Some Will Learn, Others ‘Believe’

Commentary

The Marcellus shale cover story in the March EXPLORER was outstanding – not only is it a unique application of science and technology to tease out more gas, but because of another striking implication.

Just show that cover to most anyone and ask, “What do you see?” They will likely say, “I see a man standing on an old concrete sidewalk near a stream.” I tried it on several people and that was their response.

My point – nothing to do with oil and gas – is that it is a wonderful example of how nature can mimic man-made objects.

Off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas there are several rows of stones that a growing group of New Age thinkers swear was made by ancient humans. In fact, a large number will say it is the remains of Atlantis!

I made the mistake of pointing out its natural origin some years ago and now there is a Web site that claims I am part of a government conspiracy to keep the public from knowing the truth!

Image Caption

Photos courtesy of Gene Shinn

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The Marcellus shale cover story in the March EXPLORER

was outstanding – not only is it a unique application of science and technology to tease out more gas, but because of another striking implication.

Just show that cover to most anyone and ask, “What do you see?” They will likely say, “I see a man standing on an old concrete sidewalk near a stream.” I tried it on several people and that was their response.

My point – nothing to do with oil and gas – is that it is a wonderful example of how nature can mimic man-made objects.

Off the island of Bimini in the Bahamas there are several rows of stones that a growing group of New Age thinkers swear was made by ancient humans. In fact, a large number will say it is the remains of Atlantis!

I made the mistake of pointing out its natural origin some years ago and now there is a Web site that claims I am part of a government conspiracy to keep the public from knowing the truth!

This came about because I once cored the stones and determined they were beachrock formed a few thousand years ago when sea level was lower. Their straight alignment and shape is not unusual, because beachrock forms on stable beaches in warm tropical seas. If the beach is straight, the rock is straight.

Once exposed to the sun the slabs of rock break up like an old sidewalk.

Unfortunately, there are the followers of Edgar Cayce and his Foundation who think otherwise. You see Cayce, who according to the faithful, communicated with reincarnated souls of Atlantians, and they revealed to him that Atlantis is located off the island of Bimini.

The rush of New Agers beginning in the 1960s was on and, regrettably, many were putting real money into the search. Unfortunately, history is repeating itself.

The true believers’ basic argument is that nature does not produce straight lines; it must therefore be the work of man, even though no man-made artifacts have been found.

The Marcellus shale photos clearly disprove that assumption, as do recently discovered identical submarine sites elsewhere.

My first publication on the subject, “Bimini’s Atlantis Hoax,” was serious and intended to warn potential investors of the scam. Meanwhile numerous TV programs, most recently the History Channel, show underwater photos of the aligned Bimini stones with statements like, “Nobody knows the origin of these stones.”

My second publication, although a spoof, was a true accounting of adventures with the true believers spanning a 30-year period. It was published in the Skeptical Inquirer, and this one really brought down the wrath of the Cacyites. They claim my work is a hoax.

I must admit, however, it has been a fun ride and a great lesson in human foibles.

When the special session, “A Tribute to (AAPG member) Bob Ginsburg” was organized for the 2005 Geological Society of America meeting in Denver I knew just what to present. You see, Bob’s first publication in 1953 was on the formation of beachrock at Dry Tortugas. It was a fun, lighthearted presentation but with some serious implications.

Because of the Bimini stones (also called the Bimini Road) layout, they could be considered an example of “intelligent design.” The belief in Atlantian–made structures points the finger squarely at our education system and our poor job of imbuing critical thinking in our youth.

I admit giving the talk was fun, but writing the paper for the upcoming “A Tribute to Ginsburg” volume for the journal Sedimentology was difficult. I had learned from earlier attempts that if you misspell a word the true believers will zero-in and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I also had to be serious, because peer-review does not take kindly to scientists who stray into strange areas beyond our profession.

I hope all readers will pick up the baton and educate when and where you can.

Once again, I wish to thank all those involved in the Marcellus shale article, and especially Gary Lash, who took the cover photograph. It is a great example of what nature can do.

Now we can only hope the New Age thinkers don’t see the images. They will surely say, “ancient beings from outer space created the formation during the Devonian and filled it with gas for our future use.”

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