2013 Burrows Cave Hoax Update:
Un-Hacked and Corrected Version
By R. D. Flavin
Well, time flies by when no one cares... And, leaving humor aside and returning to the sad silliness of the Burrows Cave hoax, as I remarked about in my "2012+1" column at the top of this year, a new journal article ostensibly about Burrows Cave has been published (Wilson 2012). Also, as mentioned in the column, a sizable collection of gold-painted lead Burrows Cave artifacts has surfaced. A review of the article, a full telling of the tale of the latest fake gold BC items, together with associated tidbits of pseudoscience flotsam and it's a 2013 Burrows Cave hoax update. Let's have at it, shall we?
That there's been a general dearth of professionally academic and skeptically critical articles about the Burrows Cave hoax is a given. With the exception of a few brief critical articles by Barry Fell in his amateur and non-peered reviewed journal, the Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications (Fell 1987, 1990a, 1990b), as well as some mentions in ESOP's kindred publications (Occasional Newsletter of The Mid-Atlantic Epigraphic Society, Midwestern Epigraphic [Society] Journal, etc.), almost all publications discussing the Burrows Cave hoax were/are supportive of the lie. And, of course, money and the promise of money was/is involved. I remain disappointed that such popular science magazines such as Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, Discover, Archaeology Magazine, etc., never saw fit to address the BC hoax. Yeah, I got two or three rejection letters from the skeptic mags advising I pursue the story more (i.e, acquire quotes from professionals and provide data from scientific testing) from 1994-1998, and that failure prompted me to frame my online "Falling into Burrows Cave" article as a personal memoir. When asked for position statements, professional archaeologists invoked the lyrics to The Band's "The Weight," that is, "He just grinned and shook my hand, and 'No!', was all he said." Scientific testing is ridiculously expensive for (poor) private individuals, and my many attempts to interest universities and museums all ended with a variation o "our funding has been slashed." Now, from the void of critical oblivion there was one shining departure from the too-busy-for-refutation academic crowd, a wonderfully concise overview of the Burrows Cave hoax from Prof. Alice Kehoe (anthropology-emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Near the end of an important work on the possibilities and probabilities of pre-Columbian contacts between the Old and New Worlds (Kehoe 2003; pp. 31, 33), Prof. Kehoe wrote:
"Rational discussion of evidence is impeded by the naïveté of many archaeologists who parrot the assertion that pre-Columbian contacts were either impossible or the sailors inevitably promptly murdered. Other archaeologists, canny rather than naïve, fear jeopardizing their careers by engaging an out-of-favor topic. Some are simply uncomfortable talking with untrained enthusiasts eagerly embracing everything from dowsing and Goddess worship to the "golden" treasures and engraved tablets (engraved on commercial lithograph stone) allegedly found in Asian kings' tombs Burrows Cave in southern Illinois and sold at auction to the public. Worse, these treasures are endorsed by a neo-Nazi who served time in the federal penitentiary in the same area, the "cave" being announced about when he was released (Martin and Flavin, 1995)."
Kehoe's paper calmly challenged the Establishment's position of Sam Morison's "No Europeans [or anyone else, RDF] in America before Columbus" by arguing for improved cross-disciplinary methodologies in anthropology and archaeology, and also invoking recent work which strongly suggests such ancient contacts not only did in fact happen, but ...that transoceanic and transcontinental contacts (sort of) regularly continued from ancient into historical times. Her suggestions for new and better methodologies were detailed in a later publication on the infamous Kensington Runestone (Kehoe 2005). While I disagree with dear Prof. Kehoe's final support for acceptance of KRS authenticity, I was duly impressed by her inclusive logic and non-exclusive reasoning concerning "fantastic claims. The late David H. Kelley (Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary) would also write about "hyper-diffusinism" in a near jesuitical fashion. It remains for an enterprising historian of science to one day chronicle the terminological differences between and the change from "hyperdiffusionism" to "transoceanic and transcontinental contacts." Hint agenda-driven and often racist (i.e., twisted history or "twistory"), while the other is just ...science and history.
