I can be contacted on thehighlandtiger@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Centre for Fortean Zoology - The Good, The Bad and The (well you can finish the rest yourself ! )

It seems that my "interest" into the affairs of this little group of individuals, has seen a change in the way they conduct their affairs.

They have removed several boastful but totally untrue claims from their website, and they are now telling everyone exactly what they are spending their donations on. Something that was rarely done before yours truly started asking questions.

Ok, so we don't know if they are telling us about all their donations, (and there are still questions to ask about many of the CFZ members, that regularly appear on their Web TV show, how they are financing their lifestyles without apparantly having "proper" jobs and claiming benefits). But at least it's a start. So hats off to them for this.

So that's the "Good".

So what about the "Bad". Well we have to return to an old favourite of mine, the CFZ's "zoological" Director, Richard Freeman. This unqualified "zoologist" couldn't resist throwing a little mud at other researchers in this letter in the Fortean Times (FT263:70 June 2010). Reproduced below in full, and with my comments in red.

Sea Serpents.

Thanks to Mark Greener for a cracking article on sea
serpents (FT260:32-38). I think the drop off in sightings in the past century or
sdo can be attributed to how we travel now. mainly by air or in large noisy
boats. Sea serpents are still reported regularly along the pacific coast of
Canada and the USA.

Just a small point here. There are actually more ships on the high seas today than at any time in the past, and I doubt noise of these ships have anything to do with sightings. After all, dolphins will often ride the bow wave of these ships, and whales certainly don't hide from ships as these whale watching companies can attest to. I think it is more likely that a drop in seas serpent sightings is due to more knowledge about the creatures of the sea, and better viewing equipment, such as high powered binoculars.

What a shame I can't be equally enthusiastic about "The Random Directory of the
Damned" entry on Monsters of the Lakes (FT260:50-53), which fawns over Michael
Meurger's god-awful book "Lake Monster Traditions" (Fortean Tomes, 1988). This
is one of the worst books I've ever read, (and that's up against some stiff
competition!). Apart from Patrick Harpur's "Daimonic Reality" (Viking Arcana
1994). it is the only book I have had to actively force myself to finish

A few weeks ago we have CFZ member Neil Arnold dismissing Merrily Harpur's theories, and now another CFZ member is dissing her brother Patrick Harpur's book. Does the CFZ have a grudge against the Harpur's. I find it strange that an organisation that praises the unintelligable and off the wall work of the late John Michell, the work of known hoaxer Doc Shiels, and promotes books of their beliefs of the existance of the Owl Man (Jon Downes) and the existance of Dragons (Richard Freeman), feels the need to dismiss openly other authors with similar strange theories - but each to their own I suppose.

Meurger insults not only the witnesses and researchers but of native people. I
know quite a few native people from around the world and I can tell you that
most of them are no more superstitious than the average Westerner and no more
likely to mentally morph a log into a monster.
When I first read this, my immediate thought was of someone, when being accused of being a racist, says that he can't be a racist because he has a black friend. I'm not accusing Richard Freman of being racist of course , but it has the same feel. But just because Richard knows some people who are not superstitious doesn't mean that every witness isn't superstitious. In fact considering most of the world believes in a supernatural god or gods, I would say there are more superstitious people in the world than non. A quick look at the online newspapers of African countries and certain Asian countries, you will find many stories of people being accused of being witches and evil spirits. In fact looking in the Fortean Times, only a few pages on from Richard's letter is an article about just such superstitions in Papua New Guinea.

Meurger is no zoologist either. One of the pillars his
book is built on is that lake monsters cannot be real because there are so many
different-looking creatures in the same lake - log like, serpentine, humped,
horse-headed and so on. However even known animals can present very different
outlines and appearances depending on how they are viewed and the viewing
condistions. This is particularly true when most of the creature is under

Now this made me laugh. Richard Freeman a man who loves to parade his self imposed title of Zoological director, (as can be seen at the end of the letter), whilst having no formal zoological qualifications, complaing about someone not having any zoological qualifications. Pot, Kettle and black are words that spring to mind .

There have been reports of huge serpentine animals in lakes as long as there has
been recorded history and some cave paintings suggest that these encounters have
been going on long before the time of Sumner and Babylon.

Now we are touching on the creationist turf, but I've always wondered why certain animals are picked to be real depictions, and yet creatures like the Sphynx and Griffen etc are deemed mytholgical. It seems that people are willing to pick and choose which evidence they need to bolster their theories.

Incidently, there are monster sightings in Windermere, stretching back to the
1950's. The CFZ has investigated and interviewed a number of witnesses and
concluded the creatures are most likely gigantic eels. (see FT220:36-38)

As I've mentioned before, the CFZ expeditions have all come up with zero evidence for the creatures they were searching for, and this is no exception. To come up with such a theory based solely on verbal evidence is flimsy at best.

Richard Freeman
Zoological Director
Centre For Fortean Zoology
Whipton, Exeter.

Yep he does love his title doesn't he!

So we've had the Good and the Bad, and I could make a joke about Oil paintings in the CFZ, but I won't. Instead I'll send my best wishes onto Jon Downes wife Corrinna. I've heard on the crypto bush telegraph, that she has not been very well the last few months, and although I have issues with certain parts of the CFZ's output, I have no animosity towards the majority of its members. I hope she feels better soon.


  1. Well put. It would seem that all zoos need a director. Self proclaimed or not. I do agree with a majority of this post. I also know that some zoo's members would like to distance themselves from the far fetched idealism's of the CFZ. I guess as long as certain museums display self named cryptids, and as long as those gigantic eels are seen and not found, their reputation will remain in tact.

  2. I take mt hat off to you Highland Tiger, never a truer word said, about time someone said "what are you on about" to the cfz.

  3. Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing.

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