Dr. Greg Little has released yet another article attacking me for his own version of what he thinks I said. Little, who has attempted to debunk my analysis of the development of the ancient astronaut theory as well as the alleged Smithsonian conspiracy to suppress the existence of giants, has now attacked me for concluding that the 1909 Arizona Gazette article asserting the existence of a Tibetan-Egyptian civilization beneath the Grand Canyon is not true. Little claims that in his newest article he will refute me by (a) demonstrating that the article is based on facts and (b) showing that I am wrong about David Childress’s role in developing the idea that the Smithsonian was involved in a conspiracy.
I will leave aside Little’s repeated and barbed attacks against me to focus on the facts.
The April 1909 Arizona Gazette article made a number of assertions. The major assertions are as follows:
Little believes that the story is true for a number of reasons, which I will annotate with reasons why he is wrong:
So, Little concludes that we are to see the Arizona Gazette article as accurate even though it is wrong about the date of the discovery, the location of the discovery, the size of the cave system, the people buried in it, the names of the people who discovered it, and sundry other details. All that is accurate, in this reading, are two surnames and the fact that it took place in Arizona. Is this enough to reclaim the article as fact?
But all of this is a fig leaf covering Little’s real purpose: exorcising his upset that I implicated his friend David Childress, whom he met in the early 2000s, as the key figure in developing the idea of a Smithsonian conspiracy. In my December 31, 2013 article, I wrote that the story of the Smithsonian conspiracy took off after Childress wrote an article about it in the early 1990s, and that I could not find evidence that such a conspiracy was widely believed before then.
Little excuses Childress from culpability by claiming that Childress was merely a copyist of fringe writer Ivan T. Sanderson, one his acknowledged sources, who accused the Smithsonian of “skullduggery” on several occasions in the 1960s and 1970s, most explicitly in one sentence in Pursuit magazine in 1972: “There has been a constant stream of accusations that the Smithsonian ‘buries’ things it doesn’t like…” However, he did not accuse the Smithsonian of being unique in this regard but, as Little himself admits, embedded this in a larger indictment of academia and indeed all museums, as Sanderson wrote in 1967: “One and all have just ‘evaporated’ like this, but, I must admit, very often within the portals of some museum which had acknowledged receipt of the relic.” Little further conflates the specific claim that the Smithsonian is suppressing anomalous artifacts with wider criticism, including some from academics, that the museum’s bureaucracy and reliance on arguments from authority in the twentieth century hindered research.
There is no evidence I can find that Sanderson’s occasional sentences asserting that the Smithsonian purposely lost giant skeletons and Yeti tracks had any effect on the wider fringe world, which did not pick up the Smithsonian conspiracy theme until Childress expanded on Sanderson—whom he cites by name—in his own work. As I noted in my article, Childress gathered together many claims of Smithsonian fraud that were floating around before 1993; obviously I am not hiding the fact that they existed!
So, I guess the bottom line is that Little would like us to exonerate Childress by freeing him from the accusation of having had an original thought. If that’s the case, I’m happy to acknowledge that Childress was simply a copyist, but I don’t think it’s that simple. He took some earlier but obscure claims from fringe writers (Frederick J. Pohl and John H. Tierney included) and wove them into a conspiracy that had heretofore been a few random hints on the fringe of the fringe. As he has done many times, Little confuses the popularization of an idea with its first proposal.
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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