Add Homonym Attacks! #26
Ad Hominem: Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason.
Ad Hominem Attack: An argument that focuses on a personal attack as opposed to the subject in question.
Add Homonym Attacks!: The process by which one inserts a homophone and it bites you.
(It also serves as the title to Inside Pulse’s representative column in the world of Critical Thinking, Science and Skepticism.)
Introduction (Guzzizah, it’s a street Aloha!)
So this week is a bit of a follow-up of the last AHA! in the sense that it is more cryptozoology. We’re moving from the pacific northwest to Scotland for this one. Hmmm… Mysterious animal in Scotland… Wonder what we could be talking about….
Oh, an we’re gonna do a shorter column this week. This one is the fourth piece I’ve written for IP in the last 2 days. There will be plenty more ML to go around, you dig?
The Loch Ness Monster. People have been seeing this thing for a long time. A really long time. Going back at least as far as the sixth century. Not more than 4 years ago, stories circulated claiming that two persons who went missing around Loch Ness were eaten by the monster. We have a world of blurry pictures of alleged parts of the creature.
People have been spotting Nessie for 15 centuries; could they all be wrong?
Well, you see that is part of the problem. Assuming that Nessie is less than 1500 years old, there would have to be more than one of them. To sustain a population of Plesiosaurs or whatever they are supposed to be, you’d probably want a dozen or so of the damn things.
If you had a dozen or so sea monsters in one lake, you’d probably get a couple of good photos of the danged thing.
Hell, can Loch Ness even support that much monster? Would there be any fish left? I’m assuming giant monsters would eat quite a bit. According to a study done in The Naturalist about 12 years ago the short answer is: NO.
You see, Loch Ness’s food web is dependent upon bacteria. (Which, in and of itself is pretty cool; usually algae is the base.) These neat-o folks at the Naturalist did some fancy calculated and figured that the lake could only support maybe, maybe, 30,000 kilograms of fish (30 metric tons). Now, assuming that monsters eat fish, we have a maximum food supply of 30 metric tons. Now, you can’t way more than your food supply. Ideally, you want your species to have less than 10 percent of the mass of its food supply. So we want the total mass of our monsters to be less than 3 metric tons. Split that up amongst twelve of the beasts, and you are left with an average mass of 250 kilograms a piece. That would be about 560 pounds or so a piece.
So we probably couldn’t have dinosaur sized sea monsters, but maybe a group of things slightly larger than current ECW champion Paul “Big Show” Wight. There are plenty of natural and potentially boring things that could fit that bill, if needed.
But then again, that is making the assumption that there is more than one “Nessie.” Maybe we do just have 1 impressively sized 3 ton creature floating around in the lake. It just happens to be a couple of millennia old. That proposition would be an interesting one, assuming that the creature is a sort of reptile. If memory serves, reptiles never stop growing, part of the reason why a 100 year old sea turtle is so goddamn big. So if this were the case, is Nessie now 2-10 times the size she was when she was St. Columba allegedly soothed the savage breast of the savage beast in nearly 1500 years ago.
Our other option here would be to say that Nessie is some sort of sea dragon, spending most of her time contemplating riddles and protecting a collection of precious jewels. If this be the case, I call dibs on her precious dragon eyes for use in my alchemy.
Of course, all of this pondering might be moot. Nearly 3 years ago to the day, the BBC decided to look for the Loch Ness Monster. They shot the lake with sonar some 600 times, scouring every damn nook and cranny of Loch Ness. They found no plesiosaur, no dragons, no massive sea serpents.
But, if there is no monster, what are people seeing? Are they merely seeing what they hope to see? Are they delusional? Is it just a bunch of logs, fish and cloudy water? In some cases… probably. But in other cases it might be seismic activity, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle in an article titled “Mystery unlocked? A scientist says he’s solved a monster controversy — the ‘beast’ in Loch Ness is merely an illusion created by earthquakes.”
What a surprisingly informative title.
Even though it doesn’t seem likely that there could be a loch ness monster, it won’t make people stop seeing the dang thing. The occasional picture will still pop up, showing what could be the fin of the monster or a leaf, or part of a child’s toy taped to a submarine, or a spinach salad. And like photos of UFOs and bigfoot and etc, evidence such as this is never dismissed by the true believer. Here is a common scenario:
A. An obviously fake photo is shot of, let’s say a Wendigo. (You never see those.)
B. The photo is dismissed by skeptics, and worn on T-shirts by some nuts.
C. The people that took the photo, come out and take credit for their hoax.
D. The nuts, having already spent good money on T-shirts respond, “Why believe them? Their admitted liars!”
E. Lather, rinse, repeat.
For more fun…
Puzzle of the week
Until Moodspins and HTMD come back, AHA! is going to steal the puzzle corner.
Difficulty = Pi (as easy as!)
What do the following number have in common?