Friday, 1 April 2011

More on Greta Finlay

As suspected, current skeptics put Greta Finlay's sighting down to a common roe deer or similar. In my opinion, this is a nonsense theory as too many things have to come together to make it sound believeable.

Let me tell you about my recent deer experience. Not at Loch Ness but in a wood near my place of work where I sometimes go for a lunchtime walk. As I walked I noticed something moving to my left and I stopped to look more closely. It was a deer with two more at about 50 yards away. In fact, it was a deer side on to me but face towards me (in a Finlay like pose). The fact that it took me less than a second to identify it as a deer should come as no surprise. The only surprise was that I did not expect to see any deer near this semi-built up area. As it faced me side on, the ears were very much pricked up in an alert condition (after all, it knew I was there). After some seconds, I moved and they then trotted off in the direction they were pointing.

So this is all pretty much matter of fact, it is very unlikely in those conditions I will mistake a deer for anything else. But suppose there was a legend of a big cat in that forest which is occasionally claimed to have been seen by some but in general has never harmed anyone and is just regarded as creepy. How would that have affected my deer episode?

So, if I had walked the forest with that at the back of my mind, would I have been fooled into thinking the deer was now a big cat? Since I know what a big cat looks like, it is again not very likely. On seeing the deer, one's brain may add the extra processing option of "Big Cat" to the list of possible identifications but the match would fail. The deer is a better fit.

Likewise with Mrs. Finlay at 20 yards from her creature. Various possible contendors would flash through the brain. The "deer" and "nessie" templates would be fitted against what is seen and the winner would be the deer. Obviously, at further distances where visual data becomes less accurate then no identification may be possible and guesswork becomes involved. But at twenty yards - no.

So, to repeat the unusual sequence of events from a deer perspective:

1. The Finlays turn round to see a deer standing in the water 20 yards away.
2. Both fail to recognise it is a deer because they "want" to see the monster.
3. The deer obligingly keeps it ears pinned back to avoid obvious detection.
4. It covers itself in mud to appear black and slimy.
5. It also hides any facial features like eyes, nose and mouth.
6. The appearance of this common deer somehow strikes terror into the witnesses.
7. The deer manages to stay faceward towards the Finlays so they do not see
the giveaway muzzle of a deer (and ears).
8. The deer decides to become a furry submarine and submerges never to appear
again. OR
9. It gave the impression of sinking but was actually making it way to the
shoreline to complete the deception by bolting to the trees.

Now let's talk about logic and the scientific technique as sceptics love to apply. If a theory does not adequately explain the data then it should be discarded. Occam's razor applies - find the simplest explanation that requires the least assumptions. That seems obvious but sceptics persist in this theory rather than the more obvious one from their point of view - the testimony was fabricated. That is, the Finlays were liars.

Now perhaps sceptics just don't like to go around libelling and defaming people as liars. After all, this is a litigious age. It would be "kinder" to say the witness was just deceived by an unusual set of circumstances.

Unfortunately, in this case, I don't think this applies. The deer theory does not fit. That leaves them the following options:

1. The witnesses lied.
2. Someone deceived them in a "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" scenario.
3. It was an unidentified large creature largely as described.
4. Don't know.

Which one shall be picked? if they are true to their logic, option one seems the best choice.

I personally go for option three!

As a final aside, why don't Nessie believers apply Occam's Razor as well and come to the same conclusion that all close up accounts are lies? The reason is because such a theory again requires too many assumptions - despite all the varying characters, it requires that every witness had an abnormal propensity to lie and stick to that lie despite the potential criticism and ridicule they may receive - from their peers and of course sceptics in general.

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