Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Google Earth Atlantis conspiracy

New from the "You Can't Win With These People" department, we have news that Google Earth did not, in fact, discover Atlantis in 2009.

Or, as the Atlanteans would have you believe, they are covering up the fact that they found Atlantis for their own nefarious reasons.

You may remember the news from two years ago, when the newly-launched Google Ocean began to add imaging data on the topography of the ocean floor.  You could, if you wanted to, view the mysterious and inaccessible contours of the abyssal plains and mid-ocean ridges.  It was all very cool, a real triumph of science and technology.

Until, that is, they posted the following, from off the coast of Africa:

After all the woo-woos stopped having multiple orgasms, and actually stopped to think about it, at least some of them realized that it couldn't be what it looked like, because the scale was all wrong.  If this was the remnants of a sunken city, the streets of the city (presumably the apparent grooves in the photograph) would have had to be over a half a mile across.  Google Earth, for their part, immediately recognized what was going on, and said that the "grid lines" didn't exist, that they were a sensor artifact produced by using overlapping data sets that didn't quite line up.

So, last week they released a new image, with the problem compensated for, and lo and behold, the "sunken city" disappears:

So you'd think that at that point, all of the Atlanteans would sort of go, "Oh.  Okay.  I see now.  What a bunch of nimrods we were," and go home.

You'd be wrong.

Sites have started springing up all over that Google Earth is participating in a giant coverup, that they slipped up in letting the original image become public, and now they're trying to cover their tracks.  (For one particularly funny example, watch this short YouTube video from one of the conspiracy-theory wingnuts.)  The new image, they say, has deliberately erased evidence of the existence of Atlantis -- it was the original image that was correct.

What I find the funniest about all this is that none of them seem to stop to consider what possible motive Google Earth would have for eliminating the evidence of a ruined city on the sea floor.  If the thing exists, it would only be of interest to archaeologists -- it's not like there's anything down there that is worthy of all of the effort.  If anything, you'd think that the scientists working on Google Earth would be excited if it were true -- scientists tend to get that way when they come across new and unexpected findings, because that's how you make your name in the scientific world, and (more importantly) that's how you get grant money.

Not that any of this will convince the conspiracy theorists, because as I've commented before, you can't convince a conspiracy theorist.  Mere logic and evidence don't do it, and in fact usually lead the conspiracy theorist to decide that the wielder of said logic and evidence is just part of the conspiracy.  The whole thing is more than a little maddening.

So anyway, I'd like to end with a picture of what's really down there.  You know, what Google Earth et al. are covering up.

Yes, I know that Google Earth didn't show any statues with spears.  That's because they systematically removed all evidence of them from their maps.  But they're down there, because Plato said so.  And when it comes to evidence, who are we going to trust - a Greek philosopher from 2,500 years ago, or a bunch of silly old stick-in-the-mud Ph.D.s in science?

Yeah.  I thought so.


  1. ...and if there really is a sunken city, or an Atlantis somewhere on the sea floor?


    Don't get me wrong... Frescos, pottery, and stone architecture are interesting artifacts, but not worth frothing at the mouth over. Greek and Roman history is well cataloged.

    Between Cleopatra's Kingdom, the Bay of Cambay in India, Yonaguni-Jima in Japan, Baiae and Portus Julius in Italy, and Pavlopetri in Greece... there are already plenty of sunken cities that none of these woo-woos give a rat's arse about.

    Personally, I'm not much of the scuba type. Touring Pompeii is on my bucket list. Talk about history, frozen in time. That would be worth frothing over, sans conspiracy.


    5 minute 50 second mark. Check it out.

    7 minute 5 second mark. Check it out.

    This documentary was made before Google's Earth's cover up.

    Also, you state the grooves are roads? Are you a moron?
    Can you not make the connection to canals?
    You're a dismissive, naive crap swallower.
    You'll take down anything the media feeds you.

    There are obvious motives that can be placed with the cover-up.
    They can commission a team to study it and/or get there first.
    This would be the biggest find in the history of mankind.
    Probably worth 100s of billions and billions of dollars.
    Somebody powerful wants dibs.

