Wednesday Weirdness Roundup

  • After my first encounter with “Satanic Nephilim hybrids“, I didn’t think I’d be running into any more fusions of alien abduction lore and Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) narratives. So far as I know, alien abductees rarely recover memories of human abuse under hypnosis (David Icke’s Reptilian/Illuminati survivors would be an exception), and ritual abuse advocates generally don’t stray too far into the paranormal (Michelle Pazder’s Marian visitation would be a notable exception). It’s just not a likely combination, though both phenomena probably involve false memories and/or fantasy-proneness to some extent. So I was hugely disappointed to learn that on the most recent edition of his online radio show, Dreamland, famous alien abductee Whitley Strieber featured a woman named Christine Day who claims not only that she’s in communication with Pleiadians, but that her parents “gave her to a Satanic cult when she was a child.” Day’s contact story is remarkably similar to hundreds of others. She was taken aboard a huge UFO near Mount Shasta (a sacred energy site to New Agers) and felt an overwhelming sense of peace among the Pleiadian aliens. Their vibration filled her with a powerful energy that forced her to undergo a spiritual/psychological transformation. Two months later, Jesus appeared to her and declared, “The Pleiadians are part of the Oneness, and we are part of the Oneness. We are all part of the God-self.” Day claims these memories are consciously recalled. The SRA memories, on the other hand, remained repressed until Day was a grandmother; she accidentally slammed her fingers in her garage door, and spontaneously recalled Satanists breaking her fingers when she was a child. After four years of intense treatment with a therapist who “specializes in this sort of work”, she recalled a life full of Satanic atrocities. (And that’s not all. Sai Baba appeared in Day’s bedroom one night to urge her to go to India.) In a July 9, 1993 interview on Larry King Live, Whitley Strieber said he was working on a novel about ritual abuse, but told guest host Frank Sesno, “Something is happening, people are getting beat up, but it is a psychological thing, basically. I don’t think it’s real.” Now, granted, the Dreamland interview with Christine Day was conducted by guest host Marla Frees. Perhaps Strieber didn’t want to touch the subject himself. Nonetheless, it’s still discouraging to see unverifiable contactee messages being merged with verifiably false SRA information, which can’t possibly do any real favours for either alien abductees or SRA survivors.
  • This is just sad: While searching for the legendary ghost train of Iredell County in Statesville, North Carolina, 29-year-old concierge Christopher Kaiser was struck by an actual train. About a dozen amateur ghost-hunters were on the elevated train trestle called Bostian Bridge in the predawn hours of August 27th, waiting for the phantom #9 out of Salisbury to make an appearance on the 119th anniversary of its crash. That’s when a three-car Norfolk Southern train somehow took them by surprise. Mr. Kaiser reportedly saved his girlfriend’s life by pushing her off the tracks into the ravine 30-40 feet below, just before he was struck head-on. Something tells me that next August 27th, people are going to gather on the trestle to look for the ghost of the guy who saved his girlfriend from an oncoming train. Sigh. Sadder still: This is not the first preventable death to occur on an amateur ghost-hunting trip. Last September, 29-year-old Leah Kubik fell to her death from the roof of the “haunted” Connaught medical research building on the University of Toronto campus after she and a date snuck into the building in search of ghosts. In 2006, 17-year-old Rachel Barezinsky was shot to death by the owner of a “haunted house” in Worthington, Ohio. Allen Davis says he didn’t know that the people who continually lurked on his property were searching for witches and ghosts; he just assumed they were up to no good and loaded his rifle.
  • The blog Three Dead Words, maintained by a Saskatchewan veterinarian who evidently believes her province is crawling with Satanists, is trying to put a Satanic spin on the crimes of Stuart Northcott. He’s the serial killer depicted in The Changeling (you can read my post on him here).

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.

Jesus Hoaxes

Holy Blood, Holy Crap: The Da Vinci Code lawsuit and Michael Baigent’s The Jesus Papers

The Tomb of Jesus and the James Ossuary

A Photo of Jesus

Hoaxes From Space: Time Travel Hoaxes?

