The Lost Declaration of Independence?

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence. It declared the 13 original colonies were no longer part of the British Empire. The original Declaration is probably the most important document in U.S. history. And amazingly enough, no one knows where it is.

The Declaration of Independence: The Official Story

On April 19, 1775, British troops stormed Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. Colonial minutemen, warned by Paul Revere, Williams Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, lay in wait for them. The Battles of Lexington and Concord broke out and thus, the Revolutionary War began.

A little over a year later, in June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. The document went through numerous changes. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from the British Empire. Two days later, the Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Today, the Declaration of Independence is one of the most famous documents in history. It resides at the National Archives. Its encased in titanium and aluminum and surrounded by inert argon gas.

Or is it?

The Declaration of Independence: The Real Story

The copy of the Declaration that sits at the National Archives is known as the Engrossed Copy. It’s basically a final version, crafted several weeks after the debate concluded. It was then postdated to July 4, 1776. Most scholars think it was penned by Timothy Matlack, who served as clerk to the Secretary of the Continental Congress.

But if that’s the case, then what did the Congress ratify on July 4? Well, in 1823, Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to James Madison in which he described writing the original Declaration of Independence. He said that the Committee of Five “unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.”

So, it appears this “Fair Copy” was the version used by the Continental Congress. It was probably edited during the debate by Charles Thomson, who served as Secretary to the Congress. And it was most likely the document which was considered during the vote. In other words, the marked-up Fair Copy is, for all intents and purposes, the original Declaration of Independence.

Where’s the original Declaration of Independence?

The Fair Copy has been missing for over two hundred years. But what happened to it? Some researchers think it was accidentally destroyed by John Dunlap. Earlier in 1776, Dunlap had secured a printing contract with the Continental Congress. On the evening of July 4, John Hancock asked him to produce the first official “broadsides,” or printed copies, of the Declaration. These Dunlap broadsides were then distributed throughout the 13 colonies. So, it seems possible the Fair Copy was destroyed in the process.

Another theory is the Fair Copy was intentionally destroyed. Many delegates were in favor of keeping their deliberations a secret. This was a contentious issue at the time and was opposed by both Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Nevertheless, the Congress eventually decided to invoke a secrecy rule. So, perhaps the Fair Copy was destroyed so no one could see the changes made to it.

However, this is slightly problematic. Several draft versions of the Declaration exist, at least two of which were kept by Thomas Jefferson. Why would delegates keep those versions and yet order the destruction of the Fair Copy?

There is another possibility. Perhaps the Fair Copy survived July 4. Perhaps it’s still out there somewhere, waiting to be found. It could be lost in the National Archives. Or maybe it was kept by Thomas Jefferson or Charles Thomson. We should note that Jefferson’s “Rough Draft” wasn’t located until 1947.

One more thing. Remember those broadsides printed by John Dunlap? Well, one of them fetched $8.14 million at auction in 2000. If a printed copy of the Declaration generated that much money, just imagine what the Fair Copy would be worth. For all you fellow treasure hunters out there, happy hunting!

“The Declaration originated as a spoken thought, expressed on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, who moved that ‘these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.’ A written version was produced on June 28, primarily the work of Thomas Jefferson, who left at least seven rough drafts, one found as recently as 1947. On July 2, Congress approved the first paragraph of the Declaration, officially separating from England.

Then, on July 4, the rest of the text was approved. Jefferson claimed that a ‘fair copy’ of the document was in the room that day, and John Hancock possibly signed something, making it legal. If this manuscript still exists, it is the holy grail of American freedom.” ~ Ted Widmer, Looking for Liberty, New York Times, July 4, 2008

The Search for Amelia Earhart Begins Today!

At 8:43am on July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. 75 years later, her disappearance, along with that of her navigator Fred Noonan, remains one of the most spectacular unsolved mysteries of history. Now, a new expedition could be on the verge of unraveling it once and for all.

Amelia Earhart’s Mysterious Disappearance?

We first looked at Amelia Earhart’s famous disappearance back in July 2011. Amelia Earhart was a famed aviatrix and the first woman to fly a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1936, she decided to attempt a 29,000 mile circumnavigational flight around the Earth.

With Fred Noonan as her navigator, she left California on May 21, 1937. Thirty-eight days and 22,000 miles later, she landed in Lae, New Guinea. On July 2, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae in her Lockheed Electra 10E, heading for Howland Island. Hours later, they vanished, never to be seen again.

