The Curious Case of Moses Wilhelm Shapira

The revered Fortean John A. Keel wrote about Moses Wilhelm Shapira. A 19th Century antiquities dealer who died of suicide by revolver in a hotel in Rotterdam. He also may have found the most exceptional biblical relic of the modern age.

You can find Moses’s story recounted by John Keel in “The Eighth Tower” on page 17, but it’s a complex story which has evolved some. Even in the last year. We thought the Wikipedia entry on Moses was solid if you’d like more information after our summary below.

Moses was an an adventurous buisnessman in the 19th Century. He became infamous during the relic craze of the 1880’s. Some of his antiquities were proven to be genuine and some were proven to be hoaxes.

His most famous and controversial find was the “Shapira Strips,” which contained a different version of the book of Deuteronomy and an eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: I am GOD, thy GOD.”

Shapira Scrolls Rendering *public domain

When Moses presented these scrolls to experts at the time, they declared them a forgery. This disgrace ultimately lead to Moses taking his own life. However, that is not where the story ends, and it didn’t end in John’s book either. It’s still debated today. If they’re proven to be authentic, these scrolls would be about as old as the Dead Sea Scrolls. And that 11th Commandment might be hard for some people to take to take.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are used as evidence by some biblical scholars of divine intervention. The modern Christian Bible IS remarkably similar to the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their accuracy over time IS remarkable. Yet, if this is proof of divine words, aren’t all of the Dead Sea Scrolls divine? Even the texts found by Moses Wilhelm Shapira?

One of the more interesting open questions is how Moses came to be in possession of these scrolls. Here we had a businessman with a spotty past in relics. How did he get a hold of (possibly) one of the greatest historical biblical finds of all time? According to Keel, some shepherds wandered into his shop and offered them up. Shapira’s account of how he came into possession of the scrolls varies. We find Keel’s account more likely given Shapira’s penchant for showmanship.

Why does it matter? Beyond the historical and biblical significance of Moses Wilhelm Shapira’s find, we see how quickly foundational theory becomes forgotten. Regardless of whether or not Shapira’s find is proven true, fragments of the Book of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yet, they didn’t make it into most current versions of the Bible. In case you’re unfamiliar, Enoch’s book is a wild ride.

Biblical history like all other history is subject to constant change caused by new discovery.

Does this mean there is no God? No Jesus? No Christian Church? Of course not. Shapira himself converted to Christianity. As a society we’ve unnecessarily conflated history and fact with religion. If our standard of what God intended to say is dictated by the age of his words, God will always be changing his mind. Religion is Faith pure and simple.

The Curious Case of Moses Wilhelm Shapira remains unsolved and as such becomes a grand reminder: Even our deepest held beliefs are subject to change. We shouldn’t apologize for changing our mind based on new information. For example, we at Fortean Winds are people who believe wholeheartedly in science, and we’ve been proven wrong time and time again.

To us, that is science. We’re all just learning. So, let’s be open to new discoveries and follow their threads wherever they may lead. Keep your faith close to you while we do, our research has lead us to believe Faith has a power of its own.

We do believe science will ultimately solve the mystery of the authenticity of Moses Wilhelm Shapira’s find. What that means is entirely up to you.

The Oldest Human Anomalies

For our first ancient history post we thought it made sense to start at the beginning. Evolutionary history is interesting, and the competing species of humans, is also an interesting piece of our history which is still being uncovered. In terms of evolutionary history, we’ll just say something resembling humans existed 6 million years ago and one of those species became Australopithecus.

From Australopithecus developed the genus homo somewhere around 2.8 million years ago, and from a data driven anomalists perspective, this is where things start to get interesting. They started making stone tools, and that gives us more to go off of than the fossil record.

First stone tool dated 3.3 million years ago. *fair use

There are certainly many mysteries buried in our deep past, but we simply have no way of knowing what they are unless we find a fossil or remnants of humanity.

Theories abound involving everything from aliens to monsters. Yet, we’re lucky to find bones which predate the homo genus. So, we don’t hold out much hope for discovering links to anomalies we study in the time before civilization.

We’ll just point out the one anomaly we just told you and go back to fossils. The genus of homo is supposed to have coincided with the rise of the making of stone tools. Yet, the picture above shows a stone tool existing 500k years before the homo genus. This is odd. A distant human ancestor was using stone tools.

When the homo genus arrives on the scene (2.8 million years ago), they have bigger brains and more tool making.

A huge barrier in front of our window to the past is created by the fossil record (or lack thereof). Not everything that dies creates a fossil. Bones turn to dust unless something intervenes.

So, in order to preserve bones and DNA we need something to die in a specific way, or under specific circumstances. Something like a dying creature falling into tree sap (a la Jurassic Park) will do it. Many fossils are contained in layers of rock, and these layers give us a good idea of when they existed.

Yet as you can see from the modern record, fossil preservation is somewhat random. Therefore, many creatures have come and gone on this planet, and we have no idea what they were.

From what we currently know, humanity began or was located in Africa. Our ancestors left Africa in two waves. The first wave occurred between 130k to 100k years ago. The second wave came around 70k to 50k years ago.

