Wednesday Odds and Ends
The Curse of Oak Island show returned last night, and once again I am not planning to watch the series because I find the show unfathomably boring. I tried to sit through the premiere, but I just don’t care about watching old men dig holes—and this show is all about digging big, wet, dirty holes. But the sonar operator working in the 10X site on the island claims that advanced imaging technology indicates a 90% certainty that 10X contains a human skeleton and a treasure chest. I’d be willing give odds that it contains neither since Canadian law (Criminal Code sec. 182) requires law enforcement and (when relevant) certified anthropologists to investigate, record, and report any human remains found in Canada. If the production actually uncovered human remains while they were filming these episodes earlier this year, there would have been a record of it and we should have heard about the discovery long before the episodes made it to air. Do you think History would waste a promotional opportunity like that?
History also debuted Hunting Hitler, another program I have no interest in watching, at least until they start exploring Hitler’s escape into the hollow earth, or how ancient astronauts or Fallen Angels rescued him. The bad reviews the show received (“…cynically trading off Hitler’s name…”) suggest I’m right to ignore it.
We’ll find out tomorrow how many people watched the programs last night.
Meanwhile, I have a few odds and ends to mention on what is otherwise a slow fringe history day.
First, I ended up in a Live Science article yesterday about Ben Carson’s weird pyramid ideas because I found and translated Bernhard von Breydenbach’s 1486 debunking of the claim. What’s weird is that the author of the Live Science article must have read my blog post in order to cite it and link to it, and yet somehow still attributed the claim that the pyramids were the granaries of Joseph to Gregory of Tours in the sixth century when I clearly explain that Julius Honorius was the first to record the claim, based on preexisting folk belief, somewhere between 50 and 150 years earlier.
Carson is as good a reason as any to mention something that happened this week that really made me angry. I try not to comment directly on politics in this blog, but it’s increasingly clear that pseudoscientific ideas about pyramids, creationism, and Fallen Angels/demonic influence are only the visible tip of a larger iceberg, a sort of quasi-acceptable way of forcing a particularly ruthless brand of extremist Christianity into American life. To that end, last week Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal made a joint appearance with Pastor Kevin Swanson at the National Religious Liberties Conference. Swanson is an extremist who emphasized that the Bible demands death for gays, despite claiming that he does not wish to see gay people actually executed until after the government gives them time to convert to heterosexuality and repent their sins.
Another speaker at the conference, Phillip Kayser, distributed a pamphlet calling for the death penalty not just for homosexuality but also for breaking the Sabbath, insulting God, or leaving the Christian religion. However, he said that killing the gays should only be necessary if they sodomize one another in the presence of three or more witnesses.
The conference’s organizers encouraged true Christians to disobey laws they disagreed with, and they asserted that religious liberty applied only to those who have true (i.e. conservative) Christian beliefs, adding that social justice and liberal politics exclude someone from being a true Christian.
Despite appearing at a conference in which Swanson urged Christians to disrupt gay weddings and to advocate for Biblical capital punishment, all three presidential candidates—two of whom are sitting government officials—I can’t find any evidence that any of them condemned Swanson’s remarks or took issue with the idea of government-sanctioned execution of gays.
Swanson, for his part, claimed that criticism of his views on the Rachael Maddow show and other programs was an effort by the liberal media to suppress Christianity.
In short, the kooky ideas about angels and pyramids and Noah’s Ark are a type of Trojan horse, designed to create “harmless” intrusions of Biblical literalism as wedges that can later be expanded into what, in their darkest hearts, reactionary fundamentalists hope will be a counter-revolution that will install an oppressive conservative theocracy.
Finally, I need to mention something that I don’t want to give too much attention. You will remember that in the spring a Canadian gigantologist named Scott Reaney (a.k.a. S. M. Raen) falsely accused me of stealing public domain newspaper articles from him and then accused me of being a member of ISIS and a pedophile. Reaney decided this week to start harassing me again, launching a blog called “Jason Colavito - Fraud” on the Canadian Blogspot website in which he repeated his libelous claims alongside pictures of me, writing them in the first person as though they were my words and larded with personal insults and juvenile name-calling. This would appear to be an act of what Canadian law terms “defamatory libel,” a criminal offense in Canada.
The trouble is that I don’t live in Canada, and I have no idea what the procedure is to try to stop an obviously troubled person from harassing me with a campaign of vile and disgusting lies. If there are any Canadian lawyers in my audience, I’d be grateful to find out what I can do from another country and with no money to sue him across borders.
I’m not linking to the blog because I don’t want to raise its Google rankings.
11/11/2015 01:28:03 pm
An excellent site for anyone even considering falling for the treasure hoax on Oak Island should visit:
11/11/2015 05:35:37 pm
They had a companion preview show with a guy who wrote an article about Oak Island in Rolling Stone ten years ago. I haven't watched the latest episode yet, but I admire the show and its producer's ability to manufacture drama and suspense out of digging holes in the ground. This season should have some more fringe theory visitors coming to Oak Island sometimes.
11/11/2015 08:31:36 pm
Thank you for the link to the Oak Island website. It is much more fun and intriguing than the TV show.
