Mike’s not a ufologist, but FATE Magazine named Mike to its 2005 list of the 100 most influential people in the field. Mike is, however, a scholar in the fields of ancient near eastern religions. He’s also devoted more of his life than seems advisable to the scholarly study of western occultism and alternative religions oriented around the belief in aliens. Religion is religion — it’s all the same? Not true.UFO Religions RSS
I’ll be on Reddit tomorrow at 12:30pm Pacific time for an AMA – “Ask Me Anything” – session. I’ve never been on Reddit before, so I can’t tell you much. This is a first for me. I’ve been told I’ll be for 1.5-2 hrs and will have to type my answers. Lexham / Faithlife social media marketers did the grunt work to set this up. We’re all hoping I’ll get some questions relating to content in The Unseen Realm, but folks can ask me anything.
To view the session click here.
Nice to have some change of (interview) pace. Check out the interview with the hosts of the Stary Time (not a misspelling) podcast.
I’ve gotten a couple questions recently about the Angel Scroll. It seems a fair number of people out there think it’s real. If that’s you, get ready to be disappointed.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, over ten years ago (probably closer to fifteen as I was still in grad school) I saw an article in the Jerusalem Post about a new ancient scroll — termed the Angel Scroll. The article gave a brief description of an alleged scroll of unknown provenance but which had begun to circulate among a handful of scholars, one of whom was Stephen Pfann. That fall of the same year I went to Orlando for the November academic meetings. I bumped into a friend of mine who was living in Jerusalem. We chatted a bit and he introduced me to the man with him, whom I had never met. It turned out that the man was Stephen Pfann. We hit it off. Stephen was quite genial. I asked him about this alleged Angel Scroll. His answer took me by surprise: “Would you like to see it?” I said sure. He said he’d let me have a look while we listened to a session, so off we went (my apologies to Bruce Waltke here — I didn’t hear a word of your lecture that hour).
We sat down and Stephen opened his briefcase. There amid the candy wrappers, pens, and sundry papers was a hand-drawn transcription of a scroll. He handed it to me. It’s been so long that I don’t quite remember if Stephen said he’d made the drawing from a photo or if he’d been given the drawing in photocopy. At any rate, he explained that the hand drawing was all there was. He’d been shown that much by a couple men who told him they had the actual scroll. They wanted him to have a look and perhaps publish it. (Stephen lives in Israel. His expertise is the Dead Sea Scrolls and epigraphy. His dissertation was on cryptic texts from Qumran). Stephen told me he wasn’t publishing anything until he saw the actual scroll and examined it for authenticity. I sat there and perused the whole thing. I couldn’t read it all at sight, but I could read enough of the content to have my attention caught. There was one specific line that was quite odd and memorable. The scroll was at least in part apocalyptic. Jerusalem was surrounded by “thousands of sun disks.”
I can’t recall at this point (and don’t have the old files) whether I mentioned this scroll (with a slightly altered name) in the original edition of The Facade. I think I did. I know I mentioned this scroll in at least one interview — and was careful to point out that there was no verification for its authenticity. I recall L. A. Marzulli asking me about it over the phone or email (again, I don’t recall which). He said he wanted to include it in one of his novels. I only read his first one, so I don’t know if he actually did that. At any rate, I was again clear that all I saw was a transcription, not the real thing. It could have been entirely made up, and I said so — and always have. (In any event, L. A.’s novels are fiction [!]).
I usually chat with Stephen each year at the meetings. Up until about 3-4 years ago I’d ask for updates on the Angel Scroll. The answer was always the same — the men who had contacted him, and of whom Stephen demanded to see the actual scroll, never produced anything. I say up until 3-4 years ago because the last time I asked Stephen told me he had washed his hands of the whole thing. He had concluded it was all bogus since no evidence (going on ten years) had ever been produced that the scroll from which the transcription he showed me actually existed. Anyone with reasonable artistic talent and a knowledge of Hebrew paleography could draw the transcription he had in his possession and which I saw. That’s how scrolls show up in journals — a photo that usually looks awful (things a couple millennia old tend to not produce great photos) along with a hand drawing done from tracing or a good eye. It’s normal procedure. (Same for how clay tablet inscriptions are hand drawn for easier reading).
