Sunday, 14 January 2018

A Review of "The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded" (Part I)




WHO IS THE KING OF THE NESSIE SCEPTICS? 
 
I mentioned last year that arch-sceptic, Ronald Binns, had published another book entitled "The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded". I have begun to read my copy but began to realise that the number of statements that could be challenged on logical, historical and other grounds was accumulating so fast that a single review could amount to a huge plodding article or a short one that misses a lot of points. So, for the sake of focus and debate, I will deliver my thoughts on this book in instalments. How many depends on how the quality of the book progresses.

Naturally, one was interested to know what had changed since Binns co-authored the 1983 book, "The Loch Ness Mystery Solved". Another sceptic, Joe Nickell, had reviewed it and, not surprisingly, declared the mystery "even more solved". Whether one should consider Joe Nickell an expert in matters pertaining to Loch Ness and its famed monster is a matter of opinion. I personally view experts as those whose main focus is on the subject under discussion.

The problems began right at the beginning with the first page of the preface. That section tells us that Binns' 1983 book "exploded out of nowhere to shatter the culture of the monster faithful". I wondered to myself what "yes" man Binns had asked to write this fawning preface. As it turned out, it was Binns himself who wrote the preface describing his own book. One normally employs someone else to heap the praise on for ones work, evidently Binns has no problem doing it himself.

The preface indulges in more self-congratulation by leaving the reader in little doubt that Binns regards his 1983 book to be the first sceptical work on the monster when everyone else knows it was Maurice Burton's 1961 book, "The Elusive Monster". However, in his desire to make his book "numero uno", Binns dismisses this on the grounds that Burton held out the speculation that an outsized species of otter may be indigenous to the area.

Considering Maurice Burton spent most of the book panning and debunking classic sightings, films and photographs in true sceptical fashion; one may consider this a preposterous statement. But because Burton leaves the door ajar for the possibility of a large otter inhabiting the area, Binns decides that "The Elusive Monster" cannot be a "sceptical book".

I thought that over and it struck me that this is a bit like saying well known sceptics such as Adrian Shine and Tony Harmsworth must have never written any sceptical works because they mention the possibility that a huge sturgeon may have been present in the loch at some time to generate sightings. Does this mean these two gentlemen are actually "believers" or "non-sceptics"? It seems so, according to Ronald Binns.

Apparently, you are only a real sceptic if you declare nothing unusual was ever in the loch, even if some normal or large versions of a known species were in transit confounding the locals and tourists. The point is of course one for the sceptics to really sort out. Does a speculative nod to a giant sturgeon or otter turn a book into a cryptozoological item even if 90+% of it is clearly of a sceptical nature? That answer is surely no and Burton's book remains the first sceptical tome on the subject of the Loch Ness Monster.

I must say in the light of this bluster by Binns, it is ironic that he takes it upon himself to accuse Burton of sometimes adopting a "dogmatic, haughty manner"! As Binns progresses into the first chapter to further extol the glories of "The Loch Ness Mystery Solved", I recalled how in various articles I covered the anomalies, misrepresentations, ad hominems, bad logic and hyperbolic narrative in that book.

So, it was with some amusement that Binns further rejoiced that the "book's analysis had stood the test of time". Does his new book suffer from the same problems? Does he even bother to address any of my analyses of his 1983 works? That will be revealed in time.

Just like his 1983 book, Binns here begins to put out statements which can shown to be false. For example, in his continued attempt to dethrone Maurice Burton, he tells us that Burton took Lachlan Stuart's 1951 photograph to be genuine when Burton himself said "the unusual behaviour and the absence of animal features makes it tolerably certain that we have to look elsewhere than among the prehistoric animals to account for it.". The problem is that Binns misinterprets Burton's statement which was meant to mean that this was a "genuine" photograph as opposed to a "fake" photograph.

However, the "absence of animal features" clearly shows Burton was looking for a more natural but non-zoological explanation. The Binns of old had not gone away with his mangling of texts. In that regard, the book is admitted as an appendix to the older book and this is very much in evidence in the first chapter where the eminently challengeable themes of "The Loch Ness Mystery Solved" are reprised while the book is praised to the hilt with such ego-laden phrases as "iconoclastic book" and "another of my great discoveries ...".

But back to the nub of the article as various Loch Ness personalities get criticised by Binns, but also current Nessie sceptics Adrian Shine, Dick Raynor and Tony Harmsworth whom Binns clearly insinuates were his implicit students on their final journey to scepticism - whether they like to admit it or not. Back in 1983, Binns alleges that these people were not real sceptics since they held onto something he regards as alien to the sceptical nature. Indeed, Binns avers that it was his book that helped them finally go over to the "dark side".

That Tony Harmsworth disagrees with this statement is clear from his own website where he calls Binns the "author of the rather prematurely titled "Loch Ness Mystery - SOLVED" book.". Clearly Tony did not regard Binns' book as iconoclastic! Adrian Shine and Dick Raynor are silent on what they think of Ronald Binns' regal claims. However, a hint is discovered in Binns' new book when he says that only North American sceptics warmly received his 1983 book - implying the reception from our other British sceptics was lukewarm at best.

