Washington Post Ends Debunking Column for Lack of Interest; Plus: A Classic "Scientific" Take on Atlantis
There was an odd sort of rhyme this week between J. Hutton Pulitzer’s Roman sword scandal and the Washington Post’s decision to end its column debunking hoaxes and false claims on the internet. Pulitzer had claimed that a Canadian man had found a “Roman” sword off Oak Island many years ago, only to see his claim undone by the internet’s ability to bring together people who know things, exposing the sword as a likely reproduction made for the tourist trade when several other copies turned up online, including one for sale on eBay in Italy. The Post, however, was entirely in harmony with Pulitzer—who refused to back down in the face of evidence—when its internet hoax columnist explained that it would no longer debunk fake stories online because the people who share fantasy and myth as truth won’t read or accept fact-based evaluations. “At which point does society become utterly irrational?” asked columnist Caitlin Dewey. “Is it the point at which we start segmenting off into alternate realities?”
As someone who spends a lot of time evaluating weird claims about history and responding to readers who are convinced that they are alien hybrids, reincarnated Atlanteans, or possessed of divine knowledge, I think we can safely say that many true believers are already living in an alternative reality. The difference is that the mainstream press has finally started to notice that this alternative reality is bleeding over into issues they care about, particularly politics.
Speaking of alternate realities: Yesterday I discussed the recent excitement of the host of The Rundown Live to have discovered that Manly P. Hall once made reference to the claim that giants built the Great Pyramid in a lecture on “Atlantis and the Gods of Antiquity.” This led me to look up the chapter of the same name in Hall’s 1928 book The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a favorite of fringe thinkers of all types because it predigests a number of fringe claims and thus helps remove the need for fringe thinkers to do their own thinking. Anyway, this led me to some interesting material about the lost continent of Atlantis that, by the end, helps undermine the idea of a Smithsonian conspiracy to suppress the truth about fringe archaeology.
Hall’s sources for the Atlantis myth are as plain and obvious as they come, being the same sources that virtually every fringe writer after him would rely upon: Plato, Ignatius Donnelly, and Helena Blavatsky, individually or in combination. It is from Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled (repeated in quotation in Secret Doctrine) that Hall learns of the claim that “the Atlantis-race became a nation of wicked magicians,” remembered in myth as the giants who battled against regular humans in Genesis and other myths. He quotes Blavatsky on this point: “The conflict came to an end by the submersion of the Atlantis; which finds its imitation in the stories of the Babylonian and Mosaic flood: The giants and magicians ‘… and all flesh died … and every man.’ All except Xisuthrus and Noah…”
I guess that explains where Graham Hancock got the idea, expressed in his current book Magicians of the Gods, that somehow all ancient cultures referred to the residents of his lost civilization, identified as Atlantis, as magicians, something that doesn’t otherwise appear in the sources Hancock claims to have drawn from.
Anyway, Hall adds nothing to Donnelly and Blavatsky, merely repeating them and endorsing their views, but it is the start of his chapter he mentions something I wasn’t familiar with, a lecture given by Pierre Termier on the lost continent of Atlantis.
Pierre-Marie Termier (1859-1930) wasn’t a fringe crank; he was one of France’s most honored geologists, and in 1909 he had been elected to the French Academy of Sciences. On November 30, 1912, he delivered a lecture to the Institut Océanographique in which he defended the existence of Atlantis on the basis of geology. Having studied the Atlantic Ocean and the rocks therein, he discovered that some of the rocks at the bottom of the Atlantic were made of cooled magma of the kind that disintegrates after 15,000 years or so. This led him to conclude that a large landmass with volcanoes on it had sunk in the Atlantic within the past 15,000 years. His only conclusion was that it had to be the island of Atlantis.
Termier’s scientific defense of Atlantis was one of the last times that a prominent geologist would attempt to give credence to the idea of a lost Atlantic continent. Although Termier would argue in 1924 that the hypothesis of continental drift was untrue, science would prove him wrong and we today recognize that the anomaly he attributed to Atlantis was in fact the result of underwater processes associated with plate tectonics.
Termier’s lecture was published in the journal of the Institut Océanographique the following year, and it attracted enough attention that the Smithsonian Institute here in the United States approached the Institut Océanographique for permission to reprint the piece. When that permission was granted, they commissioned a translation, which was completed in 1915 and published the following year in the Institute’s Annual Report for 1915 (1916). I have posted the text of the translation in my Library.