Over the years, numerous theories have arisen to explain their disappearance. Most scholars believe Amelia Earhart crashed into the Pacific Ocean after running out of fuel. Others think she crashed on Saipan Island and was captured by the Japanese occupying forces. Still others think the disappearance was deliberate, as part of a strange spy mission.

For more than two decades, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR – pronounced “tiger”) has searched for answers to this mystery. They believe Amelia and Fred landed on tiny Gardner Island (now known as Nikumaroro). More specifically, they think she landed on a reef off Nikumaroro’s west end and safely evacuated the aircraft. A few days later, rising tides swept the airplane over the reef edge. Although they’ve uncovered some circumstantial evidence that might support their case, they have yet to find definitive proof for their theory.

TIGHAR’s Amelia Earhart Theory

Here’s TIGHAR’s general theory of what happened to Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and the Lockheed Electra 10E:

  • Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan failed to locate Howland Island. So, they continued on their present course.
  • The reached uninhabited Gardner Island. Amelia landed the Electra safely on the island’s western reef.
  • Amelia and Fred spent the next few nights sending distress signals from the aircraft’s radio.
  • It took a week for three U.S. Navy search planes to fly over Gardner Island. By then, Amelia and Fred had stopped sending distress calls, presumably because “rising tides and surf had swept the Electra over the reef edge.” Although the planes didn’t see the Electra, they did notice “signs of recent habitation.” They didn’t think much of it since they thought Gardner Island was inhabited. However, “no one had lived on Gardner since 1892.”
  • Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan survived for an unknown period of time on Gardner Island. They “caught and cooked small fish, seabirds, turtles and clams.” Amelia passed away at a makeshift campsite on the southeast end of Gardner Island. Fred’s ultimate fate has yet to be determined.
  • The wreckage of the Electra, which was swept over the reef edge, “lies in deep water off the island’s west end.”

What’s New in the Search for Amelia Earhart?

Today, TIGHAR sets sail for Nikumaroro as part of the Niku VII expedition. They plan to “conduct a thorough search of the underwater reef slope off the west end of Nikumaroro for surviving wreckage from Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra.”

This is not a salvage expedition. Instead, TIGHAR merely hopes to test its hypothesis that large pieces of wreckage survived the crash and subsequently sank into the extremely deep waters off the reef slope. They plan to “locate, identify, and photograph” any pieces of surviving wreckage. If they succeed in doing this, they will use the information they obtain to mount a salvage expedition.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

We’ve been big supporters of TIGHAR for a long time, even before this expedition was announced. We appreciate the fact that they’ve taken a very scientific approach to their search. They’ve compiled a realistic scenario and have gathered a decent amount of circumstantial evidence to support it. They’ve even located a photograph taken three months after Amelia’s disappearance. It appears to show an upside down landing gear sticking out of the water near the reef slope.

We wish them the best and will be following the expedition as closely as possible. That being said, we have our doubts they will locate the aircraft. The search won’t be easy. The water is extremely deep at the slope, plunging beyond 3,000 feet in certain places. The Niku VII expedition will be equipped with high-freqency side-scan sonar and will be able to take “photographs” at that depth. However, any surviving pieces of the aircraft likely took a beating on the reef before they sank. And once that happened, underwater currents might have torn them into shreds. So, we’re hopeful TIGHAR finds something, but realistically, we recognize it won’t be easy.


Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Amelia Earhart

December 21, 2012: Doomsday? Or just another Day?

On December 21, 2012, the Maya Long Count Calendar will reach an end. What happens next? The 2012 Doomsday? Or will it be just another day?

The 2012 Doomsday Phenomenon

We’ve talked about the 2012 Doomsday phenomenon before, but here’s a quick background. According to the Maya codice Popol Vuh, we’re currently living in the fourth world of creation. After the first three worlds failed, the Maya gods created the current version of mankind.

Now, the Classic Maya civilization used something called the Long Count Calendar. As best as we can determine, each date was described using five separate numbers. The largest number they used was a b’ak’tun, which was equivalent to 144,000 days, or roughly 394 years.

Each of the previous Maya worlds supposedly lasted 13 b’ak’tuns, or a grand total of 5,126 years. Some scholars have attempted to match up the Gregorian calendar with the Long Count calendar. They think the current world of creation started on August 11, 3114 BC. The end of the 13th b’ak’tun (and thus, the end of the fourth world of creation) is supposed to take place on December 21, 2012. Some consider this to be the 2012 Doomsday.

What’s New?

