Robert Schoch Raising $600,000 for Fringe Research, Wants to Turn His Life Story into "Blockbuster" Movie
Did you know that fringe geologist Robert Schoch, famous for claiming the Sphinx dates back to the Stone Age, has a nonprofit foundation to collect money to fund research into a lost civilization? I didn’t until a link showed up in my Facebook feed this week. It turns out that this was all part of the plan.
The corporation is called the Organization for the Research of Ancient Cultures, an awkward name presumably chosen for the ORACUL (i.e. “oracle”) abbreviation they were able to craft for it. According to the nonprofit’s website, the company is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit registered with the IRS. I checked the IRS’s online records, but I could not find a listing for it, suggesting that it has not filed a current form 990 for tax year 2015. (They have a valid EIN: 463844668.) The company was registered in the state of Nevada in 2013 and is headquartered at a P.O. box in Poughkeepsie, New York, but according to public records it only became active in 2015, after the IRS ruled on its 501(c)(3) request. Donations are tax-deductible but presumably small since its current reported income is $0, according to its 2014 IRS form 990.
That might sound like nothing special, but consider this: Schoch has been circulating requests for… wait for it… $604,000 that he wanted to raise to promote fringe history ideas about a lost, Atlantis-style civilization. In 2014 Schoch appeared at a roundtable hosted by financial services company Steven Feldstein & Associates for assistance in raising cash, $604,000 for his research foundation and undisclosed sums for a fictional movie he wanted to make based on his 2012 book Forgotten Civilization. “We have conflict, we have drama!” He participated in Feldstein’s annual business roundtable in 2014, and Feldstein, a true believer in Schoch (“He is changing the history of mankind… one of my heroes!”), gave him a platform to raise money for what Feldstein called “a billion-dollar movie.”
Here’s Schoch’s presentation to Feldstein’s business roundtable:
According to the materials provided for potential ORACUL investors and offered publicly online, the organization would be devoted to publicizing fringe research from an interdisciplinary group of primarily non-American academics through translating their work into English and publishing it via e-readers. The organization would also fund Robert Schoch’s field work on archaeological sites chosen to further fringe history claims. They plan to offer free online courses to teach fringe history to the public, which they hope to provide by paying instructors little or nothing. (Yes, they promised little or nothing as pay in the proposal!)
The unnamed “executive director” took a $12,000 salary in Year One (presumably 2015, based on the late 2014 date of the document), and the organization planned an aggressive public launch for Year Two, which was to include the launch of their publishing house and public outreach efforts. Presumably the higher profile ORACUL is assuming on social media is part of the staged rollout. The organization launched its first fundraising campaign in February of this year and promised to ask for more money in the future:
The documents state that the nonprofit has a $60,000 annual operating budget, including $12,000 for the executive director, $4,000 for advertising, $7,000 for computers and software, and $1,500 to pay for the cellphone plans of the three officers (Schoch, his wife, and ORACUL president Brett Miller). They plan to raise almost $500,000 to travel to Easter Island in search of clues to a lost Mu-like civilization. According to an attachment in the documents, Schoch believes that “primitive” Easter Islanders were not able to carve basalt Moai, so a lost civilization had to have done it in the Stone Age. Schoch plans to film his Easter Island adventure with a film crew hired at a $75,000 expense. According to the proposal, airfare to and from Easter Island is expected to cost $54,000.
In the proposal for the movie, Schoch describes himself as “the real-life ‘Indiana Jones’” (because, who isn’t?) and quotes his publisher as calling him “the Galileo of our time.” The film would tell the “epic” story of how evil academics viciously persecuted him for 25 years because he believed the Sphinx to be Paleolithic in origin. Schoch would have presented the Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe, dated to around 12,000 years ago, as dramatic proof of his lost civilization. (This is despite the lack of evidence for agriculture, cities, or other hallmarks of what Schoch proposes this civilization achieved.) The film was to climax with Schoch’s belief that a solar flare destroyed pseudo-Atlantis and will do the same to us, in the last minutes of his film, vindicating him in a fiery consummation. It is “Indiana Jones meets The Day After Tomorrow,” he claims. Schoch says that there is already a screenplay, and he feels that the movie has the potential to be both an international blockbuster and an Academy Award winner, not to mention serving to indoctrinate audiences in fringe history. It is, in short, a planned bit of propaganda.
The proposal also claims that Schoch has developed a spiritual belief in reincarnation: “The film’s ending offers a metaphysical message, as well: that the ancient Egyptians might have been right all along in their belief that, upon death, we are literally reborn as stars in the sky, hinting at a grander cycle of life than heretofore believed.”
So far as I can tell, nothing has come of the movie in the year and a half since Schoch’s presentation.
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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