So when I logged on to Facebook this morning, guess what I saw trending on the sidebar? Something along the lines of…
Man takes picture of the Jersey Devil!
You can probably already guess the ridiculous photo that is associated with it, but I’ll send you over to the original article. Go take a peek, I’ll wait.
Pretty silly, huh? Other than the fact that it looks like a thrown stuffed toy, there’s another way you can tell this was faked. Instead of sending the picture to a scientist, he sent it to a news agency. Now if you took a photo of some crazy thing in the woods at night, or even in the day like this photo, would your first instinct be to send it to the news? Of course not, unless you thought you might get some notoriety/money/attention from it. Most logical folks would send any picture they legitimately believed was a new species off to a university, perhaps even submit it to cryptozoologists who are used to vetting this kind of evidence. If it was a picture of a new potential insect or bird, it wouldn’t have first been sent to a news agency.
Yet it was trending on Facebook, so that means plenty of people found it interesting enough to share it. Why do we find these stories of monsters hiding in the woods so fascinating? Why do we eagerly go to look at what the supposed Jersey Devil looks like? Why do we hunt for Bigfoot footprints, long lost sea monsters, and vampiric squirrels even when we know it will more than likely be a waste of time and energy, or at least not live up to our grandiose expectations?
Perhaps in this increasingly understood world, where we can glimpse beautiful photos of Saturn’s rings (that you at first think must be Photoshopped because surely nature couldn’t produce something so perfect), where we can use pencil lead to wire circuitry, where we can carry a device to communicate around the world in our back pockets, people want a mystery. People want to look at their surroundings and see more than just trees or buildings around them, they want to see the potential for something different, something beyond the familiar. That isn’t to say that the world isn’t full of mysteries waiting to be solved, or locations that have never been explored, but it’s much easier to toss a homemade toy into the air and have a friend snap a picture than it is to become a deep sea explorer.
So like the famous hoaxes of the past, I’m sure this one will soon be debunked too. I just wish they had gone somewhere other than the news media first though, because this kind of press always makes cryptozoology look bad in the public eye.