NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

Screen shot from the documentary

Screen shot from the documentary

In a previous post I reviewed the stories about the Sphinx, the Piri Reis map, even Stonehenge. What could possibly top those? The strange ideas of Charles Hapgood, for starters.

While at Springfield College, a student’s question about the Lost Continent of Mu prompted a class project to investigate the lost continent of Atlantis, leading Hapgood to investigate possible ways that massive earth changes could occur and exposing him to the literature of Hugh Auchincloss Brown.

In 1958, Hapgood published The Earth’s Shifting Crust which denied the existence of continental drift and featured a foreword by Albert Einstein. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (1966) and The Path of the Pole(1970), Hapgood proposed the hypothesis that the Earth’s axis has shifted numerous times during geological history. In Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings he supported the suggestion made by Arlington Mallery that a part of the Piri Reis Map was a depiction of the area of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land. He used this to propose that a 15 degree pole shift occurred around 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600 years ago) and that a part of the Antarctic was ice-free at that time, and that an ice-age civilization could have mapped the coast. He concludes that “Antarctica was mapped when these parts were free of ice”, taking that view that an Antarctic warm period coincided with the last ice age in the Northern hemisphere, and that the Piri Reis and other maps were based on “ancient” maps derived from ice-age originals. Later research concerning the paleoclimatology and ice sheets of Antarctica have completely discredited the interpretations by Hapgood that an Antarctic warm period coincided with the last glacial period in the Northern hemisphere and any part of it had been ice-free at and prior to 9,600 BCE (approx. 11,600 years ago).

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Graham Hancock is author of Fingerprints of the Gods. He explains the Orontius Finaeus map found by Hapgood in the map room of the Library of Congress:

And the mystery of this map is that it shows Antarctica as it looks under the ice long before Antarctica is supposed to have been discovered, and perhaps the greatest mystery of all is that it shows the Antarctic Peninsula, not as it looks today, covered by more than a mile of ice, but as it actually looks underneath that covering of ice. Now we, ourselves, have only known what the land under the Antarctic Peninsula looks like since 1958, when seismic surveys were taken across the ice cap.

Not elaborated by Hancock, the program’s host and narrator actor Charles Heston, or anybody else in the program, is any kind of realistic view of the evidence presented. The Bad Archaeology site provides a more reasoned perspective:

Charles Hapgood (and those derivative of him) used other maps allegedly showing Antarctica that are, at first sight, even more convincing than the Piri Re‘is map. The first of these is a product of Orontius Finaeus Delphinus (1494-1555), whom most Bad Archaeologists consistently and incorrectly refer to as Oronteus (more properly, his name was Oronce Fine or Finé, although the Latinised version seems to be in more common use, at least among the Bad Archaeologists). The map in question was published in 1531 and its supporters claim that it shows the continent at the correct scale, placing the Weddell and Ross Seas as well as Queen Maud Land, Wilkes Land and Marie Byrd Land in their correct longitudes. Again, if these claims are correct, they would display an even more remarkable knowledge of the continent than that supposedly (but demonstrably not) shown by Piri Re’is.

Although there are fairly obvious similarities between the general depiction of the southern continent by Orontius Finaeus and modern maps of Antarctica, they do not stand up to close scrutiny; indeed, there are more differences than similarities, much as one would expect from a map drawn without genuine knowledge of the southern continent! To show that Orontius’s Terra Australis corresponds to the outline of Antarctica, it was necessary for Hapgood to rotate the depiction by about twenty degrees, move the South Pole by 7½° (1,600 km) and alter the scale, as Terra Australis is 230% the size of Antarctica. Hapgood used this change in scale to explain the absence of the Antarctic Peninsula (Palmer Land), which he believed Orontius Finaeus had to omit from his map as it would have overlapped with South America at that scale; he explained that Finaeus confused latitude 80° south with the Antarctic Circle. Just as with his treatment of Piri’s map, Hapgood also had to shuffle whole sections of coastline to make them fit. It is unclear how the hypothesised original map had become fragmented and wrongly recombined; it is even more unclear how the fringe writers can go on to claim that various geographical features are shown in their correct places and at the correct scale. Again, these writers ignore what we know about the life of Oronce Fine.

Hancock again:

The clearest deduction of all is that whoever drew up those original source maps thousands of years ago had a level of technology as high as our own. They had explored the whole globe from north to south and from east to west. So this is testimony of and advanced and as yet unidentified civilization in remote prehistory.

We can only hope that mapping technology has improved significantly above that which produced the Orontius Finaeus map.

But what about The Lost City of Atlantis? We are finally getting around to that.

Atlantis (Ancient Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, “island of Atlas“) is the name of a fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges “Ancient Athens”, the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato’s ideal state (see The Republic). In the story, Athens was able to repel the Atlantean attack, unlike any other nation of the (western) known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato’s concept of a state. At the end of the story, Atlantis eventually falls out of favor with the gods and famously submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite its minor importance in Plato’s work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature. The allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Bacon‘s New Atlantis and More‘s Utopia. On the other hand, 19th-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato’s account as historical tradition, most notably in Donnelly‘s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato’s vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his day—and the alleged location of Atlantis—”beyond the Pillars of Hercules“—has led to much pseudoscientificspeculation. As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire today’s fiction, from comic books to films.

While present-day philologists and historians unanimously accept the story’s fictional character, there is still debate on what served as its inspiration. The fact that Plato borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors—most notably the story of Gyges—from older traditions has caused a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War. Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato designed the story from scratch, drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events like the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC.

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Time for a short geography lesson. There is a connection between Atlantic Ocean, Atlantis and Atlas. The Atlas Mountains are a significant range in northwestern Africa, you can see them from Spain. The Strait of Gibraltar nearby is the gateway from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and that ocean was named after those mountains. Atlas, of course, being the Greek God who supported the world on his shoulders. And, yes, the city of Atlanta, Georgia, ultimately received its name from the Atlantic Ocean.

From The North Texas Skeptic

From The North Texas Skeptic

From host Charlton Heston:

If a technologically advanced culture did live on the Earth thousands of years ago, what happened to it? The Greek philosopher Plato described an advanced civilization, whose legend was preserved by Egyptian priests. As the story goes, Atlantis was a great empire of engineers and scientists, who were in many ways more technologically advanced than we are today. It was destroyed 12,000 years ago by floods and earthquakes, forcing its survivors to seek refuge all over the world. For centuries scientists and explorers have searched in vain for a continent that fits Plato’s description of Atlantis.

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We next meet Rand Flem-Ath, co-author of When the Sky Fell.

Rand Flem-Ath is a librarian and author from British Columbia, Canada. He is best known for his books about the lost continent of Atlantis and the theory of Earth crust displacement. Flem-Ath has written numerous fiction and nonfiction where he advances what is known as the pole shift hypothesis.

[Some links deleted]

Here’s some extra reading on the pole shift hypothesis:

In the 1970s and 1980s a series of books not intended as fiction by former Washington newspaper reporter Ruth Shick Montgomery elaborates on Edgar Cayce readings.

In 1997 Richard W. Noone published 5/5/2000, ICE: The Ultimate Disaster. This book argued that a cataclysmic shift of the Earth’s ice cap covering Antarctica caused by a planetary alignment and solar storms, would lead to crustal displacement on May 5, 2000.

In 1998 retired civil engineer James G. Bowles proposed in Atlantis Rising magazine a mechanism by which a polar shift could occur. He named this Rotational-Bending, or the RB-effect. He hypothesized that combined gravitational effects of the Sun and the Moon pulled at the Earth’s crust at an oblique angle. This force steadily wore away at the underpinnings that linked the crust to the inner mantle. This generates a plastic zone that allows the crust to rotate with respect to the lower layers. Centrifugal forces would act on the mass of ice at the poles, causing them to move to the equator.

Books on this subject have been published by William Hutton, including the 1996 book Coming Earth Changes: Causes and Consequences of the Approaching Pole Shift (ISBN 0876043619), which compared geologic records with the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce and predicted catastrophic climate changes before the end of 2001. In 2004 Hutton and co-author Jonathan Eagle published Earth’s Catastrophic Past and Future: A Scientific Analysis of Information Channeled by Edgar Cayce (ISBN 1-58112-517-8), which summarizes possible mechanisms and the timing of a future pole shift.

[Some links deleted]

Writers Rand and Rose Flem-Ath provide some background:

In the summer of 1976, when we first began to explore the idea of Antarctica as the site of Atlantis, the notion that civilization and climate were intimately connected was not part of the cultural template. More than three decades later, the daily impact of global warming reminds us just how easily the fragile web of civilization can be torn when nature rebels.

