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Skammer
11-30-2005, 01:33 PM
Cecil's column about the Oak Island treasure on the main page today (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a2_441.html) is twenty years old. He indicated that as late as 1985, treasure hunters were still searching the island. Has anything happened or has anything been found in the last two decades?

velvetjones
11-30-2005, 02:51 PM
I googled it and found a this site (http://oakislandtreasure.com/) I haven't really poked around much yet but a google search turns up all sorts of hits. Have fun :)

control-z
11-30-2005, 03:20 PM
I googled it and found a this site (http://oakislandtreasure.com/) I haven't really poked around much yet but a google search turns up all sorts of hits. Have fun :)

This site is very interesting, and it has updates as late as September 2005: http://oakislandtreasure.co.uk/index.html

chappachula
11-30-2005, 03:22 PM
there's also this site:
http://oakislandtreasure.co.uk/

with pictures and an active forum of reasonable and intelligent postings.

I was expecting a bunch of loonies, like UFO spotters, but these people seem rational

Sequent
11-30-2005, 03:48 PM
An article (http://oakislandtreasure.co.uk/news10.htm) attributed to the Wall Street Journal suggests that the future of the island might be residential development. There appear to be lots of plans for extracting the treasure, all of which come with exorbitant costs.

Besides, the amount of engineering and labor required for such an underground maze is so extensive that it's "absolutely ludicrous" to imagine it being carried out hundreds of years ago, he added.
This is what I've always thought, personally. 165 feet is a DEEP hole. Is it even plausible to think that anyone (much less a group of pirates) operating in 18th-century Nova Scotia would have been able to dig a pit so deep in the first place? How far down would the bedrock be? I also find it hard to believe that, even with all the excavation, the treasure would have sunk scores of feet down from its original position. If it had been in the sand, maybe...but clay?

tanstaafl
11-30-2005, 04:02 PM
Has anything happened or has anything been found in the last two decades?
Well, the island is for sale now (http://livescience.com/history/051107_oak_island.html#forsale) so apparently the latest group has given up.

tanstaafl
11-30-2005, 04:11 PM
Oh yeah, I also wanted to point out that Oak Island was very obviously the inspiration for the novel Riptide (http://amazon.com/gp/product/0446607177/qid=1133384873/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-5885445-4361409?s=books&v=glance&n=283155) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child which is about an advanced attempt to recover a treasure on a very thinly disguised Oak Island.

bradministrator
11-30-2005, 04:41 PM
Where is Oak Island in Nova Scotia? Nearest town? I'm going up there next year to visit relatives and I'm curious if it's near them (Truro).

JeffB
11-30-2005, 08:16 PM
Where is Oak Island in Nova Scotia? Nearest town? I'm going up there next year to visit relatives and I'm curious if it's near them (Truro).Oak Island is located in Mahone Bay, which is about 40 km west of Halifax. Truro is about 80 km nne of Halifax.

K364
11-30-2005, 10:33 PM
I once was fascinated by the amazing mystery of Oak Island, but am now a skeptic (sadly and relunctantly).

This link (http://criticalenquiry.org/oakisland/) has a very persuasive argument.

Although, the creation of the hoax is, in itself, very interesting.

Exapno Mapcase
11-30-2005, 11:57 PM
I once was fascinated by the amazing mystery of Oak Island, but am now a skeptic (sadly and relunctantly).

Some serious questions that I am always fascinated to hear the answers to:

What once made you take this seriously? What about it made it seem like a real story rather than a silly legend? How did you think it was possible for people to construct the pit and the pitfalls with hand tools? Were there other stories that you once believed in and now don't or was there something special about this one?

Dunderman
12-01-2005, 03:35 AM
What once made you take this seriously? What about it made it seem like a real story rather than a silly legend? How did you think it was possible for people to construct the pit and the pitfalls with hand tools? Were there other stories that you once believed in and now don't or was there something special about this one?
I can only speak for myself, but this is the first I ever heard of this being a hoax. I haven't read K364's link yet, but I will. It just never occurred to me that it would be anything but real, especially since Cecil took it seriously.

Fish
12-01-2005, 03:37 AM
K364, I read that link you provided and I find that it is full of shotgun skepticism. Sometimes the author argues against himself, using his own logic.

Anyone diligent enough to bury treasure in such an inaccessible fashion and supposedly guarded by an ingenious set of traps would not be clumsy enough to leave a clear marker on the surface where a child could (and supposedly did!) stumble across it.
There could well be remnants of previous homesteads or other works on the island that have nothing to do with the supposed treasure, yet all discoveries made on the island are immediately interpreted in light of their relationship with the legend.
It seems as if he is trying to have his skepticism both ways. He evaluates the evidence of the pulley with the assumption that it related to the treasure, then scoffs at others for assuming every detail on the island relates to the treasure.

