The Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, is a mythical aquatic creature believed to live in the freshwater lake, Loch Ness, near inverness Scotland (1). The belief is commonly held in Scotland as part of Scottish Folklore. Information on the Loch Ness Monster can be found through History.com, the BBC, National Geographic, PBS, etc.…There is even an “Official Loch Ness Monster Site” with up to date information and sightings of Nessie. The belief reached its peak popularity in 1933 and is still popular to this day (1). People have traveled from all of the world to Loch Ness in hopes of sighting Nessie. No conclusive evidence has been able to prove Nessie’s existence and yet all the way up until 2017, sightings of Nessie have still taken place (3). The belief is extraordinary because the idea of a pre-historic water creature living in Loch Ness would contradict everything we know about the world. No animal can live over 1500 years.
The strongest evidence to suggest that Nessie exists came from a photo by a well-respected London Physician R. Kenneth Wilson. The picture looked like animal with a long neck rising from the surface (2). Very few people believed the doctor would try to deceive them which affirmed the belief that Nessie is real. Later, however, it came out that the photo had been falsified. The remaining evidence of Nessie comes from primarily anecdotal reports or eye-witness accounts. In an attempt to discover the Loch Ness Monster, there were expeditions launched by the BBC, Oxford, Cambridge, and University of Birmingham to explore the underwater domain, using sonar, in an attempt to find evidence of Nessie. No conclusive evidence was found (1). This was in 1953 and since then there is no empirical evidence to prove the Loch Ness monster was real.
The belief of the Loch Ness Monster is widely held popular belief rooted in the Scottish culture. Due to the convictions about the Loch Ness Monster being real, any disconfirming/disrupting evidence will likely cause cognitive dissonance and internal discomfort (2). People would become more likely to rationalize with ideas such as: “Nessie doesn’t want to be found” or “just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s real.” On the other hand, any so-called sightings or ambiguous evidence of Nessie will be seen as confirmation that their belief in the Loch Ness Monster is correct.
Since the Loch Ness monster is so rooted in Scottish folklore, it is a legend passed down from generation to generation. A four-year-old girl I babysat for told me the story about the Loch Ness monster the other day. She said her grandma, who was born and raised in Scotland, tells her the story at bed time. I asked her if she believed it and she said yes. I then talked to her grandma and asked if she thought it was real. She said she grew up all her life being told the story of Nessie and that is was real. She even agreed that there is no evidence proving the Loch Ness Monster is real, but she still held the belief the monster was real and said she, herself, would never go for a dive in Lake Loch Ness. The popularity of the belief along with the tradition of telling the story of the Loch Ness Monster, could be the reason the belief has been sustained for so long. It is a story significant to the culture of the Scottish Highlands.
Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, is an extraordinary belief held even in the face of disconfirming evidence. Scientists, expeditions, historians, have all failed to prove the existence of Nessie. With no scientific evidence to prove Nessie’s existence, it is a belief still carried around the world. It is engrained into the Scottish Highland culture and a legend that’s continued to pass itself down for over fifteen hundred years.
The Legend of Loch Ness – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/legend-loch-ness/
Loch Ness Monster – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/legend-loch-ness/
2017 has been a ‘record year’ for sightings of the Loch Ness monster – http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/41997932/2017-has-been-a-record-year-for-sightings-of-the-loch-ness-monster