Before we begin, take a look at this article in the Epoch Times and weep. It takes America Unearthed at face value and presents it as the “History Channel” confirming the cultural impact of Celts on pre-Columbian America, particularly at Anubis Cave in Oklahoma. The Epoch Times is an international, multilingual newspaper and internet news organization publishing in 35 countries. It is one of the most-read publications among the Chinese diaspora. The reporter, Paul Darin, regularly writes credulous articles about UFOs and conspiracies. He has confused America Unearthed for science by placing faith in the History brand name, and he also cites Ancient American magazine as though that amateur diffusionist publication were a serious scholarly journal.
Now on to today’s material.
I get a lot of email from visitors to this website, and it’s just not possible for me to reply to all of it while also working full time, writing this blog, writing books, and having any time left in the day to do anything else. I thought it might be a good idea to answer some of the most frequent questions in a Q&A blog post. The questions below are real questions sent to me over the last few weeks. Some I’ve received in several variants, which I have combined to avoid repetition.
You will notice that the majority of questions are about America Unearthed. I don’t control who sends me questions—it’s what readers are interested in. Indeed, more than a few readers each week think I am Scott Wolter, which saddens me greatly since my name is on my website. I probably get about five America Unearthed questions for every one on another topic.
When is Cthulhu in World Mythology coming out?
I received beta versions of the eBook editions (mobi and epub) late last week, and the publisher tells me that they should be ready to go live in the first week or so of February, with the print book to follow by the end of the month. I will post an announcement once they are available for sale.
What is your opinion of Bigfoot?
I haven’t seen any evidence that Bigfoot exists. I’m not an expert in biology, though, so I don’t feel entirely comfortable declaring categorically that there’s no evidence of it; however, others with more expertise have evaluated the alleged evidence and reached just that conclusion. But I was intrigued to see that my episodic reviews of Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed have apparently inspired others to critique fringe shows episodically. Skeptoid has a weekly analysis of Bigfoot Bounty that points to the ridiculousness of the show’s “evidence.” I’d like to see experts in other areas of fringe-ology taking on still more shows. I’m about at my weekly time limit, or I’d have many more TV reviews. There’s certainly enough crap out there.
What is your training and expertise in the area of American archaeology? Are you a Ph.D? Has Scott Wolter’s wishful thinking and exploration threatened one of your theories or your livelihood?
Just as Scott Wolter’s academic background is a bachelor’s in geology, my only academic training is a bachelor’s degree in anthropology/archaeology and journalism. I am and remain an interested layperson who enjoys history and hates to see it twisted in service of bad ideas. I don’t have specific pet theories about American archaeology to defend, nor am I paid to discuss American archaeology or to write this blog.
Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed are crap. How do we get this crap, disguised as history, off the air?
Sadly, you can’t. The only way they’ll go away is if the audience stops watching. Until then, the best we can do is to mitigate the damage by making sure the truth is available for those who try to learn more about these shows’ claims.
Finding the children of Jesus would really ruffle the Pope’s feathers, so trying to debunk it could mean you’re carrying water for the Church. What is your religious belief?
I don’t have one. My grandparents were devout Catholics, but that was many decades ago. I have no interest in religion and don’t participate in any religious organizations or events. But even if I did, facts remain stubborn things no matter whether I or the Pope choose to believe them. There still is no evidence of a Jesus Bloodline.
If you were going to hide the Ark of the Covenant, where would you hide it? Oak Island?
I’d send it back through the Sargasso Sea wormhole to the Orion nebula.
Talking about race all the time is typical liberal Democrat socialist race-baiting. What party are you affiliated with in regards to politics?
When I turned eighteen, I received important advice: If you live in New York State, the general election generally doesn’t matter because the Democrat always wins in the cities and the Republican always wins everywhere else. Although this isn’t strictly true, the conclusion is the same: If you want your vote to count, you need to be able to vote in the primary elections. I have been a registered Democrat since I was eighteen for just that reason, but that has never dictated my voting choices. I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. In fact, if I recall correctly, my first ever general election ballot was cast for a Republican in a local race. When I was in college, I was roundly criticized for being too conservative for the extremely liberal politics of Ithaca, New York, especially because I voiced opposition then to what I saw as the college’s obsession with race and racism. On the other hand, I also received criticism from my conservative extended family (they are Republicans) for being too liberal. I am not sure, though, what any of this has to do with fringe history claims, or why readers want to know this about me but not David Childress or his ilk.
You only debunk from books and the internet, but Scott Wolter does real field research. How can you criticize him? Have you traveled to any of the places you debunk?
I wish I had all the money in the world and could jet off to one site after another. I’ve personally examined Mystery Hill in New Hampshire, and I’ve traveled frequently to Washington, D.C., site of alleged Freemason symbolism. That’s how I knew that the so-called “vagina” symbol around the Washington Monument had been added only a few years ago. I also grew up in a town that had at its center a Native American mound similar to those seen in the Midwest.
But it’s important to distinguish between conducting field research and standing in front of a site and taking its picture. Very little of what is seen on America Unearthed is scientific field research, and Wolter doesn’t do the nuts and bolts of archaeology, such as excavation, except in the rarest of circumstances (e.g., “Giants in Minnesota”), and then only for a few hours—not the weeks or months needed to do high quality field work. In general, most of the “fieldwork” seen on America Unearthed is a visual analysis of the texture of a rock, which is not a recognized way of dating an artifact’s age with any precision.
I recognize that there is a benefit to examining evidence in person, but it is up to the claimant—be he Scott Wolter, Giorgio Tsoukalos, David Childress, etc.—to provide enough evidence to judge his claim. If his argument fails basic tests of logic or basic evaluations of the evidence, then there isn’t really any reason to fly out to Egypt or Arizona to stand in front of the building. That kind of work becomes necessary only when an argument is strong enough to require confirmation of its truth. That said, I generally target my comments to questions of texts, symbolism, and other intangibles because that is where my expertise, such as it is, lies. The overwhelming majority of claims on Ancient Aliens or America Unearthed are claims made for or about ancient texts and mythological sources.
There were also some one-off questions I have no idea how to answer.
When I leave the Air Force next year, I think I want to maybe hike the Grand Canyon to look for the Ark of the Covenant. How can I get Google Earth to show me if the line through Stonehenge in England and Stonehenge in America lines up with the Grand Canyon? I think the Ark was following the sun. I love your show by the way!
I guess you’d use Google’s Great Circle mapper, but you’ll be disappointed, both because it doesn’t align and because I’m still not Scott Wolter.
Check out the Baha’i Faith! Read the history. You’ll find what you’re looking for about the Templars and the World Order.
Would you like more information concerning an extremely ancient stone carving civilization once living in the Tararua District, Dannevirke, New Zealand estimated at 5 million years B.C.?
I imagine that if true more important people than me would have liked to see it first, if there were any evidence such a thing ever existed.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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