Vice Media Shooting "Ancient Aliens" Story While Scott Wolter Rants about 2010 Rune Stone Claims
Late yesterday afternoon a producer for Vice Media contacted me to ask if I could pop by their Brooklyn studios this morning to shoot an interview for a “light and fun” piece they’re doing for the new Viceland TV channel, the one that’s replacing H2, on the popularity of the Ancient Aliens TV series. This was all kinds of wrong, not least because Vice thought I could drop everything and just pop on over to Brooklyn, all the way from upstate! The producer apologized for the short notice, but blamed deadlines for the need to find “a skeptic” fast.
The more troubling concern, and one I expressed to the producer, was that Vice wanted a “light and fun” look at a TV show whose pundits routinely embrace racist and anti-Semitic themes, who engage in fraud for cash, and who are the “fun” face for some very dark currents in American life, as Michael Barkun has explored in his Culture of Conspiracy. It’s also a bit of a conflict of interest since Vice is producing the puff piece for the Viceland channel, a joint venture of Vice and A+E Networks, the parent company of the History Channel and owner of Ancient Aliens. (A+E, which is also a co-owner of Vice Media, holds majority ownership of Viceland and promised to work with Vice on creating shows that integrate promotion and advertising into editorial content.) While Vice has editorial independence, it seems difficult to believe they’d openly criticize their partner’s show, despite the producer’s promise that “we’ll try to stick closer to the truth.” To his credit, the producer, who is Jewish, seemed genuinely concerned to hear that Ancient Aliens has recycled some old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and he promised to look into it before they shot their story this morning.
Unfortunately, though, all I see is a cross-promotional opportunity for A+E Networks and Vice, one that the latter wanted to give the gloss of responsibility by including a token skeptic.
Speaking of self-promotion, another member of the A+E Networks family dropped his latest blog post yesterday afternoon while I was speaking with the Vice producer. America Unearthed and Pirate Treasure of the Knights Templar star Scott Wolter posted a lengthy diatribe on what he sees as a conspiracy involving his former writing partner Richard Nielson and Henrik Williams, a Swedish professor of Scandinavian languages. Wolter asserts that the two men have both changed their mind about secret codes embedded in the Kensington Rune Stone due to an unnamed and undescribed conspiracy (yes, he really uses the word “conspired”) to deny a medieval date for the artifact:
There are likely multiple reasons for this carefully crafted plan to try and alter their acknowledgement of the physical characteristics of the KRS inscription which they both previously agreed were present, but [they] apparently now are trying to make the "Dating Code" and the "Grail Code" disappear from the historical record. You would have to ask them what purpose is served by doing this, but I suspect it was for personal reasons and/or to conform to some arbitrary academic standard. […] Nielsen and Williams have conspired to publish a document that effectively erases these important codes they apparently no longer agree with.
All of this, he said, took place in 2010, which made it very strange that he chose to post a largely incoherent rant about it now.
I must confess to being singularly uninterested in the “Dating Code” or the “Grail Code,” which Wolter images to be embedded in lines and dots scattered among the Rune Stone’s letters. In the case of the Grail Code, Wolter believes that punched dots associated with the runes for “G,” “R,” “A,” and “L” indicate a misspelled medieval French Cistercian acknowledgement of the word graal, or grail. Nielsen, however, believes that some of the punch marks were meant to guide chisels and others are the result of natural or subsequent damage. Even if these dot codes were real—and there isn’t much to support the claim—it wouldn’t be directly relevant to the authenticity of the Rune Stone since a code could have been generated at any time after the development of the world graal. In other words, the code proves nothing.
But I am interested in Wolter’s assertion of a decade-long, slow-moving conspiracy that somehow involves warring “sides,” one being Wolter’s supposedly truth-based geology and the other being “ultra-conservative” academics. In Wolter’s view, because Nielsen and Williams see the various marks as natural, damage, or chisel guides and therefore did not include them in a transcription of the Rune Stone, they are part of an “apparent plan to erase the record of the codes” that dates back to at least 2008, if not earlier. “The overriding question is why did Williams and Nielsen suddenly change their minds and set out to try to reverse their prior acknowledgement of the physical marks using deceptive tactics veiled as academia?”
(Disclosure: I spoke with Williams earlier this week by email, before Wolter’s blog post, because Williams wanted to know if I planned to publish any more of my America Unearthed reviews in book form. It was the first and only time we’ve spoken. I spoke with Nielsen a couple of years ago regarding his Rune Stone research, but not since.)