Though generally following Kehoe's lede concerning narrow-minded
institutionalized authority judgments, "The Cave Who Never
Outsider Archaeology and Failed Collaboration in the USA" also seeks to
further distinguish between pseudoscience, "fringe"
archaeology, and methodologically sound anthropological
hypotheses. Prof. Joseph A. P. Wilson (Division of Humanities
Social Sciences, University of New Haven) introduced the term "outsider
archaeology" to draw attention to the current disjointed expectations
of responsibility and courtesy in anthropology and
An allusion to Colin Wilson's classic work on human societal
alienation, The Outsider
(Wilson 1956), is surmised and Prof. Wilson provides examples which
illustrate the ethical quandary some professionals face when confronted
with a "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains,
matter how improbable, must be the truth" scenario. Sometimes
"evidense" can't simply "speak for itself" and conclusions are required
to advance and test certain models, as in the ongoing debate over the
apparent connection between the Athapaskan languages of Western North
America and the Ket language of South-west Siberia, the proposed
Dené-Yeniseian language family. It makes sense, it's awesome
depth, yet doesn't inherently clash with existing migration and
settlement models. Still, it's new, different, and ...another
example of the Establishment dragging its heels when faced with
change. However, as Wilson bemoans, "Few reputable
devote attention to these questions." It would seem that
anthropology is not above "eating its own," but its public
responsibility and courtesy interfacing is also brought to task in
Wilson's paper. And, here, the Burrows Cave hoax is used as a
primary example of ...academic and professional laziness (var. the "No
one wants to take out the trash" problem).
Prof. Joseph A. P. Wilson's "TABLE 1: TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS IN 1980s."
Joe Wilson's critique of the Burrows Cave hoax is roughly divided between flabbergast and outrage. Pushing past the preposterous claims of Russ Burrows and the crude forgeries of "ancient" inscribed stones, Wilson undergoes consternation by Burrows' open and ongoing relationship with the ex-neo-Nazi, Frank Collin. Inference remains unavoidable with respect to the circumstantial, as coincidence and a buck "might" get one a small Newman's iced-coffee at McDonald's. Wilson mentions my 2004 "assertion" that it's possible that Burrows and Collin shared the manufacturing and marketing of the BC artifacts and fictional "legend." A simple graphic speaks a thousand or more words. I'm reminded of yet another Wilson, the late and sublimely great Robert Anton Wilson, who offered his book, Coincidance: A Head Test (Wilson 1988), as a tribute against Establishment ontological obfuscation. My only complaint with Prof. Wilson's analysis of the Burrows and Collin connection is the persistent usage of the pseudonym "Frank Joseph" for the historically relevant sicko, Frank Collin. Collin is infamous for bullhorning neo-Nazi hate and revisionist history and it's germane to any discussion of Burrows Cave and revisionist American prehistory to cite 'Frank Collin' rather than the New Age con-man and uber-creepy fakir, "Frank Joseph." It's a keyword thing...
"The Cave Who Never Was: Outsider Archaeology and Failed
Collaboration in the USA" reproduces a drawing made by the
"Outsider" hyper-diffusionist archaeologist, George
F. Carter (Geography, Texas A & M University), which depicts an
"imossible" oar portrayed on one of the BC inscribed items.
I've long coveted copies of various photographic collections
of the BC material (i.e., the Bev Mosely and Virginia Hourigan
collections) as I wish to eventually pursue a study of the iconography
of the Burrows Cave inscribed artifacts so as to ascertain an educated
ratio between copied-from-source-material to flagrant error to "show"
authenticity (the "Hey, if it was fake there wouldn't be a mistake
present" confidence game ploy). I now have copies of
both collections (see below) and am dreading the long slog I'll one day
have to take and make. BTW, though Carter's 100,000 BCE date
for the initial colonization of the Americas and his work on the
pre-Columbian diffusion of the New World chicken to the Old are still
hotly contested, his theories on the early spread of sweet potatoes
from South America into the Pacific and Asia have been
vindicated. So, score one for the "Outsider" underdog (and
A drawing from a letter by George F. Carter to Robert L. Pyle dated Sept. 23, 1994.
Arguably, the best component of Wilson's contribution is his dignified outrage and genuine dissatisfaction with the archaeological community for not publicly addressing and refuting the Burrows Cave hoax and related unreasonable claims. It's about balance and enabling a more well-informed public. Scientific responsibility and courtesy should extend to fantastic claims on a regular basis and not just when it's convenient or popular. It's not just a debate between amateurs and professionals, or agenda-oriented modeling versus "fringe" science, as sometimes real hurt can rise from the armchair and negatively damage individuals and institutions. As in, for example, the latest cache of gold-painted lead Burrows Cave artifacts.
