More Adventures With Bimini Beachrock: Remarkable Blunders in a Purported Scholarly Report Debunking the Bimini Stones
by Dr. Greg Little
Having returned from Bimini just two weeks ago, I was anxious to reread several skeptical reports written by geologists on the Bimini Road. I have to quickly admit that I am not at all certain exactly what the Bimini Road is—either a completely natural formation or made/altered by man—but I lean toward the formation once serving as a breakwater with a quay. This comes after about 9 hours of drifting over portions of the formation, filming the stones, and then reviewing the film. While I had been at the site several times previously, the areas I viewed on this trip were to the north and were bordered by much deeper water on the island side of the formation, much like a harbor would be. The stones which we focused on were in only 10-feet of water, and the deeper sand-bottomed area toward North Bimini was at least 25-feet deep. This was an area we had not seen previously.
Since coauthoring the 2003 book, The ARE's Search for Atlantis, I have dug quite a bit deeper to understand exactly what the so-called "skeptics" have allegedly researched and their conclusions. Their articles usually lump all non-skeptical Bimini investigators together into what they call "true believers" and "New Agers," a debating ploy designed to ridicule and demean those they are trying to bash. Such name-calling is resorted to in politics when the actual issues are not favorable, so ridiculing the opposition becomes the focal point. But the fact that they need to resort to such tactics shows an underlying sense of desperation. That's not the real point of this brief article, but the term "desperation" is utilized for several reasons that are not worth exploring.
Perhaps the report that most exemplifies the actual pseudoscience employed by so-called skeptics was by geologist Eugene Shinn, titled, "A Geologist's Adventures with Bimini Beachrock and Atlantis True Believers," published by CSICOP's Skeptical Inquirer magazine in January 2004. The article is available online. The article basically ridicules everyone but Shinn and a few others who agree with him. But the sloppy scholarship in the article is astounding and most notable. Here are a few examples of the geologist's major blunders:
1. Shinn reports that Bimini was first linked to Edgar Cayce when Cayce "discovered his patient was a reincarnated Atlantean. When asked where Atlantis was, the patient said 'in the Bahamas near Bimini.'" This is such a ridiculous and absurd quote that it leads to the conclusion that Shinn is not at all a scholar and is certainly driven by a belief system, not a scientific inquiry. Cayce never asked a patient anything during his readings. Not one Cayce reading stated that "Atlantis was in the Bahamas near Bimini." One can only conclude that Shinn fabricated this supposed quote from Cayce to serve his purposes.
2. Shinn cites the work of one Dr. Edward Zink several times in the report and even gives the title of Zink's book. But Zink's name is David Zink, not Edward.
3. Shinn mentiones that Ernest Hemmingway's brother stated he felt energy fields around Bimini. That's true, but Shinn calls him "Lester Hemmingway." His actual name was Leicester Hemmingway and he was the Bimini newspaper Editor.
4. Shinn mentions a particular individual as a "rival New Ager" and describes him as an inventor and developer of underwater photography equipment. He says he was "Demitri Ribikoff." There was a French Oceanographer named Dimitri Rebikoff who was experienced in evaluating ancient Mediterranean harbors. Rebikoff designed the first reliable underwater photographic equipment and operated a well-respected institute in Miami. Assuming Shinn is referring to the "real" Dimitri Rebikoff, he got both names wrong, and not just once. Rebikoff was far from a New-Ager, but because he asserted that the Bimini Road appeared almost identical to ancient Mediterranean breakwaters, a fact Shinn obviously wants to avoid addressing, Rebikoff is characterized by Shinn as a new-ager to essentially dismiss him without delving at all into Rebikoff's observation.
5. Shinn states that the Bimini Road was discovered in the "early 1960s" but it was actually found and first reported in late 1968. Obviously Shinn was and is unaware of the history of the site.
6. Shinn mentions that the first report on the Bimini Road by a "geologist" identified the stones as beachrock, a form of low-grade limestone. He conveniently neglects to mention that the actual 1968 discoverer of the Road, Dr. J. Manson Valentine, identified the stones as primarily beachrock in his initial publication on the site, predating any geologist's report. But by stating that the site was comprised of beachrock, and taking credit for this insightful "discovery," the geologists are attempting to discredit Valentine as well as dismiss any other research. But the fact is that from the very beginning (1968), the stones were recognized as primarily beachrock.
