CNN Repeats “Lizard Man” Monster Myth

A kooky cryptozoology case dating back to the 80s has returned to the public eye thanks to CNN: after an elderly couple reported damage to their car and the disappearance of their pets, the so called “Lizard Man” of Scape Ore Swamp in Lee County, South Carolina has yet again taken the blame. Like many such stories, it’s treated as an offbeat interest piece: which means that the claims are made with awed seriousness, but a little skepticism is treated as spoiling the fun.

The “Lizard Man” has all the hallmarks of a classic hysteria: a single claimed sighting spirals into rootless anomaly hunting, where anything strange or unidentifiable is ascribed to the mysterious beast, expanding the myth. Tourism increases, mixing money with local legend, and leading to tongue in cheek promotion of the attraction regardless of whether people believe it or not. And, finally, outright hoaxsters are then discovered, casting doubt on even the original sightings.

CNN, of course, was not about to do either the bare minimum of either researching the issue, or at least work that research into the report: doing so might spoil the fun or perhaps even anger a town in love with a local legend.

At this point, though, it’s important to note that not even the key initial sighting by Christopher Davis seems credible. And at least according to one Earl P. Berry, who claims to have been employed by the local Sumter Police Department, Davis not only failed a polygraph test on the subject as well as contradicting his original story, but eventually even recanted the story under questioning. If I can find wet blanket information about this legend in only a few minutes of googling, why couldn’t CNN, who actually has the resources to track down and confirm these leads?

Ho hum…

The most irritating thing about these claims are the purported tracks.

Two weeks after the Davis sighting the sheriff’s department made several plaster casts of what appeared to be three-toed footprints – measuring some 14 inches in length – but decided against sending them on to the FBI for further analysis after biologists advised them that that they were unclassifiable. According to South Carolina Marine Resources Department spokesperson Johnny Evans the tracks neither matched, nor could be mistaken for, the footprints of any recorded animal. Evans also dismissed the possibility that they could have been made by some form of mutated creature.

This is really parsing words here to dodge the issue. There’s simply no way to state that the tracks couldn’t be mistaken for another animal: variations on terrain, angle, and all sorts of other factors can always distort physical tracks to the point where they are “unclassifiable.” You could say the same about smudges on your bathroom mirror: but the lack of identifiable human fingerprint marks in some particular smear doesn’t mean that the guy from Seven has been rummaging around in your medicine cabinet looking for Tylenol.

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12 Responses to CNN Repeats “Lizard Man” Monster Myth

  1. I’m especially fascinated by the fact that the elderly couple, after finding their pets missing and their car damaged, immediately jump to the conclusion that the lizard man must be involved! It takes a certain mentality to skip over every mundane explanation, of which there are possibly legion, and go right for the Lizard Man.

    Someone mail Occam’s Razor to Lee County: some people there aren’t very sharp.

    • Carl W. Roden says:

      Neither are you, the report of what happened to the elderly couple actually happened in a different part of South Carolina and not Lee County.

  2. More relevant to the CNN criticism, I noticed a few months ago that they were trumpeting their ‘I-reporter’ footage supposedly of the alien craft over Texas. When you actually see the footage, the footage is of a distant, stationary dot in the dark – and the cameraman sounds drunk. I thought it was ridiculous that they even broadcast it.

  3. We have to accept that the ‘news’ or ‘news journalism’ as currently practiced bears little resemblance to its original intent. Ratings win out over facts.

    I think maybe somebody went out and wrecked the family car while out drunk with the boys and his cover story got away from him when his wife actually bought it.

  4. leecop says:

    I am sooo ashamed of the people in my community to believe this foolishness twice. In reference to the footprints, two fromer deputies did that with a wooden replica of a footprint, one on the hood of the car and one driving while he stamped into the ground. the car incident was a fox trying to get at a cat under the hood. Let’s be reasonable people. The rest of the world already thinks we southerners chew on straws and walk around barefoot carrying a shotgun. Have some pride!

    • Carl W. Roden says:

      “The rest of the world already thinks we southerners chew on straws and walk around barefoot carrying a shotgun. Have some pride!”

      And which part of the world would that be? Certainly not the part that matters to me, a native Sandlapper.
      I’ve never seen a Lizard Man or a Moth Man or anything of the sort, but I don’t go around mocking people because I do not agree with them either….if that is the sort of world-thinking mentality you go in for then you are welcome to it….me I will gladly go on sitting on my porch, drinking sweet tea, swatting flies, listening to music with a US and a Confederate battle flag hanging from the pole. I don’t let anyone else define my Southern Pride boy, I do it for myself.

  5. Bad says:

    For the record, I don’t think that. While I haven’t lived very much of my life in the south, it’s technically where I hail from, after all.

  6. […] of Christian at Free Thinking Joy“; Blue Collar Scientist (on autism!); Bad Idea Blog on CNN Repeating a Lizard-Man Myth; Hyphoid Logic (what a great name!) and the ever-classy Greta Christina and what is quite rightly […]

  7. Lenora says:

    Isn’t it “cryptozoology” rather than “crytozoloogy?” No matter. It has to be the least harmful manifestation of mass silliness.

  8. Bad says:

    Agreed: pretty darn harmless as these things go.

    And, spelling corrected, thanks. When it comes to words that aren’t in my spell check in any case, I tend to forget to double check them even though they get flagged.

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