Wolter frames the question, though, largely in personal terms: Richard Nielsen and he had a falling out, Williams and Nielsen were in a dispute with the Runestone Museum, and everyone is fighting with everyone. What was shocking was that Wolter and Nielsen spent $75,000 to self-publish and print their Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence book, and that money seems to be at the root of the personal dispute that overshadows any actual fact-based argument. According to Wolter, Nielsen declined to pay his half of the money, and Wolter sold off his agate collection to fund the printing. To which: Holy cow! I’ve self-published a number of books, and I’ve never spent more than $25 on one, albeit I used print-on-demand rather than offset printing. Even if I went the super-deluxe route, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with ways to blow $75,000 on producing one! What kind of print run did they pay for?
Anyway, Wolter made a strange point in the comments section of his blog post that Nielsen only changed his mind and attacked Wolter’s views out of revenge because he “had no financial investment in the book.” Does this imply that one’s views are dictated by profit?
Wolter’s whole blog post was poorly organized, very confusing, and based on material published in 2010 and earlier. I have no idea why he posted it now, but it seems pretty clear that there are interpersonal disputes playing out under the surface.
2/11/2016 12:47:09 pm
This is unusual. Whenever someone asks a question pertaining to his former colleagues, he makes the same assertions you addressed above.
2/11/2016 12:48:36 pm
Sorry, I meant to say "not unusual".
2/11/2016 01:10:11 pm
Did you read those two articles about the Sphinx where the scholars explained from the beginning that they were only postulating theories and not presenting facts?
2/14/2016 10:43:24 pm
Simple question directed to Professor Williams: Will you make public the 3D imaging study upon which you base your conclusions?
2/11/2016 01:13:58 pm
I was hoping he was just trying to stay relevant because he knows America Unearthed is gone for good. Here's hoping.
2/11/2016 12:48:12 pm
Just saw the Viceland promo last night. Anyone know why they chose that name?
2/12/2016 06:52:30 am
I believe "viceland.com" was the address of their website before they acquired the domain vice.com, so it is already a term associated with the brand. Who knows, maybe they already had the trademarks and stuff for "viceland" because of that, and they wanted to make some obvious distinction between this new channel and the HBO series they produce; just called "VICE on HBO"
2/11/2016 12:54:33 pm
I was wondering how you'd treat this, Jason. On the one side is your well-documented disdain for Scott Wolter. On the other is what Scott feels is a pretty clear case of "cooking the books" when it comes to historical research. I had hoped you would find it in you to support Scott on this--anyone who cares about intellectual integrity should do so.
2/11/2016 01:38:42 pm
I'm not sure what your issue is, David. The two groups have a difference of opinion on which markings are intentional and which are not intentional. This is not something I have the expertise to adjudicate, and there is really nothing I can add to what the two sides have said. For the interested, here is Williams's discussion of the dotted-R rune from 2011: http://www.nordiska.uu.se/digitalAssets/79/79636_dotted-runes.pdf
2/11/2016 02:40:51 pm
If this is the case:
2/11/2016 03:00:41 pm
Did I say he was wrong about his factual claims, or did you read that into my (justifiable) confusion as to why Wolter would write a rambling blog post about years-old material that lacks the authority and impact he imagines it does? Since I did not declare a position on the existence of the dots, it is not I who is making unsubstantiated claims: I'd try looking at Wolter's intimations of conspiracy for that, along with his acknowledgement that he knows not of what he speaks in terms of the conspiracy. By your own logic, he shouldn't have posted at all.
2/11/2016 03:20:12 pm
"But is it really possible he is ALWAYS wrong, 100% of the time?"
Steve St C
2/11/2016 05:42:18 pm
Colavito, as always, is cherry picking the parts that can make Scott look most weak. If he can’t do it on substance - and he cannot in this case because Scott laid out a lot of information that points to a clear conclusion - then Colavito will do it on style:
2/11/2016 06:17:03 pm
>>>When it’s about Scott, you will always be bi-assed.<<<
2/11/2016 07:51:42 pm
Ah, Steve St. C, posting again. Question, do you have a life?, or do you spend your days with a hand down you pants, masturbating to pictures of Scott Wolter?
2/11/2016 11:08:06 pm
Clete, really. My post was a serious response to Colavito's obviously bi-asses assessment of Scott's post on his blog. Your response is juvenile and sad. Try to keep it clean.
Steve St C
2/12/2016 08:50:06 am
2/12/2016 11:08:03 am
The above comment is not me. It's some turd acolyte on here posing as me.