Several months ago, archaeologists Marcello A. Canuto and Tomás Barrientos were excavating a building at “Site Q” in Guatemala which had been seemingly stripped by treasure hunters. They unearthed 22 carved stones. And when added with other stones recovered from the black market, they were able to piece together 264 hieroglyphs.

Dr. David Stuart deciphered the text and found it covered about 200 years of history at “Site Q.” One portion of text commemorated a visit in 696 AD by a Maya king named Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’.

The ancient text refers to Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ as the “13 K’atun lord.” But what does this mean? Well, each b’ak’tun is made up of 20 k’atun, which are equivalent to about 20 years apiece.

In 692 AD, the 13th k’atun cycle of the 9th b’ak’tun came to an end. Based on the text, it appears Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ was king at that time. It was a fairly significant date. But not nearly as significant as, say, the end of the 13th b’ak’tun cycle.

Canuto and Barrientos theorize that Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ decided to connect these two dates via the number “13.” If true, it seems safe to assume he viewed the end of the 13th b’ak’tun cycle (and thus, the so-called 2012 Doomsday) as something to be revered, not feared.

“This new evidence suggests that the 13 Bak’tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date.” ~ Marcello A. Canuto, Maya archaeologists unearth new 2012 monument

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Truthfully, this new evidence appears pretty flimsy. We can’t know for sure why Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ called himself the “13 K’atun lord.” Maybe all rulers referred to themselves in this fashion. So, while the text itself is a tremendous archaeological find, we’re not sure it tells us much about how the Classic Mayas would’ve felt about the 2012 Doomsday theories. The Mayas were fascinated by time. According to the available evidence, they seem to have viewed it as a continuous cycle of worlds. However, there’s no evidence they saw December 21, 2012 as the ultimate doomsday. In fact, researchers have discovered references to post-2012 dates on several ancient Maya ruins.

“Recently, archaeologists discovered some very old Mayan astronomical tables at the Xultun ruins (well, they actually stumbled on them while chasing off treasure hunters). They discovered four long numbers on a wall which appear to reference a date 7,000 years past 813 AD.” ~ David Meyer, The Mayan Doomsday Prophecy?

All in all, the Classic Maya civilization was highly advanced for its time. But there’s no reason to believe they were capable of predicting anything. After all, if they were such great prophets, then how come they never saw the ending of their own civilization?

“And maybe the most important question to ask was voiced to me by Bill Saturno, discoverer of the San Bartolo murals. If the Maya were such skilled prophets, how could they have missed the Conquest? “Didn’t see that one coming, did they?” The single most devastating disaster to befall the peoples of the Americas of all time, and not a word about it in the entire corpus of Mayan prophetic literature.” ~ Mark Van Stone, 2012 FAQ

Tweeting…to Aliens?

On August 25, 1977, Dr. Jerry Ehman detected an odd radio signal that appeared to be of alien origin. He circled the signal and wrote “Wow!” next to it. Now, almost 35 years later, mankind is finally preparing a definitive response to the Wow Signal.

Replying to the Wow Signal?

National Geographic has a new TV series coming out called Chasing UFOs. The series will feature investigators reexamining old, unexplained alien encounters. As part of the publicity, National Geographic plans to collect all tweets from 8pm EDT on June 29 to 3am EDT on June 30 that are marked with the hashtag #ChasingUFOS. The messages will be rolled into one message and beamed back at the constellation Sagittarius.

We first wrote about the Wow Signal back in February. Simply put, Dr. Ehman recorded the signal while working on a SETI project. It was extremely intense, some 30 times more powerful than ambient radiation. It also appeared to originate from outside the Solar System, specifically from the constellation Sagittarius, close to the Chi Sagittarii star group. However, it was a one-time thing and even Dr. Ehman eventually began to question its suggested origin.

Incidentally, this isn’t mankind’s first attempt to reply to the Wow Signal. But it’s definitely the most complex.

“We are working with Arecibo Observatory to develop the best way to encrypt the transmission. Earlier transmissions have focused on simplicity, whereas this one will rely more on creating a complex but noticeable pattern, hopefully standing out from other random, natural noise.” ~ Kristin Montalbano, Spokeswoman for the National Geographic Channel, Possible Alien Message to Get Reply from Humanity

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, will an alien race receive the transmission? And maybe even respond? It’s impossible to be sure. But just in case, you might want to head over to Twitter on June 29 or June 30 and add your two cents. We’ll see you there!

The Walking Statues of Easter Island?

Easter Island is famous for its 887 giant statues, also called mo‘ai. But how did ancient people move these multi-ton sculptures from where they were built to their present locations? Well, according to legend, they didn’t do anything. Instead, the statues “walked.”

