Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a catastrophist who believed, like Immanuel Velikovsky, that ancient history was defined by a collision of earth with a comet? No? In 1787, at the opening of Franklin College in Lancaster, PA, Franklin reportedly told the following to a French writer as he attempted to explain what became of the mysterious race of lost white people who built the grand earthworks of North America:
For more than a century following the publication of this passage in 1801, historians cited it as fact, including in James Parton's famous Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (1864). The only trouble is, Franklin never said it.
The French author, Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur, was a serial plagiarist who invented not just Franklin's speech, cobbled together from other authors' work, but Franklin's entire trip to Lancaster. He was actually at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. This incident became yet another in the parade of pseudohistory and false fact masquerading as truth. Sadly, most scholars simply accepted the story as true, and many took elaborate steps to justify their belief when difficulties--like Franklin's presence in Philadelphia and absence from Lancaster--made belief difficult.
It took until 1947 for someone (in this case Perry G. Adams) to do the research needed to conclusively debunk the lie and the mountains of post hoc justifications used to prop it up. How did he do it? He read the sources Crèvecoeur plagiarized and showed how they were stolen, word-for-word and altered to fabricate Franklin's speech. The clincher? The source, a letter by a Jonathan Heart, wasn't written until 1791 or published until 1797. Franklin couldn't have copied what didn't exist prior to his death, nor could Heart have copied Franklin since the "speech," supposedly a private conversation, was only published in 1801. The only solution: Crèvecoeur faked the whole thing. While Heart's letter and Franklin's speech about American history were virtually identical, there was one difference: the passage about the comet. That, apparently, was Crèvecoeur's own unique take on ancient history.
7/6/2014 02:39:52 pm
This is pure gold, makes every moment I've spent reading this website and blog completely worthwhile, thank you so much for your time and efforts. The rest is entertaining and educational, but this brilliant, thank you again.
7/6/2014 02:46:34 pm
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
9/7/2014 05:32:30 am
That's the point, EP. The more cock-sure, boisterous, dismissive and angry fringe believers (and those feigning skeptical caution) are, the more I'm sure they don't have a pot to piss in. EP09/06/2014 11:30pm Not sure if our "lil ole moi" counts as a believer, as opposed to someone who just throws together semi-random heaps of words... J.A Dickey09/06/2014 11:45pm With my luck, some of my ancestors may have built STONEHENGE. it is badly looted. pillaged. Desecrated. The outer ring of smaller bluish stones from Wales is 500 years older than the inner ring of bigger stones we often marvel at. The last Ice Age had London under a half mile sheet. Bosnia was not as ill-fated. When the glaciers went through my native New England, the layer of top soil was lifted off and taken away. Any New Yorker can go into Central Park and see what the glacial sheets did. For once Bosnia is luckier than my ancestors who lived on both sides of the Atlantic. There were less disruptions and a longer continual phase of human occupation. The climate of today is not the same as that of 50,000 B.C but the human animal has not really had too many changes in brain capacity after 500,000 years ago or modifications of our bodies below the chin after 1.5 million years ago. Our taste buds may have been consistent for 2 million years, and we may have lost areas in our brain for smell as our eyes became better. Homo Erectus was quite able to build crude stone walls, and thrust seeds 4 inches down into soft sod if they wanted to. The question is, did they? I am of the opinion Bosnia has to have ancestral valleys that could reveal where the direct ancestors of the earlier Neanderthals lived. I'm thinking Homo Heidelbergensis is a cousin. I think we have yet to find the ancestors of the Neanderthals and the Neandertals who directly evolved up from Homo Erectus. I was agreeing that all of modern humanity has a small village of ancestors who lived about 70,000 years ago as mutual ancestors. I think if one digs past the 35,000 to 75,000 year old layers, you are closer to a much older, simpler social animal. There has been talk of migrations back to Africa, and we have people in boats on Crete at about 130,000 years ago. The proverbial devil is in the details, if one looks for one obvious fossil, you may miss a much older one. I wish him the best of luck. This is better than thinking that acid rain could erode a mile high limestone pyramid into a heap of sand over a million years. I admit any hyperbole goes into science fiction. The shape of the hills and valleys in the complex hints at extreme age. EP09/06/2014 11:49pm "Bosnia was not as ill-fated." Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! J.A Dickey09/07/2014 12:15am EP --- We almost nuked each other into oblivion in October of 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That would have included Marshall Tito's Yugoslavia and Francisco Franco's Spain. On August 6th of 1945 and then August 9th of 1945 we dropped two nuclear weapons in a genocidal manner to shorten a World War by months or even weeks or days, Lets not be hypocrites, cheap oil from Saudi Arabia fueled the boom the 1960s experienced. We are the big Superpower... Only Me09/07/2014 12:38am Dickey, everything above "This is better..." is off-topic waste. Now, explain HOW you came up with the "pyramid" being a mile in height. No one said anything about acid rain and you're the one saying limestone would turn to sand in a temperate environment with annual rainfall. Naturally, the hills and mountains are of extreme age...because they were formed through tectonic activity millennia ago. I've never been one to turn down a free show, though. Please keep pretending you're Rumplestiltskin and you can spin the straws you're grasping at into gold. J.A Dickey09/07/2014 12:59am Okay! but i need glacial sheets to explain Doggerland verses the stability Bosnia experienced until recently. I am thinking we are getting closer to understanding our brains providing we don't have waves of micro-strokes as we reach 90 years of age. Not everyone has Alzheimer's protein bundles. Our brains seem very unused. Homo Erectus in cubic centimeters in full capacity is just under the smallest of our modern brains, but our bigger brained moderns are just a few cubic centimeters short of the last few Neandertals at the end of their evolution. I'm trying to tell our Bosnian friends that the early Neanderthals may have been all over the more southern area of Europe for a half million years but the northern area of that continent gets rather chilly from time to time. British understatement. I still think Homo Erectus could plant seeds & had digging sticks. If students are told to bone hunt for Erectus or even a ENH or a Neanderthal around or in the earthen pyramid very carefully, rather than something like the spaceship from LOST IN SPACE circa 1965 that we sent to Alpha Centarii, then maybe I can live with myself. They make luck into a big discovery normally a bulldozer would hav
9/7/2014 05:47:24 am
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