His page also contains a transcription (http://criticalenquiry.org/oakisland/original_sketch.html), supposedly written over a period of weeks in late 1863-early 1864, detailing some of the early knowledge of the site. He does not provide an actual scan to the original document, unfortunately.

Some of the details in that original article seem to conflict with the debunker's own views on the veracity of the case. Although he is in possession of the original documented claims (from about a century after its initial discovery), he feels the need to introduce all of the most recent 150 years of embellishments and wishful thinking. The implication is that since people have embellished the story for 150 years, it somehow changes the authenticity of the original account.

Overall, I'm not terribly impressed with his analysis, but I'd be interested to see what any other Dopers think of it.

Bear in mind, I'm not suggesting that Captain Kidd's treasure is certainly buried at the site. I'm not willing to say that pieces of history didn't actually happen simply because they weren't recorded scientifically by trained observers with cameras and notebooks, or to call it all a hoax. A botched job, certainly.

APB
12-01-2005, 08:29 AM
Overall, I'm not terribly impressed with his analysis, but I'd be interested to see what any other Dopers think of it.

I had seen that site before and, unlike you, was actually rather impressed by it. It's a bit rough round some of the edges, but it's exactly the sort of basic historiographical analysis that the subject badly needs and which is so conspicuously lacking from almost all other discussions, whether in print or on the Web. Establishing who first claimed what and when really is the most elementary step needed for any serious investigation.

It seems as if he is trying to have his skepticism both ways. He evaluates the evidence of the pulley with the assumption that it related to the treasure, then scoffs at others for assuming every detail on the island relates to the treasure.

That isn't a contradiction at all. He isn't the one who's assuming that the pulley must relate to the treasure or indeed that there was a pulley at all. Rather, he's pointing out a (debatable) contradiction in the logic of those who do assume that there was a pulley and that it related to the treasure.

Some of the details in that original article seem to conflict with the debunker's own views on the veracity of the case. Although he is in possession of the original documented claims (from about a century after its initial discovery), he feels the need to introduce all of the most recent 150 years of embellishments and wishful thinking. The implication is that since people have embellished the story for 150 years, it somehow changes the authenticity of the original account.

That the story was subsequently embellished is important for two reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, it is valuable to have that process documented in detail because it is a process that most writers on the subject sidestep, gloss over or fail to grasp. It's the 'who first claimed what and when' issue.

This is all the more important given that it's far too simplistic to assume that just because you've found the earliest recorded source and can show that that source differs from the later ones that those later sources are without value. Historians don't assume that the earliest source is invariably accurate, let alone perfectly accurate; instead what they usually proceed from is the more subtle assumption that the earlier a source is, the more likely it is that it is more accurate - there are always degrees of accuracy and different sources, even radically different ones, can be accurate in different ways. This becomes particularly complicated in cases of what purport to be records of oral tradition, as separate variations can be recorded at different times and still be independent of each other. But, then again, they might not. Documenting the subsequent changes is the necessary first step to any serious assessment as to whether variations are genuinely independent. Good historians do this all the time. The author of the 'Critical Analysis' site seems to understand that.

Secondly, documenting the process of subsequent embellishment does actually have implications for how one should read the 'original' account. The subsequent evidence is a very neat demonstration of just how fluid such stories can be. That general principle - that such stories can be very fluid - is exactly why any good historian would assume that a story recorded in 1863 would itself have almost certainly mutated in some way if it was indeed an old oral tradition. But the evidence of the subsequent embellishments do more than just illustrate the general principle. What they arguably also show is that a story of buried treasure in a mysterious pit is one which is particularly prone to such embellishment. Such a story does not exist in a cultural vacuum and there can be a tendency to shape narratives to fit our preconceptions. Specifically there can be tendencies to make stories about supposed mysteries more mysterious and to make the reasons for thinking that there is a mystery more detailed. As the evidence presented by the 'Critical Analysis' site shows, those tendencies can be documented once this particular story gets printed. It is therefore a perfectly plausible historical argument to then say, on that basis, that the same tendency may have distorted any earlier oral tradition (if there was an oral tradition) as well. That could only ever be an interpretation - after all, there is simply no earlier evidence at all - but it would certainly be a rather more sophisticated one than most discussions of the subject.