Background on Easter Island’s Moai

The heaviest statue on Easter Island weighs 86 tons. It was carved from compressed volcanic ash (called tuff) sometime between 1250 and 1500. It can be found at Ahu Tongariki, a stone platform on the island’s southern coast. It’s located about a kilometer from the stone quarry at Rano Raraku. So, this begs the question. How did ancient people move 86 tons of tuff from the quarry to the platform without modern equipment?

Many modern researchers believe moving the statues required deforestation. In other words, chieftains forced the islanders to cut down palm trees to serve as sleds, rollers, and/or levers. This deforestation supposedly destabilized Easter Island’s ecosystem. The result was diminished resources, famine, war, and ultimately, depopulation.

Did Easter Island Moai “Walk”?

The question of why civilizations collapse is a fascinating topic. And Easter Island, from a certain point of view, appears to provide an explanation…resource exploitation. Thus, environment-based researchers like Jared Diamond like to compare the Easter Island situation to the present world, suggesting the need for government-led climate intervention. Incidentally, we tend to have a very different theory about why civilizations collapse…excessive centralization.

Unfortunately, this determination to tie Easter Island’s history to our own future may have kept researchers from exploring other scenarios. Thus, a new theory on the statues has caused massive waves among academics. Archaeologist Carl Lipo and anthropologist Terry Hunt believe the statues moved via a very different mechanism…they “walked.”

In other words, the statues were lifted into a vertical position (or perhaps carved in that manner) and then rocked down roads using ropes. As you can see in this film, only eighteen people and three ropes were needed to maneuver a 10-foot tall, 5-ton replica of an Easter Island statue down a road.

Of course, this is just 5 tons. But Lipo and Hunt believe it’s scalable

“With the physics of the taller statue, you have greater leverage. It almost gets to the point where you would have to do it that way.” ~ Carl Lipo, Archaeologist

Dozens of fallen statues lie near the roads leading out of the main quarry. It’s possible they fell due to broken ropes or human error. They couldn’t be lifted again so they were abandoned.This theory threatens to overturn decades of research. Ancient Easter Islanders have long been viewed in somewhat derogatory fashion. Supposedly, they destroyed an island paradise because they couldn’t stop themselves from building and carrying their statues across the island.But this new theory would’ve required far less manpower and resources. In fact, it might’ve been seen as somewhat of a sport.

“You’re actually putting a lot of your effort into the process of moving a statue rather than fighting. Moving the moai was a little bit like playing a football game.” ~ Terry Hunt, Anthropologist

Why did Easter Island Collapse?

Also, Lipo and Hunt believe Easter Island was never a paradise. Instead, they think it was a rather difficult place to live. And indeed, archaeological evidence increasingly shows that the natives were “resourceful engineers” who learned to work with Easter Island’s limited resources. For example, they pulverized rock and used it as mulch to help grow crops in demineralized soil.

There is more at stake here than just how the statues were moved. Jared Diamond and others have attempted to use Easter Island in order to support their theories of ecocide. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Diamond took exception to Lipo’s and Hunt’s work.

“The islanders did inadvertently destroy the environmental underpinnings of their society. They did so, not because they were especially evil or deprived of foresight, but because they were ordinary people, living in a fragile environment, and subject to the usual human problems of clashes between group interests, clashes between individual and group interests, selfishness, and limited ability to predict the future. Does that remind you of any problems that we ourselves face today? That’s why we find Easter’s story so gripping, and why it may offer us lessons.” ~ Jared Diamond, ‘The Myths of Easter Island’ – Jared Diamond responds

Lipo and Hunt retorted by pointing out the many gaps in the current theories surrounding Easter Island.

“An important role of scholarship is to examine long-held myths and see if they hold up under modern scientific tests. The original Easter Island thesis, in any of its iterations, including Diamond’s, does not. Let us point out that we didn’t go to Easter Island to tear down Diamond’s thesis. We went there to support it by filling in the missing archeological data. It was only when we convinced ourselves that any iteration of that original story, including Diamond’s, had no archeological evidence to support it and much to contract it that we began to see where the research was leading us.” ~ Carl Lipo & Terry Hunt, ‘The Easter Island Ecocide Never Happened’ – response to Jared Diamond

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The debate over Easter Island is far from over. In fact, it’s just heating up. In many ways, it reminds me of the hotly-contested debate over what killed the dinosaurs (a debate that continues even today). But this, in our opinion, is a good thing. Comfortable theories and assumptions need to be shaken up from time to time.Lipo and Hunt’s statue-walking exhibition doesn’t really prove anything. But it shows that  “walking” via ropes and manpower was a possible method of transportation. Interestingly enough, it also fits with oral legends saying the statues “walked” down the roads to their present positions.If correct, what does this say about the ecocide theory? Well, not much in our opinion. The truth is, we’ve never bought into Diamond’s attempts to tie the past to the future. What happened on Easter Island hundreds of years ago has very little relevance to the present. In other words, we think “history has absolutely no predictive power.”

