While it is still not over (there have been several more Fake Hercules Sword sightings this semester that I haven't written about, and we still don't know exactly when and where these things were first produced), it seems worthwhile to use this second anniversary to reflect on a few numbers that are relevant to the whole debacle. Thanks to Peter de Geus for compiling many of these. If you have suggestions for numbers that mark this important milestone, please leave them in the comments and I'll add the good ones to this post.
We strive for accuracy. Please communicate errors and corrections to the Swordgate Office of Dispute Resolution.
100: Percentage certainty attached to the original "Roman sword" claim;
52: Approximate number of individual items, artifacts, or features J. Hutton Pulitzer alleges to exist on or around Oak Island that are Roman, Minoan, or Phoenician;
730: days since Pulitzer announced the Roman sword "white paper" that would be published by the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society (AAPS);
unknown: number of days since information about the coming "white paper" disappeared from the AAPS website;
0: number of Roman sword "white papers" produced by Pulitzer and/or the AAPS;
80: approximate number of pages of copy-paste content in the "sword report;"
35: percentage of zinc in the purportedly "Roman" sword;
0: number of tables in the "sword report" that actually show the elemental composition (in percentages) of the claimed "Roman sword' as collected by Pulitzer (the legendary XRF data);
2: number of claims that the "sword report" was peer reviewed;
>25: number of Hercules-hilted swords that have been "discovered" since the "Roman sword" claim;
16: number of different materials that Pulitzer has claimed the "fake" swords were made of (base metals, cast iron, ceramic, cheap replica materials, fake rock, fake stone, man-made stone painted in bronze, man-made stone painted with bluish paint, manufactured stone,pewter, pig iron, plastic, plastic or resin painted green, synthetic stone, synthetic stone painted in a patina color, wood);
0: number of known Hercules-hilted swords made of anything but copper alloys or iron;
26: minimum number of defunct websites or social media pages created and abandoned by sword proponent over the last two years;
9: number of dollars per month apparently still being contributed to the Solomon's Secret Pre Oder site on Patreon;
5: number of minutes I expect that Patreon site to still be live after I publish this blog post;
unknown: number of videos about the sword claim taken down by sword proponents;
37: number of months since the Solomon's Secret pre-order was available;
16: number of months since the July 2016 Solomon's Secret expected ship date was announced;
0: number of copies of Solomon's Secret known to have shipped;
lost count: number of times I've been threatened with legal action during the sword debacle;
almost 2: number of years that have passed since I pointed out that the "Roman shield boss from Nova Scotia" pictured in the Daily Mail is actually in the British Museum;
7: The number of military and commercial air insignia on the TreasureForce Commander's "uniform;"
0: number of graves of giants that Pulitzer and Scott Wolter have excavated;
705: number of dollars publicly raised to fight the Swordgate war;
many: things we've left out.
0: Percentage chance remaining that the "Roman sword" is an ancient Roman artifact;
almost 1: number of months that passed between the original "Roman sword" claim and its spread around the internet and a reaction by real journalists in the real media.
I will be forever proud of what this blog accomplished in the month between the original "Roman sword" claim and the materialization of any reaction by the real media.Confronted with an item of fake news that was rapidly gaining traction, we used the properties of the internet to generate new empirical data that could be used to evaluate the claim and construct an alternative hypothesis that was consistent with all lines of information. By the time journalists began writing about the story, the actual question of the authenticity of the sword had already been mostly addressed.
The interplay between the top-town and bottom-up effects were fascinating to watch and great fun to participate in. Swordgate remains one of the most epic, successful, crowd-sourced efforts at addressing pseudo-archaeology online that I have ever seen. It's a model of what can be done.
Thank you to all that became involved. I hope you enjoy the second anniversary of Swordgate with a well-earned sense of satisfaction. Give yourself a pat on the back, keep your eyes open, and keep your fingers crossed that we'll know even more of the story by the third anniversary.