Saturday, 9 April 2016

Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths

My love of the paranormal and weird runs way back into my early life. As a child I lapped up books on ghost stories, UFO abductions and the Loch Ness monster. When my atheism and scepticism began to slowly take me away from such childish things I went kicking and screaming (as evidenced by this blog, my attempt to hold on to the stories even as belief slipped away). Once you've allowed yourself to believe the world is a "magical" place, why would you want to wake up to reality? 

A year or so ago I read Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids, a brilliant step-by-step take down of every major tenet of cryptozoological lore. I was by then well past belief in any woo but it acted as a refreshing breeze of sanity and science to help clear away the last delusional cobwebs. A great read which I very much recommend for really seeing how little evidence there is for pretty much any cryptid you can think of.

Now Darren Naish has written a similar book. Again it demolishes case after case. He does so with an ease that highlights just how much wishful thinking one has to put in to believing in bigfoot or Loch Ness monster just to make them seem possible.

However the book won't surprise any sceptic with a decent knowledge of cryptid lore. It feels somewhat unnecessary coming a couple of years after Abominable Science.

That's not to say it isn't a well-written, well-researched and easy to read take-down of cryptozoology. It sets out a clear, rational case to be sceptical of claims made about "undiscovered" animals. And that serves a valuable purpose in fighting woomeisters and creationists alike.