“The notion of a law of historical change is self-contradictory. History is a sequence of phenomena that are characterized by their singularity. Those features which an event has in common with other events are not historical.” ~ Ludwig von Mises, Theory and History

The Baltic Anomaly: What is the next “Anomaly”?

The mystery behind the Baltic Anomaly continues to deepen. While we wait for samples to be analyzed, it seems like a good time to look at some other exciting Baltic Anomaly-type expeditions coming up over the next year or so.

The Newmac Expedition (June 26, 2012)

The Newmac Expedition consists of five young explorers who plan to search the deepest jungles of the Republic of Congo for…you guessed it…a dinosaur! The expedition has raised almost $30,000 and hopes to discover the source of a mysterious mythological creature named the mokele-mbembe. For decades, eyewitnesses have reported sightings of this odd animal. While most scientists doubt it exists, some cryptozoologists think it could be a sauropod, which resembles a brontosaurus.

The Earhart Project (July 2, 2012)

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished while attempting a circumnavigational flight around the Earth. Their disappearance is one of the most famous mysteries of all time. For more than two decades, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has searched for them, focusing most of its efforts on tiny Gardner Island.

On July 2, 2012, the 75th anniversary of Amelia’s and Fred’s disappearances, TIGHAR will venture back to Gardner Island, hoping to once and for all solve this enduring mystery.

The North Pole Inner Earth Expedition (July 2013)

The Hollow Earth hypothesis proposes the Earth is, well, hollow. Once a fairly serious theory, it has lost almost all credibility in the eyes of mainstream science since the late 1700s.

However, a fervent band of believers still exists. Apparently, they are launching an expedition to the North Pole region in July 2013 to search for an entrance into the Earth’s interior.

“The science is real. The story is more than 5,000 years old. The legend says that at a certain place above the Arctic Circle, there exists an oceanic depression or an entrance into the Earth. It’s a place where the maritime legend claims sea level isn’t level anymore.”

“The discovery that the earth is hollow would forever shatter our long-held beliefs about how planets are formed. More importantly, however, discovering life beneath the earth’s crust could potentially provide us with new tools that would allow life on the surface to regain environmental balance, harmony, and possibly even peace. These prospects make the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition the greatest expedition in the history of the world.” ~ North Pole Inner Earth Expedition Web Site

Unfortunately, we’re a little skeptical of this trip. Scratch that. We’re very skeptical. This trip was scheduled to begin as early as 2009 (here’s a business plan to that effect). Also, we can’t help but notice that the trip is asking for massive donations to the effect of $350,000. So, this could very well be a hoax. But we’re holding out hope.

The Guerrilla Explorer Expedition (201?)

Once upon a time, the entire world thrilled to the exploits of arduous journeys into the unknown. Henry Morton Stanley’s search for Dr. David Livingstone. Sir Edmund Hillary’s venture to the highest peak of Mount Everest. The Race to the North Pole. The Moon Race.

But after generations of explorers and the rise of satellite technology, the world often feels small and lacking in mystery. Mankind has ventured to the four corners of the Earth, the deepest parts of the ocean, and into space. What could possibly be left to explore?

The Ocean X Team’s expedition to the Baltic Anomaly as well as the expeditions listed above hark back to some of those fascinating adventures from days gone by. The truth is there is so much out there still waiting to be discovered. Space remains virtually unexplored. And new discoveries are made everyday across the world. We here at Guerrilla Explorer do our best to showcase as many of them as possible.

We can’t make any official announcements yet. But we’re working on some expedition concepts of our own. So, stay tuned…exciting days are ahead!

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

The Baltic Anomaly: Another “Great Lakes Hoax”?

After a day at port, the Ocean X Team has disappeared again, presumably back to the Baltic Anomaly, a mammoth underwater formation of unknown origin. The excitement among UFO enthusiasts over the Baltic Anomaly is palpable. But is this just another Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax?