As these things go, those were just the second and
third legs of the 2012 Burrows Cave stool, as the first arrived a
couple of weeks earlier. One day in mid-December I got a text
message which asked: "Are you Richard Flavin?" I
texted back, "Yes. Who wants to know?" After a
couple of uncomfortable phone-calls and a few e-mails later, yet
another unfortunate chapter in the Burrows Cave Hoax revealed
itself. Old guy had died, his family found a considerable
amount of what appeared to be golden treasure among his possessions,
and contacted a charity to arrange for an auction. One of the
golden treasures was broken and after examination the item was revealed
to be gold-painted lead, as were all the "treasures."
Upon consulting the Illinois Attorney General's office, the
charity received a recommendation not to auction the items ...even as
cheap reproductions or folk art. These items appear to be
another batch of gold-painted lead "treasure" chum manufactured to get
the collector sharks to circle sometime in the mid-to-late
1980s. I'm proud of the old guy's family with choosing a
charity, I feel bad for the charity (especially since there are still a
lot of BC idiots out there who would buy the items even with the surety
that it's all painted lead), and I've a deep sad that this won't be the
last time a charity is disappointed by alleged
Burrows Cave "artifcats." From
After being questioned by Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana (actually, their online-auction division), I telephoned Russ Burrows to inform him of the charity fiasco, asked him if he had any information as to how such a "valuable" assemblage could have made its way to the local thrift-store, and ...suggested he advise his supporters to move quickly if they wanted to acquire the gold-painted lead "treasure." He told me that he was recovering from a stroke ...and repeated his claim from the last few years that he's "not into that stuff anymore." Well, I hadn't spoken with Burrows for (I believe) a couple of years at that time and he did sound a tad slower than I remembered. However, IMO, just a trifling less than his usual aggressively arrogant and pompous self. Russ deadpanned denial of any specific knowledge and floated an indirect allegation (as usual) that Jack Ward had something to do with it." I couldn't speak any further without rehashing all of the known (and published) myths, rumors, lies, slanders, and impossible scenarios already in play, so, I ended the conversation. I hoped maybe Russ could con someone into giving Goodwill some serious legal tender and something good might materialize in this detestable chapter in criminal pseudoscience.
And, because some scabs cry out for picking more than others, I contacted Brian "Harry" Hubbard with the same developments and suggestions. Hubbard had been telephoning me every few months with BC-related information and news of his latest interviews, public speaking engagements, and upcoming publications. Much of the conversations with Harry were, of course, decidedly one-sided as I'd ask a question and his blathering obfuscations would run on-and-on until I reached that "I've got to go check on my laundry" stage. Well, honestly, it was the combination of too much of the long-con and the extremely poor and annoying audio quality of the telephone calls. I'd heard excuses about Skype, a slow computer connection, and then there was something about being in the sticks with poor television reception. I tossed some alms his way in the form of a couple of small care-packages containing DVDs (action-adventure flicks as per request). Unlike ol' fogy (but not foggy) Russ, Harry was excited by Goodwill's predicament and took down the contact info for their online-auction division. Other than John White who bought many goddess-themed BC items, I'm not currently in touch with any BC collectors (or at least those that I'd be able to stomach a conversation with). I was contacted by a charity who does exceptional work, answered some questions, and made a couple of calls to get the word out about the gold-painted lead BC items. It was the least I could do. Literally, and I'm kinda' ashamed about it.
