I’ve had a rather busy week, so I am going to keep today’s post short by directing you to an interesting video that Cracked produced last week about the misuse of history among rightwing pundits. The video examines, especially, claims about Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and the Civil War. While I don’t agree with every claim made in the video—since a couple are presented as established fact when they are actually interpretative—the general thrust is correct. As Cracked explains, a certain branch of rightwing American pundits bend history into pretzels in order to, essentially, justify racism. The video gains cumulative power as the number of false, misleading, or grotesque interpretations of history pile up and reduce one by one back to racism
Happening Now in "Who Really Built That?" Templars at the Newport Tower, a Lost Ice Age Civilization at Giza, and Australian Aborigines at Göbekli Tepe
Late last week novelist David S. Brody, who is a close colleague of former television personality Scott F. Wolter, posted on his blog what he called new information about the origins of the Old Stone Mill in Newport, Rhode Island, popularly known as the Newport Tower. Brody presented a quotation from Pocasset Wampanoag chief Daryl “Black Eagle” Jamieson, a younger man who has clearly been influenced by modern fringe history claims. Jamieson spoke with the Wolter/Brody wing of fringe history in 2015, and it is on his authority that Brody and Wolter claim that Native Americans have a centuries-old oral history of the medieval Earl Henry Sinclair of Orkney coming to America in the late 1300s. Specifically, here is what Black Eagle had to say in his own words:
If you are a longtime reader of this blog, you are undoubtedly familiar with the legend of the Kensington Runestone, a rune-covered stone unearthed in the nineteenth century in Minnesota and alleged to be a record of a Norse expedition from Vinland to the interior of North America in the mid-1300s. Since the stone’s exhumation in 1898, a debate has raged between true believers on one hand and scientists and historians on the other over the stone’s authenticity. Mainstream opinion holds that the stone is a hoax carved in the 1800s, likely as part of an effort by Scandinavian immigrants to lay historic claim to the new land where they found themselves living. Fringe opinion believes it to be an authentic medieval record, with the most complex evaluation offered by former television personality Scott F. Wolter, who sees the stone as the cornerstone (so to speak) of a vast conspiracy by Knights Templar, Cistercian monks, and Freemasons to claim nearly all of North America as the hereditary kingdom of Jesus’ descendants through Mary Magdalene
DISCOVERING THE MAMMOTH: A TALE OF GIANTS, UNICORNS, IVORY, AND THE BIRTH OF A NEW SCIENCE
John J. McKay | 256 pages | Pegasus | 2017 | ISBN 978-1-68177-424-4 | $27.95
More than a century ago, every educated person understood that the bones of giants were actually the remains of fossilized elephant species, including the woolly mammoth, the mastodon, the dwarf elephant, and their various cousins. This information was readily available in most books of natural history, and even churchmen, who considered giants to be an article of faith, felt the need to acknowledge the obviousness of the fact before trying to argue why their particular giant was the exception to the general rule. Yet after the Second World War, this connection between fossils evidence and mythological fantasy no longer seemed obvious, and when Adrienne Mayor reintroduced it around 2000, the suggestion that fossils had a relationship to mythology was greeted as fresh and new.
