In the current Skeptical Inquirer (Sept./Oct. 2013), Paul R. Brewer had an interesting article reporting research on the way one-sided media presentations of ESP can influence audiences to believe in ESP and view ESP researchers as credible and scientific. Brewer asked 446 undergraduates to read stories about ESP that were (a) one-sided in favor of ESP, (b) reporting scientific objections to ESP, (c) humorous but including criticism of ESP, or (d) on an unrelated topic. Those who read the one-sided, biased story were more likely to believe in ESP and consider ESP researchers scientific than those who read any other story. Conversely, those who read the scientific objections were less likely to believe in ESP or its researchers’ scientific credibility. Brewer, however, does not appear to have included a group which read balanced coverage more typical of how news reports usually cover stories.
Similar research on other paranormal topics has yielded similar conclusions, and I have no doubt that the same applies to alternative history presentations in the media.
This must be one reason that whenever America Unearthed airs anywhere on the face of the earth, my blog lights up with comments from angry believers who have just become convinced that the Jesus Bloodline is secretly running America from behind the veil of Freemasonry. Using IP address information, I can actually see in real time when specific episodes of the show air on various channels in Canada, Australia, and the United States based on who is commenting when. Frankly, it’s kind of weird, and I am baffled by why this program above all others attracts such a vehement audience.
Just yesterday I received a lovely comment accusing me of being jealous of Scott Wolter, of secretly wanting to be Scott Wolter (perish the thought!), and of being an ego-maniac. Specifically, the writer objected to my website using my own name as its URL because it is apparently “ego-centric.” I can’t really win on that one. My previous website, Lost Civilizations Uncovered, took the opposite approach, and I received complaints that I was trying to fool people into thinking that it was more than just me writing it because it didn’t have my name plastered across it at first.
I also received complaints over the past 24 hours that I am (as usual) too blinded by the status quo. One person complained that the only researchers investigating the use of copper around Lake Superior were “the collegiate doctorate chasing bandwagon.” Perhaps he would prefer unqualified investigators? He worried though that the academics were too intent on attributing North American events to Native Americans, rejecting the Old Copper culture as a Native development: “They sure as hell where not native nomadic Native North Americans who suddenly acquired all these skills out of thin air.”
But my website isn’t the only place where those inspired by America Unearthed turn to expatiate upon what they think they’ve learned from the show. Consider this message board posting written yesterday on Lunatic Outpost in response to a viewing of the episode on the Templars in America:
I just began watching this show. […] Most of you know the story so I would like to skip to symbolism, specifically a symbol which supposedly is the symbol of the union between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. [It’s] an X with a small mark within it called, "The Hooked X." […] So the Host goes on about this symbol as being the "grail." The bloodline of the lineage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I got to thinking then, the bloodline being the "grail." This bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene may be the ruling elite. The ruling elite where? Here in America or there back in Europe, specifically in England, the Royals? But the "Royals" are aligned to the Church, the enemy of the Knights Templar, correct? So is this lineage ruling America right now or in the past[?] Are they the Banksters, the money lenders? Are they the Illuminati who took over the Masonic Lodges, the Priory of Scion[?] Just today, after getting my morning coffee (I'm writing from California), there was a vehicle in front of me, a Scion, with that hooked cross on it, symbolizing the lineage. What do you think?
I think it makes my head hurt. Freemasons, Illuminati, bankers, Priory of Sion (not Scion), Knight Templar, the Church, European royalty… At the granular level such conspiracies are entirely incoherent: Henry VIII broke from the Roman Church yet somehow this was all for show and the British royals are working with the Catholics? And, via the “money lenders” and Illuminati, the Jews? The Church opposed the Masons as anti-Catholic, yet somehow this was just a front and they are in league? The Priory of Sion was invented in 1956, and yet it’s part of an ancient mystery?
Scott Wolter looked at the ExxonMobil logo and saw in it Templar symbolism, and this forum participant looked at the Toyota Scion and saw a Templar conspiracy, which apparently stretches all the way to Japan! The logo for the Scion features an oval with a crossbar bearing the Scion name and two curved vertical elements, very roughly approximating the variant-A rune from the Kensington Rune Stone that Wolter has trademarked as “The Hooked X®,” but only if you look at it sideways, assume the curved elements are “hooks,” and ignore the fact that there are two of them. Once you start going down the path of “looks like, therefore is,” there is no limit to where conspiracies can be found.
Now all you need to do is to fill up your Toyota Scion with ExxonMobil gasoline and drive it out to Minnesota to visit the Kensington “land claim” Rune Stone. But I’m not sure I understand whether we are supposed to be cheering the Freemasons because of Jesus or if we’re supposed to be cowering in fear because they want to exert hidden control over history and subvert democracy in the name of the Holy Bloodline.
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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