weeks went by and Harry rang back with news that he'd just acquired the
Goodwill BC Collection. He was still on the road, giddy with
delight, and promised to call me back as soon as he'd returned home and
unpacked. Harry called a couple of days later and told a tale
that somehow seemed appropriate given the general apathy and bad luck
surrounding the Burrows Cave hoax. The Goodwill
online-auction division had referred Harry to the Illinois Attorney
General's office who acted as a final arbiter in the matter for some
odd and unknown reason. Why was the Illinois AG's office
involved with a charity in Indiana? They proceeded to task
Harry with proving he had a connection to the collection and added
something about Thelma McClain. Irony can be wicked leaden at
times. The Goodwill BC collection photograph (see above)
contains a 1997 newspaper article from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial
which features Harry and Paul surrounded by stacks of gold-painted lead
BC items. I believe, but could be mistaken, that the fake
gold in the 1997 picture was from the release of some of Mildred Ward's
estate to her son-in-law, Tom Elkin. Previously, Harry had
paid for his own BC-themed issue of The Ancient
American (3, 16; January/February 1997) that
published pictures of the fake gold photographed by Burrows in the
1980s, stored among Jack Ward's papers, and given to Harry by Mildred's
daughter, June Ward Elkin. Anywho, Harry claims that he was
able to show a couple of letters (?) from Thelma McClain which
satisfied the Illinois AG's office. All well and weird, but
apparently the Illinois AG's office's couldn't condone the BC items
being sold as collectables and insisted on allowing the sale based upon
some current scale price of scrap lead at around 22¢ per pound (versus the price of 99.9%+ new clean
lead at around $2.40 per pound). Harry said it cost him two
hundred and seventy-something dollars for the 606 lb haul.
Score one for Harry, ...and it's a damned sad loss for Goodwill
Industries and the fine work they do.
As I'd recently sent Russ an e-mail with an attached PDF of Wilson's "The Cave Who Never Was: Outsider Archaeology and Failed Collaboration in the USA," I telephoned him to get his opinion of the paper and tell him about Harry's score. And, as usual, I got po' diddly. Concerning the Public Archaeology article, Burrows said something to the effect that "He's an idiot... Mumble... More mumble..." Regarding Hubbard's acquisition, he commented, "Good for him..." Yeah, that conversation had to have taken a not-so-grand total of three or maybe four minutes... In a forthcoming article (Thomas 2015, p. 11), Dr. Suzie Thomas (University Lecturer in Museology, University of Helsinki) quotes Wilson and supports professionals informing the public of frauds, hoaxes, looting, and such. And, yes, Burrows Cave is mentioned...
Previously published photograph of Burrows with fake gold "medallions" ca. mid-to-late 1980s, the Goodwill BC Collection in boxes, and a sampling of the BC gold-plated lead coin "replicas."
The next four months turned into a Burrows Cave hoax psychodrama as Hubbard began to telephone several times a week to discuss how Russ could have made the fake gold items in his kitchen, garage, or backyard. First off, Harry "rewarded" me for introducing him to the Goodwill BC gold-painted lead "replicas" by sending me a couple of USB flashdrives with copies of his personally photographed BC material, which also included the Bev Mosely, Virginia Hourigan, and other BC photograph collections. I appreciated the gesture, though ...the task of going through all the material is being put on the rainy day way-back burner for now. And, secondly, Harry said that his People" were impressed with my writing (cough, right, sure), how the Goodwill acquisition worked out, and so "authorized" Harry to give me five or six of the gold-painted lead pieces ("bars, medalians [sic], coins, slugs, figures, pictures, things I have plenty of..." People? Really? Yeah, it was another Burrows-esque "I'm not in charge" diversion with Harry claiming he didn't have the cost of the bulk lead ...or gas money for the road-trip. Such cash-ledger Three-card Monte goes back to the mid-to-late 1980s and the Burrows/Ward/Cullen triumvirate. And, through extension, that would make Thelma McClain's antique and curio store a complicit Senate.
Now, the background BC mythos has remained that all of the Burrows Cave "gold" items sold to private collectors and photographed at various times in the '80s and '90s were "replicas" made in St. Louis and paid for by the mysterious "landowner," that is, (as alleged by Burrows) the notorious Chicago gangster, Antonino Joseph "Tony" Accardo (aka "Joe Batters" or "Big Tuna"), who passed away in 1992. Burrows' oft repeated allegation that Jack Ward stole a large amount of the real "gold" and secreted it away in Swiss bank accounts (Buergin 1998, Hubbard 2013) continues to be predicated on the fantastic claim that "real" BC gold ever existed. That not a single genuine gold Burrows Cave item has ever been identified and tested doesn't deter or dissuade the BC Believers. Hubbard maintains the conviction that somewhere among the many hundreds of items of the Goodwill BC Collection there could exist a "real" gold piece or three. As far as Harry's current belief in Swiss bank accounts or deposit boxes containing BC "gold," I haven't a clue and can't bring myself to soberly inquire.
