Apologies for the Gary Webb Tease

Yesterday, I briefly posted a piece on the death of journalist Gary Webb. This was actually a draft of a post that I don’t intend to publish until later in the week, so my apologies to those who saw the post in their readers and attempted to access it.

– SME

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Wednesday Weirdness Roundup: Bigfoot, Smallfoot, and Another Atacama Humanoid

  • Another Boy from La Noria: The latest news on the Boy from La Noria (the “Atacama humanoid”) is that he wasn’t the first tiny child discovered in the Atacama Desert and paraded around as a sideshow curiosity. Back in the 1930s, Robert Ripley himself possessed and exhibited a 6.5″-tall human he named Atta. There’s a photo of Ripley posing with Atta in the palm of his hand in Neal Thompson’s recently-released biography A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert ‘Believe It or Not!’ Ripley.
    According to Thompson, Ripley was fascinated by shrunken heads and the much rarer shrunken bodies, and seemed to think that Atta was an adult human skeleton shrunk to miniature dimensions, perhaps by the Jivaro Indians of Peru. That’s not how head- or body-shrinking works, of course, but try telling that to a guy who’s been dead for nearly 65 years. 
beetlejuice-shrunken-heads

Nope.

Ripley’s Atta was probably bought by a private collector after its novelty wore off. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
It’s not easy to discern Atta’s features in the existing black-and-white photos, but there is nothing to indicate Atta wasn’t simply a mummified fetus, as many believe the boy from La Noria to be.  Edward Meyer, vice president of exhibits and archives for Ripley Entertainment, holds that view, but still wants to know what became of Atta. He has asked that anyone with information about Atta contact him at meyer@ripleys.com.

  • In Botswana, tiny humanoids aren’t a thing of the past. As Loren Coleman tells us, every part of Africa has its own folkloric man-beast that isn’t very tall, kind of like mini Sasquatches or short Ron Jeremys. On May 17, Mathiba Primary School in the town of Maun had to cancel classes for the day after hysterical children glimpsed a stumpy humanoid with thick black fur roaming the halls and classrooms.  Ten of the kids were sent to hospital to be treated for shock, and school authorities convened a prayer meeting. Greg Newkirk at Who Forted? observes that this mini Squatch  just happened to show up right before 7th-grade final exams. How totally inconsiderate.
  • Now, what about that full-size Bigfoot that was supposedly gunned down in Pennsylvania, as mentioned in last week’s Roundup? Well, no body turned up, and the only documented “sighting” around the time of the supposed kill was made by one John Winesickle, who reported to police that he had uncovered proof of Bigfoot. Someone overheard officers discussing Winesickle’s call over the radio and jumped to the conclusion that proof meant a dead body (it was, after all, the opening day of turkey season). What Winesickle actually found were some footprints in the woods.
  • If you simply must have a dead Bigfoot story, though, I suggest you dip into the bizarre conspiracy theory that rocked the Bigfoot world several years back. It involved Bobbie Short, a well-known Bigfoot researcher who passed away last week, and centred around film footage and photos from a 1967 Bigfoot expedition to Blue Creek Mountain in California. Canadian Sasquatch enthusiast John Green and the quirky Canadian Sasquatch-hunter Rene Dahinden traveled to Bluff Creek that summer to investigate Squatch tracks that were reported to have been left on Blue Creek Mountain, and they shot some film to document their trip. Several months later, in October, the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of a sauntering female Bigfoot was shot in the same area.
    Roughly six years ago, certain Bigfoot researchers claimed to find, in the film and photos from the Green-Dahinden expedition, clear evidence that the Patterson-Gimlin film was fake, part of a vast cover-up/conspiracy involving the massacre of several real Bigfoot. John Green, who published On the Track of the Sasquatch the following year, was supposedly the mastermind of this cover-up, if not the massacre itself.
    The evidence was pretty thin. One fellow tinted the hands of a man in a photo to make it look like he had blood on his hands. Others, like Bobbie Short, insisted the expedition pilot was actually Bob Titmus, an alleged hoaxer who amassed more plaster footprint casts of Bigfoot than anyone alive. Bobbie Short promoted the Bluff Creek Massacre conspiracy theory on her website, Bigfoot Encounters, and via rather cryptic emails to the others in the field. It’s a confusing but fascinating tale. Just Google “Blue Creek Mountain Bigfoot massacre” or something along those lines to find out more about it.  As always, Bigfoot researchers prove to far be more peculiar and intriguing than the beasts they’re seeking.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