So is there an Angel Scroll? No. There is no evidence that such a scroll is real. You’re hearing that from someone who held the transcription, read through it, and has had several conversations with the guy who possesses the transcription (the only one that has ever surfaced). If you or anyone you know or have read is saying this is a real text and assigning any “truth” to it, you shouldn’t. Without someone bringing forth an actual scroll, this text is a fiction. But, unfortunately, people like to believe in things for which no data exist. That isn’t new. It’s just sad that Christians are among the gullible. The whole thing was likely a scam designed to extract some money from a scholar or institution who collected such things. If you don’t think antiquities forgery is a problem, think again.
Vaughn, Andrew G., and Christopher A. Rollston. “The Antiquities Market, Sensationalized Textual Data, and Modern Forgeries.” Near Eastern Archaeology (2005): 61-65.
This puts me in the mood to ask Stephen about the scroll again this year just to see him roll his eyes.
The fly-by photographs taken of Pluto as part of NASA’s New Horizons mission to gather data on Pluto have been all the rage on the internet. Naturally, not everything has gone as expected; there have been technical glitches. Equally as normative, voices on the internet conclude that any glitch must mean a NASA conspiracy. Richard Hoagland, most famous for promoting the “face on Mars” for decades believes that something fishy is going on to conceal evidence of ET intelligence via artifacts on Pluto. What else?
Stuart Robbins, the force behind the Exposing PseudoAstronomy has managed to stay on top of all the conspiracy theories spawned by the New Horizons mission. Here’s Stuart’s summary of what Richard Hoagland thinks about Pluto:
1. The Pluto system is young or artificial: Because no rings or tiny moons have yet been found, as was predicted (and therefore “MUST” be found IF the system is natural), then the bodies are either made of material that does not produce rings or tiny moons (ergo artificial) OR it’s incredibly young (ergo artificial).
2. Richard thinks it was created by a Type II civilization (can harness the energy of a solar system) that died 65 million years ago and so isn’t enough time to accumulate rings / tiny moons. It has archives/libraries where our “true” history is stored, and it didn’t suffer from the exploding planet that created the asteroid belt at that time which is also why neither Pluto nor Charon should have many craters.
3. He expects the “regular, geometric patterns” that are evidence of this civilization to be prominent. He also thinks the cantaloupe terrain on Triton is buildings buried by methane ice that NASA released but just never mentioned, and he expects to see more of it on Pluto.
4. “We’ve already found some staggering, repeating, right-angle geometry that has no business being there, and yet no one has commented about it because they don’t know what to say!”
5. The “weird computer outage” was a warning to NASA to not show what’s really there … from “somebody.”
Here’s an archive of Stuart’s eight (as of this evening) podcasts chronicling the mission and debunking the pseudo-scientific conspiracy talk that has accrued to it.
I highly recommend watching this Open Minds TV report. This is what’s supposed to happen with such things — people doing real investigative work.
Here are some of the photos. They are indeed stunning, but most likely not extraterrestrial.
Presuming you watched the video report, here’s my own two cents on why the original naval guys said they didn’t know what these objects were (especially when a naval weapons exercise makes sense):
1) Maybe they never actually saw such a test — in which case, they’d be telling the truth.
2) Maybe they are still under some sort of secrecy oath — in which case, they’re avoiding the question.
In other words, there need not be anything conspiratorial about their ignorance.
Now one obvious question for those who’d insist these *must* be ET craft, against where the evidence is pointing right now: If these are not extraterrestrial, doesn’t it seem reasonable that this sort of balloon / dirigible technology, extant in 1971, underwent further development and could explain a lot of UFO sightings (triangles and cigar-shaped)? You may not like it, but the answer is yes.
I really wish this one had turned out to be real and unidentified (i.e., they weren’t ours — which doesn’t mean they are ET) … especially given the northern location (cf. The Portent).
One of my favorite blogs is The Emoluments of Mars. It’s the brainchild of “Expat,” who has committed himself to the mind-numbing task of critiquing the conspiratorial pseudo-science behind ideas like the “face” on Mars, glass domes on the moon, and esoteric meanings to NASA space missions (think Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara). Expat’s URL is something of an homage to Hoagland’s book, Dark Mission, detailing the alleged esoteric conspiracies behind what NASA does: dorkmission.blogspot.com. Since I’m neither a scientist nor photo analyst, I depend on the work of people like Expat. Stuart Robbins’ Exposing PseudoAstronomy blog is another such resource that I’ve mentioned before.
