A Famous Archaeologist Fooled Japan With Made-Up Discoveries For Decades
Shinichi Fujimura was a self-taught archaeologist who made some groundbreaking discoveries (technically all archaeological discoveries are groundbreaking, but you get the idea). He captivated the Japanese public, who gave him the nickname "The Hands of God" for his amazing -- some would say wildly implausible -- gift for unearthing miraculous finds on every single dig he went to.
But as unqualified as Fujimura was, and as unbelievable his finds were, Japan's overly polite scientific community wasn't able to properly fight back. A big part of that was that Fujimura's discoveries were crazy popular with the masses, and it's not hard to see why. He claimed that he had found man-made stone artifacts dating back 700,000 years, meaning the Japanese had entered the Stone Age roughly half a million years before the rest of the world. That's a pretty amazing head start, and a damning case that The Flintstones was blatantly whitewashing Asian prehistory.
Bjoertvedt/Wikimedia CommonsNot bad for people who would've been about four evolutionary steps back at the time.
Also not helping was the fact that Japan's scientific circles were about as hot on public criticism as they were on peer review -- that is to say, not at all. So although many actual experts personally believed Fujimura was a bag of hot air held together by a thin veneer of bullshit, few were willing to challenge him on record. But you know who has no problems making sweeping judgments of careful and nuanced scientific findings? Why, the media of course!
All along, journalists were watching the celebrity archaeologist like a hawk. And in 2000, they were finally able to catch old "God's Hands" burying fake artifacts for his team to find later. Because of his celebrity status, he had been present in some capacity at around 180 digs over the years, and everything found on any of those sites was now called into question. It set back an entire country's archaeology studies for decades. Oh hey, we've just discovered something interesting ourselves: Shinichi Fujimura sounds like kind of an asshole.
Taylor Daine is an Indianapolis-based writer and comedian who makes bad tweets at @turtledovejones.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature is the Worst: 500 reasons you'll never want to go outside again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
For more, check out The Fake Military Operation That Won WW2:
The first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR is coming to a city near (some of) you this spring! Tickets on sale now for Chicago IL (April 11th) and St. Paul MN (April 12th).
Follow us on Facebook. It's free, promise.