The following stories may or may not be hoaxes (with the exception of the last one, which is almost definitely a hoax), but they’re worth mention in this series because they involve claims of time travel or time superimposition that are really freaking bizarre.


Doing the Time Warp at Versailles

In August 1901, two English schoolmarms traveled to Paris. Like countless tourists before and after them, they ended up at Versailles. They gawked and chattered their way to the Petit Trianon, enjoying the mild weather and wondering what they would have for tea.

Yawn. None of this would be worth mentioning if, several months later, these two spinsters hadn’t agreed that there had been something not quite right about the Petit Trianon on that summer day.

Charlotte Moberly, 55, was the first principal of St. Hugh’s College, a women’s university at Oxford. Eleanor Jourdain, 37, taught at the college. Though they weren’t close friends, both were spinsters with a fondness for travel, so they agreed to share their summer holiday. Neither had ever been to Versailles.
Their visit to the palace grounds was perfectly ordinary until they began walking down a narrow, tree-shaded path between Marie Antoinette’s theatre and the little teahouse known as the Belvedere. Though they didn’t know it at the time, this shadowed pathway had been destroyed immediately after Marie Antoinette’s execution in 1794.
En route to the Petit Trianon, the ladies took a wrong turn. They found themselves on a little lane bordered by trees, meadows, and quaint farm buildings. A woman was shaking a cloth out the window of a little cottage. As they continued, the atmosphere become strangely oppressive. Miss Moberly noted a peculiar stillness in the air, as though the trees around them had transformed into “a wood worked in tapestry”. They saw several men they assumed to be gardeners, though they were all wearing long coats and tri-cornered hats for no apparent reason. Soon they came to a gazebo surrounded by untended grass. A man sat on the ground nearby, wearing a cloak and a large hat that shaded his rough, “repulsive” complexion. Neither woman dared ask him for directions to the Petit Trianon.
Miss Moberly intuitively sensed that they shouldn’t take the path on their left, and this was confirmed seconds later when a young man in a sombrero burst out of the trees and told them to take the path on their right.
Turning right, the ladies passed over a small, rustic bridge over a little ravine. On the other side, beside a meadow, they finally reached the little square country house that was the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s beloved refuge from court life. A woman was sketching in the English-style garden. She wore a shady hat over her fluffy, fair hair and an unusual summer dress with a low-cut bodice and very full skirt – not at all the style in the summer of 1901.
To their disappointment, a wedding party was already touring the house and they would not be able to enter it. They took a little carriage back to the Hotel des Reservoirs and had their tea.

Months later, as they discussed their visit to the Petit Trianon, Miss Jourdain mentioned that she hadn’t seen the sketching lady. They also shared their impressions of the “dreamy oppressiveness” they experienced on the lane that led to the house. This spurred them to compare notes and do some research. They reached this conclusion: “The result of this showed us that everything we had described by word and in writing before the research began was in agreement with the conditions of the place in 1789, many of which had not persisted later than that date.” The odd-looking clothes worn by the eight people they had seen were typical morning dress in 1789. The woods, the bridge, and the grotto with its little waterfall no longer existed.
They concluded that the sinister-looking man near the gazebo had been the spectre of the Comte de Vaudreuil, a smallpox-scarred Creole friend of the queen. Later, Miss Moberly recognized the fair-haired sketching woman from a picture drawn by Wertmuller – it was Marie Antoinette herself.
They were able to account for all of the phantom scenery they had seen; it existed in 1789. But the little rustic bridge was not featured in any of the maps or descriptions they studied.
Then, years later, they learned that in 1903 the hand-drawn map of the architect who had designed the gardens around the Petit Trianon, Richard Mique, was discovered stashed away in the chimney of a house in Montmorency, once the residence of Rousseau. How it ended up there no one knew, but the map showed the little bridge just where Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain recalled crossing it in 1901 – over a century after it was destroyed.