Here is another area which is ripe for theory and exploration. Why did they end up settling where they did and when? Australia 65k years ago, Eurasia 60k years ago and Americas 15k years ago. Shifting geography and migration patterns account for much of the movement in this time, but we find the specifics of where these groups chose to settle fascinating.

Many ancient dwelling are located near water sources which makes perfect sense, but what about the ones which are not? Why mine granite rocks 500 miles away from the Egyptian pyramids? Seems an awful long way to carry them. We’re just using Egypt as an example of a strange megalithic site. There are many more. Why was Stonehenge built? No one knows. Period. Thus, as humanity begins to build and create art. We find evidence of our first anomalies.

We’ll look forward to exploring some of the ancient sites with you in greater detail. For example, the “Baghdad Batteries” are likely actual batteries which date back to 300 b.c.

Now that’s an anomaly.

Coming Soon:


Modern Era

Information Age

Occam’s Razor, UAP’s and an Unfortunate Association

We keep hearing and seeing this association and it’s just plain wrong on so many levels we can’t even begin to count.

Often the argument goes like this, “UFOs don’t exist because Occam’s Razor says the simplest explanation is always the correct one. Therefore, if you see something resembling a balloon even though it doesn’t behave as one, it’s a balloon and a trick of the light.” This line of logic (against the existence of UFO/UAP) extends itself to conclude the reason we haven’t explored UFOs in earnest yet, is indicative of the fact they don’t exist.

It’s the tool of lazy skeptics and it demonstrates ignorance. First, it demonstrates an absolute misunderstanding of the concept of Occam’s Razor. From Encyclopedia Britannica:

pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, ‘plurality should not be posited without necessity.’ The principle gives precedence to simplicity: of two competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed as “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.”

Until it’s necessary to make a concept more complicated don’t.

That doesn’t mean it’s the correct answer. It was not designed to be irrefutable logic. It’s a way of looking at data and research so that we don’t draw false conclusions. There are lots of other ways to interpret data. Some scientists adhered to Occam’s Razor more stringently and found it helped them as they advanced their work. Such as William of Ockham from whom the concept draws its name (Ockham’s Razor).

passaic new jersey ufo uap sighting proof

Occam’s Razor (as it is now known) is not always correct. We can use business as an analogy. Your lemonade stand makes 10 dollars a day. Every Monday you make 12 dollars on Monday for three months. You conclude that Mondays are the best day of the week for lemonade because it’s the start of the work week. Simple explanation.

Yet, after three months Mondays go back to 10 dollars a day, and they never go back to 12. You come to find out there were two separate construction projects nearby driving traffic which are now completed. Mondays were better days as that is when they were permitted to stop traffic and the day was arbitrarily given to them by the city.

Your simplest explanation was not the best one, and it fell apart based on the complexities of the system.

Because the system doesn’t care if your explanation is the simplest, and the correct answer in the case of business is the answer which gives you the most money. Hopefully, the insight drawn by understanding the complexities of the system, develop into something we can replicate (more lemonade money), then we can turn it into a guideline, rule, law or working theory.

Further explanation on theory from PBS

A stringent adherent to Occam’s Razor might say their explanation was still correct. It doesn’t matter if the date was arbitrarily handed out, Monday was the start of the work week and the best day for lemonade.

Do you see how many lemonade sales this scientific zealot would lose? Not being able to see that his sales or “the cause” was beyond his theory would not allow him to progress. He would only be able to progress at random, and he would never be able to progress in the sales of lemonade to construction workers where his data showed the most promise.

This incorrect perception of Occam’s Razor is being repeated in the public sphere in relation to UFO/UAP. It’s being used to explain away every public and governmental sighting that occurred.

This is not new. The Air Force has attempted to explain valid UFO sightings as “A bird with four lights” (bulletin of Atomic Scientists Apr 1973). The media and the skeptical portion of the public will often use this logic to refute sightings, but this only serves to prevent data from entering the public domain. It’s irrelevant. Data is data.

The construction workers aren’t buying your lemonade. The bird does not have four lights, and saying the bird does…is the same as saying the sun revolves around the earth. Everything old is new again. We at Fortean Winds do not expect this form of zealotry to abate. It is an insistence on the old set of values, the old set of data, and it never wins. Because in the end: Data is data.

UAPs/UFOs exist. We have every form of confirmation we could ask for. People who hide behind this incorrect form of Occam (Ockham’s) Razor are hiding from this simple fact: If every sighting is not the simplest explanation, they require more work to discern which are anomalous and which are not. If you accept that even one sighting is anomalous, you’re forced to ask what that means.

This is simply not a question people are comfortable with, and the reality is we don’t know what it means.

Yet, we’re not willing to look away and see a bird with four lights.

The 2007 Ohare UFO Sighting: That’s no plane.

“Airplanes just don’t react like this” stated a United Airline ramp worker. Several United Airlines pilots, mechanics, ramp workers and tower personnel reported a large grey disk in the sky above Gate 17 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on November 7, 2007, making the O’Hare UFO sighting one of the most famous reported. 

