It’s a bit self-serving of me to plug the discussion that occurred yesterday and this morning on the AnandTech forum since it makes reference to my blog, but all the same, it’s a funny read in which a bunch of commenters gang up on America Unearthed for being self-important, speculative, and wrong and try to determine whether it’s worth hate-watching. I got a chuckle from one poster describing America Unearthed as “the bastard offspring of Ancient Aliens and Dan ‘My Face is My Ass’ Brown.”
It's basically Ancient Aliens, yeah, but it is presented (terribly so) as this Indiana Jones adventure that is based on *completely logical* speculation. Self-validating speculation. It's a bit scary that people might actually take this seriously.
On that note, I thought it might be worth sharing some reader mail today. People have the strangest ideas, and some days it feels like I get to hear all of them. Some are interesting, some are bizarre, and more than a few are not actually meant for me at all.
I am constantly amazed by just how many people believe that I am Scott Wolter. My website clearly lists my name, and they actually write emails to my email address, which is also my name, and yet mistake me for Scott Wolter.
About six weeks ago, a college student from Oklahoma wrote to me thinking that I was Scott Wolter and asked if Wolter could come out to authenticate a rock his grandfather had found buried in the dirt of Oklahoma. He proceeded to describe what sounds like a large number of Native American petroglyphs, similar to other rock art in the region, before asking whether their unusual shapes could have been “aliens” or “dinosaurs.” He wanted Scott to help his grandfather learn the truth before his grandfather dies, and he expressed his belief that an Old World civilization must have drawn the figures either in the early centuries BCE or “even before the Flood.”
Last week, a reader mistook me for Scott Wolter and wrote to praise Wolter’s investigation into the 1909 newspaper hoax claiming a pseudo-Egyptian civilization in the Grand Canyon. This reader claimed that he remembered reading the original Arizona Gazette story in the newspaper, a chronological impossibility probably born of confusion with later fringe articles about the subject, and told Wolter that he had books from the 1930s documenting Egyptian cities and artifacts located in California’s Death Valley that he would send him.
Not all emails offering weird claims mistake me for Scott Wolter, though some that come with no salutation make it difficult to determine whether I was the intended recipient. In the latter category I received an unsolicited message asking whether I would like proof that an ancient stone-carving culture once occupied part of New Zealand five million years ago.
One message, directed to me specifically, told me that I would become a believer in lost civilizations if only I would look into research related to a “lost” moon of the earth and a comet that exploded over Egypt 28 million years ago. This somehow proves that the Pyramids were built at that time, and the Mayan centers 65 million years ago! This one came with a URL for those interested in seeing what happens when speculation unfurls far beyond facts.
The important thing to take away from this is that there are a large number of people who believe a lot of things that the facts don’t support, or who interpret facts through lenses created or colored by previous exposure to fringe history. The chances are pretty good that it is the prior existence of earlier fringe theories, now easily accessible online as well as on TV, that leads to audience belief in the weird.
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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