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Roland Watson

(2 Hours, 17 Minutes)

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Adding to the menagerie of cryptids covered on the program, BoA:Audio explores the iconic and infamous Loch Ness Monster with our guest Roland Watson, author of The Water Horses of Loch Ness, speaking to us direct from Edinburgh, Scotland. In this marathon conversation, we'll discuss Nessie from a myriad of angles, including the evolution of Nessie in mainstream popularity, the many ways monster hunters have tried to prove its existence, the controversial "Surgeon's Photo" which allegedly shows the creature, the various theories behind what Nessie might be, how to best "hunt" the monster, and how the local at Loch Ness feel about mystery after all these years. Plus, of course, tons and tons more.

It's a comprehensive conversation with a researcher who has both chronicled Nessie lore and help keep the mystery of the monster alive and kicking in this new millennium: Roland Watson.

Full Preview: We kick things off by getting some bio / background on Roland Watson and find out how he got interested in the Loch Ness Monster. This leads to some discussion on the ebbs and flows in Nessie popularity over the years and Roland provides a look at where Loch Ness Monster research stands today. We also find out about Loch Ness, itself and how it is largely unexplored due to the dark nature of its waters and lack of visibility.

For the benefit of newcomers to the paranormal or befuddled listeners in the distant future, we have Roland provide a thumbnail recap of the Loch Ness Monster mystery. Roland details how the story first burst into global consciousness in 1933 when a couple from London spotted the creature on the shores of the loch. He then traces the evolution of the mystery as it went through a downturn in popularity in the 1940's and then re-emerged in the 1950's and 60's as an even bigger global phenomenon. Roland also talks about how the lack of Nessie evidence in the 1980's resulted in a change in perspective from previously ardent monster hunters. And, finally, he provides a look at the last two decades of Nessie research and where it stands today.

Jumping back to more ancient times, Roland details how Scotland has a long history of mythical aquatic creatures, one of which may be actual reports of Nessie. Getting a better perspective on Loch Ness' place British geography, Roland talks about how it is the largest fresh water body in all of the UK. Tackling one specific piece of Nessie lore, we find out about the famous "Surgeon's Photo" which is often seen as the iconic image of the monster. Roland goes into great detail about an investigation into the photo which revealed that it was a hoax. Roland also talks about some of the unanswered questions about this expose which leaves the photo still in the proverbial 'grey basket' of the paranormal.

In light of the uncertainty surrounding the "Surgeon's Photo," we find out what are some of the more promising images of the creature. This leads to some reflection on how Nessie has particularly suffered from the skepticism of the Photoshop age, leading to an "evidence impasse" as Roland puts it. This segues into discussion on what Nessie may be and we get Roland's opinion on the nature of the creature as well as how his opinion has evolved over the years. He also talks about some of the popular theories surrounding what Nessie is and explains why he is skeptical that the creature is a mammal. To that end, Roland reveals what type of creature he now believes the creature to be.

Next, we get Roland's take on the 'Giant eel theory' that has gained popularity in recent years and he details how eyewitness testimonies discredit the eel theory. This leads to some discussion on land sightings of Nessie. Roland also reveals a surprising detail about these land sightings that sheds potential new light on the behavior of the creature. He then talks about one of his own recent trips to Loch Ness and we find out whether Roland has ever seen the creature at all.

Following that, we learn about the various methods that researchers and the media have used to try and prove or disprove Nessie's existence in the Loch. Roland details surface watch expeditions, watch stations, rapid response units, and various uses of sonar to explore below the surface. Regarding the last area of exploration, Roland explains some of the drawbacks of sonar as a searching device and discusses Operation Deep Scan which was an elaborate attempt to survey the Loch using sonar. Roland also details attempts in the 1970's to use both sonar and underwater photography to find Nessie.

Based on all the attempts to capture or prove Nessie's existence, we ask Roland what methods he would use if he had unlimited resources at his disposal. This leads to one troubling tale about a diver who may have actually encountered Nessie underwater. Roland also talks about the potential behind trap cameras and using pinch points in the Loch to greater ascertain where Nessie may be lurking.

Considering the longstanding history of Nessie in Scotland, we have Roland speculate as to what the population of the creature might be and he details fish population studies that have been done on the Loch and how that may allow us to determine the potential population of Nessies. This leads to additional discussion about how Nessie may breed under these circumstances.

Roland then shares insights into the perspective of the locals at Loch Ness as to whether they are happy or chagrined to have their home associated with the infamous sea creature. We also look at the "Nessie is dead" theory that some people have proposed. Following that, we discuss the "paranormal Nessie" theory, especially the idea that the creature is actually a tulpa or some kind of psychic phenomenon.

We then look at one of the biggest and most tenacious theories surrounding Nessie: that it is a surviving plesiosaur. Roland recalls how the theory has been around since the very beginning of Nessie-mania and then talks about where the plesiosaur theory stacks up against the actual eyewitness descriptions as well as the Loch as a potential habitat for such a creature. He also reflects on how long stretches of time and evolution could have taken what was a plesiosaur and turned it into a very different creature that we now know as Nessie.

Examining the skeptical perspectives on Loch Ness, Roland looks back to the 1980's and theorizes why the mood turned toward skepticism from not only the mainstream but also the monster hunters who had stalked it for years. Roland then discusses his work repudiating the skeptics of Nessie, who often use ill-fitting, prosaic explanations to "disprove" eyewitness sightings of the creature. We also find out what the scene is like around Loch Ness as far as researchers and research groups focused on finding the monster.

Heading towards the close, we ponder if the Loch Ness Monster is due for a renaissance, since its two previous periods of high interest both came during economic recessions. We also find out about Roland's book The Water Horses of Loch Ness which covers the pre-Nessie lore of aquatic creatures in Scotland. Wrapping up the conversation, we find out what's next for Roland Watson as he searches for the elusive Loch Ness Monster.

Roland Watson Bio

Roland Watson lives a four hour drive from Loch Ness in Edinburgh, Scotland. By day he works in software engineering and holds a bachelor of science degree in Astronomy. He has been interested in the Loch Ness Monster and mysteries in general since he was a boy and has never ceased to believe there is something big and mysterious in Scotland's largest lake. Therefore, outside of work and family commitments, he seeks to apply critical thinking to the Loch Ness mystery from the believers' point of view. Those thoughts as well as research in libraries and at the loch shore are found at his blog lochnessmystery.blogspot.co.uk and in his book "The Water Horses of Loch Ness".

Next Week:

Jason Offutt

A Collection of Creepy Tales with Jason Offutt

BoA:Audio welcomes our old friend Jason Offutt back to the program for a lengthy discussion on the many odd and creepy stories found at his blog From the Shadows. We'll be hearing tales of wicked priests, harlequin entities, gnome-like creatures, black eyed kids and people, a Fae Girl, time travelers, a haunted shopping mall, Gravity Hill, a man who dated an 'alien,' and much, much more.

BoA : Audio, Season 7 archive