Those of you who regularly read my reviews of America Unearthed probably remember Will Yates, the scriptwriter and producer for the show who has from time to time shown up in the comments section of my reviews to take issue with my analysis of the show. Yates has put up new information on the British Talent Manager website in which he reveals that the History Channel has used his services for a new two-hour documentary on Nostradamus and his relevance to the twenty-first century. The program, entitled Nostradamus: 21st Century, is produced by Committee Films, the same company that produces America Unearthed.
It’s probably testament to the pseudoscientific quality of Committee Films’ productions that just the mere mention that they and Will Yates are producing a show about Nostradamus already has me recoiling in horror. Yates says he’s “a passionate storyteller specializing in history, science and current affairs” with “a strong track record of history and science programming.” That includes Monster Quest, America Unearthed, and Strangest UFO Stories of All Time, so you can imagine why I am less than enthusiastic. The episodes of America Unearthed on which Yates has worked show gaping holes in logic, not to mention low quality research that rarely extends beyond secondary (usually fringe) literature.
But, hey: Nostradamus! Again.
Speaking of terrible research, there is a video making the round of Fox News probing whether there is evidence for Noah’s Ark and Jonah’s imprisonment in the belly of the great fish. On the weekly Fox & Friends religion segment, a Fox News host asked Christian apologist Dr. Tom Dickson about Noah and Jonah: “Did someone really get swallowed by a whale, did Noah really build this Ark? What’s your response to those skeptics?”
In an attempt to accentuate the positive, Dickson replied that there was in fact evidence.
“I think there’s probably less evidence than the average devout Christian would hope for, but way more evidence than our average atheist friend would ever imagine,” Dickson said. He then pivots and makes his answer about Jesus rather than Jonah or Noah, claiming that the evidence for the existence of Jesus is “overwhelming.” Dickson did not explain what evidence there is for Jonah’s adventure with the great fish, though we can probably presume that this evidence for Noah’s Ark revolves around flood geology and perhaps the supposed ark sightings on Mt. Ararat and Mt. Judi throughout history. Unfortunately, the first and best attested ancient testimony we have of such ark sightings comes from the Babylonian priest Berossus, who said it was the ark of Xisuthrus, the Babylonian flood hero (George Syncellus, Chronicle 30-32; Eusebius, Chronicle 31-37 and 50, Praeparatio Evangelica 9.12, and Onamasticon, entry for Ararat; Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.93).
It is perhaps interesting to note that at the site in Joppa (modern Jaffa) where Jonah left to end up swallowed by the fish, the Greeks displayed the chains that held Andromeda and Pliny reported that the bones of the sea monster that Perseus killed to save her were displayed down to 58 BCE (Natural History 9.4), when the bones (likely those of a whale) were taken to Rome: “These bones exceeded forty feet in length, and the ribs were higher than those of the Indian elephant, while the back-bone was a foot and a half in thickness” (trans. Bostock and Riley). According to Lycophron, in the Alexandra (834-42), Perseus was swallowed by this monster, like Jonah.
So, I guess if we take Dickson at his word, the evidence would equally well support paganism!
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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