2/12/2016 01:26:30 pm
Steve St. C, you are right, my comment was infantile. I guess I will spend my time thinking about being related to Henry Sinclair and having Scott Wolter validate my illusions.
2/12/2016 12:37:52 pm
My God! What kind of sick mind would want to pose as Steve?
2/15/2016 11:24:31 pm
Brody, what have you published since I saw you in NEWPORT? Do you get paid with Jason to be on this blog by the History Channel? When do you want to meet me in public in Newport at the tower so we can recap your ethics with the historical commission?
2/11/2016 12:54:56 pm
I wonder if the guy who carved this in the 1800s knew someone in the future would make a career out of his prank.
2/11/2016 02:19:00 pm
When I was much younger and in grad school I took an interest in the designs on Pictish standing stones. As a part of my interested I bought a set of stone carving tools and carved some of my favorite designs, partially because I was curious about the work it took to make one (not much as sculpting goes) and partially because I was fascinated by things like the Pictish elephant. I gave away many of the pieces I made and for some personal amusement tossed a small stone with (if I correctly recall) something that sort of looks like a tuning fork into the bottom of a frog pond (which also hosted a small colony of Souther Blue flags (_Iris virginica_)) The stones I used were ones I found in Northern Mississippi (which turned out to be nodules of raw hematite) and some sandstone from Arkansas.
2/11/2016 02:28:01 pm
Celtic artwork is amazing. It would be interesting to see what would happen if your carving were discovered. Surely someone like Wolter would attempt to make some connection between early America and the Picts. Something along the lines of:
2/11/2016 03:58:12 pm
Heh. Not only that, but the stone I tossed into the pond just north of Oxford, Mississippi had come from Mount Petit Jean in Arkansas so someone finding it might decide it demonstrated that the Picts occupied a fairly wide range and on both sides of the Mississippi River.
2/12/2016 07:41:30 am
If someone said your carvings were modern and perhaps a prank, there would always be someone else saying, "Why would someone do this?"
2/14/2016 08:37:46 am
Great story. Sometimes people just do stuff.
2/11/2016 01:04:35 pm
Ultra-conservative academics? That's weird, my dad never misses a chance to tell me that academia is overrun with dastardly liberals! =P
2/11/2016 01:11:19 pm
>>>academia is overrun with dastardly liberals<<<
2/11/2016 06:39:21 pm
Apparently, academia is overrun with whoever a conspiracy-believer disagrees with. Regardless of politics. I guess it's cool to go against the grain, mannnnnnn.
2/11/2016 01:16:16 pm
Grail = current interest in the Grail was revived by Wagner's 19th century operas involving Arthurian characters.
KING AND PRIEST LOL
2/12/2016 02:52:11 am
Time Machine = Dumbfuck self-contradicting man-child intent on exposing his ignorance to Colavito's viewers for????
2/11/2016 03:06:54 pm
Once again, Mr. Wolter has posted information on his blog that actually undercut his theories; just like the previous entry where he posted additional relatively modern sources (18th-19th century) for his hooked x's representing the letter A as possible inspiration for a 19th century KRS rune carver. What he does with this latest version is not only publish links to well reasoned disagreement by Professor Williams, but others he consulted with for his Compelling New Evidence draft. Alice Kehoe actually tells him in her notes to drop the Dan Brown nonsense as it will discredit his KRS work. Others point out his numerous errors in fact, history and most of all, linguistics. It is quite damning, and much more so because it appears by Wolter's currently expressed views that he never took their advice, or at least the bulk of it, before publishing his draft. It shows his sloppy methodology, his purposeful misquoting out of context and insistence that proving one point proves all points... when he never quite actually proves anything.
2/12/2016 09:18:07 am
2/12/2016 10:24:54 am
Simple question for Professor Williams: Will you make public the 3D imaging study upon which you base your conclusions?
2/12/2016 10:43:13 am
Well said Professor Williams. Wolter plays fast and loose with the term of art that is "peer review". He's been called out for his clear equivocations in this regard by many on his blog over the years. I believe Wolter sees it as a sort of push-button issue. That is, it attracts comments and angry reactions; and thus brings traffic to his blog site. So he continues to throw it out there, as if it will some day stick. What it actually does is repel anyone with any sort of serious education from even bothering to consider his views intellectually. It is purposeful intellectual dishonesty for him to maintain that his historical theories, or even his science, is peer reviewed in any relevant form or fashion. Yet, he bemoans the fact that academics won't take him seriously. How can they, when his own mendacity, slipshod methodology and perversion of logic make it obvious who he really is. He will only attract those ignorant enough that are willing to be deceived.
