Gene Shinn's Bimini Flim-Flam Scam
by Dr. Greg Little
Gene Shinn has issued a new paper on Bimini as well as the ancient Mediterranean harbors. He now asserts that the many ancient Mediterranean harbors may well be natural beachrock formations. I won't address that issue in any depth for a lot of reasons. The only comment I'll make is that Shinn uses the same "logic" in this assessment that he accuses the Bimini proponents use. He essentially relates that there are natural beachrock formations that are visually similar to Bimini and, since he asserts Bimini is natural, by extension, all the others are natural. But he makes several other bizarre claims and a few of them should be addressed. Shinn can be accurately characterized as an "Old Ager" and "True Disbeliever" as he describes those who disagree with him as the precise opposite.
Shinn says that he is at the center of a "government conspiracy"
Perhaps the most bizarre claim made in Shinn's new article is that he writes I have claimed he is part of a government conspiracy. He links to this article as proof, but that claim is nowhere in the article. His quote is this: "A psychologist, (see Little , recently joined the ranks of alternate believers. He claims in his website that the author (Shinn) is part of a government conspiracy to prevent people from learning the true origin of the stones."
The actual assertion I made has nothing to do with government conspiracy nor was that made. The fact is that Shinn has perpetrated scientific misconduct and a hoax in presenting his results. That is shown below. However, Shinn routinely sent emails from the US Geological Survey which presented assertions about Bimini as if they were official positions of the agency. Department of the Interior guidelines specifically state that employees sending personal opinions from their website must state it when these are their personal opinions and not official positions of the USGS. Shinn did not do so. From this fact, apparently, Shinn surmises he is an important person at the heart of an alleged government conspiracy. And it is a ploy to depict those who challenge his claims as fringe theorists. Conspiracy? No! It's just Eugene Shinn. In all probability, the USGS is a typical government bureaucracy with little employee oversight with many inept and apathetic employees with no genuine standard of ethics.
I also asked about his educational qualifications in previous correspondence, and Shinn simply related to me that he had a Ph.D., adding, "it's the real thing." But he actually has only one earned degree, a bachelors in biology. Just before his retirement he was given an honorary degree from the University of South Florida where he is a "Courtesy Professor." If you believe an honorary degree is the "real thing," as Shinn told me in an email, the next time someone you loves has a life-threatening illness show you really believe this and take them to a person with an honorary doctorate rather than someone with an earned one.
The Shinn Scam
1---All the cores dipped toward deep water.
The hoax Shinn perpetrated started when he published a 1978 article in the obscure journal Sea Frontiers. All of his later articles were based on his findings from this 1978 article. In that article he reported on the results of 17 cores taken from stones at the Bimini Road: "Eight separate adjoining blocks in the northern area and nine blocks plus one bedrock core in the southern area were cored." (p. 138)
In his results, Shinn wrote: "At the northern site...beach bedding was not readily visible in these cores... (p. 139). "At the southern site...Bedding in all the cores from this area was either horizontal or dipping predominantly toward the sea." (p. 138) A pdf of this article is here.
In his second article on Bimini, authored with Marshall McKusick in Nature in 1980, Shinn summarized his results as follows: "A sample of 17 oriented cores ... has been examined with X-radiographs. Two areas in the formation were studied, and both show slope and uniform particle size, bedding planes, and constant dip direction from one block to the next." This statement is very inconsistent with what Shinn actually reported in 1978. They did not show uniform slope and constant dip from one stone to another. A pdf of the relevant portions of this article is here.
In his third article on Bimini, published in 2004 in the Skeptical Inquirer, Shinn simply summarized the results from his 17 cores as follows: "all the cores showed consistent dipping of strata toward the deep water..." This statement is a complete fabrication.
The essence of what Shinn actually found is simple. Of his 17 cores, 8 in one area had no bedding plane or measurable dipping whatsoever. In the other area of 9 cores, he reported no actual numbers only that they either were horizontal or dipping. The Nature article results were deliberately misleading and the results reported in the Skeptical Inquirer were an outright lie.
When pointedly asked about these statements, Shinn replied that the mistakes were the result of his peers not adequately reviewing his work. He added that he did the work "for fun" and that he "did not take the usual care that he took in his regular work." Full details of this can be found in an extensive pdf file at the bottom of this page.
2---All the stones lay on the bottom.