It was up to the American Geographical Society’s Geographical Review to take up the cause of contradicting Termier’s assertions, which even in rebuttal the magazine’s editors called “brilliant.” In January 1917, the Review published two rebuttals, from Charles Schuchert, a paleontologist, and Rudolph Schuller, a specialist in historical geography. Their pieces I have also added to my Library.
The fact that the Smithsonian published in its official organ a scientific paper claiming that Plato’s Atlantis was real and located in the middle of the Atlantic ought to give pause to those who suggest that the Smithsonian is conspiring to suppress the truth about fringe history!
12/20/2015 08:42:26 am
>>>end its column debunking hoaxes and false claims
12/20/2015 07:42:19 pm
But it's getting worse, the online behaviours (Shutting out that which you don't disagree with.) which are described in this article from the Washington Post are spilling offline. 'Safe Spaces' are nothing more than places for like minded people to go where they don't have to see that which makes them 'uncomfortable'.
12/20/2015 09:03:49 pm
I don't know if I'd say the "safe spaces/pc/sjw/whatever controversy" is the cause or even connected to this issue. This seems to be a separate matter.
12/21/2015 11:44:47 am
Because those NEVER existed before the 21st century, of course. HAH. Sorry, that's just an excuse to try and force people to let themselves be bullied and emotionally stressed out all the time, IMO.
12/20/2015 09:05:30 am
>>>Pierre-Marie Termier (1859-1930) wasn’t a fringe crank
12/20/2015 12:57:47 pm
"Hall’s sources for the Atlantis myth are as plain and obvious as they come, being the same sources that virtually every fringe writer after him would rely upon: Plato, Ignatius Donnelly, and Helena Blavatsky, individually or in combination. "
12/20/2015 05:03:05 pm
I've had multiple conversations with Pulitzer on FB. Every time when I question him he gets irate, yells, questions weather I'm even real not some kinda of Agent for a alphabet Agency's
12/20/2015 06:34:26 pm
Oak Island and Atlantis mentioned in the same blog? This reminds me of a project I am working on!
An Over-Educated Grunt
12/20/2015 07:02:29 pm
Having finally looked at the Pulitzer prize, I can safely say that's not a sword anyone would ever use. Swords aren't cast, for one thing, and that tang and pommel is one piece with the blade and guard, which means casting, not forging. Roman swords were generally fairly high (by modern standards) steel, certainly never bronze. It's so obviously a tourist trinket or prop that I question why anyone would ever even try to pretend otherwise.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
12/20/2015 11:55:44 pm
Don't know if you ever saw this thing, but even Pulitzer's forgery isn't as pathetic as it is:
An Over-Educated Grunt
12/21/2015 11:57:09 am
Oh, I remember those. Look like Cub Scout soap carvings.
12/20/2015 07:20:07 pm
The lady of the lake gave to J. Hutton Pulitzer a fake Roman sword, showing that he, J. Hutton Pulitzer, was an idiot and as such should prove the sword was real and thus proclaim it to the world and threaten dire consequences to those who can do real research and prove otherwise.
12/21/2015 12:23:54 am
Don't you know that after Arthur had Excalibur returned to the Lady of the Lake, she took it to Oak Island? She built the flood tunnels, and buried it deep underground. Some say when a treasure hunter feels a thrill going up their leg over Oak Island, it's really Excalibur calling to it's next potential owner.
12/21/2015 01:37:59 am
Good ol' Manly P. Hall. He was so fond of referring to Greek gods by the names of their Roman counterparts, I'm surprised he didn't refer to the Island of Atlas as...erm...Atlas.
12/21/2015 02:22:17 pm
The fringe is off again confusing their fake swords with their...well you get the idea.
12/22/2015 01:14:06 am
I hope we don't get the fringe types all of a sudden coming forth saying
12/22/2015 10:57:10 am
Weird how these things percolate through. In my Mythos Atlantis story, of course Atlantis is ruled by corrupt council of sorcerers, who are disregarding the advices of the astrologers, and ignoring their obligations to the gods. Not based on anything in particular that I've read, it's just that I assumed that that's the nature of the beast.
12/29/2015 12:34:24 pm
Yes, Termier was the last major geologist claiming that Atlantis in the Atlantic was real. Later, the Swedish geologists Arvid Gustaf Högbom and Hans Petterson proved finally that there is no chance for Atlantis to have existed in the Atlantic ocean. Find more in this article:
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