2/12/2016 11:08:17 am
Questions for David Brody:
2/12/2016 06:19:36 pm
David Brody- if my understanding of the situation is correct, the 3D imaging of the Kensington Rune Stone is essentially irrelevant to Prof. Williams' conclusions. At least some of the dots make no sense linguistically, and any "code" interpretation would be as valid for the 19th century as for the 14th.
2/13/2016 11:12:21 am
David Bradbury. As a reread Professor Williams' post, I think you are correct. He writes this: "I noted the presence of dot-shaped depressions on many runes at my inspection of the Kensington stone in 2003, 2010, and 2015. I have consistently stated that even when these are man-made and intentional, they serve no linguistic purpose. This is why they are not marked in a my transrunification, where only meaningful(!) features are included."
2/13/2016 04:23:06 pm
That's not quite the point. Prof. Williams is not qualified to determine the presence or absence of secret codes within the Kensington inscription; he approached the matter purely in terms of making linguistic sense, and could only state that various markings such as dots were not relevant to that linguistic sense.
2/14/2016 10:41:45 pm
Simple question for Professor Williams: Will you make public the 3D imaging study upon which you base your conclusions?
Day Late and Dollar Short
2/11/2016 03:32:47 pm
Maybe its just me, but I'd like to see you on television doing the skeptical thing. I enjoy your guest spots on podcasts, and imagine it would translate pretty well to screen (I never caught the codes and conspiracies bit).
2/12/2016 07:02:54 am
Jason, in a pseudo-military uniform covered in impressive looking patches and an inordinate amount of chevrons, sitting at the head of a large, imposing table, giving assignments to the VICE journalists who make up the Treasure Forc- I, uhh... I mean... A different name.
Day Late and Dollar Short
2/12/2016 09:43:51 am
2/11/2016 08:12:18 pm
So Wolter and his cronies would go on with their ridiculous ideas about the Kensington stone even after it was totally debunked and dated as a novelty from the 1900s...which it is...
William M Smith
2/14/2016 02:05:05 pm
Kal - I have no side in this issue of authenticity of the KRS. You state it has been totally debunked and dated as a novelty from the 1900s. When you remove the personal attacks on this site and look for facts that support your position it seems you imply all in disagreement are cronies. I will remain in the group you call cronies until you explain the mechanical wear line on the KRS. I also feel had it not been for Wolter, Nielson, Williams and many others we would go through another 100 years of silence in suppressing the truth of the KRS. http://www.photospherix.com/3d-view/kensington-ruinstone/
2/15/2016 11:19:05 pm
William these people do not openly debate! Jason is working for the History channel, my guess he has for some time, Right little girl! Steve and Scott with you going to debate in public? William waste no more time on this site, respectfully. Jason is not at all a honest or admirable person! He works for History channel with a new name!
2/15/2016 01:44:10 pm
I was surprised that the link actually worked: I thought that "Kensington ruinstone" was a typo.
William M Smith
2/15/2016 05:22:00 pm
Uncle Ron - I have no side in this issue and find it hard to believe we use 2010 material to evaluate the KRS. A lot of untested and new information is available. I frankly feel people that have books that express their theory is at ease of not addressing any new information. I also feel that the museum that houses and claims ownership of the KRS wants it to be a mystery forever. Many motives of this are open for speculation. The link I provided was a 3D of sorts computer aid program I had done by a professional company some years back. I also signed an agreement with the museum that indicated they would install the program on a in house computer for an aid to people, especially school kids that wanted to study the KRS on the computer rather than in the glass cage in a poor lite setting. After two years had passed and the museum had not made the program and computer available I made a trip to Alexandria to find out their part of the agreement was not completed. In fact they could not even find the computer program or the report required after my visit. I was also very disturbed to find they were charging $500 to remove the glass for 2 hours of study time. Along with me during my last visit included pro Scott Wolter people that wanted to be convinced that a mechanical wear line was measured using a credit card, toothpick and micrometers during my first visit that indicated the KRS has a .022 in. wear line on the front and sides which would show the authenticity of the stone. Keep in mind if the wear line is present it shows the intent of the stone was a land claim. It also shows this land claim stood for 350 years before it fell on its face. The 350 years is based on 60 tomb stones measured at the ground to establish a normal rate of wear due to freezing, thaw, rain, sleet dust and wind at the ground over a period of time. Say Bull Shit all you wish, however the next time you visit a grave yard be sure and take a credit card to hold vertical at the ground wear line. Also understand that if their is a wear line then the stone was not buried by some Mason or Templar to fool the folks in 2016. Their is other support for the 5 W's of the KRS. One good place is the 1494 treaty between Spain and Portugal chapter 3. (The KRS is on a pole line 370 leagues west of a tower). In 1362 and 1472 the tool for determining longitude was a lodestone compass which allowed the user to determine his magnetic declination . Of course he had to have magnetite to load into his lodestone and the likely way to get it was to use a flat chisel and make a triangle hole in a rock that contains iron. These holes exist in Nova Scotia, Newport Rhode Island, Maine, Ohio and Minn. The hooked X also exist in all of these locations except Ohio. Uncle Ron - please show me the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that eliminates the mechanical wear line.
