free debate

August 29, 2009

It's Nessie on Google Earth!!! (or is that a boat?)

People love to find cool stuff. That's part of what drives scientists around the world. However, sometimes this drive can lead us to find nonsense. Similarly, Google Earth is a great computer program, but it too can be used to find nonsense.

If you remember a few months back, someone claimed to have found Atlantis on Google Earth. That turned out to be an artifact of how Google put together the data. Now Fox News is reporting that Nessie has been found using Google Earth.

I have written about how credulous the news can be and this is a perfect example. Fox says "Some experts believe Nessie may be a Plesiosaur, an extinct marine reptile with a shape like the Google image." Who ever these "experts" are, they have a very poor knowledge of Plesiosaurs. To me, this image looks more like a squid than a Plesiosaur.

In actuality, of course, you are seeing a boat. The tentacles or fins are really just wakes. In fact if you look at pretty much any popular lake in the world with Google Earth you can find similar images. The one below is from lake Powell. You can see how every boat has a slightly different wake pattern. The is a great example of pareidolia at work.

To see this for yourself, you can go to Latitude 57°12'52.13"N, Longitude 4°34'14.16"W on Google Earth.