A studiously researched investigation of just what it could be that witnesses for centuries have claimed to have spotted in the placid waters of Scotland's Loch Ness. And, more importantly, what psychological, sociological and philosophical factors may have prompted their claims. Thorough, very informative--and thought-provoking. Though personally convinced of the reality of the ""monsters,"" Bauer is evenhanded in presenting both the pros and the cons of the controversy. There is plenty to be said on both sides. During the course of his discussion, the author comments knowingly on the adversarial positions of ""science"" and ""pseudoscience""; on the possibilities of public relations ""hype"" and/or myopia being involved in the sightings; on the reluctance of the scientific community generally to take ""Nessie"" seriously, and the eagerness of ""believers"" to accept any bit of ""evidence,"" however insubstantial. Bauer, professor of chemistry and science studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, encapsulates his position in Chapter 10 of this 254-page study. ""Although we often forget the distinction,"" he writes, ""science is not synonymous with truth."" Rather, he continues, ""it is marked by an uncommon degree of reliability. . .by scrupulous consistency and the unremitting attempt not to take things for granted."" In arguing that science apply these standards to a study of the Loch Ness phenomenon (whatever it may prove to be--or not be), Bauer aligns himself with the seekers after truth and divorces himself from the ""EXTRATERRESTRIALS KIDNAP NEWSBOY'S DOG"" crowd. A serious, carefully reasoned look at a controversial subject, one that should be read by all those interested in expanding the possible limits of human knowledge. A list of close to 800 sightings, plus a seemingly complete bibliography of ""Nessiana,"" as well as dozens of photographs add to the cogency of the work.