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.
Technology is not these men’s friend. The audio drops in and out. At one point, Wolter turned off his webcam by mistake. The screen capture Pulitzer uses is primitive, and seems to be a camera physically recording a computer screen it is aimed at, rather than a video capture of video output. Over time, the computer or the camera seem to move, and the image takes on a larger and larger Dutch angle, making the two look like villains from the beloved 1966-1968 Batman series. King Tut and Louie the Lilac? I’m not sure.
But since they have branded their chats with their poorly designed XpLrR logo, I suppose I should start branding my reviews with something more attractively designed.
There. Now it feels all professional and serious. The little red circle can change to represent whatever they are talking about. Today it is Minoans, so we have a Minoan royal symbol.
The XpLrR livestream discussion, which aired Saturday afternoon on Facebook, right after Wolter “got out of the shower,” discusses America Unearthed S01E03 “Great Lakes Copper Heist.” Pulitzer says that at this point America Unearthed had “great reviews,” which I know to be untrue since there were virtually no reviews except mine, and I wasn’t very keen on it.
Wolter restates many of the false claims of the episode, particularly the allegation that massive amounts of copper—1.5 billion pounds—had been removed from Lake Superior and that Native Americans could not have been responsible. As I discussed three years ago, there is no missing copper, and the claims for missing copper are false, invented by some fringe historians in the 1960s. As Dr. Susan R. Martin explained a long time ago, “The mythic calculations involve the numbers and depths of copper extraction pits, the numbers and weights of stone hammers, the percentage volume of copper per mining pit, the numbers of miners, and the years of mining duration.” Early fringe writers made wild assumptions about these numbers and generated a fake number that neither Wolter nor Pulitzer understands the origin of.
Wolter then asserts that archaeologists refuse to acknowledge the missing copper and are actively conspiring to reject Wolter’s views. “It’s silly,” he said. Pulitzer agrees with Wolter and says that archaeologists are required to explain where the “missing” copper went, even though said copper is not missing. Wolter asserts that there were brass artifacts found in Native mounds, particularly the Bat Creek mounds, which proves that Europeans came to America. Such artifacts are almost certainly planted by the same hoaxer who made the Bat Creek Stone. As Ken Feder explained in the Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology, the brass bracelets are chemically identical to nineteenth century English brass bracelets (and earlier ones, too, as must be noted), and no one witnessed their recovery except for the alleged nineteenth century hoaxer.
What is astonishing is that these two blowhards are entirely unfamiliar with the scholarly arguments against their claims, even to criticize those arguments. They have only anger and bluster.
About 18 minutes in, Wolter decides to discuss behind the scenes scuttlebutt about the program, which is of little interest except to America Unearthed die-hards. Pulitzer tries to pull back to blasting archaeologists for not accepting radiocarbon dates that would put people in the Great Lakes copper mines around 6000 to 8000 BCE. “It’s completely illogical,” Wolter says. “The reason they don’t accept it is because they don’t like the results.” I admit that I wasn’t entirely clear what radiocarbon dating they were talking about, and they blather on so much that the facts tend to get lost amidst the howling.
Wolter subtly twists the evidence presented on his old show. In the episode, he identified the Great Lakes copper with that of the Minoans because his laboratory analysis of Michigan copper found that it was 99% pure, the same level of purity found in Minoan copper, but now he changes the story and alleges that “trace element analysis” shows that the two are identical. He declines to provide reports of these trace elements to prove the assertion, or which Minoan artifacts he tested that did not appear in the TV show’s presentation of the data Wolter refers to here. I’m comfortable concluding from this that he is intentionally misrepresenting his show’s 99% purity test.
Pulitzer next introduces the allegation that there are “ox-hide ingots” found in North America, despite the fact that the alleged ox-hide ingots of America are not the same as their European counterparts. Both men allege that there is a cover-up to prevent examination of these objects, which are mostly chunks of metal promoted by the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society, a fringe group in the Midwest, and Ancient American magazine, a fringe publication, as Andy White explored last year.
Wolter says that he has “heard” that the Minoans buried their copper during the winter because they couldn’t transport it, which is why we sometimes find large chunks of copper in the ground, for like squirrels with their nuts the Minoans occasionally forget where they stored their caches.
Wolter delivers a very long discussion about how he investigates artifacts, and he explains a case where a viewer tried to pass off a fabricated site as ancient and Wolter exposed the hoax. Around this point I started to notice that even though this episode was about Minoan copper miners from Crete, Pulitzer keeps bringing up the Middle East and making reference to what he can only mean to be Hebrew inscriptions and Jewish artifacts. It’s a strange but subtle undercurrent that is in tension with Wolter’s oblivious bluster.
After a long diatribe about where treasure hunters could find the best copper artifacts—not presented as such, but the clear conclusion viewers are meant to take from Pulitzer’s questions—Wolter explains that archaeologists need to stop being so damned certain about the past. “Why do they have this burning desire to draw a definitive conclusion every time you ask them a question?” he asks. Clearly, Wolter has never read academic literature, or else he would understand the provisional nature of archaeological conclusions, and the fact that there is a difference between data and inferences. Pulitzer notes that archaeologists “are not required to try their theories in a (legal) case,” while “forensic geologists” must prove their cases in a court of law. That’s not at all how forensic geology works, or even how law cases work. Expert witnesses are not the actors with the burden of proof in a legal case.
Pulitzer finishes the show by inviting viewers to attend the upcoming Ancient American magazine and AAPS conference this October, where both men plan to present alongside former American Nazi party leader Frank Joseph. Pulitzer also tells viewers to stop paying attention to academics and instead research American archaeology from nineteenth century journals and magazines, which he considers to be more honest about diffusionism and less “politically correct.” Pulitzer says that by doing so, one will become convinced that people from the “Ancient Middle East” once colonized America—even though that’s not at all what Wolter’s imaginary Minoan copper miners “prove” at all.
It seems that Pulitzer’s end game is to convince the world that America was founded by Israelites to the glory of God. Hosanna in the highest; we are living in the Holy Land of the Chosen People.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.