that's because the Holmes video is, like all other alleged Nessie footage, ambiguous. If Dick Raynor had both seen and managed to capture on his film a large upturned boat shape/elephant-like back creating that wake, or if Tim Dinsdale had been able to film from his boat something akin to the head-neck sighting the two fishermen had in '63 then the ranks of the skeptics would likely be a lot thinner. We may even have had by now a wonderful animal recognized by the scientific establishment. But to this day no one has yet managed to take the money shot so to speak.

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  27. Yes but the point is the Holmes film clearly shows a creature yet some skeptics say it was wind hitting the surface.Ok the object in the film wasnt that large but my point is if it was larger they would still say it was wind hitting the loch if you see what i mean

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    1. Wind hitting the loch.??
      2 times you got that in.
      Are you a "stealth" skeptic?

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    2. It's clear to me that Gezza is far from being a sceptic John. He speaks out frequently against scepticism, and of course in doing so he'll occasionally mention their weak theories. The wind theory for the Holmes video was one of the weakest ever. If it was a wind effect there would be many videos just like it, but there are none. In fact I've only ever seen two more laughable theories about Loch Ness images. The first was the silly idea of the Gray photo depicting a dead swan (too many mushrooms, someone?); the second was the side-splittingly daft assertion that the recent fin photo showed an osprey at some kind of weird angle with every feather perfectly smoothed down. You can see this on the Facebook page. The lack of positive response even from the Baldrick character on that page showed that Alpha Sceptic was way off the mark with that one. It's just a shame that Baldrick didn't have the guts to tell him straight.

      But no John, I really don't think Gezza is a "stealth skeptic", let's not head down that crazy road.

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    3. You got me there, who is "Baldrick"? I don't visit the forum ...

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    4. "the second was the side-splittingly daft assertion that the recent fin photo showed an osprey"

      Ah, the fin photo. We had some fun with that one and I don't just mean ceramic smooth ospreys. When the photo first came out, a certain sceptic who shall remain nameless, but we shall call him Dick Raynor, asserted that the photo was not taken at Loch Ness. This is a normal tactic when there is no background hills visible. When good old Steve Feltham produced the uncropped image to prove it was, this almost unnamed sceptic was left scraping the mass of egg yolk now running down his face.

      So when a sceptic tells you such and such a picture was not taken at Loch Ness, just remember the story of the dorsal fin.

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  28. I see what you mean Gezza. My own view on the Holmes video is that it is an animate object. But there's not enough detail to identify what the thing is, and there's no scale to get a sense of the size of whatever it is.

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    1. Gordon estimsted it at about 4 - 5 ft long so i will take his word for it. My point is it is clearly a creature of some sort but again the skeptics say it isnt.

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  29. I now see we don't realise how stupid we sound, and that's according to an Englishman who wears a kilt and unsuccessfully tries to convince all and sundry he's actually Scottish. I wouldn't describe us as stupid for feeling there's something unusual in Loch Ness. We might be wrong, but we're not "stupid". No, the word stupid would more accurately describe a man who was offered a certain % of profits by his boss, but then insisted he take a lower %. It would seem that such behaviour is so utterly stupid that it leads to a lifetime of regret and bitterness, directed towards the boss who simply took what the English kilt-wearer offered him.

    Sorry to say it, but I'm afraid we're being called stupid by someone who knows it best describes himself. They say people criticise others for the faults they know they possess themselves. A prime example I'd say.

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  30. No more biting comments on sceptics please. I think the subject has run its course.

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    1. Fine by me, but of course they will continue to copy and paste and ridicule.

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    2. Indeed, we can move on, they can't.

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  31. Sceptics.. believers... fence sitters! Why the need to argue?? Can't we respect one and others opinions? I think it's great we have a great mystery on our doorstep and as dinsdale said... such a beautiful place to have it! I shall be up soon.. it's all good fun x

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    1. Roy you are right. I was taken aback by the sheer level of vitriol and venom directed our way by certain people. I thought enough was enough and responded in kind. On reflection I was dragging myself down to their level. I'm better than that, as are the majority of others on here. We know there's something to this mystery, let's move things forward.

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