In the realm of who’s mad at me now, we can add Gary Lachman, the Blondie bassist turned occult apologist, who wrote to Blavatsky News this week to criticize my review of his Fortean Times article on why Helena Blavatsky should be rehabilitated. I had chided Lachman for his lack of scholarly rigor and his apparent misreading of facts, so it did not surprise me that he (a) chose to engage a third party rather than me directly to offer criticism and (b) completely misread my blog post in order to create a sense of self-vindication.
It’s astonishing to me that the sequel to Mermaids: The Body Found (2012) called Mermaids: The New Evidence (2013) racked up the highest ever ratings for Animal Planet, with more than 3.6 million people tuning in to watch the network lie to viewers about the existence of mermaids. That’s more than watched the first mermaid film last year. It’s also disturbing because Animal Planet failed to disclose until the very end—and then only in a brief flash—that the documentary was a complete and total fake. That’s what makes this show different from programs like the Science Channel documentaries that imagine what it would be like to discover alien life; those were presented as “what-if” very plainly.
Bigfoot Believer Asks If "America Unearthed" Found Evidence Sasquatch Skeletons Are Buried in Minnesota
It was bound to happen. Fringe ideas are combining thanks to America Unearthed.
Officials at the History family of networks might think their programs are just entertainment, but people take them seriously. You’ll recall that in episode S01E04 of America Unearthed Scott Wolter went in search of the skeletons of “giants” in Minnesota. Although Wolter found no giants—the skeleton he investigated was 5’3”—that isn’t the impression viewers got after an hour of speculation about how and why super-tall skeletons have been dug up across America. So it was only a matter of time before fans of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot came across the “giants” episode of America Unearthed and began to ask the only logical question: “Could these giant bones actually be Bigfoot bones?”
Animal Planet scored its highest ratings ever last year with its mockumentary special on mermaids, which pretended to have discovered a mermaid body and used this “discovery” to present the “aquatic ape” hypothesis of human evolution which was momentarily en vogue thirty or forty years ago. They reran the documentary Sunday night with a follow-up special adding additional silliness to their program. Last year, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration responded directly to the show by announcing mermaids were not real, and it seems that another debunking is in order, if the astonishing credulity of Twitter users is any guide to the views of those who watched the show.
Over on the DuckRabbits blog, Logan Rees has an interesting discussion of the ancient astronaut theory as modern mythology, and it parallels much of what I quoted Steve Moore talking about yesterday. Moore discussed how such ideas are “modern romances,” filling a need for fantasy and mystery and magic, while Rees has a slightly different take. He is speaking specifically of Giorgio Tsoukalos and the cast of Ancient Aliens as he criticizes ancient astronaut speculators’ ignorance, specifically Tsoukalos:
Yesterday I mentioned how former Blondie bassist Gary Lachman is on a quest to rehabilitate the occult as a viable alternative to “materialism.” In reading this month’s Fortean Times, I discovered that he is not the only musician questing after an alternative to science. An advertisement informs me that South African musician and actor Michael Tellinger has adopted Zecharia Sitchin’s ideas as truth and has a new book called African Temples of the Anunnaki, a follow-up to 2005’s Slave Species of God, which he advertised as the culmination of twenty-five years of study of… wait for it… Zecharia Sitchin.
In the current issue of the Fortean Times (June 2013), Blondie bassist and anti-materialist occult writer Gary Lachman has an article on Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, in which Lachman discusses reasons why the mystic should be rehabilitated from the taint of fakery. Lachman’s article is tied to his book, Madame Blavatsky, published last year and unread by me. Lachman celebrates Blavatsky as impetus behind our modern “multicultural, multi-faith, pluralistic sensibilities,” as well as our “current grassroots interest in a direct, immediate knowledge and experience of spiritual reality,” which he takes pains to claim the New Age has perverted.
So, yes, this is yet another argument that science and scholarship are bad because they don’t assume the reality of a spiritual dimension of gods and monsters.
I’m sure you’ll recall that not long ago a Spanish-language Canadian publication took me to task for claiming that an alleged cave painting of space aliens, a UFO, and the Dropa Stones supposedly found in Uzbekistan was a fake. Thanks to a commenter on my blog, Leo Schmidt, I’ve learned that there is even more evidence that the image in question is not what ancient astronaut theorists, particularly Erich von Däniken, claim it is.
This morning A+E Television Networks (AETN) and I concluded an agreement so I may resume publication of Unearthing the Truth, which will be back on sale next week after I have had new cover proofs printed and approved. Of course it isn’t as easy as just saying yes to them. Originally, they demanded that I specify twice in the book’s promotional text that the book was unauthorized. Naturally, after I agreed they must have decided that it was too easy because just before concluding the agreement they changed the terms and demanded that I add the word “unauthorized” a third time to the promotional text, even though I went above and beyond their original demands to place on the front cover a disclaimer that the book was not produced or endorsed by A+E—as though I’d want anyone to think I was associated with them after all this.
Last week Scott Wolter appeared on Red Ice Radio, a program run by Henrik Palmgren, a Swedish conspiracy theorist. I didn’t say anything about it last week because, as you might guess, I was a bit preoccupied with A+E’s cease and desist order. Now that I’ve had time to listen to the program, I was shocked by how Wolter accidentally revealed some rather disingenuous goings on over at A+E Networks, the parent of History and H2.
Most of Wolter’s interview was a recap of his Hooked X® book and the first season of America Unearthed, which I will not revisit. Below are some of the other highlights along with my thoughts about Wolter’s comments on Red Ice Radio.
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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