History and What-Really-Happened



What-Really-Happened: What is History?

“All photographs are accurate, but none of them is the truth. . . . The camera lies all the time.” (Richard Avedon, photographer)

Most people’s definition of history is fairly simple. It’s “what-really-happened-in-the-past.” But professional historians know that the reality of history is hardly so unproblematical. As many a policeman will assert who has tried to determine from several eyewitnesses’ reports exactly what happened in an accident, it’s often difficult to piece together different people’s versions of the “truth” and construct one coherent narrative on which everyone agrees. In fact, it’s impossible. The same is true for history which is a very messy business and, like all human enterprises, particularly susceptible to bias, self-righteousness, pride, vanity and, if not outright and intentional perversion of the truth, at least the subconscious obfuscation of some grimmer and grimier reality.

Nor is history something that can be easily defined or restricted. People import too much emotional baggage into the formulation of their histories to leave much room for impartiality. One brief event can take on thousands of different meanings when all sorts of people impose their own variations of the truth upon it. We need look no further than the crucifixion of Jesus to see how many different ways people can treat and interpret a past event. From that alone it should be clear that determining the truth about history, the elusive and illusive “what-really-happened,” is hardly likely to be a smooth or simple exercise.

But because it’s hard to come by doesn’t mean we should give up pursuing historical truth, only that we must approach it with realistic expectations of what history can deliver. If it is a glorious goal, securing a full and uncontradictory picture of what-really-happened-in-the-past is something no one will probably ever achieve. Yet as with so many human endeavors, the struggle itself has great merit and delivers all sorts of rewards, if not the full and unvarnished truth.

In my youth I used to wish I had a time machine, some device I could ride back into history so I could see for myself what-really-happened and clear up all the idiotic controversies about who did what to whom and when and why. These questions seemed like such a pointless waste of time to me back then, when one simple snapshot of what-really-happened could end so many debates once and for all.

Now, after many years of studying history I realize that, even if I could go back in time and see these things for myself, then return to my own age, I still could not necessarily convince the people to whom I brought back my report that what I was telling them was the final word, that my portrait of the past was the answer to “what-really-happened,” or that I was even doing them much of a favor. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see that even providing a video recording of some historical event and showing it to people today probably would not resolve many of our debates about the past, either. The tape would just become another point of acrimonious discussion in our on-going quarrels over the nature and meaning of history.

For example, one of the great questions about early Western Civilization is “Was there ever really a Trojan War as the great Greek poet Homer describes?” That is, did some person (possibly named Agamemnon) lead forces to some place (perhaps called Troy) and fight there for many years (maybe even ten)? A person might think that a video of all this would answer these fundamental questions, but the real truth of history is that, even if we could tape-record what-really-happened in that part of the world at that time, it’s more likely that people would only start asking questions, like “What does this tape really show?” or “Isn’t it possible that something’s happening that’s not on this tape, something crucial to our understanding of this event but that can’t be seen on the video?” It might end up a very different Trojan War but there would still be a war over Troy.

And even if a recording provided every essential fact, it would still leave open matters of motivation, such as why these things happened and why later ages did not preserve the full truth. The tape would, no doubt, fan the flames of controversy more than stifling them, and the result would only be more smoke and greater historical asthma. After the circus surrounding the speculations about President Kennedy’s assassination—even when a film of it exists!—who can deny some people’s capacity to question what’s standing right in front of them?
II. The Good News and the Bad News

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” (Harold Pinter, playwright)

For historians, this is both good news and bad news. It’s bad—all too bad, really!—that we will probably never fully understand what-really-happened-in-the-past, certainly not in such a way that sensible people will agree about historical reality. Moreover, to kill the debate would not necessarily be a good thing. Dissension is a natural and even beneficial feature of human life, and many would say that compelling people to agree on one vision of anything is tyrannical and just a bad idea. Certainly, imposing a uniform vision of history is a notion notoriously poisonous to democracy and an ingredient found in many a dictatorship. Not that that has stopped people from trying, and all too often with disastrous results. Hitler, for instance, attempted to impose his stilted, one-dimensional vision of the past on the Germans of his day. The Inquisition tried much the same in Medieval Europe, as did the socialists in Russia. Today, creationists and scientists are locked in battle over one aspect of what-really-happened-in-the-past, the origin of humanity.

Such disputes about the past are not altogether bad, I assure you, nor are they at heart even really about history in the sense of “the study of the past.” They concern most often some immediate and imposing present. Most, if not all, conflicts centered on interpretations of the past revolve around what one group of people think other people should think about some past they share.

For instance, different religious elements wish others to see Jesus’ crucifixion in a particular way, because they wish others would worship or respect him in some particular fashion. What they’re actually attempting to do is to persuade people to behave in a certain way and make particular choices in their world. It is not in the end a fight about the past but the present, because to change people’s vision of the present and the future, one must begin by altering their perceptions of the past. This basic and well-tested equation lies at the root of every political election, change of government and social revolution that’s ever happened.

And that’s the good news for historians because it means that history is anything but some remote, esoteric, pointy-headed study of what-really-happened-in-the-past. Instead, it’s a very tricky enterprise involving people’s most deep-seated beliefs and the fundamental basis of their convictions about life. Many, many people have died for their views about how the past does or should affect the world they lived in: Cleopatra, Boethius, Joan of Arc, Thomas à Becket, Martin Luther King Jr., along with every Christian martyr or Palestinian rebel who ever died before their time. Even more have been silenced or shunned for their views about the past: Ovid, Galileo, Darwin, to name but a few. To this list could be added virtually every notable person who has ever lived.

So then, history is anything but an endeavor that should be consigned to some dusty shelf on the top floor of a remote library nobody ever visits. It’s, ironically, the most modern, most relevant, most incendiary discipline there is, to judge by nothing more than the number of car bombings, shootings, incarcerations, genocides and other atrocities committed in the name of warring pasts. When people perceive some wrong has been committed against them, they feel justified in paying back their wrong-doers with equal or greater violence, which is simply their interpretation of history.

So, whether anyone likes it or not—or admits it or not—everyone cares about history because it’s from our understanding of what-really-happened back then that we guide and shape our lives. When the future is little more than a dark tunnel—and the first and foremost lesson history teaches is there’s no guaranteed future!—the only way to drive ourselves forward is by looking in the rearview mirror and guessing the best course to take. And for all our careful plans and fondest hopes, how often we still hit walls and crash and bleed! Thus, misunderstanding history causes mishaps the likes of World War II, and few people do not recognize that in some way. To avoid such accidents, to protect the future, that’s why we fight so bitterly over what-really-happened.
III. The Best Approach to History

“Nothing that has actually happened matters in the slightest.” (Oscar Wilde, playwright)

So then, how should we best approach the pocked and patchy minefield of the past? Something so central, so meaningful to our lives, should be able to be pursued with some degree of certainty, shouldn’t it? Is there any hope of recovering an unblemished and tutelary past that can operate as a reliable guide to the future? If not the full and unbiased truth about history, the exploration of the past must reveal something of value to our lives, yes? Cannot the study of the events leading up to our times contain at least some “historical truth,” even though there is little reasonable chance of actually achieving a complete and undistorted picture of the past? Or should we just throw our hands in the air and sign up for classes in the “hard” sciences where the perception exists there is no debate about facts or interpretations of truth? Ten minutes in any reputable science class will show the fallacy of that common mistaken assumption.

The answer to all these questions is that history, both as the unfolding and as the recording of the past, must proceed—and it will whether or not anyone wishes it to!—and if it cannot proceed under ideal circumstances, then too bad for those who insist on perfection! Given the natural human inclination toward bias, egotism, sloth and sensationalism, we can and must make something of the so-called “facts of history” and the data we’re left with, whatever their condition, something that at least approaches the truth even if it does not accomplish our aim of discovering the whole of what-really-happened.

And, indeed, history is not simply an exercise in futility and despair, because there are some significant pluses working in behalf of those who seek to create an honest record of the past. The fact is, even the biggest historical lies almost always contain some facsimile of truth, in spite of the liars who spawned them. And especially the most egregious perpetrators of such prevarications—those bigots, divas, cheats, and laggards who are responsible for bringing us many of our worst perversions of history—even they rarely exhibit motivations so complex that it’s impossible to shed some light on them somehow. In fact, quite often we can see through their tainted “histories” and easily distinguish what they wish we would believe from what is the more probable reality they’re distorting. Indeed, bad history is quite frequently transparent, and usually the worse it is, the clearer it is. That’s the good news.

“What is history but a fable agreed-upon?” (Napoleon Bonaparte, French general)

The bad news is, history’s most flagrant spin-meisters are hardly the only villains roaming the library. Many good and seemingly reasonable historians blur the past, too, usually under the spell of some blinding self-delusion which makes them press a point they feel must be true, something they think and hope and believe ought to be true. And if the historical data don’t support their point completely, they change the past to what it should have been.

Tacitus, for instance, the greatest historian of early Imperial Rome, was a true blue-blooded Roman who watched his world, as he saw it, crumbling around him. Although he spent his life in one of the finest ages of human history, the so-called Pax Romana (“the Roman peace” lasting from 31 BCE to 180 CE), a period which saw fewer wars, social unrest and economic burdens than the vast majority of times, Tacitus was, at least to judge from his writings, a fairly unhappy fellow. In his mind, the Romans—and especially traditional aristocrats like himself—had sold away their basic human rights, their liberty and free speech, to men who called themselves Emperors (literally, in Latin “commanders”). These emperors, instead of leading the Romans, had for the most part enslaved them, according to Tacitus, in exchange for providing the peace of a sheltered life.

