Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Witchcraft Cartography and Clairvoyant Archaeology

A Review of Robert M. Schoch's 
"Voices of the Rocks: A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations" (1999)

by Jock Doubleday
March 26, 2013


THERE IS SO MUCH NONSENSE in Robert M. Schoch's book, Voices of the Rocks: A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations, that it's hard to keep up with it.

Almost every page of the book boasts unsubstantiated, diversionary, reductionistic, and simply nonsensical statements in the guise of academic discourse.

The subtitle of the book, "A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations," is a misnomer. There is no scientist at the helm of this book but something strange and spooky.
Robert Milton Schoch
 Associate Professor of Natural Sciences
at the College of General Studies,
a two-year non-degree-granting unit
of Boston University

Robert Schoch's Voices of the Rocks, written by a Yale PhD in geology and geophysics, presents itself as a book of plain science, by which the author takes us on a journey of reasonable exploration. But in fact it is a book of witchcraft science, by which the author uses jargon word incantations to cast a smoky spell over his readers.

Fortunately, this spell can be broken with simple research and a skoch of common sense.

The Piri Reis Map
Let's look briefly at Schoch's bizarre treatment of the Piri Reis map in Chapter 4, "Looking for the Lost Cities":

Piri Reis map, 1513 (the only surviving fragment)

For reasons unknown, Schoch spends three pages trying to debunk the undebunkable Piri Reis map, or, more accurately, trying to debunk the small fragment of Reis's map that is the only fragment to have survived into modern times. Schoch uses his trademark method of "investigation by insinuation," or "science by surmise," also known as the Lazy Man's Science, finally concluding:

"The Piri Reis map contains no information of indisputably ancient origin, and the supposed coast of Antarctica could well be the lower reach of South America instead."

There is no truth to be found in Schoch's two statements above. Let's look at Schoch's statements one by one.

First, the Piri Reis map is in fact of indisputably ancient origin, because Piri Reis could not otherwise have drawn it in 1513 AD (Islamic year 919 AH).

Turkish Admiral Piri Reis

Reis states on the map itself that the map is based on 20 source maps: eight from the 4th century BC, six contemporary with Piri Reis, and six for which Reis gives no date.

How do we know for certain that Reis used ancient source maps? Because he depicted part of the coastline of Antarctica, the entire continent of which, in Piri Reis's time, had not been visible for at least 4,500 years. How could Reis have known what the coastline looked like? The answer is that he could not have known, unless he had access to maps created, at minimum, 4,500 years earlier, when Antarctica was at least to some extent ice free.

Many of the source maps Reis used must themselves have been based on even more ancient maps. Because accurate maps were so important to seafaring peoples, maps were constantly being compared, copied, and improved. An accurate map in ancient times was without any doubt whatsoever the most precious item onboard a seagoing ship.

Second, Schoch concludes that Reis's depiction of Antarctica may not be Antarctica at all but in fact simply the lower reaches of South America, a conclusion that only a nonscientist could make. 

The sole evidence that Schoch gives for his opinion is that the lower portion of South America curves east on the map. Schoch attributes the curving of South America's tip to Reis running out of room on his gazelle-skin parchment. Mimicking the CIA's Wikipedia, which states that "the 'extra' landmass is simply the South American coast . . . bent round to fit the parchment," Schoch states that "the supposed coast of Antarctica could well be the lower reach of South America." 

To make the statement above, Robert Schoch, the lazy man's scientist, had to believe the following: Piri Reis, a man competent enough to navigate the ancient seas, was dim-witted enough to start a three-year map project on a piece of material too small for the map. 

Not only did the project take Reis three years to complete, it was a project that included translating from different map scales and projections, a phenomenally challenging task that very few people on earth could perform successfully today.

Here Schoch commits one of the Seven Sins of the Scientific Orthodoxy, namely the Sin of Self-Projection (Sin #2): Unconsciously projecting one's flaws (egotism, small-mindedness, laziness) onto the peoples of the past. Robert Schoch might be too lazy to obtain the right materials for his projects (having read Voices of the Rocks, we know that he is), but ancient mariners, whose lives depended on their energetic competence, could have had no such weakness.

In fact, as simple research reveals, the reason the lower part of South America is curved to the east on the left-hand lower corner of the map, and the reason that the continent of Antarctica looks as if it might be South America's extended tip at the bottom center of the map, is that Piri Reis used an azimuthal equidistant projection, a sophisticated cartographic method that gives more accurate relative continent sizes than the modern standard of cylindrical projection, which unnaturally enlarges polar-region continents. 

Below is a letter from the U.S. Air Force to Charles Hapgood, a college professor and amateur scientist who, in the 1950s, was just beginning his journey into the ocean of ancient history, a journey that would lead him to write the classic text, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, which demonstrated that ancient peoples had mapped the earth long before what people call the "ancient" Egyptians had come onto the scene. 

