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Newark’s “Holy Stones” Hoax.
Posted: 06 May 2008 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Newark Advocate has an article up about a hoax dating back to the American civil war:

[quote author=“Newark Advocate”]Hoax thrust [Newark] area into slavery debate
In 1860, and with the prospect of the break-up of the Union looming, several prominent Newarkians conspired to manufacture artifacts, known as Newark’s Holy Stones, to support a popular anti-slavery argument. The original artefacts are now housed at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in near-by Coshocton, where they attracted the attention of Ohio Historical Society archaeologist, Brad Lepper, and history enthusiast, Jeff Gill.

At the time of the hoax, there were two competing theories for the origin of races, monogenesis (all humans descend from Adam and Eve) and polygenesis (the ‘lesser’ races are separate creations), of which the latter was the most popular, supporting as it did the practices of slavery and racial discrimination then prevalent. Then, in 1860, into the scientific arena stepped county surveyor, David Wyrick, with the first Holy Stone, the Keystone.

Wyrick thought that the builders of the Newark Earthworks must be a lost tribe of Israel, and the keystone supported this idea, but problems with the stone were immediately apparent. For one, it was supposedly found far to close to the surface for the claimed age of item, and had been inscribed in modern - rather than ancient - Hebrew. So it was a relief for the Monogenesists when another stone, the Decalogue stone, which shared none of these flaws, was found just five months later, also by Wyrick. When they were later exposed as fakes, blame was put squarely on the head of David Wyrick, who was by then dead, by Newark Mayor Israel Dille. However Gill and Lepper believe Dille was himself involved, along with a local stonecutter called Sutton.

“[The conspirators] were frustrated by the lack of scientific evidence to support that blacks and Indians were human beings,” Gill said, “They did it for the right reasons, but I deplore their methods.”

When the civil war started in 1861, the stones became pointless curios, and were eventually sold to a Coshocton collector.

[More here…]

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Posted: 07 May 2008 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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“I deplore their methods”?

Wanker. Good on them, not only engineering a clever archaeological hoax for good reasons, but had the stones (snigger) to do it again adressing all the problems with the hoax part 1.

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Posted: 07 May 2008 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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But, like Piltdown Man, scientific hoaxes can end up distorting the science itself and causing inestimable problems before their discovery.

Also, what harm might it have done to their own case if their evidence for the monogenesis of Native Americans were revealed as a fraud, had the war not rendered them moot? As neither view was actually that scientific, and both certainly lacked objective evidence, the discovery of the Newark stones would probably have been a lot more convincing to many people that they appear to us. If they had later been informed that the stones were fakes, might they not have reacted by rejecting monogenesis altogether?

Part of the reason creationists are so quick to refer to evolution and its evidence as a ‘hoax’ (as in this example, so recent it’s dated tomorrow?!) is to ‘poison the well’  against further argument.

(Interestingly, many Global Warming sceptics do the same thing. The science isn’t wrong - they say - but fraudulent, that way future results can be written off a priori as further fraud.)

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Posted: 07 May 2008 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hmm…fair point…

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