Screenwriter Mark O’Connell is the founder of the UFO blog High Strangeness, and he posted this week an odd blog post that revealed a bit of French ufologist Jacques Vallée’s concerns about managing his reputation in the UFO field. It’s interesting to me to see that while Vallée has never responded to the substantive criticisms of faulty historiography and flawed comprehension of the ancient and medieval literature he uses to support his outlandish speculation about messengers of deception and interdimensional intelligences, he has more than enough time to make sure that books UFO fans are likely to read portray him in a positive light.
Micah Hanks and Friends Launch New Website Covering Archaeology, History, Weird Pop Culture, and Other Stuff I Write About
I have to say, somewhat facetiously, that I’m feeling a little ripped off today after learning that podcaster and writer Micah Hanks and some of his friends have launched a website covering much of the same material as my own, only worse. In a Facebook posting yesterday afternoon, Hanks announced that he, environmental scientist Jason Pentrall, and geologist James Waldo launched Seven Ages, a WordPress-powered blog focusing on history, archaeology, science, and genre fiction—the topics I also cover here. The team currently offers lightly rewritten versions of current news stories, along with a biweekly podcast. The three men collectively produced seven posts in the past 17 days, along with three podcasts.
The first in my new occasional series reviewing movies I watched over the weekend.
It is hard not to feel like there is a moral rot at the center of our civilization, one that has been festering for decades and threatens to become gangrenous. In the past few months, we have learned that nearly every man with any power is a sex predator. We have seen freedom redefined as a celebration of anger, hatred, and disgust. Self-interest has been remade as the new national interest. The crass vulgarity of Donald Trump has unleashed a toxic miasma of American ugliness that was always there but had hitherto been kept hidden by the fantasy that civility was a virtue. Johnson and Nixon were nearly as foul as Trump, but never before have large crowds cheered open displays of crudity. When historians tell the story of our times, I wonder how it will go? Perhaps future historians will punctuate chapters on America’s decline in the face of power and prosperity with vignettes of individuals who went mad and in self-destructive rage lashed out against the perceived enemy within.
Over the past few months, ufologists linked to billionaire UFO nut Robert Bigelow have promoted a growing number of claims that they are investigating debris from flying saucers containing chemical properties never before seen on this Earth. Jacques Vallée, Tom DeLonge, and a former Pentagon official now employed by DeLonge have all made these claims, and journalist George Knapp even provided a sample of such a substance to a UFO exhibit at a Smithsonian-backed museum a few years ago. According to media accounts the Pentagon official, who oversaw Bigelow’s government contract to investigate UFOs, claims that Bigelow has buildings in Las Vegas to store such material
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation came under fire yesterday for a new documentary on the Solutrean hypothesis that the network was scheduled to make available online today ahead of its Sunday television broadcast. Critics expressed concern that the network was promoting a fringe theory and giving it spurious credence without addressing the theory’s popularity with white supremacists. The network, for its part, said that it was aware of the controversy but didn’t care.
A Turkish academic who claims to “speak for science” said that Noah used a cellphone to call his son before the Flood and powered the Ark with a nuclear reactor. The latest bizarre pseudoscience out of Turkey comes a year after the Turkish government claimed that the patriarch Abraham’s father built Göbekli Tepe and a couple of years after Turkey’s strongman president claimed that Muslim explorers built a mosque in Cuba long before Columbus visited the island. Such claims are part of a growing religious fundamentalism in the Turkish state, where the secularism of Ataturk has eroded in recent years in favor of Pres. Erdoğan’s policy of Islamization.
How do we live in a world where this is a normal headline? “Charlie Daniels Issues Grim Warning to Taco Bell About the Illuminati.”
Meanwhile... Some people never learn. Regular readers will remember Scott Creighton, the writer who has some outlandish ideas about ancient Egypt, including the claim that the first sixteen pyramids map the stars of the constellation Orion to depict Osiris and the claim that Col. William Howard Vyse forged Khufu’s name on the Great Pyramid’s quarry marks to hide the true age of the pyramid. (See my review: Part 1 and Part 2.) Well, prompted by the recent announcement of the discovery with cosmic rays of an unexplored void in the Great Pyramid, Creighton returned with an article on Graham Hancock’s website repeating old errors and misusing the medieval pyramid myth that I have spent so many years exploring to make a false claim for an antediluvian origin for the structure.
Recently, Netflix made available a multipart documentary series The Toys That Made Us, in which one episode covered the rise and fall of the Masters of the Universe toy line of the 1980s. The He-Man toys were an important part of my childhood, so I watched the episode with amusement. But the documentary also confirmed something that the creators of the toy line had danced around for decades, namely the debt that He-Man owed to Conan the Barbarian. It also led me to think a bit about the role of secondary sources in transmitting cultural ideas.
This week the new Kensington Rune Stone Park Visitors Center opened in Minnesota to tell the story of the Kensington Runestone, the controversial inscribed slab uncovered in the nineteenth century bearing a runic inscription. (The building signage puts a space between “rune” and “stone,” but the park’s website does not.) Outside of Minnesota, the broad consensus remains that the object is a Victorian hoax created by Scandinavian immigrants, but within the region where the object was found it has a dedicated group of true believers who hold it to be proof that Scandinavians explored the interior of the future United States a century before Columbus opened the Americas to European penetration. The Visitors Center, designed in consultation with Rune Stone advocate and fringe history speculator Scott Wolter, falls squarely into the latter camp.
INDIANA JONES IN HISTORY: FROM POMPEII TO THE MOON
Justin M. Jacobs | xiii + 266 pages | Pulp Hero Press | 2017 | ISBN: 9781683900993 | $24.95
Justin M. Jacobs’s Indiana Jones in History: From Pompeii to the Moon is an interesting but incomplete book, one filled with fascinating information, told from a distinctly modern perspective, loosely related to its title subject, but somewhat inartistically expressed. Jacobs is an expert in Chinese history at American University and his academic experience manifests both in a certain clunky quality to the prose and in a notable distaste for Western civilization that colors much of his discussion of Western interactions with Eastern cultures and leads to an extreme conclusion that I found both unjustified and dangerous.
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.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.