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Antarctic Anomalies and “Conspiricism”

Once again the mystery of Antarctica is making news, though the full implications of recent developments are not yet entirely clear.

In January, the British newspaper The Daily Mail reported that a 400-foot-in-diameter dome said to be visible on GoogleEarth had been shone in a YouTube video as evidence for a lost ancient civilization. Others, the Mail reported, saw the formation as strictly natural. The authenticity of the YouTube image itself was questioned in the story with the comment that Antarctica had been misspelled. The paper justified its coverage, however, by mentioning that “conspiracy theorists” saw the structure as evidence of a frozen civilization.

Soon thereafter, the UK’s Express news reported on investigations into the existence of something enormous buried beneath the ice that was causing gravity measurements to vary dramatically. The so-called “Wilkes Land gravity anomaly” was first discovered in 2006, in the middle of a 300-mile-wide impact crater. Some researchers believe it is the remains of an asteroid more than twice the size of the Chicxulub bolide, which is believed to have destroyed the dinosaurs, said the Express. From that foundation, the paper went on to claim that “conspiracy theorists” believed the frozen continent had hosted UFO bases for the Nazis, and that the U.S. navy had sent a task force known as “Operation Highjump” under the leadership of Admiral Richard Byrd to investigate. Highjump was a real mission, though no hard proof of any connection to Nazi bases has ever been produced.

On the more conventional side, the BBC reported at about the same time as the stories in the Mail and the Express that British scientists from the University of Manchester were involved in a new search for iron meteorites in Antarctica. The scientists believe there are many such objects to be found on its icy expanses, and they expect to learn new facts that can help piece together the story of Earth’s very ancient past. It is worth remembering that in the 1990s, NASA cited one such meteorite as evidence for life on Mars.

The suggestion that only “conspiracy theorists” would see anything mysterious in the history of Antarctica is to ignore many well-documented facts. Indeed, at least one scientist has published very strong evidence that the coastline of Antarctica, as it exists beneath the ice, can be found in detail on very ancient maps. Charles Hapgood, a professor at Keene State College in New Hampshire, developed a theory of polar shifts, which suggested that Antarctica once had a temperate climate. In 1958, he published his theory in Earth’s Shifting Crust. Among those with whom he corresponded was President Dwight Eisenhower. Albert Einstein himself wrote the foreword to Hapgood’s book, essentially endorsing his thesis. Over the years rumors have persisted that during World War II, the Nazi’s established a presence in Antarctica and that much UFO activity may have originated from bases maintained beneath the ice after the Nazi defeat. During the War, U.S. Rear Admiral Richard Byrd is said to have warned of a threat from the poles. Some say, that when, after the war, he visited the polar region; he may have done so to finish off the German bases.

As for conspiracy theories: according to University of Chicago researchers Eric Oliver and Thomas Woods, more than half of Americans believe in some kind of conspiracy.

“Conspiricism,” as they term it, includes such notions as: that NASA faked the Apollo Moon landing; the Kennedy Assassination was the work of someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald; or bankers rule the world. There is no doubt, by the way, that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was the result of a conspiracy. Believing such things, which Oliver and Woods view as unhealthy, is predicted, they say, not so much by ignorance as by a willingness to believe in unseen forces. Such beliefs, of course, are common to most religion. And, moreover, we owe a lot to unseen forces, like, say, radio and television.

Certainly the recognition that forces of evil are abroad in the world could be considered a sign of people awake to dangers to be defended against. Writers George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm), and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) thought so, and warned of threats from unscrupulous powers willing to manipulate the beliefs of the people. The future is more threatened, it could be argued, when a society is willing to swallow what it is told (i.e., politically correct) than by one willing to question conventional wisdom. The price of freedom, it has been said, is eternal vigilance.

Besides, as has also been said, even paranoids have enemies.

CAPTION: Scientists collect meteorite samples (2012–2013 Image: Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program/ Katherine Joy)