Posts Tagged “pseudohistory”

When the Fail is so strong, one Facepalm is not enough / Picard & Riker / based on HaHaStop.ComBy now anyone who’s read my blog knows that Glenn Beck is a lying Christofascist ignoramus of the highest order. It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about his insanity, but I just came across something he said which is so colossally stupid — not to mention absolutely and totally false — that I can’t help but point it out. What he has done is to establish his own version of American-Israelism. The report comes from World Net Nut Daily, which I don’t normally use as a third-party source of information, but they provide video, so brace yourselves (WebCite cached article):

Radio and television host Glenn Beck is now going public with his belief the United States is among the famous “Lost 10 Tribes of Israel,” and America today is suffering calamaties just as ancient Israel did due to its disobedience to the laws of God.

Echoing the conclusions of some experts who have delved deeply into what’s known as the theory of “Anglo-Israelism” or “British-Israelism,” Beck took viewers of his TV show into a biblical history lesson dating back to the time after King David of the Old Testament, when the once united Kingdom of Israel became divided.

For someone like myself, who studied actual history in college and who knows a thing or two about Biblical times, I groaned involuntarily. I know that misinformation is coming … and it did … but I couldn’t have anticipated how stunningly bad it would be. You see, among the many ahistorical claims Beckie-boy made, is this:

Beck went on to note that when the Assyrians [who’d conquered the northern kingdom of Israel] were finally defeated by other powers, they and the Israelite captives fled northward.

“And they fled out of captivity through the Caucuses Mountains,” he said. “The Caucusus Mountains are where you hear the word ‘Caucasian.’”

Glennie goes astray here by making too much of the word “Caucasian.” He’s suggesting that everyone who’s a “Caucasian” is a descendant of these Assyrians and their Hebrew captives. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. First of all, even before the Assyrian nation came into existence there were many nations, populated by people who would later be called “Caucasian,” already in Europe and in western and southern Asia! Second, Glenn errs by taking the term “Caucasian” too literally. Its etymology is actually mistaken. German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, in the late 18th century, erroneously thought that the Caucasus mountain region had been the original homeland of the Aryan peoples. We now know he was wrong about that … and about a lot of other things, too, especially his “racial degeneration” theories. In any event, serious scientists no longer view the racial term “Caucasian” as being meaningful. That the Glennster does, and connects it literally with the Caucasus Mountains, betrays his ignorance.

But having spewed that lunacy, Beckie-boy wasn’t done. He reeled off even more lies:

“What’s interesting is the Assyrians, who were very good, meticulous record-keepers, and who were just brutal [people], they settled in Italy and in the Germany area and the Russia area where facsism comes from. But the Israelites, the Lost 10 Tribes, they went north and they started to scatter [in another] direction, and they went to the coastlines, generally in the area where the Pilgrims came from.

To this I can only say, “What the fuck!?” He offers no evidence the Assyrians went to Italy, Germany or Russia. He directly connects those Assyrians with fascism, a political movement that didn’t emerge for two and a half millennia after their state had vanished. And their Hebrew captives, whom the Assyrians had supposedly taken with them, somehow escaped, at some point Glenn never discloses, and settled in “coastal areas” (I guess he forgot that Italy has lots and lots of coastline, and Germany and Russia have some, too).

Lastly, the Glennster goes on at length about how America’s various symbolic associations with the number 13 — such as in the presidential seal — just can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that the country was founded as a federation of 13 former British colonies. Oh no! It comes, instead, from the 12 tribes of Israel.

Yes, that’s what he said. That 12 equals 13. Glennie-boy even rationalized this idiotic formulation:

As far as why 12 tribes of Israel would be represented by the number 13 and not 12, Beck stated, “The tribe of Joseph split into Manassah and Ephraim, and those were in northern Israel. That’s the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s the thirteen tribes.”

