Fringe History Roundup: Jason Martell's Newest Company, "America Unearthed" in Utah, and More!
Today I have a few odds and ends about fringe history to share.
Due to a change in insurance coverage, I needed to find a new in-network primary care physician, which is obviously not something you’re much interested in. However, there was only one in-network physician taking new patients in my area, so yesterday I found myself in a new office. It was an experience. The waiting room was very small, and the doctor was running nearly two hours behind schedule. As a result, the place was fairly crowded, and not everyone was entertained by the small flat screen showing Judge Judy.
One of the women in the office found Judge Judy particularly upsetting, and she began to relate the case of the day to apocalyptic claims from the Bible, specifically Mark 13:12: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” The woman was very adamant that the End Times were upon us and that the signs were all around us.
That was par for the course, but what followed was disconcerting. The other people in the office began agreeing with her, and they and the office manager engaged in an animated discussion about how “the signs are all around us” and the world is obviously coming to an end because it has never been more troubled than it is today.
Leaving aside the fact that the world is far less troubled than it was in, say, the 1930s and 1940s, I have never been less comfortable than in the middle of discussion of how happy everyone was that the End Times were upon us. I live in a fairly liberal, secular city in the Northeast, and I’ve never experienced anything like it. From an anthropological perspective, I’m not sure that they entirely believed in the imminent termination of all life, and I think that they were using the apocalyptic tradition as a way to express disapproval of social conditions in a framework that applied the authority of God, but it was nonetheless shocking and uncomfortable to experience the apocalyptic beliefs I usually encounter mediated through the media “in the wild.”
New Age Entrepreneur’s New Ancient Astronaut Business
On May 6, the Nature of Reality radio program interviewed Jason Martell and what the host described as “his colleague Amish Shah” about the ancient city of Dwarka, famous for having been destroyed by a powerful weapon in the Mahabharata at 8.34:
The triple city then appeared immediately before that god of unbearable energy [Maheswara, or Siva], that Deity of fierce and indescribable form, that warrior who was desirous of slaying the Asuras. The illustrious deity, that Lord of the universe, then drawing that celestial bow, sped that shaft which represented the might of the whole universe, at the triple city. Upon that foremost of shafts, O thou of great good fortune, being shot, loud wails of woe were heard from those cities as they began to fall down towards the Earth. Burning those Asuras, he threw them down into the Western ocean. (trans. Ganguli)
This passage, despite quite obviously referring to a mythological super-arrow, has been interpreted as a nuclear bomb since a Soviet writer first proposed it as part of a communist anti-religion propaganda effort in the 1950s. Martell believes that Dwarka is located off the west coast of India and that his research partner has visited it. There is currently a city of that name, and there are ruins off the coast, though they are well known and mostly date to medieval times.
This isn’t really important, but what is important is what Martell is now up to. You’ll recall that he just recently launched Ancient School, a for-profit venture in which he charges fees for access to brief online videos of Martell and others talking about ancient astronauts. Now he has a new business called Ancient Explorers, which he launched in partnership with Amish Shah. Ancient Explorers is apparently intended to produce for-profit documentaries on fringe history themes.
More interesting is Amish Shah, who like Martell describes himself as an internet entrepreneur. Both men own and operate several online companies, and both have become millionaires as a result. Both have also used their millions to promote fringe history.
Apparently this is the same Amish P. Shah who became famous in 2011 when Microsoft sued him for cybersquatting. According to Microsoft Corporation v. Amish P. Shah, Jose A. Rivera, Digispace Solutions LLC, YMultimedia LLC, and DOES 1-50, Shah led a group of people to register domains containing Microsoft trademarks with slight misspellings in order to attract traffic meant for Microsoft’s own sites. Shah settled the case out of court after a judge ruled that it could go forward.
However, Shah also calls himself a “metaphysical explorer” who says he can create “reality-bending superheroes” by teaching entrepreneurs “ancient wisdom and space-age tools for activating your dormant creation powers.” Remember that: He claims he can teach you to alter the laws of physics for cash.
Montezuma’s Treasure in Utah
In 1914, a man named Freddy Crystal claimed that he had a map showing that the Aztecs buried the treasure of Montezuma in southern Utah after the Spanish Conquest in 1519. Although nothing has ever been found, the rumors of the treasure persist—along with rumors of a government conspiracy because the land where the gold is supposedly buried is also home to the amber snail, a species so endangered that the federal government imposes a $50,000 fine for killing one. The current owner of the land is upset that he is not allowed to drain Three Lakes pond in order to search it for gold because of these snails.
