Erich von Däniken Receives Award for "Integrity," Gives Keynote Speech Based on Decades-Old Mistakes and False Claims
This weekend Erich von Däniken was in California to give the keynote address to the Conscious Life Expo. At the event, he received the “Integrity Award” for his lifetime of investigation into the ancient astronaut theory. The layers of irony are thick, particularly since von Däniken’s “integrity” involves being convicted of embezzling money to fund his writing of Chariots of the Gods, admitting to fabricating his exploration of a cave full of “alien” artifacts, wholesale reusing of material from book to book while charging readers for “new” content, and the usual laundry list of false and misleading statements that demonstrate his lack of scholarly rigor or even a basic critical understanding of his own material.
Harvard Scientist Speculates about Ancient Astronauts as Surrogates for God, Asks If Their Existence Would Make Humanity More Moral and Responsible
Note: Due to a number of obligations I have this week, my blog posts are going to be briefer than usual several days this week. I hope you don’t mind too much.
Today I wanted to discuss a blog post on the Scientific American website by Abraham (Avi) Loeb, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department and a bunch of other impressive titles related to astrophysics. However, despite his extensive career, he is best known to the public for his 2018 claim that the anomalous interstellar object ‘Oumuamua could be a piece of alien technology. He wrote this weekend about the idea—so popular among ancient astronaut theorists—that advanced extraterrestrials would be indistinguishable from God. While he attributes the idea to a variation of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law (first proposed in 1973), regular readers will know that H. P. Lovecraft wrote stories about humans mistaking advanced space aliens for deities in the 1920s, and antecedents of the idea can be found in Theosophy decades before.
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.
Secrets and Riddles of Ancient History: Great Powers of Forgotten Worlds
Jennifer S. Dawson | Camea Publishing | December 2018 | $2.99 eBook
In some respects, self-publishing has been a boon in terms of providing a path for voices outside the mainstream to share their points of view. But mostly online eBook self-publishing has resulted in tens of thousands of half-assed click-bait titles of middling to low quality. The author Jennifer S. Dawson—apparently a pen name for a non-English-speaking author—churns out a remarkable number of books in the “ancient mysteries” genre, covering topics familiar to readers of 1970s volumes on similar subjects. I’d try to address the books by theme, but they are a hodgepodge of short articles on unrelated topics united only in their general connection to lost civilizations, ancient astronauts, and other such threadbare “mysteries.” Secrets and Riddles of Ancient History: Great Powers of Forgotten Worlds, recently published, is representative of both the author’s handling of mysteries and the carelessness that characterizes so many attempts to exploit the ancient mysteries genre.
Peruvian Congressman Brings Ufologist and Fringe Scientists to Congress to Promote Nazca "Alien" Mummies
Do you remember the story about the supposed “alien” mummies in Peru that ate up so much air time over at Gaia TV last year? The ones that were chalk-white and had weird, long-fingered hands? Well, it turns out that the three-fingered corpses, which scientific investigation determined to be crudely manipulated human bodies altered to appear extraterrestrial, aren’t done causing trouble. According to Spanish-language media accounts, Mexican ufologist Jaime Maussen traveled to Peru to make a case at the country’s federal legislature on November 19 that the Peruvian government both protect the mummies and investigate their “mysterious” origins. A report by Victor Roman in N+1 this past week gives the following account:
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.
Today you are getting a shorter blog post since I ran out of writing time yesterday when my scheduled eye doctor appointment ran ridiculously far behind schedule, and I spent three hours there only to be told that my prescription hadn’t changed. It was my first time seeing this doctor, and I was surprised to find that he was a believer in the ancient astronaut theory and that he was delighted to learn that I was familiar with Mu and had appeared in a documentary with Erich von Däniken.
By now, most of you have probably heard about the recent paper published in Science identifying a circular depression under the Greenland ice sheet as a crater, likely from a cosmic impact. It was the subject of a lengthy profile on the Science website. Supporters of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis have seized upon this as evidence of the impact of a comet at the start of the Younger Dryas and the impetus for the massive climate change seen at that time. Critics note that the crater has not been securely dated and cannot be definitively tied to the Younger Dryas. They also suggest that it is too small to have been the remains of a climate-changing impact, to which supporters counter that it may be one of many craters from a multi-impact event. No other craters of the right age have been associated with the event.
In an interview yesterday with Inverse to promote the upcoming Baltimore Alien Con, Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos … well, offered more of the same, actually. For someone who is supposedly an expert on … something … he is remarkably shallow in his interviews and rather repetitive in the potted anecdotes he parcels out. Perhaps it comes from too many years reciting prewritten lines for Ancient Aliens, or perhaps it reflects the dearth of originality behind the ancient astronaut theory. There were, however a few highlights worth mentioning.
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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