The WND article continues with a whole lot more of Beckie-boy’s insipid and fact-deprived drivel, complete with his usual long chains of associations. It also cites a “historian,” Steven M. Collins, who supports Glennie’s insane ramblings, however, I can find no record of this Collins having any credentials in history (either by virtue of being awarded a history degree, or having authored an article in a peer-reviewed history journal). I can only assume the guy is no more a “historian” than another of Beckie-boy’s Christofascist friends, David Barton.

In any event, what the Glennster outlines here isn’t really that strange, if you see how similar it is to a movement known as British-Israelism. It, and other related wingnut hypotheses (such as the Khazar myth) are all basically anti-Semitic notions, cooked up in order to rob Jews of their own spiritual heritage and award it to some other group or nation instead. It’s all very irrational, not to mention hateful, and it has no place in the 21st century United States.

Nevertheless, the Glennster is sticking to it. Hmm.

Ordinarily I’d have embedded the video of Glenn spewing his ignorance, distortions, exaggerations, and lies … but somehow I can’t bring myself to put his face on my blog any more. Something about it just turns my stomach. You’ll just have to go there for yourself if you care to see this insanity.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: HaHaStop.

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2008-08-29_a_Imhoff-Schokoladen-Museum-24The fraudulent “Maya Apocalypse” is just under two weeks away as I type this. As one would expect — with humanity being a collective mass of ignorance and stupidity — this lie has touched off panics in various places around the world. The (UK) Telegraph reports on several of these (WebCite cached article):

Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

The article cites panics in places like Russia and China. But it adds:

Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.

I say, good for the Maya in Mexico! Go ahead and take advantage of the “Maya Doomsday” fraud, and milk the idiots who subscribe to it for all you can get. When December 22 dawns, laugh at the fools all the way to the bank!

As I always do when I blog about this, I’ll make the situation as clear as possible. The Maya “Long Count” calendar will not “end” on December 21, 2012. All calendars are cyclical and perpetual. They never “end.” The Maya calendar can no more “end” than our own can. What will happen on that date, is that we’ll go from the 13th baktun to the 14th. That’s all. As for Nibiru, it doesn’t exist, it never has, and it will never collide with the earth. It’s a fantasy spun by a crank who claims to be the world’s only expert on Sumerian and Babylonian texts, but who actually knows nothing about them. Put bluntly, it’s a lie.

NASA has a very useful page explaining everything you need to know about the so-called “Maya Apocalypse 2012.” There’s also an excellent compilation of “Maya Doomsday” bullshit — and a thorough refutation of it all — at 2012hoax. I suggest going to either site and being educated about this presumed doomsday.

Photo credit: pakitt, via Flickr.

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InscriptionsOver the last couple of years, I’ve blogged a few times about the so-called “Maya apocalypse.” That’s the assumption that the Maya prophesied that the planet would be destroyed — or the universe grind to a halt — on December 21, 2012 because (supposedly) that’s the day their long-count calendar will “run out.”

Since this whole pseudohistorical and pseudoscientific scenario is predicated on Maya astronomy, the folks at NASA have, over the last several years, been barraged with questions about it. In response, they’ve periodically released information intended to calm the fears of many who actually believe all of this bullshit. As December 2012 arrived, they published an article on their Web site explaining the nonsense (WebCite cached version):

Dec. 21, 2012, won’t be the end of the world as we know, however, it will be another winter solstice.

Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the claims behind the end of the world quickly unravel when pinned down to the 2012 timeline.

Here’s a Newsy video report on NASA’s latest debunking effort:

They address a number of claims that have been made about what will happen on December 21, 2012. Among them is the wild-eyed claim that a planet Nibiru will collide with the earth. (That particular aspect of this lunacy owes its origins more to the laughable spew of Zechariah Sitchin than to anything the Maya left behind.)

That said, I have no doubt this will not actually calm the fears of the “Maya apocalypse” true-believers. Rather, they’ll decide that NASA’s efforts to debunk their delusions and lies are merely further evidence of their veracity (for instance, they’ll ask, “Why would a federal government agency spend so much time debunking ‘nonsense,’ unless there was something to it in the first place?”). The backfire effect is a powerful psychological force and it will certainly infect many, as the next couple of weeks go by.