Hubbard readily acknowledges the gold-painted lead BC items are fake,
he nonetheless argues they are reproductions or "replicas" of
legitimate antiquities based upon his and Paul "Schaffranke"
Kelley's assertion that "readable" Etruscan is used in the
casting molds and the finished products (and, it follows, many of the
Burrows Cave engraved stone items). So, establishing baseline
whack-itude, Harry proceeded to question, debate, and argue with me as
to how Russ could have 1)
made so many and 2)
cast the larger lead items. Burrows had joked with me more
than a decade ago about melting lead on his kitchen stove and it took a
couple of weeks for Hubbard to consult with his "People" and experts to
verify that a home stove can generate a flame of approximately 3000°F and the melting
point of lead is 621.43°F. Me thinks The
Google is not strong with Hubbard. I tried to
remind Harry of the scene in Mel Gibson's The Patriot
where he melts his dead son's toy soldiers and casts them as musket
balls. Burrows was a member of the Illinois State Militia
(Reactivated), an American Civil War reenactment group for many
years. Dedicated antique firearm enthusiasts and hobbyists
regularly fashion their own rifle musket balls and Minié ball
bullets. It would not be stretch to conclude that Burrows and
his fellow reenactors had knowledge of campfire lead bullet/ball casting (an average wood
campfire flame reaches approx. 1600°F). Hubbard, with
continued whack-itude, ignored the Civil War reenactment group
experience and persisted with questions as to how Burrows could have 1) made so many and 2) cast the larger
As far as sheer numbers, comparisons between the 1890-1920 Michigan Relics/Artifacts (aka the Scotford-Soper-Savage Frauds) and the Burrows Cave Hoax items were made as early as the 1988 ISAC Conference (Flavin 1995). Weird scripts, religious imagery, and ...lots and lots and lots of "artifacts." Based on production-hours, discovery locations, the use of pseudo-Egyptian hieroglyphs and pseudo-cuneiform, I've previously proposed an initial manufacturing by devotees of James J. Strang (1813-1856) who led thousands of estranged Mormons to Michigan after the 1844 murder of Joe Smith, Jr. in Carthage, IL. Strang and his "Strangites" were numerous, industrious, and ...whacks. Pseudo-Egyptian hieroglyphology was all the rage in early-to-mid 19th century whackery (Fabre d'Olivet 1815-1816, Smith 1842), cuneiform writing with "nail-headed" charcacters were discussed in popular newspapers after ca. 1845 (Unknown 1845), and Strang's thematic sequels to Smith's fantastic "Golden Plates," the Voree Plates, and the Plates of Laban, show affinities to the Hebrew script and also to Byrom and Taylor shorthand writing systems. That the Michigan Strangite cult could have produced a core assemblage of engraved and carved items before the Scotford-Soper-Savage manufacturing and salting period is not beyond conjecture. But, I could be wrong. The Michigan Historical Society now houses over 800 Michigan Artifacts (given by the LDS, who recognized their modern origin), with other collections at the University of Notre Dame, IN and in Louisiana. The total number of Michigan Artifacts was once thought to be between 20,000 and 30,000, though a more recent estimate guesses of 3000. Comparisons between the Michigan Artifacts and the Burrows Cave Hoax items are valid as far as concocted religious imagery and invented pseudo-ancient scripts, yet as demonstrated by Hubbard's continued focus (obfuscation?) on 'number' as somehow evidence of authenticity I would argue 'amount' was a central component of the BC scam from its inception.
Answering Hubbard's question about the casting of large lead pieces
proved difficult, as Harry refused The Google or a
trip to a craft/hobby store or even a bait-shop that sells supplies to
make one's own lead sinker weights. Hint: iron skillet,
common clay, cheap lead, and some heat.
I selected a few small fake gold items from assorted photographs Hubbard had sent to me, but he never responded to my e-mail. For a few weeks we'd discussed getting the gold-painted lead BC items looked at. The gold paint had already been tested and demonstrated to contain copper and zinc (Chandler, Hanson, & Totten 2001) and I proposed analyzing the lead to see if any identified impurities could narrow a search between "clean" lead and processed scrap. Yeah, too anal-academic, a waste of time and money. I kept reminding Harry about the "Flavin green light" to toss me a couple fake coins, but my requests went unheeded or acknowledged. After a couple of weeks of silence, there was an e-mail and a few voice-mails instructing me to download his new book (Hubbard 2013) and comment on it. As I'd paid $17 and change a year or two previously for his last effort, I assumed this was an amateur hyper-diffusionist sop or some sort. The PDF e-book downloaded okay, I guess I saved some goof-off cash, and I was already familiar with just about all the material and info, so had little to say about it. However, who published the e-book proved quite ...fascinating.
