Note: Hutton Pulitzer threatened me with a lawsuit (again), so I have changed the headline because he objected to the use of the word "rob" due to having permission from the landowner to dig up human remains for display on his media channels.
And I thought they had given up on it. Ha! J. Hutton Pulitzer and Scott Wolter are making good on their threat to conduct hour-long discussions on each of the 39 episodes of America Unearthed. Their latest half-hearted review returned to Sound Cloud after a brief foray last time into video conferencing. This week they are discussing S01E04 “Giants in Minnesota,” in which Wolter admitted to being unable to uncover any “meaningful” evidence of giants. Wolter says that he remains open to the existence of giants but has yet to see any evidence of their existence. This conceit lasts only a few minutes.
You see, Hutton Pulitzer hasn’t figured out the art of self-promotion, so the seemingly boring episode review is actually the XpLrR organization’s incompetent announcement of a new project in which they plan to dig up (sorry… “excavate”) a presumed Native American grave for broadcast on their social media and/or streaming video outlets in order to see whether it belongs to a giant. More on that below, when the gang that couldn’t shoot straight finally got around to “announcing” their project.
First, though, Hutton Pulitzer tries to define giants, but in doing so he rather depressingly cuts them down to merely “abnormal” people of a given size that is larger than the average for a particular population. He estimates that seven feet would about do it, making the “giants” of old roughly the size of an NBA player. Pulitzer says that such heights are “larger than traditional man.”
Both Pulitzer and Wolter dismiss the idea that giants could be larger than currently recorded human sizes, and Pulitzer says that it’s “detrimental” to fringe history to falsify evidence for larger giants. The fact of the matter, though, is that “traditional” evidence for giants has been for much larger giants. The ancients spoke of skeletons of giants sixty feet or more in length (Strabo, Geography 17.3.11; Pliny, Natural History 7.16, etc.), or even as much as 300 feet (Boccaccio, Genealogia deorum gentilium 4.68)! You and I know these to be the bones of fossil Ice Age mammals, but fringe historians, who cannot accept such truths, have no grounds for artificially restricting giants to their own conception of reasonable if they wish to argue that popular reports of giants should be held up as evidence.
Wolter says that he believes that the existence of large numbers of newspaper reports of giants means that at least some of the reports must be true. Further, because the bodies no longer exist, there must be a conspiracy to hide the truth. As I have discussed before, this is unlikely for many reasons, but there are several reasons such bones no longer exist as the bones of so-called giants: (a) Old, rotten, waterlogged bones crumbled into dust after being removed from the ground. The old reports describe this occurring regularly. (b) Incorrectly measured bones were correctly measured upon receipt at various museums and no longer were classified as giants. (c) Ice Age mammal bones mistaken for human were correctly classified upon receipt at museums and are no longer considered human giants. Although we do not have proof of each specific bone, we have examples of each of these scenarios occurring, with documentation.
“The only thing I can think of,” Wolter said, “is that they’ve been covered up.”
Wolter denies, too, that disarticulated skeletons can appear to be “giants” due to the separation of bones during decomposition. Wolter said this is simply “passing off” a lie. He and Pulitzer both agree that it’s “silly” to suggest that people ignorant of anatomy can make mistakes in estimating height from disarticulated bones. It’s good when they are self-refuting.
He concedes that “most” giant skeletons found in America are Native American, but he speculates that they are being covered up to hide those that are not. Wolter says that the government threatens jail time to anyone who tries to dig up human remains without permission, and he says that this is a conspiracy to prevent investigation, not just an effort to prevent grave robbing. Pulitzer concurs and asks why we have legislation to protect graves if the existence of giants were merely “outright hoaxes.” Neither man considers whether Native Americans have an interest in protecting the graves of their ancestors from the ignorant curiosity of those who would play with human remains for fun or profit.