That is, in allowing emperors into Rome, Tacitus’ peers, in his opinion, had purchased for themselves a gilded cage where they had locked themselves into a comfortable but restricted lifestyle with fewer personal freedoms than their noble, independent-minded forefathers had. To him, they had thrown away their greatest heritage, their liberty, for a few generations of comfortable living. One need not mention, of course, that the pursuit of those personal freedoms by unscrupulous, greedy aristocrats in the century before the Pax Romana had led to unprecedented waves of carnage and mayhem all around the Mediterranean basin. Indeed, liberty and the pursuit of personal happiness had spelled death for millions in the late Republic, so while the onset of Empire had ended Roman independence, there is little doubt that it also saved countless lives. Cages work two ways: they keep things both in and out.

Tacitus was well aware of this, as his histories show, but his knowledge of the dangers which accompany unbridled liberty didn’t hinder him in the least from sitting at his desk and scrawling out line after line recounting the abominations he saw being perpetrated on his fellow Romans enslaved to an increasingly debauched succession of emperors, most of them in Tacitus’ view incompetent perverts! And much of what he says is true, confirmed by external sources, but the spin he put on events, in particular, his failure to include certain details which did not conform with his pessimistic vision of the times, makes his history less a calm and reasoned account of the early Empire and more a call-to-arms for all liberty-loving Romans. To put it simply—albeit over-simply!—Tacitus, as a historian, is a brilliantly articulate, often quite humorous, trenchantly insightful observer of human nature, but also a crusader and a propagandist, and a bit of a whiner.

And, from such a man so full of genius and wit and contempt, the view of this age is necessarily slanted. For instance, in his Annals of Imperial Rome he scorches Nero with reproach, painting this emperor as one of the most inept leaders imaginable. In doing so, he gives us our picture of the madman who “fiddled while Rome burned.” However, any trained historian can readily see that Tacitus’ depiction of Nero as an insane despot is not an entirely neutral portrait of the emperor and may have less to do with the absolute truth than Tacitus’ political agenda. Thus, Tacitus who is often called—and rightly so!—our single best historical source for early Imperial Rome was also instrumental in leaving behind the picture of debauchery and violence we now have of that impressively glorious age, the early Pax Romana, the very pinnacle of Roman greatness and arguably of all Western Civilization.

B. Procopius

Tacitus hardly stands alone among historians in his failure to be objective or unbiased. All writers of history have a vantage point, something to prove—why else would they be writing?—and some have more than one.

Justinian: Ravenna Mosaic (click to see larger image)Procopius, who lived in the days of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (r. 535-565 CE), was the official historian of the court. Several of the books he wrote which are preserved among the historical records of the Byzantine Empire recount the glories and triumphs of Justinian’s wars and his noble efforts to help his people socially, economically and architecturally. To judge from these alone, Procopius was a fawning sycophant, a propagandist who was paid to praise and justify Justinian’s rule and, by all appearances, earned his salary in fulsome full.

But several centuries after his lifetime, another work by Procopius was unexpectedly discovered. It was called Anecdota, literally in Greek “unpublished,” i.e. the “unofficial” history of Justinian’s reign. We don’t know how or where it came to light, but the reason for its concealment is amply clear. The Anecdota entails a very different approach to the history of the period.

In it, Justinian is portrayed not as a benevolent ruler but a monster, quite literally a demon sent by the Devil to plague the Earth and kill as many people as possible. In one modern edition of the Anecdota, one of the chapters is entitled, “How Justinian killed a billion people.” This other Procopius, by all appearances the polar opposite of the propagandist, supports his assertions of Justinian’s demonic nature by citing that the maids of the palace claim to have seen the Emperor’s decapitated spirit walking about the palace late at night carrying its head in its hands.

Whether this is true or not—and, frankly, it doesn’t seem very likely—there is a greater truth behind the tale. Evidently, the powerful and prideful emperor could at times rub those near him, even his well-paid employees, the wrong way, and these discontented underlings found a way to avenge themselves, through gossip and libel. So, we can see that Procopius could live with a broad dichotomy in his professional life, to say the least. An unkind critic might call it full-blown schizophrenia. Press secretary by day and character assassin by night, Procopius, it appears, was two entirely different historians rolled into one, a single body embracing two personas and widely divergent visions of the world around him.

From this, it seems safe to say that even one individual alone can function as two different historians, incompatible eye-witnesses, and all by himself create dissension about what-really-happened-in-the-past. Thus we must conclude that the only thing we may rule out definitely as a factor in the evaluation of historical sources is the serene dispassion of its authors. History shows all sorts of people are capable of recording a vision of the past—even people with multiple personalities!—everyone except the calm and unconcerned. They don’t write history because they don’t care enough about the past to do it. An indisputable fact of history, perhaps the only one, is that it takes a certain amount of anxiety to put words on a page.
IV. Remembered, Recovered and Invented History

“(History) is the set of questions we in the present ask of the past . . . It is informed by our anxieties, by our failures, by our successes, by our hopes, by our wishes, by all the questions we have.” (Ken Burns, documentary film-maker)

In studying the records of the past, then, one is, in fact, examining propaganda of various sorts, distortions based on someone’s perception of truth but angled so as to make a better case for something than an unorganized compilation of facts might do all by themselves. In other words, all writers have a purpose in writing, or else why write? Histories are no different in that regard from novels—and sometimes in other ways as well, such as in their disdain for reality—but that’s no reason to despair of the truth. There are times we can come very close to seeing what-really-happened-in-the-past, or at least certain historical truths, if we address the data intelligently and in full awareness of the processes that guide the creation of history.

For instance, if confirmation of a certain historical event comes from several different sources whose reports appear not to have influenced one another—these are called external sourcesthat to many historians constitutes compelling evidence about the existence and nature of an event. In other words, if a soldier who fought in a battle, a general who oversaw the battle and a doctor who treated those wounded during the battle all record the same basic facts, then we can feel fairly certain things proceeded along those general lines in the course of the battle. It’s highly unlikely all these people had the same propagandist agenda. This is the sort of thing one must look for in tracking down what-really-happened.

The first thing to do, then, is to learn as much as possible about the data handed down to us as “history.” We must ask about the author—or artist, if the information comes from a work of art—and the time when that information was set down. Next, we have to ask how this information came down to us. Was it distorted, or could it have been distorted, in some way during its transmission from the time it happened to our age? These questions usually end up putting the data into one or more of three general categories: remembered history, recovered history and/or invented history. All of these come with certain advantages and drawbacks.

A. Remembered History

All history is, in one way or another, remembered history which is, at its core, the personal recollection of an individual who witnessed an event. This type of history is based on the recollections of the elderly, the living traditions that constitute the oral history of a culture. On a wider scale, remembered history is also the collective memory of a living society, all the things which that group agrees some part of their community saw and experienced, the way a grandparent tells their grandchildren about a war that took place long before the children were born. When those who did not witness an event for themselves but allow that it must have happened, pass on information about the past, memories become history, remembered history.

The greatest apparent advantage of this sort of recollection is that it comes “from the horse’s mouth”—historians call this type of source “primary evidence,” meaning it relies on eyewitnesses—and its accuracy would thus seem indisputable. Unfortunately, it is not. People tend to remember selectively and to disseminate their memories with even greater selectivity. If, as young man in battle, a grandfather became frightened and ran away, he’s not likely to tell that detail to his grandchildren or, if he does, he will probably reshape the story and make his actions seem justified. In other words, he will distort history to serve his personal interests. So, remembered history is all too often what a person chooses to “remember.”

Besides that, one grandfather’s recollection of an event often contrasts strongly with another’s, because their perspectives were different, or simply because different things catch different people’s eyes. Which grandfather’s version, then, is the real historical truth? Can we even say that one is truer than the other? And when one thinks how many grandparents there are out there all remembering their pasts and all doing it selectively, the process of creating a coherent oral history replicates itself exponentially into a seemingly hopeless pursuit of what-really-happened. So, the major drawback of remembered history, a dauntingly immense task in and of itself, is that, even if we were to collect and assemble all the data, the rememberers on whom remembered history depends, whether they mean to or not, don’t always bestow on us a full and unalloyed truth.

B. Recovered History

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” (Anais Nin, diarist)

Recovered History, the next type of historical information, will then seem at first glance a more accurate genus of data. Recovered history encompasses all information about a past that was once known but for some reason that information was lost and forgotten. Later, however, it was reclaimed, usually through a lucky accident or some sort of investigation. Today, the most familiar type of recovered history is that which comes from archaeology and the excavation of historical sites.

But it is not through archaeological work alone that history is recovered. Librarians also find forgotten manuscripts in book collections, another sort of “archaeology.” Indeed, history can be recovered from any artifacts set aside and forgotten. Moreover, if we don’t know the script or language used in a text that has been discovered, a decipherer must assist in recovering the data by decoding it. Thus, there are many places, ways and means to recover history.

Information gathered in this way seems to many less tainted with bias than remembered history, because recovered history is often based on concrete things found by chance or dug up. These data haven’t been passed down through subsequent generations which may have distorted the information even further by omitting details the copiers neglected, found uninteresting or wished to suppress. Instead, it’s usually assumed that archaeological artifacts are historically intact—that is, found just as they were in the past—which means they’re free at least of intermediate human contact. All this makes recovered history appear to reflect historical reality better than remembered history, and in many cases it does.

The actual reality is a bit more complicated, however, because there’s as much room for bias in recovered history as in remembered history. While data recovered are usually not in and of themselves biased, their interpretation very much can be. Indeed, how to place a piece of recovered history in the larger context of a civilization’s progress is often a matter of partisan debate.