Fish
12-01-2005, 03:17 PM
Establishing who first claimed what and when really is the most elementary step needed for any serious investigation.
And not the first step that author took, I must stress. The original document is included almost as an afterthought, nor are crucial elements of the document quoted in or cross-linked to his analysis.

I entirely agree that the subject needs to be looked at dispassionately. Because he began his analysis by demonstrating a willingness to cast the whole thing as myth before examining any real evidence, I don't think he did that.

He may be right, and I agree with the assumption that there's little we can know for sure. I don't agree he presented his arguments in a clear way and free of bias.

Arky
12-01-2005, 10:36 PM
Cecil's piece was a good start. Many journalists have treated the facts of the legend a lot worse. At least he had a sceptical approach, even if he then went on to repeat the legend as though it were true, without checking it out.

The whole bibliography of the subject is a journalistic nightmare: not a single author has ever gone beyond the oft-repeated legend. A lot of them have offered expert interpretation without any backgound or qualification in the field they comment on. Oak Island is shrouded in pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology.

The legend is a fraud. Three boys did not go exploring the island in 1795: they had already settled the area as farmers. If anything happened in that period, it was 'treasure scrying' - pretending to divine for treasure in order to get others to pay for digging it up. This was commonplace along the north-eastern seaboard then.

The so-called treasure hunters of the 19th century were also frauds. The fabricated the structures and planted fake evidence. An artefact found under one of the major structures belongs to the mid-19th century.

The money pit, flood tunnel, drainage system/filter bed, surface stones, cypher stone, tree with block and tackle, the three discoverers, iron ring and everything else, originated as elements of a masonic ritual - the Royal Arch of Enoch. Everyone involved in managing the operations in the 19th century - through a series of companies - was a Freemason.

The point of it all was money - gaining a pecuniary advantage through deception - by increasing share speculation in those companies.

There may also be a link to the Joseph Smiths and Brigham Young (LDS), through one of the settlers (John Smith), and some of the directors. Brigham's elder sister, Fanny, visited the island in 1850, as a 'clairvoyant'. As Smith and Young used the same Enochian imagery for their own, Mormon, purposes, they may well have provided the inspiration for the imagery of the legend.

Cheers!

tracer
12-02-2005, 02:39 PM
I had seen that site before and, unlike you, was actually rather impressed by it. It's a bit rough round some of the edges, but it's exactly the sort of basic historiographical analysis that the subject badly needs and which is so conspicuously lacking from almost all other discussions, whether in print or on the Web. Establishing who first claimed what and when really is the most elementary step needed for any serious investigation.

You might also want to see [ur=http://csicop.org/si/2000-03/i-files.html]Joe Nickell's March 2000 Skeptical Inquirer article about Oak Island[/url], which that site cites.

tracer
12-02-2005, 02:41 PM
Let's try that again:

You might also want to see Joe Nickell's March 2000 Skeptical Inquirer article about Oak Island (http://csicop.org/si/2000-03/i-files.html), which that site cites.

He makes a very strong case for the "money pit" being a combination of (A) naturally-occurring underground formations, (B) wishful thinking, and (C) a few practical jokes played by Freemasons.

Arky
12-02-2005, 06:51 PM
Nickell did a brilliant job, building on the Freemason links provided by Finnan. What he didn't have was access to the commercial-in-confidence reports of the treasure hunters, which I have examined from an archaeological POV. In my opinion, this was more than a hoax, but criminal.

Ficer67
12-08-2005, 10:09 PM
This subject is facinating to me on two counts. One there could be treasure under the island somewhere and what would they have found, if the excavation were handled better?

And two, this kind of subject piques the curiosity of the public, and it doesn't matter what is down there as long as no-body knows what is actually down there. It serves some kind of psychological purpose just by being a mystery.

While there is not very much else to add, I would like to say that a recent development is GoogleEarth, and this island shows up quite clearly on it.

Ok that is all

Ficer67

Measure for Measure
12-09-2005, 02:35 PM
Arky:

If anything happened in that period, it was 'treasure scrying' - pretending to divine for treasure in order to get others to pay for digging it up. This was commonplace along the north-eastern seaboard then. Could you substantiate the claim that treasure scrying was commonplace then? It's not that I seriously doubt your assertion: I just think that elaboration would prove interesting. (Also, I might think that mine salting would be even more popular, not that Arky has claimed otherwise.)

Those wanting an example of fraudulent treasure scrying can look here:
http://oakisland.esolutionswork.com/tiki-index.php?page=Treasure%20Scrying%20Fraud%20Maine%201804

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