Article submission, David Fasold Interview

Greetings, Mr. Shermer.
Fredric Rice here.

Here's an unsolicited write-up of a one-hour radio interview between Bill Handle of KFI AM 640 Los Angeles and David Fasold, well known Ark hunter.

When I heard that Fasold was going to be on the show, I got out my note pad and started making notes, thinking I would report to skeptics in the computer networks. Eventually I decided I would send you a copy first and see if you wanted to include it in Skeptic.

As usual, my spelling could stop a clock and my grammer probably hasn't improved yet perhaps this is good enough for your publication. I took the precaution of getting permission from one of the authors of the book reviews I've included to use his review. The author of the second one is a acedemic mathematician and I couldn't find a contemporary address for him. Since both were posted to the computer networks and redistributed hundreds of times freely, I'm sure they're fully public domain. If there _is_ some question about fair use of the second book review (which is unpublished outside of the computer networks) I have some leads to the mathematician which could be followed with minor effort.

If you do decide to use it, please feel free to edit, add, drop, reword, and generally rework as needed. If it doesn't look suitable, if you'll let me know, I'll distribute it among the computer network instead.



On September 21'st of this year, KFI A.M. 640 Los Angeles talk radio had their usual 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning "Bible Studies" hour. Bill Handel picks one of the mythologies from the Christian Bible every Thursday and asks callers to discuss the story. Typically callers try to justify contradictions, fix logical flaws, and rewrite the laws of physics to salvage their beliefs in the stories. Quite often a caller will introduce suitable no-one-else-but-me-knows-about text to "explain" away some difficulty.

Today's discussion was "Noah's Ark and the Big Flood." The telephone guest at the start of the 8:00 a.m. hour is known to most of us skeptics who bother to debunk the Creationists: David Fasold, the author of "The Ark of Noah," published by Wynwood Press. (ISBN 0-922066-10-8.) Though Fasold professes to believe in a great many Velikovskian-type absurdities, his claims to have found Noah's boat was treated as real news in newspapers around the world for the past couple of years and several religious groups have taken notice of him, either using his beliefs as vindication of their own or accusing Fasold's claims of being of questionable reliability.

Now within the computer networks around the world, Creationists used to claim that Fasold actually found the mythical magical boat and that the find was verified by "scientists" using "real science." One such Fasold-believer, back in May of 1994, was quite insistant to the point where several skeptics eventually decided to find copies of the book and offer everyone a quick summary of what they found. Since Fasold's claims get so soundly debunked these days, few Creationists make the mistake of invokeing his name.

After I offer a couple of the reviews of Fasold's book, I'll describe the KFI 640 interview which took place.

On May 26, 1994, Simon Ewins, a Canadian computer programmer, had this review of the book to offer. He directed his report to the claimant directly:

Well, I managed to find a copy of David Fasold's book and, giving you the benefit of the doubt, I have read it. First off I must say that it is hard to find. There is only one copy in the entire Toronto Public Library system and there are no copies at any of the University, College or Private libraries in Toronto that I could find. The copy that I read was last checked out over 18 months ago.

The introduction is written, with much admiration, by Charles Berlitz, who wrote "The Bermuda Triangle" and other nonsense. This put me off a bit but in an effort to remain as open minded as possible I read on.

The 'photographs of the Ark' are ludicrous. There is a very vague boat-like shape to an unusual rock formation but one really needs to be willing to see it to the exclusion of all else before it becomes apparent. Rather like seeing faces in clouds.

While Fasold occasionally quotes a respected scientist he does so by quoting that which really has no bearing on whatever point he is trying to make. He quotes Velikovsky (in "Worlds in Collision"), a number of Turkish farmers, Thor Hyerdahl, the NIV, Berlitz (in "Doomsday 1999"), The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Berlitz (in "Atlantis, the Eighth Continent"), Reader's Digest, M. R. DeHaan (a rabid fundamentalist), Tim F. LaHaye & John Morris (equally rabid fundamentalists) as well as others who's scientific or even literary credibility is doubtful.

Before I gave up counting I came across seven occurrences of phrases such as "In Genesis it says [...] but I believe [...]" or "In Genesis it says [...] but that is based upon a misunderstanding..." or "In Genesis it says [...] but what was meant was [...]". The Bible obviously does not support what he had found so he changed it or reinterpreted it until it did fit with what he had found.

Using his methods I could quote Genesis a lot and make it appear that the Ark is actually on a mountain top in Colorado. His reinterpretations of Genesis are highly eisegetic and very often completely baseless. Given your proclaimed stance on the OT scriptures I am amazed that you have any respect for either Fasold's writing or his conclusions. At one point he actually goes to great lengths to redefine the cubit so that it will fit with his "discoveries".