Harry's "new" book, Tomb Chronicles Part II
is published electronically (i.e, available for digital download) from
ZTT Consulting, a design, marketing, and web-site hosting company whose
motto/slogan is "Open Your Your Mind." Under
is proud to offer two authors Steven M. Greer, M.D.
of The Disclosure Project and Harry Hubbard of Past
Preserves. Greer has two e-books for sale, Disclosure:
Top-Secret Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest
Secrets in Modern History and Contact:
Countdown to Transformation The
CSETI Experience from 1992-2009. Oh,
great! More government and military conspiracy lunacy
combined with UFOs. That's so Burrows late-'80s
and early-'90s! They say "birds of a feather flock
together," but the military tall-tales and alien whack à
la Russ seems creepy coincidence. Sure, Harry had
his "Lizard Flick" video and lectures about lizard aliens on
BC engraved mudstones years ago, but Greer has a body! An
"alien" body! Well, sort of...
Earlier this year, a "documentary" premiered in Hollywood entitled, Sirius,
about the work of Greer and aliens. Press releases heralded
scientific proof of the existence of aliens and the film features Greer
referring to "Ata," the so-called Atacama skeleton (see above) as an
"extraterrestrial being." As the tale goes, the
picked up by a souvenir hunter in a small Chilean town in 2006, sold to
a Chilean tavern and publicly displayed for a few years, before being
bought by a Spanish collector and catching Greer's attention.
Further press releases promised "paradigm shifting physical evidence of
a medically and scientifically analyzed DNA sequenced humanoid creature
of unknown classification" which teased non-human.
Extraterrestrials! Aliens! However, the film
Gary Nolan of the Stanford School of Medicine declaring that it's
human, though there seems to be considerable debate about ...what, why,
and how. All non-ufologists with a pup-in-the-affray agree
something mysterious and sad, wrong, and wicked sad occurred.
Oxycephaly and Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome are
suggested. The debate between premature fetus and died a few
after birth is ...uncomfortable. Genetic disease with a toxic
feticide solution? This is all wicked sad and far, far afield
from Little Egypt, Illinois and the Burrows Cave Hoax. Alien
abortions? Damn, I picked the wrong time to stop drinking...
Boldly Go Facepalm meme.
ZTT Consulting web-site, Hubbard is listed as associated with Past
Preservers, a "boutque talent
management agency" which matches opinionated "experts" with
media production companies. Working with the History,
Discovery, and National Geographic Channels, Past Preservers is
basically a headhunter firm that connects amateurs, whacks, and
crackpots with whatever production company has an open budget at the
time. Though the agency asks for a curriculum
vitæ and offers some folks with Ph.Ds, the self-published
author crowd (à laHarry Hubbard) is also represented. Their
stated mission of "producing quality
history-based non-fiction programming" seems disingenuous,
as the web-site brags about its relationship to The History 2
television network program, America Unearthed,
which grew out of the
2009's "Holy Grail in America," a 2-hour
program which postulates the Burrows Cave Hoax items
are somehow connected to the fabled Second Temple treasure which
disappeared (read: were melted down) when Titus ransacked Jerusalem in
America Unearthed featuring Scott Wolter logo.
Harry claims to have Scott Wolter, the Minnesota geologist of Kensington Runestone infamy, on "speed-dial." Over our many weeks of hectic telephone calls, Hubbard often mentioned Wolter as being interested in his "Alexander the Great is buried in Southern Illinois" theory. At one point, Harry alleged that Wolter inquired about me and "my" ability to be considered as an on-air "expert" in things fantastical, and I ...politely informed Hubbard I wasn't interested. Okay, it wasn't like that... Actually, I declined by swearing like a drunken sailor. Wolter, in his role as a leading hyper-diffusionist asshat, never acknowledges the previous hard work of dedicated amateurs and professionals and presents himself as the first serious investigator looking into controversial and unexplained North American archaeological enigmas. His ongoing "war" with Wikipedia is transparent publicity propaganda, as it's all about ratings. With Scott Wolter the line between showmanship and media-whoring is broken (. . . - - - . . .) and I suppose I should wish them both "Good luck!" with a possible second-season America Unearthed episode on Alexander the Great and the Burrows Cave Hoax (after The Hack, I write this at the end of January 2015 and no such proram has aired). Such programming could be termed medicinal, as there have been credible reports of people having movement of feces through their colon while watching America Unearthed.
