Late yesterday afternoon a producer for Vice Media contacted me to ask if I could pop by their Brooklyn studios this morning to shoot an interview for a “light and fun” piece they’re doing for the new Viceland TV channel, the one that’s replacing H2, on the popularity of the Ancient Aliens TV series. This was all kinds of wrong, not least because Vice thought I could drop everything and just pop on over to Brooklyn, all the way from upstate! The producer apologized for the short notice, but blamed deadlines for the need to find “a skeptic” fast.
A story making the rounds on the internet alleges that an Ohio teenager said that her out of wedlock pregnancy occurred because one of the Nephilim came to her in July and impregnated her with Jesus Christ’s baby. “He told me that he was a Nephilim, like those described in the Bible,” the girl allegedly said. “He told me that he had a message from Jesus, He said that I was going to be pregnant, and that I would give birth to a son, Jesus’ son.” If the news report were true, it would be worth trying to disentangle the confused Nephilim theology, which appears to be derived more from the recent Freeform Shadowhunters TV series than esoteric religion. However, the story is a hoax, from the “satire” site World News Daily Report that social media and some international news outlets mistook for a real news report.
When my Facebook feed started featuring stories from white nationalist David Duke’s website arguing that the Super Bowl halftime show proved that “the United States has come under the control of a Jewish elite that is hostile to the white population in this country” by “promoting promiscuity, homosexuality, and anti-white imagery,” I assumed that this was regular white supremacist nonsense. But it turns out that Beyoncé isn’t simply the focus for garden variety white supremacist anger: She also earned the ire of Nephilim theorists!
The copy and paste problem in fringe history has been with us mostly since the inception of low-quality popular history. Nineteenth century texts were rife with verbatim copying, often uncredited. People like Harold T. Wilkins and David Childress raised copying to an art form, but the internet has turned it into an industry. The Ancient Code website exists almost entirely to rewrite (poorly) other people’s articles, which recently included a wholesale rewrite of an Ancient Origins article on giant bones in Romania, itself an uncredited copy of still earlier Romanian articles, going back to a hoax. Granted, this isn’t much different from the Huffington Post’s business model of rewriting other news organizations’ content to build traffic, but it’s depressing to see how little original content the supposed warriors for truth actually produce.
UFO Congress Debates Watchers-Nephilim While J. Hutton Pulitzer Promises New, Bigger Fringe Theories
This is what the alien abduction myth has come down to: At the upcoming International UFO Congress, there will be a “debate” whether aliens are abducting humans because aliens are angelic spiritual beings guarding us, or because they are evil Watchers-Nephilim trying to corrupt us. One of the speakers, Dr. Joe Lewels argues that the Watchers are space aliens who genetically modified apes to make them into humans, that Jesus had secret knowledge of the space aliens’ activities, and that the Church suppressed this information except for the parts Mary Magdalene was able to smuggle into France to give rise to the Da Vinci Code… no, wait, Catharism. Oh, and Lewels, who cites his claims about the Watchers to Zecharia Sitchin, says that past life regression revealed that he was Jesus’ brother.
And now another installment in my ongoing series The Farce of Hoax Island...
Flash-Frozen Mammoths and Their Buttercups: Yet Another Case of Repetition and Recycling of Bad Data
I wasn’t planning on doing more on frozen mammoths after yesterday’s discussion of dining on them, but I found myself increasingly intrigued by the fact that so many fringe history claims for flash-frozen mammoths and eating mammoth steaks trace back to a single 1960 article by Ivan T. Sanderson in the Saturday Evening Post. He was not the first to report the claims (having apparently learned of them from Immanuel Velikovsky, according to secondary sources), but his piece directly or indirectly bequeathed the story to biblical creationists like Donald Patten (who claimed Alaskan restaurants served mammoth in the twentieth century), Charles Hapgood (a close friend of Sanderson’s), David Childress, Graham Hancock, and a host of others. So I went to the library to get a copy to find out exactly what Sanderson said.
One of the claims we see thrown around fringe literature from time to time, especially among the catastrophists, is that mammoths and mastodons were “flash frozen” in some unspeakable apocalypse that kept them carefully preserved and locked in their freshness. Although surviving wooly mammoth corpses don’t appear to be Ziploc-fresh, the story recurs every few years. For example, David Childress uses them as an example of earth-crust displacement in his Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa & Arabia: “Witness woolly mammoths flash-frozen in the Arctic with buttercups in their stomachs. They were apparently flash-frozen in a sliding of the earth’s crust.” Our fringe theorists know the story most directly from Charles Hapgood, who wrote of “edible mammoths steaks” that proved the earth-crust displacement hypothesis. His claim bequeathed our frozen mammoths to fringe history.
Given how much time I’ve spent talking about the dumb claims made for Oak Island, I thought it might be appropriate to start branding my coverage of it. What do you think of this logo? I’m not sure it if reads as more cynical than funny, but I kind of liked it. (Special thanks to the Library of Congress for the public domain landscape drawing.)
The recent dust-up over the alleged “Roman” sword supposedly found off of Oak Island is only the latest in a string of claims for Roman incursions into America made over the last 500 years or so. The oldest is probably Lucio Marineo Siculo, writing in De rebus Hispaniae memorabilibus 19 (1533), who claimed that a Roman coin of Augustus had been unearthed in Panama shortly after Spanish colonization began. “This wonderful thing has ripped the glory from the sailors of our time, who once boasted that they had sailed there before all others,” he wrote, “since the evidence of this coin now makes certain that the Romans once reached the Indies” (my trans.).
J. Hutton Pulitzer Claims "Oak Island" Producer Uses Secret Nude Footage from Other Shows to Lure Talent
Note: This post has been updated to reflect a February 4 email from J. Hutton Pulitzer clarifying his February 2 blog post.
Let’s stipulate off the bat that J. Hutton Pulitzer is in no way qualified to investigate history. He has not the education, the curiosity, or the temperament to examine evidence or create a coherent argument. But that doesn’t mean that everything he says is useless. In a blog post last night Pulitzer unintentionally offered a shocking portrait of the sordid world of cable television, even as he proceeded to misunderstand the events in which he took part.
I am a bit short on time today since I am having my bathroom renovated for the second time in a month, this time to correct the previous contractor’s mistakes. I have time only for a short update, but it’s a fairly depressing one.
For most Americans the Super Bowl is something akin to a secular holiday, while for advertisers it’s the biggest stage on which to display their wares to America’s largest television audience. That’s why it is so horrifying to find that Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands, will be promoting the ancient astronaut theory and cross-promoting the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens during an event seen by more Americans than any other.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. 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.