So where does this leave us in the matter of who occupies the sceptical throne? That Ronald Binns has come out of hiding thirty four years later is a surprise by itself. Why did he do that? Was it to address matters he thought were not being addressed? Or perhaps in this sceptical age, he wants some recognition for what he did in the 1980s? Indeed, perhaps the over the top lauding of his previous book is tactical rather than egotistical? Only time will tell how this pans out. If Ronald Binns begins to overtake Adrian Shine in media soundbytes, somebody's crown may be slipping.

The next part of this review can be viewed here.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com




41 comments:

  1. Loch ness mystery solved ....... enough said!! Im suprised uve given this numpty the time of day GB !!

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    1. Well, some people might believe him ...

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  2. This article has me chortling to myself in several places. The self-praise elements are hilarious, there's no denying that! It's highly amusing when people think they've created a work of genius while all around them others can see that they haven't.

    I'm looking forward to future articles, and hope they wiill feature Binns' views on more recent photos and eyewitness reports. We need to hear the great man's sceptical views in what must surely be the ultimate iconic book of the 21st century (in someone's view at least).

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  3. Yes! I've been waiting for this review. Binns is Rolland's diametrically opposed opposite, his nemesis! Gotta be honest - I loved his original 1983 effort. And I long learned to separate the art from the artist so I don't mind if the guy has a massive ego, I think a lot of the personalities involved in the history of the creature have huge egos, on both sides. His first book was well written and made me think - even if I didn't completely agree with it. I'm extremely intrigued as to why he's come back - though I'll wait for your final review GB as to whether I'll read it.

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    1. Of course, the self-promotion is independent of whether his arguments are the slam dunk he claims they are. So each has to be dealt with seperately.

      I anticipate at least two more reviews!

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  4. My take on the issue of THE ELUSIVE MONSTER is that Binns was looking at the way that Burton vacillated between belief in the monster and outright rejection of the plausibility of there being undiscovered animals in Loch Ness; Burton's quiet feud with Dinsdale; and his concession that there was probably an unknown variety of otter in the loch. It was a skeptical tome, but one that was still sympathetic to the idea of there being a "monster" yet unclassified.

    Binns rejected this idea outright, and his subsequent book was one that covered the entire affair from a sociological standpoint (i.e., why do we believe in monsters?). It was categorically skeptical, whereas Burton was largely on the fence, at least insofar as classifying what may or may not be there.

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    1. Binns doesn't add much to what Burton said in terms of the misidentification theory. The word "sociological" is perhaps euphemistic when it comes to Binns' libelling various people on the way to crafting his Nessie Genesis theory.

      But did Maurice Burton write the first sceptical book on the Loch Ness Monster? undoubtedly.

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    2. Completely agreed that Burton’s was the first skeptical tome. It was completely different in approach and the two handle the subject very differently, though.

      I look forward to reading your rebuttal.

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  5. I read the preface thinking "I wonder who he's got to praise him so extravagantly?" I think this must cast doubt on his judgement. I look forward to the rest of your review.

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  6. For me Binns is in the ' no plesiosaur in loch ness so nothing there ' camp !! But there is a lot more to the mystery than that!....Roy

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  7. As anyone in the publishing world knows, an author writing a preface to an updated reprint is nothing unusual. GB does himself no favours with such childish pointscoring.
    If he is going to disect every unimportant statement, claim and point that Binns makes with such forensic rigour this could be the longest book review, like ...EVER.

    As some Danish bloke once said, "brevity is the soul of wit me old china "

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    1. Are you kidding? That preface and opening chapter are unique in Loch Ness literature. I am not letting that pass!

      As for dissection, people such as Binns build "important" arguments based on multiple "unimportant" statements to the detriment of the person's reputation - as I shall explore later.

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    2. I thoroughly agree with Roland. The preface is hilarious and completely undermines the credibility of Binns. His first book was nowhere near as important as he suggests, and I believe that illustrates how Binns has a problem understanding the relative significance/insignificance of Loch events, hearsay and character traits.

      Thanks for the information Roland, you've done yourself and Loch Ness a great service and I can't wait for the next instalment.

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  8. I agree with Roland. Its ok for the skeptics to question every little thing so only fair for the skeptical view to be questioned, go ahead Roland.

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  9. I buy most LNM related books, but I think I can pass on this one. He solved! nothing in his previous tome, and his bending of theories and Nessie behavior/legends is rather disturbing. Is he really that confused, or does he take his readers for dolts?

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    1. I think it's another one of those confirmation bias things, hopkarma. People never seem to demand much evidence to support statements which back up what they already believe. I can picture many a sceptic lapping up the first Binns book with little concern over the significant problems you raise about his approach.