Links Purge

We’ll be gone until the second week of November. ‘Til then, enjoy some of the WTFery that’s been accumulating in my bookmarks…

Wednesday Weirdness: Satanic Nephilim Hybrids

 

In lieu of a weirdness roundup, I’m gonna give you one big ol‘ chunk of weirdness that warped my mind this week. What do you get when you combine Biblical prophecy, Illuminati conspiracy theories, aliens, pop psychology, and teen vampire novels? A serious freaking mess.

On the Monday-Tuesday broadcast of Coast to Coast AM, guest L.A. Marzulli nattered on about endtime prophecy, natural disasters, and a Great Deception involving aliens or the Illuminati or something. I wasn’t really listening. Then he said this: According to two researchers who contacted him recently, at least two American women claiming to be victims of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) have reported that the Satanists took them to Mount Hermon to be impregnated by fallen angels, which Marzulli referred to as the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4 (I’m not even sure if the Nephilim are supposed to be the same “sons of God” that mated with human women, or giants unrelated to the angels, or the offspring of angels and women, but that’s a different post). The researchers who alerted Marzulli to this story had no vested interest in the matter, he insisted.
Marzulli then hinted that the hybrid offspring of these women have some connection to the alien breeding program, and that the Nephilim are keeping them at an offworld location.
“Will they bring them back at some point?” host George Noory asked.
“Yes, they will,” Marzulli replied without hesitation.

So I Googled “Nephilim ritual abuse” and found a recent online radio interview with Pastor Doug Riggs, described as a friend of L.A. Marzulli. The subject was “Nephilim Mothers”.
The name Doug Riggs was very familiar to me, but I couldn’t recall precisely why. I rifled through some notes. Sure enough, I had jotted down a bit of info on the guy. A month or two ago I had stumbled upon a documentary from 1994, In Satan’s Name, which originally aired on HBO. Riggs and his Morningstar Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were featured in the film’s most memorable and disturbing segment.

In 1994, no fewer than 14 members of Morningstar Church believed they had been brought up in Satanism, were horrifically abused as children, and had Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). All of this was based on repressed memories they recovered while in “counseling” with Pastor Riggs, during sessions lasting up to 19 hours in length. Please keep in mind that we’re not talking about Okie bumpkins, here. These were reasonably intelligent, middle-class people who seriously should have known better.
To be fair, Morningstar didn’t look like a cult. Riggs was a poised, handsome man with graying hair and a mellow voice. He spoke knowledgeably about psychology. It’s no wonder that parishioners turned to him for pastoral counseling unrelated to Satanism or abuse (marital trouble, eating disorders, etc.).
From 1985 on, these counselees began recovering memories of horrific, lifelong ritual abuse at the hands of Satanists. Namely their own parents. And after 1991, when Riggs learned about MPD (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder), they began to discover they had hundreds, even thousands, of separate personalities because of the Satanic ritual abuse. Riggs told them that every single one of their alters could be possessed by demons.
Counseling was conducted in a large room with a mattress on the floor, so counselees could go through abreactions without hurting themselves. Riggs would lay on top of the person when abreactions became intense, while helpers held the person’s arms and legs. In this way, counseling and deliverance from demonic possession were merged into a single process. In one filmed session with a 30ish man, Riggs ordered a demon out of his body (“Explode the seals!”) while the man writhed and convulsed on the mattress, growling obscenities.
Ultimately, Riggs concluded that all these people had been victimized by the same Satanic cult, led by a man named Joe (father of one of the parishioners, Pam), and that God had brought the victims together at Morningstar to be healed. Joe supposedly conducted powerful rituals for high government officials (including leaders of the Soviet Union), the Vatican, even heads of state. The narrator of In Satan’s Name explains that in reality, Joe was a Nebraska salesman who had never left his home state. He died during filming.
Needless to say, the allegations tore apart families. A graceful, soft-spoken couple in their 60s, Jim and Fran Field, mourned the loss of their daughter Cynthia to what they considered a destructive, all-consuming cult.