Despite the ladies’ sterling academic reputations, the world of paranormal research was not impressed. In 1950, W.H. Salter of the Society for Psychical Research re-examined their notes and compared them to their published account of the adventure, and he concluded they had gleaned the details not from their 1901 visit, but from historical research. Everything they documented was already known to history and available to any diligent researcher.
Since then, numerous academics have tackled the adventure at Versailles, offering a rainbow of intriguing theories without really getting to the bottom of what happened.

Ivan Sanderson Visits France

We’ll be running into Ivan T. Sanderson again in the story of the Philadelphia Experiment; he claimed that his friend Morris K. Jessup feared for his safety towards the end of his life. But for now, let’s look at Sanderson’s own enigmatic brush with time travel.
The first thing you should know about him is that even though Sanderson was a pre-eminent, well-respected naturalist and author in his day, he was also into a lot of seriously weird stuff. He coined the word “cryptozoology“, and perhaps the name “Bermuda Triangle”. He identified the diet of the Yeti, photographed “rods” many years before Jose Escamilla discovered them, investigated the Flatwoods UFO case, witnessed poltergeist activity in Sumatra, and gave his stamp of approval to the Patterson-Gimlin film. Most notoriously, as recounted in Mike Dash’s Borderlands, he concluded that huge three-toed tracks found on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, in 1948 had probably been made by a giant penguin driven from its natural habitat by some unknown catastrophe. In 1988, 15 years after Sanderson’s death, a local man admitted that he and a friend had made the tracks with a pair of cast-iron boots they constructed.

Yet in his book More “Things” (Pyramid Books, 1969), Sanderson had the chutzpah to claim he had never taken any interest in the occult, because he was far too busy trying to keep up with the more pragmatic facts of life. So you might want to go ahead and take the following story with a grain of salt roughly the size of Utah.

The setting is Haiti in the 1930s. Sanderson was conducting a biological survey there, living in the village of Pont Beudet. One night he, his wife Alma, and his assistant Fred decided to drive to Lake Azuei in the Sandersons‘ car. When it became hopelessly mired in the mud of an unpaved road, they had to continue on foot in the moonlight. Fred trudged ahead of the couple.
Suddenly, the Sandersons found themselves on what appeared to be the main street of a very peculiar village. It was a cobblestoned street, lined with Elizabethan buildings lit by lanterns and candles. Strangely, even though the place was strongly reminiscent of sixteenth-century England, both Sandersons were certain that the village was actually French. They noted an odd stillness in the air, and began to feel dizzy.
As soon as Fred (oblivious to the time slip) noticed the Sandersons were in a daze far behind him, he backtracked and offered them cigarettes. That’s when the village vanished, never to be seen again.

Whitley Strieber‘s Drive Through Nowhere

As if it’s not strange enough to be be abducted by aliens umpteen times and to meditate nightly with alien houseguests, author Whitley Strieber has experienced several “time slips” and even met up with time travelers. Most of his time slips involved visions of the past, but he has also spontaneously traveled into the future on at least one occasion. So has his psychic friend Starfire Tor.
The most notable time slip Strieber has discussed publicly occurred sometime before he wrote his third book on his alien abduction experiences, sometime in the late ’80s or early ’90s. He was driving one of his young son’s friends from his cabin in upstate New York to a diner on Route 17 in New Jersey. They had made this trip many times before, as the boy often stayed with the Steribers and was usually driven back to New York City by his father. The diner was their usual meeting place. To reach it, Strieber took a certain exit ramp and backtracked several hundred yards. In this part of New Jersey Route 17 is lined with strip malls and fast food joints, so the scenery was mundane and very familiar to Strieber and his son’s friend.

