CPSP118G Fall Semester: Earth, Life & Time Colloquium

Hollow-Earth Antarctic Space Nazis, Homeopathy, and Alien Abductions: Who Says that Pseudoscience is Harmless?

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

For details on alien abduction claims and the sinister use of hypno-therapy, see Chapter 9 in Sagan.

We've seen some cases of pseudoscientific claims that are basically benign ("all in good fun, so what's the harm"). But it isn't always that way...

Pseudoscientists can often be benign, but their lack of critical thinking has in the past allowed unscrupulous people and movements to take advantage of them. For example, Adolph Hitler's rise to power in Germany is at least in part due to pseudoscientific movements of the early 20th Century:

Within cultures like the Third Reich, the USSR, and other oppressive authoritarian regimes, pseudoscience could flourish for a variety of reasons:

Germany in the early 20th Century had a very well-educated public and was on the cutting edge of many lines of scientific and technical research. Nevertheless, in Nazi Germany many types of pseudoscience flourished alongside real science and technology. In the realm of the Earth sciences, bizarre notions of a Hollow Earth or the World-Ice-Theory found official support.

After the end of the war, legends quickly developed about the possible survival of Hitler and some of his cronies. Among the more bizarre claims were that he may have fled to a secret base in Antarctica, or in the Hollow Earth, or off to the Moon!

Last modified: 29 September 2008