Sunday, February 20, 2011

Loch Ness Monster cousin is NOT found

In the British paper the Telegraph, there's a gullible story claiming that someone with a cell phone caught a picture of "Brownessie," hailed as the English cousin to the Loch Ness monster.

Well, the story's not totally gullible. It did interview one skeptic:
Photo expert David Farnell of Farnell’s photographic laboratory in Lancaster said: “It does look like a real photo but because it’s been taken on a phone the file size is too small to really tell whether it has been altered on Photoshop or not.”
OK, here's why I'm skeptical.

Shutterbug Tom Pickles describes the event:
“It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10mph.
Really? 10 miles per hour? I would think something swimming that fast would produce more ripples.

OK, so Pickles misestimated the speed. Then, we can rightfully ask, what else did he misjudge? The size?

He claims it was three cars in size. Moving even close to 10 mph, something that big would surely produce bigger ripples than in the picture.

Then, we have conflicting comments.

Pickles says:
“Its skin was like a seal’s but it’s shape was completely abnormal – it’s not like any animal I’ve ever seen before."
But kayak companion Sarah Harrington says:
“It was like an enormous snake.
Snakes don't have abnormal shapes. True, eyewitnesses have unreliable testimony, but that different?

The kicker? The story says Pickles and Harrington were out "as part of a team building exercise with his IT company, CapGemini."

OK, how many other people were getting built up? Any of them want to comment?

That said, speaking of comments, people on the story's website nail it. The "creature" looks too sharp, compared to the rest of the image. The perspective looks too "high" for it to be shot from a kayak, unless it was quite close. And, in that case, something three car lengths in size and moving at 10 mph would surely have swamped a kayak. In which case, the couple would have been seen being swamped by other IT team builders.

One other commenter notes a 24-year-old man and 23-year-old woman out on a lake together ... this might be a hoax not just to be a hoaxer, but to cover some tracks ...

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