Pompeii bodies (click to see larger image)For instance, there is no question that the city buried under several feet of volcanic ash in southern Italy near Naples is the Roman town of Pompeii. We find its name on the walls of the city, along with an impressive record of the decadent and luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by Romans in and around the first century CE. Life was certainly very good for Romans living there back then, until, of course, the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted violently in 79 CE and exterminated the city along with a good deal of its population. At that point things stopped looking so good.

But for historians it was a boon. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved Pompeii better than any other Roman city, which raises an important issue. How representative is Pompeii of Roman life in its day? Does this ritzy beach community present a fair picture of ancient Rome? Pompeii was, in fact, not typical of Roman cities in its day—indeed, no Roman city is exactly typical of Rome, least of all, Rome itself!—no more so, at least, than any actual modern city represents a “standard” community today. An ancient Santa Barbara of sorts, Pompeii was disproportionately inhabited by rich families who summered along its shores under the cool, vine-rich slopes of Vesuvius. These languid aristocrats supported an industry of gaming, theatre, wineries, prostitution and a wide variety of exotic religious cults. From that perspective, Atlantic City might make a better analogy.

The historian’s fundamental duty, then, is to situate this archaeological information within the greater picture of Rome left to us by history. Is Pompeii an aberration, or something typical of its day? To make generalizations about Rome in the first century CE from the information about daily life gathered along with the material evidence found at Pompeii is a difficult enterprise. It all comes down to the specific nature of archaeological data, a situation which is both a blessing and a curse. Recovered history confirms the existence of certain things in certain places at certain moments in the past, but it doesn’t tell us how widespread or even how important those things were in the larger concourse of events. To put it differently, how accurately will the remains of today’s Key West or Sun Valley inform archaeologists in several millennia about typical American life in the twenty-first century?

So, while the data of recovered history are not in debate, their interpretation and historical context all too often are. Frequently, the way the data are read turns out to fit some vision an interpreter wishes to impose on history, and this unfortunately ends up all too often saying more about the interpreter than the interpreted. The record of abuses of archaeological information in the modern world are legion and hardly restricted to archaeologists themselves. All sorts and factions of people sift the very data they seek from recovered history and make of it what they wish.

Pompeii provides an excellent case-study of such abuses, none of which is more egregious than that perpetrated by the author of the nineteenth-century, best-selling romance, The Last Days of Pompeii. He was the benighted Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose opening line of a different novel, “It was a dark and stormy night, …” has become synonymous with bad writing. Bulwer-Lytton’s reconstruction of life in ancient Pompeii suited his and his moralizing public’s view of history. A sentimental “clanking morality play” filled with evil Roman pagans and good, proto-Protestant Christians, The Last Days of Pompeii features not only the volcanic eruption that both destroyed and preserved the city, but also a slate of characters taken straight from melodrama: maudlin lovers, their evil rivals, even a blind flower girl who feels her way through the city as the ash and cinder of Vesuvius pour over her but dies in the end of a broken heart. The actual remains of the bodies of ancient Romans who were trapped in the explosion and buried in its debris purportedly fueled Bulwer-Lytton’s inspiration for specific characters, even though his romantic cast can hardly be taken to reflect any historical reality.

All in all, there’s no reason this romantic novel qualifies as “history” in any form, and I wouldn’t have mentioned it here except that the historical felony the author committed—he “read” the data recovered from Pompeii broadly, to say the least—is hardly a crime unique to him. Others have interpreted recovered histories broadly, too, and dared to suggest their ideas have some degree of historical merit. In fact, Mr. Bulwer-Lytton and his nineteenth-century readership represent only an extreme example of a danger inherent in all archaeology, and indeed all recovered history, the peril that in interpreting the data one may end up saying far more about oneself than anything or anyone in the past. So, like remembered history, recovered history clearly has its drawbacks, too.

C. Invented History

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
. . . it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
(Shakespeare, Macbeth 5.5.19-28)

Invented History is a third type of history. It entails the body of myths, often well-known to be untrue but that exist in the public conscience as “history.” These are the historical fabrications which, though they are essentially lies, enough people wish to believe they are what-really-happened that they have come to have the force of truth. Invented histories satisfy our collective need to see the past in some particular way and, even when directly challenged with hard evidence of their falsehood, people persist in speaking of them as “historical reality.”

How does this happen? The answer is quintessentially human. When confronted with historical data that don’t uphold our convictions about the past and how we feel it should be, we discard them and make up a more workable “history” that does conform to our view of the world. That tale is then widely circulated and, swept along by its popularity, gains the authority of truth through the sheer number of times it’s repeated and written down.

Scores of invented histories fill the records of the past, and no society is or has ever been exempt. For instance, even in the face of a blistering vacuum of fact, many ancient Romans believed their nation was originally founded by the descendants of survivors from Homer’s Troy, itself a notorious fiction. Likewise, quite a few people believed—many still do—there was once a continent called Atlantis. Others think the ancient Hebrews were once enslaved by the Egyptians and forced to build the Pyramids. For none of these myths is there a shred of credible historical evidence, yet modern sources for one reason or another perpetuate them.

There was no Aeneas or Atlantis, and the Pyramids were constructed at least a millennium before the Hebrews existed as a people at all, centuries before even Abraham lived, if he lived and was not an invented history, too. There is, in fact, no corroborating evidence at all for ancient Hebrews as a slave collective in Egypt at any time, but the tales of pyramid-building and the Egyptian Captivity linger on because in our time, an age ruled by questioning and dissent, we seek validation of the Bible’s stalwart truths amongst the tangible remains of ancient Egypt. And when that is not forthcoming, many choose to read biblical myths as history anyway. Their lie betrays their heart, neither of which is evil, but neither of which lives in fact, either.

Modern American civilization is no less saturated with invented history. The brave days of cowboys in the Old West, the “good ole times” when there was religious uniformity and moral behavior, even George Washington and the cherry tree are all invented histories. The last is an anecdote concocted by an early biographer who needed to say something about Washington’s childhood when nothing significant was known. There’s no doubt about it, these tales are made up, “full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing,” as Shakespeare’s Macbeth asserts, but in this case the tales “told by idiots” do signify something.

Invented histories are indeed quite significant. Whether true or not, such stories affect people’s perceptions of their own lives and can constitute a major force in their decision-making processes. While invented histories may not rest in any real way upon the facts of the past, they can affect the course of the future when those who subscribe to them make choices based on the false realities which have been concocted through these fictions. Moreover, when any event in the past, real or not, assumes some sort of moral force and society sees a purpose for carrying the story across time, it is far more likely to survive in the collective memory. Without some clear ethical value, a piece of history can seem pointless and risks extinction because of general public disinterest. Invented histories almost always have that sort of moral force—they’ve been manufactured to have it—and so they tend to persist because they meet a need that the past be significant in the lives of the living.

Invented histories are important in another way as well. They are built upon people’s deepest convictions and in that way provide valuable information, if not about any real past, about whatever current cultural climate perpetuates such a vision of history. It tells us what people in a particular time and place wanted and hoped for and were trying to become. To say invented history is “insignificant” because it’s not explicitly true is to ignore the value of ideals, aspirations and humor. One might even argue there’s no information more relevant about a society than the types of jokes and tales it tells. Lies like these are frequently translucent lids covering greater truths.

So thank goodness, then, we have these three types of history to complement one another, because in comparing remembered and recovered history with its invented counterpart we can see much further and more closely into the realities and the hearts of those who have lived before us. When it’s possible to assemble all three, these types of histories are our best guide, in fact our only guide, to the past—and also the future!
V. Conclusion

“A guy ought to be very careful in making predictions, especially about the future.” (Yogi Berra, baseball manager)

Thus, despite all the pitfalls of studying the past and the hopelessness of ever securing a completely accurate picture of what-really-happened, there’s good reason to suppose that, given access to historical sources and evidence, we can circumscribe, define and delineate the truth of past events. Moreover, we must also remember that the purpose of exploring history is not merely to uncover what-really-happened but to shed light on what is happening, because the study of history is rarely, if ever, an innocent, unprejudiced survey of the past. Rather, it’s used by factions in conflict to influence others’ judgment and affect the present, to chart our course ahead and measure our morality. Seen this way, any history is in the end a crime of sorts, the deliberate misreading of the past to justify the perpetration of some sort of present and future. If so, among the notorious felons who have “committed” history, then, is virtually every renowned individual who ever lived: all kings, popes, moral reformers, every member of al-Qaeda, Saint Augustine, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Moses, Buddha, and their like.

But because no observer or interpreter of history is unbiased and, even if one were, no one can record the absolute truth in such an imperfect medium as human language, history is, in sum, a branch of literature, where good writers—that is, ones who are persuasive and convincing—prevail by the force of their will and charisma. And even if we were not dependent on writing and had video tapes of history, it would only change the situation insofar as good editors of film, not text, would be standing at the forefront of history, shaping and reshaping our view of the past by manipulating what was and was not included, scoping out where they believe our focus and interests should lie. All great historians—indeed, most great figures of the past—are fundamentally good story-tellers with some sort of slanted message, and all who listen in are their happy, hapless victims.


6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans



6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans

Ancient civilizations look ever-more advanced with each passing year as new discoveries continue to showcase just how sophisticated they truly were.

Yet, the idea that our ancestors were able to make extended sea journeys still seems far-fetched for some people. Despite the fact that, thousands of years ago, the Phoenicians could live for months on their boats and navigate flawlessly with the stars. Indeed, any of the great ancient cultures had access to hundreds of large, sophisticated ships and plentiful manpower, along with gifted navigators.  So why not explore the unknown areas on the map?