Radical climatic change is not something new. Stories of catastrophic earthquakes, floods and a lost paradise fill the pages of world mythology.

Today’s obsession with ‘progress’ – a straight line from one accomplishment to another – blinds us to the lost realities of our past. Our research reveals a legacy closer to the ideas of the ancients. They spoke of the earth’s past as a story filled with shocking turmoil and hard-fought survival.

We are now presented with the notion that Antarctica could be the lost continent of Atlantis. How then could the place have survived, since the continent has sported its mile-thick ice for millions of years? Hapgood postulated the build up of ice caused an imbalance of the spinning Earth. Since we now know that Earth’s crust lies on top of a liquid inner core, this imbalance resulted in a sudden 2000-mile shift of the entire crust. Antarctica, previously temperate, moved to its present polar position and froze over. This sort of thing happens every 41,000 years, according to Hapgood. The narrator says this could explain what happened to the people of Atlantis.

The first (not the only) thing I noticed about this remarkable brain wreck, is it does not account for the fact the Antarctic ice has been around for millions of years. Even so, commenter Hancock and host Charles Heston announce it to all with never a blush. Hancock piles on:

I am convinced by the evidence that we are a species with amnesia, that we have forgotten something of great importance from our own past. When we recover it we’ll realize for a start that our civilization isn’t the apex of creation, isn’t the pinnacle toward which everything has been building throughout all of geological time.

Amazingly, I agree with Hancock. I agree that he is convinced. Charles Heston concludes:

We have met the experts and looked at the evidence that seems to contradict our conventional theories about the human race.

All except the part about meeting the experts and looking at the evidence.

That concludes NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, and most likely this series of reviews. There’s a lot of stuff in there, and I did not touch all the points. Some of these I may revisit, but that’s going to be a future topic. Thanks for reading.

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NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

Number 9 in a series. Concerning the outrageous TV special NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, I previously told the story of Tiahuanacu, the archaeological site 12,000 feet up in Bolivia. Purported to be 17,000 years old by a couple of dubious researchers featured on the show, it is, in fact, less than 2000 years old, in keeping with what is known about the history of human habitation on the American continents.

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Host Charlton Heston states:

Mysterious metal clamps revealed a level of technology far beyond their time.

Meso-American Archaeologist Neil Steede reminds us:

The antiquity and the technological sophistication of Tiahuanacu should make each and every one of us fully question the origins of civilization.

Actor and host Charlton Heston wants to know:

Where did the Tiahuanacans learn all of this complex process?

Then he proposes to answer his own question:

The answer may lie half way around the world in one of Man’s most mysterious monuments…

Finally, we get around to talking about the Sphinx. We were all wondering when NBC’s mysterious special would get around to the Sphinx. I count this 32 minutes into a 51-minute video clip.

Heston:

Is it possible there was an advanced civilization on this planet thousands of years before history tells us?

Notice it’s a question, not a statement. This is called plausible deniability. We next meet “investigative journalist” Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods.

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There’s a lot of stuff here, so I’m going to have to summarize:

  • We see Hancock at the Stonehenge archaeological site in England.
  • He has “dedicated nine years of his life to tracking down the evidence.”
  • This monument is one of a category of such monuments in the world.
  • They have a number of things in common.
  • They have large stone components, some weighing hundreds of tons.
  • They have “very precise, scientific astronomical alignment.”
  • In all cases we don’t know who built them.
  • “We are looking at a common influence that touched all of these places long before recorded history began.”
  • This unknown intelligence left behind a legacy in all of these places.

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Back to the Sphinx. Host and narrator Charlton Heston explains further, but I will here just repost from other sources. We are introduced to John Anthony West:

John Anthony West (born January 1, 1932 in New York) is an American author, lecturer, guide and a proponent of Sphinx water erosion hypothesis in geology.

Influenced by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, in 1993 his work with Robert M. Schoch, a geologist and associate professor of natural science at the College of General Studies at Boston University was presented by Charlton Heston in a NBC special called “The Mystery of the Sphinx” that won West an News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Research and a nomination for Best Documentary. The documentary contends that the main type of weathering evident on the Great Sphinx (pictured) and surrounding enclosure walls could only have been caused by prolonged and extensive rainfall during the time period from 10,000 to 5000 BCE and was carved out of limestone bedrock by an ancient advanced culture (such as the Heavy Neolithic Qaraoun culture). This challenged the conventional dating of the carving of the statue circa 2500 BCE. West suggested that the Sphinx may be over twice as old as originally determined, whereas Schoch made a more conservative determination of between 5000 and 7000 BCE.

[Some links deleted]

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And Robert Bauval:

Robert Bauval (born 5 March 1948 in Alexandria, Egypt) is a Belgian author, lecturer, and Ancient Egypt researcher, best known for his Orion Correlation Theory.

Bauval is specifically known for the Orion Correlation Theory (OCT). This proposes a relationship between the fourth dynasty Egyptian pyramids of the Giza Plateau and the alignment of certain stars in the constellation of Orion.

One night in 1983, while working in Saudi Arabia, he took his family and a friend’s family up into the sand dunes of the Arabian desert for a camping expedition. His friend pointed out Orion, and mentioned that Alnitak, the smaller more easterly of the stars making up Orion’s belt was offset slightly from the others. Bauval then made a connection between the layout of the three main stars in Orion’s belt and the layout of the three main pyramids in the Giza necropolis.The theory, known as the Orion Correlation Theory or OCT, was first published in Discussions in Egyptology (DE, Volume 13, 1989)

However the Orion Correlation Theory has been challenged within mainstream archaeology and history as a form of pseudoscience. Among his more notable theories is the possible connection with the Giza necropolis and the epoch of 12,500 years ago. Several Egyptologists have however entertained the general idea that some astronomical correlations may have figured in or been represented by certain physical features and orientations in Ancient Egyptian monuments. In particular, the aspects of the OCT which claim there is a link between the Ancient Egyptian structures at Giza and the constellations as they looked some 12,500 years ago are yet to find support from many within the field.

[Some links deleted]

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The similarities between Egyptian and American sites are hard to escape, according to Heston:

  • Huge pyramids precisely aligned
  • Temples with megalithic stones
  • Extremely find joints (between stones) with less that 1/50 inch gaps
  • Similar style royal headdresses
  • Construction using L-shaped corner blocks
  • Same style metal clamps to hold stones together
  • Use of mummification to preserve dead bodies

Except the metal clamps were not so similar. Other than that, we find that diverse groups solved identical problems in the most logical and identical way to be remarkable. I mean, if you don’t build a pyramid, then you’re going to have to build a sphere or a rhomboid. That would really show off the influence of an advanced intelligence.

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What does all this point to? Glad you asked. There must have been a sophisticated group of sea-faring people who crossed the Atlantic and brought the same advanced intelligence here. That gets us to the Piri Reis Map:

The Piri Reis map is a pre-modern world map compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis (pronounced [piɾi ɾeis]). Approximately one-third of the map survives; it shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy. Various Atlantic islands including the Azores and Canary Islands are depicted, as is the mythical island of Antillia and possibly Japan.

The historical importance of the map lies in its demonstration of the extent of exploration of the New World by approximately 1510, and in its claim to have used Columbus’s maps, otherwise lost, as a source. It used ten Arab sources, four Indian maps sourced from the Portuguese and one map of Columbus. More recently it has been the focus of pseudohistoric claims for the premodern exploration of the Antarctic coast.

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What is so amazing about this map, according to the narrator, is its accuracy. It was a long time after this map was produced before clocks were invented with enough accuracy to allow navigators to compute longitude. Yet this map shows the coasts of Africa and South America within a half a degree of longitude. In case you are wondering, half a degree at the equator is about 36 miles.

There’s only a slight problem as I see it, looking at the map of Piri Reis. The coast lines are not even close to what is depicted in modern maps. Another way of saying that is the coast lines in the Piri Reis Map are wrong by a whole lot. Forget about half a degree. Let’s talk about hundreds of miles off. If it was an advanced technology behind the creation of this map, then we are going to need a new definition for the term advanced technology. Graham Hancock is eager to remind us this an accuracy we can hardly match today. I am eager to remind you let’s hope not.

That’s enough of Egypt, the Sphinx and Meso American archeology. We need to get on to Charles Hapgood. But you will have to wait until the next post.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is the 8th in a series. Previously in my review of NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man I had some fun with the story of Michael Cremo and Richard Milton. They wanted to discredit “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” otherwise known as basic 21st century biological science. They did it by demonstrating the fact of biological evolution.

