Truth? Or Onion?

This is what passes for news in the Bend Bulletin, our local newspaper. I swear, this reads like it’s straight out of The Onion (excerpts, with my own commentary):

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Prineville man questions how the pyramids were built

Alan St. John was reading the December issue of Popular Mechanics when he spotted a one-page article about an investigation… about how the pyramids were built….

That’s the Egyptian pyramids, not to be confused with their muddy Mexican and Central American siblings….

(That’s good. I didn’t want to accidentally misunderstand which pyramids we might be reading about here.)

Just how the ancients constructed these triangles in the sand has long been a head-scratcher for scientific eggheads and occultists alike.

(Triangles in the sand? Pyramids have square bases and four sides. Nice tone to this paragraph, too; I think it’s meant to target the low-brow audience.)

They have good reason to want to reason through this: They didn’t exactly have backhoes 5,000 years ago….

(Gee. They didn’t exactly have backhoes. What exactly did they have? Tractors? It’s clear at this point who the intended audience is: people who are intellectually equivalent to having lived in a cave for most of their life. Give your readers some credit.)

St. John believes everyone has been overlooking the obvious.

(Yeah. The obvious. Despite the obvious lack of any evidence to support his theory. I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who’s got a theory they think is “obvious.”)

With pulleys and enough rope, sand could be used as a counter-weight to the huge stones….

(Here I admit, this sounds reasonable. Then of course, 3 paragraphs later, comes my favorite part:)

The recently divorced St. John, who lives in a fifth wheel trailer next to his parent’s house in Prineville, has been a quick study in Egyptian history, when he’s not working at Norm’s Extreme Fitness Center….

(Okay. This blows away any shred of credibility he might have had. He’s a kook.)

The article goes on with St. John citing Herodotus (which the Bulletin misspells as Herodatus), but apparently that’s as much as he’s read on the pyramids. He also sent a letter to Popular Mechanics, which generated some initial interest, but hasn’t subsequently heard back from them. And that leads into the most sensible quote from the entire article:

The problem… is that there’s no hieroglyphic or archaeological evidence that counterweights were ever used in ancient Egypt….

What amazes me is how this made it into the paper to begin with… it really does come across like an article you’d read in The Onion. I’m thunderstruck and laughing at the same time. How did they find this St. John guy? Did he approach the Bulletin? And why— why??— is this considered news?

Unfortunately, the Bulletin isn’t even running the article online on their web site. Otherwise, you could even see the goofy photo they have of this guy holding his hands over his head in the shape of a pyramid…

This was just too priceless not to share. Interestingly, the same issue of the paper also has an article about Rocket Guy, arguably Bend’s most notorious and colorful character.

What a day.