Elephants in the Americas

Sketch of elephants depicted in reliefs in Palenque ruins, Mexico. Image Credit: W. B. Scott (Author provided)

Sketch of elephants depicted in reliefs in Palenque ruins, Mexico. Image Credit: W. B. Scott (Author provided)

Despite being non-native to the Americas, elephants were still depicted by the ancient inhabitants of North and South America using a variety of mediums.

Drawing of elephant depicted on a Montezuma jar. Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)

Drawing of elephant depicted on a Montezuma jar. Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)

Examples include the Montezuma Valley Jar, which was unearthed in 1885 at a Native American site, and the Elephant Slabs discovered in 1910 amongst Native American ruins in Flora Vista, New Mexico.

The Vai script of the ancient Mali empire can be found on the Elephant Slabs. Records from the ancient Mali empire also happen to detail multiple expeditions across the western ocean at different periods in their history. When exploring New Mexico in 1528, the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca detailed distinct groups of black-skinned natives and red-skinned natives. One of these groups was named the Mendica. Curiously enough, the Mandinkas founded the Mali empire.

Elephant Slab 2 – Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)

Elephant Slab 2 – Image Credit: Neil Harris. (Author provided)

It should be no stretch to believe that the Mali empire interacted with the Americas. At its height, it was one of the most powerful and sophisticated empires in the world. Records from the 1300’s regarding mariners trading far to the west detail one expedition as having 200 ships, and a later expedition, led personally by the emperor at the time, Mansa Abubakari, having over a thousand. As well, the Mali empire of this period is known to have been powerful enough to produce such giant forces. But, even more importantly, the South Equatorial Current would have carried the Mali empire’s ships right to the Americas.

It would seem that the Mali empire, and/or another of the great African empires, brought elephants with them during their expeditions to the Americas in the ancient past. The elephant was a primary beast of burden for the Mali empire, and it’s known that they carried elephants on their ships to different parts of the world, so it seems logical that some would have joined their trips across the Atlantic. Though, even if the elephants themselves didn’t make the journey, the Mali seafarers would certainly remember the iconic creatures.

Olmec pottery (left) – Credit: Zecharia Sitchin. Mayan sculpture (right) – Credit: Robin Heyworth (Author provided)

Olmec pottery (left) – Credit: Zecharia Sitchin. Mayan sculpture (right) – Credit: Robin Heyworth (Author provided)

Yalloch, Guatemala – Late Classic 600-900 AD – Credit: Graeme Kearsley (Author provided)

Yalloch, Guatemala – Late Classic 600-900 AD – Credit: Graeme Kearsley (Author provided)

Interestingly, native tribes throughout North America have myths describing creatures almost identical to elephants; giant beasts that slept while standing up or leaning against a tree and used “an arm like ours” to eat from the boughs of trees.

Other examples of elephants can be found in Mayan writing and sculptures, Olmec pottery, and metal plates from as far south as Ecuador.

Ecuador plate (left) – Credit: Crespi Collection. Copan, Honduras 756 AD – Credit: Shao (right) (Author provided)

Ecuador plate (left) – Credit: Crespi Collection. Copan, Honduras 756 AD – Credit: Shao (right) (Author provided)

Mayan glyphs (left) – Credit: William Gates. Mayan depiction (right) – Credit: Alfred Maudslay. (Author provided)

Mayan glyphs (left) – Credit: William Gates. Mayan depiction (right) – Credit: Alfred Maudslay. (Author provided)

Drugs of the Americas in Egyptian Mummies

Mummy of 19th dynasty King Rameses II.

Mummy of 19th dynasty King Rameses II. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

While examining the mummified remains of Lady Henut Taui, a member of the Egyptian ruling class, Dr. Svetla Balabanova came across traces of both coca and tobacco. This quickly became a very perplexing find, as neither product was grown outside of the Americas until after Columbus arrived.

The discovery ignited a firestorm in the academic community, and it was assumed that there must have been contamination or the mummy itself wasn’t authentic. But after another, thorough analysis, the find was found to be authentic.

The ability to reach and trade with the Americas wouldn’t have been out of the question for the Egyptians. They’re known to have developed massive ships capable of carrying over 250 men along with animals, food, and trading goods. They also worked closely with the Phoenicians; who are known as the greatest seafarers of the ancient world.

Architecture of the Ancient Americas

Cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA (left). Bandiagara Escarpment, Mali (right)

Cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA (left) (CC BY-SA 4.0). Bandiagara Escarpment, Mali (right) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The cliff dwellings of the American southwest share a striking similarity with those that can be found in west Africa.

The Mali empire, or groups within their realm, are responsible for the creation of the cliff dwellings that can be found in west Africa, and the Anasazi are known to have created many of the cliff dwellings found in the American southwest. However, with just the pictures alone, it’s unlikely someone could tell which ruins belonged where. The style of construction is essentially identical, as is the locations chosen and the materials used. Much of the American ruins—Palatki, for instance—are also believed to have been founded during the period of the Mali empire where records indicate trips across the Atlantic were taking place.

Additionally, Malian script and petroglyphs have not only been found throughout the surrounding region but also at the sites of these cliff dwellings. [Look to the work of Anthropologist and Linguist Dr. Clyde Winters for a thorough survey and analysis of west African script and petroglyphs in the American southwest].

The Celtic Ogham Inscriptions

Located around the four corners region of America are a number of sites which appear to show the presence of European travelers in the ancient past. Of these, what can be found at Crack Canyon in Colorado stands out.

Ogham in Ireland – Credit: MegalithicMonumentsOfIreland (Author provided)

Ogham in Ireland – Credit: MegalithicMonumentsOfIreland (Author provided)

Ogham in Colorado – Credit: Brett Ackerman. (Author provided)

Ogham in Colorado – Credit: Brett Ackerman. (Author provided)

Carved up on the wall inside the narrow canyon is a line of Ogham script; the oldest written language in Ireland. The appearance of Ogham script is inconspicuous, which can often lead to it being overlooked as simple scratches, however, researcher Bill McGlone was fortunate enough to recognize its inscription while searching the local area. After the discovery, the site was sealed off with a tall iron gate by the park’s service to prevent damage.

The inscription highlighted –
Credit: ViewZone. (Author provided)

The inscription translates to: “[We are the] People of the Sun” and “On the day of Bel, the sun will strike here”.

As it happens, the day of Bel is the day of the summer equinox. And when the site is observed on the summer equinox, the inscription is perfectly illuminated; not on the days before and not on the days after.

It’s an inscription reminiscent, in content and style, of a waypost that would have been utilized by the ancient Druids. If someone were to find such a marking, they’d know who left it and have a means to determine the time of the year.

Interesting to note, the Druids are well known for their obsession with monitoring time and the movements of celestial bodies. In the stories of them that remain, they’re said to have been prolific world travelers.

It’s worth mentioning that Bill McGlone wasn’t the first to recognize these markings. In 1975, historian Dr. Donald G. Rickey—Chief Historian for the Bureau of Land Managementut, at the time—was investigating the site of a 19th century battle when he happened across a series of markings in a stone wall. He initially termed them, “spear-sharpening marks”. However, as luck would have it, he traveled to Scotland a few weeks later where he happened to be taken to a museum showcasing examples of Ogham script. He instantly was reminded of the markings he’d seen in Colorado.

Upon returning, he brought researchers out to investigate the site. Their findings led Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University to come out and examine the inscriptions, and he agreed that they appeared to be examples of authentic Ogham script. They then raised their discovery to the community at large, but it was quickly disregarded as being impossible under the logic that no Europeans had visited the Americas before Columbus.

Highlighted Ogham found on the Isle of Man – Credit: ViewTeam (Author provided)

Highlighted Ogham found on the Isle of Man – Credit: ViewTeam (Author provided)

Since that time, hundreds of other Ogham inscriptions have been discovered in the surrounding region. Photographs of 180 such inscriptions can be found in the 1994 book The Colorado Ogham album by Donald L Cyr.

The Fuente Magna Bowl

Found in 1958 near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, the Fuente Magna Bowl quickly earned the nickname “The Rosetta Stone of the Americas” because of the two forms of script written along the inside: a proto-Sumerian ancient alphabet and the language of the Chavin; which may be the oldest civilization to have inhabited the region.

Proto-Sumerian script on the Fuenta Magna Bowl. Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team, (Author provided)

Proto-Sumerian script on the Fuenta Magna Bowl. Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team, (Author provided)

Numerous experts have gone out of their way to examine the bowl, though they’ve all found themselves stumped as both the dating and inscriptions appear authentic, despite the improbable nature of the artifact. The unique style of the proto-Sumerian inscription is also what would be expected from a distinct proto-Sumerian group.

Typical Chavin symbols on the Fuenta Magna Bowl Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team. (Author provided)

Typical Chavin symbols on the Fuenta Magna Bowl Credit: Bernardo Biados’s research team. (Author provided)

Curiously, other Sumerian artifacts have been found in South America, though none seem to be quite as enigmatic as the Fuente Magna Bowl.

Hieroglyphics of the Mi’kmaq

Written languages are almost nonexistent in Native American cultures to the extent that only a single written language is known to have existed in all of America and Canada. That single language belongs to the Mi’kmaq—a culture that lived along the Atlantic Coast—and it happens to share a bizarre number of similarities with Egyptian hieroglyphics.

