Scott Wolter has a very unusual way of trying to make controversies go away. He chooses to devote one of his rare blog posts to complaining about my January 2013 blog post questioning whether Wolter had received an honorary master’s degree. Apparently this issue has either stuck in his craw or has created problems for Wolter since he has chosen to deliver yet another statement about the issue, this time in a forum which he controls. He threatens me with potential legal action and asserts that I am creating a false myth about his honesty.
Wolter refuses to discuss me by name, which is apparently fringe history’s version of declaring me Him Who Must Not Be Named. According to Wolter, my honest question of whether the credentials given for Wolter in his various pre-America Unearthed media appearances were correct is in fact a piece of devious propaganda designed to humiliate him: “The blog was cleverly written so as to not outright assert I was misrepresenting my qualifications, but it certainly did give readers the impression I was somehow claiming to be somebody I wasn’t.” He accuses me of creating a “myth” about him through selective editing and nefariously removing his response to me to purge the record.
Wolter falsely accuses me of deleting his response to my blog post. This is false. It is still there, just as it has been since January 2013, labeled under 01/22/2013 6:49pm. Wolter lied, and I expect his apology for coming very close to libeling me through his reckless disregard of the truth that a simple scroll through the comments would have demonstrated. I wouldn’t mention his reckless disregard of the truth except for his other attack on me.
Wolter threatens me with further legal action, failing to disclose to his readers that A+E Networks threatened legal action against me on his behalf in 2013. “While the debunker’s post falls just short of the bar necessary to initiate legal action, future events could change the current situation.” Does he really want to go down this road again? The last time he tried this, it ended with A+E Networks forcing his publisher to add a disclaimer to his Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers specifying that his own network does not endorse Wolter’s views.
I bet you’d like to know why Wolter is upset about this now. Fortunately, he tells us. Due to his own and H2’s poor choices in creating a web presence for Wolter, “Unfortunately, this misleading post has made its way to the top position on Google when people search for my name looking for information about me.” That’s because Wolter doesn’t have a single personal web presence (he has sites for the Hooked X and his blog), doesn’t use basic search engine optimization, and doesn’t have rich content that makes Google think of his web presence as credible and relevant. I’ve offered fringe theorists this same advice for years now: I shouldn’t be the top match for them, but they choose not to engage with their audiences with a rich web presence. I’m not doing anything to make myself the top match for their names. It’s entirely due to their own failures.
Wolter concludes that I am irresponsible, uninterested in truth, and trying to hurt him:
In the future I’m sure we will all look back and recall these “Wild West” days of the Internet. I was prepared for the personal attacks and attempts to marginalize and dismiss my work on the controversial subject matter we investigate on the show and in real life. People like this aren’t really interested in the truth; they are interested in turning the attention onto themselves so they can espouse their own personal “beliefs.”
Just to refresh our memories, here is how Wolter described himself in 2008 in an official biography provided to the American Institute of Professional Geologists, since removed from the internet. In the screen shot, his education is highlighted for easier reading:
Now here is where I am in a tough position. I have a lot of damaging information about Scott Wolter that I do not share with my readers because it isn’t appropriate or relevant. I am extremely careful about what I release to the public because it is important to me that I follow the highest standards of journalism, historiography, and criticism.
But now Wolter is not just attacking my claims but threatening me with future legal action to try to intimidate me into silence. So what do I do? Am I supposed to fire back? Am I supposed to pretend that this public figure with a very large public platform isn’t threatening me? Mr. Wolter has directly attacked my honesty, my integrity, and my basic human decency. Remember, my original blog post accused him of nothing; it only said that I found no record to support claims made on his behalf and in his official biography and asked him to provide documentation of the degree that appeared in his biography.
So in answer to Wolter’s implied threat, I will provide a specific rejoinder rather than vague claims of secret information. I will remind Mr. Wolter of Minnesota case 05-CX-88-00692 Albert H. Peterson v. Scott Wolter (verdict on June 27, 1989; closed in 1990), which I obtained directly from the court and hold in certified copy. Glass houses, Mr. Wolter. This court case contains damaging information about Wolter that is directly relevant to understanding Wolter's expertise and credibility, and I was ready this morning to publish the documents in full in order to help support many of the criticisms I have offered of Wolter's work. But I decided that it was not the right time. I am holding off because these documents, while directly relevant to Wolter's expertise in fringe history, might also affect his career outside of fringe history and I want to give Wolter the chance to back away from his threats and stop this stupid game of threatening legal action over things which are entirely true and over things that have not happened.
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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