(If I were to eisegete Genesis the way that Fasold does you would jump all over me, yet you admire his work when he does so. Why is that?)

Fasold does not claim that the remains of the Ark are fossilized, as you stated, but rather that they are petrified. However, he offers no support for the rock formation actually being petrified wood beyond his own opinion. The rocks that he calls 'anchors' look more like monuments or grave-stones. The holes in the rocks (suppositional in some examples, based merely on there being a roundish chip missing) would fit nicely with the holes that were cut into monuments to allow wooden poles to be inserted as an aid to the transport or other manipulation of such monuments, stele or gravestones.

I am afraid that, after reading the fool thing, I can see no reason to attribute any more credibility to "The Ark of Noah" than I do to such books as "Worlds in Collision", "Atlantis, the Eighth Continent", "Doomsday 1999", "The Bermuda Triangle" or even "Chariots of the Gods" (which Fasold mercifully did _not_ quote). In short it is an imaginative and fanciful piece of work that has minimal entertainment value but is little more than a farce if taken to be a factual or scientific investigation into the actual existence of a boat on a mountain in Turkey.

Sorry, but it just don't cut it. I am also sorry that I wasted three days of my life reading the fool thing.

It's interesting to note that John Morris debunked Fasold's claims in the Institute for Creation Research publication _Impact_, September 1992, "THE SEARCH FOR NOAH'S ARK." John Morris states, "My conclusion, and the conclusion of almost every other team, was that it is an unusual geologic phenomenon, but not Noah's Ark."

On June 1st, 1994, mathematician Robert Curry offered his review of the book to all of the participants of the FidoNet HolySmoke discussion forum. He elected to take the questions skeptics had been asking of various Creationists who believed the Fasold tales and look for the answers in Fasold's book:

As promised, here is my report on "The Ark of Noah" by David Fasold, the book that "Raoul Newton" calls evidence for his claim that he has a boat at over 7,000 feet above sea level.

For those who requested an ISBN, it is 0-922066-10-8. Copyright 1988 by David Fasold (self-described "Ark-ologist"), and published by Wynwood Press.

Now for some questions to be answered in no particular order.

1> Q: What's the location of "Raoul's" boat?

A: Fasold says it's 16 miles SW of Ararat, buried underground: "I have every anticipation that the boat will eventually be excavated by the Turks..." (p. 120)

2> Q: Is it really over 7,000 feet above sea level?

A: Not quite. The site in question is said to be 6,350 feet above sea level. (chart on p. 46)

3> Q: Are there photographs that clearly show the boat?

A: No, as it is supposedly buried, but there are some pictures of rocks and of ribbons stretched along the grass and dirt.

There are _drawings_ of a boat, by Fasold himself, where he "shows" the building of the ark, the inside of the ark, a cutaway view of the bow, and more.

Quite an imagination.

4> Q: What does Fasold think the Ark is made of?

A: I refer you to his own words - "a solid reed raft covered with a bituminous mixture of cement...

"Unfortunately those scientists visiting the site at earlier dates were geologists rather than geochemists. What they failed to realize was that what they considered a clay upswelling was in actuality decomposed cement!" (p. 272)

5> Q: Did he dig up something on which to base that conclusion?

A: No, it is merely the product of his fanciful and selective patchwork of various flood stories from a few cultures. His group was restricted to surface investigations. (p. 253)

6> Q: So what did Fasold do to investigate?

A: The details are unclear.

He claims to have detected iron under the surface of the site in 1985. Helpers attached survey ribbons to stakes that he placed in the ground where iron was supposedly detected by what he calls "the frequency generator."

He claims that this device was "a new prototype, actually the fourth one in existence," obtained from someone named John Fales whom he met while diving off the coast of Florida. This is the only mention of Fales. (pp. 103-105)

Suspiciously vague? That's nothing compared to the bizarre description he gives of this mystery device in operation:

"With the frequency set on iron I gave the pulse some time to spread out through the structure. The response was strong. The object was so hot the frequency wave came up above the ground almost eighteen inches." (p. 115)

Later, he wrote that "the frequency generator [heats] up the iron in the Ark." (p. 317)

7> Q: What?

A: No need for explanation. Surely we can trust Mr. Fasold's knowledgeable use of an instrument that came from nowhere, and his objective connection of the dots to discover the "iron lines" revealing the structure of an underground boat.

No need to mention his fanatical desire to find the "Ark of Noah" nearly bankrupting him, according to his own report.