A comparison of Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)

A comparison of Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)

In the early 18th century, a French missionary by the name of Pierre Maillard meticulously documented the hieroglyphs of the Mi’kmaq culture during his time in the area. However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that professor Barry Fell meticulously poured over the missionary’s work and published a comprehensive side-by-side of the Mi’kmaq writing with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. He’d found an astonishing number of similarities between the two forms, which led him to suggest that the Egyptians must have reached the Atlantic Coast at some point in the past: as that seemed more reasonable than simply dismissing it all as a staggering coincidence.

Viewing the research, academics agreed that the similarities were too great for it all to simply be a coincidence. However, with isolationism still in full swing, the idea of Egyptians reaching America was written off as nonsensical. Instead, an alternative explanation was devised: the French missionary must have made it all up. This new theory, being the only explanation that fits conventional history, posits that Maillard devised the entire system of writing in order for the Mi’kmaq to be able to record the teachings of Christianity.

Why he would use hieroglyphics—the writing of a pagan culture—instead of his own native writing is baffling. Yet the theory becomes even more absurd when one remembers that hieroglyphics weren’t translated until the next century. So how did he manage to match so many of the symbols and concepts?

Further examples of similar Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)

Further examples of similar Egyptian and Mi’kmaq hieroglyphs. Credit: Barry Fell. (Author provided)

Top image: San Lorenzo Colossal Head 1, Olmec culture, Museo de Antropología de Xalapa, Mexico. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The article ‘Restoration | 6 Discoveries that Show the Pre-Columbian Americas Traded Across the Oceans was originally published on minethehive and has been republished with permission.


L.H. Clegg, “The Black origin of American civilization”, A Current Bibliography on African Affairs, No.1 (1976)

P.S. Martin, G.I. Quimby and D. Collier, Indians Before Columbus, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970)

Harris, Neil J. (1971). The mystery of America’s Elephant plates, Science Digest, 69:74-77

Joe, Rita; Choyce, Lesley (2005). The Míkmaq Anthology. Nimbus Publishing

Van Sertima, Ivan (1976). They Came Before Columbus. Random House

McManus, Damian. A Guide to Ogam, Maynooth 1991



10 Examples Proving The US Government is an Expert at Turning Countries into ‘Shitholes’



The outrage over Trump’s crude comments about foreign countries has gone above and beyond outrage attributed to what the U.S. has done in those countries.

by Rachel Blevins

The mainstream media’s outrage over reports that President Trump referred to Haiti and El Salvador as “Sh*thole countries,” has gone above and beyond any outrage attributed to the fact that the United States has let its Central Intelligence Agency have free reign over the governments it overthrows and the countries the U.S. invades.

As a result, the countries that have received more than their share of “freedom” from the U.S. have turned into the very definition of “sh*thole” countries, and have spent years attempting to recover.

Here are the top 10:

1. Iran, 1953

When Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq drew criticism for nationalizing the British oil company that was the precursor to BP and challenging the Shah, the CIA launched a coup to overthrow him. The State Department released a trove of documents in June that gave insight into the CIA’s role in the coup d’état.

The documents revealed that in a March 1953 memorandum to President Eisenhower, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles listed “the elimination of Mossadeq by assassination or otherwise,” as a method of repairing ties with Iran, restoring oil negotiations, and stopping a “Communist takeover.”

After the U.S. overthrew Mossadeq, it guaranteed that Iran’s monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, would become the head of the country.

His oppressive rule led to the Iranian revolution, which resulted in “a brutally repressive regime in Iran, client terrorist groups around the Middle East, savage sectarian violence in Iraq and a nuclear standoff.”

2. Guatemala, 1954

When democratically-elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz challenged the United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation, in order to call for laws that would be fair to Guatemalan farmers, the CIA stepped in.

The agency overthrew Arbenz in 1954 and installed a military dictatorship in his place that resulted in a series of bloody U.S.-backed dictators.

It should be noted that Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was in Guatemala at the time. He reportedly encouraged Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to “go the opposite direction” of Guatemala in order to stay in power, because the country’s free and open society was what “allowed the CIA to penetrate and overthrow Arbenz.”

3. Congo, 1961

When Patrice Lumumba, the first elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, led a campaign to oust the ruling Belgians from Congo, the U.S. responded by helping to overthrow and assassinate him.

Lumumba’s murder, which has been called the “most important political assassination of the 20th century,” was funded by the U.S and Belgium., employed partners in Congo, and was ultimately carried out by a Belgian execution squad.

As The Guardian reported:

“The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville); a rival central government by Lumumba’s followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville); and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai.

“Since Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the west saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.”

4. South Vietnam, 1963

When the U.S. didn’t approve of the political influences in Vietnam in the 1950s, it installed Ngo Dinh Diem as leader of the new “South Vietnam.” While he was not liked by the people, he allegedly won 98 percent of the vote.

The U.S. sponsored the overthrow and assassination of Diem in 1963, and then spent the next 10 years at war, fighting for the fictional government it created. The cost was hundreds of billions of dollars, nearly 60,000 American lives and around 2 million Vietnamese.

A portion of the Pentagon Papers claimed that the U.S. is to blame for the deadly coup:

“For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility. Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government….

“We maintained clandestine contact with them throughout the planning and execution of the coup and sought to review their operational plans and proposed new government.”

5. Indonesia, 1967

When Indonesian President Sukarno agreed to let the Communist Party have representation in his government, the U.S. responded by funding the murder of all “suspected communists” in 1965. The military became the most powerful establishment in the country, and Sukarno was overthrown in 1967.

Nearly half a million people were killed by military death squads in Indonesia in 1965, on the basis that they were “associated with the Communist Party.”

In July 2016, an international panel of judges concluded that the killings qualified as “crimes against humanity,” and that the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia were all complicit.

6. Chile, 1973

The U.S. spent nearly $4 million on 15 covert action projects in order to stop Marxist candidate Salvador Allende from winning Chile’s 1964 presidential election, after President Richard Nixon toldthe CIA to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.”

After another $1 million was spent during the 1970 election on spreading propaganda, the U.S. changed tactics, and launched a military coup.

Former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger is quoted saying:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

7. Haiti, 1991

In 1991, Haiti was celebrating the election of its first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. However, just eight months later, Aristide would be overthrown by a military coup d’état.

While the US government aided Aristide in escaping Haiti and seeking exile in France, Aristide eventually returned to Haiti and was re-elected, only to once again be forced to step down.

In an interview with Democracy Now, the twice deposed president accused the US of ‘kidnapping’ him. As he told Amy Goodman:

No, I didn’t resign. What some people call ‘resignation’ is a ‘new coup d’etat,’ or ‘modern kidnapping.‘”

The coup d’état against Aristide in 2004 wasn’t the first time the US Government involved itself in Haitian politics.

From 1957 to 1986, the US supported the brutal regimes of Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. Haitians describe their regimes as a “Reign of Terror.”

As Time reported:

His secret policemen, the Tontons Macoutes (Creole for “bogeymen”), murdered and tortured his opponents, sometimes leaving a victim’s severed head on display in a marketplace as a warning to others. They also collected unofficial taxes and tribute from cowed Haitian businessmen and peasants.

8. Iraq, 2003

The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, based on the claims that he had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

It should be noted that while the CIA initially claimed that there were WMD’s in Iraq, in a final report released in 2005, the head of the Iraq Survey Group said:

“After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted. As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible.”

9. Libya, 2011

The opposition forces looking to overthrow Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi received support from then-Secretary of State Clinton. She even pushed President Obama to begin a bombing campaign in the country, in order to oust Gaddafi.

Obama has described U.S. intervention in Libya as the “worst mistake” of his presidency, namely “failing to plan” for the aftermath of Gaddafi’s defeat.

10. Syria, 2013

The Obama Administration announced in 2013 that the U.S. would begin providing weapons, equipment and training to “moderate Syrian rebels” in an effort to “keep the Syrian opposition going against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”

While Assad is still in power today, it is no secret that the U.S. has gone out of its way to overthrow him, and as a result, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated that over 480,000 people have been killed, and the war-torn areas of Syria that have experienced involvement from the CIA now resemble exactly what President Trump would describe as a “shithole” country.

Breatharianism: Science Examines People Who Claim Not to Eat & Here’s What They Found



Breathariansim refers to the practice of sustaining oneself without the need for food. This concept is not new; in fact, for thousands of years, various cultures around the world have written of this ability.

In the third book of the Yoga Sutras, for example, approximately twenty-five siddhis are listed as having extraordinary abilities.

This is a common theme throughout Buddhism, and various other spiritual traditions as well. Clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and many more are all special traits attributed to the siddhis, as is the liberation from hunger and thirst.

Though modern day science has seen evidence of extended human capacities like telepathy, remote viewing, and pre-cognition, very little work has gone into examining breatharianism. Some brilliant minds do believe it’s possible, however, including Nikola Tesla.

In 1901, he made the following argument:

“My idea is that the development of life must lead to forms of existence that will be possible without nourishment and which will not be shackled by consequent limitations.

“Why should a living being not be able to obtain all the energy it needs for the performance of its life functions from the environment, instead of through consumption of food, and transforming, by a complicated process, the energy of chemical combinations into life-sustaining energy?” (source)

Liberation from food and hunger does indeed sound unrealistic and, from what we know of modern day biology, impossible.

But the history of science has shown us many times that the impossible can become the possible in an instant. A great example of this is the recent discovery that humans can actually influence their autonomic immune system using the power of the mind.

Let’s take a look at what happened when people who claimed that they don’t eat were examined by science.


The Qigong practice of Bigu, and Qigong practices examined by science have yielded some extraordinary results.

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was and is able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock.

This is one example of many; you can find the study and read more about it here.