A couple months ago Expat emailed me with the wonderful news that I’d made it into Mike Bara’s most recent literary assault on clear thinking, Ancient Aliens and Secret Societies. The email sort of got lost in the shuffle, but I thankfully found it again. Bara’s book hasn’t exactly garnered an overwhelming response (four reviews to date in five months, a several of which are hilariously brutal (“zero stars if Amazon allowed it”; “Google scholarship”; “Friends don’t let friends read Mike Bara”). That last one was good enough to steal for my post title. It says it all.
Nevertheless, I thought I’d take a look at what Expat sent. After all, this year I was privileged to be colored as a government informant by Jim Marrs. When I blogged about that honor I pointed out that Marrs’ ludicruous assertion was falsifiable by a simple phone call (he had me working on a “government funded” program dealing with Sumerian lexicography). All he needed to do was call the office for that program to learn that I hadn’t worked on that project. But hey, implying I “work for the government” in my opposition to Sitchin’s nonsensical handling of Sumerian texts (and most everything else) is more fun.
Here are excerpts from what Bara wrote on pp. 88-89 of his book. I’ll jump in at MSH.
“Other critics have attacked Sitchin more directly, arguing that his interpretations if the Sumerian texts are simply wrong …
MSH: Yes, I have said that. But Bara’s missing something (and it won’t be the last time in this short post). I’ve actually argued that Sitchin’s interpretations aren’t even to be found in the Sumerian tablets. That’s right. They aren’t even in there. You can’t call what doesn’t exist “wrong” or a screwed up translation. Ideas like the Anunnaki being from Nibiru and Nibiru being a planet beyond Pluto literally don’t exist in the Sumerian material. Now how easy would it be to show me wrong with a claim like that? Pretty easy. And so I directed people on how to test my assertion. Instead of insisting that people take my word for it, I created a screen-capture video of yours truly going to the publicly accessible Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature website to check my claims. (I wonder how many times Bara lets people follow his trail — I know Sitchin didn’t do that). Anyway, the video isn’t exciting, but it does show me showing YOU how to search for all the occurrences of “Anunnaki” gods (including the shorter name, Anunna) and return them with links for English translations. Guess what? No ancient astronaut material. Funny how that happens when you direct people to primary texts. Continuing …
… Foremost among these is Michael Heiser, a committed Christian who has made debunking Sitchin something of his life’s work …
MSH: True; I am a “committed Christian.” I’m also a Christian that makes other Christians nervous for various reasons. I’m guessing Bara never read any of my blogs and their comments. Is debunking Sitchin my life’s work? Hardly. How could I make a living doing that? It would be like trying to convince people to read Bara’s books for a living. Mike seemingly doesn’t know that I’m the guy who posted my income tax returns online back in the day to shut up William Henry when he accused me of making money off Sitchin’s name. I asked William to do the same. (Cue crickets here). And guess what? They’re still up there, Mike! Have a look.
Those were the days when I first appeared on Coast to Coast. Readers may remember that Art Bell asked if I’d debate Sitchin on his show … the lowly graduate student against the poobah of paleobabble. I said yes. Sitchin refused. Funny how that happens when you appeal to primary texts.
… Heiser and other critics are fond of pointing out that Sitchin’s interpretations of certain words and phrases are “incorrect” according to the most commonly accepted academic understandings of them …
MSH: No, they’re incorrect because they aren’t there. They have no basis in reality. (See above). Prove me wrong, Mike — run the search and find the alien Anunnaki on Nibiru. Let’s have one line of one tablet that says that.
… Sitchin taught himself Sumerian at a time when only a few people in the world knew how to read cuneiform texts …
MSH: A couple of corrections here. Sitchin didn’t know Sumerian. Nothing he produces in his books about Sumerian provide any evidence of that. His “translations” would never survive peer review. Want to test that, Mike? Tell you what. You gather Sitchin’s translations *with tablet line and citation so real Sumerian scholars can go look.* Then follow these steps:
(1) Show us [this is called fact-checking, Mike] that Sitchin’s translations are not those of someone else — that is, they did NOT come from a published anthology of English translations. If they survive that test, then …
(2) Send them to a real Sumerian scholar. Pick someone from the membership list of The International Association for Assyriology, or one of the staff at these ongoing projects in Sumerian studies: CDLI or Stephen Tinney of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project (PSD; the volume covering Anunnaki is published). I’m sure you and I can agree on who to send Sitchin’s translations to. I’ll publish the results of your efforts on my blog.