On this occasion, a cloudy day, Strieber and the boy spotted the father’s vehicle in the parking lot of the diner as they drove past towards the exit ramp. But when Strieber took what he thought was his usual exit, he found himself on an entirely unfamiliar highway. Unlike 17, it was deserted and eerily quiet – not a vehicle or business in sight. Tall concrete walls flanked either side of this highway for a short distance. They ended up on a silent residential street shadowed by a canopy of trees. Just like the strange highway, the place was devoid of life. Not one resident was walking the dog or tending to the large, immaculate lawns. Weirdly, the day had become sunny in a matter of seconds.
The houses were the spookiest part. Single-story and boxlike, made of tan stone, two of the dwellings had enormous snake designs carved into their facades.
Strieber and the boy became deeply uneasy. They reached another exit leading to an ordinary, busy highway – but instead of Route 17, it was Route 80, an estimated twenty-minute drive from the diner. They had been in the serpent house neighborhood for far less than twenty minutes.

Later, after searching the area thoroughly, Strieber realized the bizarre neighborhood didn’t exist. Neither did the exit that led him to Route 80. The boy and his father also searched for the street in vain. Strieber feels that he and his son’s friend were spontaneously dropped into the future.

Dr. Bruce Goldberg: On a Clear Day You Can See Whatever

We’ve all heard about past life regression. A housewife goes to a hypnotherapist to help her quit smoking or something, and the next thing you know she’s recalling her previous incarnation as an Irish chick who just happens to be a lot like her old neighbor, or as Garth Brooks’ wife, or as Superman. But you may not have heard about future life progression. That’s the specialty of Dr. Bruce Goldberg.
Piecing together the stories of numerous patients who have undergone future life progression, Goldberg has come up with a road map of the near future, and it looks something like this:

Beginning in this century, humanity will experience a Jesus jump of unprecedented peace, health, and technological advancement. War will be nonexistent for at least 300 years. By the 25th century, all diseases will be nearly eradicated and you’ll be able to learn anything you need to know simply by swallowing a “knowledge pill”. Apparently, most people will live and work in communal, self-sustaining biospheres within huge glass pyramids. At death, they can transfer their consciousnesses to computers.
Of course, this technically isn’t time travel, because Goldberg’s patients don’t go anywhere. They just sit in a comfortable chair and pay him money.

The Famous Manuscript of John Palifox Key

In 2001, a woman posted a time-slip story at about.com. She described driving through a state in the northern U.S. and inexplicably being transported to a jungle land populated by intelligent, bi-pedal lizards and gnome-like humanoids that were harvesting triangular fruit. “I swear this is a true story…”

Soon, a user by the names of Jon Grantly and Ferabo began posting intriguing responses to the story. He referred the woman to the “famous manuscript” of John Palifox Key, titled Proofs of My Return. He wrote, “Everything in your story matches what Key and others (Jacques Bergier, Serge Hutin, etc.) indicate for a doorway into another realm… Those of us interested in this phenomena, and we are many, know of a quite famous–or at least often reported–portal in a remote area of the state of Michigan, so if by chance you were in Montmorency County, Michigan, you’re experience [sic] is doubly validated. If you can, read John Palifox Key, and let me know where you were.”
In other comments, he offered information about two more portals located in Colorado.

Another user (or more likely, “Jon Grantly” using another identity) chimed in with this: “I can’t believe someone is still passing around the manuscript of John Palifox Key (or reading Serge Hutin, for that matter). Let me know where you found it. You know that about 8 years ago there was a movement to destroy every last copy. Some think it’s dangerous. ”

Maybe it would be dangerous, if it existed. To this day, unwitting anomalists are scouring antiquarian booksellers for this “famous” manuscript, and searching in vain for any evidence that someone by the name of John Palifox Key ever existed in this space-time continuum. Maybe Mr. Grantly can fill us in when he returns from Uqbar.

