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The hollow Earth idea holds that Earth is not a solid sphere but is hollow and has openings at the poles. Furthermore, an advanced civilization, the Agartha, exists within Earth. Their people include advanced spiritual and technological masters who sometimes foray into the atmosphere in their UFOs.
In the late 17th century, British astronomer Edmund Halley proposed that Earth consists of four concentric spheres and "also suggested that the interior of the Earth was populated with life and lit by a luminous atmosphere. He thought the aurora borealis, or northern lights, was caused by the escape of this gas through a thin crust at the poles."*
In the early 19th century, an eccentric veteran of the war of 1812, John Symmes (d. 1829), promoted the idea of interior concentric spheres so widely that the alleged opening to the inner world was named "Symmes Hole."* In Hamilton, Ohio, his son erected a monument with a stone model of the hollow earth to commemorate his dad's incessant lobbying for an expedition to the North Pole to find the entrance to the world below. Martin Gardner writes that "It took Byrd's flight over the North Pole to deal a death blow to 'Symmes' hole' "(Gardner 1957: 41). However, later advocates hail Admiral Byrd as having actually gone into the hollow earth at both poles! This strange belief seems to be based on nothing more than the fact that Byrd referred to Antarctica as "The Land of Everlasting Mystery" and once wrote: "I'd like to see that land beyond the (North) Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the Center of the Great Unknown." Such evidence apparently suffices for the alternative scientist.
Edgar Allan Poe used the theme of the hollow earth in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864 and Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), the creator of Martian adventures and Tarzan of the Apes, also wrote novels set in the hollow Earth. Legends often ignite the imagination of fiction writers and fiction often ignites the imagination of the pseudoscientist.
In 1869, Cyrus Reed Teed, an herbalist and self-proclaimed alchemist, had a vision of a woman who told him that we are living on the inside of the hollow Earth. For nearly forty years, Teed promoted his idea in pamphlets and speeches. He even founded a cult called the Koreshans (Koresh is the Hebrew equivalent of Cyrus).
In 1906, William Reed published The Phantom of the Poles, in which he claimed that nobody had found the north or south poles because they don't exist. Instead, the poles are entrances to the hollow Earth. In 1913, Marshall B. Gardner privately published Journey to the Earth's Interior, in which he rejected the notion of concentric spheres but swore that inside the hollow earth was a sun 600 miles in diameter. Gardner, too, claimed that there were huge holes a thousand miles wide at the poles. Byrd flew over the North Pole in 1926 and over the South Pole in 1929, but he didn't see these entrances to the nether world. It is pointless to point out this fact or to refer hollow-Earthers to satellite photographs that do not show holes at the poles. They are sure that there is a government conspiracy to cover up the truth.*
In the 1940s, Ray Palmer, co-founder of FATE, Flying Saucers from Other Worlds, Search, The Hidden World, and many other pulp publications, teamed up with Richard Shaver to create the Shaver Mystery, a legend of a world of hollow earth people and an advanced civilization. Shaver even claimed to have dwelled with the inner Earth people. According to Richard Toronto, the FBI blamed Palmer and Shaver for concocting "flying saucer hysteria" in 1947, making them the true founding fathers of modern UFOlogy.*
The belief in a hollow Earth had some adherents in Nazi Germany. There is even a legend that says that Hitler and his chief advisers escaped the last days of the Third Reich by going through the opening at the South Pole.
In 1964, Raymond W. Bernard published The Hollow Earth - The Greatest Geographical Discovery in History Made by Admiral Richard E. Byrd in the Mysterious Land Beyond the Poles - The True Origin of the Flying Saucers. The book is out of print but available on the Internet. Bernard also authored Flying Saucers from the Earth's Interior. His real name was Walter Siegmeister. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "Theory and Practice of Dr. Rudolf Steiner's Pedagogy" (New York University, 1932). In his Letters from Nowhere, Bernard claims to have been in contact with great mystics in secret ashrams and with grand lamas in Tibet. He was, in short, another Gurdjieff. Dr. Bernard "died of pneumonia on September 10, 1965, while searching the tunnel openings to the interior of the Earth, in South America."* Bernard seems to have accepted every legend ever associated with the hollow Earth idea, including the notions that the Eskimos originated within the Earth and an advanced civilization dwells within even now, revving up their UFOs for occasional forays into thin air. Bernard even accepts without question Shaver's claim that he learned the secret of relativity before Einstein from the Hollow Earth people.
Finally, Diane Robbins has seen the light and claims that ADAMA receives telepathic messages from Telos, a city beneath Mt. Shasta in northern California, which are channeled by Lailel and provide all kinds of wonderful messages about perpetual peace and prosperity. You can read about it online or you can order "The Call Goes Out from the Subterranean City of Telos" for $20 plus shipping. That seems like a small price to pay for such esoteric wisdom. There truly is a seeker born every minute.
books and articles
Gardner, Martin, The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988). Chapter 30: "Who was Ray Palmer?"
Kossy, Donna J. Kooks-a Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief
(Feral House, 1994).
Prytz, John M. "The Hollow Earth Hoax," Flying Saucers, June 1970.
The Unnatural Museum's Hollow Earth Page by Lee Krystek
Alaska Science Forum/The Hollow Earth Theory by Larry Gedney
The Hollow Earth (a short history)
The Hollow Earth (1964) by Dr. R. W. Bernard, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
North Pole Inner Earth Expedition These folks are either innovative scammers or deranged people with a lot of time on their hands. "The science is real," they say. That's good to know. Jim Ernst pointed out in a e-mail that if you follow the link to the project sponsor you will find this at the bottom of the page:
The North Pole Inner Earth Expedition (NPIEE) is for entertainment purposes only. We reserve the right to direct investments and donations to any legitimate purpose pursuant to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe and of the Earth. If you want to keep up with the project and hear from the best sources on Earth, listen to X-Squared Radio.
I guess "innovative scammers" is the correct designator for these folks.