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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Atlantis In his 1882 book Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, onetime lieutenant governor of Minnesota, U.S. congressman, and senator Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901) revived interest in a fabulous “lost continent” first described by Plato (circa 427-347 B.C.) as having existed in the Atlantic Ocean area “beyond the Pillars of Hercules” (the Strait of Gibraltar) over ten thousand years ago. The reference is found in both of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. The entire continent, about as large as Europe, along with its highly developed civilization, was destroyed in a night and a day by an explosion and resulting tidal wave, said Plato.
      The story, which Plato said originated in Egypt, just may be based on an actual cataclysm such as the one suggested by evidence discovered at the island of Santorini, north of Crete. It appears that about 1500 B.C. there was a volcanic explosion that should have decimated the area, and though that event does not satisfy the geographical location, copying errors might account for the differences. No evidence exists for a mid-Atlantic continent, and in fact we now know much more about the actual topography of the ocean bottoms, and Atlantis is simply not there.
      It is interesting to note that Donnelly was also the genius who developed the notion that by examining Shakespeare carefully for a secret cipher, he had proven that someone else——Sir Francis Bacon——wrote the bard's work. It is a favorite crackpot idea still pursued by dilettantes who have tired of other fashionable conspiracy schemes.
      See also Bimini road.



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