Hoaxes From Space: Time Travel Hoaxes, Part I


A Photo of Jesus

On May 2, 1972, the magazine La Domenica del Corriere (basically the Italian equivalent of Parade) published a picture of Jesus Christ (above, left). This wouldn’t be a big deal, except the picture was supposedly a photo.
And it had been taken by a living monk, Benedictine scholar Pellegrino Ernetti of Venice. Various sources have referred to him as a musicologist, an exorcist, a quantum physicist, or a total nutbar. While he did perform exorcisms and did study archaic music, his degree in theoretical physics is very much in doubt. No one seems to know where he earned it.
According to friend and paranormal enthusiast Francois Brune, Ernetti explained that in the 1950s, Werner Von Braun, Enrico Fermi, and ten other internationally renowned scientists agreed to help him develop a time machine. In the course of his studies into Gregorian chants, Ernetti had stumbled upon a kind of time travel involving communication with the dead (EVP). While using a recorder to study the harmonics in these chants, he and Father Agostino Gemelli heard the voice of Gemelli’s late father speaking to them. This convinced Ernetti that electromagnetic energy from the past could be accessed, with the proper equipment, enabling us to view or even hear things that happened on earth years ago. A similar “recording” theory has often been put forward as an explanation for ghosts, phantom ships, spectral cities, and other ephemera.
The time machine Father Ernetti came up with couldn’t physically convey anyone to another time, though. Instead, it captured images from a given time and place. Ernetti called it the Chronovisor.
Ernetti and the scientists witnessed numerous historical events through his time camera, but of course the one that interested Ernetti most was the Crucifixion. The only photo he provided to the public actually showed Christ dying on the cross, his eyes rolled toward heaven.
As a favour to Professor Giuseppe Marasca, he also produced his own transcription of a lost tragedy by Quintus Ennius, Thyestes, after watching a performance of it in 169 B.C. Strangely, the full play consisted of just 120 lines. Dr. Katherine Owen Eldred of Princeton, an expert on Ennius who translated Father Ernetti’s manuscript, observed that whoever wrote it was not overly fluent in Latin. Rather odd for “the father of Latin poetry.”
After their forays, the team agreed to dismantle the Chronovisor and secrete its components in various parts of the world, for fear it would fall into the wrong hands.

Ernetti couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide Brune with any evidence to back up his story. While it’s true that Father Gemelli reported hearing his late father’s voice on a recording in the ’50s, it isn’t known if Ernetti actually worked alongside him.

There were allegations that Ernetti confessed to hoaxing the photo and the play on his deathbed (without retracting his claims about the time machine), but in 2003 (9 years after his death), Francois Brune insisted Ernetti had been coerced into confessing, that the Chronovisor was real, and that the Vatican probably tried to gain control of the device. An only slightly less credulous stance is taken by Peter Krassa in his book Father Ernetti’s Chronovisor, which is the primary source for this post.

Brune and Krassa were a little too late to convince the world that Ernetti pioneered time travel. Almost as soon as the Jesus photo was published in 1972, people noticed its uncanny resemblance to a carving by Cullot Valera (above, right), which hangs in the Sanctuary of Merciful Love in Collevalenza. Brone dismissed the resemblance, suggesting that a nun may have directed Valera whilst in the throes of an ecstatic vision of the Crucifixion. Sure thing.

Pious hoaxes, even ones this absurd, are not unheard-of. In 1987, a Kenyan nun called Sister Anna Ali declared that Jesus paid visits to her room. Zambian archbishop Emmanuel Milingo requested evidence, so she supplied a “photo” that was plainly a drawing. This was enough to convince Milingo (later defrocked for performing unauthorized exorcisms).

Father Ernetti refused to tell Brune how his machine was assembled, mentioning only that a plain old cathode ray tube from a ’50s TV set was used in the viewing screen. This renders his and Brune’s claims essentially un-debunkable. So If you really want to believe that some of the finest and most ambitious scientists in the world discovered the secrets to time travel, commissioned a monk with no specialized expertise to develop a time machine, used it to witness a few major historical events without taking more than one photo (that one photo being a grainy head shot), then decided, “Nah, the world’s not ready for this. Let’s go back to making Disney movies“, go right ahead.