Earlier this year, filmmakers for Christian producers Jubal Productions trekked out to Three Lakes pond to document the history of the search for Montezuma’s treasure in Utah. They planned to use a submarine to look for the gold. One of the producers believes that there might be a supernatural explanation for alleged phenomena seen at the lake. His belief seems to be a reflex of a very old colonial American bit of folklore that attributed ghostly doings to Native Americans burial sites. The producer says that he read “several” books of Montezuma in order to determine the likelihood that the Aztecs high-tailed it to Utah.
More typically, claims for Montezuma’s treasure have been localized in Arizona, often at the Casa Grande site.
This isn’t terribly interesting on its own, but young adult science fiction writer and self-help guru Lois D. Brown revealed that she and Scott Wolter trekked through the same areas of southern Utah on April 30 in search of Montezuma’s treasure for an episode of America Unearthed to air next spring. This was about two months after KSL-TV reported on Jubal Productions’ efforts to do the same. It’s rather surprising to have two productions looking for the same treasure in the same unusual location within just weeks of one another.
5/8/2014 03:55:14 am
"The woman was very adamant that the End Times were upon us and that the signs were all around us"
5/8/2014 02:12:26 pm
...you do realize that ALL religions believe in miracles, right?
Not the Comte de Saint Garmain
5/8/2014 03:01:27 pm
"I'm not even remotely Christian and I still found this irritating."
5/8/2014 03:55:00 pm
Well that's what trolls do... post things that are intentionally irritating.
5/9/2014 06:41:52 am
Are you for real ?
5/9/2014 08:02:35 am
And beware of treating the New Testament material seriously. Witness the difference between the letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles when researching the history of Christianity.
5/9/2014 06:44:55 am
Christianity was obsolete from the get-go simply because Judea was obliterated and did not exist again until after World War Two.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
5/9/2014 07:26:17 am
No, God didn't liberate Judea, but even after the sack of Jerusalem in 70, a lot of Jews lived there. Judea didn't "cease to exist" as a Jewish-inhabited province of the empire until the quelling of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in the 130s. By that time, several varieties of Christianity—because they were a very diverse bunch, probably more so than today—were already evolving in a less Jewish direction. As Varika said, Christianity was reflective of the time and people of its birth. Believers and nonbelievers alike should try to understand those circumstances better. I don't have to believe Christianity is true to believe that your view of it is excessively simplistic.
5/9/2014 07:52:46 am
Perhaps it's a simple subject matter in the first place. When reason failed, attention turned to belief in miracles and the supernatural. Even Gnostics believed in the supernatural.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/8/2014 04:00:40 am
I know it's a southwest-Asian name, but every time I read "Amish Shah," I see Lebanon Levi seated upon the Peacock Throne. Of course, if he's also a metaphysical explorer, it's only a matter of time before he claims to be the Saoshyant (Zoroastrianism is such a neglected fringe topic!). I'd like to see him subsist on just spiritual food for a decade, that'd be a neat proof of his ability to bend physical reality to his will.
5/8/2014 04:04:37 am
I have lived in the South for most of my adult life, with a brief stint in Salt Lake City, so having apocalyptic discussions spontaneously break out is just par for the course. I usually end up having to laugh at what I hear. Right now is a relatively peaceful time in human history, especially in the US and many other countries. People need to study more history if they want to see how shitty things can really get and how badly humans are capable of treating each other. Christians have been seeing signs of the End Times since Jesus was crucified, so it is hard to take any such talk seriously (if one was inclined to do so).
5/8/2014 04:07:54 am
The first story is hilarious, and reminds me of something... Years ago I ended up somehow at a wedding with a blind date. The service was but an excuse for their minister to preach his favourite subject: Fire and brimstone - repent, repent for the end of days are upon us!
5/8/2014 04:19:30 am
Discussions like the one you overheard were routine at my first job. Talk of Apocalypse, creationism, that dinosaurs are a lie, demons are real, and the salvation of my soul were all topics we covered regularly. I worked at a bank and these people were my coworkers.
