Thursday, January 22, 2009
MATTHEWS' MUMBLINGS: The Beginning of the World is Nigh
Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.
As part of the CFZ Bloggythings (we really are going to have to think of a more appropriate name for them) we have given Timothy his own little soapbox, and boy does he know how to utilise it!
Whatever happens, scientists always seem to win. We are the mavericks and they are the discoverers. So what are we, this merry band of Cryptzoological warriors? Nerds? Geeks? Or, worse, "Enthusiasts"? Our mission, we claim, is to go where nobody has gone before, to think the unthinkable and to prove the unknowable and yet, so often, we come in second and third place when new news is announced.
It is said that this is because of money. If we had more money we'd go out and find more. Too often, perhaps, we're interested in discovering some uber-filmable sci-fi creature. Nessie, Anaconda (as seen on that film), Mega Sea Serpent or something else Paranormal and Potteresque. Life is, however, stranger, more diverse and, arguably, more accessible, if we only care to refocus and redouble our efforts.
Take, for example, a news story featured on the BBC's website this week about numerous discoveries - some 300 new species no less - of corals, anemones and sea spiders off the Southern Australian coast. It is the sort of story that will interest the more intelligent, and it should fascinate us, but Cryptozoologists were, it seems, slow to pick up on the story and not many people are interested in it.
Similar stories are to be found in the news...if you look. Coming late to Cryptozoology, but always having kept pets and been around them, it seems to me that Cryptozoologists have managed to maintain a certain aura of mystery around their subject. Despite this, it seems to me that there is very little within a Fortean construct here and much that is basic science. They are only mystery animals until discovered, and despite the doom and gloom predictions of massive loss of variety within ecosystems, those darned scientists keep coming up trumps with their fiendish methodology and finding new species. Worse, perhaps, is that even the most sceptical university bod, one who derides Cryptzoology, can hardly fail to look good if he finds something, as he can simply be "surprised and delighted" while we stand on the outside looking in...
So what price Cryptzoology now? Is it to give up on mainstream science and divert its attention to the realms of silliness, myth, paranoia and outright fakery that makes up 99.9% of the so-called "Paranormal" field of study? True, we could do with the sort of money that the fake Most Haunted produces for Living TV every year, but is that where we really want to go? There is a worrying fad now for us to get all weird, to talk much of window areas featuring ghosts UFOs and zombies, even in association with mystery animals, but this will take us nowhere. Clearly, some basic decision making as to our direction is required...and we must all pull in the same direction if we are to go down in history as more than hobbyists and fantasists.
There are scientists within the CFZ. We need more - and better! Even more important, we need young people to go to University, get qualified in relevant sciences and then start a slow yet deliberate Entryist process whereby funds can be diverted towards the search for mystery animals.
We need influence and funding. And we only get that inside the mainstream of the system, not outside in Fortean Conferences.........
Zoological, not Paranormal!