Around 4:30 p.m. a variety of witnesses said the object was dark grey and up to 24 feet in diameter. The saucer-like shape silently hovered 1,900 feet below the cloud deck. The airport tower and management were notified, raising the concern that the object would endanger flight operations. 

After approximately 20 minutes the object suddenly takes off, bursts through a thick cloud layer creating a donut hole vacuum, indicating a large energy force. 

Alleged UFO sighting at Ohare

The story, originally reported by the Chicago Tribune, was picked up by various news outlets and was widely discussed by researchers. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dismissed the incident as a weather phenomenon.  United Airlines has refused to comment on the event. 

Airplanes just don’t react like this

United Airline Ramp worker

NARCAP (National Aviation Reporting Center on Aviation Phenomena) has filed a report that states the FAA failed to detect the presence of this object and did not consider the eyewitnesses. Of which there were many. The report expresses concern with aviation safety.  Which is very similar to the conclusions reached in the 2021 Federal UFO Report.

Through the Freedom of Information Act the audio recording of the tower communications has been obtained we’ve taken you right to that moment in the clip below.

Author: LinX, Editor: RamX


Hilkevitch, Jon (January 1, 2007) “in the sky! A bird? A plane? A….UFO? Chicago Tribune 

NARCAP Technical Report 10 Haines, et al 2007

Hockomock Swamp & The Ghost of “Old Anawan”

“The Place Where Spirits Dwell.” Seriously, that’s what the name Hockomock means in the Algonquin language. So, naturally the place has been filled with ghost stories long before the first settler arrived. Human artifacts dating back 9000 years were found there. When the settlers did finally show up, they renamed the place “Devil’s Swamp.”

Located in southern Massachusetts. The Hockomock swamp is a massive fresh water vegetated system. The largest in the state, and home to 13 rare and endangered species. This allows much of the area to remain protected as 5000 of the roughly 6000 acres are owned by the Fish and Wildlife Division. Which means there is a massive wetland, likely filled with anomalies. Indeed, all manner of high strangeness has been reported there. Cryptids, UFOs and Poltergeist Activity.

The Poltergeist activity reported covers both hauntings and phantoms. You can read more about how we classify these two types of reports in our Fortean Winds Poltergeist Activity Overview.

To sum up, a haunting is your classic ghost to us. Someone who used to be living returned from the dead in spirit form. A phantom covers a wider range of poltergeist activity, such as moving objects and disembodied voices.

Before we get into a few of the more well known Hockomock ghost stories, worth noting that Hockomock is home to the Bridgewater Triangle. This is an area of the country where all manner of strange and paranormal activity is reported. Sightings of Bigfoot, UFOs and ghosts are more frequently reported here than in most other areas of the country. It’s also been the home to some awful murders, and some researchers in the region believe these violent deaths (as well as suicides in the Freetown Fall River State Forest) contributed to the amount of hauntings and poltergeists.

The most well known of these Bridgewater Triangle ghost stories is the story of Anawan Rock.

Annawan was a sachem of the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag’s assisted King Phillip of France in his war against the newly formed English colonies (what was then/now New England). Benjamin Church (who became a spiritual father of the US Army Rangers) had Native American allies of his own. Church utilized the tactics of his Native American allies against Annawan and captured him at what is now known as “Anawan Rock” in Hockomock Swamp. Church wanted to spare Annawan’s life, but while he was away, Annawan was beheaded.

It is around Anawan Rock many of the Hockomock ghost stories center. Rumors of a haunting in the form of Annawan(we won’t get into the different spelling of Annawan and Anawan…wikipedia it if you like…it’s a thing), have been around the area for centuries. We could only find one account of an eyewitness account (friend of a friend). Which was from a paranormal researcher Edward Lodi who said after giving a presentation at a high school, a woman he found credible told him she’d seen a vision of Native Americans from the past.

photo by Marc Belanger

According to our veracity system, A single eyewitness account just isn’t enough, unless we flat out believed the witness telling us face to face. We’re all human and we all reserve the right to believe someone telling us something. Yet, this is the closest we could find to an eyewitness account of a haunting outside of anonymous internet stories. In our opinion, this makes the apparition/haunting portion of the Anawan Rock ghost story likely false.

The more interesting tales of Anawan Rock to the Fortean Winds research revolve around the tales of strange lights and phantom voices. Many accounts of strange “rotten” smells coming from the area of the rock and of course…wherever there is weirdness around…you find UFOs. We find that whacky and interesting. There are enough of these accounts en masse from multiple unfamiliar witnesses, and at various times over the last 30 years, that we can say there is likely something weird happening around Anawan Rock and the Bridgewater Triangle. We’ll just need to collect the data piece by piece and see if it all makes sense at some point.

Adding this one to the Bridgewater Triangle case file and filing it under Poltergeist Activity as it primarily deals with the Fortean Winds POV on hauntings and phantoms around Anawan Rock.

Conclusion – Hauntings: Likely False Phantoms: Likely True

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