Monday, June 23, 2014

America Unearthed and the Smithsonian

As sometimes happen, I was just cruising around the TV dial (remember when there were dials on televisions?) and came across an episode of America Unearthed. They were looking at a stone covered in runes that suggested Vikings had made it to the new world and had actually gotten as far south as New England long before Columbus. Examining the stone, the guy said that because of the type of stone, he couldn’t tell if it was weathered enough to be from the proper time frame.

Now I believe that the Vikings reached Canada… that evidence seems to be solid. I believe that a group of Europeans, from southern France arrived about 2000 years ago and remnants of their settlement have been located in Florida. It also seems that the Clovis people, who might also have been related to those in Europe, have been found in Virginia, suggesting that these Europeans arrived much earlier than Columbus.

And, there seems to be evidence turning up in Oregon that suggests the Chinese arrived there some seventy or eighty years before Columbus. Or, in other words, a lot of people from a lot of different places arrived long before Columbus, and I haven’t even mentioned the people that all those others found when they got here.

But that’s not the point. It was something the geologist said after he asked the owner of the stones if she had contacted the Smithsonian. She said she had but their response was to ask her to donate the stones to the museum for display.

His response to her suggested that he didn’t think the stones would be displayed. He thought they would have disappeared into one of the warehouses holding all those things there were not on display. In other words, he thought they would be swallowed up and never seen again because, and here I’m speculating, the stones suggested an alternative to our accepted history.

That set me to thinking. How many other discoveries, how much other evidence has been submitted in good faith only to be hidden away by those who believe they know best? How much evidence has disappeared into classified files, been buried deep in an archives, how much has vanished into files and locations that are misnamed, and how many documents have been destroyed to keep those secrets?

There is some corroboration from the academic arena. During the “Dinosaur Wars” of the late nineteenth century, Edward Drinker Cope and his nemesis, O.C. Marsh, fought over the discoveries, the fossil beds, and even stole discoveries from one another. Marsh had the majority of his fossils confiscated by the government with them then being given to the Smithsonian. Ahh, nothing like having the federal government getting involved in science research and determining who would be the recipient of their generosity.

 Yes, I know that the confiscation of fossils and then giving them to a museum is not the same as hiding the information away in their basements, but it certainly does suggest a precedent. It does suggest that information that should be in the public arena might be stored away where no one can ever see it, and if they can’t see it (or study it) then the status quo can be maintained.

I could apply some of what we know about the history of UFO research to this. There are some disappearing files that might have given us some interesting answers. As I noted in Government UFO Files, the U.S. government collected information on the Swedish Ghost Rockets, but those files disappeared when the official investigation began in 1947. There are hints that they existed once, but they are gone now, lost in the great bureaucracy that is the U.S. government.

This all was sparked simply by the suggestion that had the Viking runes been donated to the Smithsonian, they might have disappeared into the basement. Maybe the Smithsonian would have put the runes into a public display. I don’t know. I just thought it an interesting observation by a fellow who had worked with the Smithsonian in the past. I thought of it as an interesting way of hiding alternative history without having to deal with the problems such history caused. I thought of it as a way of maintaining written history as we all have been taught it was rather than updating it when we learn something new.

(And as a side thought, the Smithsonian probably would have attempted to vet the runes and certainly wouldn’t have displayed them if there was any doubt to their authenticity… which is not a bad thing.)

(Update -  I have been given the real name of the series... as I say, I caught it as I was cruising around the cable. Thought I would make the change.)


Lyall M said...

The "Kennewick Man" saga shows the extremes that people will go to hide historical events. It is kind of analogous to what your saying.

albert said...

I believe you are referring to "America Unearthed", with "... forensic geologist Scott Wolter...". It is the most reasonable of the many shows of that ilk now running.

'History' is a fickle mistress. Take the case of Nicola Tesla. Just a tiny footnote in US history as far as the Smithsonian is concerned, until a group of Tesla fans started to complain. Just look at the degree of lionization Edison receives even now.

I learned nothing about Tesla (btw, a US citizen) in history classes, yet the real industrial revolution would not have happened without him. His 3-phase, AC power system originated from his work, not based on others, or mindless experimentation.
The Smithsonian is a politicized institution, much like everything the US Govt get involved with. I wouldn't trust them with anything of value.
It's a bit like making Bill Gates the father of the computer.

God help us,

I gotta go...

starman said...

The"Dinosaur Wars" were during the late NINETEENTH century, not eighteenth. The word "dinosaur" was coined by Owen around 1841.

KRandle said...

starman -

I knew it was the nineteenth, which is the 1800s. Sometimes the brain just goes to sleep. Thanks for the correction.

Terry the Censor said...

Jason Colavito has been reviewing each episode of the series as they come out. He has documented extensively the cherry-picking, misdirection, innuendo and outright fibs made by Scott Wolter (who is also guilty of our old favourite, credential inflation).

In his various posts, Jason has disproved just about every statement of fact about early American discoverers that Kevin reproduces here.

KRandle said...

Terry -

I found Jason Colavito's postings interesting, entertaining and a tad bit snarky. I noticed that he didn't like the way the Giant Wall in Texas show was put together, but in the end, that the proper conclusion was reached... that the wall is natural.

I'm not sure that he disproved my assertions about early visits by Europeans (let's make that clear, according to Colavito that means white) have been disproved. The Vikings did reach Canada and did establish a settlement there. It also seems reasonable that those Vikings, while establishing no settlements in New England, may have explored that region.

What seems to be disproved is that Europeans established permanent settlements in the new world prior to Columbus, but there is evidence of such visitation. And I should point out that my conclusions, right or wrong, were not based on what Wolter said, but other information available in other locations... though it seems quite clear that the ancestors of the native people here immigrated from the Asian continent.

Of course my point here was that there is a historical precedence for scientists hiding information that does not conform to their personal beliefs and inventing information to validate those beliefs... and there is evidence that some of those same scientists eventually changing their minds when the evidence is properly presented and somewhat overwhelming.

Dave said...


I think you're right on the mark concerning 'inconvenient' or anomalous facts and artifacts.

Nothing worse to an entrenched theory to have some execrable !#@! fact rear up its ugly head, and ruin a perfectly good thing.

albert said...

In fairness, it should be pointed out that Jason Colavito is a professional skepti-bunker. He's got a "...a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology and journalism...". He's a contributor to Septic Magazine.

Anthropology, like other social 'sciences', is based mostly on theory and conjecture, as there are few "facts" upon which to make any reasonably scientific judgements.

Colavito, or anyone, is incapable of 'proving' or 'disproving' anything, and neither is Wolter. Neither is capable of original thinking, as the well from which they source their 'facts' is already poisoned.

'Runes' cut on rocks; gimme a break.

He d'anar...

Kurt Peters said...

"In fairness, it should be pointed out that Jason Colavito is a professional skepti-bunker. He's got a "...a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology and journalism...". He's a contributor to Septic Magazine."

...OK... so we know a whole lot more about Colavita than we do about Anthony J. Bragalia...

KRandle said...

Kurt Peters (if that is your real name) -

Ironically, you ask about Anthony J. Bragalia, yet we know nothing about you. Tony doesn't post here, so this question is irrelevant here. If you desire this information, direct the question to the blogs which he hosts or the ones to which he posts.

Gottlob said...

That set me to thinking. ...