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

Here’s the background. Last summer, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a strange object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. It’s about 200 feet in diameter, with a tail stretching over 1,300 feet across the sea floor. Recently, the team returned to the site to give it a closer look.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. We’re highly skeptical of the Baltic Anomaly. Between the vague and highly charged updates, the involvement of Titan Television, and dark hints at “military intervention,” we can’t help but wonder if this is a hoax to drum up publicity. It has precedent, namely the Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax.

The Disappearances of Felix Moncla Jr. & Robert L. Wilson

On November 23, 1953, radar operators in Michigan spotted something unusual on their screens…an unidentified flying object. First Lieutenant Felix Moncla Jr. scrambled an F-89C Scorpion Jet into the air to check it out. Second Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson flew with him, acting as the radar operator. Moncla caught up with the object 8,000 feet above Earth.

Back at Ground Control, radar operators watched the situation unfold. The radar blips – one for the jet and one for the UFO – grew closer and closer together. They merged, turning into a single blip. And then this blip vanished. Moncla didn’t respond to radio calls. And a search and rescue operation failed to recover him, Wilson, or the jet. No traces of the ill-fated flight were ever found (although some researchers think the parts were found in 1968).

The Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax?

In 2006, a man named Preston Miller emailed an Associated Press story to UFO scholar Francis Ridge. The story proclaimed the discovery of Moncla’s missing jet at the bottom of Lake Superior…along with something else. The divers who’d made the discovery called themselves the Great Lakes Dive Company.

“In searching the general vicinity of the wreck, we believe we have also found a part of the object that the F-89 collided with. We are still in the process of documenting the mystery object…There is still a lot of wreck site forensics to complete.” ~ Adam Jimenez, Great Lakes Dive Company Spokesman, Great Lakes UFO Mystery Solved, Another Begins – (Supposed Associated Press Story)

Ridge forwarded the email to a popular UFO forum and the story spread like wildfire. Adam Jimenez, the Great Lakes Dive Company’s spokesman, gave interviews to numerous reporters and radio programs. His description of the crash site was similar to the Baltic Anomaly, namely “a plow mark trailing behind the object (as if it had crashed).” Two images of the plane were posted on the company’s website, appearing to show an aircraft half-buried in silt. Sonar images of a second metallic object, presumably the UFO, were also posted (see above).

There was just one problem. The Great Lakes Dive Company didn’t exist. Neither did Adam Jimenez. Three weeks later, the company’s website,, disappeared. So did the man claiming to be Jimenez. James Carrion, the International Director of Mutual UFO Network, investigated the incident. To make a long story short, he discovered the original Associated Press story was bogus as were many of Jimenez’s statements.

“In summary, MUFON after many hours of investigation by a number of our dedicated field investigators has not been able to substantiate any of GLDC’s claims. Until GLDC personnel resurface with more information and definitive proof of the F89 discovery, their claims remain doubtful at this time.” ~ James Carrion, Update on Kinross / Great Lakes Dive Company Case

Jimenez and the Great Lakes Dive Company never resurfaced. These days, most people consider the whole thing a hoax.

The Baltic Anomaly vs. The Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax

There are some similarities between the Ocean X Team and the Great Lakes Dive Company. Both groups published strange sonar images. Both made extraordinary and vague claims about their discoveries. Both deliberately fanned the flames of UFO enthusiasts. And both got increasingly tight-lipped as time progressed. Even the supposed image of GLDC’s UFO (pictured above) looks similar to part of the Baltic Anomaly.

However, if the Baltic Anomaly is a scheme, it’s far more elaborate and refined than the 2006 scam. The Ocean X Team is a real company with a real boat led by real treasure hunters. Their reputations are on the line. Also, they haven’t made any outlandish claims about the exact nature of the Anomaly, other than to say it’s “top secret.”

At the same time, the Ocean X Team is under pressure to produce something extraordinary. They’ve raised a lot of money and they could find it difficult to raise funds for other projects if the Baltic Anomaly turned out to be nothing of interest. That’s part of the reason why we expect the Ocean X Team to drag this out as long as possible before claiming they were forced to evacuate the site due to “military intervention.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We’re not convinced the Baltic Anomaly is real. Side scan sonar images are highly prone to distortion. If it is real, we here at Guerrilla Explorer suspect it’s nothing more than a hot spring. A hot spring would explain the initial radiation reported by the Ocean X Team, as well as the Anomaly’s strange shape.

