Travis Roy is the president of Granite State Skeptics. I am the director of investigations for Granite State Skeptics. GSS is our local skeptic group. Local skeptics meet at a restaurant, drink, eat, have some fun once a month. New Hampshire (the Granite State) while small, is very rural. Many of the members of GSS drive one or more hours to get to the meetings. I drive an hour and a half from my home in Antrim to the monthly meetings in Manchester. Usually I enjoy car pooling with Travis Roy the president of the group. Travis and his wife Dale live about 15 minutes away, so we meet at the local “park and ride”. Sometimes it’s just Travis and myself driving, if Dale is busy.
Our meetings are always fun, educational and friendly. We love it when a new member shows up. They soon learn this is a skeptic group of good friends. Often we have a great speaker, even if only via Skype. We talk way later than we should, and when we wrap up to go home it can be rather late.
Travis is a native of New Hampshire. He likes to show me, as I’ve only lived in New Hampshire 17 years, some of the back roads and byways of the state. One evening we were taking a very rural shortcut when the headlights fell upon a creature. It crossed the road in front of the car, Travis had slammed on the brakes, and we just sat there for a moment.
“Did you see what I just saw?” Travis exclaimed.
I took a breath and think I answered something like “Yeah, if you think we just saw a chupacabra.”
At this point, we just started to laugh. The last people that need to see a mysterious creature crossing the road late at night are leaders of the local skeptic group.
We compares notes:
1.It was not a dog
3.It had a long snout
4.It had teeth
5.It was big, like small pony or Great Dane big
6.It was skinny
7.It was not terribly furry
The problem with this is that whenever we tell anyone what we have seen, and most of our friends are skeptics, they say “Well, it was just a dog with mange”. We don’t hear, “It might have been a dog with mange.” We don’t hear “Do you think it was a dog with mange?” We get “It was a dog with mange.”
No, it was not a dog with mange, unless it was a Great Dane with mange that was half kangaroo.
Travis and I learned a great lesson, which is to treat people reporting an unusual sighting with respect and not to “tell” them what they’ve seen. There is a lot of weird stuff out there.
Skeptics often have as much trouble as paranormal believers in just accepting “we don’t know.” Travis and I have developed a better understanding of how it must feel to have skeptics tell you what you saw, wasn’t what you saw. I’ve read all about how our eyes deceive us and how our memories are imperfect, but reality is the vision of that creature at least feels very sharply etched in my mind. I was truly scared. Time slowed down as that thing crossed the road in front of us. It wasn’t any of the explanations given without thought or investigation by our skeptic friends. I’m glad I did not see the creature alone, because then no one would believe me.
Travis and I certainly do not believe we saw a chupacabra. It has become a joke between us. We drive back from meetings now just hoping to see it again. This is true also of people that think they have had a paranormal experience, they want to have that experience again. They want to see whatever it was, at least one more time. I’d love to see it again to try to get more information, enough to truly figure out just what that was. It was exciting, it was fun, and it was just plain old weird. While others give us their belief, we have to go with “You weren’t there.” When a rational explanation lines up with what we saw, we’ll be the first to say “Yes, that must be what it was!” Until then, we don’t know. We’re alright with that.
However, that doesn’t stop Travis from saying “I haven’t shown you this old road…” and driving us home not via the highway. One day maybe the weird hopping creature of New Hampshire will show itself again.
- New Hampshire Skepticamp! (Be there!) (twodifferentgirls.com)
- JREF Offers a Number of Scholarships and Grants for Students, Educators and Local Skeptic Groups (randi.org)
- Chupacabra explained, unfortunately (infocult.typepad.com)
- The skeptical spectrum: people, pathology and perspectives (idoubtit.wordpress.com)