Monday, 11 December 2006

9/11 'hard science' group linked to archaeology hoax


Monday, December 11, 2006

9/11 'hard science' group linked to archaeology hoax

    On Thursday, December 7, the Founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Dr. James Fetzer, posted a notice to its website indicating that a cabal had seized the Scholars' mailing list in an attempt to recruit members to a competing research group. It turns out that the cabal in question is being led by Dr. Steven E. Jones, formerly the co-chair of the group. In the invitation letter, Jones attacks Dr. Fetzer, denounces certain hypotheses as anathema, and proclaims himself the standard-bearer of the "scientific method."

    Though some observers expected Jones to name his group "Scholars for 9/11 Thermite," he has gone instead for the far more derivative moniker "Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice," as we can see in the link he provided to the prototype website for his proposed research group:

    A quick WHOIS check of (derivative of reveals the following registration information:
    Domain Name:STJ911.ORG
    Created On:07-Dec-2006 03:06:02 UTC
    Last Updated On:07-Dec-2006 03:06:04 UTC
    Expiration Date:07-Dec-2007 03:06:02 UTC
    Registrant ID:DOT-162CFDI7Q24U
    Registrant Name:Whyte Eagle
    Registrant Organization: COLTs
    Registrant Street1:204 Biltmore Ave
    Registrant City:Murray
    Registrant State/Province: Utah
    Registrant Postal Code:84107
    Registrant Country:US
    Registrant Phone:+1.8012683812
    And tracking down this "Whyte Eagle" fellow is a piece of cake. He runs something called the Ancient Historical Research Foundation. His name is Shawn Davies and his AHRF organization lists Dr. Steven Jones as an advisor.

    So, what were STJ911 founders Jones and Davies up to at the AHRF? Though the stated mission of the organization is outre American archaeology generally, the focus (judging, for instance, on AHRF forum activity) seems to be on something called the Burrows Caves.

    The Burrows Caves have a rich history. It seems a conman named Russ Burrows claimed in the early 1980s that he was walking along minding his own business in Illinois one day when he fell into a cave! And it was full of treasure. And even moreso, full of mysterious carved stones of indeterminate origin. He claimed the location of the cave had to be kept secret, but went ahead and promoted his alleged artifacts widely; chiefly through a man named Frank Joseph.

    Who is Frank Joseph? It seems that Burrows met Joseph when Burrows was working as a prison guard. Frank Joseph was in prison. For child molestation. It turns out that before he was Frank Joseph, a Jewish man convicted of child molestation; Frank went by the name Frank Collin, a neonazi who got a lot of airtime during the fight for his right to stage a Nazi parade through the streets of the predominately Jewish town of Skokie, Illinois. Oy, vey.

    So the two con men worked together for several years promoting Burrows' dubious "artifacts," mostly through a magazine published by Joseph. But even those engaged in the legitimate study of pre-Colombian visitors to the Americas should be able to find the Burrows claims outlandish and almost certainly a hoax. As a review of Burrows Cave by concludes:
    "The major problem with Burrows Cave is that the more one examines the story, the more hoax-like and fabricated it begins to sound. At first glance it sounds plausible--a hiker falls into a cave and finds a trove of potentially-important artifacts. Then we are told the artifacts are not from only one culture, but are Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Scandinavian, Roman, Vedic (from India/Pakistan), Hebrew, and so forth. Suspicion naturally grows since it's highly unlikely that all these cultures would've been interacting with the same native American tribes, much less at the same time... If it is indeed a hoax, then the reason the location of the cave (if one even exists) is being kept secret becomes obvious--a close examination would reveal the lie."
    Nevertheless, Burrows stuck by his tale and ladled on heavy bits if drama: claiming he would never go back because men in black had scared him away ; announcing he had dynamited shut the entrance to the cave forever; saying he would never speak of the caves again; then publishing a book anyway. By the mid 1990s, the story was looking increasingly played out.

    But then he announced something that would get a whole new group more interested in his research than ever before --rocks with Jesus on them! Any hint, no matter how fraudulent, of Jesus wandering the Americas is sure to bring out apologists for Mormon theology - which hinges heavily on just such a visit. This is where the AHRF (later STJ911) cast of characters appears on the scene.