Next up, host Charlton Heston introduces us to the ancient city of Tiahuanacu. First he reminds us that traditional history has civilization beginning in the Old World (Africa, Asia, Europe) and spreading to the New World (North and South America).

But there is evidence that humans were building cities in the New World thousands of years before history tells us.

Jericho is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city:

Jericho (/ˈɛrɪk/; Arabic: أريحا ʾArīḥā [ʔaˈriːħaː] ( ); Hebrew: יריחו Yeriẖo; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. The city was occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupationsince 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history.

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It would appear that Tiahuanacu is far older. Maybe 17,000 years old.

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How do we know? We next meet Neil Steede, Meso-American archaeologist.

Neil Steede, a scientist living in Missouri, calls himself a “contractual archaeologist” and is frequently paid by institutions or museums to examine controversial claims. Since he has no vested interest in the results, his approach is refreshing and usually unbiased. His look at this collection, up close and in detail, is the subject of an extremely well documented video, Jurassic Art, available at BC Productions. In this video, Steede confirms the date of the clay figures, but points out some possible flaws in the dating and analyses. Although he does not confirm or repudiate the authenticity of this find, his discussion of their implications is both shocking and controversial.

According to Steede, either our human history goes farther back in time than we ever imagined or the existence of dinosaurs– a species believed to have been extinct for 60 million years– survived to more recent times in human memory and mythology. Steede questions whether or not the carbon dating reflects the time when the figurines were made and fired, or whether the test simply indicates when the clay itself was formed by nature.

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Host Charlton Heston first fills us in on the story’s background. Main stream science considers Tiahuanacu to have been constructed by the predecessors to the Incas in the region about 2000 years ago:

However, around the turn of the century [1900], Bolivian scholar Arthur Posnansky began a 50-year study at the ruins of Tiahuanacu. Using the science of astronomy, Posnansky came to the amazing conclusion. He calculated that Tiahuanacu had been constructed more than 17,000 years ago, long before any civilization was supposed to have existed.

He continues:

Even though the accuracy of Posnansky’s measurements was confirmed by engineers, his conclusions about the age of Tiahuanacu have never been accepted.

Neil Steede to the rescue. Steede stepped in to rework Posnansky’s research. Steede noticed something others have—that stones used in the construction are amazingly well-formed and are fitted together with nary a thin gap. Furthermore, Adjacent stones are locked together with metal “staples” formed by pouring molten metal into cavities carved into the stones.

Tiwanaku monumental architecture is characterized by large stones of exceptional workmanship. In contrast to the masonry style of the later Inca, Tiwanaku stone architecture usually employs rectangular ashlar blocks laid in regular courses. Their monumental structures were frequently fitted with elaborate drainage systems. The drainage systems of theAkapana and Pumapunku structures include conduits composed of red sandstone blocks held together by ternary (copper/arsenic/nickel) bronze architectural cramps. The I-shaped architectural cramps of the Akapana were created by cold hammering of ingots. In contrast, the cramps of the Pumapunku were created by pouring molten metal into I-shaped sockets. The blocks have flat faces that do not need to be fitted upon placement because the grooves make it possible for the blocks to be shifted by ropes into place. The main architectural appeal of the site comes from the carved images and designs on some of these blocks, carved doorways, and giant stone monoliths.

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Steede explains this remarkable practice would have required bringing a metal refractory right up to the construction site, a tremendous undertaking. Or else, the stones could have been carved and their links poured at a central location and then moved to the construction site, the most likely explanation.

The ancient date arrived at by Posnansky and confirmed by Steede rests on the amazing fact that the structures were crafted with such precision. Steede concludes from their passion for precision the ancients must have sought to align the site astronomically. The problem is, the alignment with the sun is not perfect. It’s off by some. In fact, it’s off by an amount that would have existed 17,000 years ago, when the Earth’s axis was aligned differently.

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Forget about a body of archaeological evidence that the civilization responsible for Tiahuanacu’s construction only lasted from 300 to 1000 AD. Charlton Heston is pleased to tell us the story of the Spanish Conquistadors asking the Incas if they built this site. The Incas were happy, in return, to tell their future murderers that somebody else built the city thousands of years earlier. That information is remarkable, considering:

The site was first recorded in written history by Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León. He came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital Qullasuyu.

The name by which Tiwanaku was known to its inhabitants may have been lost as they had no written language. The Puquina language has been pointed out as the most likely language of Tiwanaku.

Modern civilization, with all its resources, is just barely able to retrieve history from just 3000 years ago, yet the Incas kept records going back over 10,000 years? It’s certain the builders did not leave a written record, because they had no written language.

So what does all of this to do with the Sphinx? I’m glad you brought that up. I will cover that in the next post.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is number 7. There are going to be more.

I’ve been reviewing the special NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, which came out in 1996. Previously I posted on the so-called Klerksdorp spheres, metallic spheres with interesting features found by miners in South Africa and other places. These were supposed to be objects created by humans or other intelligent beings from 2.8 million years ago. There was also the tale of the carcass of creature pulled from the ocean by Japanese fishermen, hinted at being a long-extinct plesiosaur. All of this was supposed to demonstrate that main stream science has its time scale all wrong. Enough of that.

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Narrator Charlton Heston next takes us to the Natural History Museum in London. Standing in front of it is Richard Milton, Author of Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.

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He speaks:

The building behind me is London’s Natural History museum, and it’s rather like a cathedral or church. And in a way that’s what it is. It’s a kind of temple to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

People come to museums like the Natural History Museum to get answers to their questions. Have we evolved from apes? Do humans and apes share a common ancestry? And to look at an exhibit like this you would think that questions has been answered decisively yes. But the answer is far from decisive.

Milton elaborates.

This presentation is the interpretation of one group of scientists. There are other interpretations, but you won’t find them in this or any other museum in the world.

Richard Milton (born 1943) is a British journalist and writer who deals with often highly controversial subjects. Milton, an engineer by training, has published on the topics of popular history, business, scientific controversies and alternative science and has published a novel.

His books, especially those on scientific controversies, have given rise to heated debate. To his critics Milton is a contrarian who engages in controversy for its own sake, while to his supporters he is a writer unafraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects and orthodoxies that have become dogmas. Milton is controversial in the field of evolution as he is a neo-Lamarckian who has supported the experiments of Paul Kammerer.

The Facts of Life aroused intense controversy and was met with both high praise and intense criticism. Reviewing it in New Statesman, Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins described it as “twaddle that betrays, on almost every page, complete and total pig-ignorance of the subject at hand”.

Milton’s claims have been criticised as pseudoscience by philosophy professor Robert Carroll. Milton appeared on The Mysterious Origins of Man, a television special arguing that mankind has lived on the Earth for tens of millions of years, and that mainstream scientists have suppressed supporting evidence.

Milton’s claims on the age of mankind have also been criticised for scientific inaccuracy.

[Some links deleted]

Narrator Charlton Heston continues. The idea that humans and apes share a common ancestor is accepted in the scientific community, but its acceptance hangs on fossil evidence. That brings into question the so-called missing links. These are the fossils that are supposed to be intermediary between ancient species and humans. Such evidence is “highly contested.” Milton:
Darwinists have promised us the missing link, so they’ve got to deliver. They’ve got to come up with one. Any missing link will do, it seems.

Each time a supposed link is discovered, Milton tells us, it is hailed as the answer, only later to be reclassified as either a human or an ape, and it’s discarded, and the search goes on.

Heston tells the sad tale of Java Man:

Eventually, similarities between Pithecanthropus erectus (“Java Man”) and Sinanthropus pekinensis (“Peking Man“) led Ernst Mayr to rename both Homo erectus in 1950, placing them directly in the human evolutionary tree. Because Java Man is the type specimen of H. erectus, it is sometimes given the name Homo erectus erectus. Other fossils belonging to that species were found in the first half of the twentieth century in Sangiran and Mojokerto, both in Java; older than those Dubois found, they are also considered part of the species Homo erectus.

Estimated to be between 700,000 and 1,000,000 years old, at the time of their discovery the fossils of “Java Man” were the oldest hominin fossils ever found.

[Some links removed]

Heston does not get to this point in his tale of Java Man. He only reminds us that at the end of his life the Java Man’s discoverer,  Eugène Dubois, reconsidered and decided the Java Man skull was really that of an ape. I have heard this tale about Dubois, as well, but I can find no reference to it in responsible literature. I can only guess the producers, and thereby Heston, got the idea from mythology being floated around by creationists.