This was as far as In Satan’s Name took the story, but I soon learned that the situation at Morningstar was even stranger.
A testimony written in 1999 by 49-year-old Morningstar member Kim Campbell starts out as boilerplate SRA stuff. Campbell explains that Satanism, “as old as mankind itself”, is a blend of SumeroAkkadian/Babylonian mystery religions, Kabbala, and Paganism. “The culture is unbelievably and ingeniously evil; virutally everything about the culture is humanly damaging.” Kim was subjected not only to “every abuse, trauma, and demonization imaginable within satanism”, but to “medically-based mind control programming” at U.S. government facilities, clinics, and the Tavistock Institute (a favourite bugaboo in the world of conspiracy theory). Half of his waking preschool life was spent “being indoctrinated and incested“. This realization came to him after 18 months of therapy with Pastor Riggs.
It isn’t until page 7 of the testimony that shit gets seriously weird. Kim drops this bombshell: His real father was Edouard Philippe de Rothschild, and Kim was the “bastard son…of occult incest”, indicating his mom Lula (who died in 1977) had some relation to the Rothschilds. Kim spent much of his childhood and adolescence on his dad’s French estate, and was brought up in homosexual incest. He thought it was normal, even admirable.
Edouard despised God and loved humanity with equal passion. “Such was the true generational core of my ancestral iniquity and, being a Rothschild descendant, it was maximally demonized.” As all Satanists do, Edouard introduced his son to Christianity, “with none other than Herr Josef Mengele himself coaching him over his shoulder.” Kim was being groomed to infiltrate the Protestant church. As Riggs declared, the members of Morningstar Church “had come together to live in such a way as to hasten the Lord’s coming for His Bride, but we also had been constituted in the occult to frustrate the will of God for the Church and bring the antichrist instead.”

Wow. Just wow. Somehow, Doug Riggs convinced most of his 30-40 parishioners that they were multiple personalities trained by the great families of Europe and Nazi doctors to infiltrate the Christian Church and pave the way for the Antichrist, who would be a member of the Hapsburg family. Instead, they found a saviour. Unfracking-believable, no?

Let’s go back to L.A. Marzulli for a moment. He also mentioned that Dr. Mengele was one of the originators of mind control. This is a very popular notion in conspiracy circles, but it makes little sense. Mengele was a geneticist, not a psychiatrist, and there’s no evidence that he took even the slightest interest in psychology.
Marzulli also made reference to the work of I.E.D. Thomas, a Welsh minister who believes that UFOs and alien abductions are demonic manifestations, another guise of the Nephilim.

Back to Riggs and the Morningstar Satanists. Last April, Riggs and his wife were guests on The Byte Show, accompanied by about half a dozen of Riggs’ SRA victims, to discuss the infiltration of Nephilim hybrids into society.
Riggs began the show with a reading of Matthew 24:37, in which it is stated that the coming of the Son of Man (Christ) will be just like the days of Noah. And what happened in the days of Noah? Nephilim mated with the daughters of Man. That’s exactly what Riggs contends is happening now. Fallen angels – the “B’nai Elohim” – are interbreeding with human women, by force. He cited the work of I.E.D. Thomas. Hmm. Call me an asshole, but I’m starting to wonder if Marzulli’s “two researchers” actually exist. Isn’t it more likely that he got his eschatological Illuminati-Satanic-Nephilim info from his buddy Doug?

