1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Tall tales of pyramids in Antarctica date back to the 1931 H. P. Lovecraft story At the Mountains of Madness. The story was written at a time when the continent had barely been explored, and huge expanses were still yet to be surveyed. The remote and inaccessible nature of the land allowed Lovecraft to invent a bizarre alien architecture, and as he was interested in ancient Egyptian architecture it was only natural for him to incorporate Pyramids into the mix.

    Fast forward to the 21st century, and "Pyramids in Antartica" makes a comeback in the form of rocky peaks with sharp angles formed by glacial action poking though the surface of the deep snowfields that cover most of Antarctica. These areas of exposed rock are called nunataks and come in all shapes and sizes.
    20161125-132605-rdev7.
    Source: NASA: Nunataks in Western Greenland

    One such nunatak is Schatz Ridge, (78°29′00″S 86°03′00″).

    20161125-170104-as2mb.

    Back in 2009 a photo of Schatz Ridge was published on the web page of Australian climber Jarmila Tyrril (who presumably took the photo)
    [​IMG]

    The nunatak also shows up in a video she shot
    20161125-134656-k2esi.


    The photo was republished on the forum of the conspiracy themed web-site disclose.tv in 2009 (the forum has since been closed). Over the next few years it became as staple part of the "pyramids in Antartica" myth, and has been reposted in hundreds of web site, like BeforeItsNews in 2013, (and in 2012). Also in 2013 a story was published on the junk news site "Voice of Russia" (now merged with the similar "Sputnik News" site). That store cited disclose.tv as a source. The story was debunked that same year by Ian Chadwick.

    This particular nunatak also showed up in the photo galleries of expedition photographer, Gordon Wiltsie.
    20161125-143122-lg99r.
    Caption: ANTARCTICA. Nunataks south of Vinson Massif in Ellsworth Mountains. Vast polar plateau in background

    Viewed close up you can see it's just a natural formation:
    20161125-171138-m1et0.
    The sharp edges are typical of glacial formed mountains and are called "glacial horns", the most famous being the Matterhorn.


    Earlier this year new life was breathed into the story, with an episode of "Ancient Aliens" in May 2016.
    20161125-144634-7s8sq.


    People debunked it again. That photo is actually a different nunatak, Pyramid Peak, at -72.266667, 165.583333,
    20161126-092349-3ssoc.
    the photo is a stock photo by Gordon Wiltsie
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/p...-peak-in-high-res-stock-photography/ngs8_0340

    And now the story has sprung to life again in the British tabloids. This time with a THIRD nunatak, seen on Google Earth, at 79°58’39.25″S 81°57’32.21″W
    20161125-132945-0w6oa.
    (The photos in the story however show Schatz Ridge)

    The Daily Star being a typical example:
    20161125-145013-vottg.

    Now what I find most interesting about these new iterations of the fake story is that they often include the debunking! This seems to be something of a new trend (as far as I can tell) where purveyors of dubious news will lead with a sensationalistic headline based on some YouTube video, then spend several paragraphs with wild speculation, and then finally near the end of the article they briefly give the real explanation.

    For example, in the Daily Star, we have the above "stunned scientists" headline, then:


    The Daily Mail:
    Inquisiter
    "Burying the debunk" is a reference to the journalism term "burying the lede", a practice where the story starts out with details of secondary importance, and the actual substantive portion of the story is not mentioned until several paragraphs in. It's a way a media outlet could "cover" a story that they would really prefer just go away. They could still report the substantive facts without being accused of ignoring the story, but not many people would read them.

    But in the fake news realm that's not exactly what is happening. Instead of "burying" the fact that this photo is just a nunatak, a mountain buried in snow, that fact has been deliberately added to the story to make the more sensationalist interpretation seem more plausible.

    This seems counterintuitive, how could debunking a story make it seem more plausible? There are actually a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is the idea of false balance. If just the sensational story is given then the reader might not give it much thought, just another crazy story. But if we are suddenly told that some scientist has an alternative explanation, then the reader is forced at some level to make a decision as to which seems more likely. They are presented with two alternatives (pyramid made by ancient aliens vs. odd shaped mountain poking through the snow), and they lean towards on or the other.

    The funny thing is, even if they pick the correct explanation, the fact that they were given a choice makes the sensationalist explanation seem far more plausible. By presenting two explanations as equal choices (or in this case with the sensationalist explanation given far more weight) it makes it seem as if there're really a significant chance that either one of them can be correct - and for many people that means a 50/50 probability of it going one way or the other.

    So perhaps is not so much "burying the debunk" as "planting the debunk".

    I noticed this technique used a couple of weeks ago in a story about "Chemtrails" in the Express.
    Here they actually gave quite a bit of space to the debunking. Perhaps because the crazy headline was so incredible that it actually required more debunking to achieve false balance and hence make the headline seem like a viable option. To some of the the conspiracy oriented the presence of a web site debunking a theory is often taken as evidence that the theory has prompted a response from the powers-that-be, and hence is correct.

    So what should a debunker do? Should we avoid debunking things to stop the false balance? No, someone is always going to provide an alternative explanation that can be planted in the story to increase its plausibility. What we need to do is shift the balance away from the myth and towards the facts. If you are going to debunk a story like this, try to repeat the myth as little as possible, and start out with the facts - or at least get into the facts as quickly as possible.

    The excellent Debunker's Handbook notes "The best approach is to focus on the facts you wish to communicate". Bury the myth.
    20161125-160247-4xrrq.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
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  3. Hama Neggs

    Hama Neggs Senior Member

    I think "false balance" is a common factor in CT. It comes about when they hear the false claims repeated so many times (and maybe countered) in so many different places that it brings people into believing that there is a real argument going on.
     
  4. Henk001

    Henk001 Active Member

    Or worse: "mainstream" science is often automatically mistrusted, so if a mainstream scientist says something is not true he/she is "probably trying to hide something".