I have a new article out today in Slate magazine examining Joe McCarthy, Tucker Carlson, and UFOs in light connection with masculinity issues and pop culture.
On a cold December night in 1950, red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy spent a charity dinner at Washington’s Sulgrave Club trading insults with liberal journalist Drew Pearson. McCarthy had attacked Pearson on the floor of the Senate, calling for a boycott of his radio show. Pearson had attacked McCarthy on air and in his newspaper column, accusing the senator of lying about communist infiltration of the American government. McCarthy had recklessly accused the State Department of harboring hundreds of communists, sparking a massive investigation and an ongoing purge. After dinner, the two ran into each other in the cloakroom and their conflict turned physical. McCarthy kneed Pearson in the groin, and Sen. Richard Nixon had to pull McCarthy off Pearson.
Read the rest at Slate magazine by clicking here.
Recently, UFO propagandist Leslie Kean had her book on the afterlife adapted as a Netflix series. Her writing partner, Ralph Blumenthal, is about to publish his long-gestating biography of alien abduction researcher John Mack, endorsing Mack’s ideas about reaching a transcendent afterlife through aliens. The pair came to renewed national attention in December 2017 when they revealed the existence of a Pentagon UFO office, a report instigated through the offices of To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, staffed by refugees from both the government office and its major contractor, wealthy UFO believer and hotelier Robert Bigelow’s flying saucer research organization. The relationship between these various data points wasn’t entirely clear until now. Today, the New York Times ran a new piece by Blumenthal rhapsodizing over Bigelow’s newest venture, an effort to prove life continues after death.
The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack
Ralph Blumenthal | High Road Books | Mar. 2020 | 312 pages | ISBN: 978-0-8263-6231-5 | $29.95
Ralph Blumenthal’s The Believer is probably the wrong book for me to be reviewing right now. Coming on the heels of me finishing a six-month project writing my own new book, which also combined biography with UFOs, the structural and formal similarities between our two volumes became uncomfortable. That Blumenthal made exactly the opposite choices in putting his book together served for me as an object lesson in the difference between reportage and storytelling. The Believer is a bad book, though not without a basic factual utility. It’s unpleasant to read, confusing, and lacks a clear perspective on its subject beyond hagiography. But worst of all, it’s bad as biography. You won’t leave this book feeling anything for or about John Mack, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who became an alien abduction researcher and who serves as the book’s titular subject. He never feels human.
For years now, I have ended each trip around the sun with a summary of the preceding twelve months in fringe history, space aliens, and the weird. Most years, these summaries run into the thousands of words because so much happened. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the American presidential election severely curtailed the number of extreme claims made about ancient history, as conspiracy theorists turned their attention toward disease and politics. Last year, I said I was ready for a long, difficult year to end, and now those look like the good old days. This year I published a new book and wrote two more, and I look forward to what I hope will be big things next year when publishers get a look at my newest manuscript. In the meantime, we can look back in sadness and anger.
On December 12, former America Unearthed host Scott F. Wolter appeared on Mars conspiracy theorist Richard Hoagland’s amateurish podcast The Other Side of Midnight. It was weird. Much of it was the same repetitive blather about Wolter’s greatest hits, particularly the Kensington Rune Stone, but listening to him try to discuss his ideas with a man who thinks the universe is filled with ancient alien ruins makes it an unusual exercise in mutual delusion.
I feel like I need to take note of the bizarre statement from former head of Israel’s defense ministry space directorate made recently alleging that the United States is touch with space aliens and that Donald Trump considered breaking the news before the election. Haim Eshed is 87 years old and currently promoting a new book about the cosmos. He served as the head of the space directorate from the early 2000s to 2010. Prior to that, he worked on Israel’s satellite program, beginning in 1980, and was one of the founders of Israel’s space agency in 1983.
As most of you probably know, Tim McMillan has an article in the new online news site The Debrief in which he outlines the continued Pentagon interest in the question of flying saucers, or "unidentified aerial phenomena" as they have been known among the military on and off for the past seven decades or so. The article, which is a bit shaggy and at times somewhat unclear, contains some new details about previously reported interactions between the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science and lower-level staffers for the U.S. Senate:
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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