… Today people like Heiser have become more numerous and they have learned the language from academic sources such as 2006’s Sumerian Lexicon, all of which postdate Sitchin’s publication of The Twelfth Planet … … The Sumerian Lexicon is no more authoritative a source than Sitchin himself. In fact, one reviewer declared it to be ‘a book compiled by a dilettante who understands the basics of neither lexicography nor Sumerology.” …
MSH: There’s so much erroneous misdirection here. I’ll give Mike the benefit of the doubt that he’s just ignorant and not being deliberately deceptive. (That’s how nice I am). Here we go:
(1) Yes, people now learn Sumerian from “academic sources” — so did Sitchin learn with non-academic sources? No sources? The 12th Planet was published in the late seventies. There were plenty of (perish the thought) academic sources for learning Sumerian. (And I repeat: I don’t think Sitchin knew Sumerian at all). Bara’s argument here pits academic sources against … what? It puts Sitchin in the position of using inferior sources or no sources. Nice argument, Mike.
(2) You don’t learn a language by using a dictionary. You learn vocabulary that way. But languages have grammar (remember high school, Mike?) Dictionaries are not presentations of a language’s grammar: grammatical forms (morphology) and relationships (syntax). I can scarcely believe I have to point out that dictionaries don’t “do” grammar. In reality, there were plenty of academic grammars prior to the publication of the 12th Planet (late seventies). For example:
- Stephen Langdon, A Sumerian grammar and chrestomathy (1911) – for years one of the standard learning grammars for Sumerian.
- Kurt Schildmann, Compendium of the historical grammar of Sumerian (Grundriss der historischen Grammatik des Sumerischen) 1964-1970
But again, what is Bara’s point? That Sitchin didn’t have resources to learn Sumerian? If so, how could we trust his knowledge? If he did have sources, then … what?
(3) The “Sumerian Lexicon” Bara is referring to is Halloran’s Sumerian Lexicon (which originated as an online compilation of Sumerian terms). I know that because the reviewer’s comments are drawn from this review of Halloran. This is not the lexicon I directed readers to on my website for years. What I directed readers to is the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (= PSD). Here’s the image from a page that used to be on my website:
You’ll notice that the editor isn’t Halloran. So Bara is criticizing the wrong source.Here’s page 133 from the PSD that lived for many years on my site. It’s the entry for Anunnaki (and its variant forms). Notice that “those who from heaven came” or “fallen ones” (or whatever nuttiness Sitchin assigns to the term) isn’t a meaning scholars recognize:
Since it’s not the lexicon that Bara’s source is bashing, the criticism levied by that source don’t apply to the PSD (which, per the scan above, does not agree with Sitchin). The PSD is a leading lexical project for the entire field of Sumerian. The raw materials for the PSD have lived online for many years (the project was begun in 1974 – before Sitchin published the 12th Planet, by the way). The print publication of this dictionary is an ongoing project. Three volumes have been published to date (the above page comes from vol. 1). But who cares? In fact, the lexical resources that form the basis for current projects like the PSD have been around since the early 1900s. A “Sumerian expert” like Sitchin would have known that. Lexical sources like the multi-volume Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon, begun by Benno Landsberger in the 1930s, served Sumerian students well for many years.
… Heiser’s own biography states that “He has also studied Sumerian . . . independently” …
MSH: Yes, it does. Do you know why, Mike? Because I’m honest. Bara concludes that since Sitchin and I are both self-taught in Sumerian, Sitchin is just as trustworthy. This is flawed logic. I have a publicly accessible resume that proves I have studied nearly a dozen ancient languages in a formal academic setting. Know why that’s important? One word: accountability. I had to perform in the languages for experts. Sitchin has nothing like that. Where is Sitchin’s resume? Hmmm. I’m betting he had ZERO language work at any institution. In other words, no proof he studied anything. In other words, my resume offers people some basis for concluding that I did indeed study Sumerian, even on my own. The logic goes like this: “Heiser studied nearly a dozen ancient languages. It seems plausible he could have studied one more on his own time.” On what basis can we conclude Sitchin’s claim of self-study is plausible? I see none. The guy couldn’t even wrap his head around simple concepts like subject-verb agreement when it comes to Hebrew elohim (a lot easier than Sumerian). But in Bara-land (see the Emoluments blog), logic and coherence is simply not a pre-requisite.
