NBC's "The Mysterious Origins of Man"
Copyright © 1996-1998 by Jim Foley
[Last Update: June 12, 1996]
What's it all about?
On Sunday February 25th 1996, NBC broadcast "The Mysterious Origins of Man" (hereafter MOM), narrated by Charlton Heston, purporting to be a documentary about scientific evidence that would overturn currently accepted views of human history and evolution.
In late May 1996, NBC issued a press release announcing that MOM would be re-broadcast on Saturday, June 8, 1996.
The film was produced by B. C. Video Inc. (P.O. Box 97, Shelburne, VT 05482, Ph: 800-846-9682), which has set up a web site to publicize it [offsite].
Although MOM was anti-evolutionary, it was not advocating scientific creationism, even though some of the "experts" and arguments are familiar to readers of scientific creationist literature. Instead, just as scientific creationism is an attempt to use science to support fundamentalist Christianity, MOM is apparently an attempt to use science to support Hinduism. Much of the material in the program is based on the contents of two books, Forbidden Archeology [offsite] and The Hidden History of the Human Race [offsite] by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, both of whom appeared on the show and are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Both books are published by Govardhan Hill Publishing [offsite].
Other material for MOM came from Graham Hancock's book Fingerprints of the Gods [offsite], Rand and Rose Flem-Ath's book When the Sky Fell [offsite], and Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert's book The Orion Mystery [offsite].
Reviews of The Mysterious Origins of Man:
A Review of NBC's "The Mysterious Origins of Man", by Glen Kuban
NBC Program Mysterious Origins, by Frank Steiger
NBC's Origins Show, by Dave Thomas
Bill Cote, producer of MOM, has written a response to Steiger's review.
A review of Forbidden Archeology:
Creationism: The Hindu View, by Colin Groves
A review of The Hidden History of the Human Race:
Hidden History, Hidden Agenda, by Brad Lepper
A review of The Orion Mystery:
Book review: "The Orion Mystery", by Mark Hammons [offsite]
Why are people so upset about MOM? Mainly because a pseudo-scientific mishmash of discredited claims and crackpot ideas was presented as cutting edge science, with no attempt at balance. Few of the experts presented are recognized scientists.
Claims made on "Mysterious Origins of Man"
One of the "experts" on the show was "Dr." Carl Baugh, a young-earth creationist whose claims are so bizarre that even other creationists find him an embarrassment. At Glen Kuban's Web site about the Texas dinosaur/"man-tracks" controversy, there are documents about the Burdick footprint, a supposed human footprint found alongside dinosaur prints and featured in MOM, the dubious credentials of Carl Baugh and Don Patton, and other articles about tracks at the Paluxy River.
MOM claimed that some blue spheres, of an apparently artificial origin, had been found in South Africa in rocks dated to 2.8 billion years. Paul Heinrich has written a response to this claim.
Another claim was that an advanced civilization lived on Antarctica 12,000 years ago, and was destroyed by a massive shifting of the Earth's crust which also caused many mammoths to be instantly frozen. This claim has been rebutted by Paul Heinrich. See also the talk.origins mammoth FAQ for more information on the frozen mammoths.
It was also claimed that the Oronteus Finaeus Map of 1532 supported the idea that Antarctica had been ice-free in historical times. This is discussed by Paul Heinrich
MOM claimed that a number of artifacts, such as a mortar and pestle, which have been found in California contradict current scientific views. Again, here is Paul Heinrich's response. Many people thought that a skull known as the Calaveras Skull was one of the objects being referred to above. Michael Cremo has since said that MOM was not referring to it, but here is some information about the Calaveras Skull anyway.
MOM briefly discussed the evidence for human evolution, claiming that no evidence for human evolution had been found. Here is a response to that claim by Jim Foley.
Another "expert" featured on MOM was author/researcher David Hatcher Childress. Here is a list of Childress' books, retrieved from various sites on the internet. They cover a wide range of topics such as free-energy devices, anti-gravity devices, artificial gravity, anti-mass generators, gravitational pulse drive, vortex propulsion, how to build flying saucers, the flying saucer technology of Nazi Germany, flying saucer propulsion, government UFO conspiracies, Roswell, death rays, ozone generators, thought machines, crystals and their role in levitation, inhabitants and structures on many of the planets and moons of the solar system, lost cities in Africa, the Americas, and Asia, living dinosaurs and pterodactyls, crystal skulls, Irish Incas, Atlantean ruins, King Solomon's mines, the Ark of the Covenant, Jesus' tomb, Moslem Illuminati, Noah's Ark, the Hollow Earth, Nazca lines, Yetis, giants, megaliths, ley lines, acoustic levitation, and more! Judge for yourself whether these interests are the credentials of a scientific expert, or a pseudo-scientific expert. Clearly, the producers of MOM considered Childress a scientific expert.
MOM received heavy criticism from the scientific community [offsite], to which the producers of MOM have written a response [offsite].
Where to complain
Should you wish to complain about the presentation of pseudoscience as science, you can email NBC at:
Keep it polite; Usenet-style flames will not have as much effect as a calm letter explaining why you disliked the film. If you have a letterhead showing your credentials, or university or museum affiliation, make use of it.
The following companies advertised on the show, in case you want to let them know what you thought of it.
(One advertisement was about how kids should better appreciate their teachers and enjoy learning. It takes a special sort of chutzpah to place an advertisment extolling the value of education in a show that makes a mockery of scientific inquiry.)
NOTE: We incorrectly placed Chevron on this list of advertisers. Chevron did not sponsor the MOM program. We apologize for the error.
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