An Over-Educated Grunt, P.E.
2/16/2016 11:14:37 am
So far as I know, no one else here has the background to call bullshit as you ask on this quite as extensively as I do, so here goes.
2/15/2016 10:35:00 pm
Aaauuugh! Aaaaauuuuuggggh! To David Bradbury regarding 2/13/16 response "...Williams is not qualified to determine the presence or absence of secret codes within the Kensington inscription....."
2/16/2016 09:56:25 am
Here we all sit debating the legitimacy of a stone that was left by the French right on the margins of Rupert's Land and French Louisiana? I suggest one of you Vikings in America guys overlay a file of the margins of Rupert's Land on google earth and see where the stone is located with regard to that. D'Iberville left descriptions of stones in Arkansas left by La Salle that had "foreign writing" on them left to mark the boundaries of Louisiana. There is so much that is being ignored about the Kensington Stone it is not even funny. The above is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition the octagonal form of the Newport Tower "points to" the Kensington Rune every day of the year 24/7 not just on the solstice at a certain time. So we ignore the fact that Douglas County where the stone is located is named for a direct relative of Benedict Arnold Sr. and is from one of the most powerful dynasties of Scotland and the Hudson's Bay Company? Gee Whiz people. Everyone has been fooled by the Hudson's Bay Company on this one. I suggest you at least crack a book and look at some recorded history in context to help you. You "ancients in America" guys consistently ignore the historical record and miss a great deal. I would be happy to debate anyone on the Kensington Rune.
2/16/2016 10:38:47 am
Oh Ya Brody, what did you do with the CASTS YOU MADE of the Saxon-Norman Writing from the Newport Tower! Remember the STONE with John Dees boys name(JOST) next to 13th Century Rune Writing? The one you and your Scottish Rite Pal Grinded with foil on the fine line stone carving doing damage! Guess What Brody, I reported that to the Rhode Island Historical Commission! Why? Just say Brody, if that very important Stone was place on a Stone Marker pile from the 13th century and then placed on the tower built by Stafford for Lord Eton! Then you my friend did harm to the oldest writing ever found in America! Whos that for facts! VERY BAD Practice doing damage to rare stone writing so you can have the information! What did you do send it to your Masonic Leaders! Im sure your Scottish Rite too, why else does you business card has the All seeing Eye!
2/16/2016 12:55:18 pm
Always good to hear from you, Gary. And glad to see you have found a new research buddy. The two of you will no doubt make amazing discoveries together.
2/16/2016 01:45:47 pm
2/19/2016 10:08:40 am
Scott Wolter consistently ignores the local historical context of not only Minnesota but the entire country. This is a pattern with him. Extensive discussion of Newport but no mention of its development and the people that were there that obviously built the tower. No mention of the Hudson's Bay Company there in Minnesota where the stone is. No mention of Douglas family ties from Newport to Minnesota. No mention of the owners of the Great Northern living in Alexandria originally from first families of Virginia. All of this ignored in favor of Vikings. No mention of French and English explorers. Just Vikings coming to leave a stone there. This guy totally and verifiable wrong using nothing but existing history that we can all easily find online. There was even a Norumbega political movement that espoused Viking origins of America right at the time the stone was found. All ignored and not spoken of by Mr. Wolter. He selectively ignores any historical facts that disprove him and only presents a rosy picture based on his analysis of the stone that apparently no one else in the world is capable of doing. Apparently Scott is the only "scholar" that believes the stone is as old as "Vikings." Please. This is really kind of on a par with the recent "flat earth" movement. They use the same kind of faulty and self serving logic to "prove" their theories.
2/19/2016 12:25:33 pm
Logic is an awfully strong word to use when describing the mental acrobatics used by fringe adherents. Most of the time I find them to be willfully ignorant and devoid of basic abstract reasoning skills.
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