5/8/2014 04:27:45 am
Why worry about "America Unearthed"
5/8/2014 04:51:22 am
A symptom is the existence of Islam and Christianity within the present city of Jerusalem. This is a reminder of the Achilles heel of the Human Race
5/8/2014 05:33:12 am
Jason, as much as I love your research and commitment to finding what the truth may be in some situations, on occasion you seem to unintentionally express some amusing vulnerabilities. These two lines jumped out at me:
5/8/2014 06:34:53 am
Yes, Jason, those people in the waiting room are real people out living in the real world, two things you, and many here, seem to rarely encounter. Those are the people to whom elitists feel superior, and believe require protection because their beliefs are so "primitive".
5/8/2014 06:46:26 am
Religious fundamentalists believe they have evolved to the apex of creation - a place in heaven is awaiting them
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/8/2014 06:50:16 am
Because nothing displays the common touch like accusing someone else of being out of touch with the common man.
5/8/2014 06:54:27 am
Evolution does exist in Christianity - people who don't sin go to heaven and those who do evil perish in hell. There is the survival of the fittest within Christianity.
5/8/2014 07:44:27 am
Jason, not me, clearly states that he was completely out of his element. He and his most ardent supporters are, judging from their personal biases, upper or upper-middle class caucasians who continued their educations one way or another beyond high school.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/8/2014 07:56:12 am
And you're attempting to guess at what the population of that hospital wait room looks like. Based on the available evidence, you can say the population is at least partly female and at least one of them has read Revelations. Other than that, everything is extrapolation on your part as to what their makeup is, same as "judging from their personal biases" leads you to think the average commenter (not average reader) is an upper-middle-class white guy who's been to college.
5/8/2014 08:14:17 am
Yes, those are extrapolations. That doesn't mean they're incorrect. In my first comment, I never said anything about me being common, yet you read it that way. And in this comment, I never said anything about anybody commenting here being male, yet you read it that way. You're reading things I'm not writing.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/8/2014 08:18:08 am
So which part of "... real people out living in the real world, two things you, and many here, seem to rarely encounter..." is not meant to come across as preachy and anti-elitist, thereby pushing whoever the intended target is to defend themselves against charges of favoring the "elite?" Which part of telling what he "should have done" is, again, not meant to come across as preachy? Please explain to me what I've read in those that you didn't write.
5/8/2014 08:50:22 am
I guess there are "unreal" people also, perhaps David Icke knows about them.
5/8/2014 08:54:55 am
Well, the one thing in that that I didn't write was that you were one of the targets. I don't consider you an ardent Jason supporter. Out of Jason and everyone who comments, you're probably the person I agree with most often. I can't think of any examples of you showing a bias like I can with Jason and some others.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/8/2014 09:12:13 am
Never said I thought of myself as the target audience. Honestly, I read it and it just struck wrong. If you shared a first name with Alexander the Great's father, or the actors Martin, McQueen, and Buscemi, I'd probably have completely ignored it as beneath notice. Ironically, viewing you as a generally level-headed, reasonable guy led to me being a tad aggressive in my response. I can ignore idiots, I have a harder time controlling my tongue around people who I figure are worth listening to.
5/8/2014 09:54:12 am
Well, I still believe what I said and think it was worth listening to. Everyone can do his own research. Ask everybody you meet out running errands and see if the real world bears any resemblance to what Jason usually discusses. This blog is a different world and Jason's a bit out of touch. Fox News is the highest-rated cable news network, after all.
5/8/2014 10:29:40 am
Forgive me, Walt, but when did I ever express the obligation to present material in proportion to its popularity? Would you complain that a blog devoted to "Modern Family" is useless because it talks about a TV show that only about 3% of the U.S. population watches (based on last night's Nielsen ratings)? I have my area of interest, and whether it is popular or unpopular isn't the issue. That said, tens of millions of Americans express some support for fringe history topics, so it is not a moot point.
5/9/2014 06:25:16 am
Walt: "Ask everybody you meet out running errands and see if the real world bears any resemblance to what Jason usually discusses."
5/8/2014 11:34:09 am
"Yes, Jason, those people in the waiting room are real people out living in the real world, two things you, and many here, seem to rarely encounter. Those are the people to whom elitists feel superior, and believe require protection because their beliefs are so "primitive"."
