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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, March 2017

Former USGS Employee Admits Making & Planting Fake Artifacts Underwater At Bimini, Bahamas While Employed at the USGS

by: Dr. Greg Little

About a decade ago I was privately told by an archaeologist that Eugene Shinn, a geologist who spent 30 years with the United States Geological Service (USGS), had fabricated and planted fake archaeological artifacts. According to the archaeologist, Shinn planted the fake artifacts around the controversial stone formation known as the Bimini Road at a time that there was intense interest in the underwater formation. Shinn supposedly hoped that someone would find the fake artifacts and publicize them. When I heard the accusation, I had trouble believing it. I decided that I would not repeat it nor publish it without some sort of genuine verification because I considered such an act to be unethical, probably illegal, and simply not something that a “scientist” would do. Now the proof is public—by an open admission from Shinn.

On April 27, 2015 Shinn spoke to a group of biology students at Florida International University with more than a third of his talk devoted to his geology “work” at Bimini. During his filmed talk Shinn laughingly admitted perpetrating the fraud after being questioned by an audience member. I believe Shinn probably remains a faculty member at the University of South Florida. The film of his talk is available here, but I have made a copy of it for future reference. There may be an effort made to delete the film but I’ll repost it online if necessary.

Shinn refers to people who don’t believe scientists like him as the “underclass.” In the talk he mentioned getting “hate mail” after he published a 2006 article on Bimini in the “Skeptical Inquirer.” I engaged Shinn in a series of cordial emails after his 2006 article appeared and asked him directly about many of the obviously untrue assertions he had made. His emails came from the USGS. His 2006 article is here.

In the Skeptical Inquirer article Shinn related that he undertook the task of examining the Bimini Road in such a way as to not be embarrassing to the USGS. However, in the article Shinn related several blatant untruths and what might be considered as deliberate lies. He began these by writing that Edgar Cayce was doing a reading for a patient who Cayce discovered was a reincarnated Atlantean. According to Shinn, Cayce “asked the patient where Atlantis was and the patient said, ‘in the Bahamas near Bimini.’” That’s a false and absurd assertion. Shinn told me that the information came from the Cayce organization (the A.R.E.) but I know that’s untrue. Cayce was not doing such a reading for a patient, and he never stated that, Atlantis was in the Bahamas near Bimini. Shinn also referred to David Zink as “Edward” Zink and spelled Ernest Hemingway’s brother Leicester as “Lester.”

In his article Shinn tried to explain how he determined that the limestone beachrock forming the Bimini Road was “natural.” He obtained core samples from a few rocks and wrote, “all the cores showed consistent dipping of strata toward the deep water.” It isn’t necessary to explain the importance of this assertion, but what matters is that it is also a completely false statement. (Shinn’s earlier publication of his actual research on the cores at Bimini clearly contradicts what he claimed in the Skeptical Inquirer. About 25% of them “dipped toward deep water.”)

A blatant lie Shinn made in the article related to the stone “columns,” “pillars,” or “cylinders” found at Bimini in the early 1970s. There were 39 of these found intact or partially intact (pieces) off the shoreline. Shinn referenced Wyman Harrison’s 1971 Nature letter about the columns stating that all the columns, “were made of Portland cement.” That’s a lie, pure and simple. Harrison’s article showed that several of them were fluted marble columns. However, not a single other stone column found at Bimini was cited by Harrison as being Portland cement. Shinn lied in the article.

In 2005 I issued a lengthy paper on this affair and someone (not me) posted it here. In response to questions Shinn was asked by another writer about my findings, Shinn also lied by claiming that my research at Bimini was funded by the Cayce organization. The research my wife and I did at Bimini was totally self-funded and I told him this long before he was interviewed. He also refused to address the main issues I had raised above by calling it “nit-picking.”

Wyman Harrison

One curious sidelight to the veracity and ethics of the geologists mentioned here relates to Wyman Harrison. Shinn and others who describe themselves as skeptics always cite Harrison’s brief 1971 article about Bimini. As far as I know, Harrison appears to have been the first real geologist to attempt to “debunk” the Bimini Road by relating that it was natural limestone beachrock that fractured in place. What is generally unknown is that Harrison did decades of work at Bimini looking (drilling) for gold based on the Edgar Cayce readings. That’s why Harrison was at Bimini when the controversy over the Bimini Road emerged. There is a lot of intriguing information about Harrison’s search for gold at Bimini that has never been revealed but perhaps that might be the subject of a later article. Harrison began his involvement with the Cayce organization in 1957. The drilling for gold by Harrison continued at Bimini well into the 2000s with some of his last articles (as recent as 2010) claiming that stones from Atlantis were found.