Hapgood asked the USAF to examine the Piri Reis map, and the Air Force's reply is below:

From the date of Lt. Colonel Harold Z. Ohlmeyer's letter, we know that, 39 years before the publication of Schoch's Voices of the Rocks, there was solid evidence that the Piri Reis map accurately depicted the coastline of Antarctica.

Further, at a
1997 lecture at Leeds University, two years before the publication of Schoch's Voices of the Rocks, Graham Hancock revealed that Piri Reis's depiction of Antarctica is corroborated by the depiction of Antarctica on maps drawn by both Mercator and Oronteus Finaeus, two well-known and highly accurate 16th century cartographers. 

The Sin of Superficiality (Sin #4) is: Reaching scientific conclusions without properly engaging available scientific data. Robert Schoch, stirring ingredients into the witches' brew of his 1999 book, ignored the hard-won evidence of solid scientific research and instead gave his readers shoulder-shrugging speculation, superficial surmise, and cackling belief.

The Yonaguni Monument

Illustrated model of the Yonaguni Monument

In Schoch's treatment of the Yonaguni Monument, our strange, lanky, bent, brew-stirring Yale graduate lopes deeper into Wonderland, beginning with
his trademark high-five to himself:

"When, not long after my work on the Sphinx, I received an opportunity to explore one of the most recently discovered sites pointing to the possibility of this vanished and unknown civilization, I jumped at the chance to have a scientific look at it myself."

(It must be noted here that Schoch performed no original work on the Great Sphinx but, at the behest of John Anthony West, slapped his Yale degree across Rene A. Schwaller de Lubicz's much earlier groundbreaking work. The prestige of Schoch's university degree allowed West to gain mainstream credence for the ancient Sphinx theory and allowed Schoch to enter pop culture as a rising archaeostar. Now Schoch's mind-numbing, science-free babble appears in tens of thousands of discussions worldwide on a significant array of subjects.)

Schoch continues:

"I got wind of Yonaguni through John Anthony West, who himself heard about it from Shun Daichi, a translator who has worked with both West and Graham Hancock. . . . Hancock and [his wife Santha] Faiia made several dives to the monument [***actually hundreds of dives were made by Hancock***], whose regularity convinced them it was indeed the work of humans. Hancock, however, is no geologist, and he suggested to [wealthy businessman Yasuo] Watanabe that he bring John Anthony West and me over for a closer examination."

(Please note Schoch's phrasing in "Hancock, however, is no geologist," which gives the reader the impression that Hancock doesn't know mud from sand and at the same time  gives the reader the impression that Schoch's expertise in geological matters is unquestioned and unquestionable. This kind of egotistical rhetoric is missing from real scientists' publications, as you will discover if you embark on research into any subject that science investigates.)

Schoch continues:

"Superficially the monument has the appearance of a platform or part of a step pyramid . . ."

The Yonaguni Monument. Photo by Santha Faiia.

Marine biota covering the Yonaguni Monument.
Photo by Danielle Caceres-Bricheno.
"[T]he asymmetrical monument has uneven stone steps, ranging in height from a foot and a half to several feet, on its southern face. It looks like a great staircase up which only a giant could stride. The surfaces have a regular smooth surface, like dressed stone.

"In all, I made six dives on the Yonaguni Monument. Despite my initial shock, the closer I looked at the monument, the less convinced I was that [professor Masaaki] Kimura was right about the structure's human aspect.  Much of the regularity of the surface was due not to a tooled smoothness of the rock but to a thick, even coating of algae, corals, sponges, and similar organisms."

(But Schoch is no marine biologist! How could he possibly know about these mysterious things called algae, corals, sponges, and similar organisms? Can't only marine biologists know about marine biota, in the same way that only geologists can know about mudstone, sandstone, granite, etc.?)

Marine biota covering the Yonaguni Monument. Photo by Danielle Caceres-Bricheno.

Marine biota covering the Yonaguni Monument. Photo by Leanne and Rik Brezina.

Marine biota covering the Yonaguni Monument. Screen-grab of video image by Brett Terpstra.

Marine biota covering the Yonaguni Monument.

Looking at the photos above of the Yonaguni Monument, do we (who are no marine biologists but who do have eyes) find that marine biota make the surfaces of the monument look more smooth or less smooth?

Schoch drones on:

"In a number of spots I scraped the coating away, both to determine what kind of stone lay beneath and to look for tool scars or quarry marks. I found none."