Two women gave their stories of being “Nephilim mothers”.
Sally, a surprisingly chirpy woman, says that after joining Riggs’ church, she began to journal and pray, and memories started surfacing. She shared her journal with the pastor, but after a time she felt God compelling her to share things directly, even her most frightening memory (the President wearing a gorilla costume). Through prayer and God’s guidance, she learned to trust her emerging memories. She learned that she came from a royal bloodline, stamped with a certain iniquity and allied with Nazi doctors. Many years ago she revealed to Riggs that she had once given birth to a Nephilim child. She had been groomed literally from the womb to bond with the principality (spirit) that sired this child.

Riggs sat on the Nephilim hybrid revelation until this year. Now he’s an expert on the subject. Riggs explains that Nephilim conception occurs at age 13, through an arcane genetic-engineering process (angels can’t reproduce). Gestation is 4 months. Once the Nephilim hybrid sons have matured, their mothers are encouraged to become their lovers, carrying on the tradition of “incesting“.

The second woman, Juliana, learned just this year that her recovered memories of giving birth to human sons were actually screen memories of bearing Nephilim sons. Like all the other Morningstar members, she was born to a European “royal family”, then placed with relatives in the U.S. She was “incested” by the couple she called her mom and dad. She trusts her recovered memories because of their emotional intensity, a very poor indicator of whether a memory is true or false.

For the rest of the program, Riggs made a strenuous effort to show that the SRA victims’ memories didn’t come from him. Hilariously, though, he got them to explain how he doesn’t tell them what to say by telling them what to say.
There is, of course, ample reason to suspect that the Satanic Illuminati stories did come from Riggs. First of all, there’s that peculiar use of “incest” as a verb. While this may be common usage in the survivor community, I have come across it only a handful of times – and every single instance involved Riggs or one of his church members. Secondly, recovered memories of SRA have turned out time and time again to be unreliable (see the Ingram case for a particularly chilling example). Thirdly, some of the key details are whack. There was no Edouard Philippe de Rothschild, and if there had been he would have been Jewish. How, I wonder, would a Jewish Frenchman and a Catholic Nazi groom a child to infiltrate American Protestant churches? If the Satanic New World Order plot is closely linked with Hitler’s plan to create Aryan supermen, as Riggs contends, why would a former Nazi help a Jewish man raise his illegitimate children? And Satanism notwithstanding, why would a Nazi and a Jew be hanging out together in the first place?

Then there’s the fact that this has all happened before.
In the early ’90s, right around the time Riggs was learning about MPD/DID, psychiatrist Bennett Braun opened a DID treatment unit at Chicago’s Rush Presbyterian Hospital. Within a year, he and his colleagues had most of the patients convinced they were lifelong victims of Satanic cults, that their alter personalities still practiced Satanism, that they had ritually sacrificed and/or eaten other people, and that because of their Satanic affiliations they posed a mortal danger to their families, themselves, and other patients. Braun even told them that flowers sent to their rooms were coded mind-control messages from Satanists, with certain colours representing threats and commands.
As former patients like Pat Burgus and Mary Shanley later revealed (see the Frontline documentary The Search for Satan), the people in Braun’s DID unit were so heavily medicated that stories of cannibalism and Satanic incest began to make sense to them. They have since renounced all their “recovered memories”, and some filed lawsuits against Braun and the other doctors involved in their treatment.
What happened at Rush Presbyterian isn’t much different from the spectacular displays of female hysteria that gripped Paris’s Salpetriere Hospital in the late 19th century. Under the influence of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, numerous women underwent bizarre convulsions and contortions not unlike the symptoms of “demonic possession”. When Charcot died in 1893, the symptoms abated, leading some of his colleagues to suspect that the hysteria had been iatrogenic in nature. Medical historian Edward Shorter supports this conclusion in his book A History of Psychiatry (1997, John Wiley & Sons).
Though Dissociative Identity Disorder is classified as a dissociative disorder in the DSM-IV, Multiple Personality Disorder was considered a form of hysteria. Specifically, it was Grande Hysterie – the very same condition suffered by Charcot’s patients.

