2013 Burrows Cave Hoax Update:
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 of “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 in 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-diffusionism” 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 “hyper-diffusionism” to “transoceanic and transcontinental contacts.” Hint – one is 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 Was: 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 and 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
archaeology. 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, no matter
how improbable, must be the truth” scenario.
Sometimes “evidence” 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 in 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 journals 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 “impossible” 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 “truth”)!
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 “artifacts.” From
+ 1,” #299; 1-4-2013.
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.
A few 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...
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.
While Hubbard readily acknowledges the gold-painted lead
BC items are fake, he nonetheless argues that 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 lead items.
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” characters was 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 that 'amount' was a central component of the BC scam from its inception.
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 and a waste of time and money. I keep 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.
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 Mind.” Under “e-books,” ZTT 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
feather flock together,” but 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
new 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 skeleton was 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 contains Dr. 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 that 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 days 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
Boldly Go Facepalm meme.
On the ZTT Consulting web-site, Hubbard is listed as
associated with Past Preservers, a “boutique talent management agency”
which matches opinionated “experts” with media
production companies. Working with the
History, Discovery, 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
PhDs, the self-published author crowd (à la Harry
Hubbard) is also represented. Their stated
mission of “producing
quality history-based non-fiction
the web-site brags about its relationship to The
History 2 television network program, America
Unearthed, a series which grew out of
the “success” of 2009's “Holy Grail in America,” a
douchey 2-hour program which postulates that 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 70 CE.
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 that 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 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. 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.
In closing this 2013
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 cinematic adaptations.
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 must 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 – I laughed long and
said “No way!” both times, BTW), 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 a “legend” that somewhere in the
Grand Canyon exists a series of "Egyptian" caves with
gold, mummies, and even the tale of a “cave” large
enough to house “50,000” 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 recently some
explanations have been offered through 19th century
Masonic-esque rituals and re-enactments (including
“artifacts” for staged performances and other fraternal
or “occult” uses). Easy examples are the so-called
“Tucson Artifacts,” the “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 and various Mormon
“historical” claims are too complicated to adequately
discuss here. I'm not the least surprised Wolter
and America Unearthed didn't mention any
19th century fraternal and religious alternatives to
really tall-tales of Egyptians in the Grand Canyon AND
Southern Illinois – it's the goal of America
Unearthed to entertain and make money.
Education and history has not and will likely
never be included in America Unearthed.
Here's a few obvious complaints:
Alleged 2002 image of “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 – it's too dangerous and a shining
example of the Federal Aviation Administration's common
sense. The blurry image of an alleged 2002
government plane is standard paranoid conspiracy
zaniness. Wicked way cute helicopter pilot,
Jerry Wills (“Grand Canyon Explorer”) and Scott Wolter (“Forensic Geologist “) 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 Clifford Mahooty as a “Zuni tribal
elder” and his instance that “many” various tribes share
in the legends of hidden caves in the Grand Canyon which
could hold “50,000 people,” contain a full-sized
pyramid, and all the usual pseudo-Egyptian malarkey of
gold, mummies, and unspecified
“artifacts,” shouldn't have been a surprise, yet it
was. 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://www.jasoncolavito.com/america-unearthed.html.
Colavito refers to Mahooty as a “former Zuni official”
who is currently an “ancient astronaut theorist” who 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, “America Unearthed – Grand Canyon Treasure” by Andrew Zarowny has come to my attention. It's recommended reading at: http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=11739”]
Now, the rest of America Unearthed S02E05
concerned “looking” for Burrows Cave in southern
Illinois. Let's be brief...
English cursive inscribed on a 1850-1950 tombstone as shown by Wolters (the front is a crude drawing of Isis) and two BC maps – a genuine property map and a sketch by Burrows of the “real” location of the alleged caves. Used without permission.
He 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” region 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 shelter too many believe is the “true” locations of the fictitious cave, and Wolters began to ...entertain us. The “Yes, they could have...” and the “it's 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: