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The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence Paperback – 1 Jul 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 3rd Revised edition edition (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874744610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874744610
  • Package Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,075,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Steuart Campbell is a freelance science writer.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Loch Ness Monster" is a detailed evaluation of every photographically supported sighting of the loch's alleged denizen since 1933. Campbell offers the most plausible explanation of each, and concludes that none survives close inspection. While he lists the ancient mythology that has been retroactively postulated as evidence for Nessie's existence, he finds that it is nothing more than a desperate ploy to reinterpret older fairy tales as earlier sightings.
If Nessie exists, then its ancestor must have entered Loch Ness at some time in the past, when there was a tunnel from the loch to the open sea. But since Loch Ness is 16 meters above sea level, any tunnel large enough to take Nessie would drain the lake down to sea level. There is no tunnel, and probably never was a tunnel. And for the creature to have survived for centuries, there would have to be a breeding herd of at least twenty individuals. But Loch Ness is too cold to support any cold-blooded species, and also does not have the capacity to feed such a number of large lifeforms. Campbell shows that all alleged positive results of sonar, radar and photographic imaging, on close inspection, in fact prove to be negative. Not only does the loch not have the capacity to support a herd of monsters. No legitimate evidence exists that it does contain them. And given the thousands of man-hours devoted to loch watching by serious researchers, photographers and tourists, the logical conclusion is that, if Nessie existed, someone would have proven it by now. But the more Loch Ness is watched, the less the alleged monster shows itself.
Campbell concludes that there is absolutely no reason why anyone should believe in lake monsters. If anyone doubts that conclusion on the basis of any specific evidentiary claim, the chances are that it is one of the dozens of claims that the book examines and demolishes.
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This book purports, not without justification, to be the definitive assessment of all the evidence for/against the existence of Nessie. By and large, it does an admirably thorough job, examining all of the available theories and trashing the most obviously ludicrous ones (I particularly like the way he treats the stupid hippy-idea that Nessie's image appears translucent on some photoes not because they are forgeries but because she comes from another dimension). He also mentions the tantalising existence of at least two films, apparently never viewed, that might conclusively establish the existence or otherwise of the beast, but which, due to a legal Snafu, are doomed to be locked away for ever in a London vault.
The only real fault of the book stems from the author's determination that Nessie not only does not exist, but cannot and indeed jolly well MUST not exist. This belief is pretty much evident from the tone and slant of the writing right from the beginning. Though the author purports to be completely objective, his take on the matter stands out precisely because he is NOT objective. How can he be? As Connor Cruise O'Brien pointed out in his essay on the French historian Michelet (in his collection of essays "Writers and Politics"), no-one writing a book about any given subject can really be objective, because anyone propelled to write a book on a subject must have some passion about it, and therefore some bias, in the first place. I could write completely objective books about, for instance, the history of Australian farming or Norwich City football club, but never would because I haven't got the remotest interest in either subject. This inbuilt bias leads the author to miss one or two aspects of the matter.
For instance, he states that Loch Ness has no egress to the sea.
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This book details the majority of sightings, sonar evidence and video footage and takes them apart in the hope of finding the truth. A must for cryptozoology fans
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The Loch Ness Monster continues to mystify the world to this day, opinion divided on whether or not an unknown species inhabits the dark waters of the mysterious Scottish lake. This book is one of many published on the subject.

The problem I have with this particular book is with the author. By his own words he has never spoken to any eye-witnesses who claim to have seen the monster and has no intention of ever doing so. The evidence discussed in this book, such as photographs and films, just seems to consist of anecdotes copied from other works, the author adding a few comments of his own at the end of each one. This isn't journalism or investigating - it's just a cut-and-paste job. I'm all for constructive criticism, but every piece of evidence is dismissed out of hand as either faked or hoaxed often without any convincing reason. Or in many cases without any reason at all. There are plenty of other books on the Loch Ness Monster out there, and they're far more objective and wrtten with much more care than this.