Totally false. Although he did emphasise the ape-like features of the skullcap, Dubois did not say it came from a giant gibbon. He always believed that it was an intermediate between ape and human (correctly), and that the skullcap and thigh bone belonged to the same creature (probably incorrect). Java Man is still recognized as a member of Homo erectus by all competent modern scientists (and as an ape by almost all creationists).

Heston also seems to be mistaken in claiming “Nevertheless, the Java Man was prominently displayed at the Museum of Natural History in New York until 1984. Since then it has been removed.” Jim Foley, writing in the Talk Origins Archive a month after the TV special first aired noted:

According to Phil Nicholls (pnich@globalone.net), Java Man was never removed from the American Museum of Natural History, and is still in their human evolution hall, as it should be. It is also mentioned in “The Human Odyssey”, a 1993 book based on the AMNH’s human evolution exhibit by its curator, Ian Tattersall)

Another famous transitional fossil is Lucy, retrieved by Donald Johanson in 1974. We see Michael Cremo weighing in on this matter. Again, Jim Foley explains and wraps up this TV show’s story about human fossil evidence:

Michael Cremo, co-author of Forbidden Archaeology: “Lucy the famous australopithecine. Discovered by Donald Johanson. He says she was very human-like. But I was at a conference of anthropologists where many of them were making the case that she was hardly distinguishable from an ape or a monkey.”

Johanson claimed that Lucy’s locomotion was very human-like, but not Lucy as a whole. Many scientists now believe that Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) spent a significant amount of time in the trees; their hands and feet seem adapted to climbing. That does not mean she was “hardly distinguishable from an ape or monkey”, and I would be very surprised if any reputable scientist has said any such thing. The pelvis of Lucy, for example, looks a lot more like a human pelvis than a chimp pelvis. There appears to be near universal agreement that when on the ground, Lucy was predominantly bipedal, to a far greater extent than any living ape or monkey.

Richard Milton: “These bones have been restored to resemble a missing link. Part human, part ape. And Lucy is now thought of as being our long lost ancestor. But this is merely an interpretation. An interpretation of one group. Those same bones can be, and have been, taken by scientists and identified as simply an extinct ape. Nothing to do with us at all.”

Milton has not actually presented any evidence in favor of his claim that Lucy is just an extinct ape, except for the fact that some scientists supposedly agree with him. Arguing from authority seems a strange tactic to support an viewpoint that is strongly rejected by scientists. Few scientists would agree that Lucy was no more closely related to humans than chimps are, and even fewer, if any, would say that Lucy was “just an extinct ape”. The large majority accept, on the basis of physical similarities, that Lucy was an ancestor of Homo sapiens, or a close relative of an ancestor.

MOM’s treatment of the evidence for human evolution consists of a dubious interpretation of Lucy, and outright falsehoods about Java Man. The rest of the abundant evidence has been ignored. See the Fossil Hominids FAQ for a synopsys of the evidence for human evolution, and creationist responses to it.

A proper perspective needs to be taken. Just what is it that Milton and Cremo are attempting to demonstrate? If they want to convince us that evolution has not happened, that humans did not evolve from a now extinct species, then they have been making the wrong argument. They have only argued that humans did not evolve from the species represented by these fossils.

The fact left lying on the floor is that the fossil evidence shows that a long time ago there were no humans, and now we know there are humans. If I trace my lineage back I get to people who were in England and Scotland and France before that. Those people my family name came from migrated to France from Scandinavia. I am not going out on a limb in assuming that those Scandinavian people had ancestors, as well, and those ancestors had ancestors and so on and on until my ancestors were creatures that were not humans, because after a time in the past there were no humans.

This alone should demonstrate the truth of evolution. It’s only the details anybody is arguing about now. This is a fact that Charlton Heston, Michael Cremo, Richard Milton and the show’s producers Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire chose to ignore back in 1996 when they all got together to put this piece of fiction together.

Coming up next, NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man will tell us about “the mysterious city of Tiahuanacu, built at an altitude of twelve and a half thousand feet.” Bring your oxygen masks.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This has got to be number 6 in my series of posts about the documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The previous post covered the amazing finger fossil, which unfortunately does not appear to be the fossil of a human finger. Before that I touched on the Burdick Print, an apparent stone carving being passed off by creationists as an actual human footprint in Cretaceous limestone. If by now you are beginning to suspect each of the remarkable stories has the look and feel of a hoax, then you are starting to get the idea.

Veteran actor Charlton Heston, now deceased, hosts the show, and his presence is commanding and authoritative. What I find most remarkable is the way he presents each of these tales with a straight face. You will recall he won an Academy Award for his role in Ben Hur.

Up next we are told of some remarkable metallic spheres found in Klerksdorp, South Africa.

Yet, as we saw earlier, objects have been found in rock strata much older than this. In Klerksdorp, South Africa, hundreds of metallic spheres were found by miners in pre-Cambrian strata, said to be a fantastic 2.8 billion years old.

Call me skeptical if you want, but I find that to be especially fantastic, since the Cambrian began about 541 million years ago. The chart from the video shows the spheres at 2.8 billion, not 541 million, years ago.

 

 

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-01

Let’s take a look at one of these remarkable balls. Fortunately the producers had one to show. Here is a screen shot from the video.

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-02

Charlton Heston continues:

The controversy centers around the fine grooves circling some of the spheres. Lab technicians were at a loss to explain how they could have been formed by any known natural process. According to the curator of the Klerksdorp Museum, Roelf Marx, the spheres are a complete mystery. “They look man made, yet at the time in Earth’s history when they came to rest on the rock, no intelligent life existed. They’re like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Viewing this you might get the idea that no intelligent life exists today.

Of course, real scientists, taking a real view of the matter, have thrown some cold water on this notion. Said cold water not appearing anywhere in the TV documentary.

Various professional geologists agree that the Klerksdorp spheres originated as concretions, which formed in volcanic sediments, ash, or both, after they accumulated 3.0 billion years ago. Heinrich argues that the wollastonite nodules formed by the metamorphism of carbonate concretions in the presence of silica-rich fluids generated during the metamorphism of the volcanic deposits containing them into pyrophyllite. It was also argued that the hematite nodules represent pyrite concretions oxidized byweathering of near surface pyrophyllite deposits. Below the near-surface zone of weathering, which has developed in the pyrophyllite, pyrite concretions are unaffected by weathering and, thus, have not been altered to hematite. The radial internal structure of these objects is a pseudomorph after the original crystalline structure of the original carbonate or pyrite concretion.

Both Cairncross and Heinrich argue that the grooves exhibited by these concretions are natural in origin. As proposed by Cairncross, the grooves represent fine-grained laminations within which the concretions grew. The growth of the concretions within the plane of the finer-grained laminations was inhibited because of the lesser permeability and porosity of finer-grained sediments relative to the surrounding sediments. Faint internal lamina, which corresponds to exterior groove, can be seen in cut specimens. A similar process in coarser-grained sediments created the latitudinal ridges and grooves exhibited by innumerable iron oxide concretions found within the Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah called “Moqui Marbles”. Latitudinal grooves are also found on carbonate concretions found in Schoharie County, New York. The latitudinal ridges and grooves of the Moqui marbles are more pronounced and irregular than seen in the Klerksdorp (Ottosdal) concretions because they formed in sand that was more permeable than the fine-grained volcanic material in which the Klerksdorp (Ottosdal) concretions grew.

Very similar concretions have been found within strata, as old as 2.7 to 2.8 billion years, comprising part of the Hamersley Group of Australia. The Australian concretions and the Klerksdorp spheres are among the oldest known examples of concretions created by microbial activity during the diagenesis of sediments.

[Some links deleted]

Next we meet “author researcher” David hatcher Childress. We are told he “has written numerous articles on the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs.”

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-03

This is posted on YouTube, and one of the nice features of the site is that you can sometimes get a transcript from the video. The transcript is apparently produced by a voice to text process, which doesn’t always get it right. I obtained Childress’s quote from the transcript.

I think that one other solutions to the paradox of dinosaurs and people together and the vast discrepancy in time this … the whole time line above millions of years versus as only thousands of years can be explained in a cataclysmically geological view of the past where rather than geological events taking place over millions of years they take place more quickly. What is a million years on a geological timescale is in fact only say a thousand years and therefore is going to bring all this dating much closer to us and make it possible so that in a scientific way man and dinosaurs can have existed together in the past and in fact dinosaurs can still be alive today in small numbers.

That’s a remarkable view of space and time, especially time, but Childress uses it to rationalize something else.