    It's not like this topographic "mistake" was made in the Pacific Ocean.
    It was made just beyond the Pillars of Hercules (as Plato stated).
    And nowhere else in the ocean did Google make this "error".

    What makes you a repulsive ignoramus is the tone in which you bombastically dismiss the possibility.

    Get over yourself and develop your own opinion. You're a perfect example of a manipulated empty shell of a person.

    Throughout history, we've been seduced into a drunken stupor by misleading press-releases and cover-ups.

    Here's another one.
    We haven't heard the last of this yet.
    In our lifetime, the truth about this site will no longer be held down.

    I hope an independent team gets there first.

    1. Okay, suppose what you say is true, then what's the problem? I don't particularly care if google discovers it, as long as someone does (if it does turn out to be a city - which I highly doubt) I don't really mind. What do we loose if google gets there first? It's just an old city if it is real. Plato simply described it as your average ancient city (although he told as a fiction story so people would learn to obey the gods - not as a factual description).

      And they make all kind of errors on google earth, hell I wouldn't be surprised if someone at google put it there for fun to taunt people who believed in Atlantis.

      If you feel so strongly about it, why not go out there in a boat and look for it? If it's so obvious you'd probably get a grant right? Or, you could just look at the numerous and comprehensive studies of the sea floors they've done all overt he world (and particularly in that area in hope of finding Atlantis), and realise its all crap :)

  3. ddemp14, I know that you will probably never read this, but just out of concern for any impressionable readers who might see this bullshit and buy it, I feel it is my responsibility to tell them that most of what you said is wrong.

    Firstly, the idea that ANY archaeological find would be worth "100s of billions of dollars" is preposterous - obviously you don't know anything about the funding framework that underlies such endeavors. That number is OUTRAGEOUSLY LARGE even for the so-called "biggest find in the history of mankind." Archaeology is one of the most chronically underfunded sciences in academia.

    Secondly, the claim that "nowhere else in the ocean did Google make this error" - first of all, the error was not on Google's part. If you think that Google has little Google boats that go out and plot the sea floor, you're an idiot. They don't even have their own satellite data for Google Earth. They lease that data from the companies that produced it. Secondly, this error is in fact relatively common - you can find similar formations near Ireland, Siberia, the Hudson Bay and elsewhere. SONAR is not infallible technology - in fact, it's ancient. It was initially developed in the 1930s, and anyone who has worked with it will tell you that false positive detection is SONAR 101. To act like the technology is perfect is to make a mockery of your own credentials, and it calls into question whether or not you even belong in this argument.

    The idea that Gordon "bombastically dismissed" the possibility of Atlantis is risible at best. At least he wrote an article. He could've just said "it's not real, fuck you." He explained it very cohesively and I vehemently disagree that "bombastic" is an appropriate description of Gordon's article. In fact, I think that adjective more aptly applies to ddemp14.

    And lastly, it has been almost a year since you commented on this article, ddemp14. I don't know if you still follow these stories, but guess what? Not a single piece of evidence that Atlantis ever existed has been found, let alone been made subject to rigorous scientific investigation. Maybe you oughtta pack up your condescension and head back to school? It's never too late to start learning, you know.

    - Isaac

  4. Hi

    What if money's not the motive here (for a change that is).
    I agree that the money involved in excavating such a site would be astronomical.

    This could be a control thing significant positive or spiritually inspiring fact must reach the people especially if it confirms the reliability of someone as unacceptable (and thought provoking) as Plato.

    What makes me suspicious (that there may possibly be a little more here) is that people (normal reasoning people that is) are apparently not giving it the due consideration it deserves.

    For myself it definitely doesn't look like a digital error of any sort but it could have been a hoaxer's work.Being in computers my whole life such must have been quite a edit Google Earth that is (unless prankster works for Google).

    The fact that there are so many derogatory posts about conspiracy theorists attached to this blog makes me feel that there is something here that is worth inciting ridicule about (on the part of 'acceptable science' that is).

    ...and so on but definitely not to a definite close ...