Today I’d like to call your attention to a change I’ve made to my website and my branding to help keep up with the evolving fringe history field. On my homepage, you’ll see that I’ve replaced the old moniker “skeptical xenoarchaeologist” with a new one, “historical researcher & skeptic.” I’d like to explain the reason for the change.
J. Hutton Pulitzer Threatens "Consequences" for Using Photo of Now Almost Certainly Fake "Roman" Sword
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, so I will report that after my blog post about J. Hutton Pulitzer’s claims regarding an allegedly “Roman” sword found sometime in the past several decades off the coast of Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Pulitzer contacted me to demand that I remove my use of the small portion of a photograph of the sword which appeared in the Boston Standard newspaper for violating his copyright. The image in question was included in a side-by-side comparison of two similar swords created by Andy White, who also received the takedown notice. The comparison used a small portion of the Boston Standard photograph in a photo composite.
What Is Josh Gates Really Searching for on "Expedition Unknown"? Plus: Ten Years of "Cult of Alien Gods"
On Monday the History Channel broadcasted Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony, and if we can judge by the ratings, there seems to be a cap on the number of viewers interested in conspiracy theories about early American history. The show, weirdly listed as Time Machine (apparently the official name of the documentary anthology series occupying the Monday at 9 PM ET time slot), scored 1.3 million viewers, with 400,000 in the coveted 18-49 demographic. That means that the two-hour show had slightly more viewers than the 10 PM showing of FX’s critically acclaimed Fargo, which drew 1.2 million viewers, with 400,000 in the demo, but had only half the viewers of WWE Monday Night Raw on USA. Anyway, the interesting thing is that these numbers are just almost exactly the same as the average viewership for Ancient Aliens over its last few showings. We’ll know more about the current draw of crazy conspiracies when Hunting Hitler debuts next month alongside the new season of Curse of Oak Island.
Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a newspaper report of a Pennsylvania man who claimed to have found unknown Native American ruins on his property, sparking a flurry of calls from the paper’s readers urging him to contact Scott Wolter of America Unearthed. The subject of that newspaper article took issue with my blog post, and he felt that I unfairly added “twists and nuances” to what he claims was erroneous reporting in the newspaper accounts. In a contentious hour-long phone conversation this afternoon, the man (whose name I am omitting so Google won’t pick up this post) explained that the original newspaper accounts contained inaccuracies, and he blamed me for failing to confirm the newspaper’s reporting before writing about the news accounts. I fully attributed all of the information to the newspaper, but the man is correct that I erroneously assumed that a local newspaper could correctly report on its own area.
This week, the original reporter of the newspaper story and its follow up blog post retracted parts of his reporting. Because some of the underlying facts were retracted, I have decided to remove the blog post in its entirety out of respect for the subject of the story. While I maintain that my analysis was fair and accurate based on the original reporting, because that reporting has been partially retracted, I cannot stand by the analysis and indeed would not have posted the article as I did had the original newspaper accounts been correct. I apologize to the subject of the blog post for the misleading analysis that emerged from the incorrect impression created by the false facts from the newspaper.
First off, a bit of business: The comments on blog posts are not working correctly. Most new comments will post correctly, but some replies are not going through. I’m working with my service provider, Weebly, to resolve the issue, but they are having a hard time finding the problem. They’ve escalated it to whatever their higher level of tech support is, and they are busy working on the issue. I hope it will be resolved soon. [Update: With the problem still occurring as of 8:30 PM, I have been in touch with Tech Support yet again, and they are going to try again to resolve it.]
I have a few random odds and ends for today…
Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on correcting the page proofs for my anthology Foundations of Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts, and Other Alternative Pasts. I find the corrections to be frustrating, both because it forces me to confront my own typographical errors and also because it reminds me that in today’s publishing world, no one actually proofreads anything, and even the most ridiculously obvious typos stand until I correct them. Anyway, in checking some of the text, I have a conundrum that I hope someone reading this may be able to help solve.
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.
One of the criticisms I receive all of the time is that it isn’t worth explaining what’s wrong with fringe theories because they’re just entertainment and are confined to fringe books and TV shows. Two events from this week show just how wrong this view is. Let’s start with the smaller and sillier story. It comes to us from the National Geographic Channel.
I’m big in Turkey this week! One of the questions I get a lot is why I bother writing rebuttals to ridiculous ideas that no right-thinking person could possibly believe. This week I got my answer. Over the weekend no less a world figure that the president of Turkey spouted fringe history nonsense, telling a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders that Islamic sailors discovered the Americas in 1178, and that a mosque they left behind later surprised Christopher Columbus when he sailed around Cuba.
My website and my email address are my name, so I’ve always wondered how people can confuse me for the stars of the History Channel. I’ve had people mistake me for Giorgio Tsoukalos and Scott Wolter, but today was a first: I received my first email mistaking me for Jim Vieira! The confused letter-writer asked Jim to look into a particular “giant” report from her hometown that she remembered from Coast to Coast AM years ago because she’s infuriated that the government is “burying” the truth about a case she could find no more information about. She thanked Vieira for his TV show and concluded: “I appreciate the work you are doing. It must be great to do something you love.”
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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