As I’ve done previously, I’ll point out a few simple, obvious facts that explain how this whole “Maya prophecy” is pure bullshit:

  • The Maya calendar can no more “run out” than our own can. Calendars are by nature cyclical and perpetual. You always go from the last month of one year, to the first month of the next, over and over again, without letup. The Maya calendar works no differently, in this regard. December 21, 2012 will be the transition between the 13th baktun and the 14th. That’s all.
  • The idea that the Maya had any special knowledge of the future is laughable on its face. This is especially true when one realizes they never foresaw the collapse of their own civilization, which happened back in the 10th century. The upheaval the Maya experienced in the 10th century — a time in which they did not all “disappear” or “die out” as sometimes has been alleged, although many of their city-states declined measurably and in many cases precipitously — ought to have concerned them immensely, had they seen it coming.
  • Modern Maya (yes, the Maya still exist as a people!) don’t buy any of this bilge, themselves. Since they’re in a better position than the rest of us to know what the classic Maya thought and said, it’d behoove us to pay attention to them.

The bottom line is that the so-called “Maya apocalypse 2012″ is a flat-out lie, cooked up by an assortment of New Agers and cranks who have precious little knowledge of the Maya; they’ve taken that little bit of knowledge and extrapolated it to ridiculous proportions. It’s time for them to just fucking stop their lies.

Previously, I issued a challenge to the Maya-apocalypse-promoting cranks, and I’ll repeat it here: Will you state in advance — right here, right now, without reservation — that, once December 22, 2012 arrives and there’s been no “Maya apocalypse,” you promise to issue an unqualified apology for having lied to people, and without delay or equivocation donate the proceeds of your doomsaying to charity?

My guess is, none of them are sincere enough in their (crazy) beliefs to accept this challenge and make this pledge. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: selkie30, via Flickr.

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Thomas Jefferson MemorialI’ve already blogged about the militant Christofascist pseudohistorian David Barton … whom the Right continues to call a “historian,” even though he is absolutely no such thing. That’s to be expected; Rightists generally have only a very loose grasp of history in the first place, so they’re hardly able to tell the difference.

But Barton was drawn up short today — by his own publisher — because, as NPR reports, his most recent book contains demonstrable fabrications and lies (WebCite cached article):

Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday [cached]. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that “basic truths just were not there.” …

“Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,” historian Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. “The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right.”

The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.

Religious Rightists have had more than a little difficulty, over the past few years, with Jefferson. He’s one of the best-recognized Founding Fathers, but was also openly disdainful of religiosity and dogmatism. While they revere the Founding Fathers, Jefferson’s decided lack of piety is something the R.R. apparently can no longer stomach. Rightists in Texas, for example, have purposely skewed the public-school curriculum so has to downplay Jefferson and the Enlightenment as a movement. Barton’s book appears to be a reverse of that effort, intended to make Jefferson’s impiety and irreverence go away.

I expect Barton and his fans to portray him as a martyr to the faith and complain that Thomas Nelson caved in to “political correctness.” They will refuse to believe that Barton’s books are full of lies, and will instead convince themselves that everyone who tells them so, is the real liar. That Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, and that critics like Throckmorton are evangelicals themselves, will not matter to them one iota. They will still refuse to believe Barton has lied to them. Communal reinforcement is a powerful thing and it can lead to delusional thinking; Barton’s popularity is proof of that.

I should conclude this post by giving Thomas Nelson credit for this action; it surely has cost them a great deal. I also have to give props to Barton’s evangelical critics like Throckmorton; I’m sure their flocks will be none too happy they’ve sided with “the Enemy” against the great “historian” Barton.

Photo credit: chadh, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. You gotta love the irony of the title of Barton’s book. He obviously intended it to refer to “lies” being told about Jefferson by other folks … particularly those evil “secular humanists” … but in truth, the “lies” are Barton’s own, and they’re contained within the pages of the very book that pretends to debunk them. How contemptible!