The Zuiyo-maru carcass (ニューネッシー Nyū Nesshii?, lit. “New Nessie“) is a creature caught by the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyō Maru (瑞洋丸?) off the coast of New Zealand in 1977. The carcass’s peculiar appearance led to speculation that it might be the remains of a sea serpent or prehistoric plesiosaur.

Although several scientists insisted it was “not a fish, whale, or any other mammal”, analysis later indicated it was most likely the carcass of a basking shark by comparing the number of sets of amino acids in the muscle tissue. Decomposing basking shark carcasses lose most of the lower head area and the dorsal and caudal fins first, making them resemble a plesiosaur.

[Some links deleted]

Metallic sphere, a plesiosaur carcass, what else from the fertile minds of producers Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire? The world waits. In the next post of this series we can expect to see the producers take on the venerable theory of evolution. This should be interesting.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This has got to be about the fifth in my series of posts on the TV documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. I previously posted on the postulations of young Earth creationists Carl Baugh and Don Patton. I also made the observation that everybody appearing in the video, including narrator Charlton Heston, discuss these absurdities with an absolutely straight face. Nobody is laughing.

Don Patton gave his rundown on the Burdick Print, an apparent rock carving that Patton described as “definitely in the Cretaceous limestone.” Others have given the artifact a longer journey to its current location:

According to John Morris, the Burdick track (the right-foot slab) was purchased “years ago” by Burdick from a Rev. Beddoe of Arizona, who in turn had purchased the track from the late Pessee Hudson, proprietor of a knick- knack store in Glen Rose. Morris added that “many things were purchased in that store, including some of George Adams carvings.” Morris continued, “tracing the print proved impossible, but it was reported to have come from a tributary south of Glen Rose (1980, p. 117).

As mentioned before, the citation is to a book by young Earth creationist John Morris.

I commented that the Burdick Print lacks features I expect to find in a real footprint made in soft mud. When a foot pulls out of the print some of the loose matter is torn away, leaving a ragged perimeter. This feature is not apparent in the Burdick Print. As if to lend me a helping hand, the video next shows that very thing. This is from a sequence showing a human foot making a print in soft mud and then moving on. You can see the foot lifting off at the top of the picture.

HumanFootpring

Readers are invited to compare a real human footprint with the Burdick artifact.

We next move to another of my favorite items, The Finger. I have seen this before. The following was originally posted in The Skeptic, the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics in the September 1997 issue:

Modern dinosaurs at MIOS

by John Blanton

In August at the meeting of the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science (MIOS) Dr. Don R. Patton, geologist, spoke on the subject of “Topsy-Turvy Fossils.”

Undergraduate geology texts are deceitful regarding the geological column, according to Patton. He said that the texts implied the existence of an actual column of material containing every sedimentary layer from geological time. In fact, he correctly points out, no such column exists. Geologists acknowledge that any boring into Earth’s crust will not produce a column containing a complete time record. The time record of any single boring would have to be completed by merging it with the record from other borings. This is because no single spot on the world’s surface has continually accumulated sediment and also because very often erosion removes top layers of sediment before new sediment is added to the column. Patton is one of the many creationists who employ this tactic to debunk the geological argument for an old Earth.

The meeting notice quotes from The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins: “If a single, well-verified mammal skull were to turn up in 500 million year-old rocks, our whole modern theory of evolution would be utterly destroyed.” Patton contends that this has happened, and he used the example of the “finger” fossil from the Carl Baugh’s Creation Evidences Museum to illustrate (Figure 1). Local creationists contend this fossil was found in Comanche Peak limestone and that it indicates human existence during the time of the dinosaurs.

 

This item also shows a photo of the famous finger.

finger

The photo is from the Creation Evidences Museum website, which link has since expired. The museum’s current site has a link to the finger artifact, but that link is also broken.

Dr. Dale Peterson displays a CAT scan (computer aided tomography) of the item.

FingerScan

Not being a certified medical practitioner, I only notice this fossil seems to be missing any internal structure that resembles bones of the human finger. A few others agree with me.

The alleged fossilized finger promoted by Baugh and associates is more likely just an interesting shaped rock or concretion. I was allowed to personally examine the “finger” several years ago, and saw nothing in it to suggest it is a fossil of any sort. Nor do I know any mainstream scientist or regards it as a fossilized finger. Contrary to the suggestions in the NBC show, it does not show bones in the CT scans. The dark area in the center of the scans are not well defined and are likely due to differences in the density of rock at the middle of the concretion, or the greater mass of rock the rays passed through at the center than the edge of the rock. Last, a key point that Baugh did not reveal in the show is that the “finger” was not found in situ, but rather in a loose gravel pit some distance from Glen Rose. Therefore, like the Burdick print it cannot be reliably linked to an ancient formation, and is of no antievolutionary value, even if it were a real fossilized finger.

Narrator Charlton Heston seems to have been unaware of the history of “the finger,” because he informs us “the limestone layer that preserved these artifacts is reportedly dated at 135 million years old.” This may not be the first time Heston has been clueless about something regarding science.

Next up, some mysterious metallic spheres found in Klerksdorp, South Africa. I investigate this stuff so you don’t have to.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is about my fourth post in a series about the TV documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The show came out in February 1996 and was hosted by actor Charlton Heston. It’s one of those pseudo documentaries that are popular with viewers—lots of exciting stuff but little of any substance.

My previous post told of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre. She worked at an archaeological site in Mexico in 1966 and published results concerning human artifacts dated 250,000 years old. She mentions in the video that her career was ruined as a consequence.

Charlton Heston was no longer a young man in 1996, but he still projects a strong presence in the video. The wisdom of Moses is projected in his voice as he intones the awful facts of Steen-McIntyre’s case:

According to McIntyre, because she stuck to the facts all of her professional opportunities were closed off. She’s not worked in her chosen field since.

By “since” I am going to have to assume Heston means except for her subsequent publications, including one in 1981:

In 1981, the journal Quaternary Research published a paper by Steen-McIntyre, Fryxell and Malde that defended an anomalously distant age of human habitation at Hueyatlaco. The paper reported the results of four sophisticated, independent tests: uranium-thorium dating, fission track dating, tephra hydration dating and the studying of mineral weathering to determine the date of the artifacts. These tests, among other data, validated a date of 250,000ypb for the Hueyatlaco artifacts.

[Some links deleted]

As I mentioned in the previous post, that’s about the high point of this documentary. Next we get down to the good stuff.

We next meet one of the most outlandish frauds to ever insult the place of my birth.

CarlBaugh

This is an image of Carl Baugh, anthropologist, from the video. Actually, Baugh really is an anthropologist. In the same sense that I’m an astronaut.

Carl Baugh has been on the creationism scene in North Texas for three decades, and he operates a Creation Evidences Museum outside Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, just a few miles from where I was born. Back when Baugh was beginning to make a name for himself Glen Kuban contributed an analysis to the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics, which I reproduce here in its entirety:

A follow-up on Carl Baugh’s science degrees

by Glen J. Kuban

I wish to bring to light some additional information regarding “man tracker” Carl Baugh’s alleged scientific degrees.

As pointed out by the authors of a recent Skeptic article, [1] the College of Advanced Education (CAE), from which Baugh claims a Ph.D. in anthropology, is not accredited, and has no science courses or facilities. Don Davis, administrator of CAE and pastor of the Baptist Church that houses it, told me that it is a “missions” school only. Davis explained that the degree was given through CAE, “under the auspices” of Clifford Wilson in Australia.[2] However, the reason for this curious arrangement was not explained, and the connection to Clifford Wilson (explained below) only further undermines the legitimacy of Baugh’s degree.

A copy of Baugh’s diploma (dated 1987) indicates that CAE is the “Graduate Division” of International Baptist College (IBC). As mentioned In the recent Skeptic article, IBC is incorporated in Missouri, but it is not certified there to grant degrees in any subject. Furthermore, IBC evidently is just as lacking in science facilities and classes as CAE. The phone receptionist at IBC stated that it was a correspondence school for religious studies based on tapes by Jerry Falwell.[3] Even more interesting, the letterhead of IBC listed Carl Baugh himself as president.[4] Thus, it appears that Baugh essentially granted himself a science degree from his own unaccredited Bible school.

Pacific College, Inc. (a.k.a. Pacific College of Graduate Studies) from which Baugh claims a masters degree in archaeology, traces to creationist Clifford Wilson in Australia. Wilson is the principal officer of PCI, which is a religious school with no accreditation or authority in Australia to grant degrees. [5]

Moreover,Wilson is (or was) a close associate of Baugh, [6] and evidently was a partner of Baugh in IBC. Wilson’s name was listed as “Vice President, International Studies” on the letterhead of IBC,[7] and the location of IBC was given as Australia on a plaque displayed at Baugh’s first “man track” site.[8]

Thus, all of Baugh’s alleged science degrees appear to trace directly or Indirectly back to himself and/or his partner Wilson, and to their own unaccredited Bible schools or “extensions” of them.

Last, it may be noted that there is no evidence that Baugh has even an undergraduate degree in any field of science. Not having a science degree is not a crime; however, misrepresenting one’s credentials is another matter. Baugh’s frequently claimed degrees in science appear to be as dubious as his “man track” claims, and ought to be of serious concern to his fellow creationists.

References

[1] Thomas, John, Ronnie Hastings, and Rick Neeley, “A Critical Look at Creationist Credentials,” The Skeptic, 3:4, July-Aug. 1989.

[2] Don Davis, personal communication, December31, 1989.

[3] Phone conversation, July 5, 1986.

[4] A letter from Carl Baugh to me, dated March 10, 1983, was written on International Baptist College letterhead.

[5] According to Australian paleontologist Ralph E. Molnar (personal correspondence, October, 1986), Pacific College of Theology was amalgamated with Pacific College of Graduate Studies to form Pacific College Incorporated. Australian Barry Williams stated that PCI appears to be a small, private Bible college headed by Wilson (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 30, 1989). Ian Plimer, professor of geology at the University of Newcastle and member of the Australian Research Council, determined that PCI is unaccredited and stated, “Any ‘degrees’ from this ‘College’ are illegal in Australia (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 1989).

[6] Wilson worked alongside Baugh on some Paluxy “man track” excavations, and coauthored a 1987 book with Baugh entitled Dinosaur (Promise Publishing, Orange, CA). Baugh’s supposed degrees are listed on the back of the book.

[7] Immediately under Baugh’s name on the letterhead (reference 4) was Wilson’s name and title, obscured with “white-out” but clearly visible when held to light.[8] In 1982 the metal plaque was mounted on a large rock at the “man track” site, but later was removed (reportedly by Wilson).

[8] (Reference missing in the original)

The previous article referenced was the July and August issue of the same year. I have written some stuff on Baugh, and I need to post it here. Watch for it in a few days. On one of the occasions I visited the “museum” in hopes of running into Baugh, I asked the person in charge about Baugh’s supposed degrees. I was informed that the “museum” made no claims for Baugh’s academic credentials.

Baugh’s enterprise in this video is the existence of human footprints in the Cretaceous limestone at the base of the Paluxy River in Somerville County, Texas. This area has long been known for dinosaur prints, but the claim is now that there are human prints in the same layer, even adjacent to dinosaur prints. This is a formation that is 115 million years old, 50 million years before dinosaurs went extinct and over 110 million years ago before anything resembling humans walked.

 Footprints

 What Carl Baugh, anthropologist, wants to tell you is these are 16-inch footprints left by people back when this limestone was soft mud. What geologists and real paleontologists want to tell you, and so do I, is these do not even look like human footprints. The best going idea is these prints, following along with the obvious dinosaur prints, are imprints of the dinosaur metatarsus.

But wait. “Dr.” Baugh has one more thing to show you. Here we see the very personage of Moses, Charlton (from my cold, dead fingers) Heston, look directly into the camera and tell us without a catch in his voice and without a wince in that famous face, “But Carl Baugh is in possession of one of the most compelling prints ever found.” And here it is:

BurdickPrint

It’s called the so called Burdick Print, named after Clifford C. Burdick, an early proponent of the man tracks claims:

According to [young Earth creationist] John Morris, the Burdick track (the right-foot slab) was purchased “years ago” by Burdick from a Rev. Beddoe of Arizona, who in turn had purchased the track from the late Pessee Hudson, proprietor of a knick- knack store in Glen Rose. Morris added that “many things were purchased in that store, including some of George Adams carvings.” Morris continued, “tracing the print proved impossible, but it was reported to have come from a tributary south of Glen Rose (1980, p. 117).

The citation is to Morris, John D., 1980, Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs and the People Who Knew Them, San Diego, CA., Creation-Life Publishers.

A big fan of the Burdick Print is young Earth creationist Don Patton, who now appears in the video. I have mentioned Patton already in two of my previous posts.

DonPatton

Here we have a geologist weighing in. I know that because I have a business card from Don Patton. It says, “Don Patton, Ph.D.,” and on the next line it says geologist. It is obvious to the most casual observer reading this that Don Patton has a Ph.D. in geology. Please spare me.

I have attended Patton’s presentations during which he showed us, as he does in the video, that this is not a carving. Creationists researching this artifact have made saw cuts (see the photo above) to expose the inner structure. Several cuts have been made, but Don has resisted showing any but the cross section shown below.

BurdickPrintCrossSection

What he is pointing to, Don explains, are compression layers formed when the “foot” pressed down into the soft material. Whether these compression layers show up in any of the other cross sections we may never learn. This does, however, add a layer of mystery to the topic and also to the documentary.

If Carl Baugh, anthropologist, and Don Patton, geologist, do not bring enough credibility to this narrative, we are next introduced to a real doctor. At least now we have somebody with a college degree looking at this.

DalePeterson

Dale Peterson, M.D., says he first saw the “print” when he visited Glen Rose in 1984. At first he thought it was too perfect to be a human print, but after closer examination he is now convinced it is. He points out significant anatomical features.

Never haven taken a course in human anatomy, I could only examine my own feet. The first thing I notice is the print is 15 inches long. My feet are considerably shorter. At its widest the print is seven and a half inches. Not so my feet. The print also has a mound in the middle where the human arch should be. When a human foot steps into soft clay it does not leave a mound in the middle. Also, when a human foot continues its stride and pulls out of the print, it takes some of the soft material with it, leaving a jagged perimeter—missing from this artifact.

And nobody is laughing. Baugh, Patton, Peterson, and most of all Charlton Heston are telling all of this with a straight face. I call that just short of wonderful. This is Academy Award material.

I will continue this narrative in a future post with another of the stories from the video. The story of Atlantis is coming, so be patient.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is one in a continuing series of reviews of NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The video (documentary) came out in February 1996 with Charlton Heston as narrator. The one-hour program featured a number of stories, the first of which I covered in a previous post. It concerned the ideas put forward by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson in their book Forbidden Archaeology. Their story, much like their book, represented as fact some highly suspect tales.

Heston next traces the origins of the human race as viewed by modern science. Beginning maybe 100,000 years ago in Africa, humans migrated into Europe and Asia 40,000 years ago. The map shows migration onto the American continents 30,000 years ago.

MigrationOfMan

But, says the narrator, it ain’t necessarily so.

The case of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre, of all the stories presented in this program, is the most worthy. Unfortunately for the others.

Heston: Yet numerous artifacts have been found across North and South America that are so old they threaten to completely overturn this theory. According to geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre she was silenced at the height of her career because of her determination to report the facts.

Here we see Steen-McIntyre relate her story.

Virginia Steen-McIntyre from the video

Virginia Steen-McIntyre from the video

Her story revolves around the Hueyatlaco archaeological site in Mexico:

Hueyatlaco is an archeological site in the Valsequillo Basin near the city of Puebla, Mexico. After excavations in the 1960s, the site became notorious due to geochronologists’ analyses that indicated human habitation at Hueyatlaco was dated to ca. 250,000 years before the present.

These controversial findings are orders of magnitude older than the scientific consensus for habitation of the New World (which generally traces widespread human migration to the New World to 13,000 to 16,000 ybp). The findings at Hueyatlaco have mostly been repudiated by the larger scientific community, and have seen only occasional discussion in the literature.

Cynthia Irwin-Williams led the team that first excavated the site in 1962 The dig is often associated with Virginia Steen-McIntyre because of her continuing efforts to publicize her findings and opinions. However, the site was actually discovered by Juan Armenta Camacho and Irwin-Williams. Steen-McIntyre joined the team in 1966 as a graduate student, at the request of project geologist Hal Malde. The excavation was associated with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The region, about 75 miles SE of Mexico City, was known for its abundance of animal fossils, and Irwin-Williams described Hueyatlaco as a “kill site” where animals were hunted and butchered.

Excavations were conducted via standard protocols, including securing the sites to prevent trespass or accidental disturbances. During excavation, investigators discovered numerous stone tools. The tools ranged from relatively primitive implements at a smaller associated site, to more sophisticated items such as scrapers and double-edged blades uncovered at the main excavation site. The diversity of tools made from non-local materials suggested that the region had been used by multiple groups over a considerable period.

