With nearly a third of Americans sheltering in their homes under government order and many of the other two-thirds staying in out of prudence and caution, television viewing numbers are growing. Ancient Aliens saw some interesting ratings changes this past weekend. Its total number of viewers did not rise significantly—coming in at 1.043 million—but the number of younger viewers watching nearly doubled. A chunk of the show’s older viewers tuned out (they seemingly flocked to cable news coverage of the corona virus), but younger viewers switched to Ancient Aliens to make up the difference. Oddly, The UnXplained with William Shatner, which previously had more total viewers and more viewers 18-49 than Ancient Aliens, saw its ratings fall to just 883,000 viewers as younger fans apparently sated themselves on Ancient Aliens and turned the channel or went to bed.
Note: An earlier version of this post noted Brandon Fugal's connection to a Utah-based Ancient History Research Foundation, which listed him as its director on its website. The AHRF, which explored giants, hyper-diffusionism, and other fringe topics, was also affiliated with Wayne May, the patron of infamous figure Frank Joseph, and house Joseph's writings. These references have been removed because Fugal informed me that his affiliation with the foundation ended in 2005, he was not part of the organization when it began housing May's and Joseph's work, and he is not actively investingating anomalous archaeology. I regret the error.
This week, MJ Banias revealed the name of the new owner of Skinwalker Ranch, real estate investor Brandon Fugal, who came out of the shadows four years after purchasing the paranormal property from billionaire Robert Bigelow, just in time to promote his ranch’s new History channel series. But, as always, there is more to the story than meets the eye—and it is weirder than you might imagine.
On Tuesday, Sarah Scoles published They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers (Pegasus, 2020), and to promote the book, which I have not yet read, she published an excerpt in Wired magazine. Mostly the excerpt is a fairly standard description of the first two decades of the modern UFO era, from the Kenneth Arnold sighting to the Air Force efforts to investigate and debunk saucer sightings. I am, however, interested in Scoles’s sociological approach to the question of flying saucers. In the excerpt, she asserts that even without Kenneth Arnold, UFO culture would have emerged anyway:
In the December 2019 issue of El Ojo Crítico, a Spanish-language magazine investigating the unexplained, Chris Aubeck has an article looking into the Taylorville UFO encounter of 1873, one of the sightings that he had alluded to in his December interview with Thomas Brisson Jørgensen that I wasn’t able to immediately identify at the time. The story is amusing, but as I thought when I read Aubeck’s description, it scarcely seemed credible. The December issue of El Ojo Crítico was recently posted online. Now, after seeing Aubeck’s much lengthier and more detailed take on the story, excerpted from a forthcoming book, I am even more confident that it just another hoax article, like so many of its era.
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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