I read a fascinating article at Ars Technica this week, originally published on The Conversation, about Flat Earthers and why people embrace obviously inaccurate scientific claims. Harry T. Dyer, a sociologist at the University of East Anglia, argues that the core issue at stake isn’t the shape of the Earth but rather who controls knowledge. Advocates for the Flat Earth theory are standing against what they perceive to be the tyrannical control of science and government over the creation and distribution of knowledge. He relates this to the work of the postmodernist philosopher Michel Focault, who argued that knowledge is created and controlled to legitimize those in power. For Dyer, Flat Earthers are expressing their rejection of the legitimacy of elite scientists and academics as holders of social prestige and power.
You’ve probably noticed that over the last few weeks my blog posts have been a bit shorter and less detailed than usual. That’s because I’m busy trying to finish my book on the myth of the Mound Builders. Over the past four or five weeks, I’ve added about 40,000 words to the book, and I have about a chapter and a quarter left to write. I always come to a point near the end of a book where my energy and enthusiasm start to wane, and it becomes a little difficult to make the final push to complete it. Part of the reason for that is that the sense of adventure has vanished this late in a book. Early on, I am still discovering new things and unexpected connections, but by the last few chapters, the narrative has boxed me in and becomes mostly busywork pulling together the threads I’ve spun throughout.
On Twitter, Graham Hancock linked to a glowing review of his 2015 book Magicians of the Gods and endorses its author’s praise of him. Normally, I wouldn’t talk about someone else’s book review, but this one as a strange read that has a few points that are worth looking into since the author claims to be a major public figure who will change the world just like Graham Hancock is changing history. It seems to be fair to evaluate his views.
Today I thought I would share a gross and morbid thing I discovered in researching the Grave Creek Stone for my book on the history of the lost white race of Mound Builders. The Grave Creek Stone has a weird and checkered history. It was allegedly uncovered in an Adena mound on the Ohio River in 1839, but it was really a hoax created, in all probability, by a Dr. James W. Clemens, a local physician who had hoped to get rich quick by selling shares in the dig on the promise of finding the Mound Builders’ treasure. When no treasure emerged, he used an old Spanish book and scratched copies of Celtic-Iberian runes into a small stone and arranged for it to be found. Clemens wrote to the greatest scientific racist of his day, Samuel Morton, in the hopes that Morton would popularize the stone as the work of a lost white race. Morton, however, ignored Clemens, to the latter’s deep chagrin
Today I learned that no good deed goes unpunished. As most readers know, I maintain a growing library of important texts related to fringe history and pseudo-archaeology. Since there is no full public domain translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and I certainly wasn’t going to pay thousands in licensing fees to use a modern one, I put together my own version from public domain material and my own editorial emendations and additions based on more recent translations. I started from the base of William Muss-Arnolt’s translations, published in 1904, and added in translations of fragments that were discovered and translated in the 1910s and 1920s. Because Muss-Arnolt’s material was in the wrong order, incomplete, and often wrong, I took a pretty strong editorial hand, and about 50% of the text is mine, though I tried to echo Muss-Arnolt closely enough that it isn’t always easy to tell. I don’t claim it as my own translation because, obviously enough, I don’t read cuneiform to work from the primary sources. That’s also why I don’t sell it for a profit; I don’t feel it is enough of my own labor to charge for. But it also isn’t in the public domain. I wrote half of it.
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!
Thursday Roundup: Megan Fox Hunts "Mysteries and Myths" on TV; Plus, Two Weird Claims about Freemasonry
Today, I have three quick stories to share. Regular readers will remember that actress Megan Fox is an Ancient Aliens super-fan and had expressed interest in either joining that show or hosting her own version of it. Well, the brain trust at the Travel Channel, recently added to the Discovery Networks’ roster of channels, have awarded Fox her own mystery-mongering show. According to a press release, the network has greenlit a new four-episode series called Mysteries and Myths with Megan Fox, in which Fox will travel the world in an attempt to rewrite history.
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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