Your friendly neighborhood mon$ter

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In a recent post on Skeptoid blog, I suggest that paranormal-based tourism, such as ghost tours and monster festivals, which are growing in popularity, border on fraud.

“Even if there are long-standing legends of strange events occurring at some location, to suggest that a place is haunted just to freak people out is contemptible.”

“Ghost tours and monster festivals are fun. But, their apparent frivolity disguise an underlying invitation to buy into an idea just because it’s entertaining while having no basis in reality.”

Commenters remarked that I might be getting too worked up over it. Meanwhile, I found this commentary from a local who thinks his town needs one of them monsters to draw tourists and he is not beyond creating one from scratch.

I’m pretty certain many of these monsters have been created from scratch just for this purpose. I have a particular irritation with the Raystown Lake monster, Raystown Ray. The rather obvious manufacturing of stories, horrible photo “evidence’ and complete biological implausibility do nothing to dissuade attention from the media and the continued push to publicize the monster.

It’s awfully enticing to believe something mysterious and monstrous lurks in your nearby woods or lake. Makes camping and boating trips a bit more exciting, doesn’t it. (There’s not too much difference between celebrating local myths and our religious holidays.) The problem is, too many people take too much of this stuff at face value. They don’t question WHY the stories might exist. The origin is human, not monstrous. Well, if you consider that someone might be out to make a buck from your gullibility (a “hauntrepreneur”), that’s kinda scary.

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4 thoughts on “Your friendly neighborhood mon$ter

  1. I wish the human mind were such that we could do these kinds of things without it being taken seriously.

    It would be neat if a town could create a ‘mon$ter’ (love the spelling!) tongue-in-cheek without people taking it seriously. Haunted houses where, once you ‘experienced’ the strange noises or photographic artifacts, they took you to another room and demonstrated exactly what was going on – what was making the noise, how the light was reflecting off of the dust, etc. Whether it is even feasible or not, I don’t know, but too many people don’t understand that side of it. Instead, the creators/hosts are content with letting people believe whatever they want without any explanation, which is to be expected considering their financial motivations. It is a rather bad supplement to children’s education.

    As it is now, the deceptive crap is right in front of people (TV mostly) whereas they have to go out of their way to actually get educated on the reality of it.

    There was (perhaps still is) a legend near where I live. Something along these lines: many years ago, a car got stuck on train trucks while a train was coming (at night of course). I remember at least hearing that a young girl was killed, but not sure on the details or even if the actual tragedy really happened. So now if you cross the tracks at a particular time, you can feel your car get pushed from behind to help you cross safely and if you look at the back of the car you will see the foggy outline of small hands.

    Absurd of course, but I always liked it. It is just a nice little story. I was shocked to find out the people actually believed it.

    PS You should come speak at GenCon in Indy some year. They have been giving several skeptical-based seminars over the last few years (Jen Myers from Skepchick and a group called The Skeptical Gamers, are some that I know of). There seems to be a decent amount of interest. Some talks focusing on Cryptozoology would be great :).

  2. You wrote: “The rather obvious manufacturing of stories, horrible photo “evidence’ and complete biological implausibility do nothing to dissuade attention from the media and the continued push to publicize the monster.”

    True believers looking for ghosts and monsters and UFOs may find them whether those mysteries are actually there or not.

    See… we can agree on some things!

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