“When hot water is expelled from a hot spring, it causes dissolved minerals and the surrounding soil to be driven outward. These materials eventually cool and harden in the water. All in all, this might account for the vast amount of disturbed seabed as well as an object that looks like a sandbar.” ~ David Meyer, The Baltic Anomaly: UFO…or just a Hot Spring?

So, is the Baltic Anomaly a hoax? Is the Ocean X Team this year’s version of the Great Lakes Dive Company? At the very least, we think this has the potential to turn into a hoax. In other words, the Ocean X Team could hide the true nature of the Baltic Anomaly under the guise of “military intervention.” That would leave everyone happy. It would help Titan sell its documentary on the “Baltic Cowboys.” It would keep the Ocean X Team’s reputation intact. And it would give UFO enthusiasts yet another near-miss legend to kick around.


Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

Student Loans: Crisis…or Conspiracy?

Over the past few months, reports of a “student loan crisis” have erupted throughout the United States. But is this really a crisis? Or a student loan conspiracy of epic proportions?

The Student Loan Conspiracy?

We first visited the student loan issue back in October 2011. To put it simply, the high cost of college and a difficult job market has “created a generation of heavily indebted students with few means to pay back their loans.”

Now, we have some new information to kick around. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average student holds $23,300 in student loan debt. Breaking it down, about 43% of all students have loan balances less than $10,000. The rest owe more than $10,000. Amazingly enough, 27% of eligible payers “have past due balances.”

There are two pieces to this conspiracy. First, why is college so expensive? And second, why do so many people spend so much money pursuing college degrees? We talked a lot about the first question in October. So, we wanted to focus more on the second one this time around.

Why is College so Popular?

America’s intense pursuit of college degrees in a curious phenomenon. Not only are degrees ultra-expensive, but students appear to get poor value for their money. According to Richard Arum’s and Josipa Roksa’s book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, 36% of U.S. college students show “no significant gains in learning” after four years of college. Even worse, there seems to be a mismatch between the skills acquired in college and the skills required for navigating the real world.

So again, we must ask, how did we get into this situation? Why are high school graduates spending money they don’t have in order to obtain college degrees that do shockingly little to prepare them for the real world?

The answer, in our view, is Griggs v. Duke Power. During the 1950s, Duke Power restricted black people from working in all departments except for the low-paying Labor department. In 1955, they started requiring high school diplomas for certain positions.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Duke Power ended its race-based hiring policies. Instead, it instituted IQ tests. At the time, black people were less likely to hold high school diplomas. They also performed worse on the IQ tests. Thus, they were selected for Duke Power positions at a far lower rate than white candidates.

I won’t go into the particulars here. But eventually, a man named Willie Griggs filed a class action lawsuit against Duke Power Company. The case made its way through the legal system. In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled against Duke Power. In doing so, it prohibited the use of general IQ tests when screening applicants, regardless of whether there was an actual intent to discriminate. In order to pass muster, IQ tests were required to be a “reasonable measure of job performance.”

“…in 1971 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling (Griggs v. Duke Power) saying that if companies use aptitude testing to screen potential employees, they must be prepared to show that their tests are precisely calibrated to the needs of the job. Otherwise, they will be guilty of employment discrimination if their tests screen out minority workers who might have been able to do the work. Rather than face discrimination suits by the federal government, most employers started using a less precise but legally safe method of screening applicants—college degrees.” ~ George C. Leef, Why on Earth Do We Have a Student Loan Crisis?

Griggs vs. Duke Power had far-reaching impact. It largely ended the practice of aptitude tests. But companies still needed a way to screen job applicants. So, they turned to college degrees, “even for jobs that could easily be learned by anyone with a decent high school education.” As a result, college enrollments (and student loans) exploded.

“In 1940, just 10% of high school graduates went to college. By 1970, that number was at 40%. And by the 1990s, it had risen to 70%. That’s because a college degree has become little more than a ‘signaling game.’ By attending college, students “signal” to potential employers that they’re smart, hard-working, and easily trained. The ability to send that signal to employers, which was once accomplished via aptitude tests, is the sole reason that most students attend college in the first place.” ~ David Meyer, The Student Loan Conspiracy?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

General aptitude tests aren’t perfect. In fact, they’re heavily flawed. In Griggs vs. Duke Power, it was discovered that those who’d passed aptitude tests and held high school degrees performed their jobs at the same level as those who’d failed the tests and didn’t hold degrees.

So, why don’t employers just create new aptitude tests that are “reasonably related” to individual jobs? The biggest reason is the threat of lawsuits. Even a well-crafted aptitude test could backfire in this respect. It’s far easier to just use college degrees as a screening mechanism and avoid the lawsuit risk altogether.

