Pseudoarchaeology on YouTube

star map overlaid on ground feature

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that YouTube, like most social media, has its share of misinformation disguised as “educational material.” In this article, I discuss one such example that, despite its age, is still listed as a science and technology or educational video.

A member of the Fraudulent Archaeology Hall of Fame group on Face Book (Leilehua Yuen) first made me aware in this post. The linked article is titled “150,000-year-old Ancient Astronomical Site with 3-mile-wide Star Map Was Discovered in Hawaii” and dated March 26, 2021. It was probably the title that drew Leilehue to the site, since she has a blog of her own that focuses on Archaeoastronomy of Hawaii (which I’ll link to soon, so check back).

At the article is a linked YouTube video titled, “Found It! Three Mile Wide Ancient MEGA Star Map Discovered? 2018.”

The “Star Map” feature in Kohala, Hawaii. Video Capture from thirdphaseofmoon in accordance
with Fair Use

The roughly 11 minute video is on a channel called thirdphaseofmoon, that describes it self as a “Science & Technology” channel. While they have over 803 thousand subscribers and over 298 million views, Nearly every one of the videos on this channel would barely qualify as science fiction.

Let’s look at the Star Map video as an example

The presenters of the video make a couple of claims based on something they observed on Google Earth or Google Maps.

Essentially that they found a 3-mile wide “mega star map” near the Kohala coastline of Hawaii that “generations and generations of Hawaiians” have no idea exists. At about 6:38 into the video, one of the presenters states:

I think whatever this thing is was a message or some kind of beacon or signal for somebody up there in the skies above looking down way before airplanes ever existed what’s the reason behind this I don’t know but we’re gonna find out. We don’t know how old it is [or] who built it [or] the reason for it but we got a feeling it’s something to do with some kind of navigation system it definitely matches [the] compass as I just showed to you.

In spite of a promise to “find out” the reason behind the structure or who built it, these guys did not. Or, perhaps they did, and simply kept that part from the video. After all, a solved mystery will hardly make the sort of money an unsolved one will. They claimed to inquire with locals about the structure and no one knew what it was.

So what is this “Star Map?”

First, it’s not a star map, in spite of the strange revelation by one of the presenters that one of the lines led “directly to the Pacific.” Dude. The island is surrounded by the Pacific.

Nor is it intended to be viewed from above. And, in spite of the presenter saying that it must have taken years to complete, “because they didn’t have tools,” it was probably done over the course of a year. Or less.

These guys could have answered the “mystery” in a matter of a few minutes had they actually tried.

The land is parcel number 590030040000, owned by the State of Hawaii and leased to Ponoholo Ranch for agricultural use, specifically as pasture land. Public information available to anyone on the internet.

Now, armed with the clue of “pasture land” and “agricultural use,” they could have just searched for “Ponoholo grazing” or “Ponoholo pasture” and found an article or two that talked about how they’re managing the land responsibly by using a rotational grazing strategy for horses, cattle, and sheep.

Searching for “rotational grazing Hawaii” should have finally resulted in finding the PDF article titled, “Economics of Intensive Grazing: A Case in Hawaii,” by PingSun Leung and Burton J. Smith. This article describes “a grazing cell of 338 acres, divided into 28 paddocks” and provides a sketch nearly identical to the image on Google Maps/Earth.

Mystery Solved. Total time: 12 minutes 32 seconds.

Aside from just debunking a conspiracy theorist, there are two more things this post should serve to point out.

First: You needn’t be at the site to think critically

While I’m definitely one to recommend traveling and seeing the world, not everyone can afford it. Either because of money or because of commitments that prevent them from traveling. Conspiracy theorists like Jimmy Corsetti and so many others are quick to ask anyone critical of their wacky ideas if they’ve “even been to the site.” This is, of course, a logical fallacy since critical thought need not be constrained by geography. But it is a way to bully their critics, poison the well, and generally shame their opposition while highlighting their own privilege.

None of the data needed to solve the alleged “mystery” of this feature found at 20° 6’28.08″N 155°51’15.64″W in Google Earth required a flight to Hawaii. Just click the links above and see for yourself.

In this capture from the thirdphaseofmoon video (used in accord. w/Fair Use), you can see the T-posts of the paddock fence along with the maintenance roads on either side.

Second: It highlights just how YouTube turns a blind eye to misinformation. Sure, they’ve cleaned up *some* misinformation. Most of the crazy Covid stuff seems to be gone. YouTube is a platform that is readily used as an information source for topics ranging from “how to fix your taillight,” “cook pisole in an Instant Pot,” or “tie a tie” to “what are the Northern Lights” and the “dead sea scrolls.”

Because of this, it seems likely that people put undo trust in it. After all, the pisole recipe turned out okay, the car’s taillight is fixed, and now we understand the way cosmic radiation interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field to produce a dazzling light display for those in latitudes north enough to experience it.

Content creators like thirdphaseofmoon come across with authority and present a serious their material with a serious tone. But, at the end of the day, they’re really just trying to make content that earns views. This is understandable. I have a channel of my own that I recently started, and I’m still very much in the learning stages of content creation on YouTube. Even still, I’m not expecting to be monetized anytime soon but I do wonder what it might be like.

One might think YouTube would like all “educational” or “science & technology” videos to be factual and truth-based. But the reality is that conspiracy theories sell. Content creators like Bright Insight (Jimmy Corsetti) and thirdphaseofmoon will continue to take advantage of the mystery-monger and significance-junkie that hides in us all. And, unless they start getting a black eye from it the way they did during Covid, YouTube will simply turn that eye away.

After all, they make 45% up front on the advertising from each content creator that is monetized.

So what about Star Maps in Hawaii?

As the Polynesians settled the islands of the Pacific, they used the stars to navigate by. The declination of a star provided a bearing that could be swapped for another as the first rose too high. Sequences of stars could be memorized to guide them to remote islands. And they used star compass systems, often with dozens or more stars with known bearings.

So the idea of a star compass is real enough, but what the presenters at the YouTube channel, thirdphaseofmoon got wrong was that this site is an example of one. Not only would it be impractical for the very reasons they mention (can’t see it from the ground), it also wasn’t present until ranchers started using rotational grazing!

Also, in the video, one of the presenters mentioned that he thought this could be as old as 150,000 years. Aside from the fact that he was dating the feature without any logical standard, there are two problems with it: 1) there were no people on Hawaii at that time since it was settled at some point between 1000 and 1200 CE; and, 2) that section of the island was last covered in lava at around 120,000 years ago.

About Carl Feagans 397 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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