Longtime ancient astronaut theorist Erich von Däniken has a new book out this week called The Gods Never Left Us. However, it is being published by New Page Books, which has banned me from receiving review copies, so I am not able to review the book yet. I would be willing to bet, however, that I could completely make up a review based on von Däniken’s past work and no one would ever notice the difference. At the rate he churns them out, there can’t really be that much original material in any given book. This is especially likely since his next new book, Impossible Truths, is due out in January. The only thing special about The Gods Never Left Us is that it is being marketed as a direct sequel to Chariots of the Gods. And here, silly me, I thought his previous three dozen books on the same theme were sequels. The book description is unintentionally hilarious: “Can’t they leave us alone? And what makes it so difficult for us to acknowledge the existence of these extraterrestrials? That is what this book deals with.” Yes, why can’t they seem to leave poor old von Däniken alone? After all, he’s only gotten 34 volumes out of the “mystery.”
Yesterday the PR flak for a small press publisher asked me to criticize one of their new books, a conspiracy tome alleging that the Gospels are medieval fakes. I’m not going to give them publicity by naming the book or the author, but I was rather taken aback by the invitation to trash a text. I guess that falls into the category of any publicity be good publicity.
Review of "Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs" by Greg King and Penny Wilson
TWILIGHT OF EMPIRE: THE TRAGEDY AT MAYERLING AND THE END OF THE HABSBURGS
Greg King and Penny Wilson | 352 pages | St. Martin’s Press | 2017 | ISBN: 9781250083029 | $27.99
On a cold winter’s night at the end of January 1889, the heir to Europe’s most illustrious throne murdered his teenaged mistress, sat for hours with her naked corpse, and then put a bullet through his own head. The shock caused by the death of Crown Prince Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was so great that nearly 130 years later, many still cannot believe that Rudolf would take his own life, despite his repeated and professed desire to do so. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs, the new book by Greg King and Penny Wilson set to be released on November 14, explores Rudolf’s actions at his hunting lodge of Mayerling and reconstructs the end of the young prince’s tragic life. However, the authors ultimately exhume Rudolf’s corpse in a literary reenactment of the infamous Cadaver Synod, in which Pope Stephen VII propped up the rotten bulk of Pope Formosus’s dead body for a parody of a trial. They spin a conspiracy that is logically inconsistent, and driven more by a visceral dislike of Rudolf than a clear-eyed evaluation of facts.
Weekend Roundup: Marzulli's Vegas Shooter Freakout, Mathematician's Attempt to Google Noah's Flood into Existence, and More!
Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli has always been creepy with his weird combination of Christian extremism and recycled rightwing talking points, but he is slipping farther and farther into the realm of utterly, irredeemably paranoid. In his latest radio broadcast, he was unable to handle the fact that the Las Vegas mass shooter, Stephen Paddock, who killed more than 50 people last weekend, was a wealthy old white male. Because he didn’t fit Marzulli’s preconceptions about what a violent person should be (brown or black, Muslim, etc.), he proposed that Paddock was the victim of CIA mind control experiments, or else that there was a vast conspiracy fomented by the media to frame him. Marzulli turned the subject to himself and added that he is himself a former drug user who consumed copious amounts of LSD and other mind-altering substances, and he claims that the drugs he did before the age of 30 opened him to “the lower astral” where demons live. He then turned his radio show into a lengthy diatribe about the way the U.S. government is feeding drugs to mass shooters in order to take control of them and use them to shoot up America. He added that Islamic State has a “zombie drug” that removes free will, and he speculates that any conservative can fall victim to mind control from liberals, spy agencies, or Muslims.