And that’s unfortunate. Aptitude tests hold significant advantages over college degrees. They’re cheap, quick, and can be tailored to fit individual jobs. College degrees are ultra-expensive, ultra time-consuming, and ultra-unfocused. So unfocused in fact, that the 1971 ruling should have invalidated college education screening as well.

“Recall that the problem in Griggs was that the specified requirements for job applicants were not clearly and directly related to the actual demands of the work. If challenged, could employers who have set the college degree as a requirement show that it has anything at all to do with the ‘business necessity’ of the employer or are ‘job-related’? That is very doubtful. Employers have grown to rely upon a new credential that is imperfect and probably rules out many qualified candidates. If the EEOC and the courts were to scrutinize the college degree requirement, they might well conclude that it has a ‘disparate impact.'” ~ Bryan O’Keefe and Richard Vedder, Griggs v. Duke Power: Implications for College Credentialing

The Student Loan Conspiracy isn’t a deliberate one. But the unintended consequences of Griggs vs. Duke Power have been highly destructive all the same. Many people waste years of their lives and accumulate thousands of dollars in student loan debt just to be eligible for basic jobs.

Companies will always need a way to screen potential employees. We here at Guerrilla Explorer don’t favor aptitude tests or anything else for that matter. We just think companies should be allowed to screen in whatever fashion they choose rather than fearing discrimination lawsuits. Without that lawsuit risk, however, we think many employers would switch to specifically-designed aptitude tests. Perhaps then, the Student Loan Crisis would finally come to an end.

Killing an Ancient…Vampire?

Vampires might be mythological beings. But for centuries, people from across the world have feared them. So, how did ancient people deal with suspected vampires?

How did Ancient People deal with Suspected Vampires?

Generally speaking, vampires are mythological creatures who feed on the blood (the essence of life) of living individuals. They’ve been scaring people for centuries, perhaps all the way back to the prehistoric era. Recently, archaeologists excavated numerous skeletons dating back to the Middle Ages. They were found near Sozopol, Bulgaria. Curiously enough, the skeletons’ chests had been pinned down with iron rods.

“These two skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice common up until the first decade of the 20th century.” ~ Bozhidar Dimitrov, Head of the National History Museum, Sofia, Bulgaria

Apparently, more than 100 similar corpses have been discovered in Bulgaria. While belief in vampires was common across many ancient cultures, individual groups of people developed their own ways of dealing with them.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Staking was fairly common, although the choice of stake and its placement varied. In this case, iron rods were hammered into the chest bones (the heart was probably the most common placement elsewhere, with the mouth and stomach being other popular targets). Most likely, the chest was chosen so the rod would deflate the corpse as it started to bloat into a vampire.

Nowadays, vampires have become a significant part of the horror genre. But many centuries ago they were regarded as much more than mere fiction…they were a horrifying reality…a reality that could only be stopped by the most extreme measures.

The Forgotten Walls of China?

The Great Wall of China isn’t really a single wall. Instead, it’s a catchall term to describe the many fortifications built in China over the last ~2,700 years. Recently, archaeologists finished a 5-year project to map these structures. What are the Forgotten Great Walls of China?

The Forgotten Great Walls of China?

China’s first walls sprouted up around the 7th century BC, probably to keep Mongol invaders at bay. Many additional walls have been built over the years and some of them have been linked together. The wall most commonly associated with “The Great Wall of China” is actually a series of structures which were restored during the Ming Dynasty.

Recently, China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping completed a 5-year archaeological survey of China. Back in 2009, surveyors had estimated the total length of the Great Wall of China at about 5,500 miles. Now, Xinhua, China’s government-owned news agency, is reporting the completion of the survey. The wall’s total length has been updated…to 13,170.6956 miles!

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

That’s a lot of walls. But don’t get too excited. Most of these “forgotten” structures are gone. Only the remnants remain. Even the famed Ming Dynasty wall is just a shell of its former self. Only 8.2% of it still stands. And 75% of its surviving sections are extremely dilapidated. Also, some of the walls run parallel to each other. And many of them aren’t so much walls as “earthworks or ditches.”

Interestingly enough, the 13,170 mile figure might still be low. China’s borders have shifted dramatically over the centuries. Back in March, we reported on the discovery of a “lost” section of the Great Wall of China in the Gobi Desert…outside of China’s current borders. Are there more walls out there, waiting to be found? Only time will tell.