7. Shinn states he "did a thorough study of the site..." He reports that he first cored two stones to determine if they were beachrock. The two cores confirmed this fact and he expressed surprise when the modern beachrock on the shores of Bimini was also found to be beachrock, similar to the stones on the Road!!? He then cored 17 stones adjacent to each other. But the site is enormous, not just constricted to 17 stones in a small area. In my visits to the site, one thing was clear: it takes a hundred hours to even view the entire site from the surface. His assertion of a "thorough study" is simply overstated. In truth, he sampled a small area over a few weekends—far from a "thorough study." It is doubtful that Shinn viewed even a relatively small portion of the site, much less coring samples representing the whole site.
8. Shinn reported that the adjacent stones he cored all showed stratification toward deeper water and that if the stones had been cut and placed, they would have shown a mixed stratification because "the Atlanteans ... surely would have selected the best fit." I certainly can't comment on the idea that only Atlanteans could have constructed the Road site, which is apparently the only possibility that occurred to Shinn. But if Shinn's idea about "the best fit" is the case, it seems likely that the best fit of each cut stone would have been with the exact stone side it was cut from. One stone after the other would have fit together perfectly. Of course, that's what Shinn said he found. Why Shinn alleges that an advanced culture constructing a fitted breakwater would have cut stones and then randomly fitted them together is a mystery, yet that is what Shinn said he tested. His logic is badly flawed, something that isn't obvious to the biased reader. According to Shinn, he decided to test the grain and orientation of the stones because he was told that the Atlanteans might have used beachrock as a construction stone. If that's the case, it seems likely that those constructing a quay or breakwater would have used nearby beachrock, just as ancient harbors in the Mediterranean were constructed. Coring would tend to show that the blocks came from adjacent pieces of larger beachrock.
9. Shinn's Skeptical Inquirer article failed to mention a few problems he encountered in making his sweeping, absolute pronouncements. These are related in his earlier publication. In the northern portion of the site he found differences in the stones and their bases. But in the article he says authoritatively that, "layers of rounded beach pebbles could be traced from one stone to another." Shinn also failed to mention another known fact about the site: it is well-established that barges of stones were taken from it in 1926 after a hurricane. The stones were sent to Miami to repair breakwaters.
10. Shinn calls the supposed mounds at Bimini, mentioning effigies of a shark and whale, "mega pictographs" and "zoomorphic mounds." He obviously didn't consult any archaeology sources. In North America there remain hundreds of effigy mounds, and no one calls them mega pictographs. I don't know for certain if the Bimini mounds are, in fact, manmade mounds or unusual natural formations, but lots of effigy mounds exist, and many are larger than the ones alleged to be on Bimini.
11. Shinn states that "true believers say it (the Bimini Road) is a prehistoric archaeological site built by extraterrestrials from the Pleiades." David (or Edward as Shinn calls him) Zink did, unfortunately, make that assertion. But I am not aware of anyone else, not a single person associated with Edgar Cayce's ARE or anyone else, who believes that far-fetched idea or who even considers it as a possibility. But by linking all "true believers" to such a preposterous idea, Shinn attempts to throw all legitimate researchers into the lunatic fringe.
12. Shinn states that beachrock fractures into large blocks "up to twelve feet in length and six feet wide." But if that's the case, how does he explain the many square and rectangular stones at Bimini that are much larger than 6x12 feet?
13. Shinn states that "Atlantis was presumably a 7,000-year-old story when first told to Plato." The only Plato I know of who spoke of Atlantis related that it took place 9000 years before Plato. How could a supposed scholar get this so wrong? How could an allegedly science-oriented magazine make such a blunder?
14. Shinn reported on his 1970's attempts to carbon date the stones by evaluating conch shell pieces embedded in the stone. He reported that the ages ranged between 2000- 4000-years-ago. But he admits that he utilized old technology, not modern dating techniques. The probability of contamination of his samples is overwhelming, but he avoids mentioning this. Beachrock tends to continue to form newly cemented layers as it is re-exposed and recovered over time. He also failed to mention that geologist John Gifford carbon dated the bedrock upon which the Bimini Road stones sit to 15,000-years-ago. In his earlier article he asserts that a deep layer of sand must have been under the stones and that erosion caused the stones to settle on the much older bottom, but it's a weak argument that has no actual support. That explains why his article simply failed to mention the 15,000-year-ago carbon date obtained by Gifford.
