Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: The Loch Ness Monster

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Ruling our rival hypotheses is one of the six Principles of Scientific Thinking. It basically means that when a person/the media reports that a certain thing is the explanation for another thing, they need to consider that there could be multiple explanations. An example of a myth that involves rival hypotheses is the Loch Ness Monster.

Sightings of a Loch Ness Monster in Scotland have been in the media countless times; however it is extremely unlikely that the creature actually exists. The monsters is said to live in the Great Glen, located in the Highlands of Scotland. Sightings have been recorded all the way back to the 6th century by a Saint who was swimming. According to the legend, Nessie swam up to him. However, he was frightened off by the Saint's furious yelling. Not surprisingly, most sightings are not as interactive as the one with the Saint. A list has been compiled to include all of the various viewings over the years:

Various videos have also surfaced claiming to be the monster. They seem more convincing that just sightings, which makes people even more likely to believe in Nessie.

Clearly there are an overwhelming number of people claiming to have seen the creature, yet very few claiming that the sightings are fake. Fortunately, there are various theories out there that let us explore other hypotheses. One scientist believes that is actually volcanic activities that cause mysterious shapes in the water and strange waves. Others claim that it was some sort of submarine. And many other people believe that it is just our imagination, and that more likely it was simply a fish or other aquatic animal.

The most important things about the Loch Ness Monster is not whether it's possible that it exists, its whether it's likely given the evidence. Until we can definitively say that it was not volcanic activity, a submarine or another aquatic animal, we cannot claim that the Loch Ness Monster is real.


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This page contains a single entry by ford0410 published on September 28, 2011 8:48 PM.

Correlation Vs. Causation was the previous entry in this blog.

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