Surprise, Dr. Ben Carson's Latest Pyramid Scheme Involves Actual Pyramids
Confession: We never thought this song was all that funny. Steve Martin, yes. The song? Meh.
The list of Weird Shit Ben Carson Thinks grew by one item this week, as BuzzFeed dug up some old video of Ben Carson sharing his Personal Theory of the Pyramidsat a university commencement speech in 1998. This is important for two reasons: 1) It demonstrates that Ben Carson has long believed some pretty weird shit, and 2) It moves back by at least 17 years our earliest evidence for the "Ben Carson Has a Broken Brain" hypothesis.
Why would Dr. Ben Carson explain his Theory of the Pyramids during a commencement address for Andrews University, a Seventh-Day Adventist college where biblical literalism is just as much a part of the curriculum as it would be at Bob Jones or Liberty U? Why wouldn't he? Graduation speakers talk about all sorts of weird stuff -- as we recall, the speaker at the U of Arizona when we got our Master's rattled off several pages from a paper in progress about corn genetics and everyone politely applauded.
Still, as theories go, Carson's is a doozy:
My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.
[contextly_sidebar id="3epFv0HCU8zU7ykpLM6UfSxK18WEyjeB"]Carson, of course, is referring to the well-known biblical account of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, in which a dream warns Joseph, held as a slave by the Pharaoh, to stockpile grain during a period of plenty to tide Egypt over during a seven-year famine, saving the grateful nation and inspiring a musical treatment by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which is why the Egyptians worshipped Cats. And to Carson, it's obvious the huge granaries for that project would still have to be around, since everything in the Bible actually happened, like Noah's Ark.
And darned if the pyramids aren't really big buildings! Really big buildings utterly unsuited to storing seven years' worth of grain for a nation, seeing as how they're mostly solid blocks of stone. As Smithsonian Magazine notes , the Great Pyramid of Giza's "known passages and vaults occupy a mere 1/7,400th of its volume," which seems like a hell of a lot of insulation with very little room left for grain storage.
Ah, but Carson wasn't quite finished science-ing at his listeners:
And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons. And various of scientists have said, "Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how--" you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.
So take that, all you scientists who say aliens built the pyramids as tombs for the Pharaohs. Get thee back to basic cable, ye Deceivers! Not surprisingly, the belief that the pyramids were "Joseph's Granaries" is not Carson's very own invention; it's been around since at least the sixth century.
Now, as the Atlantic points out, Carson's archaeological digression comes in the middle of a larger sermon to the graduates about the importance of "thinking big," and it's really of no consequence, except as one more example of Weird Shit Ben Carson Thinks. Not surprisingly, in the full video, the pyramid stuff is followed by a few minutes of Dr. Carson explaining why evolution can't possibly be true, which we've looked at before.
But here's the kicker: After having had 17 years to learn a little more about the pyramids, Carson still thinks "his" theory holds up pretty well, as he told CBS News Wednesday:
It's still my belief, yes ... the pyramids were made in a way that they had hermetically sealed compartments....You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time.
And if you shove some of the grain aside, there's room for a sarcophagus or two. No reason they couldn't be dual-use. Join us tomorrow, when Dr. Ben Carson explains that illnesses arise from an imbalance in the four bodily humors -- which can be miracle-cured with vitamins -- and how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.