Oh, and if you already have an older edition of this book then don't bother with the 'new edition'. The only new things in it are a few extra lines on a few of the photographs and a few lines concerning a film taken in 2002.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, but there are many reservations 11 Mar. 2017
By Barry Rucker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author, Campbell, is a skeptic, which is all well and good, since skepticism has been an essential part of the scientific method ever since The Enlightenment. Prometheus Books is the publisher, and its books have been a source of reliable information to me in the past. That said, this book is a disturbing mixture of strengths and weaknesses. One of its strengths is the recognition of the fact that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable: "evidence from witnesses is subject to several processes which we tend to overlook. First the witnesses must perceive the event...Later they must use memory recall to relate the event. Much can go wrong with either or both of these processes. Human perception is a complex activity of the brain, and we do not necessarily perceive in the brain what we perceive with our sense organs. The brain is prone to guesswork and it may determine what we see from scraps of information and from what it is expecting. Thus we cannot always accept that witnesses actually saw what they tell us they saw. Generally it is found that a witness embroiders a simple occurrence....Perception involves estimation of size, distance and speed, and it is well known that few can make accurate estimates of these parameters...estimates of size of unknown objects on water by untrained observers vary from exactly right to 3-5 times too great, and in tests...estimates of speed ranged from correct to five times too great. Generally there is a tendency for observers to exaggerate both size and speed....To report a sighting a witness must also use memory, a faculty which is not always reliable. All people include an inventive, imaginative (and therefore spurious) element in their remembering, and all remembering depends heavily on reconstruction rather than on mere reproduction alone. Buckhout has shown how unreliable eyewitness testimony can be, and how the witness may have trouble separating fact from fiction....Tests show that unreliability increases with time, and it is strongly suspected that witnesses attempt to make facts fit theory. In the case of N [Nessie], the theory is pretty well defined and capable of exerting a powerful influence on all who report it. Finally it should be remembered that not everyone is honest. Some of the eyewitness reports may be deliberate deception...and some will come from people whose mental health is poor. Overall, human beings are not the careful and reliable observers that they are often taken to be." (pp.24-25) Indeed, in many reports of N there is contradictory testimony. There are also admitted and detected hoaxes. And it is very suspicious that many of the photographic negatives are lost or missing. In many cases the reports and photographs of N have prosaic explanations, e.g. waves, eels, otters, diving birds, logs, tree trunks. Many of the photographs are simply unclear. Campbell traces belief in N back to ancient myth and superstition, and "there are always those who claim to have seen what others have merely postulated. These reports must then have fed and reinforced the myth." (p. 14) "In science, prima facie evidence must be examined critically, and only if it withstands that examination can it be regarded as sound evidence." (p. 16) Campbell presents a table of above-water still photographs P1-P21 along with plates of some of them and discussions that refute the contention that they represent N. Unfortunately, some of the greatest weaknesses of the book appear in this chapter. Why does the text skip P 3-5, P12, and P14? Why are there no plates of P8, P9, P18 and P20? Why does he cryptically claim "for many years there has been a rumour in the Wilson family that the picture was a hoax," (p.41) without further discussion or evidence? And why rely upon a rumour? Chapter 4 presents above-water cinema and video evidence in a table and in text and stills. No still from film F8 is included in this book. Why? The book skips F16 and F18-24 without explanation. The other films are lost or inaccessible, unclear, waves, hoaxes, inanimate objects or waterfowl. The underwater photos are unclear, composites, trees and silt. On page 74 Campbell asserts, "It is now known that the object in U5 is a tree stump," but he fails to explain HOW this is known. The sonar evidence includes an admitted hoax, unidentifiable target, a fish shoal, an admission that nothing was detected, a waterlogged tree, otters, inconclusive data, and a boat. Unfortunately, Campbell does not mention sonar trace S14 in the text, gives no analysis of S15, and makes no attempt to critique the only radar report. The hydrophone evidence is inconclusive. As for negative evidence, in May 1969 sonar researchers found no sign of N, and if N exists there must be many Ns to form a breeding population and prevent extinction. In 1983 researchers deployed 15 tons of equipment, including 144 sonar transducers with a recording system, but "during the eight weeks of observation there was no sign of N" (p. 96) Of two incidents in another lake in August, 1971, "whereas several alternative explanations might be suggested, it was not possible to give a definite opinion, and it was thought to be extremely unscientific to try to hazard a guess of