The Mutual UFO Network found itself in a PR nightmare after its Pennsylvania director, John Ventre, went on a racist tirade on Facebook. Ventre, who appeared as the face of MUFON on H2’s Hangar 1: The UFO Files and was a featured speaker on an “Ancient Mysteries” cruise, denounced so-called anti-white bias and expressed his belief that “everything this world is was created by Europeans and Americans. F’ing blacks didn’t even have a calendar, a wheel or a numbering system until the Brits showed up.” He then asked readers to research the racial inferiority of Blacks in terms of IQ and violent tendencies. MUFON’s executive director acknowledged the situation with a weasel-like statement that minimized Ventre’s role in the organization, calling him a mere “volunteer,” and asking whether the “haters hating” are in fact worse than Ventre expressing white supremacist views. The fact of the matter is that white supremacy is so deeply enmeshed in ancient astronaut and other conspiracy theory claims that it is wholly unsurprising that in a moment of unintentional honesty a MUFON official would express it openly.
This is as good a transition as any to the subtler racism of Ancient Aliens, where the original claim that black and brown peoples couldn’t build their ancient wonders has been mitigated with claims that white people without alien hybridization couldn’t either. The current episode, “The Alien Architects,” attributes various ancient wonders to space aliens and continues the long and sad history of trying to deny that ancient people, predominantly (but today not exclusively) brown ones, were capable of producing the architectural feats associated with them.
As most of you know, former television personality Scott F. Wolter will be delivering a lecture at the Masonic Lodge her in Albany. Unfortunately, due to preexisting commitments this evening, I won’t be able to attend. More’s the pity, but the thought of paying to sit through the same material I’ve read on the internet and watched on TV doesn’t strike me as a lot of fun either.
Ray Grasse Proposes a Framework for Exploring the Fortean, But It's Pretty Much Zeitgeist Theory Applied to Fringe Believers
When I was in college, one of the pieces of anthropological literature that I had to read was an article called “Baseball Magic” by George Gmelch. The article, a revised version of a 1992 journal article, described the way that baseball players engaged in particular rituals in order to secure favorable game outcomes, under the folk magical theory that performing the same actions before a game—whether eating the same meal or wearing the same clothes or even repeating specific gestures—would produce the same positive outcome. The key is that there is no “empirical correlation” between the ritual and perceived result. The meaning, if any, is entirely in the head of the person performing it.
Well, that was unusual, and a little embarrassing. Yesterday afternoon (Pacific time) in his more than three-hour podcast, Joe Rogan hosted skeptic Michael Shermer, amateur geologist Randall Carlson, and journalist Graham Hancock, along with a pair of additional guests in the third hour, to debate Hancock’s claim that a comet destroyed an advanced civilization at the end of the last ice age. Shermer more or less blew it. He spoke above the level of the audience, threw kitchen-sink arguments at Hancock, and, worst of all, focused so heavily on the negative that he came across as a scold. The problem is that he is no expert in archaeology, so he spent more time discussing the burden of proof than the origins and development of Hancock’s claims. He couldn’t quite speak to the awe and wonder of the past; instead, he spoke of academic conferences and the proper way to debate new facts. Even when he tried to speak to the amazing antiquity of Göbekli Tepe, he couldn’t quite match Hancock’s fluidly British debate team polish. Skeptics need spokespeople who can speak with passion.
Shermer was not happy that I found his end of the debate lacking and attacked me on Twitter, and later apologized for what he called a “raw moment”:
Orbiting the Graham Hancock Universe: "Archaeological Fantasies" Explores Gobekli Tepe and Rebecca Bradley Discusses Gunung Padang
I’ve had a very busy weekend, and I am a bit overwhelmed with work today. Fortunately, there are two excellent new resources that I’d like to call your attention to. First, you will undoubtedly recall the academic paper that caused a bit of a stir not long ago when some engineers adapted and adopted the Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock view of the ancient Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe (though denying Hancock’s contention of a prophecy of a future impact encoded on the stones) and attempted to argue that carvings on the site represent a recording of the sky, including astrological constellations, as they appeared when a comet hit the earth during the Younger Dryas.
Welcome to another one of Ancient Aliens’ increasingly regular forays into modern ufology in place of ancient history. Tonight’s topic, “The Mystery of Rudloe Manor,” looks at the title property, a onetime British country estate that sits atop an old quarry that was used as an RAF bunker and base during World War II. After the war, it continued on as an RAF communications hub, serving as the control center for Skynet, among other functions. It is connected to a large installation two miles away. In the 1990s, Rupert Matthews alleged that the secret operations that occurred at the manor were related to space aliens, thus launching a rumor perpetuated by fringe writers ever since, among them Ancient Aliens’ own Nick Redfern and Nick Pope.
As you might imagine, I don’t really care about this rumor whatsoever, so this episode was a pretty lengthy slog, more so than usual. It seems that this year the show is trying to burn time by going even more slowly and focusing on ever narrower topics. This episode is rather light on talking heads, and in its single topic and Tsoukalos-fronted on-location focus, it is much closer to a lost episode of In Search of Aliens, the short-lived Ancient Aliens spin-off, than a regular episode of the mother ship.
L. A. Marzulli and Gary Stearman Talk UFOs, Praise "Ancient Aliens," and Prepare for the Rapture in New Interview
On Wednesday, L. A. Marzulli appeared on Prophecy Watchers to discuss “The Great UFO Deception” as host Gary Stearman calls it, or The Watchman Chronicles, as Marzulli titled the DVD he is hawking. Marzulli was on to discuss the impact of UFOs on Christianity, and he calls the tendency of Christians to see UFOs and lights in the sky “even after” finding Jesus “this dirty little secret in the church that no one talks about.” Marzulli claims that between 5% and 33% of churchgoers have seen UFOs. If these two gentlemen are to be believed, Christians are deeply worried that space aliens are seducing the faithful away from demonology and thus threatening evangelical Christianity.
In Major New Article, Graham Hancock Repeats Previous Anti-Scientist Claims, Defends the Search for Atlantis
I will confess that I am not a regular visitor to Graham Hancock’s website, so I am sometimes a few days behind on his latest postings. The last time he wrote an article for his site was in December, and frankly he had sort of fallen off of my radar so that I didn’t realize until now that he published a monumentally long new diatribe on April 30. In the new article, Hancock alleges that scientists “consistently suppress and marginalise new knowledge that conflicts with established positions.” The proximate cause of the article was the appearance of news pieces on the websites of National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine, which Hancock takes as proof that science is a conspiracy to impose dogma.
Smithsonian Channel Claims Babylonian Tablet Preserves "Exactly What the Tower of Babel Looked Like"
Sometime in the last couple of weeks the Smithsonian Channel launched the fourth season of its Secrets TV series, and the season premiere focused on the Tower of Babel. Over the past few days both Christian groups and fringe archaeology types have embraced a clip of the program in which a Babylonian tablet is discussed because they believe that the tablet “proves” that the Biblical story is literally true. I was intrigued enough by the tablet to try to find out why the tinfoil hat brigade would think that the tablet demonstrates the reality of a Biblical legend.
France's Top Ethnology Museum Plans to Hold a Discussion about Dinosaurs and Space Aliens in North American Rock Art
Sixty-two days ago, musician Tom DeLonge announced that he would have a major UFO “disclosure” announcement within sixty days. When the deadline hit on Sunday, DeLonge said that the announcement had been postponed for several weeks. What could be worth the wait? Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t of such pressing importance that DeLonge would place public service over publicity in order to ensure that the public had vital information.
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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