But more disturbing is Pulitzer’s denigration of Native Americans. He argued in his rant about why history is a lie that (a) Columbus and the Vikings were not the first Europeans to reach America because (b) pre-Columbian civilization could not have emerged from “backward people” who “walked” to America over a land bridge without even having horses. (He’s also a horse “truther” and thinks that ancient Europeans brought horses to America, which ought to be easy enough to prove if he could find a single post-Ice Age and pre-Columbian horse skeleton in the Americas.) According to Pulitzer, civilization had to diffuse from a higher (and presumably European or Near Eastern) source.
Pulitzer, in a confused and illogical discussion that builds toward his current obsession, appropriates ancient astronaut arguments about Puma Punku and supposedly “perfectly” machined stones that cannot be rendered as precisely using today’s technology. I would challenge him to find one of these stones that bears no sign of having been worked, or even one that has perfect right angles. The H-blocks at Puma Punku don’t even match each other, let alone a Platonic ideal of machine-milled right angles. He scoffs that “people scraping their feet along the desert were able to precisely lay out the Nazca lines.” He asks his listeners to believe that modern science denies that the builders of Stonehenge were able to observe the movements of the stars, apparently unaware that stars can be viewed with the naked eye outdoors and at night, or that large chunks of archaeology are devoted to understanding ancient astronomy.
He alleges that the Costa Rican stone spheres are “perfect” spheres, which they are not. Those still in condition to be measured have been found to vary 2 inches or more in their diameters depending on the measured direction. He asserts that Baalbek’s Trilithon stones are too big for ancient people to have moved, and he denies that Khufu built the Great Pyramid. “We still can’t build to that tolerance,” he shouts, apparently referring to claims made for the pyramid’s precision, none of which stand up to careful scrutiny. He asserts that the Egyptians’ “own society says it was the great ancients of ancients,” who built the pyramids, “and the Egyptians themselves said they excavated the Sphinx out of the sand.” Here he seems to be referring in a very jumbled way to modern stories, but which we know from ancient and medieval texts bear no resemblance to what Egyptians once said. Manetho, an Egyptian priest, tells us that Suphis built the Great Pyramid, being a king of the Fourth Dynasty, i.e. Khufu. Medieval people, as the Akhbar al-zaman confirms, attributed the pyramid not to mysterious “ancients” but to Surid, a late form (in all likelihood) of Suphis, and at any rate someone alleged to have lived three hundred years before Noah’s Flood, which is often claimed to have occurred around 2300 BCE. Coincidentally (and it is likely a coincidence), that’s not long before the time of Khufu according to modern estimates! Unfortunately, the ancient Church Fathers were divided on the actual year of the Flood, and estimates varied by 500 years or so. Africanus, for example, says it occurred 2,262 years after Creation, but that date is also disputed; he puts Creation around 5502 BCE, yielding a date of 3240 BCE for the Flood and 3540 for the Pyramids. Other medieval myths made the pyramids younger that Pulitzer would like, as would using the 4004 BCE Creation date of Bishop Ussher.
“Have you ever just thought about those simple things?” Pulitzer asks.
Well, yes, I have, more than you. And I’ve read all the history that Pulitzer blabbers about before he transitions to his current pet project, the “Roman” sword of Oak Island. He is angry that too many people refuse to “open their minds” and understand that “we know nothing about history. […] It’s just a bunch of theories.” For Pulitzer, conclusions reached by scholars are “theories,” whereas the speculation he offers is somehow “truth” because it privileges Europeans … no, wait … because it is lucrative … no, that can’t be it. He never explains why his random thoughts and amateur efforts are more worthy than conclusions drawn from published facts. Instead, he claims that people who “paid $300,000 or $400,000” for advanced degrees, who are “40 years old and still in debt,” refuse to “embrace the real history of the world” because it would jeopardize their ability to repay student loans. For a man who devoted a huge chunk of his career to obsessing over treasure and trying to sell his audience treasure hunting gear, he is awfully quick to assume everyone is as consumed with wealth as he is, or that it would somehow not be more lucrative to rewrite history and garner media attention than to devote a lifetime to the gradual accumulation of subtle data.
“We have to accept that we don’t have the answers,” Pulitzer said. “We have to accept that our history is based on theory, not fact.” He calls historiography “best guesses at best,” and he conflates facts with interpretations and all of the social sciences and humanities with one another. He is very angry at whole fields of knowledge he has never studied and does not understand. What does he suppose his claim that the Oak Island sword is “Roman” represents? The “facts” are the physical description of the sword and its properties, but its “Roman” attribution is a conclusion—in this case a wrong one—built from facts but not a fact in itself.
As the audio missive drew to an end, Pulitzer descended into a paranoid rant about his belief that anthropologists and archaeologists can only become famous by finding lost civilizations, and he accused them of fabricating lost civilizations in order to gain money and fame. (I guess this is also to repay student loans even though it would challenge the dogma of the conspiracy that pays them?) If I thought Pulitzer a coherent thinker, I’d have thought that he was trying to argue that Earth once had a prehistoric global monoculture (along the lines of Donnelly’s Atlantis or Graham Hancock’s revision of the same, I suppose) and that archaeologists have somehow obscured this by arbitrarily carving up the outposts of this culture into distinct but fictitious civilizations. But I don’t think he’s coherent, and I don’t think he thought through the implications of the multiple and seemingly contradictory arguments he offered, either for our understanding of history itself or for Pulitzer’s own claims, which would fail his proposed rules for turning “theories” into facts.
Ultimately, though, he’s not interested in “truth” if we are to judge by his outbursts and rants. Instead, he’s determined to sow doubt in order to create space for him to promote himself as a teller of truths and a guru to the ill-informed.