Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: 'Loch Ness Monster and Other Unexplained Mysteries'


A couple of months ago I reviewed a sweeping debunking of the most famous cryptids called Abominable Science.  While applauding the sound arguments of authors Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero, I also lamented—ever so slightly—how their book put such a resounding end to dreams of the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, Big Foot, and others of their phony family. Humbug these creatures may be, but they’re fun too. Prothero, the stauncher skeptic of the duo, argued that cryptozoology does more damage than good because the “I’ll buy anything” attitude it allows undermines our faith in science, and before you know it, the wackos are teaching “intelligent design” hooey in public schools.

Fair enough, but I for one protest the unintelligent designers ruining the fun for the rest of us who understand the difference between scientific fact and harmless fairy tale telling. For us, JF Derry’s new book Loch Ness Monster and Other Unexplained Mysteries will come as a sweet chaser to Prothero and Loxton’s tart medicine. Derry is a science writer, yet he’s more editor than author of this book, which compiles a century of articles on Nessie, Bigfoort, the Yeti, aliens, and ghosts that were originally published in the UK tabloid The Daily Mirror. Because there is no commentary here (aside from Derry’s brief introduction and his cheeky photo captions) we can just take the articles at face value, and many of them ripple with dry, wry British wit. Case in point: on a Lady Yeti, the Mirror informs us, “the Snow-woman woos her mate and kills him if he refuses. And sometimes she kills him if he doesn’t refuse.” Some of the encounters with these fantastic beasts read like pulp magazine stories. Complimenting the amusing archive of articles are numerous cartoons, illustrations, and photos, all making for a very presentable package. There’s little here in the way of hard science, but there is plenty of fun, which is what Nessie and his mates should forever be.

Get Loch Ness Monster and Other Unexplained Mysteries at Amazon.com here:

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