History Channel's Fringe History Propaganda Campaign Continues with Official "Ancient Aliens" Video Game
In July 2015, the History Channel released a nonfiction guide to the ancient astronaut theory for children under the Ancient Aliens brand name. Not content to wait for children to visit the library before indoctrinating them into fake history, the network recently launched a beta version (password: letsplayancientaliens) of a new Ancient Aliens Facebook game designed to draw young people and casual fans of the show into the world of Nibiru, gold-hungry aliens, and the other absurd claims of the ancient astronaut theory. This is not the first game based on the ancient astronaut theory, but it is the first I can find that carries the official endorsement of the History Channel and its parent company, A+E Networks. It is particularly disturbing because it seems to be aimed at a young audience. The game is free to play, which almost demands that we ask why History produced it and how they plan to make money from it and its users.
Today I’d like to call your attention to a change I’ve made to my website and my branding to help keep up with the evolving fringe history field. On my homepage, you’ll see that I’ve replaced the old moniker “skeptical xenoarchaeologist” with a new one, “historical researcher & skeptic.” I’d like to explain the reason for the change.
The president of Honduras embraced the myth of the lost White City of the Monkey God in a speech delivered to university students this week. According to published accounts, Pres. Juan Orlando Hernández announced that a team of archaeologists had set out on Wednesday for the site of the lost city during a speech to private university students at the presidential palace in honor of the nation’s literacy program. The president made plain that he was embracing the myth out of a sense of national pride and for potential economic reward.
Fringe world is starting close in on itself, and it’s starting to get weird. In comments on his blog this week, former America Unearthed host Scott Wolter said that he is currently reading Graham Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods and has found in it “convincing”: “I’m currently reading Graham Hancock’s new book that convincingly explores what catastrophic event likely caused this early high culture to almost go extinct.” Wolter said he is “thoroughly enjoying” Hancock’s work and will be weighing in on the comet that destroyed Atlantis after he finishes the book. He also announced that he will be opining on the real secret of Oak Island after the end of Curse of Oak Island, but won't say anything about it “out of respect for the show and the network.” He did, however, agree that almost all of the stories about Oak Island are exaggerations and hoaxes, and then announced he will soon be “outing” an “unethical academic,” with details to come.
John Reppion Meditates on the Connections between Islamic State, "The Exorcist," and H. P. Lovecraft
It is day three of bathroom renovations, and I have reached the breaking point. The contractor, who came with good recommendations and reviews, has ruined the bathroom. (The contractor I previously used left the business.) It looks worse than if I had tried to do it myself. There isn’t a single straight line in the tilework. I’m at the end of my rope, and I’m not sure what to do.
Over at the Daily Grail website, British writer John Reppion, the son-in-law of graphic novel superstar Alan Moore, posted a strange and rambling meditation on ISIL and its destruction of ancient sites and artifacts that somehow folds The Exorcist and H. P. Lovecraft into his reaction to the Islamic State destroying pre-Islamic cultural heritage. I’d like to talk about this a little bit and explain some of the reasons that I think Reppion’s meditation says more about him and modern Western pop culture than it does about ISIL.
Today is day two of bathroom renovations, and it’s going to be another long day. In between the slamming and banging of construction, I’ve been doing some reading on the history of Templar conspiracies, and I was surprised to see how many of them trace their origins back to the occultist Eliphas Levi, the pseudonym of Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875), who wasn’t even the originator of the underlying claims. Already in Constant’s day the Freemasons were widely (if erroneously) associated with the Knights Templar, and the Freemasons also claimed to be the possessors of a tradition of ancient wisdom stretching back to Biblical times. Levi simply enhanced these preexisting claims and popularized the Templars as an occult force.
Yesterday a couple of previously repaired tiles from before I owned my house started to come loose in my shower. I had hoped it would be a simple fix, but after taking one off in the hopes of regluing it quickly became evident that the old owners of my house had done a bad job tiling over water damage that had only grown worse over the years. As a result, I have contractors rebuilding by entire shower from top to bottom due to decades of damage and rot that the old owners tiled over. It has not been a fun day. Or a cheap one. Oh, and of course they don’t make the tiles used in my bathroom anymore, so everything around the shower has to be retiled, too, unless there is a new trend for mixing and matching tiles.
Note: This post has been updated with an additional Pulitzer claim.
This is one of those relatively unimportant stories, but one I found interesting as a sort of microcosm of the fringe history movement. It concerns our friend Treasure Force Commander J. Hutton Pulitzer, who recently claimed to have “100% confirmed” proof of a Roman sword discovered at Oak Island in Canada, and who more recently heavily implied that skeptics of his claims were the moral equivalent of Islamic State terrorists. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, I started reading J. Hutton Pulitzer’s official curriculum vitae, published in 2014 as J. Hutton Pulitzer Curriculum Vitae: Autodidacticism, written by Chris Cline.
Yesterday I mentioned in passing that a so-called “Gnostic Templar” cited Helena Blavatsky in support of his views on Templar mysteries, and this prompted me to take a closer look at the Theosophist’s influence on Templar conspiracies. It’s a well-known fact that Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine (1888) and Isis Unveiled (1877) served for fringe theorists that the function that James Frazer’s Golden Bough served for mainstream scholars for much of the twentieth century: a convenient storehouse of data that might be plundered at will without recourse to primary sources. I’ll cop to not having read the two volumes of Isis Unveiled cover to cover, and so I was a bit surprised to find so much of the Templar conspiracy already laid out alongside Atlantis and the Nephilim in Blavatsky’s first great work of pseudo-history.
This week Ancient Origins presented two articles by so-called “Grand Prior of the International Order of Gnostic Templars” Mark Amaru Pinkham in which the author recapitulates Templar conspiracy theories taken over from Christopher Knight, a conspiracy theorist whom Pinkham mistakes for a historian. Without documentation or evidence, in the first article Pinkham asserts on Knight’s authority that Knights Templar were descended from families of Jewish elders who fled Jerusalem during the diaspora of 70 CE, after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. Twenty-four of these exiles he alleges founded the “Rex Deus” or “Star” families, privy to the secret wisdom of God. The second article cites Helena Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled to claim that the Templars were privy to the secret truth about Jesus. Blavatsky, it seems, helped to inject Templar nonsense into the lifeblood of fringe history when she tied the Templars to anti-Catholic wisdom traditions and secret knowledge of the truth about history.
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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