Thursday, November 20, 2008

Unexplained: Monsters

SciFi Channel - Original Air Date: 11/16/08

Monster expert Lee Frank joins George Noory in this episode of the show.  Frank has been to Loch Ness and looked for bigfoot, and is convinced that unknown creatures remain at large in the world.  (He cites the usual exotic finds - squid, coelacanth, etc.)  Mermaids, however, he dismisses as imagination and pent-up hormones.  Frank defends the largely discredited Rines flipper photograph, and seemingly draws broad conclusions from less-solid Loch Ness evidence.  Frank says that at first it was thought unlikely that Nessie could be a plesiosaur, because the loch is so cold -- but now we know some dinosaurs were warm blooded, so perhaps that's not so outlandish.  He also claims such creatures are reported in 75 lakes around the world.  Frank dismisses criticism that Nessie reports are inconsistent in their discriptions, describing a creature with "baleen mouth" (?), red eyes, and horns, though pleseosaur like.  The show also uses the discredited three-hump photo (in actuality, bales of hay covered in tarps set in a shallow part of the lake) to illustrate the monster's multi-humped or shape-changing back.  A caller asks for more empirical evidence to support the claims of Nessie and Bigfoot, and asks what Frank has.  He replies they don't have good empirical evidence and they need it.  He believes the witnesses are credible and calls for more research.  (Which, IMO, is a nice admission from a monster hunting expert.)

During the bigfoot segment, Frank plays a tape he thinks might be a bigfoot cry. It's a coughing, growling sound that some think might be a bear. The show also displays a "hidden bigfoot face" picture and a brief movie (which looks like a costume) with no explanation.  Frank then shows some "recreations" of bigroot prints (which I doubt would hold up to scientific scrutiny), and dismisses the idea that hoaxers could have made all of the many prints found.  He then defends a footprint from the Patterson film (see previous blogs, especially the Is It Real Bigfoot episode).  He also mentions the late Grover Krantz as a serious scientist who has investigated the bigfoot/yeti phenomena.  He also says that investigators keep certain information about the prints secret from the public, so prints will be harder to fake.  (Nothing like witholding evidence!)  A caller asks why we haven't found any bones.  Frank says that we don't find deer or bear carcasses (I'm skeptical of this), and "nature takes care of its own."  Franks says it is certainly possible that these creatures live in caves and avoid humans, which has helped bigfoot survival.

A caller asks if sightings of strange creatures coincide with world events.  Franks points out that the Loch Ness sightings started when a road was built around the loch.  He's surprised that more bigfoot sightings didn't happen after Mt. Saint Helens.  He also says there is clearly a breeding population in Loch Ness, and that three creatures have been sighted at once.  (Is he talking about the debunked photo?)  He also says there is plentiful food in the loch "a veritable garden of eden" -- a fact that Adrian Shine, at least, would dispute.  Asked if anything else coul make the bigfoot tracks, Frank notes bears can walk upright for a short distance, but witnesses say they're not seeing bear.

I liked this episode better than the UFO show; with one guest for the whole half hour, it seemed more focused.  Still, it strikes me that suppositions and theories are often being stated as fact here -- and a casual viewer would not be able to discern the difference.  FYI Here's an interesting page on Loch Ness hoaxes.

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