Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuning Out The Noise - How debunking helps research into the paranormal. [REPOST FROM NOV 2007]

I'm not saying that strange, undiscovered creatures - perhaps even some rather large ones - do not swim the depths of this planet's oceans and lakes. However, I must confess that far too much misidentification is being allowed to perpetuate legend and further clutter the facts.

With the exception of aquatic mammals, most lake, river and sea creatures swim laterally, swishing their tales or bodies from side to side. This serpentine mode of swimming is common among most reptiles and some amphibians too.

Yet the history of Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents is replete with sightings of the "humps in the water" variety, leading me to believe that what has been mistaken in the past for sea serpents are, in fact, pods of whales or dolphins.

"Since mammals originally evolved on land, their spines are optimized for running, allowing for up-and-down but only little sideways motion. Therefore, marine mammals typically swim by moving their spine up and down."[Wikipedia]This is a simple, logical explanation for many sightings in our oceans and seas but how can we explain those in lakes and rivers?

One of the smallest Dolphins is a Tucuxi, which measures only about 4 feet long and plies the waters of the south Caribbean and along the northeast coast of South America. But this creature's range also extends more than a thousand miles inland on the Amazon. Other river dolphins such as the Boto and La Plata are exclusive to the Amazon. Still others can be found in China and Southeast Asia.

Could a similiar, unknown species of dolphin, whale, or porpoise (Cetaceans) exist at higher latitudes? At least one species of whale has been documented in the vicinity of Lake Champlain, albeit a prehistoric one. However, a relic prehistoric whale species or its descendent might be the answer to what has been witnessed over the years. These cetaceans, traveling closely in a pod, would appear to be a long, vertically undulating snake to someone from a distance. But this discover itself would be quite a milestone.

It is important to look for the most logical and the simplest explanations first. If we simply chase every half-baked story in a frenzy of zeal, we will end up looking like the very "kooks" many paint us to be. My advice has always been: be your own worst enemy. Rip your theories to shreds before anyone else can. Think of all the angles of attack beforehand and test them first. You will find yourself presenting stronger arguments in the future.