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Justin McHenry — Lemuria: A True Story of a Fake Place

emuria: A True Story of a Fake Place (book cover)

Is Lemuria a real place, or the fever dream of crackpots, mystics, conspiracy theorists, and Bigfoot hunters?

Below the waters where the Pacific and Indian Oceans lies a lost continent. One of hopes and dreams that housed a race of beings that arrived from foreign planets and from which sprang humanity, religion, civilization, and our modern world. It was called Lemuria and it was all fake.

What began as a theoretical land bridge to explain the mystery of lemurs on Madagascar quickly got hijacked to become the evolutionary home of humankind, the cradle of spirituality, and then the source of cosmological wonders. Abandoned by science as hokum, Lemuria morphed into a land filled with ancient, advanced civilizations, hollowed-out mountains full of gold and crystals, moon-beings descending in baskets, underground evil creatures, and a breast-feeding Bigfoot.

The history of Lemuria is populated with a dizzying array of people from early Darwinists to conspiracy spouting Congressmen, globetrotting madams, Rosicrucians, Hollow-Earthers, sci-fi writers, UFO contactees, sleeping prophets, New Age channelers, a “Mother God”, and a tequila swigging conspiracy theorist. Historian Justin McHenry provides a thoughtful exploration of how pseudo-science hijacked the gentle Victorian-era concept of Lemuria and, in following decades, twisted it into an all-encompassing home for alternative ideas about race, spirituality, science, politics, and the paranormal.


Justin McHenry is a writer, historian, and archivist. His writing has appeared in magazines such as FATE, newspapers, journals, and various online publications like Belt Mag, 100 Days of Appalachia, and he edited the collection of stories, The Garden at Rose Brake. He received his Master’s degree in History from West Virginia University. His new book is Lemuria: A True Story of a Fake Place.

Shermer and McHenry discuss:

  • how organisms get to islands from mainlands
  • rafting sweepstakes vs. land bridges.
  • Alfred Russel Wallace and Island biogeography
  • how lemurs get to Madagascar
  • Zoologist Philip Sclater, 1864, first to propose a sunken continent beneath the Indian Ocean as a land bridge to account for biogeographical facts
  • Ernst Haeckel, The History of Creation: proposed Lemuria as an explanation for the absence of proto-human missing links: monogenists vs. polygenists
  • Haeckle to Hitler
  • German romance sturm and drung science of hidden forces: Alexander von Humboldt, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • James Churchward, Mu, lost continent in the Pacific Ocean
  • Land of Mu and Atlantis
  • Lemuria and human origins
  • L. Sprague de Camp, Los Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature
  • Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis, and the romance of a lost past
  • continental drift and plate tectonics and Lemuria
  • Lemuria and Theosophy, anthroposophy and other occult beliefs
  • Madame Blavatsky theorized that Australia was a remnant inland region of Lemuria that Aboriginal Australians and Aboriginal Tasmanians were of Lemurian and Lemuro-Atlantean origin
  • Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism, Rosicrucians
  • romancing the past
  • Golden ages
  • lost races
  • pseudohistory, pseudoarchaeology and mythology.

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This episode was released on June 22, 2024.

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