In his new article Shinn repeats the often-heard claim by the True Disbelievers that all of the stones that comprise the Bimini formation are laying on sand or bedrock--that is, only one layer of stones is present there. He states: "Coring and examination showed they rest directly on weathhered Pleistocene limestone." That simply isn't true as numerous others have shown there are many areas with multiple layers of stone. Countless photos, only which a few of are seen here, have shown this claim to be false. Of course, his article shows only photos of the tops of stones nearly covered by sand.
However, in his new article, in a successful effort to confuse and mislead his geologic peers, Shinn makes a completely unsubstantiated statement, claiming that, "The true believers’ basic argument is that nature does not produce straight lines..."
Perhaps that argument was made by someone in the distant past, but I am totally unaware that any recent proponent of the Bimini Road as a harbor has made that claim. Those in our group, who have shown the Bimini formation to be a harborwork probably used around 3000 BC, have never made such an assertion about straight lines.
3--Columns found at Bimini were "Portland Cement."
In 1971, a somewhat curious article was published by the Virginia Beach geologist Wyman Harrison in which he described numerous cylinder-like cement columns and 2 fluted white marble columns off the Bimini shoreline. Harrison had the cement tested by a representative of the Portland Cement organization who reported that it was a type of burnt lime-kiln cement used in the 1800s. The white marble columns Harrison reported were from an area other than the Bahamas.
In his second article with Marshall McKusick, Shinn described the columns/cylinders thusly: "structures described as pillars were hardened concrete originally stored in wooden barrels and dumped overboard in recent times..." and as his proof references Harrison. There was no mention of the fluted marble columns in the article by McKusick and Shinn.
In Shinn's 3rd article, in the Skeptical Inquirer, he wrote that all the columns found at Bimini were found by Harrison to be "Portland Cement." Of course, Harrison never stated that, only that an individual working for the Portland Cement organization had examined the cement. The sloppiness of this assertion, and the amazing number of factual errors in Shinn's Skptical Inquirer article is simply astounding.
In his new article, Shinn states about the columns, "For example, Portland cement was originally transported aboard ships in wooden barrels. When jettisoned overboard, the wood decays, leaving cement cylinders that can be confused with columns (Harrison, 1971). ... "The cement barrels misidentified as columns (Harrison, 1971) probably initiated the stories of submered temples."
Shinn continues to reference Harrison as the individual who reported that all the columns were Portland Cement (of course, that was not stated anywhere in Harrison's article). And as usual, no mention was made of the fluted marble columns found with the cement ones. So much for peer review. One has to wonder about the process and meaning of "peer review" with geologists.
The Mystique of Beachrock & Shinn's Flim-Flam
Shinn titled his article the mystique of beachrock. But it's more of a flim-flam of beachrock. A flim-flam artist is a person who dazzles and befuddles with misdirection and deception—and that is what Shinn continues to do. Not much was heard from Shinn on Bimini from his 1980-era article with McKussik until his deceptive results description was challenged by our investigations at Bimini around 2004. His flim-flam should have been detected by the peer reviewers in his new article, not to mention the poor peer review Shinn admits was done with the Skeptical Inquirer. But wait, there's more! In his new article, Shinn befuddles us again in describing his three earlier articles on Bimini, the ones in 1978, 1980, and 2004. He writes that his "second article"--the one in the "Skeptical Inquirer," was a "spoof." But Shinn's second article was the 1980 article in Nature with McKusick!? Talk about flim-flam! He likes all the attention as he related in a recent posting stating the Bimini controversy is a "fun ride." "Shinn rocks!"
One thing I have learned during my now 6-year investigation into what the Bimini formation actually is, is that it seems no matter what is found or what is published, Shinn is quite right about one thing. There are true believers and there are true disbelievers in this, and nothing anyone can or will do will change their stance. But on the other hand, there are some people who really do seem to care what the facts show and these individuals are not true believers or disbelievers nor are they new or old agers. They simply want to know the truth. Geologists I have found, generally stick with their old-age peer opinions on this no matter how deceptive or inaccurate their colleague's statements are proven to be. In sum, there is no government conspiracy. There is only Gene Shinn at the core of this, and if one wants to understand the details, you have to actually read the articles. Obviously, the "peer review" geologists don't and we should not expect them to change anything. In fact, they will no doubt rally around Shinn and his deceptions, which may well be precisely what he seeks. What it boils down to is simple. If you seek the truth, read all the relevant material and examine the evidence. The cards fall where they fall.