    Rick Flavin, a Harvard student and dedicated critic of the Burrows cave hoax, describes AHRF less than charitably, saying "AHRF is an online organization of Mormons, treasure hunters, historical revisionists and pseudo-scientists who have embraced the Dark Side of Darth Burrows and believe his lies and the claimed provenance for the carved stones." Ouch.

    Flavin thoughtfully archived much of AHRF's work on Burrows Cave, which is extremely useful, since the administrator of AHRF's associated online forum (the same "Whyte Eagle," registrar of decided to place all discussion of the Burrows Cave behind a "members-only" firewall. (Interestingly, one of the complaints of the Scholars' rebel cabal preceding the schism was that research should be restricted to secretive, closed forums rather than discussed openly.)

    Reconstructing the AHRF/Burrows Cave history via we see that Brigham Young University held a symposium in May 2005 featuring Russ Burrows and BYU Professor Steven Jones. Burrows brought along many of his special stones for this media event and left them with Jones. Burrows reports that Jones "found nothing wrong with those artifacts that I am aware of or that he told me of." Despite the overwhelming evidence that Burrows is a con man and his carved rocks a hoax, the hard scientist Jones just wasn't able to prove it in a lab.

    But again, thanks to Flavin, we can examine some of the work Jones did do with the rocks. From Flavin's archive of Jones(HardEvidence)' now-hidden forum posts:
    HardEvidence (6/9/05 2:00 pm)
    Photos and analysis of BC artifacts
    As most of you know, Russ Burrows gave an excellent talk at the AHRF Symposium at the Brigham Young University Conference Center on May 21, 2005. Russ brought some fourteen artifacts to the conference for display, which he had recovered from "Burrows Cave". He generously loaned these to me to provide some analysis following the symposium. Also, he has given me permission to show photos and results of the analysis here on the forum. (Thanks for all this, Russ!)

    HardEvidence (6/9/05 2:07 pm)
    BC artifact 1 So here are photos of what I'll call BC artifact 1, starting with the front (obverse):

    [PIC 2 | PIC 3 | PIC 4 ]

    HardEvidence (6/10/05 10:13 am)
    Re: BC artifact 1 XRF results I'll watch for that, Russ...

    Can anyone from So. Illinois comment on the above stone -- does such tan-colored clay or stone occur commonly in southern Illinois? (Most of the other artifacts are a dark-charcoal gray color, as we shall see.)
    Now look carefully at that photo. Look at the coin, the coppery-colored coin provided for size comparison. That's FDR, not Abe Lincoln on there. It's a dime! Apparently the color balance of the photo has been altered -- "orangified" for lack of a better word. Other photos posted by Dr. Jones to the AHRF forum show a penny and a dime of the correct colors when paired with other rocks. Could it be that the "tan-colored" rock is so rare because it is, in fact, not tan at all and instead rather grayish? Here's what the rock might look like, once the color of the dime has been corrected:

    (Some files for photo correction: [1 2 3 4])

    It is beyond this editor what reason Jones might have had for "orangifying" his rock photos, but it should be noted this appears to be a pattern in Jones' work. Dr. Judy Wood noticed that the photo below of what appears to be Ground Zero rescue workers peering at a searchlight was "orangified" in Dr. Jones' paper to make the case for the presence of thermite. Dr. Wood and Dr. Morgan Reynolds have also noted that Jones used an "orangified" photo provided by NIST to make a point elsewhere in his thermite-theory paper.

    With polls indicating upwards of 100 million Americans believe the Offical Government Conspiracy Theory of 9/11 to be little more than a fairy tale, there is more than enough room for two major scholarly organizations to look in the matter. The original Scholars for 9/11 Truth takes a multidisciplinary approach guided by Socratic inquiry and the scientific process as recognized by Western civilization dating back to at least the ancient Greeks. The new spin-off organization is positioning itself as a "hard science" group, where nothing can be truly known until it is verified in a laboratory by folks in priestly white coats. This is the kind of "science" that has given us such horrors as the modern pharmaceutical industry; but there is an argument to be made that this kind of narrow, government-approved science is more politically and legally palatable. However, if the "hard science" wing of the 9/11 movement is to be built upon promoters of an infamous archaeological hoax (not to mention an unfortunate tendency to alter photographs), it is destined to crash and burn before it can ever take off.


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