The Catholic Charism of India also involves the claim of living well without eating food. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, explains the concept in his book Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities:

“The implication is that the human body can transmute ambient energy into nutrients, and through the practice of cultivating this ability one can live comfortably for as long as one wishes without food, and possibly without drinking water. This is described as a siddhi in the Yoga Sutras as Pada 111.30: liberation from hunger and thirst.

“This flies in the face of a substantial body of medical knowledge, which has established that the human body can last about five days without water, and a few weeks at most without food. Beyond that, you’re dead.

“As a result, despite a host of historical examples of people lasting for years without eating, and sometimes without drinking, most nutritionists and biochemists regard such claims to be ridiculously impossible, and the people who make the claims—currently dozens to hundreds worldwide — to be seriously delusional. Some of those claimants may well be delusional. But all of them?”

Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani is a local of Ahmedabad, India, who claims that at the age of 11, the Hindu goddess Amba appeared to him and told him that he would no longer have to eat food.

He has apparently lived in a cave since the 1970s, and claims not to have eaten anything for most of his 81 years (as of 2012).

Jani was tested in 2003 and in 2010 at Ahmedabad’s Sterling Hospital by Dr. Sudhir Shah and his large team of doctors. Dr. Shah is a consultant neurologist who has been practicing for 20 years, as well as a professor and department head of neurology at KM School of PG Medicine and Research.

During the first test, which took place in 2003, Jani was monitored 24/7 by hospital staff and video cameras, where it was confirmed that Jani neither ate nor drank.

He also did not show any physiological changes which, according to modern day medicine, should be impossible.

This test took place over a 10 day period. Although it might not seem like a significant amount of time, to go 10 days without food and water and not experience any physiological changes is actually quite astounding.

He was tested again at Sterling Hospital in 2010 from April 22nd to May 6th. This time, he was observed by thirty-five researchers from the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, among other organizations.

This time, Jani was observed to not eat or drink for two weeks. As with the previous test, he exhibited no deleterious effects from this abstention.

This truly is unbelievable, and goes against everything we know about both human physiology and the nutritional requirements of the body.

As one might expect, neither these tests nor their results were published in medical journals.  The studies have also generated a lot of criticism. The main arguments against these tests were, however, quite weak in my opinion.

One argument holds that Jani escaped the scrutiny of the hospital staff and video cameras with the assistance of his disciples, and that he did in fact eat/drink something.

Yet hospital staff maintains this is impossible because he was monitored around the clock, as per the requirements of the study.

Even with these criticisms, the evidence is solid and appears to correspond with a known siddhi.

A statement from a scientific group (which included the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences) given to ABC News back in 2012 reads as follows:

“We realized that, if this whole phenomenon really exists in a human being even for 15 days, it would have immense application in unraveling secrets of medical science and its application for human welfare.

“Instead of ignoring this case, we selected to investigate further, in a rational and scientific way. We again make it clear that the purpose of this study was not to prove or disprove a person, but to explore a possibility in science and study a new phenomenon.” (source)

It’s an interesting case, isn’t it?

Michael Werner

Another case comes from a doctor of chemistry named Michael Werner, who is the managing director of a pharmaceutical research institute in Switzerland. This man claims to not have eaten any solid food since January 1st, 2001.

He was studied in a ten-day observational test in October 2004 by the intensive care unit at a hospital in Switzerland, and as with Jani, displayed no significant or dangerous physiological changes. These results have yet to be published, however.

Dean Radin offers an insightful explanation for why these results might not ever be published, and for why not much attention has been given to this phenomenon:

“Perhaps the most curious aspect of the breatharian tests is the in-your-face nature of the claimed phenomenon and yet an almost complete lack of interest from the scientific community.

“If it is possible to live well without eating food, this ought to be easy to demonstrate, and if it held up, the scientific and social consequences would be astounding.”

The fact is, as with many other observed phenomena that science can’t explain, most researchers regard things like this as ridiculous and extremely unlikely, and therefore don’t even take the time to look into them.

They dismiss the claims out of hand rather than approaching them with scientific neutrality and curiosity.

Another reason for this silence could be simple fear; researchers rely on funding from various parties, and they know it will be denied them if the topic seems too ‘out there.’

They also know what kind of criticism they would face from the mainstream scientific community should they go ahead and publish a study on something so esoteric.

Werner learned of breathariansim from an Australian spiritual teacher names Jasmuheen, who teaches how to transition from eating to not eating.

And Jasmuheen has also been the subject of a study, but she began showing signs of stress, high blood pressure, and dehydration after just 48 hours.

As most of you reading this know, this is not something you can just go and try. It can be very dangerous, and there have been multiple reports of deaths occurring as a result of people engaging in this practice.

Clearly, there is much more involved than simply refraining from eating or drinking.

The Science of Fasting

Science is now showing just how beneficial food deprivation can be. Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging and a Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, gave a great TED talk on fasting in 2014.

This practice has been shown to generate new stem cells, repair DNA, fight cancer, fight both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

It’s also interesting to note that all caloric restriction models in animal studies have shown significant health benefits and improvements, including a longer life span.

Why Men With Dark Intentions Destroyed the Library of Alexandria


Ancient civilizations are a fascinating topic, and it’s clear we have so much to learn from them when it comes to our way of life, our health, our technology, science, nature, consciousness, and the nature of reality itself.

Be it information in the form of written text, or advanced ancient structures like the Kailasa temple, one of 32 cave temples and monasteries located within the Ellora Caves in India, their knowledge — how they acquired it and how they constructed their masterpieces — remains a complete mystery.

With all of our modern day technology, knowledge, and wisdom, there is still no way to accomplish some of the feats of civilizations past, feats that required an extremely advanced understanding of mathematics, physics, and more.

There is evidence that many ancient achievements required an extremely advanced form of technology as well, and many examples to prove these assertions.

Another fascinating point to make is the fact that many groundbreaking discoveries within the realm of quantum mechanics, as well as neuroscience, closely resemble the teachings of several ancient civilizations and native American populations.

This is why today, there are conferences held every single year between academics and spiritual leaders, like Tibetan monks, to discuss how they relate, and books like Blackfoot Physics continue to be published.

Sometimes it seems we are re-learning much of the knowledge kept by the ancient world.

This is exactly why the burning of the library of Alexandria was such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient.

It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.

The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.

Manly P. Hall describes it as follows in The Secret Teachings of All Ages:

“Prior to the Christian Era seven hundred thousand of the most valuable books, written upon parchment, papyrus, vellum, and was, and also tablets of stone terra cotta, and wood, were gathered from all parts of the ancient world and housed in Alexandria, in buildings specially prepared for the purpose. This magnificent repository of knowledge was destroyed by a series of three fires.”

It was burned down in approximately A.D. 389  by Caesar, from the order of Theodosius I. Also known as Theodosius the Great, he was a Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395, ruling over both the Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire.

Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge.

There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge: e.g., HerodotusPlato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).

According toe H.P. Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled:

“They (the Rabbis of Palestime and the wise men) say that not all the rolls and manuscripts, reported in history to have been burned by Caesar, by the Christian mob, in 389, by the Arab General Amuru, perished as it is commonly believed; and the story they tell is the following.:

“At the time of the contest for the throne, in 51 B.C., between Cleopatra and her brother Dionysius Ptolemy, the Bruckion, which contained over seven hundred thousand rolls all bound in wood and fire-proof parchment, was undergoing repairs and a great portion of the original manuscripts, considered among the most previous, and which were not duplicated, were stored away in the home of one of the librarians.

“Several hours passed between the burning of the fleet, set on fire by Ceasar’s order, and the moment when the first buildings situated near the harbor caught fire in their turn; and *** the librarians, aided by several hundred slaves attached to the museum, succeeded in saving the most previous of the rolls.”

Manly P. Hall writes that the books that were saved were actually buried in Egypt and in India, and until they are discovered, “the modern world must remain in ignorance concerning many great philosophical and mystical truths. The ancient world more clearly understood these missing links – the continuity of the pagan Mysteries in Christianity.”

These pagan mysteries, Hall writes, are the heart of mysticism, which actually represents true Christianity. This makes sense; any civilization, you would assume, would seek out the knowledge and wisdom of those prior. It’s one of many paths to truth, or at least new discoveries that help one in their contemplation of truth.

Hall states:

“There are persistent rumors that Jesus visited and studied in both Greece and India, and that a coin struck in His honor in India during the first century has been discovered. Early Christian records are known to exist in Tibet, and the Monks of a Buddhist monastery in Ceylon still preserve a record which indicates that Jesus sojourned with them and became conversant with their philosophy.

“Although early christianity shows every evidence of Oriental influence, this is a subject the modern church declines to discuss. If it’s ever established beyond question that Jesus was an initiate of the pagan Greek or Asiatic Mysteries, the effect on the more conservative members of the Christian faith is likely to be cataclysmic.”

Information like this, among other topics like life on other planets and sacred and magical (considered mythical by many) information about shamanism, magic, and sorcery, predate modern Christianity.

Different sects of Christianity, after the ancient Romans created their own version, now condemn these teachings even though they were embedded within the original doctrines.

This is one of many reasons the aristocracy of ancient Rome ordered the library destroyed, because it would ruin the foundations of what they were creating — a new religion for man to follow, one whose doctrine contradicted the one prior.

This type of religion was forced upon people, and those who did not follow were subject to death and exile. Anybody who questioned these new doctrines received harsh penalties throughout the ages, especially as time progressed and the expansion of civilization, from that point, moved forward.