The obsession couldn't possibly have affected his completely unbiased credibility.

8> Q: Is Fasold some kind of nut?

A: By all means, judge for yourself.

"The Bible plainly declares that in pre-Flood times, and also for a brief period after the Flood, the earth was visited by extraterrestrials. They took up residence on the earth, having direct dealings with man. If the comment by Jesus in Matthew 24:37 ("as the days of Noah were") can be taken in this regard, then we might be looking toward a close encounter with the Nephilim in the near future." (p. 75)

9> Q: So what is the main theme of his book?

A: That he is the One True Ark-ologist, who found the Real Ark of Noah where the poor, misguided would-be Ark-ologists simply refuse to look because they all unreasonably insist that the Ark must be on Mt. Ararat.

A considerable portion of the book is spent criticizing these other nuts, and in trying to defuse their criticisms of his One True Site of the Real Ark of Noah.

The usual religious squabbling over imagined things.

Other book reviews were offered as well and the conclusions were the same. Paleontologist Dr. Marty Leipzig (who has repeatedly visited the Ararat range of mountains at the behest of the government) stated that the book was "Poppycock." His discussions with the authorities in Turkey have often ended with the complaint that the gullible come to Turkey to look for the ark and are often set upon by criminals. Far from civilization, they tell Leipzig, the criminals take what they want and leave groups of people who then need to be rescued.

The radio interview with Fasold was not very informative. In fact, it was quite disappointing for so many reasons.

Bill Handle asked some questions and Fasold answered them. After the first half hour, the show took three callers only. (Much of the available air time was used by playing a recording of a wonderful spoof where the Christian god instructs Noah on how to build his boat. It was a bit of a cross between Bill Cosby's Noah skit and Mell Brook's, "The 6,000 year old man.")

Bill Handle started off by telling Fasold that he would dispense with offering listeners his credentials so that they could "get right to it." This was unfortunate as listeners probably assumed that Fasold held scientific credentials and was speaking as a scientist. This was the first time I had heard Handle fail to comment upon his guest's credentials. I was left wondering if the two had talked before hand and had agreed that the embarrassing subject of Fasold having no scientific credentials would not be mentioned. (The guests are usually treated to a non-confrontational interview and debate unless the guest is a lawyer in which case all sense of decorum is dropped.)

What I found very shocking was that David Fasold admitted that Noah's Ark is a Sumerian myth yet he still insisted that the ark itself manages to exist. How the ark itself could exist when it's an admitted myth wasn't even discussed. He claims that the boat was found in 1985 and that Turkey labeled it an archeology site then closed it to the public. He stated that he expects the site to be opened to the public "in a couple of years." (The fact that the site was closed to the public is used by many believers to vindicate their world-wide conspiracy theory where the truth about Creationism is being kept hidden. Various conspiracy theories include satelite photos which were somehow smuggled out of NASA or JPL by some unnamed "Crusader for Truth.")

Bill Handle told Fasold and his radio listeners that out of all the impossible things in the Bible and all the contradictions, the Noah's Flood story was the most undefendable. He started by pointing out the small size of the ark according to the myth and the hundreds of thousands of animals which existed at the time, correctly pointing out that only a very small percentage of all animals on Earth could have fit. Handle made the mistake of repeatedly stating that all the fish in the oceans would have survived "because it's hard to drown a fish" even though nearly all species of fish require a very specific level of salt and turbidity in their water to survive; they would have all needed to have reserved rooms on board else they would have died as well. I couldn't help but think that Fasold knew fish require specific environments yet for some reason he elected not to correct Handle.

Curiously, in the "Noah, Build me an Ark" skit at the opening of the show, Noah asks about all that fresh-water rain killing all the sea- water fish. His god tells him that he's going to rain fresh water on all the lakes and streams and salt water on all the oceans. It ment extra work, of course, but he hadn't anything else to do at the moment. Because of the skit, it would have been nice to have Fasold follow up on how all the fish survived. If they were taken on board, there would have been even greater problems with available space.

This has also been one of the major questions skeptics put to the Creationists. Where the water came from and where it went is also two other good questions. When the question of space for all the animals comes up in FidoNet, we get some interesting replys. One Creationist by the name of John Clifton asked:

If Noah couldn't have gotten all 'those' animals in the ark.... then how do they exist?

If you read that question as many times as I have, you might draw some conclusions about how Creationists think. Their Bible tells them there was a flood and an ark, you see, and the existance of humans and all the other animals confirms the fact. If the myth is not true then there would be no humans and no other animals because they would have died in the flood. (I caution skeptics: don't think too deeply about the circular reasoning unless you enjoy experiencing vertigo.)