the cause of either incident." (p. 101) There are other reports in other lakes, but they are explained as masses of sawdust, rotten plants, pieces of wood and mud, Swedish zoologists attribute some "observations" to the effects of alcohol. The Icelandic Museum of Natural History said it "had never been anything but a legend and that all that had been seen were leaves, branches, and vegetable matter brought together by strong currents." (p.103) Moving on to North American lakes, "there is no good photographic evidence." (p.104) Of another sighting, "both Folden and his film disappeared and the location of neither is known, but Clarke's book contains a colour still from the film." (p.105) In the interest of openness and completeness, why is this still not reproduced in this book? Again on page 105 Campbell mentions five photographs by Fletcher, but does not say where they are. Campbell writes, "Moon's book shows one of Fletcher's photographs," (p. 105) but does not reproduce it as a plate in this book. On page 106 Campbell mentions a photograph in Costello's book, but does not see fit to reproduce it here. However, Campbell replies that neither party would admit involvement. Of an incident on Lake Champlain, "Mansi took only one photograph, did not immediately report the incident, lost the negative, and cannot now locate the site. " (p.107) In a Nebraska lake the observation has been identified as an elephant seal. At Silver Lake, NY, "two people confessed that they had built the monster out of waterproof canvas, paint and wire, and that it was towed by ropes and made to surface by pumping in air." (p. 108) Chapter 8, the summary, is excellent, answering some--but not all--the objections I have written. "Plainly eyewitness evidence for N is not to be relied on....they are psychologically prepared to see N." (p.112.) Of underwater photos, Campbell says that scientists need access to unenhanced negatives. A thorough Cambridge University sonar sweep of all of Loch Ness in 1962 "showed that N does not exist." (p.114) in the summary, Campbell belatedly addresses the Fletcher photo, "obviously a picture of a heavy ship wake, and the same is probably true of Folden's film." (p.116) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and perhaps that proof is not forthcoming.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 Jun. 2017
By Debbie Fussell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son loves this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars willy 23 Sept. 2013
By Cammie M. Royce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting, but could have been done a little bit better. I loved it any way and it did bring new in sight on the Loch.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Loch Ness Monster-The Evidence; A Good Read 13 Nov. 2003
By richard janusz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I first read this book,I was completely put off by it and seriously thought of returning it.It presents a totally negative view of the problem,and concludes that there is absolutely no postive evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster,or any other lake monster for that matter. Being a strong believer,I was ready to reject this idea.
Later,I realized that when examining the evidence,it is very important to look at both sides of the story.For instance,regardless of my pro-monster status,I now concede that the "Surgeon's Photo" is in fact a hoax,as well as Lachlan Stuart's "3-hump" photo. The famous "gargoyle head" photo snapped by an underwater camera most likely shows an engine block used as an anchor (but the other underwater phots arte still very interesting).
As to the book itself,it is a bit difficult to read-the author refers to the Monster as "N",the loch as "L. Ness",and uses a whole series of abbreviations,which make for some interesting,as well as confusing sentences. He also make many seemingly solid declarations without giving sources,the most common being that a film or photograph (pick one,any one) has "long been rumoured to be a hoax."
Summing up-if you a Monster enthusiast,by all means,read this book,but be prepared for a completely negative view of the whole matter,and remember that it is important to examine all sides of the issue.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly skeptical study of some value 10 Nov. 1999
By Mike Dash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have to point out that other reviews of this book on the Amazon site appear to have been written by people who have not actually read Campbell's work. This is, in fact, the most vigorously skeptical study of the Loch Ness Monster ever written. It is penned in a dry style peculiar to Campbell (who insists, for example, in referring to the monster throughout as 'N') and is more a reference work than a light read. Many of Campbell's points are excellent ones, but on the whole the book sufferes from being short - there is little room to be comprehensive, or develop arguments - and from the author's invincible belief in the correctness of his own opinions. This is not justified. His survey of the famous Surgeon's Picture, for example, has been shown to be incorrect by the recent and much more detailed study of Dave Martin and Alistair Boyd, and on the whole the earlier skeptical work of Ronald Binns (The Loch Ness Mystery Solved, 1983) is better balanced and more detailed. In sum, believers will hate this book; skeptics and the unconvinced will find it valuable, but will certainly not enjoy it as a work of literature.
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