Before we begin today: For the record, the Travel Channel’s rerun of America Unearthed this week returned 421,000 viewers, consistent with the last few airings, and beat out the original series Lost Gold that aired immediately after by 4,000 viewers. Project Blue Book fell to 1.39 million viewers against the State of the Union address, while Curse of Oak Island shed viewers against the same competition, clocking 3.12 million viewers. And now, for something slightly different.
Regular readers will remember Jeffrey J. Kripal, a professor of philosophy and religious thought at Rice University, because a few years ago he declared that a Renaissance painting depicted a genuine flying saucer, and more recently, because he held a UFO symposium. In a recent interview, Kripal has made a surprising new claim that finds further parallels with the pseudo-religious ramblings of latter-season Ancient Aliens. Kripal says that he believes the human imagination does not necessarily generate its own ideas but instead may be a conduit for receiving supernatural messages from the outside. This is surprisingly similar to the claim made on Ancient Aliens that geniuses do not have original insights but instead have their thoughts beamed into their heads by superior space aliens.
Australia's History Channel Marks Australia Day with "Ancient Aliens" Claims about Space Aliens and Egyptians Colonizing Down Under
Australians celebrate Australia Day each January 26, a public holiday that is the rough equivalent of America’s Fourth of July, except that it celebrates the arrival of British sovereignty rather than the loss of it. But the patriotic celebration is not universally beloved Down Under, and thousands turned out last week to protest what opponents call Invasion Day, due to the observance marking the arrival of British colonists and their takeover of Indigenous Australian territory in what is now New South Wales. Supporters believe that the day is an important tool in fostering and celebrating Australian unity, while opponents see it as, basically, a White Pride party. “There are only two events where we can be guaranteed to see white people wearing [Australian] flag capes—on Australia Day and at neo-Nazi rallies,” wrote Luke Pearson, the founder of Indigenous X, a website raising awareness of Indigenous Australian issues.
Since this week I had an extra blog post reviewing Project Blue Book and sat through two hours of Ancient Aliens, and my son has an ear infection, I will make only a brief blog post today to report the results of the Nielsen ratings for this week’s premiere of Project Blue Book. The program had a disappointing debut, fumbling 1 million viewers from its Curse of Oak Island lead-in. The show had 2.2 million viewers, with a 0.43 rating in the 18-49 demo. This compares unfavorably to Curse of Oak Island in the preceding hour, which attracted 3.2 million viewers and scored a 0.8 in the demo—all while airing against Pres. Trump’s prime time address in the Eastern Time Zone. Blue Book, which did not have presidential competition, returned remarkably low numbers given its extensive promotion across television, extending even to a fake newspaper wraparound on last Sunday’s New York Times.
I have my limits. Tonight, the History Channel presents a 2-hour Ancient Aliens special in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Chariots of the Gods, which was actually this past spring. According to the episode description, the special will ask whether Chariots author Erich von Däniken will finally be proved right thanks to recent discoveries. Because this is going to take so much time to sit through, I won’t be writing another lengthy post for the few hours between now and this evening. I’ll try to have my Ancient Aliens review posted shortly after the episode airs.
Compared to years past, this was a rebuilding year for the fringe. Most of the major figures on the fringe sat the year out, preparing for bigger things in 2019 and beyond, and those that were active either failed to produce their promised results, delivered results that failed to meet expectations, or spent their time teasing revelations yet to come in 2019, or whenever they need a cash infusion. There was no major fringe history bestseller this year, and the wannabes in the category came from small presses and consequently received little or no media attention outside dedicated fringe sites. The new fringe pseudo-documentaries that made it to air either muddled through their middling runs or failed outright. The reason for the decline in the fringe was easy enough to see: The fringe had gone mainstream in 2017, and the continued presence of conspiracy theorists and fringe thinkers in the upper ranks of the Republican Party and the Trump Administration lessened the demand for pseudo-history. These sorts of claims tend to be more popular as counterprogramming.
Last week, I reported that Megan Fox’s new Legends of the Lost brought in disappointing ratings when just 429,000 people tuned in, according to preliminary figures, putting it in the same Tuesday ratings class as Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides (424,000) and CNBC’s The Profit (430,000). The numbers are roughly average for Travel shows, and just two-thirds of those of those of new episodes of Mysteries at the Museum, the highest-rated series on the network, but on par with day-side and early prime reruns of Mysteries. Nevertheless, despite the manifest lack of public interest in her program—representing 0.1% of the U.S. population—the media remain fascinated by… I almost said “a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit,” but that isn’t true. Zachary Quinto is also a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit, to three times the ratings, and almost literally nobody in the media cared. The media are fascinated because a certain set of editors are hot for Megan Fox and titillated by the idea of an attractive woman doing “man” stuff like archaeology.
David Childress: Aliens Living in the Hollow Moon Created Bigfoot to Serve as Missing Link Between Humans and Apes
I had to laugh when I read Inverse magazine’s admission that in a 21-minute interview with Ancient Aliens star David Childress, Childress spoke for 21 straight minutes, barely letting the interviewer get a word in edgewise and making it impossible, as Inverse writer Jake Kleinman said, to create a “coherent” story from his verbal ramblings. Clearly, ancient mysteries are the type of pet topic that allows Childress to monologue in unbroken streams, regardless of whether his listeners are interested, and one might speculate as to the reasons for that, but I would never offer an armchair diagnosis. Instead, I think it serves as a fair warning to future interviewers to be less open-ended in questioning him. In the interview, Childress made a number of statements that lacked the usual qualifiers that the producers of Ancient Aliens routinely force their talking heads to include to provide legal and ethical fig leaves.
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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