Open Your Eyes – to the Tricks of Conspiracy Theorists

Don’t be mistaken – conspiracy theories and critical thinking aren’t the same thing

I just came across a photo uploaded by a Facebook page I recently liked called ‘Open Your Eyes’, relating to supposed controversies regarding an enigmatic 16th century map called the Piri Reis Map.

The photo description suggests that the sources the cartographer used to sketch the map must have come from around 6000 years ago because of an apparent anomaly implying the territory shown could only have been charted around that time.

The inference here is that this proves that an ancient civilisation with advanced navigational technology and wisdom existed, or perhaps even that a race of extra-terrestrial beings with such developed capabilities once visited earth and charted its territories.

This page has been set up to ‘open people’s eyes’ to ‘see through the lies’ of authorities and established beliefs and worldviews. The following comes from the page’s own description:

We here at Open Your Eyes aim to provide you with thought provoking news from Australia and around the World that you might not be privy to through your normal media outlets. Our sole goal is to provide information in order to critique, so you can then hopefully form your own opinion on what may or may not be happening around you…

We believe it’s always best to question rather than blindly believe. No matter what side of the fence you’re on.

Open your Mind, Open your Heart & Open your Eyes..It’s the best advice we could ever give you.

Of course, these are all honourable and respectable claims. Obviously, I value critical reflection and analysis very highly and try to dig deep into whatever people tell me.

But this page goes beyond critical analysis of what we’re being fed by the media, politicians and society in general; it circulates ideas typical of conspiracy theories and unfounded alternative thinking.

So when I saw the photo on my news feed, I was naturally intrigued. But I was also instinctively sceptical, being a critically-minded person (I hope), of what the author was trying to persuade me to believe.

Here’s what he or she said:

THE MYSTERY OF THE PIRI REIS MAP
Could our knowledge of Ancient History be wrong?

In 1929, a group of historians found an amazing map drawn on a gazelle skin.

Research showed that it was a genuine document drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a famous admiral of the Turkish fleet in the sixteenth century.

His passion was cartography. His high rank within the Turkish navy allowed him to have a privileged access to the Imperial Library of Constantinople.

The Turkish admiral admits in a series of notes on the map that he compiled and copied the data from a large number of source maps, some of which dated back to the fourth century BC or earlier.

The Controversy

The Piri Reis map shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coastline of Antarctica is perfectly detailed. The most puzzling however is not so much how Piri Reis managed to draw such an accurate map of the Antarctic region 300 years before it was discovered, but that the map shows the coastline under the ice. Geological evidence confirms that the latest date Queen Maud Land could have been charted in an ice-free state is 4000 BC.

It also shows Animals that would have been native to the region pictured quite clearly. How is that possible?

The official science has been saying all along that the ice-cap which covers the Antarctic is million years old.

The Piri Reis map shows that the northern part of that continent has been mapped before the ice did cover it. That should make think it has been mapped million years ago, but that’s impossible since mankind did not exist at that time.

Further and more accurate studies have proven that the last period of ice-free condition in the Antarctic ended about 6000 years ago. There are still doubts about the beginning of this ice-free period, which has been put by different researchers everything between year 13000 and 9000 BC.

The question is: Who mapped the Queen Maud Land of Antarctic 6000 years ago? Which unknown civilization had the technology or the need to do that?

It is well-known that the first civilization, according to the traditional history, developed in the mid-east around year 3000 BC, soon to be followed within a millennium by the Indus valley and the Chinese ones. So, accordingly, none of the known civilizations could have done such a job. Who was here 4000 years BC, being able to do things that NOW are possible with the modern technologies?

How can this be?

Possible proof of the existence of an advanced ancient civilisation (Atlantis?) – it’s definitely an interesting thought. So I decided to look further into it.

I simply typed in ‘Piri Reis Map’ into Google Search and after looking at the Wikipedia article on the map, which oddly had nothing substantial related to this controversy (which, of course, you’d think Wikipedia would refer to as it should be a large nugget of information), I found an article about the map from the site called World-Mysteries.com.

After clicking into it, I was bemused to find the exact same passage uploaded by the Facebook page on the site (check it out here for yourself).

So the first problem with the post was that it was a blatant copyright infringement.

Then, having read the rest of the article, I found myself at the bottom of the page at a section called, ‘Modern analysis of the Piri Reis map – Surprising Conclusions’, which redirected to another page.

On this page, I found an article with proper attribution (the author was a researcher at the University of Wisconsin), which completely refuted most of the points made in the previous page and rehashed by ‘Open Your Eyes’.

The following passage from the article sums up how a great human achievement in navigation was exploited by conspiracy theorists to turn into a sensationalist beat-up:

For 1513, this map shows an astonishing amount of detail. The notes on the map explain that the map was synthesized from about 20 maps, many of which were captured from Spanish and Portuguese ships in the Mediterranean. It was also supplemented by accounts given by captured Spanish and Portuguese sailors.

Not a map from some ancient Atlantean civilization, not a map created by extraterrestrials, but a first class piece of naval intelligence. Considering that it was created by a sailor whose country never participated in the age of exploration, and that it’s drawn wholly from second-hand sources, it’s an astonishing piece of work. It seems to contain up-to-the-minute details derived from enemy maps, many of which would have been tightly-guarded secrets.

There’s a class of crank that hates the idea that other people might have real accomplishments, because they never accomplish anything themselves. So Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, other people did; Robert Peary didn’t reach the North Pole as he claimed, and so on. And Piri Reis wasn’t a gifted admiral and good intelligence analyst, but had to get help from ancient lost documents. Get a life, folks.

Now, I decided to get my troll on and comment on the photo. But the following is my official, thought-out response.

I believe people like the admins of ‘Open Your Eyes’ are one of the reasons why people don’t like being critical and thinking for themselves.

People associate being reflective and critical with being a conspiracy theorist who makes irrational claims in criticism of mainstream opinion.

By immediately taking a completely unflinching, extreme sceptical position on something, you aren’t necessarily being critical; you are being a fundamentalist. Conspiracy theorists are intrinsically just as blind to their own scepticism and paranoia as everyday people are blind to the social forces which supposedly influence them into thinking in a certain way.

But for someone who claims to want to open people’s eyes to other people’s lies, it is a strange activity to copy word-for-word the introduction to an article from a website which exhibits conspiracy theories and enigmas, especially when further on down the article one can find a rational dismissal of this very myth.

In fact, that’s the opposite of being critical. When you don’t investigate into the issues you are trying to open people’s eyes to, you are at a high risk of actually closing their eyes to the truth.

But what’s worse is that the page’s followers blindly consumed the information as the truth, without doing any backup research themselves. So they have essentially done the same thing they sneer at other people for doing – blindly accept what other people are telling them.

The person behind ‘Open Your Eyes’ clearly has an agenda. All conspiracy theorists do. And while I value them for their ability to provoke thought, they are just as bad as the rest of society at producing propaganda and biased accounts of what’s happening in the world around them.

So my advice for anyone reading this, open your eyes – be critical, question everything and everyone, but don’t fall for the misleading hyperbole of conspiracy theorists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s