Vox contributors Estelle Caswell and Zachary Crockett traveled to Yellowstone National Park to find “where warm waters halt” in search of a treasure buried by eccentric author Forrest Fenn. Fenn claims to have hidden a 42lb chest full of gold and gems worth an estimated one to two million dollars and wrote a poem containing clues as to the treasure’s location.
Caswell and Crocket spoke with some of the treasure hunters as well as take a stab at finding it themselves, but when they came up empty-handed they decided to leave behind a treasure of their own for someone else to find.
Last fall, my colleague Estelle and I joined the hunt. We interviewed half a dozen people who’d gone on the quest, and crafted three infallible theories that we were sure would lead to the chest. Then we headed out West to stake our fortune.
But a funny thing happens when you convince yourself you’re right: Logic cedes to psychological trickery. You form a false reality. You refuse to believe you’re wrong. You begin to ignore contradictory facts.