Scott Wolter Appears on Jimmy Church Radio, Attacks Critics, Says Claims Should Be Believed Until Proven False
Scott Wolter appeared on Jimmy Church’s radio show last night for a nearly three-hour discussion that ranged from Wolter’s usual hobbyhorses (the Kensington Rune Stone, of course) to eccentric discussions about the forensic geologist’s taste in music and his Protestant belief that “organized faith” is preventing humans from having a direct relationship with God. The majority of the interview was devoted to Oak Island, a subject Wolter previously claimed was not of interest to him, but the first hour was spent discussing Wolter’s dislike of critics, whom he calls “trolls.” Wolter, who frequently accuses scholars of conspiracy and fraud, complained that academics refuse to engage in “civil discourse.” “I get mad at myself sometimes when I get caught up in it,” he said, “you know, carping back at them or saying something to get back at them.” In a moment of reflection, he said, “Am I doing the same thing that I am accusing them of doing? And sometimes I am.”
to “I just wish people would ask questions,” Wolter said. “Or say ‘I disagree, and this is why.’ That’s not what I get. It’s criticism for the sake of criticism and personal attacks.” He added that most critics are “trolls” while proper criticism involves respect, which will allow Wolter to respond. Wolter adds that because he found “evidence” that the Kensington Rune Stone is genuine, it is therefore impossible for there to be evidence that it is a hoax. “It can’t exist,” he said, reiterating his belief that critics simply “argue the opposite” of Wolter’s points.
Oh really? I think every can clearly see that Wolter has a very limited idea of what constitutes legitimate disagreement. He does not consider that someone might disagree with his methodology, his data collection, or the inferences he draws to connect data to conclusions. As the conversation continued, it became quite clear that Wolter misunderstands criticism as a modified type of Hegelian dialectic, where the outcome of a criticism is that the critic moves closer to the advocate’s original position and the advocate curtails the sharpest edges of the claim until the critic ends up most of the way toward the advocate. Or, in Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus’s terms: thesis plus antithesis equals synthesis. However, facts, being stubborn things, don’t allow for Hegelian dialectic to apply to simple questions of objective truth. To wit: Thesis: The sky is blue. Antithesis: The sky is red. Synthesis: The sky is purple. It doesn’t work.
Jimmy Church says that critics of Scott Wolter refuse to appear on his show and “hide behind their keyboard,” often claiming they are too busy to devote three overnight hours to speaking to Church.
This appears to be a reference, at least in part, to me. In January of last year and August of 2014, Church approached me to appear on his radio show. As I explained to him both times, I work during the day, and I start at 6 AM. I physically can’t be up doing a radio show from 10 PM to 1 AM ET and still manage to do the actual work I get paid to do. I do not get paid to appear on the radio, or to write this blog. Let’s just remember that Church has advertisers who sponsor his show and he pitches their products and services. He makes money off of his interviews, whereas I’d be asked to give up three hours unpaid, and for an audience that would not buy any of my books, even if I had a new one to promote. I’m happy to appear, but not when it is detrimental to my real life to do so. In 2015, Church said he would have his executive producer contact me to discuss alternative arrangements, but the executive producer never contacted me, according to my email files.
Wolter said that “the people you’re talking about” won’t come on his show, and Church adds that they are not capable of discussing issues on the radio.
The offer, however stands, Jimmy: I’ll appear on your show, but only if you can record it at a time when I am available. Three hours is a huge time commitment—almost half a work day!
Does anyone really enjoy listening to people complain about personal attacks and how the world is treating them terribly all the time? No, wait. I just answered my own question: It’s why talk radio exists.
Beyond this, Wolter discusses Zena Halpern’s map, which he admits is a crude modern drawing that is definitely not a medieval map. However, because Wolter has an unusual idea of evidence, whereby we are to accept claims as true until they disproved, he makes this astonishing statement about the map: “Unless we have a reason to doubt it, I would say this is probably pretty darn close if not right on to what the original was.” This is probably what he would consider unfair criticism, but it is illogical and improper to simply assume something is true and then collect evidence to “prove” it. I discussed this before when I created my own fake map that by Wolter’s own logic we must now accept is “pretty darn close” to genuine since there is no logic that will allow him to reject it.
[Clarification: Wolter did not issue a blanket statement saying all claims must be accepted until proven false; rather, he said that specifically about the Zena Halpern documents, and in his comments he implied that the same standard should be used to judge his own claims and those of researchers he agrees with. It is a variation of the trust me principle.]
Wolter said that there are “dozens and dozens of pages of documents that go with it – probably 50 or 100.” Wolter says that these documents—all alleged modern copies of older ones that Wolter suspectss the Catholic Church has suppressed—will change history, but that Wolter can’t share any of the information because Zena Halpern “has the rights to this material.” Wolter said that he signed a non-disclosure agreement in order to view Halpern’s modern documents. Wolter believes that the 50 pages make hoaxing impossible, but I guess Wolter doesn’t remember the Hitler diaries, a 60-volume hoax perpetuated in the 1980s. Length is no barrier. Wolter does, however, admit that there are “serious red flags in this research,” but he refused to say what they are.
After discussing Oak Island, the Templars, the Kensington Rune Stone, and Freemasonry (all connected, of course), Wolter begins to offer a discourse on God. He doesn’t recognize his own apparent Protestant bias (I don’t know what, if any, faith he actually practices), and he mouths some platitudes about how we all worship the same God and how all people should strive to form a personal relationship with God, but that organized religion (i.e. the Catholic Church) prevents this by adding layers of bureaucracy. Martin Luther made that argument 500 years ago, but it is a distinctly Protestant understanding of the relationship between the human and the divine. It’s not, for example, how the Greeks would have worshiped. A personal relationship with Hephaestus or Aphrodite would have been laughably silly. The ancient gods were transactional: Give sacrifice, get reward.
Wolter moves from this to a paean to the greatness of the United States and lamenting political division. He discusses how “forces” are preventing the public from embracing Freemasonry and its ability to heal these divisions, ensure freedom, and make America great again. He offers an angry diatribe against the Smithsonian (twice, actually), as he usually does in such interviews, and it is really only in those sections that he becomes most forceful and animated in his delivery.
As we come in to the final minutes of the show, Wolter accused “a small group of scholars” who “don’t like me because I get more attention for the Kensington Rune Stone than they do” of encouraging a non-practicing geologist to file ethics complaints against Wolter in three states for, among other things, practicing geology where he was not licensed to do so. Wolter said that he received and responded to the complaints and was cleared of ethics problems. Wolter said he he perceived this as harassment and wanted to counterpunch by asking a state board whether it was worth his time to pursue a complaint against the original filer’s license. Wolter, who twice emphasized that the complainer “didn’t have any money,” said he decided not to file an ethics complaint because there was no money to be lost should the board revoke the license of the other party, and thus no punishment. Wolter then said that “technically, yes,” he did practice geology in a state where he wasn’t licensed, but he said that this action “did not cross the line” requiring a license. Wolter suggested that this will not be the end of the story: “You know what they say about payback. I know this guy.”
Wolter lumped this action in with “trolls and the guys you and I both know we’re talking about.” I guess that’s me, but I had no involvement whatsoever with any ethics complaints made against Wolter, though I did receive an email announcing one state board’s decision. I didn’t consider the action to be worth discussing until Wolter brought it up in this interview.
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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