She goes on to describe her use of Google Docs and Excel spreadsheets to keep track of various vendors and to make sure everyone gets paid for the use of their photographs, video, music, etc. That’s funny because no one paid me when Ancient Aliens used my material in their pilot episode in 2009 (or when it was recycled again in 2013), but that was before Baer’s time.
Baer identified her forte as research, though I am somewhat less comforted by the fact that she describes research as “div[ing] into the internet and explor[ing] those deep dark corners.” This includes examining cached copies of old Geocities websites, where I’m sure there must be just tons of high quality academic information. I hope that in writing her blog piece she simply overlooked the use of books, museum resources, academic journals, etc., but given what shows up on the screen—and how easy it is to trace that material back to simple Google searches—I’m not confident about it.
But I really want to get to the meat of the issue: Baer admits that no one working on Ancient Aliens takes the show at all seriously, and they intentionally manipulate information to create false narratives:
Even though the final product may not look like it, we actually do quite a lot of research for each episode so that names, dates and historical information is correct. Of course, the fun really starts when we have to jump off the deep end and make all of the nice historically accurate people, places and things fit the ‘Ancient Aliens’ mold. Imagine the most ridiculous combination of historical terms/figures and actions and there’s a very high probability we’ve had that as a story point on the show. We know our job is really and truly ridiculous but it always surprises me just how excited people get when they find out I work on this series. It makes me feel a bit better about the absurdity we put on TV. Just a bit.
Baer seems to justify her participation in the show as offering a mitigating effect. She envisions herself as “actively work[ing] on getting some history back on the History Channel.” Of course, Ancient Aliens airs on H2. I can understand taking work that one doesn’t particularly like because of financial necessity (everyone has done so at some point; I once edited a semi-fringe book on Roman treasure for a European author), but to actively work to undermine the discipline you claim to love? I can’t quite fathom that.
On the plus side, as we prepare for the next season of Ancient Aliens madness, we now have firsthand testimony that the production team knows that the show is absurd, that they intentionally manipulate facts to fit a predetermined narrative, and that they research their claims primarily through Google.