Last week, I reviewed the Forbidden History fourth season episode on the Knights Templar, and today I follow that up with a review of the next episode of the fourth season, “The Real Mary Magdalene.” If the topic sounds familiar, it’s because the show already covered Holy Bloodline conspiracies in other episodes (specifically S01E03, un-reviewed by me), and because the topic has been the subject of almost every fringe history series broadcast since 2003. But since the Templar episode repeated content and ideas first seen in the first season episode on the Knights Templar, it seems that Forbidden History has entered Ancient Aliens territory, recycling old material with slight variations to justify another hour of TV. This is sad because Forbidden History has so few episodes (just six per season) that there is no reason to recycle topics quite this much. Worse, in 2013 the show had host Jamie Theakston conclude that there was no truth to the Holy Bloodline claims. Made the fool, he now presides over an episode that simply assumes the Bloodline myth to be true. On the plus side, it gave Theakston an excuse for a nice vacation in the south of France
Nephilim Theorists and Ancient Astronaut Believers React to Charlottesville; Plus: David Wilcock Plots Return After Three-Month Hiatus
Over the past several months, I have chronicled the fact that Nephilim theorist L. A. Marzulli is a right-wing bigot with a mockingbird’s ability to repeat whatever slime the alt-right noise machine has thrown against the wall that day. His favorite targets are liberals, gays, and Muslims, and he has used his blog to condemn all three groups for every act of violence undertaken by a member of them. It goes without saying that when a Nazi sympathizer killed a woman at an anti-racist counter-protest in Charlottesville this weekend, Marzulli remained silent. He did not condemn the Nazis marching for white power, nor did he condemn the anti-Semites marching to eliminate “Jewish influence” from America. What he did complain about, however, was the media’s treatment of Donald Trump after Trump initially failed to condemn by name the white supremacist groups marching.
"The Atlantic" Chronicles American Unreason, Including Ancient Astronauts; Plus: "The Week" Condemns Americans for Eschewing "Realist Fiction"
I want to start by pointing to an excellent article by Kurt Andersen in the forthcoming edition of the Atlantic in which he traces the roots of American irrationalism back to the founding era, placing blame for our current explosion of insanity on the 1960s and the rise of the counterculture and postmodernism. It’s not entirely that simple—the weakening of elite institutions as part of a general hollowing out of civic culture in the name of capitalist profit plays a role too—but overall he is quite right. For our purposes, this paragraph is probably the most important, tracing the rise of conspiracy and even Trump to the forces unleashed by the spread of the darkest forms of UFO belief:
Conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 73, according to an announcement his family posted to social media last night. Marrs had suspended updates to his website in June due to health issues, and his health had been in decline for several months. We are told not to speak ill of the dead, but it is difficult for me to find much else to say about him. He was, in private life, apparently loving and devoted to his family, but publicly, for decades Marrs promoted a noxious brew of rightwing conspiracies that danced around anti-Semitic themes, and he happily embraced ancient astronaut theories and wove them into a dark vision of a genocidal Obama government hellbent on mass liquidation of conservatives, a vision that never came to pass and whose predictive failure Marrs never acknowledged. Seriously, he used to claim that Obama and the Chinese and/or Russians were working together to launch a coup against white Americans.
Review of Forbidden History S04E02 "The Secrets of the Vatican"; Plus: Ben Radford Has More Reasons He Thinks I'm Wrong about Chupacabra
I was planning to review Forbidden History today, but then Benjamin Radford responded to my recent response to his recent response to an article I wrote about the Chupacabra six years ago. So, I will append the Forbidden History review below. Meanwhile, in the latest piece, Radford accuses me of purposely misrepresenting him and engaging in straw man arguments to promote a wacky, evidence-free hypothesis. As much as I respect Radford’s work, at times he is that tiresome type of skeptic who demands everything be spelled out in syllogisms and tends toward blindness in the weaknesses of his own arguments. He adds little new in the most recent piece, so I have very little to say about it except to point out some of those aforementioned weaknesses:
In a few days self-described psychic, former Ancient Aliens talking head, and longtime conspiracy theorist Sean David Morton will be sentenced for a series of crimes that included filing false tax returns and creating and cashing fake U.S. Treasury checks. Morton joins convicted embezzler Erich von Däniken and the other rogues’ gallery of ancient astronaut theorists who have had run-ins with the law. Fringe history, like other fringe fields, attracts a number of frauds, con artists, and unscrupulous snake oil salesman looking to exploit extreme beliefs for cash.
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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