I lieu of a blog post today, I present my guest appearance on the Chauncey DeVega Show. The podcast is an hour in length and can be watched below or downloaded at this link. I discussed topics ranging from ancient astronauts and lost giants to Afrocentrism and white supremacist views of North American history. The podcast was recorded in November, but release of the episode was a little delayed, so some of the references refer to events of November as though they had just happened.
It seems that readers weren’t too keen on the question of whether a cache of supposedly medieval maps and documents shows that Marco Polo explored Alaska, but I found that Benjamin Olshin’s book The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps, which I reviewed yesterday, raised a number of fascinating questions, albeit questions that had little to do with the question of whether Polo visited Alaska. In the book, Olshin makes reference to an island of women mentioned on the (likely hoax) Marco Polo maps promoted by science fiction author and document hoaxer Marcian Rossi. The text accompanying the maps, in Olshin’s revision of Bagrow’s translation, describes it as follows:
Did Marco Polo Explore Alaska? A Review of Benjamin B. Olshin's "The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps" (2014)
Later this week, America Unearthed will be asking whether Marco Polo discovered America. The topic seemed familiar, and I knew that the series was shooting its episodes in September of this year. It took only a few seconds to discover that the writers, who are clearly running on fumes at this point, were adapting a news report that appeared in Smithsonian magazine’s October edition and in British newspapers in late September. (So much for the Smithsonian conspiracy to suppress the truth!) According to the claim, a map drawn by Marco Polo depicting the Bering Strait was found in San Jose, California in the 1930s but not analyzed until this year.
Monday Omnibus: Scott Wolter Is Clueless, L.A. Marzulli Wants an OBGYN, and Andy White Debunks Giants
I’m feeling a bit uninspired today, so I’m going to go over a few odd and ends that I found interesting and amusing over the last couple of days. First and foremost I want to follow up on Saturday’s episode of America Unearthed because Scott Wolter weighed in on it on his blog this morning and revealed that he still isn’t aware that the story of Captain Kidd’s secret numerical code and his treasure falling into the hands of John Jacob Astor is a nineteenth century hoax.
So this week Scott Wolter lets viewers think that he has been taken in by a nineteenth century hoax that he doesn’t recognize is a work of fiction. If his blog post from this past week is any indication, he’ll soon be blaming me for pointing out that his show is, by its own admission in Segment 4, hiding the fact that the producers know (or, at very least, had no excuse not to know) the source of the hoax and therefore appear to have purposely omitted it from the program to make the hoax seem more credible. Consequently, they depict the debunking of the hoax as little more than the assertion of one old man rather than the full weight of history and expert opinion. It lets them have their cake and eat it, too: They tell the truth, of sorts, in a weak way should anyone complain, and that lets them play pretend for those who are unaware.
Charles Baxter: H. P. Lovecraft Trapped in Perpetual Adolescence, Appeals to the Angry and Antisocial
If the promotional spots for America Unearthed are to be believed, tonight Scott Wolter gets taken in by a known nineteenth century hoax and spends the hour assuming it’s true. I can’t believe that the producers of the show are that stupid, but I can’t really put anything past them. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, let’s talk about Lovecraft. The following are some more or less coherent thoughts, but not really a true analysis since I haven’t had the time to develop my ideas more fully.
Graham Hancock: Comet Wiped Out Ice Age Civilization, Egyptians May Have Worshiped Comet's Fragments
After publishing Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882 and claiming that the ancient global civilization of Atlantis had been destroyed in the Biblical Flood, author Ignatius Donnelly needed material for a sequel. In his follow-up book, Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (1883), Donnelly tried to explain how the Flood could have occurred. To that end, he argued that ancient mythology captured a memory of the catastrophe that was the result of the impact of a large comet around 12,000 years ago: “the so-called Glacial Age really represents a collision of the earth with one of these wandering luminaries of space.” According to Donnelly, the destructive power of the comet caused massive floods, poisonous gases, and global fires before settling into a long glacial winter.
The ratings for the season finale of Search for the Lost Giants are in, and the news was surprisingly good for the show. The show’s lead-in, Curse of Oak Island, reached a new high of 2.9 million viewers, with 900,000 under the age of 49. Meanwhile, that increase in viewership—to watch self-proclaimed Jesus descendant Kathleen McGowan Coppens speculate about lost Templar treasure—spilled over into an uptick in viewers for Lost Giants. About 1.7 million people tuned in for the Giants finale, an increase of 300,000 viewers from last week. However, this uptick in viewers translated into just 100,000 more adults under 49 watching the show, bringing its viewer haul to half a million.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the season finale of Search for the Lost Giants, but since the show loses viewers each week (down to just 1.4 million last week, with only 400,000 under the age of 50, fumbling 1.1 million Curse of Oak Island lead in viewers, most of whom were under 50), perhaps it is for the best. In just six episodes, the show has managed to achieve the same types of ethical issues it took America Unearthed thirteen episodes to rack up: The show has intentionally distorted or fabricated evidence, selectively edited “experts” to make them seem to support the show’s claims, made wild leaps of logic, and, finally, garnered a roster of unhappy interviewees who feel that the show lied to them and misrepresented them. The Catalina Island Museum posted on their blog last week that after all the attention the show brought to their museum they needed to reiterate that Ralph Glidden, whose work the show profiled, produced a great deal of fiction masquerading as fact. Further, Terje Dahl, the gigantologist, admitted that the show distorted his views and engaged him from his sick bed to fabricate scenes for the show with “evidence” he had never seen but pretended to know.
Last night Canadian software consultant and marijuana enthusiast William Harold Bradshaw, who writes under several pen names including Billy Budd, contacted me to tell me that he had discovered the secret behind the lost race of giants. Bradshaw’s previous work has involved developing a synthetic recipe for cocaine and promoting marijuana consumption. Bradshaw claims to have been a regular user of cannabis since 1969, and it is therefore unsurprising that Bradshaw has concluded that marijuana is the key to unlocking the secrets of ancient history.