[Headings and some links deleted]

Steen-McIntyre goes on to say she would have been ready to accept an age of 20,000 years for the site, but an independent dating gave it an age of 250,000. She says in the video she did not realize publishing these results would “ruin my whole career.”

I see a lot of similarity here to the Expelled video. This came out in 2008, produced by Premise Media, now defunct. It featured actor and economist Ben Stein as host and narrator and told the stories of six individuals who were expelled because they cast doubt on Darwinism. The theme is that in modern America an honest researcher, reporter, teacher could be denied tenure, lose employment, be ostracized for disagreeing with the scientific consensus.

A number of people have commented on the Hueyatlaco findings and on Virginia Steen-McIntyre, including Mark Owen Webb and Suzanne Clark of Department of Philosophy at Texas Tech University:

The Hueyatlaco Dilemma

Beds containing human artifacts at Valsequillo, Mexico, have been dated at approximately 250,000 years before the present by fission-track dating of volcanic material and uranium dating of a camel pelvis.

The dilemma posed by such dates is clearly stated in the following quotation from the conclusions of the subject article.

“The evidence outlined here consistently indicates that the Hueyatlaco site is about 250,000 yr old.

We who have worked on geological aspects of the Valsequillo area are painfully aware that so great an age poses an archeological dilemma.

If the geological dating is correct, sophisticated stone tools were used at Valsequillo long before analogous tools are though to have been developed in Europe and Asia.

Thus, our colleague, Cynthia Irwin-Williams, has criticized the dating methods we have used, and she wishes us to emphasize that an age of 250,000 yr is essentially impossible.”

(Steen-McIntyre, Virginia, et al; “Geologic Evidence for Age of Deposits at Hueyatlaco Archeological Site, Valsequillo, Mexico,” Quaternary Research, 16:1, 1981.)

Webb and Clark conclude by reminding us that British scientist William Thompson (Lord Calvin) computed the age of the Earth at only 100,000 years based on principles of thermodynamics. He was obviously off by a few factors of ten, because he did not take into account the heat generated by radioactive elements in the Earth. This was some years before radioactivity was discovered. Webb and Clark Apparently some would like to compare the modern scientific consensus with the findings of Lord Calvin, consistent with known science but wrong nonetheless.

The Early Sites Research Society in its very first issue has an item by Neil Steede:

Many of our readers have been interested in the study of the site, Hueyatlaco, located in Puebla, Mexico. That particular site has found remains of human habitation at about between 250,000 to 350,000 years ago. Many things are happening with this site, which have not been reported in other magazines such as “the Ancient American.”

We would like to report some of these events to our readers at this time. Hueyatlaco was excavated at first by an archaeologist by the name of Cynthia Williams.

Archaeologist Williams found that she had a very early occupational site. She found some crude stone tools and also found many animal bones from which meat had been butchered.

The animal bones consisted of such things as the wooly rhinoceros and other pre-glacial fauna. She realized, having such an early site, that she must get laboratory dating done on the site, and requested that to be done by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The U.S. Geological Survey sent down a three member team who dated the site and found the range of very ancient dates mentioned above. Much of their controversy has been reported by Geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre.

We consider Virginia to be a very good friend of ours, and have helped channel some of the financing that she needed to complete her work more recently.

We will not attempt here to cover ground which she has already covered in her articles. What we do wish to relate to our readers in this article are the steps that we took in parts of the investigation of this enigma.

Shortly after the excavation of the Hueyatlaco site, and shortly after the dating of the site was made public, the Mexican Government came to be directly involved. The head of the Archaeological Department of the Mexican Government was very upset at these very ancient dates at this site.

It is also believed by us that he did not like the fact that Americans were finding this site, nor did he like that the Americans involved were women. Whatever his motive, he had the Mexican army go and close the site down, and confiscate all of the artifacts and related materials.

I side strongly with the scientific consensus on this issue. It’s a matter of parsimony. Is it easier to believe thousands of research findings that are in near agreement or in a few anomalous findings that could possibly erroneous or even faked?

If you think Mysterious Origins of May will eventually touch on the Lost City of Atlantis, then you are else perceptive, or you have seen this video before. I will cover the story of Atlantis and others in future posts.

UPDATE

I was called down on a misstatement in this post last year by author Mark Owen Webb, and I corrected it by posting a comment. This item has gotten additional attention recently, and on reviewing it I decide a comment was not sufficient. See the above. I have crossed out the offending text and added (underlined) less vacuous wording.

A reader calling himself “Austin” has submitted a comment. It’s not shown below, because it was submitted to a different post not related to this topic. I have asked Austin to resubmit his comment to this post. Austin’s comment reads:

Your analysis of
Tag Archives: Virginia Steen-McIntyre
NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man
August 21, 2014
is vastly slanted, you say she would have accepted a dating of 20,000 years for the site. She in fact said she would have been happy if it turned out to be a 20,000 year old site because it would have been in the realm of what was expected, although old, and would have enhanced her career. She stands by her dating of 250,000 years old for the site even though it cost her career dearly!!
SKeptic, why don’t YOU report the facts???

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

RiseOfMan

Yesterday I reposted something I wrote 18 years ago—a review of a documentary from 1996 featuring Charlton Heston. I’m going to follow up with analyses of the various segments of that program. I have watched this a number of times—I made a video tape back when it first came out, and I have dubbed the tape to DVD. Still, I will draw much of my comment from Internet postings.

The Mysterious Origins of Man was a television special that originally aired on NBC on February 25, 1996. Hosted by Charlton Heston, the program argued that mankind has lived on the Earth for tens of millions of years, and that mainstream scientists have suppressed the fossil evidence for this. Some material included was based on the controversial Forbidden Archeology, a book written by Hindu creationists Michael Cremo and Richard L. Thompson about anomalous archeological finds reported mainly in early scientific journals. It also included interviews with the following people: creationist Carl Baugh on the Paluxy tracks; Richard Milton, author of Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, on Lucy; Neil Steede on Incan ruins; and Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods, on Atlantis. It was produced by B. C. Video Inc.

[Some links deleted]

Heston begins the first narrative by citing the theory of biological evolution. The transcription is my own, so there may be some typos:

  • Before the 19th century Western man looked to the Bible for an explanation to his origins.

He goes on to give an accurate explanation of biological evolution and traces the origin of man up to the emergence of our modern species “over 100,000 years ago.” When they dig, archaeologists find human artifacts. They find modern artifacts (shows some pottery) near the surface. More primitive artifacts (shows a stone spear point) are found deeper, representing a more ancient origin.

However, he points out, people have found human artifacts that defy preconceptions. “Archaeologists call them anomalous artifacts.” He then introduces Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson and their book:

Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race is a 1993 book by Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson, written in association with the Bhaktivedanta Institute of ISKCON. Cremo states that the book has “over 900 pages of well-documented evidence suggesting that modern man did not evolve from ape man, but instead has co-existed with apes for millions of years!”, and that the scientific establishment has suppressed the fossil evidence of extreme human antiquity. Cremo identifies as a “Vedic archeologist”, since he believes his findings support the story of humanity described in the Vedas. Cremo’s work has garnered interest from Hindu creationists, paranormalists and theosophists. He says a knowledge filter (confirmation bias) is the cause of this suppression.

Forbidden Archeology has attracted attention from some mainstream scholars as well as Hindu creationists and paranormalists. Scholars of mainstream archeology and paleoanthropology have described the work as pseudoscience.

[Some links deleted]

We meet Credo and Thompson, who explain why modern society is not aware of the true history of humanity.

  • Thompson: The basic body of evidence that we’ve uncovered in this book suggests that human beings of modern anatomical type have been existing for many millions of years in the past.
  • Credo: I think we’re talking about a massive cover up. As I’ve said, over the past 150 years these archaeologists and anthropologists have covered up as much as much evidence as they’ve dug up, literally.
  • Thompson: Basically what you find is what we call a knowledge filter. This is a fundamental feature of science. It’s also a fundamental feature of human nature. People tend to filter out things that don’t fit. That don’t make sense in terms of  their paradigm or their way of thinking. So in science you find that evidence that doesn’t fit the accepted paradigm tends to be eliminated. It’s not taught. It’s not discussed. And people who are educated in scientific teaching generally don’t even learn about this.

Heston presents the studies by J.D. Whitney:

Discoveries of various artifacts in California’s Gold Country caused a stir as there were rare human fossils also discovered along with the gold. The state geologist [o]f California, J.D Whitney reported these significant artifacts to the scientific community in the 19th century.

