The ratings for the season finale of Search for the Lost Giants are in, and the news was surprisingly good for the show. The show’s lead-in, Curse of Oak Island, reached a new high of 2.9 million viewers, with 900,000 under the age of 49. Meanwhile, that increase in viewership—to watch self-proclaimed Jesus descendant Kathleen McGowan Coppens speculate about lost Templar treasure—spilled over into an uptick in viewers for Lost Giants. About 1.7 million people tuned in for the Giants finale, an increase of 300,000 viewers from last week. However, this uptick in viewers translated into just 100,000 more adults under 49 watching the show, bringing its viewer haul to half a million.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the season finale of Search for the Lost Giants, but since the show loses viewers each week (down to just 1.4 million last week, with only 400,000 under the age of 50, fumbling 1.1 million Curse of Oak Island lead in viewers, most of whom were under 50), perhaps it is for the best. In just six episodes, the show has managed to achieve the same types of ethical issues it took America Unearthed thirteen episodes to rack up: The show has intentionally distorted or fabricated evidence, selectively edited “experts” to make them seem to support the show’s claims, made wild leaps of logic, and, finally, garnered a roster of unhappy interviewees who feel that the show lied to them and misrepresented them. The Catalina Island Museum posted on their blog last week that after all the attention the show brought to their museum they needed to reiterate that Ralph Glidden, whose work the show profiled, produced a great deal of fiction masquerading as fact. Further, Terje Dahl, the gigantologist, admitted that the show distorted his views and engaged him from his sick bed to fabricate scenes for the show with “evidence” he had never seen but pretended to know.
Last night Canadian software consultant and marijuana enthusiast William Harold Bradshaw, who writes under several pen names including Billy Budd, contacted me to tell me that he had discovered the secret behind the lost race of giants. Bradshaw’s previous work has involved developing a synthetic recipe for cocaine and promoting marijuana consumption. Bradshaw claims to have been a regular user of cannabis since 1969, and it is therefore unsurprising that Bradshaw has concluded that marijuana is the key to unlocking the secrets of ancient history.
Since it’s a rather slow day in the world of wacky history, I thought it might be fun to follow up on Scott Wolter’s adventure looking for George Armstrong Custer’s lost treasure even though nineteenth century history is a little outside my usual wheelhouse. On his blog, Wolter admitted that the show misrepresented the treasure and his views about it, and he admitted to doing no real research into the story—unintentionally revealing something interesting about his methodology.
This week we continue this season’s treasure hunting theme, this time looking for the apocryphal treasure of George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry. Frankly, I find treasure hunts to be rather boring, but never more so than when the treasure in question never existed in the form the hunter seems to think it did. On the other hand, it’s nice to see America Unearthed continue its slow descent into irrelevance as the producers work hard to repair Scott Wolter’s (and the show’s) damaged reputation by course-correcting back toward a more (though never entirely) mainstream show more closely aligned to the slate of new competing knockoff shows premiering this month on American Heroes Channel and Discovery Family like Secrets of the Arsenal and History & Mysteries.
Back in season three, Ancient Aliens devoted an hour to “Aliens and the Undead” (S03E14), which covered zombies, vampires, and so on. Just last week, they gave a good portion of “Secrets of the Mummies” (S07E10) to the idea that the ancient people believed in the resurrection of the flesh. The producers, however, seem to think that their viewers don’t remember any of this and repackage some of the same material as S07E11 “Alien Resurrections,” right down to the claims about entering quantum heaven after death with immortal angel-aliens.
I often receive complaints that I shouldn’t bother wasting my time reviewing fringe history TV shows because they are just entertainment and no one could believe them. The World News Daily Report hoax article about giants that went viral yesterday should put to rest that fallacious complaint.
Sometime during the summer of 1992, when I was eleven years old, I bought a paperback copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which had been released at the end of 1990. I loved the book and must have read it three or four times before Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation was released the following summer. I remember making a scale model of the park using poster board, Legos, and little plastic dinosaurs. When the movie came out, I even painted a Matchbox car to match the iconic Ford Explorers used in the film. I also devoured most of Crichton’s other books over the next year, though only Congo made enough of an impression on me that I can recall much of the story two decades later. Jurassic Park gave the impression of being a book for smart people, filled as it was with long sections of research into genetics and paleontology and chaos theory, and when I was eleven that made it seem like a real grown-up book. Because it was something I loved as a child, I still have affection for the book even though I can recognize now Crichton’s shortcomings as a novelist.
Here we are in another new episode of Search for the Lost Giants, S01E05 “Into the Bone Cave.” This episode opens with a quotation from Abraham Lincoln: “The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now.” This quotation comes from lecture notes Lincoln prepared (but never used) for a speech about Niagara Falls, and his reference to giants was repeating widespread Mound Builder mythology popular in the 1840s, based ultimately on Biblical beliefs that a portion of the antediluvian population were giants. In fact, the reference is so unclear that it isn’t certain that Lincoln was even referring to Bible giants; he might have been discussing mammoths, commonly referred to in those days as giants.
This isn’t the important part of the episode, though. The important takeaway is that the show’s producers have openly endorsed the racist nineteenth century theory of the Lost Race of the Mound Builders and are openly misinforming viewers that all of the mounds raised by Native peoples across the United States over thousands of years were part of a project by a single unified lost race. This is a shocking development, and one that damns this show to a new circle of hell.
You may have heard the news last week that “new evidence” from “scientists” demonstrates that the myth of Jason and the Argonauts was based on a real treasure-seeking expedition to the Republic of Georgia during the Mycenaean period. The story ran on Science News and was later picked up by some other outlets. The Daily Mail, for example, ran a similar story under the headline “The Golden Fleece Was REAL.” It was based on a recent journal article in Quaternary International, building on earlier work published in the Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Science by the same lead author in 2010.
As the author of Jason and the Argonauts through the Ages, I read the articles with interest and dismay. This is all material I covered in my book. The media have been fleeced.
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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