Jurassic Dork

Billy Meier, the one-armed Swiss contactee we’ll see again in this series, claimed that his buds from the Pleiades helped him move through time and space to tour a “prehistoric planet”. He presented a few extremely blurry photos, including a dramatic one of a pterodactyl dropping a mouthful of food in mid-flight.
Compared to his famous UFO photos, they sucked, but his bevy of devotees didn’t seem to care – not even when critics produced an illustration from a 1972 book entitled Life Before Man that perfectly matched the pterodactyl. You can see some of the other dino photos in this video, along with a photo of a dust storm on Mars and one of Billy’s alien girlfriend, Asket (actually a still from The Dean Martin Variety Show).

“The Rainman of Time Travel”

In 1981 Nebraska farmer Steven Gibbs received a letter from himself. His future self. Written (and postmarked) in 1994, it informed him that he would soon be embarking on a struggle to build a time machine, and “predicted” some other events that would soon occur. Gibbs dismissed the letter as a prank until these things actually started to happen. Then he got to work. A mere four years later, he had a fully functional Hyper Dimensional Resonator that can astrally transport you just about anywhere. Like most such inventions it is mysteriously powered by an electromagnet, a Tesla coil, and a quartz crystal, and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars from the same websites that sell stuff like stirwands. I’m pretty sure it’s what Napoleon Dynamite’s brother used.
Now for the mindf*** part: After he completed work on the HDR, Gibbs decided not to write a letter to himself in 1994. That’s a wise choice, but how did he invent the thing if (as he claims) it was advice from his future self and another time traveler that made its creation possible in the first place? And which postal service are these people using, anyway?

A nearly identical device was created under a railroad bridge in Chalk Farm, London, by Tony Bassett. He originally designed it to boost the immune systems of cancer patients, using a powerful magnet and electrical field to generate a broad range of high-frequency energy. Naturally, people have reported feeling disembodied when they get too close to the “bio-energizer”; its effects are probably similar to those induced by Michael Persinger’s “God helmet“. Bassett believes it helps users direct their consciousness toward any time or place.

Time Travel Whistleblowers

Then there are those unlucky few who have been forced to travel through time, usually as part of a secret government experiment: the doomed sailors of the USS Eldridge, the Montauk boys, etc.
Duncan O’Finioan is one such time traveler. In 1966, when he was six years old, Duncan was inducted into a top secret program called Project Talent, which trained children to become psychic super-soldiers. His first session was conducted in the back room of a Kentucky hardware store.
Duncan believes he was selected for his ethnic background (half Irish, half Native American), because this particular genetic mix often results in enhanced psychic abilities.
At one point in his training, Duncan was strapped into a chair and sent through a wormhole to another time and place. The children of Talent and its various sub-projects were also trained to kill with the power of their minds, making them an invaluable tool in Vietnam and in political assassinations. Duncan mentally slaughtered many people before deciding to come clean and reveal Project Talent to the world in 2006. He had two compelling items of evidence: a cranial implant and a bionic arm. For some reason, even though he has been interviewed on video by Project Camelot, he hasn’t gotten around to showing us this evidence.

As distasteful as O’Finioan’s tasks were, at least they were exciting. The same can’t be said for the job given to John Titor. He was sent back in time to fetch some archaic computer technology for the bigwigs of the future, who are apparently too busy watching Rocky XXII to run their own damn time-travel errands.
Titor surfaced online in 2000, claiming to be a visitor from the year 2036 with nothing better to do than lurk on 36-year-old message boards devoted to Art Bell and ancient astronauts. He offered up a dazzling array of “predictions”, including:

  • 2004: Civil war would erupt in the U.S., pitting militias and other armed citizen against something he called the American Federal Empire.
  • 2014: Civil War II ends when Russia attacks the U.S. WWIII begins. The U.S. loses, and is reduced to ruins along with China and the EU.
  • 2036: America is rebuilt and back on its feet, though considerably diminished. Then Mad Cow becomes pandemic, affecting virtually every beef-eater on the planet. Despite all these setbacks, the U.S. is in possession of time travel technology. In fact, time travel would become a reality in 2001, right after CERN’s larger facility began operating.