… A number of Sicthin’s (sic – the misspelling is Bara’s) assertions have been successfully tested (or at least supported), and Heiser’s have not …
MSH: Where have any of Sitchin’s claims about extraterrestrial Anunnaki or Nibiru been tested or validated, Mike? Let’s have those studies and that data. I’ll post them. Oh, I forgot … First you have to prove those ideas exist in the tablets. But they don’t. Again, how easy would it be to prove me wrong here by simply producing the tablet that has these claims? I can’t make it any easier, Mike. I’m telling you (and everyone else who buys Sitchin’s Anunnaki nonsense) how to falsify my claims. The data simply do not exist. You can’t validate what doesn’t exist. But let’s widen the net … show me where Sitchin’s claims about alien intervention have been validated by any expert under peer review (as opposed to authors writing for Adventures Unlimited Press).
… Heiser comes off as nothing but a Christian fundamentalist with an axe to grind. His interpretation of the words and phrases carry no more scientific weight than Sitchin’s do.”
MSH: Right. Mine carry no more weight. Except that my interpretations are based on lines in tablets that exist while Sitchin’s don’t. So all I have going for me is a little thing I like to call reality. I’ll take that. And for the record, I’m not a Christian fundamentalist. I know Bara doesn’t really know what that term means in the spectrum of Christian sub-cultures, but it needs pointing out. I spent some time in fundamentalist circles until I was ejected. I lost a job over it. I believe several things that would make fundamentalists denounce me (and they have). Just read my blog, but get an education first about what the term means in Christian circles. After that, why I’m not in those circles will be pretty clear.
So what have we learned? A few things:
1) I’d rather be called a government informant than a fundamentalist. It’s just more fun.
2) That Sitchin supposedly taught himself Sumerian by using inferior sources or no sources at all. Maybe he channeled it.
3) That Bara likes to hide data from his readers — like the fact that Sitchin’s fundamental claims don’t exist in Sumerian tablets — and that I’ve given the world the breadcrumb trail to learning that is indeed true.
4) That Sitchin is still wrong. And so is his disciple, Mike Bara.
Those who have read my novel The Portent, sequel to The Facade, know that the last chapter of The Portent and a short postscript dropped a riddle on readers based on the novel’s content. There was also a companion handbook to the novel with another clue. The challenge was simple: solve the riddle, get a character named after you in the third installment. I’m happy to announce a winner — and that the contest will continue until year’s end.
Only one person out of all the entries (and you can try more than once) succeeded in solving the riddle. That isn’t unexpected. It isn’t easy. Most who tried saw quickly that the riddle had something to do with the two witnesses in Revelation 11. But that was a given element in the riddle, not the answer. It was a starting point. Conveniently (for me) the winner’s name and nickname give me four first names to choose from. In alphabetical order they are: Arnold, David, Merlin, and Michael. The winner runs a dance studio in Louisiana. Look for one of those names (or some foreign derivative, e.g., Michel is the French equivalent of Michael) in book three.
Since I’ve had only one winner and don’t have to worry about getting too many names, I’ll keep the contest open until year’s end. Keep trying!
I recently came across the effort of Isaac Koi to make the 92,000+ pages of documentation on the CIA’s Stargate program accessible. You should all know about this resource.
The Stargate program was the government’s remote viewing research/program. It’s not about interstellar travel.
Yes, you heard that correctly — “Loch Ness” and “UFO” in the same sentence.
The photograph is below, with a close-up (both via the Huff Post):
Here’s the analysis — someone with obvious experience in photography and these sorts of “effects” on photos. Quite interesting.
This is the sort of thing the UFO community should be endorsing and doing — it would demonstrate seriousness with respect to separating the mistakes from the truly anomalous. Here’s the “About” page to this debunking site. It’s not about blind zealotry.