closing this 2013
Burrows Cave Hoax update, it's sad to report the demise of the print
edition of This
Week From Indian Country Today, as the Oneida Nation-owned
publication is going online-only. Apparently after hiring
professionals from Martha
Stewart's Living Magazine and Playboy,
the Oneida have determined there's more cash in digital than
pulp. A press release stated that the new online-only
"newsletter" would also cover global indigenous issues.
Because, of course, American Native peoples need to know why the Maori
of New Zealand are upset with Peter Jackson and his J. R. R. Tolkien
Fortunately, News from Indian Country remains an excellent print publication for the Native American community and continues to receive awards and recognition for its courageous journalism. From my personal experience, it's not uncommon to see passed-around issues of News from Indian Country in restaurants and on public transportation in Chicago and Milwaukee. Computers aren't in every home and many prefer to handle a physical copy of a publication. And, besides, it makes sharing a lot easier... Now, my personal bias proudly revealed, I respect News from Indian Country for publishing my first Burrows Cave/The Ancient American article (Martin & Flavin 1995) and also for featuring me on a radio broadcast about the Burrows Cave Hoax (Flavin 1996). I've telephoned the editor (and founding publisher), Paul DeMain, a few times over the years and for informational purposes I'll send him a link to this update and include news of Wilson's article in Public Archaeology.
We acknowledge alternative
belief systems such as cult-religions and pseudoscience, yet we must
also continue to champion the rights of some to lie, hate, and promote
impossible conclusions. However, we have to do better to
merit the bountiful benefits of modern science and reason. By way of an
easy analogy, Fox News has been around since 1985 and has become an
obscene sociopolitical joke widely regarded as an ongoing public
embarrassment, though their audience ratings are higher today than
ever. Is it schadenfreude?
Another example of "Keep your friends close and your enemies
closer"? The Burrows Cave Hoax began in 1984 and will mark
its thirty-year anniversary in 2014. I don't believe a
Kickstarter campaign is necessary to get schools to teach more courses
in fantastic archaeology or to get scientifically critical media to
publish or broadcast more. A recent study suggests that
selfish behavior won't survive into the future as mankind was formed
through compassion and cooperation. Perhaps when enough
professionals get tired of casting pearls, North American archaeology
and all science will be properly extended to those confused folks who
need it most.
(Based on the 12-28-2013 broadcast of America
2010 Burrows and 2013 Hubbard and Wolters looking at the BC artifacts I helped Harry purchase for chump change.
Well, I knew it was going
to happen, and even got a couple of telephone calls from Wolter's
media-folk asking if I'd be interested in making any public [recorded]
comments for the episode mentioning the BC Hoax and laughed long and
said "No thanks!" many times. And, indeed, this past
Saturday, the fifth episode of the second season of America
Unearthed was broadcast, entitled "Grand Canyon Treasure."
Where to begin? Half of the episode concerned
claims from a "tribal elder" that somewhere in the Grand Canyon exists
a series of "Egyptian" caves with gold, mummies, and even a tale of
a cave large enough to house a great many people.
Oh, and to further silliness, there was even a mention of a
"Pyramid" in one of the caves. The rest of the
episode concerned the BC Hoax... So, let's analyze a few of
the many ridiculous claims of America
Besides the scientific method, there are lies,
damned lies, and the "I'll be damned if I know" quandary.
Fantastic tales of Egyptian gold and mummies from the pre-Columbian
period have been dismissed for centuries by professionals, though
explanations have been offered through 19th century Masonic-esque
rituals and re-enactments (including "quasi-religious" staged
performances and other fraternal "customs"). Easy examples
the so-called "Tucson Artifacts," the cowboy and Odd Fellows' graffiti
from Oklahoma, the 19th century Masonic illustration which inspired the
1872 Bat Creek Stone hoax, and perhaps to some degree the
1869-1877/1878/1880 Davenport hoax materials, the 1874 Paraiba
inscription, and the 1924-1930 thirty-one or thirty-two lead objects
from Silverbell Road, AZ which were claimed to be from the ancient
Roman-founded New World land of "Calalus, the Unknown Land."