To start defending against the small size of the ark, Fasold claimed that the size of the cubit was actually 23 inches, not 18 as everyone else in the world mistakenly believes. He then made some vague comment about how "Los Alamos scientists" sent to his ark used surveying equipment to measure the boat. According to Fasold, "scientists" discovered that the boat was 500.7 feet long -- nearly exactly what Fasold said his "theory computed."

The claim was so lame that I was disappointed Handle didn't ask Fasold the question I was thinking: Did he measure the rock formation, divide by 300, and then "discover" the "true" length of the cubit? And then throw in eight inches just to make it look like it wasn't contrived that way? I thought this unworthy thought because Richard Feynman, in his book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" mentioned how adding a mysterious amount of error to a hoax lends it a measure of credibility.

Handle pointed out that even with the added length, it still didn't make the boat anywhere near large enough to do the job. Fasold then made vague comments about how the Bible really ment only four-legged, grass-eating animals instead of all the animals on Earth. Where he got his devine revision was lost in his mumbleing. Sadly, Handle didn't think to ask how all the other animals managed to survive if only four-legged, grass-eaters were saved.

This level of dishonesty is experienced daily in the computer networks. I have another quote from a Creationist which I've enjoyed thinking upon from time to time whenever a Creationists adds text to his Bible to make it say something it doesn't. Steve Bedard, a usually rational fellow, had this to say:

Maybe He did say something and it just was not recorded.

With that presumption out of the way, both Jesus and his father can be made to say anything. A Creationist explaining a contradiction or a physical impossibility can simply write-in what Jesus "maybe said" but somehow failed to get recorded.

After less than half an hour, Fasold hung up and Handle began taking callers. The first caller stated that he was once a fundamentalist but that he now understood the whole book of mythologies to be rubbish. He tried to suggest that there was some kernel of truth to the myth and commented that he once read about a land-bridge somewhere in the Artic Circle millions of years ago which disappeared due to plate tectonics and perhaps, he said, people at that time saw that the land-bridge was disappearing and so they built an ark to carry all the animals across. Over the many years the story grew in the telling to become the Noah's Ark myth! (It was at this point that I pulled off of the freeway and started looking for a telephone.)

Sadly, Bill Handel didn't point out that humans didn't exist at the time and that plate tectonics would have been imperceptable at any rate over the generations. He said something like, "eh, well, that's one possibility" and then moved on.

The second caller said that she didn't see any problem with the size of the boat providing small baby animals were brought on board. When Handel repeated himself by saying that we're talking about hundreds of thousands of different species and that they couldn't possibly fit, the caller asked, "Now why should I believe you?" Presumably she believed that, since the mythologies say they'll fit, they'll fit, and anything Handle had to say to the contrary is nonsense. The caller also said that there were not many different species of animals "back then" and made vague comments about different varities of dogs not all being represented.

Again, Handle did a bad job in pointing out the fallacies. He didn't even ask how she came to this hidden knowledge, nor did he ask whether she knew anything about evolution and genetics.

The last caller stated that he believed Fasold is a scientist. The reason why the Noah's Ark story contains physically impossible feats, he said, is because it was written by his gods to give a _general_ description of what happened rather than a detailed, scientific, and _harder_to_understand_ description of what happened. (So much for the Christian Bible being valid today just as it was 2,000 years ago.)

For a one-hour look at the Noah's Ark myth, neither the believers nor the non-believers presented a single rational, thoughtful, intelligent comment. Fasold was allowed to state that Noah's Ark had been found and that he had visited it several times and yet the validity of these claims were never questioned. Since it wasn't pointed out that Fasold holds no discernable scientific credentials, listeners probably walked away with the impression that "scientists" are now in agreement that the mythical boat has been proven to exist.

Even though the Bill Handle Show isn't intended to be accurate or in any way a champion of science, I was annoyed at the lack of rational debunking. A good change to correct some pseudo-science was wasted and the perpetuation of the myth continued without being challenge.

I hope Spinoza will forgive me for having to laugh yet I must offer one last quote from a Creationist who believes that radiometric carbon dating has needed repeated revisions over the years so that it matches Biblical belief. Dr. Don Martin, an emergency room surgeon, asked:

I'm awaiting with bated revulsion your detailed account of the number of changes that have taken place in carbon dating over the past 30 years, with some attention paid to whether or not these were refinements in technique.

Greg Waggy, the Creationist who made the claim said:

Just think about it... why else would they number the types of carbon dating?


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