As part of the new XpLrR partnership between Scott Wolter and J. Hutton Pulitzer, the two men have agreed to do a 39-part series in which they rehash each old episode of Wolter’s 2012-2015 TV series America Unearthed. As a testament to how little planning went into this first product of the pair’s joint venture, the first two reviews appeared on Pulitzer’s Soundcloud channel as audio podcasts, while this, the third edition, appeared as a grainy webcam livestream video on Pulitzer’s private Facebook page, to an audience of approximately 300 people, before being uploaded to YouTube with a bombastic set of opening graphics that saddle Wolter with Pulitzer’s self-styled moniker, naming them both “History Heretics.” (He also ascribed to Wolter one of his own Twitter handles rather than Wolter’s Twitter handle.) Despite this being an XpLrR production, Pulitzer wears his Treasure Force hat and brands the video with the Treasure Force logo alongside the XpLrR title card. (Note: This is the pyramid logo, not the steampunk one of his own face that he used for Treasure Force: Commander’s Quest.) Pulitzer is never exactly “on brand,” but the sheer number of different brands he throws together make him one of the most ineffective fringe marketers I’ve ever seen.
It’s the summer doldrums, and it seems that many fringe history heavyweights are on vacation right now, and the lower echelons are trying to keep cool in the shade. The C-listers like Scott Wolter and Hutton Pulitzer seem to have gotten tired of me pointing out their errors and lies, so the two of them moved their weekly rehashing of old America Unearthed episodes from Soundcloud to a Facebook live stream on Pulitzer’s personal Facebook page (not his author page, Investigating History page, or any of his others), so that only a small number of their fans following their social media accounts can join their mutual lovefest and watch the Dutch angle live stream of a web cam video of Pulitzer’s computer screen displaying web cam images of the two men. The number of viewers was 313 as of this writing. I’m blocked from viewing their social media. Pulitzer promises to put the video up on YouTube at some point, but for now only those fans he has accepted as personal friends on Facebook (or at least hasn’t blocked, like me) are able to view the video. Who is afraid of the truth now? Apparently the people who are trying to hide their lies and talk only to true believers. [Update: The video is now on YouTube, and I will review it tomorrow.]
So it seemed like a good time to do some archival research. In so doing, I found a strange claim that shows the risks of not researching primary sources.
The great thing about mythology is that the stories can be applied to any particular situation. This was true in ancient times, and it remains true today. As with literary interpretation, the audience brings to the story at least as much as the story gives to them. Tonight’s episode of Ancient Aliens, S11E07 “The Wisdom Keepers,” makes good use of the relative freedom myth provides to imagine that blinkered native people the world over were hoodwinked into worshiping space aliens as gods and therefore make them into the characters of their myths. Since a myth is a fantastical story to begin with, there is less to get wrong than when ancient astronaut theorists make various claims about physical artifacts, genetics, and other more scientifically topics.
L. A. Marzulli and Brien Foerster Discuss Megalithic Ruins, Decide Native People Couldn't Have Built Any of Them
I’m sure you will remember that last year Newsweek released a “special edition” devoted to conspiracy theories about secret societies. Time magazine rushed out a competing special issue as well, based on content from an earlier Life magazine special edition on the same topic. Today at the grocery store I saw yet another entry in the series under the History Channel’s logo. The magazine rack proudly displayed a shelf of Secret Societies, a thick, glossy, magazine-style History Channel review of “modern conspiracies” and similar garbage. This publication is separate from History’s official magazine and carries only the network’s logo. P. T. Barnum once said no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, but I think perhaps understates the case
Since the middle nineteenth century fringe historians have claimed that the perfection of the Great Pyramid of Cheops speaks to a supernatural origin. A new study by the Glen Dash Research Foundation and the Ancient Egypt Research Associates finds that the pyramid is lopsided, with its western side 5.55 inches (14.1 cm) longer than the other three. Granted, over the course of 756 feet (230 meters), 5.55 inches isn’t very much. It’s also a bit surprising that this study is news considering that the measurements obtained from it are within a miniscule deviation from those of Flinders Petrie from 1883. Petrie thought it was the south side that was fractionally longer, but the fact that the sides were not identical in length has been well known since at least 1883.
Somewhere in the hell reserved for cable television executives there must be an entire circle devoted to copycats. How else might we explain the monomaniacal obsession cable TV fringe history shows have with Bible heresy? That said, I must give Inside Secret Societies credit for one thing: They managed to develop a new conspiracy theory I had not heard of, though to do so they essentially made the whole thing up from misrepresentations and lies.
I’m sure you will all be thrilled to hear that the newest issue of Wayne May’s Ancient American carries the first of a six-part series by J. Hutton Pulitzer on the allegedly “Roman” sword of Oak Island. This means that the sword articles will continue for the next 12 months since the magazine is bimonthly. The first entry in the series does not contain information about the sword, but it does describe Pulitzer’s self-satisfaction with his world-historical role, his upset at being mistreated by the Curse of Oak Island television show, and the fact that “Oak Island Is The Single Most Important Tipping Point In Modern History,” as he capitalizes it. The article was just icky in its narcissistic tone, in its airing of scuttlebutt against Oak Island (implying, for example, that local women throw themselves as the Lagina Brothers), and its claim that Nova Scotia has a “culture of stupidity” that discriminates against outsiders.
Normally I don’t like to talk about fringe historians’ outside business dealings since it isn’t really relevant to the allegations they make about history. Sometimes, though, it becomes impossible not to take notice of what they do outside their work in zaniness. Jason Martell, for example, spent many years trying to pander to Christian conservatives as a tech mogul while simultaneously ridiculing their faith with his ancient astronaut theories. Erich von Däniken’s repeated efforts to enter the entertainment industry with a theme park and mall-based branded entertainment locations were hilarious both as failed businesses and for their connections to his ancient astronaut theories.
Magazine: German Pornographer Faked "Jesus' Wife Gospel" Fragment to Live Out "Da Vinci Code" Fantasy
I know I had said that I’d be devoting Fridays this summer to discussing the good work that others are doing, but this Friday I ran a bit short on time to catch up on my reading. So let me make up for it today by discussing an article equal parts fascinating and devastating about the apparent forgery of the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” papyrus fragment that made headlines in 2012. According to Ariel Sabar, writing in the new edition of The Atlantic, the entire affair was inspired by the toxic stew of fringe history, with special appearances by ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and that perennial favorite, hatred of academics who are allegedly conspiring against an unsung genius to protect pseudoscientific paradigms.
Tonight is a real treat when it comes to Ancient Aliens. Instead of recycling from an earlier episode of the show, tonight they are recycling from an episode of their spinoff series, In Search of Aliens. Granted, they’ve already reused this material in an Ancient Aliens episode from 2014, which in turn built on other similar claims from another 2014 episode. So when S11E06 “Decoding the Cosmic Egg” tries for something new, it’s really just recycling material it’s already covered before, but with a few extra eggs thrown in for good measure.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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