The artifacts found on the surface were hard to date but those discovered from deep mine shafts were easier to place a date to. They were Pilocene in age as stated by Whitney but modern geologists think that they are from the Eocene age. Deep shafts were dug in Table Mountain in Toulumne County. Whitney also examined Dr. Perez Snell’s personal collection of artifacts from Table Mountain.

His collection consisted of spearheads and other implements. The exact positions of most of the discoveries were not known. One of the owners of the Valentine mine was Albert G. Walton who found a mortar, 15 inches in diameter, 180 feet beneath in the gold bearing gravels. A fossilized human skull piece was also discovered. However in 1902, Willain J. Sinclair disagreed with Walton’s claims because he was not able to find the Valentine shaft. He also said that Valentine shaft may not be the mortar’s original position as many of the drift tunnels in neighboring mines are connected to the Valentine shaft and the mortar might have found its way there.

The documentary only mentions the claims by Whitney and does not touch on the various dissenting views of modern scientists.

Thompson, and also Cremo, are right in one of their assertions. When somebody brings out something that flies in the face of a vast body of knowledge, then people—scientists included—give it a hard second look, whereas findings that agree with common knowledge do not suffer a great burden of proof. Comments by Cremo and excerpts from his book are available on-line.

Cremo’s and Thompson’s assertions suffer from a great similarity to some well-documented missteps in this field. Many of these are documented in a page in Wikipedia about out-of-place artifacts. Here is a excerpt:

  • Coso artifact: Thought to be prehistoric; actually a 1920s spark plug.
  • Malachite Man: Thought to be from the early Cretaceous; actually a post-Columbian burial.
  • Wolfsegg Iron: Thought to be from the Tertiary epoch; actually from an early mining operation. Inaccurately described as a perfect cube.

I previously attended presentations by young Earth creationist Don Patton, and Malachite Man was one of his topics. The Talk Origins archives have a brief account of the Malachite Man controversy, which I will post here in its entirety:

Claim CC111:

Ten modern human skeletons have been excavated from fifty-eight feet deep in the Lower Cretaceous Dakota Sandstone, which is dated as 140 million years old and is known for the same dinosaurs as in Dinosaur National Monument.

Source:

Patton, Don, n.d. Official world site Malachite Man. http://www.bible.ca/tracks/malachite-man.htm

Response:

  1. The skeletons are the same bones as the discredited Moab man bones, apparently with skeletons from eight nearby Indian burials added (Kuban 1998).
  2. All details given in the account are apparently false. The bones were found fifteen feet deep in soft, unconsolidated sand. They were clearly intrusive (i.e., buried there long after the sediments were laid down). The Dakota Formation is approximately 90-115 million years old, straddling the Early and Late Cretaceous. Dinosaur National Monument is in the Morrison Formation, which is Jurassic (Kuban 1998).
  3. The people making claims about Malachite Man have not been cooperative in supplying information that might be used to verify their claim. This would be surprising if they thought their claims could actually be verified.

Links:

Kuban, Glen J. 1998. The life and death of Malachite Man. http://members.aol.com/gkuban/moab.htm

References:

  1. Kuban, Glen J. 1998. (see above)

In his presentation I attended Don Patton told how the skeletons were found in the sandstone. I was suspicious of the way Patton unfolded his narrative, so I drilled down a little. Were the bones found in native sandstone, or were they found in loose sand. He truthfully would not commit to their being found embedded in sandstone. I cannot tell if this video was made before or after our conversation, but it may that Patton still holds to his original claim.

The unfortunate fact that Cremo and Thompson appear to be just faces of the Don Patton coin gets the NBC documentary off to a bad beginning. If it’s going to start off like this, where is it going to lead. Unfortunately the story is not all uphill from this, as I will show in subsequent posts.

You haven’t watched the video? You can get a copy of the DVD from me, or you can watch it on YouTube. My copy is at higher resolution.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

It can’t be possible I have not already done a post on this. Apparently I have not. It’s about time.

Charlton Heston introduces the documentary

Charlton Heston introduces the documentary

It’s been nearly 20 years since this came out. OK, nearly 19. But I’m not going to wait for the the anniversary. I will get this going by reposting my notes from 18 years ago. This appeared in the April 1996 issue of The North Texas Skeptic shortly after the show first aired on NBC. I will follow up this post with a series of posts touching on the main topics of the documentary.

NBC’s Mysterious Science

by John Blanton

“The Mysterious Origins of Man,” which aired on NBC in February, had a lot not to like about it. Besides giving a very good impression of an attack on science, it exhibited on the part of its producers and major players an appalling ignorance of some basic facts of the universe. In this cynical world, where, it would seem, half the population is trying to manipulate the other half, there is a temptation to find wonder in such innocence and naivet. Would that the enemies of this country were such babes in the wilderness.

If you did, you should not have missed it. Besides Charlton Heston (more famous as Moses and Ben Hur), there were our own local creationists Don Patton and Carl Baugh, come to explain how the scientific establishment continues to ignore their evidence and to promulgate the myth of evolution. Those even faintly acquainted with Patton and Baugh will be struck with one glaring irony in the program. The luster of national exposure for their young-Earth agenda was more than slightly dimmed by the show’s continual reference to fossils millions of years old. Maybe that’s why at the MIOS meeting the following week, Don showed considerable modesty when making reference to his appearance. I further noted that many of the creationists at the meeting had not seen the program. It aired when many of them were at church.

Naturally, the program has its detractors. I will not dwell on their remarks. I have a video of the program. Watch it, and you can supply your own comments. The producers have responded to their critics, however, and they have graciously allowed us to reprint the text. To me these thoughts, spilled out on paper, make my case completely (John Blanton):

PRODUCERS’ RESPONSE TO THE CRITICS

By Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire

(Reprinted with permission)

As we expected, the response to our show has been heated. We’ve been accused of pseudo-science and setting back the course of education in America. But our goal was simply to present the public with evidence which suggests an alternative view to some of our most accepted theories. After all, the theory of evolution is still a theory, not a fact, and therefore alternative views should be welcomed, not banned.

Probably the most common criticism is that the show gave no opposing view from the academic community. The producers’ position is that the accepted view has been so frequently presented to the public that only a brief summary by the host was necessary. It was more valuable to focus on the documented anomalous evidence.

For example, if man evolved from the apes around 5 million years ago, then how does the scientific community explain tools of modern man found in rock strata dating to 55 million years old? (J.D Whitney, California State Geologist, Table Mt. Mine) Those artifacts currently reside in a museum in Berkeley, California. When we applied for permission to film them, we were denied by the museum.

Another criticism is that the information in our show is presented by experts who do not hold degrees in their fields of expertise and therefore their opinions are not endorsed by the scientific community. But Dr. Virginia Steen McIntyre holds a Ph.D. in Geology and was a fellow with the USGS when she did her field work in Mexico. Her conclusions about the age of the spear points she dated (250,000 years BP) were backed by two other USGS members, yet because of their implications, the findings were ignored and her career was ruined.

In the case of the Paluxy River man tracks, to our knowledge, no accredited archaeologist has ever proven the prints to be fake. Furthermore, many scientists have referred us to an article written by Kuban and Hastings who seem to be the experts on this site. They categorically deny that there is any validity to the prints and that the case has been solved.

It is interesting to note that the scientific community refers to this report as if it is definitive proof, when in fact neither gentleman is an accredited archaeologist, anthropologist or paleontologist. If this is to be a fair discussion let’s all play by the same rules.

Many of our critics are using very strong language, calling us morons, liars, and subversive creationists. These are emotional responses, not logical arguments. To set the record straight, we are not creationists or affiliated with any group whatsoever. We are being attacked on a personal level, because we are questioning issues that have been deemed too fundamental to be questioned.

We are fully aware that the information presented is highly controversial. This was re-iterated by Charlton Heston in the show, “We’ve seen a broad range of evidence, some of it highly speculative. But there are enough well documented cases to call for a closer look at the conventional explanation of man’s origins.”

We never take the stance that we know the answers or in any way suggest that we will provide them. We are merely offering an alternative hypothesis. In this way, we feel that the American public is fully capable of making up its own mind. Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire Producers of The Mysterious Origins of Man. To follow the controversy on our World Wide Web site:

http://www.bcvideo.com/bcvideo

– Copyright 1996: Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire. . . . May reprint with permission. – Distributed (not written) by Thomas Burgin . . . Direct any inquiries to bcvideo@interport.net.