11/12/2015 01:23:35 am
"Smithsonian Admits to Destruction of Thousands of Giant Human Skeletons in Early 1900′s" Hey Jason, not only did the US Supreme get involved but the Smithsonian openly admits to destroying "tens of thousands" skeletons of GIANTS all over the world because of order from the "higher ups" Read it and weep
11/12/2015 02:18:31 am
11/12/2015 11:08:05 am
Mike, "Smithsonian Admits to Destruction of Thousands of Giant Human Skeletons in Early 1900's" is an article, dated December 3, 2014, from the World News Daily Report website. Let me quote from the sites disclaimer page... "WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle." Let the weeping begin.
11/12/2015 04:21:53 pm
Thanks for the link, got me some good reading to do.
11/13/2015 10:48:54 am
What fun it would be if the Curse of Oak Island cast would entertain Richard Joltes in their war room for an episode. Of course the show will not entertain one iota of actual skepticism for this myth, other than Marty pretending that he needs to be "convinced". I think another network would do well to cash in on portraying the actual truths behind the hoax at this point, and put the History Channel to shame in doing so.
11/11/2015 01:43:29 pm
The crazy crap that came out of this conference is EXACTLY the same garbage that ISIS spouts.
11/11/2015 01:54:58 pm
In Canada, freedom of speech is different, but you could get some pro bono libel guy on that article by that SMR dude, for sure. It is chuck full of obvious childish slights and insults. Or you could just block him from seeing your blogs and block his email from seeing yours.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/11/2015 03:40:36 pm
"Another speaker at the conference, Phillip Kayser, distributed a pamphlet calling for the death penalty not just for homosexuality but also for breaking the Sabbath, insulting God, or leaving the Christian religion."
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/11/2015 03:49:10 pm
Oh, and I just realized that if there were such a law, my own mother would be subject to the death penalty, because, unlike me, she was once a Christian.
11/12/2015 01:11:12 pm
What I find so incredibly stupid is that these men who are proposing such stupidity claim the bible as their source for such draconian ideas and yet, in that same bible , death for apostasy is never mentioned.
11/12/2015 01:31:33 pm
More ignorant, in fact. Capital punishment for apostasy at least comes up in the Hadith, but as you said, not in the New Testament.
11/11/2015 04:02:17 pm
I just read your post interacting with this Scott Reaney from the spring. That is one scary dude, you should just leave him alone.
11/11/2015 05:03:42 pm
He has a Disqus account.
11/11/2015 05:35:41 pm
I was unable to sleep last night, so I made the mistake of watching "Hunting Hitler". It like America Unearthed, recapped what was shown five minutes before after every commercial break. So, that in a program lasting a hour (it seemed longer) there was probably only fifteen or twenty minutes of actual content. Whoever made that piece of shit must have never read a history or bio of Adolph Hitler. He did not escape from the bunker, both he and Eva Braun committed suicide and their bodies were badly cremated by the SS guard detachment. Some of their remains were recovered by the Russians when the bunker was captured and sent back to Moscow, where they were buried in KGB storage for the next sixty years. When finally examined by, it was determined that the remains were those of Hitler and Eva Braun.
11/11/2015 07:11:35 pm
Without a doubt, Hunting Hitler is the worst waste of electrons ever to pass though a tv screen. Classic bait and switch formula. Yes, The Hystery Channel needs to hunt for new programming execs.
11/12/2015 04:25:08 pm
Actually the skull fragment supposedly from Hitler has female dna so as evidence its crap. Everyone knows Hitler became the Hate-Monger and stopping him is what earned Nick Fury the directorship of SHIELD.
11/13/2015 01:34:39 pm
Not really surprising, the Russians mishandled the evidence both in Berlin and Moscow. The scene and storage area in Moscow were both contaminated by handlers DNA. The evidence was based on the teeth, the Russians found and took the dental records from both Hitler and Eva Brauns dentist. These are what was used to identify the remains.
11/11/2015 10:26:22 pm
"Swanson, for his part, claimed that criticism of his views on the Rachael Maddow show and other programs was an effort by the liberal media to suppress Christianity."
11/12/2015 12:32:46 am
All this sectarianism within Christianity.
11/12/2015 01:08:06 am
Move along, Nobody. You're predictable and boring.
11/12/2015 06:51:32 am
Hey, not everybody is obtuse because of silly agendas.
An Over-Educated Grunt
11/12/2015 11:29:06 am
What are you talking about, sectarianism? Don't you know there's only one Christian Church? You said so yourself!
11/12/2015 02:21:56 pm
I agree, Nobody. Not everyone, but YOU are.
11/12/2015 11:07:14 am
Perhaps reach out to Mark Steyn. I believe he has fought back in Canada in a similar vein. He might point you in The right direction.
11/12/2015 12:29:20 pm
The linked review of "Hunting Hitler" by Variety nailed it, and is funny to boot.
11/12/2015 01:41:50 pm
And Joseph Stalin gets another good, hearty laugh in from the grave.
11/13/2015 01:53:19 pm
Does he? DOES HE? Or did Stalin have his head grafted onto a Russian ape-human hybrid when his body died?
11/12/2015 01:48:38 pm
The show runners have read the line from Mien Komph, if you tell a lie enough, people will believe it. I don't know what else the book said. Just that.
11/12/2015 04:07:10 pm
The title of the book is Mein Kampf, and that quote does not appear in it. What Hitler spoke of was the Big Lie, in which he posited that one could tell a lie so big that no one would believe one could distort the truth in such a fashion.
11/12/2015 04:27:18 pm
Ironically the Money Pit does have a bottom somewhere down there while the HC is a bottomless pit.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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