15. Shinn mentions the most probable explanation of the site in a single derisive sentence: "Some say it was built to form an Atlantean harbor." He failed to mentioned who the "some" are as well as failing to mention that they did not necessarily link it to Atlantis. When he was called by Valentine to examine the Road, oceanographer Dimitri Rebikoff quickly surmised that it bore a strong resemblance to the ancient Mediterranean harbors he had recently examined. Shinn also failed to mention that most of the Mediterranean harbors were constructed from cut slabs of beachrock and he seems completely unaware of this fact. If he compared the Road site to any of the harbors in the Mediterranean, he certainly never mentioned it. In fact, he fails to mention any ancient harbors. In addition, he seems completely unaware of the existence of the ancient Maya harbor, breakwater, and seawall at Isla Cerritos off Yucatan. Beachrock was utilized in the construction of those features at Cerritos and the identification of Cerritos (in the 1960s) and the archaeological investigations (1984-85) were published well before Shinn's 2004 article. But since Shinn does not want to give any hint of support to the harbor idea, he avoids actually examining the extensive knowledge base available.
Scholarly reports may contain a typographical error or two and magazine articles usually contain a few factual errors. But Shinn consistently misspelled (or simply doesn't know) the names of the key people in the Bimini Road search that it has to be concluded that he never actually read any reports, going only on heresay. What is most likely is that he didn't care enough to spell names correctly and that the Skeptical Inquirer didn't care enough to do even the minimum amount of work expected for a supposed scientific publication. When such sloppy "scholarship" is encountered, the assumption is typically made that the writer was just as sloppy in the research being reported, and his characterization of his research as "a thorough study" is obviously a gross overstatement. His depiction of how Bimini was linked to Atlantis by a Cayce patient's statement makes it obvious he has never looked into how the link between Atlantis and Bimini was made. And it is obvious that his "knowledge" about Cayce is based on what other misinformed skeptics have told him. His characterization of the discovery of the site in the early 1960s (rather than 1968) can only be viewed as a writer not caring to get any of the actual facts straight as does his assertion that Plato stated Atlantis was destroyed 7000 years earlier. The multitude of factual errors is laughable and should be a major embarrassment to the Skeptical Inquirer—but it probably will only dig them in deeper. Shinn's constant derision of those interested in the site reveals his underlying motive. For example, his assertion that all "true believers" think that Pleiades' extraterrestrials built the site and the frequent application of the term "New-Agers" to others fits one motivational pattern. His motivation was not to relate a genuine scientific analysis of the site. Facts and getting the names right aren't important. Ridiculing everyone who disagrees with him and propogating the "skeptical position" is the main motive.
Shinn's article includes brief mention of what may well represent the most damning testimony against his efforts at Bimini. He relates that PBS filmed some of his work in his lab and on the site but it "was not up to PBS standards and PBS wanted no part of the story." Shinn attributes the rejection to poor filming, but documentary filming is done over and over until it meets standards—if the broadcaster thinks the story has genuine merit. Based on the multitude of factual errors Shinn relates in his article, and his lack of concern over properly checking sources and the actual names of individuals involved, it's hard to imagine any broadcaster wanting to give air-time to a supposed scientist who makes so many consistent, obvious errors.
In general, I've always had some respect for CSICOP and its publications. The Skeptical Inquirer even had one of my articles (published in Psychological Reports) cited as a notable article back in the 1980s. But their motive now seems not to be truth and fact-finding, it seems to be propogating an agenda, an agenda of misinformation and manipulation of the gullible followers of their own unique brand of pseudoscience. Their lack of editorial oversight is so obvious that only the most feeble-minded skeptics, who want to gullibly believe everything written in their propoganda publication, can be convinced. There may be no better depiction of pseudoscience at work.
I can't state with certainty what the Bimini Road actually is, but it's true that Shinn's incredibly sloppy work hasn't resolved the question, either. What's interesting to ponder is why he and others want so desperately to keep everyone else away from investigating the formations.
Note: You can watch a 16-minute Quicktime movie depicting underwater footage of the Bimini Road and Andros Platform by clicking here.