5/8/2014 02:37:53 pm
Wow, way to be a judgmental dick. Sorry, but Grunt is right. Your first post in this thread just can't be read in a way that isn't offensive. Particularly the way you drag random people into it with the snipe "and many here," as if nobody who reads this blog lives "in the real world" or they wouldn't agree with Jason.
5/8/2014 06:38:54 am
This is a perfect example of "mob mentality" - how people think/act differently in a group than they would as individuals. I'm reasonably sure that each of the participants was perfectly happy when they arrived at the Dr.'s office. But when incited by the religious woman each one recited his/her individual concern. As they listened to one another they thought "well yes, that makes sense - oh, I never thought about that - I can see why he feels that way - yes, that's true", etc. and the cumulative effect created the illusion that this confluence of bad stuff is somehow unique to the present time and that if fulfills some prophesy.
Ghost of Stanley Unwin
5/8/2014 06:45:12 am
meme - that's a big word
5/8/2014 07:06:41 am
People waiting to see a doctor do not comprise a normal sample of the population, Jason. Many of them would have had serious worries about their health -- why else would they have been there? They externalized these worries with their talk of 'end times'. Some may have felt they were facing their very own 'end time' -- a cough that could be something malign, perhaps, or a swelling where there shouldn't have been a swelling -- and were scared, and perhaps subconsciously found solace in an expressed overall fear. It would have been far more disconcerting to have overheard such conversations and beliefs at a restaurant or a ball-game. And if after seeing the doctor and being assured that the cough was nothing serious, and the swelling merely a muscle strain, would these patients have felt the same way about the 'end times'? I doubt it somehow.
5/8/2014 02:43:27 pm
I actually think Jason was probably dead on with his belief that people were expressing disgust with the current state of society within a framework that is comfortable to them--I've heard that same type of conversation dozens of times in dozens of places (including restaurants!) People generally aren't talking about "end times" and thinking about their own mortality. They're generally talking about how all those other people who do things they don't like are going to get what's coming to them. It sounds nasty to phrase it that way, but it's no different than talking about karma and "what goes around, comes around." The real point is to chew over one or two specific points (twin towers/Muslims/that murder on the news/missing girls in Nigeria/kids these days/manners) and get out some righteous indignation.
5/9/2014 06:42:23 am
I imagine that many fringe beliefs and conspiracy theories attract followers simply because they provide that common framework from which an otherwise disparate group of people can commiserate. This is not to say that mainstream religion is a fringe belief, but I would argue that an apocalyptic fixation is.
5/9/2014 12:50:48 am
People at the Doctors during the day in no way represent the average American. Most of us are at work!
5/9/2014 06:30:09 am
Psssh. In my area, doctors don't HAVE hours that are after the "usual business hours," so that's an untrue statement, since the only way to GO to a doctor is to take a day or half-day off of work to get there! ;-P
5/8/2014 09:46:50 am
Read the story and laughed at your reaction. What was more disturbing, the discussion of the End Times or the fact it spread, like Uncle Ron pointed out, as a result of mob mentality?
5/8/2014 10:34:43 am
It was very unusual to have a conversation like that break out in a waiting room setting, especially when they apparently agreed that Judge Judy was a sign of the apocalypse! I've run into people who've ranted about all manner of crazy ideas, but I rarely see a whole group egging each other on in apocalyptic thinking. The closest I've seen is when the 9/11 Truthers used to hold street-corner rallies around town to convince people that the government brought down the Twin Towers. When I used to live in an apartment building, they opened a 9/11 Truth command post down the block from me, and it was quite the experience seeing the coalition of anti-government extremists, neo-hippies, and other assorted fringe types gathering there and ranting about 9/11, conspiracies, and eventually UFOs.
5/9/2014 06:48:25 am
"...they apparently agreed that Judge Judy was a sign of the apocalypse!"
5/8/2014 11:11:06 am
Jason Martell and Amish Shah were on Coast to Coast AM a few days ago pushing their new scam. Martell indicated they would use crowd sourcing to fund whatever fackeumentaries "the people" wanted. He also indicated that "the people" would be able to participate in the investigations, obviously for $$$!
Rev. Phil Gotsch
5/8/2014 02:28:00 pm
About 65 my ago, probably most dinosaurs would have been *skeptical* at the suggestion, "The World Ends TOMORROW" ...
