Monday, July 7, 2014

#1109: Robert Sarmast

Among the things that aren’t there but which many people nevertheless claim to have found, the legendary fictional continent of Atlantis is among the better known. People have found Atlantis in Crete, Cuba, the Andes, the Azores, the Caribbean and Ireland, and its location has been suggested to be in Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, or the Sahara (a comprehensive list here). Ignatius Donnelly claimed that Atlantis was sunk in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean during The Noachian Flood; Helena Blavatsky came up with the delusion notion that the Atlanteans had invented airplanes and explosives and grew extraterrestrial wheat; psychic healer Edgar Cayce claimed to have had psychic knowledge of Atlantean texts to assist him in his prophecies and cures, and J.Z. Knight claims that Ramtha, the spirit she channels, hails from Atlantis. And so it goes.

I suppose architect Robert Sarmast’s hypothesis is, in that respect, relatively conservative. According to Sarmast Atlantis is to be found off the coast of Cyprus. In his book and on his website, he argues that images prepared from sonar data of the sea bottom of the Cyprus Basin show features resembling man-made structures (though according to real scientists his “selective interpretation is nothing more than the blinkered reading of very ambiguous and unconvincing images,” familiar from Nessie, bigfoot, and UFO discussions), that several characteristics of Cyprus (the presence of copper and extinct Cyprus Dwarf Elephants and local place names and festivals such as Kataklysmos), support his idea, and that the destruction of Atlantis by catastrophic flooding is reflected in the story of Noah’s Flood in Genesis. Basically, the Mediterranean was once dry, but the Atlantis area all was flooded when a ridge collapsed allowing the catastrophic flooding through the Straits of Gibraltar. Sarmast has even led several expeditions to substantiate his claims, and predictably claims to have found what he was looking for.

Of course, Sarmast’s geological story (such as the time frame of these events) doesn’t quite fit with mainstream geology, oceanography, and paleontology. Real scientists have expressed their disagreement over whether Sarmast had discovered Atlantis using the description “completely bogus”, and have shown for instance that the features which Sarmast interprets to be Atlantis consist only of a natural compressional fold, and that the entire Cyprus Basin, including the ridge where Sarmast claims that Atlantis is located has been submerged beneath the Mediterranean Sea for millions of years. But you know.

Diagnosis: It is presumably in vain to hope that people like Sarmast would turn their considerable efforts and resources toward fruitful projects that could conceivably increase our knowledge of the world or the well-being of humanity. Apart from that, this sort of crackpottery is presumably relatively harmless.

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