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.
But the news isn’t entirely good. Archaeologist Stephen Mrozowski, who appeared in episode 3, made a second blog post explaining his upset that the show lied to him about the nature of the series and used him to support the theory of giants. He says that producers hid the real purpose of the show and told him only that they were shooting a series about New England stone structures. Mrozowski comes very close to saying that the myth of “giant” mound builders is racist, and that the show is perpetuating racism:
Attempts to link such structures to non indigenous peoples is part of a larger attempt to end Native American history and to replace that history with an American narrative that denies the identity of North America’s indigenous peoples. The perpetuation of long discredited ideas concerning a race of giants is an affront to the indigenous peoples of North America and need to be recognized as such.
I fear, though, that the uptick in ratings for the finale will translate into a second season of gigantology. It would be a shames since, if you’ve been reading Andrew White’s blog, you will have seen yet more proof that gigantology is wishful thinking wrapped up in antiquarianism. White traced back the origins of the eleven supposed giant skeletons of Ellensburg, Washington, found in 1912 and was able to find by comparing newspaper accounts that the story grew and mutated as papers copied it one from the next. The original story spoke of one skeleton, which became two. Later still, a dateline—May 11—was mistaken for a number of skeletons. The height of these “giants” and their dentition were also revealed to be a fictional accretion atop whatever factual discovery undergirds the story. Be sure to check out White’s blog for the full story and the documentary evidence.
To turn to a different show, I found it a bit humorous that Kevin Randle, the ufologist, has taken to debunking and critiquing America Unearthed and Scott Wolter—and all without a peep of complaint from Wolter’s usual crowd of supporters. Randle evaluated last week’s Custer-centric treasure hunt episode and recognized it as a vapid, evidence-free hour:
He’s no longer offering alternative history; he’s just out chasing ratings… I mean, he’s at the Alamo and now the Little Big Horn… next he’ll probably be out at Area 51 telling us about the secret projects there and then off to Roswell with a metal detector to find saucer wreckage (yeah, I’ve seen the rest of the schedule for the season and those things aren’t there but just wait)… anything to boost ratings. But as for his claim that we didn’t learn the “real” history in school, well, that seems to be just more hype because he hasn’t offered much in the way of evidence that his alternative history is accurate.
I’m not sure if Randle counts among the “non-serious debunkers” whom Scott Wolter called out on his blog the other day, but I know that I am one of them. Wolter grew upset that I pointed to the contradiction between Wolter’s online assertion that Custer’s golden treasure never existed and his on-screen claims that the gold existed and was possibly buried in California:
It turns out there are non-serious debunkers who consistently take anything they can from our shows, and apparently this blog, and twist it out of proportion to create controversy and drive people to their own blogs.
I wish that America Unearthed had that kind of pull, but over the course of this season the program has lost so much of its cultural cachet that it is no longer the page-view draw it once was. (H2 does not release ratings information, so I do not know how many viewers watch the show this season.) Not that I need it; my website is at least ten times more popular than Wolter’s blog, according to most leading web analytics firms. (Alexa, for example, puts me at around 350,000th in world websites, to Wolter’s 4 millionth place ranking.) You might also be interested to know that my website derives almost 40% of its traffic from social media links (compared to 40% from search traffic), while 63% of Wolter’s traffic comes from people looking for him on search engines and 23% from people typing his URL directly into their browsers. Just 9% of his traffic comes from social media, suggesting that very few people share his musings with others.
In fact, my reviews of America Unearthed have all but fallen out of my top ten most viewed website pages for the month of December. My reviews of Search for the Lost Giants and Ancient Aliens had double the draw of any America Unearthed review except for the “Montezuma’s Gold” episode. In fact—and this is completely true—Benjamin Bucklin, the 300-year-old supposed giant from the finale of Search for the Lost Giants, came within striking distance of outpacing Scott Wolter as a search term bringing readers to my site. Lost Giants has easily outpaced America Unearthed this month across all search terms.
And you wonder why I’ve been focusing more on giants this month. Sorry, Scott, you shtick isn’t cutting it anymore. My single best day this whole year had nothing to do with Wolter at all. It was the day that the president of Turkey said in a speech that Muslims reached America in the twelfth century and Columbus saw a mosque in Cuba. That day, driven largely by visitors from Turkey, my site quintupled its usual traffic.
The long and short of it is that if I were going strictly by the numbers, I should stop covering Wolter and his work altogether and switch exclusively to aliens and giants.
Incidentally, Wolter went on to say that he did not do research into the Custer treasure before filming and derived his conclusions secondhand from reenactors and descendants of the Cheyenne, most of whom were telling Wolter material they derived from the same primary sources Wolter should have been consulting directly.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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