Harrison gave talks for the Cayce organization (the A.R.E.) as well as publishing through the organization using the alias “The Geologist” and then using the famous name “William Hutton.” Some of his “work” was funded by the A.R.E. Harrison died a few years ago after revealing “who” he was. Many of his articles on Atlantis, his quest for gold Cayce related could be found at Bimini, and other Edgar Cayce issues can still be found here. If the site is taken down it can be accessed by going to “archive.org.”

Back To Shinn

While I concluded that Shinn was often deceptive, was a sloppy “scientist” when it came to reporting findings, and probably just lied from time to time when he was trying to make some point, I had trouble accepting that Shinn fabricated archaeological artifacts and planted them. It’s a violation of many ethical codes and might have violated Bahamas’ laws. I would also guess it’s not in accordance with USGS employee guidelines—assuming they have some guidelines. However, Shinn’s work was done with the knowledge of the US Geological Service and often with their support. Shinn’s email responses to me regarding questions about his work at Bimini always came from his official USGS email. The USGS has had numerous news pieces about Shinn’s work at Bimini and his debunking of Atlantis highlighted on their websites. Shinn has been repeatedly honored by the USGS and several universities that received substantial “support” from the USGS over several decades.

In his April 27, 2015 talk, Shinn stated, “There’s an awful lot of strange beliefs out there today. There’s not enough science.” Indeed. I agree, there is not enough science.

At 49:34 in the talk an older audience member (name unknown) relates that he encountered Shinn some 30+ years ago in Florida where Shinn was “carving this stone statue.” This took place at Shinn’s USGS lab at Fisher Island around 1978. The audience member continued, “Somebody [with me] asked him what he was going to do with it [the statue] and he [Shinn] related that he was going to take it over to the Bahamas and throw it overboard.” The audience at the talk laughed and there was a brief pause.

Shinn then replied that, “someone told me that they saw it in a magazine somewhere but I kept waiting for something to really happen … but nothing really happened.”

The questioner then asked Shinn where he dropped those [faked artifacts]? Shinn continued, “we hid them [the fabricated artifacts] up under the stones [on the Bimini Road]; we made little cement pyramids and put a vacuum tube inside, made little pictures of astronauts.” More laughter. The audience member said, “that was my first memory of you,” to which Shinn replied, “you never know what you’re remembered for.” Indeed.

In brief, that’s precisely what I was told Shinn had done years ago. Apparently quite a few people knew about it.

It’s a remarkable admission, made more significant because neither Shinn nor seemingly the students saw anything wrong with it. What probably makes this much, much worse, is that it appears many people at the USGS were aware of it and apparently never questioned it or made any move to correct it. Obviously, they thought it was ethically and legally appropriate to do such a thing. It shows the ethics and scientific scrutiny that the US Geological Service represents as well as whatever ethical principles the students have been taught. Professional geologists do have a code of ethics, but apparently it’s optional or it doesn’t apply to the USGS.

Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus

Back in November 2014, archaeologist Andrew White (now at the University of South Carolina) issued an article on his blog (andywhiteanthropology.com) examining the essence of the phrase heading this section. As White explained, it roughly translates, “He who speaks falsely on one point will speak falsely upon all.” The phrase is sometimes taught to students in science and it boils down to a simple set of lessons. When I was being trained in experimental psychology it was stressed over and over that the data was all-important. Never make it up, never exaggerate it, never fabricate evidence, and never deceive. Dr. White summarized it all in three words: “Lies hurt credibility.” Over the years I have published a few hundred studies presenting evidence and I can say that all of them presented the data precisely as it was found. There are a few examples in them where just one piece of data ruined the results, but the study was always reported in line with the data.

The bottom line to this pretty simple. Shinn has lied about findings at Bimini. He’s lied about his results and other’s results. He made fake artifacts and planted them. In conclusion, it’s pretty clear that Shinn’s research at Bimini is tainted. Tainted by deception. Tainted by the willful awareness and promotion by the USGS. Tainted by the placement of false artifacts and then hoping to see someone reported finding them. Tainted by pseudoscience. Maybe it’s time to put the USGS out to pasture and defund the entire organization. What other conclusion can be reached? Lies hurt credibility. The universities can provide whatever support is needed to delude and hoax the public in the ways they want. When science, at its very heart, is shown to be pseudoscience, something is very, very wrong.

Monday, February 26, 2024