Now for the crazy part…

The day after I listened to L.A. Marzulli and Doug Riggs, I opened book four of Kristin and P.C. Cast’s popular House of Night series, which is about a vampire high school. The Casts (mother and daughter) have combined elements of Wicca and Native American spirituality to create a unique, goddess-centred mythos. This particular book, Untamed, came out in 2008.
Halfway through the book, a demonic figure from ancient Cherokee prophecy is mentioned. This fictional character is a beautiful fallen angel, complete with black wings, who habitually captures and rapes human women. He is specifically referred to as one of the Nephilim. His hybrid offspring are the hideous Raven Mockers of (actual) myth. According to the prophecy, he will rise again to dominate the earth – and only a handful of teenage vampires-in-training can stop him.
Where does all this take place? In the Casts’ hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wednesday Weirdness Roundup


Courtesy of
Nexus magazine

Nexus magazine, as I’ve mentioned before, is cover-to-cover batshit insanity on crack. It recycles the craziest of the crazy “alternative health” and conspiracy memes, everything from the health benefits of drinking your own piss to reasons why the moon is probably hollow. The American edition is a bi-monthly edited by Duncan M. Roads, and it’s every bit as nutty as the original UK publication [correction: Australian publication]. You literally can’t get past a single page without laughing, cringing, or giving up on the future of mankind. The only good thing I can say about it is that while Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer were sold out at my local bookstore, this rag was still on the shelf. There’s still hope for humanity, folks.
Anyway, since I’m still in de-vacationing mode, I figured I’ll let Nexus do my work for me this Wednesday. Seriously, there’s enough material in the March/April issue for about 50 Weirdness Roundups.

The hilarity begins on the very first page, in the editor’s intro. Roads basically admits that most of the catastrophic and UFO Rapture scenarios of the past four decades have been b.s., which should make subscribers wonder why the hell they’re reading this magazine. He writes, “I still cannot quite believe that it is 2010 and that the world hasn’t been through all the catastrophic planetary changes that were predicted…It seems that nothing has really changed, except the speed at which such ideas and rumours are communicated, thanks to the Internet.” Exactly, Mr. Roads. Exactly.

Letters to the Editor:

These two pages were so funny/sad I spit out my coffee a few times. Actual quote:
“I made two websites, one about giants and one about six-fingered hands. I am getting responses…”
Then there’s Jim Oglesby of Florida, who claims that while he was working on launch support at Cape Canaveral in the ’60s, aliens contacted him. (According to an editor’s note, you’ll be seeing that story again in a future issue.)
Another reader argues that bee deaths are being caused not by pesticides nor infection, as many scientists strongly suspect, but by “agribacteria” [sic] used as the gene transfer vector in GM crops. Chemtrails are also killing off a lot of bees and wasps, though the man can’t or won’t identify what’s actually in these things or why he’s confident they’re connected to insect deaths. He saw some funky contrails, then he saw fewer wasps. That’s evidence aplenty for him.

Articles:

Global warming is fake, the Norway Spiral was not a missile but a manifestation of HAARP, lightning strikes can do funky things to your brain, yadda yadda yadda. The weirdest article is an examination of the Black-Eyed Kids phenomonenon, which began as a blatant and rather stupid online hoax by a Texas reporter named Brian Bethel back in ’98. He claimed that two adolescent boys with no white in their eyes approached his car and demanded to be given a ride somewhere. Like vampires of yore, they apparently had to be invited into a space in order to enter, and they gave off a subtle aura of menace when Bethel refused. The article goes into crazy specific detail about these BEKs, which have been regularly encountered since – guess when? – 1998. I think it goes without saying there aren’t any photos accompanying this article.
The creepiest thing about BEKs is not the kids themselves, but adults’ reported reactions to them. Like Bethel’s kids, all BEKs give off an aura of not-niceness, without being directly threatening in any way. They weigh about 80 lbs, but grown people are terrified just to be around them.
When a little black-eyed girl knocked at the side door of a Missouri woman’s house and said she needed help, the woman was so overwhelmed by the girl’s eyes and “adult vocabulary” that she slammed the door in her face. Perhaps the girl was unusually bright and had just been strangled, but never mind. If you get a bad vibe from a 7-year-old, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave them to die on your doorstep. That’s rational.
Other people are certain the BEKs are aliens, or demons, or demonic aliens. Christian writer and possible alien abductee Guy Malone says the kids have a “probable satanic source…probably demonic- or fallen-angel-related”. One man is convinced that a little girl in his family is possessed, because her eyes go black when she abuses animals or other children. No one else in the family seems to notice, he reports. A Toronto mother states, “My first encounter with an alien was at my daughter’s school”.
The article notes that there are numerous physical causes for enlarged pupils, but the writer then goes on to ignore them all completely, as if to say, “Screw that Occam shit – Omen kids are way more fun.”

