Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How many people DON'T see cryptids?

Something I don't think I've ever seen figured out in a cryptozoology article: if X number of people in a position to see something (for example, boating on Loch Ness) have seen the local "cryptid," how many have not, and does the ratio matter? Granted, the number of reports made is the only firm number in such cases, but could a guess be made of how many people boat on Loch Ness, or live and travel on the shores with a view of the water? Surely pretty much all of them are aware there is something famous to look for.
It would take a lot of work (surveys, I guess) to even estimate what the ratio between "Reported" and "Saw Something but did Not Report" is, but it's still an interesting topic, and Loch Ness might be the easiest target for such research.
This has always troubled me with spectacular cryptid creatures.  How many zillion birders do NOT report seeing Thunderbirds in the Ohio Valley, etc.

11 comments:

Clark said...

This is a great point made by Robert Bartholomew in his recently published sociological study, The Untold Story of Champ (SUNY Press 2012). He finds large numbers of never before noticed sightings and discusses the even larger number of never at all reported sightings. This is why the skeptics argument against the Loch Ness creature is not correct. They say that it was not known before the famous 1933 sighting. This has been shown to be thoroughly mistaken. The real reason it was not reported in newspapers was due to enlightenment influence discouraging reporting by individuals and newspapers.

Clark said...

Clark is Laurence Clark Crossen

Matt Bille said...

Enlightenment influence? I'm not sure I make the connection.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

I am really surprised. The Enlightenment is responsible for the strongly held modern belief that ghosts and Medieval bestiary animals do not exist.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

It is correct that the Loch Ness Monster was not reported in newspapers. It was reported in magazines and books.
See: The Water Horses of Loch Ness Roland Watson

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

As soon as the 1933 sightings were reported in the press many people came forward with sightings before then.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

Watson's blog is at:
http://www.lochnessmystery.blogspot.com/

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

Konrad Gesner wrote Historia Animalium in the sixteenth century partly to depart from the practices of Medieval bestiaries by leaving aside fictional creatures. Medieval zoology was criticized by Sir Thomas Browne in Vulgar Errors. These were the two main works setting aside beliefs in unproven creatures.
See:
http://www.antlionpit.com/aura.html#era

Matt Bille said...

Clark, thanks for all the inputs. The Enlightenment, though, also involved a hunger for scientific discovery and exploration. It didn't just mean casting aside what were thought to be superstitions. And a movement of the 17th and 18th centuries doesn't necessarily control what happened in the 19th or 20th. Witness the flood of reports and articles on the Great New England Sea Serpent.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

I think you are missing the social context of the relationship of the Scottish commoners to the British educated. I do not think the Americans would have the same inhibitions. The point still applies. Your hunger point does not change the fact that the belief in ghosts was very disrespected thanks to the Enlightenment as was the belief in Nessie.

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

Considering that Roland Watson has demonstrated there were many sightings of Nessie long before 1933, how would you explain the lack of reports in the newspapers? I am still confident it is primarily due to the Enlightenment attitudes. The Enlightenment did not encourage the search for Medieval bestiary beasts. It discouraged it.