“The early Christians used every means possible to conceal the pagan origin of their symbols, doctrines, and rituals. They either destroyed the sacred books of other peoples among whom they settled, or made them inaccessible to students of comparative philosophy, apparently believing that in this way they could stamp out all record of the pre-christian origin of their doctrines. In some cases the writings of various ancient authors were tampered with, passages of a compromising nature being removed or foreign material interpolated.”

Conquering the World

Before the creation of a certain type of Christianity by ancient Rome, truth seemed to be more apparent, but darkness seemed to have permeated the world of light even prior.

Atlantis is a great example, as Plato, among other ancient scholars, told us that the eventual demise of this civilization was brought forth by ego-driven desires that soon developed among them, when the Atlantean kings were “lured” from “the pathway of wisdom and virtue.”

“Filled with false ambition, the rulers of Atlantis determined to conquer the gods into his holy habitation and addressed them. Here Plato’s narrative comes to an abrupt end, for the Critias was never finished.”

“A technologically sophisticated but morally bankrupt evil empire – Atlantis – attempts world domination by force. The only thing standing it its way is a relatively small group of spiritually pure, morally principled and incorruptible people – the ancient Athenians.

“Overcoming overwhelming odds… the Athenians are able to defeat their far more powerful adversary simply through the force of their spirit. Sound familiar? Plato’s Atlantean dialogues are essentially an ancient greek version of ‘Star Wars.’” – Ken Feder, professor of archaeology, taken from his book Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

The sacred teachings and artifacts in Atlantis were perverted and used for selfishness by some. These teachings made their way into Egypt, and eventually into ancient Greece, until the Roman Empire dominated the world, burned the library where many of these teachings were probably held, and disseminated their own version of knowledge and truth across the land.

Do some of these books lie within the libraries of the Vatican today? If much of the mythical stories we’ve heard and read about are real, they would indeed bring down the modern day understanding of religion and spirituality that’s been spread by the families of ancient Rome.

Are we looking at a cover-up of knowledge regarding “what is,” and have we been deceived?

The burning of Alexandria’s library was one tragic event involving the destruction of ancient knowledge, similar to the mass Native North American genocide that saw even more knowledge of humanity lost, stolen, and hidden.

This is why examining ancient sources of truth, or whatever is left of it, is always interesting, because it’s hard to receive something that’s been created and used as the backbone of deception — modern day religion.

Note: The Library of Alexandria was said to be burning for 6 months….



How Britain Tricked a German Battleship into Sinking Itself

The Admiral Graf Spee

Just before he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, the German officer penned a final note.

“For a captain with a sense of honor, it goes without saying that his personal fate cannot be separated from that of his ship,” wrote Hans Langsdorff on December 19, 1939, in a hotel room in Buenos Aires. Langsdorff finished his letter to the Nazi ambassador to Argentina, lay down on a German battle flag, and shot himself.

Langsdorff had been the commander of the Admiral Graf Spee, which had been prowling the South Atlantic the week before, and now was resting on the bottom of the harbor at Montevideo, Uruguay. Many a captain has chosen to atone for the loss of his ship by going down with it. Langsdorff had suicide with a pistol two days after he had ordered his ship to be scuttled.

“I can now only prove by my death that the fighting services of the Third Reich are ready to die for the honor of the flag,” he wrote.

But what had led Langsdorff to kill himself? Why meet death in a hotel room instead of at sea? Therein lays one of the most remarkable sea battles of all time: how the Royal Navy bluffed a German battleship into sinking itself.

Of course, the Graf Spee had been born into deception. It was built in the early 1930s, when Hitler pretended to honor the Treaty of Versailles, which limited Germany to warships less than 10,000 tons. With the Graf Spee weighing in at 16,000 tons, the Germans initially gave it the innocuous name of “panzerschiff” (armored ship).

The British had a more ominous—and more accurate—name for the Graf Spee and her sisters Deutschland and Admiral Scheer: “pocket battleships.” Though a third the size of a true battlewagon like the Bismarck, the Deutschland-class ships packed battleship-class eleven-inch guns, rather than the eight-inch guns of a heavy cruiser. The first all-diesel warships, their combination of speed, long range and heavy armament made them ideal raiders to hunt merchant vessels.

When war broke in September 1939, the Graf Spee was dispatched south in search of easy prey in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, a vast area made for the long-legged pocket battleship. The Graf Spee‘s career was short but productive, accounting for nine ships totaling 50,000 tons.

Yet the noose was closing as Allied task forces scoured the oceans for the elusive German raider, whose location was marked by the distress calls transmitted by its victims. One of those task forces consisted of the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the light cruisers HMS Achilles and HMS Ajax, all under the command of Commodore Henry Harwood.

HMS Exeter

Based on a message from the Graf Spee‘s last victim, the merchant ship Doric Star which was sunk off South Africa, Harwood shrewdly guessed the raider would sail west toward the River Plate estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. At 06:10 on December 13, 1939, Harwood’s force sighted smoke on the horizon, which turned out to be the Graf Spee. Lindemann had also spotted the British cruisers, but judged them to be destroyers guarding a convoy. Here there would easy pickings for a battleship, he thought until it was too late.

HSM Achilles

The Battle of the River Plate was a battle that should never have happened. The British cruisers with their eight- and six-inch guns steamed at full speed toward a battleship whose eleven-inch guns outranged them, like a boxer with longer arms than his opponent. Yet the Graf Spee also had a glass jaw. With no Axis ports in the South Atlantic, there was no place to seek refuge or repair: if the ship was damaged, it would have to sail 8,000 miles, past the Allied naval blockade of Germany, to reach a German port. In fact, the Graf Speehad been instructed not to engage heavy enemy warships.

HMS Ajax

Nonetheless, in the best naval tradition, Langsdorff ordered full speed and sailed toward the British. Perhaps he had no choice. With his ship and its engines badly in need of maintenance after months at sea, he couldn’t count on escaping the cruisers, which would shadow him while they called in reinforcements.

It was three sharks versus a killer whale in a maelstrom of shell splashes, gun smoke and twisting ships. As with hunting packs, the British ships attacked from different directions to force the Graf Spee to split its fire. When the Graf Spee concentrated on the Exeter, the Achilles and Ajax would close and unleash a salvo to draw the battleship off their sister (both the German and British ships launched torpedoes, none of which hit)

Nonetheless, within the first thirty minutes of the fight, the British were losing. The Exeter had been badly damaged, the heavy cruiser losing two eight-inch gun turrets and with its bridge smashed. The Achilles and Ajax were also hit. With its bigger guns and a speed almost as fast as the cruisers, the German battleship might have finished off its opponents and continued its voyage.

Damaged Exeter

But as so often in battle, the enemy sees a less rosy picture. The battleship had taken a hit from an eight-inch shell that damaged its fuel system so badly that it only had sixteen hours of endurance. Making it back to Germany was impossible, and Lindemann well knew that more Allied warships were on their way. With no Axis ports in the South Atlantic, the only refuge lie in a neutral harbor. The Graf Speelimped toward Montevideo, Uruguay, shadowed by the battered but still feisty British task force.
Yet when the German battleship sailed into the estuary of the River Plate at Montevideo, Lindemann realized that instead of refuge, he had boxed himself into a trap. Under the Hague Convention, a belligerent’s warships were only allowed to remain in a port belonging to a neutral nation for twenty-four hours. And he could see the British warships waiting outside the harbor.

And now came subterfuges worthy of a spy novel. International law also stipulated that before a belligerent’s warship could leave a neutral port, it had to wait at least twenty-four hours after an enemy merchant ship had left that port (thus giving the prospective victim time to get clear). So, Britain and France arranged for their merchant ships to leave Montevideo at intervals to keep the Graf Spee from sailing, while Harwood’s ships made smoke outside the three-mile limit of Uruguayan waters to give the impression of a larger force. With a skill in deception that they would frequently display during World War II, the British spread rumors that an aircraft carrier and battlecruiser were waiting outside the port. In truth, those ships would take several days to arrive from Gibraltar: the only reinforcements the British actually received was the dilapidated old heavy cruiser Cumberland. Even now, with Harwood’s force low on ammunition, the Graf Spee might have been able to escape to neutral but Nazi-sympathizing Argentina.

Yet Lindemann was crushed by contradictory pressures that would have strained any captain. The pro-British Uruguayan government had ordered him to leave or be interned. Berlin ordered that the battleship should not be interned. Seeing no point in sacrificing his crew in what he believed would be a suicidal battle against a superior British force, on December 17, 1939, Lindemann ordered the Graf Spee to be scuttled. Uruguayan authorities allowed the captain and crew to proceed to Buenos Aires, where they discovered the Argentinean press had labeled them cowards and the government intended to intern rather than repatriate them to Germany. Two days later, Lindemann shot himself.

The loss of the Graf Spee was a blow to the prestige of Hitler’s small but expensive navy, for which even the loss of a single heavy warship was significant. Within six months, the Bismarck would join the Graf Spee on the Atlantic sea bed. Within eight months, HMS Exeter would be sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of the Java Sea.

In the Battle of the River Plate, psychology counted as much—and perhaps more—than firepower. The British cruisers had taken a beating, but the Royal Navy’s proud tradition of aggressiveness in the face of daunting odds had paid off yet again. Regardless of who had the bigger guns, in the end, the Germans thought themselves beaten—and the British did not.

And the Graf Spee? She still rests at the bottom of Montevideo harbor. Last year, the Uruguayan government announced it would auction off an artifact recovered from the vessel: a bronze eagle gripping a swastika in its claws. It will be a tawdry ending for an epic battle and a tragic fate.

