History Channel to Launch New "In Search Of..."; Plus: Scott Wolter Marks Three Years Since End of "America Unearthed" with Radio Interview
The History channel has greenlighted a ten-episode revival of In Search of… starring Zachary Quinto, taking over the hosting role originated by Leonard Nimoy in the 1977-1982 original. Quinto was selected because he, like Nimoy before him, played Mr. Spock in Star Trek. In announcing the decision yesterday, the network said that the revived series would explore “dynamic” subjects “such as alien encounters, mysterious creatures, UFO sightings, time travel and artificial intelligence.”
Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch ran an article by journalist Alexander Zaitchik exploring the close connections between fringe history and hate, notably the way that white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites have incorporated claims as wide-ranging as ancient aliens, lost civilizations, and Bible giants into a narrative designed to promote a racist agenda. Zaitchik quotes me as an expert in fringe history’s darker themes, and I am pleased that he made good use of much of the information that I provided about some of the many ways hate groups have employed fringe history to craft narratives of racial supremacy.
As we approach the New Year, it’s time to take a final look back at 2017 in fringe history. This was a year when political news overshadowed almost everything else, but 2017 still managed to find new ways to use and abuse history, rivalling the historic low of 2016. This year in fringe history might not have been more extreme than last year, but it was certainly darker. It was the year when fringe historians rejoiced that they had an ally in the White House whose courtiers proudly flew the banner of “alternative facts,” but more than anything, it was the year of Tom DeLonge, the musician turned ufologist who published an ancient astronaut book, launched a UFO research company, was crowned UFO researcher of the year, and took credit for the year’s biggest UFO research flap. Let’s look back at what happened over the past twelve months.
William Henry Claims Leonardo da Vinci Painting Is "Technology" for Transdimensional Communication with Christ
:Yesterday morning my hot water heater burst, and I had to spend most of the day dealing with the fallout and the cleanup. Worse, when the new heater was being installed, the plumber found that the pipe leading to the heater had cracked around a joint and was leaking. It was ready to burst. So, the pipe had to be replaced, too. Wasn’t that a merry Christmas present? The upshot is that I had very little time to complete work or prepare a blog post for today. So, I did what I usually do when I need a quick hit of something absolutely mind-blowingly stupid. I turned to a talking head from Ancient Aliens.
Of course, it’s also a great time to contribute to my annual fundraising campaign:
History Channel Executive Boasts: Templar and Alien Conspiracy Shows "Continually Worked for Us," Will Inspire More of the Same
Last night the History channel debuted its new series about the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail, Knightfall, a series designed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the network’s hit series Vikings and its core audience’s fascination with Da Vinci Code conspiracy theories. While critics offered mixed reviews of the series, many complained that the show was either dramatically inert or overly generic. Nevertheless, it is the first entry to build on Vikings to create a multipronged programming strategy designed to turn History into a full-service entertainment destination, where scripted shows provide an entry point for documentary features on the (quasi-) real history behind the story.
Next month, the Travel Channel is sending Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates on a “special event” in which he goes in search of “the mother of all questions.” Do I even have to say that he’s doing a multi-episode hunt for ancient astronauts and UFOs? While I have every confidence that Gates will fail to find ET (since he’s never found any other myth he’s looked for), the fact that the ancient astronaut theory—for which, read “ripping off the more popular Ancient Aliens”—is seen as a ratings-grabbing “event” is about as depressing as it gets in the shady world of unscripted cable TV. Almost a decade after Ancient Aliens debuted, it remains the platonic ideal of cable TV programming: lazy, cheap, and wildly popular. Stay on the air long enough, and every program ends up talking about space aliens.
And becomes repetitive. That, too. Ancient Aliens has covered the Stone Age Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe, a 12,000-year-old stone temple complex, many times in the past. Off the top of my head, I know of at least six episodes that discuss it, but I’m sure I am forgetting some. It should probably be obvious that the producers of the show were paying attention a few months ago when some Graham Hancock super-fans decided to try to cast Hancock and Andrew Collins’s speculations about the astronomical orientation of the ancient temple complex in academic language in an obscure academic journal, spawning a media frenzy among the uncritical who failed to realize that the academic authors basically just repeated Andrew Collins (though I am surprised that they did not mention the article by name). I give them this much credit, however: Ancient Aliens makes no bones about revisiting a well-worn topic. The title of S12E16 is “Return to Göbekli Tepe,” conceding that we have been down this path before.
I guess when a favorite piece of evidence for ancient astronauts is debunked as little more than a hoax, you have two choices: You can accept the verdict of reason, or you can fight it. Ancient Aliens has made the unusual choice to try to rehabilitate the fake Dropa Stones, a hoax that first appeared in a German vegetarian magazine in July 1962 before being popularized by books like Peter Kolosimo’s Not of This World. The Dropa Stone hoax became popular enough that Sputnik magazine used a picture of one such stone as part of the cover illustration for an article on Uzbekistan “alien” cave art that Erich von Däniken later mistook for the art itself. The stones, it goes without saying, have never been shown to exist outside of the imagination of ufologists. Ancient Aliens takes the lack of evidence as proof of a massive conspiracy to suppress the truth.
History Channel Sends Giorgio Tsoukalos on Latin American Tour as Part of "Ancient Aliens" Promotional Extravaganza
Venezuela is in the midst of a terrible crisis that is consuming every level of its society. Pres. Trump called the country a dictatorship, and the socialist government has come under international criticism for pushing through constitutional changes under a dubious referendum with the goal of consolidating the ruling party’s power for a generation. Meanwhile, ordinary people are starving as food supplies run low. So what does one of the country’s leading newspapers think that the public needs to know about? Giorgio Tsoukalos and space aliens, of course.
Tonight’s episode, “A Spaceship Made of Stone,” focuses on the Ishi-no-Hōden (“Stone Treasure-House”) megalith in Japan, a large roughly cubic rock carved out of the side of a hill between 500 and 700 CE, and it is said to hold the spirit of the deity of the Jinja Shinto shrine in which it sits. It weighs about 500 tons, and its most impressive feature is the clever way its base was carved into a narrow pedestal to give the illusion that it floats above the water atop which it sits. The monument has been known to the West since at least 1832, when Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German who disguised himself as a Dutchman in order to sneak into an isolationist Japan, published a picture of it in the first volume of his Nippon. The monolith appears on tonight’s show because last year, when the current batch of episodes was being planned out, an article and video about the cube made the rounds of the fringe history message boards and spam sites, where Ancient Aliens gets all its ideas.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. When Ancient Aliens started down the path of saying that all human genius was the result of human brains tapping into an alien internet signal, it stood to reason that eventually they would deny that even our own sense of self, our consciousness, belongs to us but rather is a projection from another realm, thus accounting for reincarnation and psychic channeling. This is similar to the New Age idea that the brain is really a receiver for consciousness from the spirit world—i.e., that consciousness is a projection from a realm beyond the physical into the material world. They just bastardize the idea down to its grossest level, which, frankly, is what Ancient Aliens always does. This is New Age religion for dummies, dummies who aren’t quite ready to commit full on to faith and still want to pretend that this is all either entertainment or science.
The title of the episode, “The Replicants,” suggests that the episode will focus on mind-control, soul-cloning, or something like that. The actual content never addresses the episode title at all. What a missed opportunity.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.