A few days ago, Scientific American ran a lengthy interview with Leslie Kean, the journalist and one-time government lobbyist for UFO disclosure. Kean wrote a credulous book about UFOs several years ago but is today best known for a series of New York Times stories in which she outlined the Pentagon’s UFO research program and followed the work of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, a company she had previously discussed in worshipful terms in the Huffington Post. Kean presents herself as an objective journalist investigating extremes, though it is obvious to anyone who has listened to her interviews that she is no neutral observer. Her most recent interview offers more confirmation that many of the interpretations she offers are not fully connected to a dispassionate analysis of facts.
Due to the lack of new material to write about this week, I don’t have much to share today. I should talk about former Sen. Harry Reid claiming to now believe aliens exist, but, really, who is surprised by that? He was impressed by the commonplace “mysteries” of Skinwalker Ranch. Instead, I wanted to briefly take note of the ratings for this week’s History Channel pseudohistory shows. Now that Curse of Oak Island has gone back down into whatever muddy hole it crawled out of, Lost Gold of World War II and Secret of Skinwalker Ranch have to stand on their own. As almost anyone could predict, without Oak Island’s 3.6 million weekly viewers to bolster it, Skinwalker fell back down to Earth, attracting 1.6 million live plus same day viewers, the same as Lost Gold. Previously, when airing after Oak Island, Skinwalker had more than 2 million viewers. This week’s numbers are closer in line to the historic average for pseudohistory and paranormal programming airing on the network’s weekday primetime schedule, and about even with ten-year average for Ancient Aliens. When you take the anomaly of Oak Island out of the equation, the ceiling for these kinds of shows remains stubbornly around 1.5 million viewers no matter the specific subject matter, the day of the week, or the stars of the show.
I feel like it says something about Graham Hancock that he has devoted a growing percentage of the guest articles on his website to UFO and ancient astronaut claims, even though he himself purports not to believe in the ancient astronaut theory. How much of that is the case is debatable, since his rejection of ancient astronautics in Magicians of the Gods contrasts rather heavily with his frequent appearances on Ancient Aliens and the ancient astronaut book he coauthored, The Mars Mystery. At any rate, it was rather surprising to see Hancock follow up publishing a guest article about Hopi ancient astronaut encounters with one from infamous UFO abductee Whitley Strieber excerpting his new book about ancient “visitors” and their “human allies.”
UFO believers went bananas this week after Donald Trump told Reuters that the three Navy videos depicting unidentified flying objects had amazed him, prompting him to wonder if they were “real,” by which he presumably meant that he wondered if they depicted alien spacecraft. Even though the three videos have plausibly been explained as footage of two airplanes and a balloon, UFO believers insist that they are an important element in a putative Pentagon UFO disclosure movement that they now believe extends to Trump himself. It’s all too much really, but I have no trouble believing Trump had his mind blown by the videos. Many wondered why Trump hadn’t been aware of the videos until now (he had said in a previous video he had been briefed on them and saw no evidence of anything unusual, but he seems to have forgotten that), or if he were confirming that the military had no explanation for them, but ufologists seem to forget that he gets his information from Fox News, where the videos were prominently covered this week. His mind was blown because Tucker Carlson blew his mind, almost certainly not due to any unread Pentagon briefing. Then, just for maximum irony, pro-UFO Russian propaganda channel RT used one of my tweets in their coverage of the situation.
Dark Fleet: The Secret Nazi Space Program and the Battle for the Solar System
Len Kasten | Bear & Co. | March 2020 | 240 pages | ISBN: 9781591433446 | $16.00
I hate to say it, but I think that the great cultural pause created by the COVID-19 lockdown has finally ground much of the fake history industry to a halt. Sure, there are social media posts from people claiming that random rocks are world-changing artifacts, and somehow the History Channel is broadcasting, but otherwise we don’t have much left. I can’t get into The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. I just don’t have the patience to sit through an hour of people who admit to not knowing anything wandering about to deliver about 30 seconds worth of information, most of which will be disproved the next week anyway. So what does that leave us with? I am barely able to tolerate Rob Riggle: Global Investigator despite its subject matter’s tangential relevance to my interests, and only because it’s like watching a train wreck of bad choices. The Science Channel’s resurrected Forbidden History (formerly of the Travel Channel, formerly of AHC) has been a disappointment. (Apparently, even though it is not part of my cable package, I still have online access.) The first episode involved a failed hunt for a World War II load of Japanese gold. The second revisited the Shroud of Turin just in time for Easter. It’s all so … boring.
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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