Pulitzer accuses the “anthropological-skeptical community” of trying to “shut down” efforts of fringe historians to dug up graves. Pulitzer has apparently read my review of this episode, and he uses issues that I raise in my review as the efforts of the “skeptical community” to discredit Wolter. Pulitzer is upset, specifically, that I disapproved of the idea that dowsing rods could be used to find archaeological remains, but Wolter concedes that dowsing rods do not actually work. That is because they are completely fake and represent the ideomotor effect in action. Wolter admits that the show’s producers faked the dowsing scene in the episode to make dowsing look accurate, and his confession of blatant fakery (“disappointing” and “B.S.,” Wolter said) baffles and upsets Pulitzer. Wolter does not explain why he happily endorsed fabrication.
Pulitzer says that he and Wolter disagree with the suggestion that some “giant” skeletons are misidentified remains of wooly mammoths because they have “examined photographs” sent to them by a family of their fans and determined, based on their own extensive non-training, that the bones were human. We know from situations like Cotton Mather’s misidentification of a mammoth tooth as human, or the 1827 debacle where a medical doctor identified newly excavated bones as those of a giant before the mammoth’s tusks were uncovered, that even educated people have a hard time telling the difference. I put no faith in Hutton Pulitzer’s examination of a photograph.
According to the pair, the family who sent the photos uncovered some bones on their property and instead of reporting what they apparently believe to be human remains to the authorities (as required by law in most, but not all, jurisdictions), they instead contacted Scott Wolter.
Wolter says that he now has access to the location of those bones, a site that “archaeologists” do not “control” and which he plans to excavate alongside Pulitzer in order to unearth additional bones of giants or any artifacts associated with them. “This opportunity is really once in a lifetime,” he said. The pair said that after they received photographs of large bones, they were the ones to suggest to the senders that these were the bones of human giants, based on their own examination of the photographs. The pair did not say how large the bones supposedly are, or where they are located. Local laws vary, and not all states protect graves found on privately owned land. The two men believe that only by broadcasting the excavation can they keep the U.S. government from suppressing the find.
Wolter also announced that History commissioned a spinoff of America Unearthed called Found to debut this fall, with contributions from Michael Arbuthnot, the archaeologist who appeared in the episode under discussion. He did not provide details of the new series, but he will not be the host of it.
Wolter also eulogizes the late Richard Nielsen, whose recent passing has erased Wolter’s upset about the falling out that the two men had. A large chunk of the episode supposedly devoted to giants then becomes yet another review of Wolter’s claims about the Kensington Rune Stone.
As the podcast pushes toward its conclusion, Pulitzer wants to know why scholars refuse to admit that giants were real and that their bodies had been found as the newspapers reported in the 1800s. He suggests that giants exist today, so this should be no big deal. The issue, of course, is that the stories aren’t true, not that large sized people never existed at all. The question isn’t a philosophical objection to the occasional seven-foot-tall person but rather how we determine what is or is not true. Pulitzer, anticipating that “bloggers” will discuss his conspiracy theory, alleges that the suppression of giant skeletons is linked to the secularization of formerly biblically oriented academic institutions. After identifying the giants as Nephilim, Pulitzer added: “If the Bible mentions giants … and something’s found that lends veracity to the text of the Bible … the institution cannot acknowledge them because they may be by de facto (sic) acknowledging (the Bible).” That’s just silly. The Bible mentions many things that secular scholars recognize as true: ancient cities like Jericho and Babylon, lost gods like Dagon and Tammuz, forgotten lands like Sheba and Tarshish. How would giants—who also exist in non-Judeo-Christian myths—be any different?
Pulitzer is half right, but reverses events: Biblical ideology warped the way early scholars interpreted material, and as that ideology broke down, more accurate views emerged.
Wolter seems to disagree with Pulitzer but, not wanting to openly contradict him, allows that this might be part of the answer. Pulitzer then threatens an XpLrR video presentation on the history of Victorian giant bone discoveries as preparation for what he promises will be a broadcast of the live unearthing of a Native American grave on video to “prove” that giants existed.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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