Titor was a U.S. soldier working on a time-travel project based in Florida. His mission: Go to 1975 and retrieve an IBM1500 computer, which could be used to debug legacy computer programs (the UNIX 2038 timeout error). Titor’s granddad had been involved in its development. Like another time travel insider we’ll look at later, Dan Burisch, Titor believed in some kind of parallel timeline or universe. Hence, the past he was in wasn’t actually his own past – just a very similar one.
Titor decided to make an unscheduled stop in the year 2000 to save some family photos that he knew would be destroyed in Civil War II. While there, he decided to blow the minds of a few basement dwellers by posting photos of his time machine on the Coast to Coast AM (C2C) online forum and at anomalies.net. It was housed in a ’67 Chevy Corvette, but Titor later moved it to a truck so he could have four-wheel drive.
Titor returned to 2036 in the spring of 2001. A website devoted to his wisdom is still up, though, and for a time his attorney and spokesman, Larry Haber, remained a frequent guest on C2C, sharing Titor’s information about all the terrible things that were supposed to happen to us but actually didn’t. Thanks a bunch.

Pimp My Tomb

I immediately recognized the Canadian filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici, who (alongside James Cameron) is touting the 27-year-old discovery of tombs bearing the names of Jesus and members of his family, including a son. I taped Jacobovici’s 1999 documentary Quest for the Lost Tribes off CBC when it originally aired, intending to watch it in more depth at a later time. I see I’ve taped over it or dumped it.

Anyway, the Quest documentary was intriguing and more than a little suspect. Jacobvici believes that Isreal’s lost tribes are still living as Orthodox Jews in Africa, South America, Siberia, and other far-flung locales. No matter where they settled, they retained the language and customs of ancient Judaism to some extent and are enigmas to the people who surround them. Slowly, they are making their way back to the holy land, a sign of the endtimes. One group of over 10000 was airlifted out of Ehiopia in 1984-85 and dropped in Israel (“Operation Moses“) because Israel’s Law of Return permitted them to “return to their homeland.” Wild stuff. I didn’t know what to think of it then and still don’t. But I do know this – after all that fuss over the ridiculously bogus ossuary of “James, Brother of Jesus”, I’m not making any bets that these tombs are the real McCoy. Nearly every country claims to hold the tomb of Christ, even – I kid you not – Japan. And let’s not even go into the fact that about a dozen churches claim to possess the “authentic” foreskin of Christ, or the fact that if you assembled all the splinters of the True Cross you’d probably end up with something the size of the Chrysler Building…

Update: On Larry King Live, Jacobovici argued that the authenticity of the James ossuary is still being debated (in the trial of four men charged with manufacturing and selling fake antiquities) and has not been proven a fake. Hmm. Several scholars continue to defend the ossuary against allegations of fraud, pointing out the Israeli Antiquities Authority hasn’t released an official report on why it concluded the ossuary was a forgery.

Rediscovering an obscure tomb and touting it as the final resting place of the historical celebrity of your choice isn’t uncommon, particularly when it comes to TV documentaries. Marianne Luban and Joann Fletcher (an expert in ancient hairstyles) each theorized the “younger woman” (actually a man) entombed in KV35 in the Valley of the Kings could be Nefertiti, but it was the flamboyant Fletcher who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s The Tomb of Nefertiti(2003), picking through the remains of the mummies to the chagrine of Zahi Hawass. She declared that Nefertiti had been murdered and/or mutilated after burial. Egyptian scholars dismiss Fletcher’s theory.

Holy Blood, Holy Crap: The Da Vinci Code Lawsuit and Michael Baigent’s The Jesus Papers

“You stole my ideas! Even though they’re not mine!”