“Cures

90% of Nexus is unintentionally hilarious conspiranoid dreck, but it does have a very dark side: the plethora of bizarre disease cures that are recommended, uncritically discussed, and advertised. By page 5 of this issue you’re already reading a glowing review of a book titled Cancer is NOT a Disease – It’s a Survival Mechanism by Andreas Moritz. On the same page, Dr. Viera Scheibner is adamant that vaccines cause cancer via simian viruses (more on that topic later). The very next page informs us that an HIV cure developed by U.S. hematologist Gero Hutter is being ignored (even though, admittedly, his cure has only been tested on a single subject), and a page after that we learn of a “simple” MS cure discovered by Dr. Paolo Zamboni (while promising, his results are far from conclusive at this point).
The numerous health warnings are equally distressing:

  • “Mammogram tests can cause breast cancer.” (p. 8)
  • “Increasing scientific evidence for the existence of an infectious cancer-causing microbe emerged through the 20th century, but was routinely rejected by the medical establishment”. (p. 37) The hunt for cancer-causing microbes was the life mission of many scientists in the last century, notably Robert Gallo (the unacknowledged co-discoverer of the cause of AIDS). If any of these dogged scientists had actually found a human cancer virus, it would have been a red letter day for oncology, cancer research, and the pharmaceutical industry. But it never happened. No discoveries were suppressed. It just. Didn’t. Happen.

There’s also a heavy focus on alternate germ theories and outright rejection of germ theory. A lot of Nexus writers and readers are very enamored of some dude named Bechamp, the poor man’s Pasteur. He argued that pathogens are created by diseases and that all diseases originate in cell mutation; hence, germ theory is bunk.
Later on there’s a full-page ad for The Hidden Story of Cancer, and a feature article on something called “aerotoxic syndrome“. This might be a legit concern, but this article and others cited in the Wikipedia entry are wildly alarmist. Then there’s an ad (written by editor Roads himself, who actually misspells his own name) for a “therapeutic ionizer” that will increase your oxygen levels with negative ions to prevent most sicknesses, including travel diarrhea.

Maybe I should’ve bought a copy of Hello or Teen People instead of Nexus. They’re far more intelligent, and just as informative. Oh, and they won’t lead very many readers to preventable deaths.

Wow, this must be more embarrassing than Piranha II


James Cameron – and a lot of other people – have been duped by a wannabe scientist and pseudo-historian.

One of the weekend guests on Coast to Coast AM was Dr. Charles Pellegrino.

If the name is familiar, you may have seen him in the Discovery Channel documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, or read the 2007 book about the tomb that he co-authored with “naked archeologistSimcha Jacobovici (who is neither naked nor an archeologist), The Jesus Family Tomb. Pellegrino, Jacobovici, and James Cameron are the three most enthusiastic supporters of the “Jesus tomb” discovered in Talpiot three decades ago. Cameron and Pellegrino have been buds for quite some time, because according to the Lost Tomb website, Pellegrino’s work was the inspiration for Titanic. Pellegrino introduced Jacobovici to Cameron, which led to their collaboration on the Discovery doc and a few other documentary projects.

Pellegrino might also be familiar from his solo nonfiction books: Unearthing Atlantis; The Ghosts of Titanic; and Return to Sodom and Gomhorra (to name a few). It should be fairly clear by now that he likes to explore somewhat spooky, fringy topics that most historians, Bible scholars, archeologists, and paleo-biologists won’t touch with a dead rat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless, of course, you let the spookiness and fringiness hijack your common sense.