THE GODS NEVER LEFT US:
THE LONG AWAITED SEQUEL TO THE WORLDWIDE BEST-SELLER CHARIOTS OF THE GODS
Erich von Däniken | 256 pages | Career Press | 2018 | ISBN: 978-1632651198 | $17.99
Earlier this month, ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken released his latest book, The Gods Never Left Us (Career Press, 2018), which his publisher billed as the first direct sequel to Chariots of the Gods in fifty years. This seemed like hyperbole to me since several of his earlier books were also termed sequels. Perhaps the publisher was inspired by Jurassic World to make a “direct” sequel that ignored the existence of previous, less popular sequels. More likely, they were simply hoping that some marketing puffery would attract readers who will have forgotten about all of the other three dozen books the author produced
"Ancient Origins" Author Claims a Comet Caused Noah's Flood, Which Ripped the Casing Stones from the Giza Pyramids
Most of you have already seen that on Tuesday former television personality Scott F. Wolter posted a blog entry suggesting that he had “proof positive” that the Kensington Rune Stone was a medieval artifact. His “evidence” was laughably illogical. He claimed that measuring the diagonal of the stone yielded the fictitious “megalithic yard,” a unit of supposed ancient measure that was actually invented in the twentieth century. The first problem is that the measurement is subjective. The stone is irregular, so the length of the diagonal can vary depending on which lump, bump, or uneven part one chooses to measure from. The second problem is logical: Since Wolter believes that the megalithic yard remained in use down to modern times—since he claims, following Alan Butler, that the Freemasons laid out Washington, D.C. with that measurement in the 1700s, the 1800s, and again in the 1940s—its inclusion in the rune stone, even if true, would provide no proof whatsoever of medieval origins since it could just as easily have been chosen by a nineteenth century Freemason faker.
Indian Newspaper Calls Out Nationalists for Using Fake History and Ancient Astronauts to Push Right-Wing Agenda
Note: I will be taking tomorrow off to mark the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. I will return on Friday.
For a variety of reasons, including the predominance of U.S. content in the media landscape, and my own geographic location, I tend to focus on American fringe history claims, followed by those from Britain, Continental Europe, Australia, and the rest of the world in descending order. I fully admit that this is a bias on my part, but one I can’t entirely help since so much of the content outside the Anglo-American media bubble is geo-blocked, geographically restricted, in languages I can’t speak, or otherwise unavailable. Nevertheless, I think it’s valuable to check in around the world from time to time to see how other countries and cultures deal with the same attacks on history that we see here at home.
Rice University Religious Studies Scholar Claims Renaissance Painting Shows Unknowable UFO Mystery Beyond Human Knowledge
Jeffrey J. Kripal is the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University and ought to know better when it comes to studying the role of space aliens in ancient history. Anyone who has risen to such a position, and who has written about the role of the paranormal in the sacred, ought to have a bit of conception of the difference between the scientific and the supernatural, and between the plausible and the implausible. And yet in the recent edition of Edge Science magazine (No. 31, Sept. 2017), Kripal has an article, taken from his new book Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions, rehashing the infamous claim that a gray splotch on a Renaissance painting of the Madonna and child is a flying saucer occupied by space aliens. He wants to accept all of the ufological evidence but sidestep the problems with claiming alien intervention by proposing that an unknowable “entity” manifests as shiny metal discs.
I know it’s been a bit of a refrain recently, but it has become rather difficult to find new and interesting things to write about. I thought about saying something on Trump judicial nominee Brett J. Talley, who is a ghost hunter and a horror novelist since he has some rather odd views about his professed influence, H. P. Lovecraft. But, really, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been discussed far and wide. Basically, he doesn’t know how to define Lovecraftian fiction: “The subgenre of Lovecraftian fiction, I feel like is not really that well defined,” Talley said in 2013. “What makes stuff Lovecraft? And I think really if you asked people, you’d get a lot of arguments about this.” Not really, but it’s just not something worth spilling ink (or pixels) over.
Most conspiracy theories about Freemasonry tend to focus on its alleged connections to the Knights Templar and occult Christian secrets, but a century or more ago, it was Masonry’s alleged connection to ancient Egypt that offered grist for occult speculation. I came across an obscure but strange book called Freemasonry from the Great Pyramid of Ancient Times (1885) by Freemason Thomas Holland in which Holland outlines his belief that the Great Pyramid of Giza was actually a divine map to the mysteries of Freemasonry, crafted on orders from Yahweh by Israelites to show future generations the rituals and mysteries of the Craft. While this is silly on the face of it, derived from Charles Piazzi Smyth’s belief that the Pyramid contained a plan crafted by the God of Israel, and the frequent Masonic insistence that their Craft could be traced back to Egypt (and, specifically, the Great Pyramid), the expression of it is a bit bizarre.
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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