~The views and opinions expressed here are of the blog author and not necessarily of CCAPSG as a whole~

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Real Life Stories: An Interview With Opus From Ozcrypto...

By Pastor Baz

Hi everyone, we have the priviledge of talking to Opus who is the founder of Ozcrypto, one of the bigger Crypto sites in Australia that is very much scientific and evidence based about how they do business.

Opus, thanks for taking the time to be part of our 'Real Life' stories for 2010.

Firstly, you are the founder of Ozcrypto. Can you give us an overview of what that site deals with, why you started it and what you hope to discover along the way?

G’day PastorBaz. Thanks for the invite. I should correct you though…there are several people who can be considered to be the founders of the idea that is OzCrypto. I’m just the geeky bloke who built the website and forum. With regards to OzCrypto, the site is basically a vehicle to examine cryptozoological beasties (yowies, thylacines and big cats) in, and from, an Australian perspective. There are, of course, other Australian crypto sites however these sites tend to come from the ‘belief in existence’ perspective and do not critically examine (or allow critical examination) of their research and results.

OzCrypto also tries to stay within the boundaries of cryptozoology and not be ‘drawn in’ to the desire to try and mix these phenomena with other strange phenomena such as UFOs, paranormal/supernatural/occult, etc. There is precious little ‘real’ evidence for crypto beasts without trying to link it with other ‘fringe’ areas that also struggle for mainstream credibility.

As far as what I hope to discover is concerned, that’s a tricky question. As a skeptic, all I really want is a definitive answer one way or the other as to whether these beasts exist. Unfortunately the skeptic position, that they don’t exist, cannot be proven. As such the only definitive answer that can be proven is that they do exist. So until then we all exist in an argumentative state where all ‘evidence’ is examined and debated to death. So from my perspective, until proven to exist, it is the debate that is important.

It seems as though Crypto sites can't escape from the eclecticism of trying to be paranormal sites as well (and our page is hands up guilty of that). What made you want to distance yourself from getting caught up in other unexplained phenomenon and deal strictly with Cryptozoology?

That’s easy…My opinion is this. The existence of yowie’s and other crypto beasts (excluding thylacines as we know that they existed) is highly improbable. The existence of ghosts/spirits/paranormal/supernatural beings is also highly improbable. These opinions are based on the ‘fact’ that these topics have been researched for hundreds of years yet no proof of existence has yet been put forward.

In my eyes, the mixing of these two fields of research does not double the improbability, it squares it!

The only reason for ‘mixing’ these disciplines would seem to be that these fields attract the same people, that is, if you’re interested in yowies then you will probably be interested in ghosts or UFOs. That does not mean that you should try and draw evidentiary links between these phenomena as many ‘researchers’ try and do.

Is it too easy to become an armchair expert in these area's now because of the web based information superhighway?

I’m not actually sure what a so-called ‘armchair expert’ is. Personally I think it is far and away too easy to become a ‘Researcher’ of any kind. The complete and utter lack of scientific rigour applied by the current crop of field researchers is appalling. Reports that only include the evidence that supports the case, exclusion of anything that detracts from the case, lack of critical examination or peer review, statements of conjecture and opinion reported as facts and a whole host of other disreputable practices lead me to believe the whole field is driven by ego and personality based motives rather than a desire to increase our limited knowledge of the subject.

As far as armchair researchers are concerned, I think they’re the ones that keep it all real.

Does the internet help?

It both helps and hinders. You won’t find a yowie by looking on the web but you will find people who can assist or support your search.

You responded to my question "Who has had a real life experience they would like to share". Can you share with our readers the experiences that you had and the impact it had on your world view?

Interestingly enough, I’ve never had a crypto experience except for a very brief ‘corner of the eye’ sighting that really could have been anything. I have however had a number of ‘strange’ experiences in my life of which the following was the ‘strangest’.

I can’t remember the exact date but it occurred some time in 1994 when my eldest son was one. There was actually two events on this night (unrelated) that combine to make this all the more strange.

My son was a notoriously bad sleeper and we had to move him out of his cot and into a bed (with a pillow barrier to prevent falling) before the age of one. Even with the pillow barrier he would occasionally fall from the bed but this was generally not a drama and he never actually made too much fuss about it. It was generally a light thump followed by a low whine/cry. Remember this for later…

Anyway, this particular night, my wife was catching up on sleep and I was downstairs working on my PC. In my world travels I had picked up a South American bolas in Mexico. A bolas consists of three leather ropes about a metre long with a leather bound weight at each end of a rope. The ropes are joined in the centre to form a three armed implement that is hurled at the legs of animals. The bolas wraps itself around the legs to bring the animal down. My souvenir bolas hung above my PC from a steel I-beam that supported the upstairs floor.

It was getting late and I was thinking about packing up for the night. Just as I was thinking this I glanced at the bolas hanging there and before my eyes it ‘jiggled’. It didn’t swing either before or after; it just jiggled for a split-second and returned to its normal stationary position. It wasn’t my eyes playing tricks and it startled me enough to try and recreate the motion by various means, which I could not without having the bolas keep swinging afterwards. As happens with most ‘strange’ things I eventually decided that something strange had happened that I could not explain and gave it away to go to bed.

