Next week is the annual Contact in the Desert symposium in which the cast of Ancient Aliens and those who profit from association with them will gather to provide audiences with summaries of past episodes of Ancient Aliens, and more extreme claims that are too offensive to make it past network standards and practices over on the History Channel. This year, however, there is something new. In addition to the regular group of Ancient Aliens talking heads, Tom DeLong’s coauthor, Peter Levenda, will be on hand to promote To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science as a major player in the ancient astronaut field.
I received some bad news yesterday. One of the country’s top literary agents had asked to read my mound builder manuscript, but told me that he couldn’t possibly sell it to publishers because no mainstream publisher would take on a book with a topic like that. Now, I know this is not true since Doubleday is publishing The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler in a few weeks, and that book is an almost mirror image of my own, except on the topic of Roanoke instead of mounds. Though now that I think about it, Lawler does offer some words condemning mainstream historians, so perhaps that is my problem. I am relating history rather than attacking it. Whatever the problem, it is depressing to be told time and again how much educated people love my writing but that it can never be published because the public would never buy it. I haven’t decided what to do with the book. It seems like a waste to let it sit unread, but it is also rather pointless to give it to some small press where it will never be seen.
This weekend, Newsweek ran an interesting article on racism at MUFON and the broader problem of alt-right infiltration in ufology. The magazine basically laid the blame on the fact that ufologists are largely a group of cranky old white men, the same demographic that overlaps heavily with extreme conservative and alt-right beliefs. “The combination of demographics likely to align with far-right viewpoints, and the overlap between UFO researchers and conspiracy theorists, produces an environment that [ufologist Ryan] Sprague and others argue can be toxic to minorities,” the magazine told its readers.
Tom DeLonge Announces New TV Show, Claims to Have Briefed Government Officials on UFO Security Policy
OK… I have a special treat for you later today. A+E Networks has kindly made the premiere of Ancient Aliens available as a screener on its press site ahead of tonight’s airing, so I have already been able to watch and review the show. I will be posting my review at 9:00 PM ET, the exact moment the show airs, so you can follow along with the program if you so choose. This is the first time that A+E Networks has actually gotten the screener up and available before the show!
A few weeks ago, I discussed a lecture and a forthcoming book about UFOs by Prof. Diana Walsh Pasulka, and now Pasulka has given an interview to Robbie Graham of Mysterious Universe, with whom I have also expressed my differences. Their interview is interesting, but perhaps not for the reasons they imagined. So far as I can tell, the two believed they were discussing the UFO phenomenon and its profound effects on society, but beneath that surface they seemed to actually be discussing the will to believe and the efforts that humans go through in order to create meaning from ambiguous inputs.
Top MUFON Official Quits Over Organization's Continued Support of John Ventre a Year After Ventre's Racist Rant
On Wednesday, the Smithsonian Channel will air the controversial Canadian Ice Bridge documentary that revived claims that the first Americans were Europeans known as the Solutreans who crossed the Atlantic during the Ice Age. The documentary was roundly criticized in Canada for its lack of attention to the racist uses of the Solutrean myth and for its endorsement of a hypothesis for which little evidence exists. While the show aired on the CBC in Canada, the country’s major public broadcaster, here in the U.S. it will screen on digital tier cable, meaning that pretty much nobody will watch it. The Smithsonian Channel is a partnership between CBS-owned Showtime and the Smithsonian Institution, which employs Dennis Stanford, the major advocate of the Solutrean theory and the star of the documentary
Atacama "Humanoid" DNA Test Controversy Unveils Connections between Robert Bigelow and Tom DeLonge's To the Stars
As much as I don’t want to spend more time talking about the sad case of a 40-year-old stillborn baby girl from the Atacama region of Chile whose corpse was repurposed as an “alien” body, I am increasingly disturbed by the problematic nature of the UFO community’s response to the DNA tests conducted on the body and published recently, tests that showed that the corpse was in fact human. Some recent developments are worth highlighting because of the light they throw on the darker corners of ufology.
A few days ago, the Ohio State University Center for the Study of Religion held its 4th Symposium on Religion, Narrative, and Media, and the topic was “Taking the UFO Phenomenon Seriously, that is, Religiously.” The symposium was made up of two presentations, one on aliens as gods by Jeffrey Kripal of Rice University and the other on the use of UFO mythology to replace traditional religion by Diana Walsh Pasulka, a professor at UNC Wilmington. The symposium is built around the forthcoming release of Pasulka’s new book American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, due out in December or January from Oxford University Press. It’s sure to be an interesting book, reflecting as it does themes we often discuss here about the use of aliens as substitute gods, but I have reservations about the author and her approach to ufology.
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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