Pellegrino has also authored several sci-fi/ecological thrillers of the “Holy shit, we’re doomed!” variety.

You may also know Pellegrino for the subject of the C2C broadcast: His recently published book The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back (Henry Holt & Co., 2010). It combines graphic descriptions of the atomic bomb’s aftermath with the stories of several Hiroshima survivors who fled to Nagasaki, only to suffer and survive the second bombing. It also features testimony from USAF officers involved in the bombing of Japan, including the late Joseph Fuoco’s harrowing account of a hushed-up atom bomb accident that killed one American and irradiated others, reducing the weapon’s destructive power by at least half.
The book came out earlier this year, but James Cameron has already acquired the film rights. And it has already been yanked from publication. Here’s the statement from Henry Holt posted on Amazon.com: “It is with deep regret that Henry Holt and Company announces that we will no longer print, correct or ship copies of Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima due to the discovery of a dishonest sources of information for the book.
It is easy to understand how even the most diligent author could be duped by a source, but we also understand that opens that book to very detailed scrutiny. The author of any work of non-fiction must stand behind its content. We must rely on our authors to answer questions that may arise as to the accuracy of their work and reliability of their sources. Unfortunately, Mr. Pellegrino was not able to answer the additional questions that have arisen about his book to our satisfaction.
Mr. Pellegrino has a long history in the publishing world, and we were very proud and honored to publish his history of such an important historical event. But without the confidence that we can stand behind the work in its entirety, we cannot continue to sell this product to our customers.”

So, um, what happened?

Well, first off, this is not the first time Pellegrino has gotten himself into a spot of trouble with the facts. In 2008, a Who’s Who of archeology signed a statement of protest against claims made by Pellegrino, Cameron, and Jacobovici. The three amigos had been crowing that an archaeological symposium on the “Jesus tomb”, held at Princeton in January of that year, was proof that their theory of the tomb was finally being taken seriously in scientific circles. The scientific community begged to differ. They also resented the fact that the media had bypassed their serious scholarship on the issue to quote a Hollywood director and a TV producer known for his sensationalistic statements.
When The Lost Tomb of Jesus and its companion book appeared, archaeologists reiterated their conclusion that the names inscribed on six of the ten ossuaries in the tomb weren’t proof of anything, except that six people bearing those remarkably common names had died in Palestine sometime in the first century. Some of the archaeologists interviewed for the doc and book retracted or qualified their statements. (Pellegrino’s and Jacobovici’s contention that the ridiculously bogus “James ossuary” might have been the missing eleventh ossuary wasn’t even worth debating.)

This could all be quite understandable and forgivable if Pellegrino was a noob in the murky realm of “Biblical archeology.” But he wasn’t. In fact, he credits himself as the co-discoverer of the city of Sodom.
He’s referring to a site in Iraq called Madhkanshapir, which he only partially excavated before the first Gulf War. Because it’s buried among oil fields, he surmises that earthquakes in the region allowed gas to escape where cooking fires could have ignited it. He points out that Moses saw the fires of Sodom/Gomhorra still smoldering three centuries later, and only an oil field could burn for so long.
In the bio on his website, Pellegrino explains that even though he calls himself the co-discoverer of Sodom, Madhkanshapir is probably just one of several destroyed cities that inspired the Biblical account.

So you might be noticing a pattern here. Pellegrino selects an historical artifact, connects it to a famous event that may or may not have even happened (or attaches himself to someone who has already made that connection), then promotes the hell out of it by writing a book and/or appearing in documentaries on the subject. This is an acceptable M.O. if you actually have persuasive evidence to back up your theory, but Pellegrino rarely (if ever) has the goods. Most of his books are minor masterpieces of speculation and conjecture.