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When the Fail is so strong, one Facepalm is not enough / Picard & Riker / based on HaHaStop.ComThe Religious Right is relentless in its determination to rewrite history so as to place themselves — and their current political causes — back in time, even though most of their efforts, such as promoting Creationism and stopping abortion, are all decidedly contemporary notions. Their anachronistic views reveal their ignorance and expose them as liars. Two recent examples of this phenomenon follow, although they’re hardly unique.

First, I’m sure you heard about Sarah Palin’s NRA-propagandized version of Paul Revere‘s ride to warn the Massachusetts militia about the movement of British troops; Here, for example, is a CBS News story on her lies, which were compounded by a Wikipedia war to make it appear she was actually correct (WebCite cached article):

Dozens of changes were made to the Revere page on the Internet site Sunday and Monday after Palin claimed Revere’s famous ride was intended to warn both his fellow colonists and British soldiers.

Palin claimed, among other things, that Revere had been trying to “warn the British”; that he was firing shots into the air as he rode; and that he was ringing bells as well. Not one of those things is true, at least not in the Charlton Heston style that Palin told it. While he did end up warning the British about the militia, that was only after he’d warned the colonials — who’d been the intended targets of his warning ride — and had been picked up by British troops. By then, the cat was already out of the bag, so to speak, so he was able to tell them little of any value (and they eventually let him go). He absolutely did not fire his musket into the air as he went; secrecy had been his goal, he needed to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were on their way to arrest them. (Not to mention, loading and shooting a musket while on horseback is not exactly a simple feat.) Revere also did not ring bells as he rode, for the same reason.

Politifact and FactCheck have weighed in on her idiotic and anachronistic comments. The best either of them can say is that Palin was “barely truthful” … and that’s being generous.

Even after caught lying, and putting NRA words into Paul Revere’s mouth, Mrs Palin irrationally insisted she was correct. That also is quite in line with Religious Right practice; no Religious Rightist ever concedes error. Ever. Not for any reason, no matter the facts, and no matter how idiotic they sound. Hence, the campaign by her supporters to make Wikipedia back up her version of Paul Revere’s ride.

My second example of the Religious Right’s ignorance of, and lies about, history is from David Barton, the man whom the R.R. hails as a historian, when in fact, he is not, and never has been a historian (either by virtue of having a degree in history or having published an article in a peer-reviewed history journal). Right Wing Watch reports (video included) on his claim that the Founding Fathers supported Creationism and dismissed evolution (WebCite cached article):

Naturally, Barton says that the Founding Fathers “already had the entire debate on creation and evolution,” and sided with Creationism.

The problem with this, of course, is that evolution wasn’t really known until the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, nearly a century after them. The liar Barton went on to make an even more absurd and factually-incorrect claim:

“That’s why we said we want to separate from Britain, so we can end slavery,” Barton said.

Yes, folks, according to pseudohistorian Barton, the Revolutionary War was fought not to gain independence from Great Britain, but to free the slaves! The problem here, of course, is that the Constitution those same Founding Fathers wrote after that war, contained provisions allowing for slavery in the new country, and slavery wasn’t abolished until the end of the Civil War, again, decades later.

I have no idea what it is that Palin or Barton are smoking. But they’re hardly alone. The R.R. continuously represents itself as modern-day Founding Fathers, even though the R.R. is predicated on a form of fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity that did not exist in the F.F.s’ time. They apparently just can’t help themselves. In any event, whatever their motives might be, Palin and Barton’s lies place them squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: Based on HaHaStop.Com.

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Pseudohistory Channel' Logo (modified from 'History Channel' logo)I’ve blogged before about the bullshit that’s continually beamed by satellite from the History Channel Pseudohistory Channel. Most of it is just stupid and laughable. But I happened to see one of their specials, which was not only wrong, it was demonstrably wrong, and in fact was so demonstrably wrong that they have no viable excuse for having aired it.

