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BoA:Audio journeys to Ireland and dives to the depths of both the lake monster mystery as well as cryptozoology's nascency as we welcome pioneering researcher Peter Costello, author 1974's landmark book In Search of Lake Monsters. Over the course of this lively conversation, we learn about the cryptozoological environment at the time Peter first published his book, the ebb and flow of popularity for lake monsters in the forty years since the book was released, and big picture questions about both the nature of these creatures as well as the field of cryptozoology in 2015.
An episode deeply informed by wisdom that can only be gained from decades of research as Peter Costello joins us as we go In Search of Lake Monsters.
Highlights: We kick things off by a bit of biographical information on Peter Costello and find out how he originally ended up researching lake monsters in the 1960's. This leads to some talk about the remarkable nature of In Search of Lake Monsters in that it presented a wealth of information at a very early time in cryptozoology when such research was much more difficult to conduct. In turn, we find out about one of Peter's early influences, pioneering cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans. This segues into talk about the fortuitous timing of In Search of Lake Monsters, which coincided with renewed international interest in Nessie.
We also reflect on the veritable explosion of cryptozoology compared to the sparse field that existed when Peter first began his research into lake monsters. We switch gears, somewhat, and get Peter's take on how Nessie and lake monsters were once a massive part of the crypto milieu, but now seem vastly overshadowed by Bigfoot as the primary creature of interest. Getting back to lake monsters, we have Peter give us a general overview on how pervasive the phenomenon is and where most lake monsters seem to be spotted, which leads to him sharing his own theory on what these creatures may be and how it relates to the longstanding theory of remnant plesiosaurs.
In light of Peter's decades of research into lake monsters, we get his take on the argument that most lake purported to house these creatures are too small to support a breeding population. Peter also discusses the infamous 'Surgeon's Photo' of Nessie and gives his take on the veracity of the legendary photograph. We also get his opinion on what seems to be a downturn in interest surrounding Nessie after it had been a huge phenomenon decades ago and Peter provides a thoughtful perspective on how the paranormal may have resulted in lake monsters being adopted by other genres. In turn, Peter shares some amazing insights into the original debates between the pioneering cryptozoologists over the true nature of these creatures.
Peter also shares his warning about theorizing that cryptids may be paranormal as well as the difficulties in deciphering legendary folk tales from genuine accounts of unknown or out of place animals. Next we find out what Peter has learned about Native American tales of lake monsters and sea creatures as well as his thoughts on the best way to collect information from these cultures' rich past. Considering that it has been 40 years since In Search of Lake Monsters was printed, we find out if Peter would change anything about the original book, which results in some truly revelatory insight into Peter's discovery about writing which he picked up in later years.
Looking at one specific sea creature discussed in Peter's book, we have him tell us about the Australian bunyip. Peter also talks about the importance of science to have perspective on its place in modern history and to avoid denigrating old ideas which have proven to be outdated because contemporary ideas will likely become outdated in the future as well. Since it has been forty years since the publication of In Search of Lake Monsters, we get Peter's take on why there still hasn't been a breakthrough in 'proving' the phenomenon. We also discuss the frustration over academia not looking further into the possibility of lake monsters and Peter shares some unique insights into why lake monsters may not be as prevalent today as in the past.
Peter also talks about how changes in the media may have played a role in lake monsters moving more to the periphery of the paranormal. Additionally, we talk about how the visual medium of television has no use for witness sightings that don't include some kind of photographic or video evidence. We then present our standard crypto question for Peter, where we present the scenario where money and time were not a factor and ask how he would go about 'hunting' a lake monster. Additionally, we get Peter's take on the use of radar in searching for mysterious marine creatures and he muses about the importance of simple observation and how it seems to be becoming less and less utilized in our technological age.
Our big picture conversation moves toward talking about people simply aren't as in tune with nature as they once had been and Peter shares a crazy story about recorded bird songs being used for background noise at a garden that he and his wife had visited recently. We then circle back and have Peter elaborate more on his theory of what the lake monsters might actually be. We then learn a bit about Peter's quasi-retirement from cryptozoology and he reflects on how the field was smaller and the first books of the 1960's were written by legitimate researchers, but their popularity led to a wave of less reputable and more sensational work as publishers rushed to cash in on the crypto craze.
We next hear about Peter's second cryptozoological book The Magic Zoo, which explored the history of 'imaginary' animals, like the phoenix and unicorns, and how there may be a historical / biological basis for these creatures. Beyond that, we find out if there are any recent cases of lake monsters that have caught Peter's attention. Getting conspiratorial for a moment, we get Peter's take on the theory that there is a government cover up of certain cryptids, which leads to some additional talk about skeptics as well. Peter expresses concern that the rapidly changing nature of the world as well as environmental changes pose a threat to the possibility that we'll find these creatures before it is too late to discover them. Closing out the conversation, we find out if Peter plans to produce any new cyptozoological books in the future now that he's reemerged in the field.