Then there’s the problem of Pellegrino’s doctorate. Namely, he doesn’t have one. He isn’t a paleo-biologist with a degree from New Zealand’s Victoria University, as he has been claiming for almost 30 years. That doesn’t stop him from highlighting the “Dr.” on his website.
Pellegrino was a PhD candidate at Victoria U. in the ’70s, but his thesis was rejected and his ’86 appeal denied. When confronted with the fact that the university has no record of him being awarded a PhD, Pellegrino declared that it was revoked in the early ’80s because of a dispute over evolutionary theory. This “academic witch hunt” forced him to flee New Zealand after his lab was destroyed by vandals.
His thesis supervisor disputes this. Retired Victoria University professor Bob Wear stated, “I guess Pellegrino is very good at bullshit and he has managed to convince people of his authenticity throughout his life.” He describes Pellegrino as an intelligent but sloppy researcher prone to “weird tangents”.
Where does this leave his claims of being a multidisciplinary research scientist and engineer, designing everything from NASA life-detection systems to “the world’s first antimatter rocket”?

Then there’s the fact that The Last Train to Hiroshima isn’t the first of Pellegrino’s books to be withdrawn by its publisher. In 1990 Random House yanked Pellegrino’s Unearthing Atlantis from the presses after a Greek archaeologist challenged its content.

Now, back to that Hiroshima book. As mentioned, Pellegrino included the reminiscences of the late WWII vet Joseph Fuoco, who was assigned to the crew of one of the two surveillance planes that accompanied the Enola Gay on its date with destruction. He replaced flight engineer James Corliss at the last minute, because Corliss had fallen ill.
While the bomb was being loaded at an airbase on the Pacific island of Tinian, there was an accident in which an American scientist died. Fuoco pieced together what happened: Damage to the nuclear fuel assembly resulted in a deadly burst of radiation and reduced the bomb’s destructive power by more than half. Pellegrino repeatedly refers to Little Boy as “a dud.”

Almost as soon as The Last Train to Hiroshima appeared in print, the family of the late James Corliss stepped forward to refute Fuoco’s version of events. They say Corliss was in the surveillance plane, and all the evidence is on their side: Not only do the surviving crew members recall his presence, President Truman presented him with an air medal for his part in the operation.
Fuoco does not appear on the roster of the 509th Bomb Group. Ever.

At this point, it’s not clear who was behind the bogus story attributed to Fuoco. We only have Pellegrino’s word that Fuoco’s account came wholly from him, as the man died in 2008. His widow, Claire Fuoco, contends that he would not have invented such a story.

Nuclear scientists and historians had major problems with Fuoco’s story, too. The destructive potentials of Little Boy and Fat Man were fully realized; there is no evidence that either was damaged. Atomic historian Robert S. Norris stated that it is Pellegrino’s book, not the atomic bomb, that was defective. “This book is a Toyota,” he told the New York Times.

In February Pellegrino acknowledged his mistake in accepting Fuoco’s alleged version of events without researching it in any depth, and pledged to correct his errors for subsequent editions of the book. But the Fuoco story proved to be only part of the problem. Pellegrino was unable to satisfactorily answer questions about another of his sources, a Jesuit priest who claims one of his colleagues committed suicide. To date, there has been no confirmation that these two priests actually existed.

James Cameron, who last December accompanied Pellegrino on a visit to Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the last known survivor of both bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has referred to the criticism of Pellegrino’s work as “a misunderstanding”, insisting that Pellegrino would not fabricate anything.
It’s sad that Pellegrino’s fake credentials and poor research may scotch any Hiroshima film project Cameron had in the works, because as Greg Mitchell pointed out in a November editorial at The Huffington Post, the bombing of Japan is still something of a verbotin subject in America.

The outcry over Last Train has inspired the usual navel-gazing and excuse-spewing among editors, publisher reps, and literary agents. But given his track record, the most appalling aspect of the Hiroshima affair isn’t that Charles Pellegrino conducted shoddy research; it’s that anyone actually believed anything he had to say in the first place.

Returning This Week.

Another delay, what a shock. We’ll be back later in the week. Hans the Not-so-flying pig escaped quarantine and had to be chased down to Clearwater, Florida. I guess he likes to vacation there or something.

Happy Canada Day!


We’ll be back tomorrow. (Well, Hans won’t – he’s usually pretty messed up the day after Canada Day…)