If Schoch were making an argument, one could rebut it, but there's nothing of substance here. A civilization capable of fashioning the Yonaguni Monument, with its incredibly smooth and precisely angled surfaces, would have no reason to leave tool or quarry marks, and certainly not marks that could be found in a few minutes with a scraping tool wielded clumsily underwater in one of the strongest currents of any dive site in the world. That Schoch cites his senseless scraping as evidence of anything is evidence that he has wandered from Wonderland to a place even more strange: Wonderland 2: The Halls of Insanity.

To fill the pages of the book that he hopes to sell, Schoch has to write something, of course. And because his agenda is, for reasons unknown, to dismiss the intelligent design of the Yonaguni Monument, he has to come up with words to string along in sentences. Those were some.

Our clairvoyant archaeologist continues with word-stringing:

"Even more telling [?], I couldn't find any evidence that Yonaguni consisted of separate pieces of stone. Stone blocks carved, set in place, and arranged in an order would clearly indicate a human-made structure.  Rather, the monument is essentially a single piece of solid, "living" bedrock . . ."

This is an extremely good example of what is known as a "straw man argument." To make a straw man argument, you 1) create an easy-to-rebut argument that your opponent did not make, 2) pretend your opponent has made that argument, and 3) rebut that argument, claiming victory.

Schoch pretends that someone, anyone, ever said that the Yonaguni Monument is, or should be, separate blocks of carved stone. The only way Schoch's evidence could be "more telling" is that, since nothing had been told, this evidence is more of nothing.

Precisely parallel stand-alone stone blocks
at the Yonaguni Monument.
Of course, there are in fact blocks of carved stone associated with the monument, huge blocks whose placement and shape suggests a highly technologically advanced culture. Which is why Schoch had to say "essentially a single piece" of bedrock, because he knew that many other stand-alone structures comprise the monument, though as a practitioners of the lazy man's archaeology, he makes no mention of them.

Let's see how much more nothing Schoch can give us. You'll be surprised.

"The horizontal terraces aren't really horizontal, and the steps are not cut at precisely 90 degrees. A long channel about two feet wide, which looks as if it had been excised by some giant stone-cutting tool, proves to have a ragged, unworked bottom and to disappear into the bedrock as two parallel natural fault lines."

Horizontal terrace pool on top of the Yonaguni Monument.

When Schoch states, "The horizontal terraces aren't really horizontal," he lies in two ways. First, he sets up another straw man argument, pretending that anyone ever stated as evidence for the monument's artificial nature that there are perfectly horizontal surfaces on the monument. Second, his bold statement of fact lacks original data to back it up: he doesn't give us his own measurement data showing the terraces' true angle(s). Thus, we can only conjecture that he's guessing: he didn't measure anything, and thus we must conclude that he doesn't really know if there are perfectly horizontal surfaces on the Yonaguni Monument. Guessing-and-proclamation is science, according to Robert Schoch, geologist and geophysicist from Yale.

For a detailed response to Schoch's claim that "the steps are not cut at precisely 90 degrees," please see my February 19, 2013 article, "The Mysterious Anti-Scientific Agenda of Robert Schoch: Part 2 - The Yonaguni Monument  与那国記念碑."

 Trench (10 meters, or approximately 33 feet, long) near the
Yonaguni Monument.
Schoch's "treatment" (conscious dismissal) of the long-run trench at Yonaguni is similarly corrupted by straw man arguments. Schoch claims 1) that anyone ever said that this obviously human-made trench had a perfectly flat floor (in fact, it's stepped, like the rest of the monument) and 2) that anyone ever said that the trench did not follow two natural fault lines in the sandstone. In fact, it would have made sense for the ancients to take advantage of these two parallel fault lines in creating the trench, and one can imagine that these fault lines were indeed the inspiration for the trench. Schoch makes no attempt whatsoever to address the mirror oblique angles that comprise the sides of the trench, nor does he address the regular smoothness of the trench's sides. Why does he leave out these crucial features? No one but Schoch knows.

End of the trench.

Beginning of the trench.

Beginning of the trench.

Beginning of the trench.

Steps near the end of the trench.

Beginning of the trench.

Beginning of the trench.

Looking at the photos above, do you find that the trench looks as if it were naturally created? If you do, you may want to compare the photos above to a photo of a trench that was naturally created (below).

Naturally created trench near the Yonaguni Monument.

Schoch concludes his "treatment" (conscious dismissal) of the Yonaguni Monument with a foray into elementary geology, telling us that he discovered, by taking rock samples, something that everyone already knew: that the monument was composed of sandstone and mudstone "of the type we geologists call the Lower Miocene Yaeyama Group." 

He can't help condescending to his readers; we're not "we geologists." His arrogance tells us everything we need to know about Robert Schoch. But let's watch him drive the last nail into his own coffin.

