Oh, Also, They Found Atlantis

Image from World-Mysteries.com.

While I was busy watching the silly frog waving the zirconium-clad fuel rods, they found Atlantis. Just goes to show you. Get distracted for one damn minute in this neighborhood, next thing you know the leprechauns have stripped off your hubcaps and stuck bananas in your tailpipe, if you know what I mean.

Reuters published a story on the 12th that some cat discovered Atlantis, apparently getting a jump on April Fool’s Day (when the gags are sure to be extra-unfunny this year.)

Here’s what Reuters said on March 12th — when “tsunami” was a buzzword, just days after the largest earthquake in Japanese history devastated the islands with one of ’em:

A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain.

“This is the power of tsunamis,” head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.

“It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that’s pretty much what we’re talking about,” said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis.


Ex-WTF-ing-squeeze-the-WTF-out-of-um, what did they say? “The legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain”???? I”m sorry, is that the same Atlantis that was the 13th colony in the empire that formed a power grid that encompassed the Earth? Or the Atlantis founded by the Neanderthals? Or the Atlantis for which esoteric writers over the years, like Edgar Cayce and Madame Helena Blavatsky, have come up with dozens if not hundreds of location hypotheses? The Atlantis off of Spain discovered in 2004 that is the origin of the very same satellite photo used in the original Reuters story? Or the one Plato made up?

Was that Reuters that claimed that? Was that a scientist who said he found Atlantis? Was that a University that he is affiliated with? Oh, well, then. As long as he’s a scientist.

The claim is made as part of a National Geographic show called “Finding Atlantis,” but it takes Reuters until the eighth paragraph to get around to that.

What’s more, I’d like to assert that my skepticism toward the existence of Atlantis is not the issue here. The issue is my respect for the searchers in esoteric traditions, even if, God love ’em, they’re mostly a bunch of, er, shall we say “divergent thinkers.” That’s the power of human myth and speculation; it is the fuel that drives our dreams. Reducing a single Atlantis hypothesis to a soundbite like this reduces mythology, dream, aspiration and legend not to pseudoscience but to a press release.

“The legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain” is sort of a gross oversimplification of the many years of hypothesis, theory and speculation over whether Atlantis ever existed and, if so, where it existed and what it might have looked like. As many books have been written on this as on almost any other paranormal or esoteric topic. And now, in the lead of a Reuters article, suddenly it’s “the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain”???

It gets even more obfuscating, due to what I can only believe is an utterly credulous newswriter they don’t let Wiki anything:

To solve the age-old mystery, the team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.

The team of archeologists and geologists in 2009 and 2010 used a combination of deep-ground radar, digital mapping, and underwater technology to survey the site.

Freund’s discovery in central Spain of a strange series of “memorial cities,” built in Atlantis’ image by its refugees after the city’s likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.

Atlantis residents who did not perish in the tsunami fled inland and built new cities there, he added.

Um, wow. Who knew it was that simple? At the VERY end of the piece, we get the following clarification:

Debate about whether Atlantis truly existed has lasted for thousands of years. Plato’s “dialogues” from around 360 B.C. are the only known historical sources of information about the iconic city. Plato said the island he called Atlantis “in a single day and night… disappeared into the depths of the sea.”

Sadly, even this clarification, which should be like shooting fish in a barrel for someone who presumably went to journalism school or at least didn’t spend his entire childhood hitting himself on the head with a mallet, manages to be utter bullshit.

Plato’s Dialogues are historical sources in the same sense that Shakespeare’s plays are. They may contain critical historical data, but does that mean their account of Atlantis is historical fact? In order to argue that, you would have to engage in a terrifyingly vague re-definition of history, which plenty of esoteric writers and today’s UFO conspiracy fans are more than willing to do, of course. But they don’t (usually) claim to work for Reuters. (Sometimes the CIA, but rarely Reuters).

And even the most wide-eyed UFO nut sometimes does a better job of presenting evidence as evidence, hypothesis as hypothesis, and speculation as speculation as Reuters has here, in what used to be called a hard news story.

Here at Techyum, where we never met an imaginary friend we didn’t like, I should not be in the position of telling Reuters, “That’s what we like about you, Mulder. Your ideas are even weirder than ours.”

People! Get a grip!!!! You’re Reuters!!! GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!!!!

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