Before I went to bed I checked my son as I always did and he was sound asleep behind his pillow barrier. As I went to bed my wife was also sound asleep and it did not take me long to fall into a deep sleep as well (after one last ponder about the jiggling bolas).

Anyone who has had children will know that know matter how deeply asleep you may be you become highly attuned to your childrens ‘night noises’ and this night proved to be a doozy. Both my wife and I came ‘full awake’ from deep sleep within a split-second of hearing a very loud thump from our son’s bedroom. This was not the usual ‘soft thump’ of him falling from bed but a ‘loud thump’, which was immediately followed by loud and strong crying. My wife being quicker to react was out of bed and on her way whilst I was taking stock of what we heard. Upon seeing her disappear out of the room I elected to do what most sleep-deprived parents do and stay in bed unless called for assistance.

I heard my wife reach my son and he immediately began to calm down so I relaxed and let my eyes close again although I never actually went back to sleep at this stage. My wife was gone for between five and ten minutes and I could hear the soft noises that indicated that she had gotten our son back to sleep and tucked in again. I heard her approach our bedroom and as she entered the bedroom she stopped briefly and then asked me “Did you do that?” I replied (opening my eyes for the first time), “Do what?”

She pointed to her bedside table and said, “That!” I rolled over to her side of the bed and peered over the side. The sight that met me sent those most delicious cold shivers down my spine and I still get them when I recall this story.

The bedside table is a solid pine chest with three drawers in it. The bottom draw was completely removed and re-inserted on a forty-five degree angle such that it was hanging askew by one of the back corners. It is not possible (I tried all sorts of tests) for the draw to have been placed this way without it having been removed and re-inserted.

We both looked at each other astonished. We canvassed each other with the usual ‘what could have happened/caused it’ questions and then decided to check the entire house from top to bottom to see if we had an intruder. Of course we found nobody or any sign of anybody.

Now…I don’t remember seeing the drawer like this when I went to bed and my wife did not have time to create such a construction between being woken up and dashing out to our son. It would have been very difficult to configure the drawer like this whilst my wife was with my son and I was half-asleep, half-awake.

Suffice to say, we woke up the next morning as usual, had another brief analysis of what occurred and then both promptly consigned it to the ‘unexplained’ basket. Neither of us has ever forgotten the experience and it’s one of our main-stay stories for dinner parties where the conversation turns toward things mysterious.

As a skeptic, I’m not prepared to try and explain it via supernatural/paranormal phenomena and simply leave it in the ‘unexplained’ category just like my ‘jiggling bolas’ the night before. I saw what I saw but that’s all I can say about it.

It still nags me though…

What does the highly visible, easily accessible world of online Crypto research need to do to be accepted by mainstream science and the population? Or is it the 'fringeness' of it that is it's major drawcard? How would you like to see research conducted in the future?

In my opinion (and I stress ‘my opinion’) the crypto community needs to “get over itself!!” Unfortunately it is being led by ego-driven and publicity seeking wannabe’s that are more focussed on their images and profiles than they are on the topic. There is hardly any collaboration between the major crypto researchers and, with the exception of Rex Gilroy; there is absolutely no peer or public scrutiny of their work. The attitude is basically, ‘believe me or go away’.

The ‘fringeness’ does attract a certain element to the crypto community; however I would suggest that it attracts less ‘fringe-dwellers’ than the study of UFOs or Occult, etc.

Regarding how I would like to see crypto research conducted in the future. Well… first there needs to be a shakeout of the tree. Get rid of the personalities and glory-seekers. Second… get some real collaboration going by creating one central register/database of all sightings, rated according to an agreed ‘scale of evidence’. Third… approach the mainstream academic organisations (and possibly some philanthropic private investigators) to stump up some resources to have a genuine attempt at finding these creatures. Such an endeavour would require a multi-discipline team covering all aspects of belief through agnosticism to skepticism.

If you believe one of the research groups, they seem to stumble across yowies every time they mount an expedition, yet they never seem to go back to same location soon after an ‘encounter’ and only ever uncover anecdotal evidence…plus the ubiquitous plaster cast of a footprint. Same old story time and time again.

To be accepted by mainstream science Crypto research needs to stop behaving badly and start behaving with discipline. That means accurately documenting and reviewing all expeditions (whether evidence is found OR NOT). It means examining all evidence from a ‘null hypothesis’ perspective rather than cherry-picking the bits and pieces that support a crypto explanation. Above all else it needs to ditch the personalities and focus on the crypto beasts. Unfortunately the media latches onto the three major personalities and they become the ‘face’ of crypto research, which I believe it one of the things that seriously holds crypto research back.

What is needed is somebody with some credibility to take the lead, for example, Les Hiddens (Bush Tucker Man), Sir David Attenborough or somebody who is known for their commitment to the biological sciences that doesn’t come with a personal agenda. Somebody who is not afraid to ‘not find’ a yowie once in a while.

Thanks Opus and all the best in the future to the Ozcrypto team.

No comments:

Post a Comment