During my holiday travels to Arkansas, up around Lake Champlain in Vermont, an amateur photographer took an unusual cell phone video of a rather large creature swimming in the morning light. Immediately, interest was stirred as to whether or not this is “Champ” the legendary aquatic dinosaur that even the Indian tribes around the lake have claimed to have witnessed for hundreds of years before even white men came to settle the area.
The media took great delight with reporting the video, simply because, … well… you know, only kooks are suppose to believe in lake monsters. The video maker, a guy named Eric Olsen, went into hiding after his video became famous and news agencies from all over the place were wanting an interview with him. It looked to be the media story sensation of the summer, until David Carradine was found dead dressed in women’s clothes.
Anyhow, an army of self-proclaimed cryptologists began analyzing the short video. Some of their work can be viewed, along with still shots of the animal, here:
The main website is also posting periodic updates.
My interest in the story is not only the video itself, but the reaction it has received from the so-called debunking skeptics organizations. Shortly after the video hit the news wires, self-appointed skeptic debunkers were also interviewed by the media. Some claimed it was probably a hoax of some kind, while others wondered why the video ends aburptly before the animal reached the shore line. Olsen says he was running out of memory on his phone.
Anyways, the main conclusion by the skeptic debunkers after one look: Its a moose calf swimming in the lake. Of course, when one actually watches the video, there are parts of this animal which appear much longer than a moose. And never mind the fact the so-called moose in the video doesn’t have those big Dumbo ears sticking out of the top of its head like most moose do.
One of the big skeptics sought out for opinion was atheist, Joe Nickell, who writes for the Skeptical Inquirer and who has made a career out of researching paranormal activities like crying Virgin Mary statues and UFO sightings. He was one of the first skeptics to conclude the video was a moose calf.
My first reaction when I saw his name attached to this story was to ask why a paranormal investigator would be making comment upon a video that certainly isn’t paranormal. Its some animal swimming in the lake. Moreover, lake monsters are not supernatural, but are suppose to be some misplaced marine animal living in a lake where such marine animals don’t populate.
More than likely, however, the reason why Nickell and other skeptical debunkers race to discredit lake monsters is due in part by the fact lake monsters are often concluded by lake monster believers to be extinct animals like dinosaurs. In the case of “Champ,” a plesiosaur. The conventional wisdom of evolutionists is that plesiosaurs died out like 70 million years ago. So certainly no creature that has been extinct for so long could possibly be living in a lake in Vermont.
But I am not troubled by such possibilities, and see it as sort of neat. That is because my worldview allows for the possibility of such animals being alive on the earth, because they didn’t die out millions of years ago, but only thousands of years ago. The skeptical debunkers have a rather significant horse in this race. A 70 million year old dinosaur can potentially screw up your evolutionary, molecules-to-man beliefs. Thus, any other explanation is sought out in spite of overwhelming evidence. It’s similar to how evolutionary paleontologists struggle to come to terms with soft dinosaur tissue found in T-Rex and Hadrosaur specimens. Soft tissue should not exist in dinosaur fossils, unless of course dinosaurs didn’t die out when evolutionists claim they did.
Could the “Champ” in this video be a moose? Certainly it could. In fact, applying Occam’s razor to the video, it is the most logical conclusion. Or is this fellow hoaxing everyone? That is a possibility, too, though his reaction to all the attention he is receiving suggests otherwise. I just think it is interesting how one’s worldview totally shapes the way we look at evidence and the conclusions we draw from it. The skeptical debunkers, who glory in their commitment to “free thinking” and “free inquiry” and the like, are some of the most close minded when their presuppositions are challenged.