Their claim was that the Knights Templars sent an expedition to the Americas in the mid to late 14th century. They supposedly landed at what is now Nova Scotia, then ventured west overland and left behind the Kensington Runestone in what’s now Minnesota. Here’s the link to the only page the History Channel Pseudohistory Channel Web site offers on this show, a DVD purchase page … but I urge you not to buy this pile of shit because it’s not worth anything.

Now, why do I say that this “documentary” is full of crap? It turns out to be easily proven.

I could point out that the Kensington Runestone is — outside of the Kensington MN vicinity — almost universally viewed as hoax. I could, too, point out that there’s no evidence the expedition’s leader, Henry Sinclair, had ever been a Knight Templar, or that there is any evidence the Templars ever sent an expedition of this sort.

I could even point out that any solitary early European expedition to the Americas would have been foolish to have left the coastline and bolt a couple thousand miles overland (note that all the early post-Columbus colonies were coastal, as was even the failed Viking Vinland colony). I could point out a lot of things about this so-called “documentary” which are leaps of reasoning or logic, or otherwise insipid or idiotic.

But I don’t need to offer any of these things as proof that this “documentary” is pure bullshit. There are two simple, irrefutable, easily-discovered facts, which — taken together — accomplish this, and they are:

The Knights Templars were officially suppressed by 1312 and had ceased to exist as an organization, by then, its members mostly all having been arrested and its properties seized, beginning in 1307. Henry Sinclair, on the other hand, was born in 1345.

That’s right, folks. 1312, and 1345. Neither of these dates is in dispute. It’s chronologically impossible for Sinclair to have been a Templar, or to have led an expedition under the auspices of that order. In short, it never happened, because it cannot possibly have happened — and this is chronologically verifiable.

Really, nothing more needs to be said about this. The History Channel Pseudohistory Channel’s airing of this putative “documentary” is inexcusable, since the refutation of the entire documentary’s content could have been found in any encyclopedia.

It’s long past time this fucking joke of a television channel pulled the plug on itself and put me out of my misery. It’s one thing to broadcast bullshit; it’s another to broadcast bullshit that any fifth-grader in any library could easily verify is bullshit.

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Pseudohistory Channel' Logo (modified from 'History Channel' logo)As if the presence on the so-called “History” channel of programs on UFO hunters and Nostradamus haven’t already clued you in on this, a special program they ran tonight proves this channel ought to be renamed “Pseudohistory.” Because that’s exactly what they peddle (locally cached version):

The Real Face of Jesus?

As the Shroud of Turin is put on public display for the first time in 10 years, new data reveals more than just a flat image embedded in the ancient cloth, but an astonishing, three-dimensional, sculpture-like figure. Using the principles of physics, cutting-edge digital technology, and the revolutionary CGI process pioneered in Stealing Lincoln’s Body, HISTORY brings that image to life, unveiling the most accurate representation ever seen of what many believe to be Jesus Christ.

There’s just one tiny little problem with using the Shroud of Turin as an indicator of what Jesus Christ must have looked like, and that is that it doesn’t contain a picture of him! The Shroud has been tested scientifically, multiple times, and each time has been shown to date only to the Middle Ages — the middle of the 14th century, to be exact. There is overwhelming and abundant evidence that the Shroud is not a 1st century BCE burial cloth with a magical photo of Jesus on it, but rather, of medieval manufacture, very likely a pious fraud. It’s time for Christians who worship the Shroud, to put away their beliefs in this phony artifact and stop using it to prop up their nonsensical metaphysical beliefs.

That lots of people believe the Shroud is a relic of Jesus’ burial, does not make it so. And that it’s Holy Week does not justify a mass media outlet foisting this medieval fraud on the public. If you really want to see what Jesus might have looked like, I suggest having a look at the somewhat more reasonable effort put forward a few years ago by Popular Mechanics (WebCite cached article). You won’t be sorry.

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