This week self-described “mouth of the South” Micah Hanks published an article at Mysterious Universe covering the April 17, 1897 airship crash at Aurora, Texas widely cited as a UFO event. It has already been the subject of a 1973 MUFON investigation and several cable television documentaries. Hanks not only fails to add anything new to the story, he manages the neat trick of ignoring pretty much all the investigative work done after 1973 in the name of promoting a “mystery” that almost certainly never existed.
Note: This post has been edited to add additional details.
I have a treat for you today! I’m currently reading Mark Adams’s Meet Me in Atlantis, and he mentioned something I wasn’t familiar with: According to some European Atlantis theorists, an ancient historian named Eumalos of Cyrene wrote a book about Atlantis around 400 BCE that detailed the island’s history, taken from an earlier book by Aristippus, the fifth century philosopher. Such an important document, you would think, ought to be a prime piece of Atlantis literature, yet virtually nothing has been written about the text in English. Well, for your reading pleasure I have translated the entire Sixth Book of Eumalos’s summary of the History of Libya into English, along with the original commentary on it offered by its first publisher, the Marquis de Fortia d’Urban, who translated the text in to French in 1828. So far as I know, this is the first time the text has been presented in English. Too bad it’s all a hoax.
I’d like to start today with a the truth about a “giant”: After reports circulated in gigantology circles this week that a “giant” skeleton up to twelve feet tall had been excavated at Varna in Bulgaria on March 17, other fringe types decided that the bones were those of a vampire. (Varna was the port used by the vampire in Dracula.) Others claimed that the fifth century bones actually were of a giant resident of Atlantis. Bulgarian archaeologists released actual facts about the skeleton yesterday, and it turns out that the skeleton is of a person who stood 5’4”. Archaeologist Valeri Yotov of the Varna Museum, who excavated the bones, said that the media and the public simply would not listen to reason as soon as they thought a “giant” had been unearthed beneath the ruins of Odessus. You can read the whole story here.
Yesterday ancient astronaut theorist Mike Bara endorsed an unconfirmed report made by a rightwing blog quoting anti-Islamic German blogger Michael Mannheimer that Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz had converted to Islam and therefore crashed his plane, killing 149 people and himself, as part of a jihadist act. Mannheimer offered no evidence other than the existence of a mosque in Bremen, where Lubitz had trained as a pilot. Bara posted to Facebook that the German blog post was “proof of what we all knew 3 days ago.” His brother Dave replied with a conspiracy theory that world governments would attempt to suppress the truth about Islamic suicide pilots. As of today, French and German prosecutors have not released any evidence indicating Lubitz was Muslim, while media reports indicate that he crashed the plane after experiencing mental health problems.
Mannheimer, who has called Islam a “thousand year crime against Germany,” has since removed the blog post, which had received heavy criticism. Nevertheless, Bara doubled down on his endorsement last night, claiming that depression and mental illness were not a sufficient explanation for Lubitz’s actions: “You don’t murder 150 people because you’re depressed. You eat a whole tub of ice cream maybe.” Bara’s endorsement of anti-Islamic claims reveals not only a disturbing level of underlying bigotry and offensive levels of ignorance, but also his slipshod approach to “research.”
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 was initially reluctant to post about the viral image going around Facebook this week showing what appears to be a side-by-side comparison of an ancient Egyptian image of Isis and a metal duplicate of the same from ancient Ecuador. The photo has been circulating for at least four years, and I had assumed that many would quickly recognize it for what it was. I was wrong, and as the number of people writing to me to ask for an explanation grew, I realized I had write something about the image you’ll see below:
First off, I’d like to talk a little bit about giants. Yesterday, a regular reader sent me an interesting passage from Helena Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine in which she seems to endorse the idea that the skeletons of giants were really those of Ice Age mammals.
Today’s passage from Wonders in the Sky (2009) by Jacques Vallée and Chris Aubeck is not “wrong” per se but rather an example of the authors substituting their own ignorance for doing such simple research as opening a dictionary. The account they present says what they say it does, but somehow they manage to bungle it anyway, actually weakening their own case!
Not long ago British art historian Julian Spalding made international headlines when he claimed that Stonehenge was never meant to be a temple or a calendar but rather a glorified pedestal. Spalding concluded that a wooden platform rested atop the site’s stones, allowing visitors to have a better view of the stars. How exactly that worked with the central stones being taller than those around them, I’m not sure, nor am I quite following why smaller stone circles preceded the current Stonehenge we know in love since they were impractical for holding up a platform. That’s not important, though, because Spalding published an article in the Guardian last week that made some claims about pyramids that suggest that he is less familiar than he thinks with the subjects on which he delivers such dramatic conclusions.
In which I learn to read Middle French…
Let us stipulate at the outset that the famed ufologist Jacques Vallée is French, so we should expect that his translation from his native language should be among the most accurate materials in the 2009 book he co-wrote with Chris Aubeck, Wonders in the Sky. Therefore, when I went to check on what the two authors claimed to be a medieval French account of a silvery flying saucer on the night of November 1, 1461, I was frankly surprised that it appeared that the authors had not actually read the original text they claim to cite. Granted, Middle French is not easy, and it is as different from modern French as Chaucer’s Middle English is to modern English. That’s still no excuse for the “translation” to bear only a passing resemblance to the original.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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