by Larry Smith
"Ya never get a lickin' till ya go down to Bimini..."
The so-called Bimini Road – long dismissed by scientists as a patch of fractured beach rock – is back in the news again.
Dr Greg Little, a psychologist who dabbles in these things, issued a report (http://www.i-newswire.com/pr49748.html) this month which claims to show the site is actually an ancient harbour.
He doesn’t say who built it, but ever since the pavement-like formation was found in 20 feet of water just off North Bimini in 1968, enthusiasts have tried to link it to the Atlantis myth.
Others (including the first commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Bill Swinley) have said it is a dry dock built by a Chinese fleet that discovered America several decades before Columbus landed on San Salvador.
“I find (the Chinese interpretation) interesting, and was aware of it.” Dr Little told Tough Call recently. “As my report says, I don't really know when the formation was utilized as a harbour. Everything is open.”
The underwater formation at Bimini gets its name from the fact that it resembles a collapsed wall or road. But scientists say the blocks are nothing more than sand that has accreted into limestone – and similar examples can be found all over the world.
“Such blocks, especially where submerged by rising sea level can have a decidedly ‘man-made’ look,” according to Dr Eugene Shinn of the US Geological Survey, who studied the Bimini Road as a young geologist in the 1970s. “And ‘alternative thinkers’ have proclaimed many examples to be the work of ancient man, aliens, and in some cases, Atlanteans.
“There are as many links to Atlantis on the internet as there are porn sites. But Bimini is huge,” he added.
Dr Shinn has been the nemesis of “true believers” ever since he cored the stones off Bimini in 1978 and found they were made of the same material as the present-day beach.
“We took oriented cores in successive blocks and the bedding dipped seaward, plus we could trace each layer to the next block over so that proved it was not moved around,” Dr Shinn recalled at a recent geology conference.
But Dr Little is convinced the stones were used as a building material. Some are found three tiers high, he says, resting on a pile of rubble. Some have grooves or mortices cut into them, and cube-like prop or levelling stones were found under others.
“We were astonished to find many (three foot by two foot) slabs under the larger stones...there is no way that these slabs could have been dumped by ships...and it constitutes definite proof that the hand of humans was involved in altering the formation.”
Dr Little also claims to have found “obviously archaeological” shaped stones with holes bored through them that are “identical to ancient Greek anchors discovered at Thera.”
He says the results of his expedition last May “point to the Bimini formation as once serving as an ancient harbour...the main J-shaped formation appears to have been constructed as a breakwater utilising the same techniques used by Phoenicians and others.”
Meanwhile, the so-called 1421 theory has added new sparkle to the Bimini Road speculation. Based on a 2002 bestseller by a former British naval officer named Gavin Menzies, this theory says the Chinese discovered America (and the rest of the world) by sailing west around Africa.
Although the kernel of the story is true, mainstream historians dismiss the more extravagant claims as pure conjecture. But Menzies maintains an elaborate web site (http://www.1421.tv/index.asp) to support his ideas and his book created a stir around the world, including the idea that medieval Chinese Junks were once moored at Bimini.
Historical records show that Admiral Zheng He led a fleet of 30,000 men on board 300 ships on seven great voyages in the 15th century to expand China's influence. The largest ships were 400 feet long with up to nine masts.
But Menzies is convinced that “Zheng He's fleet did indeed reach both the Atlantic and Pacific coast of North and South America. None of the great explorers discovered anything new. They all had master maps that were charted by the Chinese," he said.
Menzies spent years researching his 490-page book. And retired RBDF Commodore Bill Swinley is a close friend and ardent supporter of his theory . Swinley even made a trip to Nassau two years ago to promote the book soon after publication.
Many would argue that the claims surrounding the Bimini Road – our most famous “artifact” - are prime examples of pseudoscience, which can be defined as the effort to justify a foregone conclusion. Pseudoscientists tend to inflate the importance of a few unreliable sources or bits of data while ignoring mountains of contradictory evidence.
For example, a recent Discovery Channel programme on the Bermuda Triangle, filmed an American true believer who noted that fishermen disappear in the Bahamas once or twice a week, implying that this is because we are smack dab in the Triangle.
Real science, on the other hand, collects evidence by observation, testing and reasoning to build a non-arbitrary representation of the world. One that minimizes the influence of personal belief or opinion. Of course, this is not to say that widely accepted scientific assumptions have not been overturned many times by new developments.
Dr Little writes for the Association for Research and Enlightenment (http://edgarcayce.org), founded in 1931 by the late Edgar Cayce, a salesman turned psychic. The ARE researches “transpersonal subjects such as holistic health, ancient mysteries, personal spirituality, dreams and dream interpretation, intuition, and philosophy and reincarnation.”
Dr Shinn writes for the Skeptical Inquirer, published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the paranormal (http://www.csicop.org/about). CSICOP encourages “the critical investigation of fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view.” And the late Carl Sagan was a founding member.
We leave you to make up your own mind, with the following quotations to help:
"Modern science should indeed arouse in all of us a humility before the immensity of the unexplored and a tolerance for crazy hypotheses." -Martin Gardner
"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." -Louis Armstrong