Many of you may have seen the sensational headline running this week in The Daily Star, a British tabloid whose priorities lean more toward entertaining readers than informing them. The ridiculous headline proudly proclaimed a world exclusive: “Bigfoot is ‘evidence humans were created from ancient alien slave DNA’.” Aside from being yet another example of the supernatural and the pseudohistorical becoming fodder for the pipeline stretching from the lunatic fringe of the internet through British tabloids to Russian propaganda sites and the mainstream media, there is actually a claim about ancient texts and history underlying the seemingly ridiculous excretion from Ancient Aliens’ infamous Bigfoot episode.
Science Channel Flat-Earther Killed Making TV Show; Plus: Erich von Däniken Gets Another Ancient Text Very Wrong
Over the weekend, pseudoscience television claimed a life. The death of Michael “Mad Mike” Hughes while filming for the Science Channel was not the first death in unscripted TV, but his Wile E. Coyote escapades in a failed effort to prove the Earth flat marked a particularly ridiculous low for the Science Channel and its parent company, Discovery Communications. The Science Channel was shooting a pseudo-documentary series called Homemade Astronauts in which Hughes attempted to launch a homemade rocket 5,000 feet into the air in the hope of using it as a model for a bigger rocket that would let him see the edge of the flat Earth. Just like Wile E. Coyote in the Looney Tunes, his rocket exploded, but since he was not a cartoon character, he died as he lived, utterly irresponsible. The Science Channel and its outgoing chief executive offered their condolences but accepted no responsibility for enabling ad encouraging this staggering act of utter stupidity, which they filmed. In fact, the Science Channel absolved itself on Twitter, claiming it was merely there to “chronicle his journey.”
An Indian scholar claimed that the ancient Sanskrit epic The Ramayana features historical accounts of interactions between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus. Dr. Rangan Ramakrishnan made the claim in his ten-volume study of the Ramayana, its traditional author Valmiki, and its later reception and adaptation in Indian culture. He holds a doctorate in yoga (!) and produces content valorizing ancient India and the Vedas. An article in the South China Morning Post quoted the author on the bizarre claim. Here, Ramakrishnan speaks of Hanuman, a monkey god, and the Vanaras, his monkey retainers:
I have two topics to discuss today. The first concerns American Cosmic author Diana Pasulka, whose Twitter account created controversy over the weekend. In a series of tweets, Pasulka’s Twitter account alleged that Tom DeLonge is a Freemason, that his To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science is a U.S. government “psyop,” that TTSA “scientists” were defecting from the organization or want to, that U.S. presidents engage in pagan lunar worship rituals, and that she would henceforth associate only with members of Jacques Vallée’s supposed “Invisible College” of UFO researchers. Late on Saturday, she put out a statement saying that she had been hacked and was “mortified” by what the hacker said while posing as her on Twitter and in email. She conceded, however, that “Some things were actually things in my email, but nothing I would say publicly.” She did not specify which of the inflammatory claims were her own. It’s probably enough to know that at least some are.
For a show that almost literally no one watched—averaging only around 500,000 viewers across its four-episode run, fewer than syndicated reruns of off-network sitcoms—Megan Fox’s Legends of the Lost has inspired a lot of discussion and upset online, particularly around the question of Viking women warriors. Frankly, I find this to be the least interesting “mystery” on Fox’s show, but it raises a fascinating question about archaeological vs. historical knowledge and how an idea does or does not become a consensus concept in the creation of our story of the past.
It feels like a lifetime ago that Megan Fox launched Legends of the Lost with an episode devoted to the question of women’s roles in Viking society, and it is just possible that the number of articles and reviews devoted to the show outstripped the number of people who actually watched the series. Indeed, if December hadn’t been such a slow month, I’d have probably ignored the show entirely. But I reviewed that first episode, and archaeology professor Howard M. R. Williams of the University of Chester, who specializes in mortuary archaeology, particularly in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian contexts, has posted a lengthy rebuttal to my review, and those of other critics of Fox, accusing me of not fully appreciating the depth of originality in Fox’s depiction of Viking life, calling my review “completely wrong.”
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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