5/8/2014 02:37:46 pm
But they also didn't have the benefit of being told "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
5/8/2014 02:46:08 pm
And...it didn't. The world is still HERE, after all, and obviously at least SOME dinosaurs survived, or we wouldn't have birds today.
Rev. Phil Gotsch
5/8/2014 04:34:09 pm
Being genuinely prepared for the universal experiences of death and (eventually) extinction is not a universally popular task, but it IS a deeply Human thing ...
5/9/2014 06:45:54 am
Then very few people are actually human, REVEREND, since I don't know very many people who are prepared for death. I know a crapton of people who are scared to death of it, but prepared? Not in the least.
5/9/2014 06:47:01 am
Reverend, when you die your flesh will rot and your personality ("soul") will dissolve into nothingness.
Birds from Dinosaurs
5/9/2014 06:53:05 am
5/9/2014 06:56:19 am
OK, KIF, now your about to cross the line. What you've said is an opinion and nothing more. With all our science and technology, we can't even prove the existence of a soul in a way that satisfies science. It would follow, that unless you've actually died and somehow were resuscitated, you personally don't know what happens to us after death.
Skeptical Johnny Jones
5/9/2014 06:57:23 am
The Voyager satellite demonstrated that the astronomers' theories were all wrong and they had to re-write all their books.
5/9/2014 06:59:01 am
The psychological and biological are cognate. Scientific fact. Anything else is comfort-zone material.
5/9/2014 08:04:36 am
There is no scientific fact for a soul. There is no scientific fact for "dissolving into nothingness". Therefore, your *opinions* are comfort-zone material.
5/9/2014 08:26:46 am
Of course there's no scientific fact for a soul. Science does not recognise non-existent things.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/9/2014 08:31:36 am
You mean like single-celled organisms? Atoms? Neutrinos? Black holes? Evolution? The germ theory of disease? The idea that your make-up is driven by protein strings? The graveyard of science is full of people saying things didn't exist.
5/9/2014 08:39:09 am
Science also does not deal with things that are unfalsifiable.
5/9/2014 12:38:24 pm
Okay, we've got believers in mystification here. Enough said.
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/9/2014 02:21:44 pm
No, we have someone who is convinced that science can prove what isn't, not what is. You can't prove a negative; by definition, therefore, if you follow the scientific method, you cannot conclusively prove that something does not exist or is impossible. You can merely prove that based on the evidence you have available it is highly improbable.
5/10/2014 03:34:58 am
In religion there is no proof, or rather, to put it another way, the desired proof lies in wishful thinking, called faith
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/10/2014 05:23:16 am
Which, given the impossibility of proving a negative, is different from your flat declaration "there is no scientific fact for a soul" how? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
5/10/2014 06:17:44 am
The belief in a soul is just that, a belief and not a fact
An Over-Educated Grunt
5/10/2014 07:55:01 am
And your positing the absolute certainty of a thing not existing is belief, not fact. You cannot absolutely prove a negative, all you can do is say that the evidence available does not support that conclusion.
5/10/2014 04:08:05 am
Everyone who, for the past 2000 years, has been skeptical that "The World Ends TOMORROW" has been proven right. There is no reason to believe that those who are skeptical today will be proven wrong, either.
5/9/2014 12:11:58 pm
"It’s rather surprising to have two productions looking for the same treasure in the same unusual location within just weeks of one another."
5/10/2014 04:10:20 am
Montezuma's treasure?! Why isn't Phil complaining about Jason linking Scott Wolter to human sacrifice?
Rev. Phil Gotsch
5/10/2014 05:19:14 am
Oh, the Aztecs went far BEYOND "human sacrifice" … There is evidence that they resorted to frank cannibalism, not only for ritual purposes, but as a part of their diet … !!!
5/10/2014 05:47:33 am
Over dinner, did Scott Wolter say anything about what makes ideas of prominent Neo-Nazis so appealing to him?
5/10/2014 06:19:11 am
Scott Wolter does not want to start the Fourth Reich
5/10/2014 06:22:34 am
Calling Scott Wolter and Erich Von Daniken "Nazis" is giving scepticism a bad name
5/10/2014 06:30:16 am
Someone needs to publish a book showing a list of people who believed in Atlantis and the Master Race and were not Nazis, and those who were Nazis, and that person might be me,
5/10/2014 06:43:02 am
I think it has been established that Scott Wolter is NOT a Nazi vegan.
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