      I would also concede that there are some amongst us believers who lap up every pro-Nessie anecdote. Thankfully that number is relatively small.

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  10. "I would also concede that there are some amongst us believers who lap up every pro-Nessie anecdote. Thankfully that number is relatively small."

    Will, I had you down as one of those. only teasing :)

    I consider the debunking of Binns' book a waste of GB's time, he is just playing to his audience of devoted acolytes.
    Better that he source and research new solid evidence to persuade fence sitters towards the light.

    Frankly I'm not interested in his bitchy dissing of other authors' works, it is a futile exercise in grandstanding.

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    1. Do you think Binns might have "bitchily dissed" others in his book? If he has he's opened the door to the same treatment. However, I don't feel Roland has been at all bitchy in the article above. He's simply pointing out the delusional elements of the author's thought processes. It's something we should all be interested in.

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    2. It's his blog John he can say whatever he wants really. Personally, I hold Binns' 1983 effort in extremely high regard but am obviously intrigued to see GB's take on his new book. Even when GB's being aggressive in his opinions he always says why in detail. I think he does a great job of promoting the possibility of there being a... something in the Loch. For example I thought the photos from last year were very poor as evidence but GB always makes me think twice because his articles are impressively thorough.

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    3. Not to spoil any surprises, but it seems Binns has an unkind word or three for Roland, so all is fair game. I never understand the people who go after Roland; he is providing a place for open discussion, which has become a great source of information, and he does a huge amount of reasearch on a subject he is enthralled by. What is the harm in that?

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    4. I agree. It's clear looking back on the articles over the years that Roland has been unwaveringly fair and polite. He treats his subject and his readers with a great deal of respect, always. Even in the face of some quite barbaric behaviour from some more militant sceptics (who now thankfully seem to be long gone) Roland has retained an air of professionalism rarely seen online. I love this blog and open it several times a day. It's very addictive!

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    5. Usually, yes, but I will sometimes talk tough with those who talk tough.

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    6. I dont think Roland will lose any sleep over what Binns says about him.Binns for me is a classic example of someone who thinks he knows it all but in truth knows sod all. There is a few of them about on nessie sites, one or two on here also.

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    7. Apart from a couple of comments aimed at me which I didn't understand, I think the crew on here is all good at the moment Gezza. Believers and sceptics alike. I'm not aware of activities elsewhere, but I'm mostly cool with the vibe on here.

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    8. It's probably a good thing you're not aware of activities elsewhere, because you might take what's being said personally.

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    9. It shows what an impact Roland has then .Keep up the good work Roland.

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  11. If anybody is grandstanding it's Binns. And I say that as someone who finds much of value in his 1983 book.

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  12. I'm re-reading his original book and it still raises issues that believers find difficult to counter.

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    1. Can you elaborate on that John please?

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  13. Just the usual Gezza, e.g. the pre 1930s tradition is very shaky, much of it unsubstantiated misinterpreted, or just pure hokum.

    The Spicer story's role in kick starting the public's interest when it looked as if they were tiring of the story. A monster not only in the loch but on land too !


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    1. John, I have been doing my due diligence as moderator and noticed there are three "john rutherford" blogger accounts which have posted here over the last year or two. Do you know anything about this?

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  14. No, all my posts to your blog have been posted on your blog under my name. I do post from my work computer, my laptop and my home PC.

    My knowledge of such technical things is very poor I didn't even know I had a blogger account [ you have the blog, I just post comments ] but I can assure you nothing calculating or nefarious is going on, it's just my hit and miss computer methodology.

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    1. I see you have updated your blogger profile today with some personal details since I posted.

      Your profile says you have been on Blogger since March 2017, but John Rutherford has been posting here since 2012.

      For example, if you go to http://lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/loch-ness-monster-documentary-on-uk-tv.html and look at the John Rutherford there, it is a different blogger ID. Do you recall making that comment?

      Trying to get to the bottom of this ...

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  15. Yes, that was me, and yes I put more details on my profile today.

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    1. Well, something is weird, if you do not have a blogger/google+ ID, then an attempt to comment puts you through a registration process in which you have to explicitly and conciously set up an ID. It would appear you have done this at least three times. The ID you have posted under here was set up in March 2017, do you remember setting that up?

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    2. Anyway, just keep posting as normal. I don't think someone has tried to nick your ID.

      Email me if you wish further info.

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  16. I have cancelled my google account many times for reasons I have long forgotten and if I attempt to re-register with the evil bastard non tax paying monopoly that is Google [ or else I can't access You Tube and YOUR Blog ] Google won't let you use the same email twice so I have to register with a different email.

    That's all.

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    1. Ok, clicking on "john rutherford" here (as opposed to "John Rutherford" above) takes me to another place, a Google+ account. I'll tell you what. To avoid moderation confusion, I will henceforth only allow comments from blogger ID "John Rutherford". Okay?

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  17. I now see what the problem is.

    Thanks GB. Sorry for the confusion.
    From now on I will post as John Rutherford.

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