Vitamin D Is More Effective Than Flu Vaccine, Study Says



Conventional health authorities claim getting a flu shot each year is the best way to ward off influenza. But where’s the actual science backing up that claim?

If you’ve repeatedly fallen for this annual propaganda campaign, you may be surprised to find the medical literature suggests vitamin D may actually be a FAR more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least a decade.

Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying CAUSE of influenza.

His hypothesis1 was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.2 It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.3

The following year, the largest nationally representative study4 of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu.

In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:

“The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency.”

Vitamin D Works Better Than Flu Vaccine If Your Levels Are Low

Since then, a number of studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review5,6 of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu.

Overall, the studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. As reported by Time Magazine:7

“… [P]eople who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …

“For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.

“People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say.”

Like Cannell before them, the researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that “[t]his may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body’s natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …”8

According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.9 Another statistic showing vitamin D is a more effective strategy than flu vaccine is the “number needed to treat” (NNT).

Overall, one person would be spared from influenza for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement (NNT = 33), whereas 40 people have to receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent one case of the flu (NNT = 40).

Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. In other words, if you’re vitamin D deficient to begin with, vitamin D supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine.

Optimizing Vitamin D May Be Your Best Defense Against Influenza

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available.

Your diet also plays a significant role of course, as it lays the foundation for good immune function.

A high-sugar diet is a sure-fire way to diminish your body’s innate ability to fight off infections of all kinds by radically impairing the functioning of your immune system.

However, I do not agree that fortifying more processed foods with vitamin D is the best solution, although I realize it could potentially have a more widespread impact among people who remain unaware of the beneficial health effects of sunlight in general.

I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is only recommended in cases when you simply cannot obtain sufficient amounts of sensible sun exposure.

It’s also important to point out that, contrary to what’s reported by most mainstream media, including NPR report above, most people cannot optimize their vitamin D levels by getting the recommended 600 IUs of vitamin D from fortified foods.

The dose you need really depends on your current blood level of vitamin D.

If it’s very low, you may need 8,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The only way to know how much you need is to get tested at least once or twice each year.

If you’ve been supplementing for some time and your levels are still below 45 ng/mL, you then know you have to increase your dose further.

If using an oral supplement, also make sure to boost your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake, as these nutrients help optimize vitamin D levels.

Other Studies Supporting Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Influenza

In a study published in 2010,10 researchers investigated the effect of vitamin D on the incidence of seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.

The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 430 children, half of which were given 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day while the other half received a placebo.

Overall, children in the treatment group were 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu.

According to the authors:

“This study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.”

Another study11 published that same year concluded that infection-fighting T-cells need help from vitamin D in order to activate. This is yet another mechanism that helps explain why vitamin D is so effective against infections.

When a T cell recognizes foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, it sends activating signals to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene.

The VDR gene then starts producing a protein that binds vitamin D in the T cell. A downstream effect of this is PLC-gamma1 protein production, which subsequently enables the T cell to fight the infection.

At the time, lead researcher Carsten Geisler told Food Consumer:12

“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or ‘antenna’ known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D.

“This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”

With that understanding, it’s no wonder flu shots don’t work. Flu vaccines do absolutely nothing to address the underlying problem of vitamin D deficiency, which is effectively hindering your immune system from working properly.

In fact, flu vaccines tend to deteriorate your immune function, and their side effects can be significant.

‘Gold Standard’ Studies Ignored by Mainstream Media

The gold standard of scientific analysis, the so-called Cochrane Database Review, has also issued several reports between 2006 and 2012, all of which decimate the claim that flu vaccinations are the most effective prevention method available.

In 2010, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusion, which was completely ignored by mainstream media:13

“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration).

“An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines …”

So, despite the fact that 15 of the 36 studies included were biased by industry interests, they still couldn’t come up with evidence supporting the conventional claim that flu vaccines are the best and most effective prevention available against influenza!

Scientific Reviews Show Vaccinating Children and Elderly Is Ineffective

Cochrane has issued several reports addressing the effectiveness of flu vaccines on infants and the elderly — two groups that tend to be the most targeted by flu vaccine advertising — and all have had negative findings. For children:

1. A large-scale, systematic review14 of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children under two. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.

2. In 2008, another Cochrane review15 again concluded that “little evidence is available” that the flu vaccine is effective for children under the age of two. Even more disturbingly, the authors stated that:

“It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months old in the USA and Canada.

“If immunization in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”

3. In a 2012 review,16 Cochrane concluded that “in children aged from two years, nasal spray vaccines made from weakened influenza viruses were better at preventing illness caused by the influenza virus than injected vaccines made from the killed virus.

Neither type was particularly good at preventing “flu-like illness” caused by other types of viruses. In children under the age of two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.”

The available evidence with regards to protecting the elderly is equally abysmal.

4. In 2010, Cochrane concluded that:17 “The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”

5. Cochrane also reviewed whether or not vaccinating health care workers can help protect the elderly patients with whom they work. In conclusion, the authors stated that:18

“[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.”

Annual Flu Vaccinations May Raise Risk of More Serious Infections

Other recent studies have shown that with each successive annual flu vaccination, the protection afforded by the vaccine appears to diminish.19, 20

Research published in 2014 concluded that vaccine-induced protection against influenza was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.21

The flu vaccine may also increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections.

  • Data shows people who received the seasonal flu vaccine in 2008 had twice the risk of getting the H1N1 “swine flu” compared to those who didn’t receive a flu shot.22
  • Compared to children who do not get an annual flu vaccine, those who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza.23

Research also shows that statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may undermine your immune system’s ability to respond to the flu vaccine.24,25,26

When you consider the low efficacy rate of the flu vaccine in any given year, getting vaccinated if you’re on a statin may well be a moot point.

Independent science reviews have also concluded that influenza vaccine does not appear to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.27,28,29,30

Other Foods and Supplements That Send Pathogens Packin’

Besides vitamin D, there are a number of other foods and supplements that can be beneficial for colds and influenza, including the following:

Garlic:31 Garlic has natural antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal activity and has long been hailed for its immune boosting effects.

The Cochrane Database, which has repeatedly demonstrated that the science in support of the flu vaccine is flimsy at best, has also reviewed studies on alternatives, including garlic.32

Unfortunately, such research is harder to come by, as there’s no financial incentive driving it.

Still, in the singular study identified by the Cochrane group, those who took garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo, and, when they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter — an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group.

While this may not seem overly impressive, it’s still better than the results achieved by the flu drug Tamiflu!

Zinc: A Cochrane Database Review of the medical research on zinc found that when taken within one day of the first symptoms, zinc can cut down the time you have a cold by about 24 hours.

Zinc was also found to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms. Zinc was not recommended for anyone with an underlying health condition, like lowered immune function, asthma or chronic illness.

I do not recommend taking more than 50 mg a day, and I do not recommend taking zinc on a daily basis for preventive purposes as you could easily develop a copper imbalance that way.

Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients.

You can take several grams every hour (use the liposomal form so you don’t get loose stools), till you are better. I never travel without a bottle of our liposomal C.

A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.

Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.

Medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake, reishi and turkey tail.

Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.

Olive leaf extract is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.

Vitamin D Is Important for Optimal Health and Disease Prevention Year-Round

In related news, researchers are also homing in on how vitamin D may help protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The video above discusses research33 showing vitamin D extends lifespan in nematode worms by 30 percent and helps slow or even reverse accumulation of beta amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disease and many other chronic diseases. As noted in a recent issue of Orthomolecular Medicine News:34

“Research on the health benefits of vitamin D continues at a rapid pace. There were 4,356 papers published in 2015 with vitamin D in the title or abstract and 4,388 in 2016 …”

Among some of the most impactful studies are ones demonstrating:

Health benefits from sun exposure unrelated to vitamin D production. One recent review concluded benefits of sun exposure includes lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia, myopia, macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

My belief is that the majority of these benefits are due to the near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths.

Avoiding the Sun’s Rays is a Misinformed Trend Causing Global Rise in Cancers

According to the author:

“The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve [vitamin D] concentrations of 30 ng/mL or higher … and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.”

Also, while intermittent sun exposure is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, “the risks of these cancers is dwarfed by the reduced risk of internal cancers from sun exposure,” William Grant, Ph.D. writes.

Benefits of higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy. Research demonstrates preterm births steadily decrease as vitamin D levels increase among pregnant women. In one study, raising vitamin D blood concentrations from 20 to 40 ng/mL decreased preterm births by 59 percent.

Reduction in cancer risk from vitamin D supplementation. One pooled analysis showed that women with higher levels of vitamin D had much lower incidence rates of cancer — from a 2 percent per year cancer incidence rate at 18 ng/mL to 0.4 percent at 63 ng/mL.

Overall, maintaining a vitamin D serum level of 45 to 60 ng/mL year-round may be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to safeguard yourself against chronic disease and acute infections.

When it comes to seasonal colds and influenza, the rate of protection you get from vitamin D is actually greater than what you’d get from a flu vaccination, and you don’t have to worry about potential side effects either — which in the case of the flu vaccine can be far worse than the original complaint.

While death and complete disability from a flu vaccine may be rare, so is dying from the flu itself. I strongly recommend weighing the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect of the flu vaccine relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed with the flu.

Remember, most deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to bacterial pneumonia, and these days, bacterial pneumonia can be effectively treated with advanced medical care and therapies like respirators and parenteral antibiotics.

By Dr. Joseph Mercola

From the author: The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans, but the surging numbers of visitors to Mercola.com since I began the site in 1997 – we are now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the Internet – convinces me that you, too, are fed up with their deception. You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.

Sources and References: