This weekend, fringe history believers gathered in Colorado for the Earth-Keeper Star-Gate Conference, which was scheduled to see lectures from some of fringe history’s biggest names: Graham Hancock, Giorgio Tsoukalos, Robert Schoch, Scott Wolter, and William Henry. The event was auspicious, organizers said, because they used astrology to plan its time and date. Tickets ran $488 for a four-day pass ($555 for “premium” access), but entry did not include the extra fees for one of eleven “master healers” to use “earth energies” and “crystals” on attendees in private session. The speakers all planned to deliver their standard spiel keyed to repeating claims from their latest books, TV shows, and web appearances. Giorgio Tsoukalos promised to hold a book signing, which must be quite a feat considering he has never written one.
Let me tell you a story. It begins at a used book store, which recently received a consignment of materials from an old man who had traveled widely and collected a number of unusual books. When he died, his kids donated most of them without cracking the spine. After a researcher into the mysteries of the Knights Templar acquired one of these books, he found within a several sheets of paper. They were handwritten notes from the 1980s, detailing research conducted in a private library in Edinburgh. According to the notes, the old man, when younger, had made a copy of an unusual map found in a handwritten journal dating back to the 1500s. That map, in turn, said in a Latin inscription that it was itself a copy of a medieval original composed sometime in the late 1300s.
Longitude on the 1179 Oak Island Map; Plus: A Fringe History Site Accuses a Rival of Cyber-Harassment
Boy, did I hear it from everyone and his brother yesterday about my review of the season premiere of Curse of Oak Island. The majority of complaints revolved around the appearance of Zena Halpern on the program and her claims about having copies of medieval documents that connect the Knights Templar to Oak Island. Because I should not discuss was said to me privately, I would like to focus on the public issues that emerge from the claims she made on Curse of Oak Islan
As most of you know, Curse of Oak Island returned for its fourth season on Tuesday, and I still can’t bring myself to care about digging holes and brokering an end to the long-simmering feuds between old geezers who fight over who knows best about which hole to dig and how deep and for what reason. But despite my misgivings about what is, at heart, a program about old men hanging out and bonding over a futile but expensive task—the fringe history version of having a golf foursome—the premiere episode struggled a bit to keep things fresh after so many years of looking in vain for some undefined treasure. To find an exciting new angle, they returned to an old one, and recapitulated the first season finale of America Unearthed, which visited the same New Ross location in search of the same artifact, the Ark of the Covenant.
Last night Graham Hancock and fringe geologist Randall Carlson sat down with Joe Rogan for a three-and-a-half-hour podcast. It wasn’t terribly different from the pair’s first appearance on the podcast just about exactly one year ago. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was a rerun. Most of the interview recapitulates material from Magicians of the Gods, usually point for point and often in the same words as the book. Since I have already covered this material in my review of his book, I won’t bother to repeat all of my criticisms of Hancock’s claims about the monumental Neolithic site of Göbekli Tepe, the Roman temple site of Baalbek, and the rest of his usual stock of claims. My previous discussion of last year’s Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Hancock and Carlson offers still more evaluation. Therefore, I will focus my discussion here on material that is different. Sadly, the new material is mostly a sustained attack on skeptics.
The incoming Trump Administration continues to prove my point that fringe history can’t be separated from the politics of race and culture. Trump appointed white nationalist Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart, as his senior strategist. Trump’s aids have floated the name of an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist as deputy national security advisor, and Trump himself plans to appear on Nephilim-believing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s show to thank him his support, after Jones announced that Trump had called him to offer his personal thanks for helping him win the White House. Regular readers will remember that Jones had claimed that Trump’s opponent was a literal demon from hell, selected by Satan and the demonic Nephilim to promote evil. Jones did so with the help of Steve Quayle, a Nephilim theorist who agrees with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on most gay rights issues but thinks he doesn’t go far enough because Quayle believes gays are actually demon-spawn Nephilim whom God commands the righteous to exterminate.
On Saturday and Sunday, Andrew Collins and Hugh Newman put on the Origins 2016: The Origins of Civilization Conference at the Rudolf Steiner House in London. The even brought together a veritable Legion of Doom of B-list fringe historians, including Collins and Newman, along with Robert Bauval, William Henry, Graham Phillips, Greg Little, and more. The event didn’t receive a lot of promotion, and to judge by a search of social media, it didn’t generate much of an urge for attendees to post or tweet about the “news and revelations” promised for the conference. The Rudolf Steiner House in London did not list the event on its own event calendar for this weekend, and Newman’s Facebook links to discussion of the event were inaccessible by the time the conference closed last night. I found only a couple of tweets from attendees.
The other day I wrote a bit about how the coalition of people who elected Donald Trump seemed to reflect the demographics of the audience for fringe history. I’d like to pick up on that a little bit, both because it interests me and also because comparatively few people read my Sunday blog posts relative to the other days of the week. I’m not feeling terribly inspired today to research something new. But I saw that the History Channel aired a special two days before the election on Nostradamus’ 2016 election prophecies, and I figured it would be worthwhile to look into why they would do such a thing.
I’ve been on a bit of an Ark of the Covenant kick the last couple of days, and I became interested in where people got the idea that the Ark is hidden here in North America. The modern version of the story seems to be a pretty clear-cut version of kitchen-sinking, where fringe writers have simply tossed every possible ancient mystery into the bottomless maw of bad ideas in the hope of glorifying America and reinforcing at least part of what used to be called WASP culture.
Media reports yesterday indicated that the incoming Trump Administration is considering Dr. Ben Carson for the role of Secretary of Education, presumably as part of Donald Trump’s stated aim of eliminating the Department of Education. During the presidential primary season Carson became the subject of ridicule of alleging that the pyramids of Egypt were silos built by the Biblical patriarch Joseph to hold Pharaoh’s grain. Recalling this idiocy, last night Stephen Colbert joked that we’ll soon be seeing the Trump government distribute new history textbooks, Shit I Made Up about Egypt by Dr. Ben Carson. The accompanying graphic was hilarious—and be sure to note the UFO and alien accompanying Jesus.
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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