Since tonight is yet another edition of Ancient Aliens, this time revisiting the claim that the moon is a hollow alien space station, I have only a couple of brief things to talk about while we wait. The first is the weird trailer that Universal released for Matt Damon’s upcoming 2017 movie The Great Wall, or, as it will soon be known, The White Supremacy. I know that Hollywood believes that audiences won’t see an action movie that stars an Asian person, but how utterly bizarre is it to see Matt Damon leading the charge to defend medieval China from an invasion of dragons? Already this year we had a filmmaker apologize for making all of the Gods of Egypt lily white, and now Universal cut the trailer for The Great Wall—a movie directed by a Chinese director and funded in part by China—to make it look like all of the forces of Asia are helpless until the white guy shows up. The director, Zhang Yimou, said that he purposely put a white guy as the lead to follow “a film language that [Americans] are familiar with” in order to introduce them to Chinese culture.
Note: Hutton Pulitzer threatened me with a lawsuit (again), so I have changed the headline because he objected to the use of the word "rob" due to having permission from the landowner to dig up human remains for display on his media channels.
And I thought they had given up on it. Ha! J. Hutton Pulitzer and Scott Wolter are making good on their threat to conduct hour-long discussions on each of the 39 episodes of America Unearthed. Their latest half-hearted review returned to Sound Cloud after a brief foray last time into video conferencing. This week they are discussing S01E04 “Giants in Minnesota,” in which Wolter admitted to being unable to uncover any “meaningful” evidence of giants. Wolter says that he remains open to the existence of giants but has yet to see any evidence of their existence. This conceit lasts only a few minutes.
You see, Hutton Pulitzer hasn’t figured out the art of self-promotion, so the seemingly boring episode review is actually the XpLrR organization’s incompetent announcement of a new project in which they plan to dig up (sorry… “excavate”) a presumed Native American grave for broadcast on their social media and/or streaming video outlets in order to see whether it belongs to a giant. More on that below, when the gang that couldn’t shoot straight finally got around to “announcing” their project.
Micah Hanks Recycles Poe Conspiracy; Plus: Horror Movies to Be Made by Computer Data Analysis. Scary!
I ran out of time today thanks to a Kafkaesque nightmare spurred by a faulty lock. My garage door’s lock needed replacing because the key broke and to rekey the lock would cost ten times what it costs to replace the doorknob. I had replaced the lock last month with a Kwikset, and it seemed fine. Then last night the lock stopped working. The latch would only come out halfway and was drooping about 20 degrees from its correct position. I didn’t have the receipt, but I still had the original package and the “lifetime” warranty. Home Depot said they wouldn’t take it back, even though it had their stickers and barcodes on it, without either the receipt or the original credit card number used to purchase it.
Clyde Winters Goes in Search of Elephants in Ancient America, and the Africans Who Brought Them There
It’s almost touching when a fringe history site drags out one of the classics. After so much discussion of sexually abusive aliens, white ethnonationalism, and absurdly complex religious conspiracies, there is something refreshing about seeing hoary chestnuts from a simpler time resurrected. That’s why I’ve been finding it difficult to get too worked up about Clyde Winters’s classical Afrocentrism in his recent Ancient Origins articles. He harks back to Ivan Van Sertima and an earlier era when crappy evidence and absurd claims had a certain level of charm rather than foaming, animalistic rage. Afrocentrism is, of course, the mirror image of white ethnonationalism, but the early works in the field took their inspiration more from the goofball frivolity of 1950s and 1960s UFO and “ancient mystery” books than the dark, angry, and wrathful conspiracy theories of today.
Monday Madness: Ecuador Giants, Pulitzer's Sketchy Contest, Paranormal UFOs, and "Natural Selection" Movie
I can’t help but start today with a recent YouTube video that came to my attention this weekend. You’ll remember that over the past few years there have been a number of claims that the bones of “giants” have been found in Ecuador, including a hoax about giants at Cuenca and the fragments of paleomegafauna bones that ancient astronaut theorists have heralded as those of giants. The latter have spawned a clickbait YouTube video (and accompanying blog post) that use the completely fake sculpture of a giant skeleton at Erich von Däniken’s old Mystery Park (now a children’s activity center) as though it were the actual bones of a giant. That fake skeleton was commissioned to illustrate what Klaus Dona believed the megafauna bones would have looked like as a giant human.
Brady Yoon is a software engineer who devotes his spare time to researching Atlantis, and in a recent Ancient Origins article he presents a confused and illogical argument for why he believes Plato’s accounts of Atlantis in the Timaeus and the Critias are based on fact. Amidst a mountain of verbiage—second perhaps only to Micah Hanks in logorrhea—he argues that the presence of fragments of genuine ancient knowledge embedded in the dialogues would therefore prove the correctness of the claim. He uses the example of pyramids to illustrate how he intends to reason. Note that he understands that Plato did not include any pyramids in his dialogue:
This morning I had two tabs open in my browser. One of them was an op-ed piece about the apocalyptic nightmare vision in Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination. The other happened to be an older piece on Tor.com from a science fiction writer explaining how he developed a vision of post-apocalyptic America. I must have clicked the wrong place while reading the first article, and I ended up in the second. The frightening part is that the two articles merged together so seamlessly that I did not notice the jump from one to the other for several paragraphs. In many ways Trump’s speech was the culmination of the great national freak out that began with 9/11, curdled now into a revitalization movement that promises a fiery purge to purify the world.
A depressing new survey published in the United Kingdom finds that almost two-thirds of Britons (64%) claim not to believe that dinosaurs once existed. The survey results do not explain why Britons doubt the reality of dinosaurs, but it added that nearly as many adults believe in ghosts (30%) as dinosaurs (36%). The only good news is that the survey had a small sample size (1,003 adults) and was conducted by e2save, an online mobile retailer, as a promotion for their 4K cameras. They had a vested interest in overestimating controversial statements as part of their campaign to use conspiracy theories in their advertisements for their cameras.
Before we begin today, I’d like to point you to Laura Saetveit Miles’s excellent essay in Vox criticizing Stephen Greenblatt after he won $735,000 from Norway for his work in the humanities. Miles believes that Greenblatt intentionally misrepresented the Middle Ages in his 2011 book The Swerve in order to glorify the Renaissance. While I don’t agree with everything Miles says—one would be hard pressed to argue that the Middle Ages did not represent a decline of some kind from the Classical period—the piece is a fascinating discussion of how the way we discuss history is shaped by more than evidence.
Evangelicals Hold Infomercial to Accuse Catholics and Nazis of Secretly Using Nephilim to Control the World
I think that Ancient Aliens has had a lot more influence in crazy culture than it might seem. Yesterday, con artist preacher Jim Bakker devoted yet another hour of his program to an infomercial for the evangelical answer to Ancient Aliens, and filmmaker Tony Alberino specifically identified his DVDs about ancient history as containing information that the History Channel won’t tell you, specifically that cyclopean architecture the world over is “pre-Flood construction” that was “built by a hybrid race.” He then went on to discuss Ancient Aliens specifically:
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.
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