"Rocks of this type contain numerous, well-defined, parallel bedding planes that allow easy separation of the layers, and they are crisscrossed by many joints and fractures running parallel to one another and vertical to the bedding planes. . . . The more I looked at the highly regular yet completely natural weathering of these sandstones, the more I became convinced that the steplike and terracelike features of the underwater monument resulted from natural processes working on the stone, not from the activity of humans long ago. With its both vertical and horizontal fractures and joints, the stone was like a huge, many-tiered wedding cake cut into pieces and ready to serve. Subjected to thousands of years of surf, tides, typhoons, and storms, the rock had broken off in great square and rectangular chunks that left the visual impression of steps, plazas, and platforms."

Schoch never mentions the obvious flaw in his argument, committing Sin #1 of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Scientific Orthodoxy: The Sin of Omission (Consciously omitting key information that might undermine one's position). He doesn't mention that sandstone does not break smoothly or regularly on vertical planes. To achieve a smooth, regular vertical sandstone surface, one must in fact intelligently fashion it.

Schoch performs two egregious acts right in front of our faces, hoping we won't notice. He 1) proceeds unscientifically but 2) uses just enough science to suggest that his nonscience is scientific.

It's quite a magic act, if you step back from it. Schoch is a master practitioner of words without substance, smoke and mirrors, what I call Clairvoyant Archaeology, aka the Lazy Man's Science.

In Schoch's Hall of nonRecords, anything goes: even saying the opposite of what one has just said, which is what he does in the next few pages of his subchapter, "Yonaguni: The "Lost City" of Japan."

Schoch backtracks, indeed swivels fully, saying that, "the ancient inhabitants of the island may have partially reshaped or enhanced a natural structure to give it the form they wished, either as a structure on its own or as the foundation of a timber, mud, or stone building that has since been destroyed. It is also possible that the monument served as a quarry from which blocks were cut, following the natural bedding, joint, and fracture planes of the rock, then removed to construct buildings that are now long gone."

Having just authoritatively informed us a page before that "the steplike and terracelike features of the underwater monument resulted from natural processes working on the stone, not from the activity of humans long ago," Schoch does a dizzying about-face and says that it's equally possible that it wasn't natural forces at all.

And of course he is correct. Here's what a truly natural, long-weathered sandstone structure looks like:

Natural sandstone structure on the coast of Yonaguni Island.
Photo by Cecelia and Gary Hagland from above the submerged Yonaguni Monument.

For this reason, and for other reasons, we know that the Yonaguni Monument, also a sandstone structure, has been fashioned by intelligent hands.

Schoch ends with the only scientific argument he is kind enough to make in this subchapter, a very good scientific argument indeed, and one that is fully opposed to his main argument.

He notes, quite rightly, that the Yonaguni Monument is set on the Tropic of Cancer as it appeared approximately 10,000 years ago, when it is posited that the monument was created (before the post-ice age sea-level rise that submerged it).

Whenever Schoch presents science, it is virtually always someone else's idea, though Schoch invariably presents it as his own. Graham Hancock was the originator of the idea that the Tropic of Cancer, which moves over time, would have lined up with the Yonaguni Monument at a time in the past when the monument was not submerged and could have been fashioned. Schoch stole this idea outright. He gave Hancock no credit whatsoever. Anyone reading Schoch's book would think that Schoch came up with the idea himself. This plagiarism is a documented fact (documented in Schoch's own book) and is truly shocking and scandalous.

Real scientists give credit where credit is due. The lineage of ideas must be able to be traced for science to work properly. Schoch arrogantly breaks this line, leaving his readers to reconstruct it if they can.

Science in Schoch Land, as I have exhaustively and conclusively demonstrated in my two articles on 1) Schoch's views on the Bosnian pyramids and 2) Schoch's views on the Yonaguni Monument, is akin to the science of a man on a cell phone taking a 15-minute stroll through a museum. At the end of it, he doesn't know much, and all he can impart to others is a vague sense of having been there.

It is impossible to respond to the profound level of obfuscation, misdirection, scientific fraud, and full-on nonsense that Schoch presents us with in this book. So I'll leave it to you to find the book at a library as I did and draw your own conclusions.

* * *


LeNor Barry said...

The real mystery of Lost cities is why Robert M. Schoch continues to try to insult the intelligence of the entire world. To date the reason for his absurd ramblings has not been discovered. If we attended a dinner where he was present we would look at our plates, smiling, not wanting to embarrass him with our gazes. Someday perhaps he will tell us what is behind there ridiculous claims of his.

Anonymous said...

Its a shame tat hes shown no respect for those individuals who r experts in their field.. reminds me of 'Mr Bean Goes To America' movie who knows zero abt art...LOL
Truth will SLAP him hard in d face someday. .