The Da Vinci Code lawsuit was a prime example of wanton, greedy litigiousness. Two of the three “historians” who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) sued Dan Brown over alleged theft of intellectual property, even though Brown’s book is a work of fiction and theirs was supposedly nonfiction. If the stuff in Holy Blood, Holy Grail is truly factual (and I doubt it), how can Brown be accused of stealing the “ideas” in it? You can’t steal facts. The questionable documents and standard historical sources on which the authors based their weirdo premise (“Christ faked his crucifixion and eloped to France”) are available to anyone with a library card.
The third Holy Grail author, Henry Lincoln, was smart enough to capitalize on DV Code‘s success by appearing in related documentaries and whatnot. The other two guys, Baigent and Leigh, are just freakin’ lazy. And calling them “historians” is an insult to real historians. It would be like calling Anna Nicole Smith a nutritionist.

In March, Dateline NBC aired a story about Michael Baigent’s new book ,The Jesus Papers, exploring Baigent’s “startling new theory” that Christ survived the crucifixion. I guess no one remembered that Holy Blood, Holy Grail briefly went into this idea over 20 years ago. From the 1983 Corgi edition of Holy Blood, Holy Grail:

“Is there any evidence that Jesus did indeed survive the Crucifixion – or that the Crucifixion was in some way a fraud?” (371)

“There is, quite simply, no reason why his Crucifixion, as the Gospels depict it, should have been fatal.” (372)

“He should have survived…for a good two or three days. And yet he is on the cross for no more than a few hours before being pronounced dead.” (372)

“In the Gospels Jesus’s death occurs at a moment that is almost too convenient, too felicitously opportune. It occurs just intime to prevent his executioners breaking his legs…Modern authorities agree that Jesus, quite unabashedly, modelled and perhaps contrived his life in accordance with…prophecies, which heralded the coming of a Messiah…And the details of the Crucifixion seem likewise engineered to enact the prophecies of the Old Testament.”

Baigent speculates that the sponge soaked in vinegar offered to Christ might have been soaked in opium or belladonna. “But why proffer a soporific drug? Unless the act of doing so, along with all the other components of the Crucifixion, were elements of a complex and ingenious strategem – a strategem designed to produce a semblance of death when the victim, in fact, was still alive.” (374)

“According to Roman law at the time, a crucified man was denied all burial…Yet Pilate, in a flagrant breach of procedure, readily granted Christ’s boy to Joseph of Arimathea…In the Greek version [of Mark] when Joseph asks for Jesus’s body, he uses the word soma – a word applied only to a living body.” (376)

“the priest-king would seem to have had friends in high places; and these friends, working in collusion with a corrupt, easily bribed Roman Procurator, appear to have engineered a mock crucifixion…an execution was then staged – in which a substitute took the priest-king’s place on the cross, or in which the priest-king himself did not actually die. Towards dusk..a ‘body’ was removed to an opportunely adjacent tomb, from which, a day or two later, it ‘miraculously’ disappeared.” (377)

On Dateline, Baigent rehashed his “Jesus faked the Crucifixion” theory, then discussed new evidence that Christ was writing letters to his followers years after his supposed death. He admitted he has only seen two such letters; the others he “knows” about haven’t been photographed, copied, nor even seen. He’s not actually certain they exist. The letters he did see are squirreled away in the basement of a wealthy European collector who prefers not to be named, Baigent says. So that’s it! That’s the evidence for his book The Jesus Papers. A bit underwhelming, isn’t it?

Significantly, it was pointed out that Baigent’s new book is nearly identical to one written some 40 years ago: The Passover Plot, by Hugh J. Schonfield.

Dan Brown won the lawsuit.

BTW, if you’re interested in messages concealed in artwork, check out my post on a new documentary that claims that the blame for the Catholic abuse scandals lies in subliminal sexual/occult imagery hidden in religious paintings…