Mysteries of the Tayos Caves: Lost Civilizations Where the Andes Meet the Amazon
Alex Chionetti | Bear & Company | Dec. 2019 | 272 pages | ISBN: 9781591433569 | $20
Publishers don’t share all of their new books with me, so I don’t always get to read all of the books that might be relevant to this blog before they are published. Ever since Andrew Collins complained that I gave one of his books a negative review prior to publication, Inner Traditions, one of the biggest purveyors of pseudohistory and New Age claptrap in the publishing industry, has stopped making available for review their books on themes relate to archaeology and ancient history prior to publication, presumably to stop me from reviewing them. Therefore, I had to wait to read a new book published last month by Bear & Company, a division of Inner Traditions. The book is called Mysteries of the Tayos Caves by Alex Chionetti, and it deserves notice for two reasons: First, because of who Chionetti is and second, because of who endorsed his book. The actual content of the book is nothing you haven’t seen before on Ancient Aliens and Expedition Unknown, and for good reason, as we shall see.
The History Channel announced the return of Ancient Aliens for a new season, but there is a twist: According to the network, new episodes will air on Saturdays beginning January 25. Previously, Ancient Aliens had aired on Fridays. Saturday is typically television's lowest-rated night and is often described as the "graveyard" of programming. However, America Unearthed spent several seasons on Saturdays on the H2 network to decent ratings, so this is not an automatic death sentence for the long-running series, but the move to a new and less-watched night might reflect the declining ratings for the series, which fell from more than a million viewers per week in January 2019 to fewer than 800,000 by the end of 2019.
The upshot, however, is that I will no longer be able to review the show on the night it airs. The new night also includes a new 10 PM time slot, and that is too late for me to be working. I will be asleep before the episode ends. Having a toddler tends to do that to a person. I am not sure when I will be able to slot in a review of the show since my weekends are usually booked.
Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, 2019 was the year in which fringe history stopped being fringe and went completely mainstream. This year, we saw pseudohistory and conspiracy theories top the literary bestseller lists, multiply across cable channels like mushrooms on a rotten log, and attract record crowds to traveling carnivals masquerading as pseudohistory “fan” conventions. It perfectly captures the tenor of the times for the post-truth era that the very notions of fact and fiction ceased to have meaning. This was a long, hard year, both for the world and also for me personally. After dealing with family health problems, buying and selling a house (and still not being able to close on selling the old one until early 2020, nearly half a year after the sale), writing two books, and a knot of lawyers for many different developments, I am ready for this unpleasant year to end. Let’s look back in anger:
Last week saw the last new episode of Ancient Aliens for 2019. The episode trended down from the previous week, bringing in 897,000 viewers, compared to 925,000 for the Tucker Carlson episode the week before. The numbers suggest that at least some of the previous week’s viewer spike was attributable to Carlson fans tuning in, but the numbers are so small that the greater part is probably due to random fluctuation. In Search Of had 963,000 viewers for its final episode of the season. Meanwhile, the Science Channel conspiracy fringe history series Unexplained + Unexplored trended up to 441,000 viewers for its episode hunting the alleged killer of Meriwether Lewis.
Several months ago, the PR flak representing Tom DeLonge contacted me to ask if I wanted a review copy of DeLonge’s and Peter Levenda’s new book Gods, Man, & War, Volume 2: Man: An Official Sekret Machines Investigation of the UFO Phenomenon by Tom DeLonge with Peter Levenda. It’s a mouthful, but I said, sure, why not. After the original publication date passed (later pushed to December) and the several weeks went by, I assumed that they weren’t sending the book. Imagine my surprise when yesterday, almost a month after I had given up, a box showed up with a hardcover printing of GM&W2M—an initialism I now realize looks more like an online hookup tag than a book title. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that they kept their word, albeit very late. Credit where it is due: They are much braver than the History Channel, New Page Books, and the other companies that have banned me from receiving review copies of their products. My plan is to take the holiday weekend to read the book and then review it on Tuesday of next week.
Last month, Ancient Aliens hit record low ratings for original broadcasts, spending most of the month drawing a live plus same day audience of fewer than 800,000 viewers. At the time, I suggested that part of the decline could be attributed to the show airing its new episodes opposite postseason baseball games and the World Series. However, I noted at the time that sports couldn’t be responsible for the entirety of the decline since the show almost always airs opposite some sort of sports event. Now, the ratings are in for the November 1 broadcast, and they indicate that the show’s audience has indeed entered a period of substantial decline.
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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