Other examples such as the Soper-Savage frauds from Michigan
various Mormon revisionist history claims are too complicated
adequately discuss here. I'm not the least surprised Wolter
Unearthed didn't mention any 19th century fraternal and
religious alternatives to the really tall-tales of Egyptians in the
Grand Canyon AND Southern Illinois, as the goal of America
Unearthed to entertain and make money. Education
and history has not and will likely never be included in America
Here's a few obvious complaints:
Alleged 2002 image of a "government plane" by Jerry Wills. Used without permission.
It's not a government conspiracy to forbid helicopters from flying too
close to the bottom of parts of the Grand Canyon as it's too
dangerous and a shining example of the Federal Aviation
Administration's use of common sense. The blurry image of an
alleged 2002 government plane is standard paranoid conspiracy
zaniness. Wicked way cute helicopter pilot, though!
Jerry Wills (Canyon Explorer) and Scott Wolter (Forensic Geologist) standing way too close to the edge. Used without permission.
Coming within inches of the edge of the Grand Canyon (despite the
casual-cool apparel) without so much as a set gloves or a rope or
anything functional which could assist a rescue should there be an
accident occurrence ...is simply poorly staged television.
Clifford Mahooty and copy of a story from the 4-5-1909 Arizona Gazette. Used without permission.
The introduction of
Mahooty as a "tribal elder" and his insistence that various tribes
share in the legends of hidden caves in the Grand Canyon which could
hold over a 1000 people and the claim of a "cave" with a full-sized
pyramis inside, together
with all the usual pseudo-Egyptian malarkey
mummies, and unspecified
couldn't have been a
surprise, yet it was broadcast as such. Fortunately (as I have only so many goof-off
hours per week), there's
an excellent blog devoted to America
Unearthed by Jason Colavito at http://jasoncolavito/america-unearthed.html
(I've recented Googled many more). Colavito refers to Mahooty as a "Zuni
Elder" (Zuni official) who is currently an
"ancient astronaut theorist" and has appeared on the thematically related television series, Ancient Aliens.
However, what I find oddest of all, is the recent article,
"Archaeological Scandals" by Frank Joseph (née Frank Collin,
the ex-Neo-Nazi and convicted pedophile), as published in Lost Cities
and Forgotten Civilizations (Edited by Michael Pye and
Kirsten Dalley, by the New York-based Rosen Publishing, Inc, which
advertises itself as "an independent educational publishing house,
established in 1950 to serve the needs of students in grades Pre-K -12
with high interest, curriculum-correlated materials." Rosen
publishes more than seven hundred new books each year and has a
backlist of more than seven thousand. Specializing in
circulating reference material aimed at school and public libraries,
Rosen titles are the gold standard in guidance, social studies,
history, science, and mathematics, as well as general high interest
topics for children and young adults. The book is marketed as
"Interest Level : Grades 7 - 12." Joseph/Collin's
piece runs on pp. 7-30, with mention of the 1909 Kincaid/Smithsonian
disagreement on page 22. This is in a textbook for junior and
high school students? Nope, I can't see a positive thing
about any of this...
[Note: Another online review of America Unearthed S02E05 by Andrew Zarowny has come to my attention. It's recommended reading at: http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=11739ì
Now, the rest
Unearthed S02E05 concerning the Burrows Cave Hoax
in southern Illinois. Let's be brief...
English cursive inscribed on a 1850-1950 tombstone as shown by Wolter (the front is a crude drawing of Isis) and two BC maps - a "genuine property map" and a sketch by Burrows of the "location" of the alleged caves. Used without permission.
Wolter met with the official landowner (Harry wasn't allowed on the property for some unspecified reason), a nice enough fellow who doesn't believe any of the BC hoax claims and cited the coincidence of the "Little Egypt" nickname of that section of Illinois and the naming of the nearby town of Cairo, IL. The landowner was cordial enough to take Wolters to a ravine and rock sheltertoo many believe is the "location" of the fictitious cave, and Wolters began to ...entertain us. The "maybe" they could have...and the "possible" comments ended with a phoney "We just need to find more proof..." As always, any proof of these fantastic claims would do...
Related (and sad) hyperlinks to this addendum: